About last night: five questions



I stopped watching The Nolan Show  last night when the young Irish woman began singing in an American accent, but even that half-viewing brought to the surface a number of interesting questions.

  1. Is it illegal to attach a flag to a lamp-post?  Yes it is, says Alliance’s Anna Lo. Billy Hutchinson of the PUP didn’t attempt to deny this; rather he blamed Belfast City Council for daring to have voted that the Union flag should fly only on designated days. Nobody in the audience thought it worth picking up on the fact that evidence of law-breaking is repeatedly on view throughout Belfast.
  2. Are the police here doing their job, which is to enforce the law? Not if Anna Lo and the report of your own eyes are anything to go by. Illegal Union flags everywhere,  but the police make no move to remove them, let alone investigate and arrest those responsible for putting them up.
  3. Is the protection racket alive and well and living in Belfast? The answer is yes, of course. When Anna Lo suggested that the police weren’t doing enough to counter such intimidation, Billy invited anyone who was thus threatened to come to him and he’d see that the matter was sorted out. No, Viriginia, he didn’t say “Go to your nearest police station”; he said “Come to me”. If I were in a protection money argument, I’d rather have Billy on my side than against me. But I’d rather even more have the police on my side. It doesn’t look as though they are.
  4. Are murals like those here a common feature in other countries? Sammy Wilson raised that particular hare in an interview yesterday, just after seeming to agree with Anna Lo. Billy Hutchinson picked up on it, lumping our paramilitary murals with the ‘culture’ expressed in other countries.
  5. Murals-wise, is one side as bad as the other?  Not if you’re considering the paramilitary tone and content. Unionist/loyalist murals repeatedly have masked men with guns, threats as to what will happen if things don’t go their way. Republican murals tend to be more international in nature, linking Ireland’s struggle with that of  people in other countries. They also tend to feature paintings of people now dead, such as the hunger-strikers, and quote lines aspiring to a better future. This is quite different from murals featuring gunmen and threatening what will happen if the future isn’t the way they want it.  ‘Our revenge will be the laughter of our children’  vs ‘Prepared for peace, ready for war’.

All of which suggests that loyalist paramilitaries, not the police, decide about things like flags and protection money here. It also suggests that when loyalism doesn’t like the outcome of a democratic vote, it blames that vote for the violence which it then launches. Things may be better now than twenty years ago but boy, do they still have a long way to go.

5 Responses to About last night: five questions

  1. paddykool February 20, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Bring back Eliot Ness and his “Untouchables”, I say.The cops alone are not capable of cleaning up this mess of criminals as long as politicians support them by their inaction.Mind you ,they’ll probably talk about that for the next twenty years or until another generation of killers are ready for action.

  2. RJC February 20, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    Does anybody actually know the legalities that surround hanging flags on lampposts? I’ve heard mention that the Prevention of Incitement to Hatred Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 could be used as a way to prosecute those who hang them, but no doubt this would be shouted down with the usual “the Union flag is the flag of this country” bollocks.

    Public Order Act? Something? Anything? The flag flying needs to stop. New laws need to be brought in or existing ones need to be enforced. Does anybody see an end in sight to this idiotic practice? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say the vast majority of people here would happily see the back of it.

    • paddykool February 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      RJC :
      i’ll refer you back to my thing about proposed Marching Stadium / National Bonfire Site …… This is part and parcel of that same proposed deal., Divided society / New ways of dealing with conflict / Not using “culture” as your weapon of choice etc. etc. Introduction of real actual politics……the future…..!

  3. ANOTHER JUDE February 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Billy Hutchinson is a lad isn`t he? He pontificates about Republican terror yet he slaughtered two innocent civilians in cold blood one a Catholic the other a Protestant. I have yet to hear Robinson or Nesbitt ever bring that up, indeed no Unionist politician ever mentions it. Of course they can give you chapter and verse on the likes of Gerry Kelly or the Hunger Strikers. As for the murals, there is no comparison. As you say Jude, the Republicans honour their war dead, the Loyalists threaten more. Personally I would like to see a zero tolerance policy regarding flags and murals. Loyalists put these hideous things up to mark territory, usually in mixed areas or in places the Nationalist community are getting uppity. To let us know, `we are the people in this town, do not forget that`.

  4. Gerry McDermott February 22, 2014 at 7:07 am #

    I actually thought Billy Hutchinson was very close to saying that the protection rackets/sex industry etc was been run by people not originally from Northern Ireland,ie eastern Europeans or asians,how racist was that ?I can also see the whole cycle race event turning into a lets show everybody how British we are fiasco,and all that usually goes with that.Then Billy Hutchinson set the ball rolling by declaring that a UK rider(Wiggins),was going to win the race,and that national flags are always waved at these events,elsewhere in Europe ?What is lightly to happen when a couple of Dublin riders join the leaders,and this will happen just after a tense election,and the 12th coming up,i think i will leave it at that.