UVF flags and “gestures of goodwill”

Sometimes events here hit the bull’s-eye of craziness, that point where you want to just throw up your hands, lock yourself in the bathroom and put your head down the toilet bowl.

You think I exaggerate? Then consider the case of the Catholics and the Flags. Several UVF flags were erected in a mixed area of Belfast. In this same area a number of Catholic families had been threatened. Emma Little-Pengelly got involved. “As a result of these discussions we have secured agreement with the local community to have the Ulster Volunteer Force 1912 commemorative flags removed. This has now taken place.” This was pronounced “a gesture of goodwill”.

If you don’t think this is head-in-the-toilet-bowl stuff, try it the other way round.

In a mixed area of south Belfast, several Protestant families have been intimidated from their homes.  IRA flags have been erected in the area – flags commemorating the IRA of the early part of the twentieth century, of course, nothing to do with the more recent IRA. Pat Sheehan got involved, and thanks to his good offices, these flags were taken down “as a gesture of good will”.

Hold my hand and muffle my screams, nurse.

Would any of the threatened Protestant families – or anybody else – for one moment believe that the IRA flags were referring exclusively to the Tan war IRA?

Would anyone congratulate Pat Sheehan for arranging to have the flags removed “as a gesture of goodwill”?

When are the PSNI going to waken up to the fact that there are illegal paramilitary groups openly negotiating with political representatives about the level of intimidation that is acceptable in an area?

Had IRA flags been hung, there would have been hell to pay. Had the IRA intimidated Protestants from their homes, there would have been hell to pay. Had there been negotiations between Sinn Fein and the IRA, with the flags removed “as a gesture of goodwill”, there would have been hell to pay.

When you think about it, maybe Arlene was right after all: maybe our NEN is British. Certainly if you’re a pro-British paramilitary group, you can get away with…Well, just about anything. And if you’re Irish and reject the British tag, you can stick your head down a toilet bowl.







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