Take a deep breath and suffer in silence again
Published 19/06/2014 | 11:00
I can't believe we're heading in to yet another summer of territory-marking by the sectarian factions in Northern Ireland. Like old cats, they can't resist spraying their stink on lampposts, gable ends and even trees from one end of the country to the other.
When they're not daubing dreadful political images on gable walls and calling it 'tourism' or, worse, 'art' – though it owes more to Dulux than Rembrandt – they're hoisting flags, marking out what they like to believe are their ethnic exclusion zones.
Republicans and loyalists may have crept in to the mainstream of our politics here but does their sectarian message really have to be splattered across every flat surface and up every pole in the land?
Whatever that nasty mood is that settles every summer and brews slowly for the rest of the year, I know this – it isn't culture, it isn't very bright, and it certainly isn't pretty. But the rest of us are forced to witness it, year in, year out, in fear of having our windows put in or getting the name of being disloyal or a tout. And in case anyone thinks this is exclusive behaviour to one side or the other, it isn't, as I know well.
However, over the years I've been prepared, for the sake of the peace the sectarians jointly promised, to put up with their territory-marking. I only wish that they could – for the sake of the rest of us – exercise just a little of that thing which is called tolerance. Take a deep breath when a flag goes up. Say to yourself 'I am being tolerant of what I don't agree with' and go in to your house like a decent citizen. Leave lawbreakers to the PSNI. You all agreed to support them.
Tolerance and restraint is, after all, what sectarians are constantly badgering the rest of us to show.