As you all know

I live in Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland. An area of great beauty, heritage and some wonderful people. It is variously described as a country, province or region of the UK.

At last count we had a Population count of 1.811 million. The majority of whom wish to go about their daily business and earn an honest crust. Unfortunately there are a few………….

The Northern Ireland Assembly, sitting at Stormont, is the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. Don’t be going interrupting them with any little problems at the moment, 😉 they are in recess (14 December 2013 to 5 January 2014).

The NI Assembly is responsible for making laws on transferred matters in Northern Ireland. In recent weeks (maybe months), the members of the five main Stormont parties have been examining a draft document on the way forward on flags, parades and the past, drawn up by US diplomat Richard Haass.

Early in December 2012, the organisers of a ‘Fleg’ protest (that is how these folk pronounce the word Flag), caused major disruption to the hard grafting folk of Belfast and many other towns across the province. Marches and protests were often followed by violence, which discouraged people from shopping or planning meals out with friends etc. In times of recession, every sale is important, some establishments and stores were depending on pre-Christmas business to make quotas after poor sales earlier in the year. Many of these businesses did not survive past the end of the year.*

The organisers of the ‘Fleg’ protest, following the decision of Belfast City Council to limit the days that the Union Flag (the flag of the United Kingdom) was flown from Belfast City Hall, are the same people who decorate every highway and byway street light and telegraph pole with a flag every year for the marching season. Some of these specimens are attached to the pole at the furthest reach of the person attaching it. Many looked like the country was in mourning with the flags looking like they were at half mast.

The enthusiasm ran out, as it does every year during the marching season.  The flags are crudely hung, on occasions upside down, and left there until they rot. No sign or thought of having respect for a flag, as we see in other countries. Today I managed to take a few photos of one such rag that was pristine (but cheap poor fabric, probably made in China) when it first graced a light pole in my neck of the woods, last May. Not alone is it an insult to Queen and country, it is now no longer suitable to be used to wipe your shoes.

Not wanting to be left out in the cold, ‘theotheruns’ wanted some of the action…..

On Monday 25 November 2013, masked men in boiler suits hijacked a car and forced the driver to take a beer keg packed with 60 kg (132 lbs) of home made explosives to the city centre and leave it at an underground car park entrance to Victoria Street Centre, the prime shopping location in Belfast close to one of the city’s main police stations and the court complex.

The centre was evacuated and surrounding streets closed during the alert, with dozens spending the night in the Ulster Hall concert venue. The bomb detonated at 11.15pm as army bomb disposal experts prepared to examine it. Car owners who had parked their vehicles in the underground car park, were unable to return and retrieve them until 7am the next morning.

Last Friday night dissident republicans claimed responsibility for a small bomb explosion in Belfast Cathedral Quarter. The weekend was one of the busiest for staff outings in the run-up to Christmas. Dozens of those forced to pile out onto the streets had just sat down to food, when the police began evacuating the area.

Just think of the wasted long hours spent in growing, shipping and purchasing the food. This is before the costs to purchasing premises, running costs, hiring staff and paying wages and preparing, cooking & serving the meals. One nights disruption alone, cost restaurants £60,000′.

* This three part interview with Paul Rankin and Michael Deane, made in April this year, gives a picture of the mountain that businesses have to negotiate here in this tiny corner of the globe.
Part 1Part 2 & Part 3

If we, in this tiny speck on the globe cannot work together, what hope is there for the rest of the world? Peace how are you!


26 thoughts on “As you all know

    • Maxi, we were told with great laughter & drama a few years ago, that peace had descended on the Province. I didn’t believe it then, and I certainly don’t believe it now.

  1. People pursue their misguided little obsessions like flag-flying at the expense of other people who’re just trying to get on with their daily lives and earn some money. As Paul Rankin said, the flag-flying protests should have been nipped in the bud long ago before they damaged the entire reputation of Belfast.

    • Nick, I agree and the politicians dragging their feet with the Richard Haass report, does nothing to improve anything except the cash in their pockets.

  2. Exhibitions of such wrong-headedness are depressing indeed in folk who have no excuse for not being ‘civilized’. If only fanatics would find worthwhile causes and methods both. Can’t we unleash these twits against poachers of endangered species, or drug dealers, or the like?

  3. I so agree with you GM, we are in a state of constant war and the only beneficiaries are the giant military industrial complex. Us poor peons suffer on, though it is appalling in other countries.

    • WWW, back in the early 1990s I heard someone declare that there were fifteen wars going on in the world, Like the wrinkles on my face, I am sure that number has increased with the years.

  4. In all honesty, I wish I had had this as part of the LBC post last week. It still makes a great deal of sense in that, combined with your comment on my LBC post and this post, Linda’s comment makes great sense indeed.

    • Ramana, I have been trying for months to take a photo of the so called flags, Yesterday I had my opportunity, a gentle breeze and no onlookers to question what I was up to.

    • Delores, sometimes the Politicians are more interested in interfering in other countries (mainly those that have oil), rather than dealing with problems on their own doorsteps. Goodness, I am beginning to sound like an armchair general! 😉

  5. This is extremely interesting. A national flag should always be treated with respect and due reverence. It is not even supposed to touch the ground. The habit of festooning every lamp post and vacant space with the national flag is quite wrong, because the flag ends up getting disrespected. Here in India, on the national days of 26th January (Republic Day) and 15th August (Independence Day), tiny paper versions of the national flag are sold by the millions and kids often wave them at parades. And what happens after that? They’re thrown on the ground and walked on, thrown in rubbish bins and strewn about. Every year, people make the point about the disregard to the national flag and it breeds a very bad habit in children. Pasting the flag all over the place is just not on, in my humble opinion. BTW I’m not an Indian citizen, I’m still Irish, but I highly respect my country of residence and would never like to see it’s dignity insulted, any more than I’d like to see the same done to my own country.

    • Maria, respect for country and flags begins in the home.

      I remember when my older brothers were showing interest in the then considered ‘foreign’ game of soccer, there was disturbance after a European match between an English team and another European country. Some disgruntled English supporters went on the rampage and tore down the national flag of the host country. Daddy was livid and lined up the boys and red the riot act to them about having respect for ‘The Flag’. Not alone for your own flag, but that of any country you visited. I never forgot that message.

      Today, I hate to see supporters with faces painted or wearing those ugly shapeless midi shorts to represent the image if a flag.

  6. In the absence of all out global conflict the norm is regional conflict and heightened terrorist activity – unless of course you are a freedom fighter and then that terror is active rebellion.. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion we simply are not built for peace.

  7. This is really a very sad state of affairs, and it’s being played out all over the world in one way or another. I like to be hopeful, but I always think I need at least a shred of evidence to fuel that hope. I learn so much by reading a blog. I hadn’t heard any of this through normal news lines, and I want to know what’s happening where you live! I’m glad you shared.

    • Debra, much of it does not go beyond local news these days. Mind you there are plenty of good things happening too. Pity the troublemakers try to hold us all to ransome.

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