Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

All protests do is alienate young Protestants

I ATTENDED Saturday's protest rally in Belfast, primarily to see for myself what was happening (News, December 2).

Similar to last year, I brought my children. They were not impressed. After 30 minutes of listening to them complain of boredom, I had to give in and let them go to the Christmas market.

I encouraged my children to observe this, because I come from a working-class unionist family and I don't want us to become cut off from our roots.

But, in all honesty, this protest makes no sense to unionists like me. On one of the biggest shopping days before Christmas, the protesters took a deliberate decision to force a political march down Royal Avenue. The intention seemed to be to prove they were in control of Belfast, not the police.

The single band leading the delayed march repeatedly stopped at the beginning of Royal Avenue, playing their drums as loud as possible.

Were they hoping for a reaction from the police? Or from some of the shoppers, who were clearly irritated by the noise?

When my children joined me for lunch in an almost completely empty cafe, they expressed no interest in the protest whatsoever.

The only impression they had of the protest was one of great anger – anger at the police and anger at Protestants who are relaxed about the change to the flag-flying rules.

This anger drives young Protestants away from Ulster.

UNIONIST

Belfast

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