Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Protests fuelled by old slogans

WHETHER the union flag flies over Belfast City Hall 365 days a year, or never flies, it has no effect on this place's constitutional position, which is determined by political mandates.

Even if the followers don't understand this, the leaders and organisers of the flag protests do. If the protests are not about sovereignty, what are they about?

Besides attesting to Northern Ireland's place in the UK, the union flag is also a powerful tribal totem. It's the Protestant flag; it's the unionist flag.

One suspects that the real reason for the angst is that its diminished status at the city hall is too painful for those unionists who are resistant to the idea of living in a shared political space.

This argument, however, does not explain why loyalists from the most deprived areas are most enthusiastic about the protests.

It's the old mantra, 'King and country, boys!' and, 'To the barricades!' Slogans instead of analysis. I'm old now and I weary of it.

WES HOLMES

Belfast

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