Posts Tagged ‘loyalism’

Loyalism’s one-sided love affair with the British state

11/12/2012, 07:00:19 AM

by Kevin Meagher

The troubles have ended, but Northern Ireland’s culture war is in full swing.

Last week’s vote by Belfast city council to limit flying the union flag above the city hall and a couple of other municipal buildings from 365 days a year to twenty has resulted in a week of rioting, attacks on the police and death threats to moderate politicians of the Alliance party.

Last night a police car parked outside the office of its deputy party leader, East Belfast MP Naomi Long, was set on fire by a loyalist gang – while an officer was still inside (thankfully he escaped unhurt). There was also rioting in south Belfast, causing the police service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to deploy water cannons (which have never been used in Britain).

A trifle of an issue for most Britons, the decision over the flag was, for a loyalist community that famously paints its kerbstones red, white and blue, a decision that cut to the wick. Loyalism, a creed that is filled with suspicion and the narrative of betrayal – both real and imagined – now believes the Fenian hordes are banging at the gate.

One by one their cherished citadels fall. Stormont, that bulwark of unionist ascendancy, is now home to a power-sharing arrangement that sees unionists sit down not only with Catholics, but former IRA men.

The “right” of their loyal orders to parade (never march) through predominantly Catholic areas is now curtailed by the hated parades commission, (surely the British state’s most idiosyncratic quango?)


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