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Hardly a fleg to stand on as Mr Haass moves in

The flags fly beside a billboard advertising new Lisburn homes The flags fly beside a billboard advertising new Lisburn homes
By Squinter

A SINN Féin motion condemning the loyalist attack on Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir in Woodvale last month was opposed by the DUP on Monday night.

They argued that a hell of a lot of things have gone on over the summer and it would be wrong to concentrate on a single issue like a baying mob attacking the democratically elected First Citizen of This Here Pravince’s first city.


A revised nine-point motion condemning all recent attacks and affirming support for dialogue and respect was passed unanimously.

It might be argued that Belfast City Council might be perfectly entitled to highlight the Woodvale attack, since it was an assault on its most senior figure and, therefore, an attack on the very Council itself. But no, a revised, broad-stroke motion it was.

Next Monday, the Assembly will debate – some MLAs even with a straight face – a DUP motion seeking to censure Gerry Kelly for remarks he made at the Castlederg commemoration. No suggestion that, after a summer in which countless words were spoken by countless people, that singling out Gerry Kelly for attention might be deemed “too narrow”.

It seems that the party’s short-lived attempts to woo Catholic voters have now been forgotten about completely after a long and angry summer during which it won the unionist race to the bottom by joining the brethren at Camp Twaddell – a step too far even for the frankly rather desperate UUP.  For Squinter doubts whether there will be any motion of condemnation at the next meeting of Lisburn City Council about these flags, left and right, which Squinter this week snapped in and around the  Knockmore Road area during a weekend stroll.

That new housing development might well be expected to attract its fair share of Catholic families, situated as it is in a pleasantly semi-rural setting five minutes from the city centre. But Squinter kind of suspects that once such families obey the people-carrier sat-nav and turn the corner into the new streets, the smile of anticipation will be very quickly wiped off the parents’ faces, while the children, if of an age to speak and understand, are very likely to issue a plaintive appeal to go home.

Who within unionism is lobbying for this kind of blatant intimidation to be brought to an end? Who’s standing up in fleg-infested Lisburn for the right of Catholic families to live where they like? The answer is no-one. Not at the Knockmore Road, not at every other mixed area in the city, old or new, where Fenians are scented and the flegs erected. There’s a good opportunity here for the DUP to walk the walk and lobby for such egregious examples of lamppost-pissing to be brought to an end. After all, Catholic families willing to make Lisburn their home are, one would think, open to the kind of blandishments being issued by the DUP not that very long ago. Lisburn? Lovely place to live – mixed, peaceful, pleasant. The DUP? Kind of party I might give a thought to voting for – helpful, welcoming, egalitarian.

Instead, the DUP stands at Twaddell and vies with the PUP and UKIP to see who can show the most ankle to the Neanderthals singing and playing The Sash every night to Catholics leaving Mass at Holy Cross. And while out of one side of its mouth the DUP tells us that it can’t possibly single out a physical attack on the Lord Mayor of Belfast, out of the other corner it singles out words uttered by a republican at a republican rally.

The keep-out flegs at the new housing development aren’t the only ones in the immediate area. Have a look and you’ll see other flegs traditionally associated with the marching season in Lisburn – Aldershot LOL No.1, Alabama LOL No.1 and Treasure Island LOL No.1.

Two of the flags Squinter can explain, one he can’t. The Treasure Island pirate flag has him flummoxed, to be honest, and all he can think of is that it’s some kind of piratical menace designed to catch the attention of any outsiders not sufficiently discombobulated by all the others.

No doubt if there was a radio debate on the subject, whoever put up the Confederate flag would argue that it is an affectionate tribute to Bo, Luke and Daisy Duke. But Squinter can tell you with a high degree of certainty that that’s not how it’s viewed by the large number of foreign nationals living and working in Lisburn.

As for the flag of the Parachute Regiment, there’s no argument. There’s one reason and one reason only why Lisburn loyalists have hoisted that flag rather than the flag of any of the ‘home regiments’ past and present. And that reason is that it is the regiment most despised of all the regiments of the British Army by Catholics  – yes, the UDR included – because it cold-bloodedly cut down innocents on the streets of West Belfast and Derry in 1971 and 1972. Simply put, the Para fleg will annoy the Fenians more than the fleg of our own local boys. So up it goes.

The good news is that all of the above is up for discussion in the ‘Flegs’ module of the crunch talks on contentious issues that Richard Haass is shortly due to chair. Haass was born in Brooklyn, New York, which, politically speaking, is about as far from Dixie as it’s possible to get. And against that background, arguing for the retention of the Blackbeard flag and the Ballymurphy Massacre flag is going to be a doddle compared to arguing in favour of them good ole boys.


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