Nothing like making your City Hall look good
Belfast City Hall is, in the near future, to be bedecked with Nazi swastikas for a scene in a new BBC film about the wartime experiences of English writer Christopher Isherwood.
Other scenes are to be shot at other venues in Northern Ireland including Mount Stewart House and Ballywalter Park Estate.
The making of films here is a fairly new and lucrative industry and is, of course, to be encouraged.
But the idea of flying the Nazi swastika from any part of the City Hall (even for a drama production) is frankly revolting.
This is our City Hall we’re talking about. Our city's prime central showcase.
In many parts of Europe the flying of the Nazi swastika is illegal. Full stop. And there is good reason for this. Not just the fear of allowing far-right groups the opportunity to flaunt the flag of the regime that massacred millions of human beings. But also the very real possibility of lacerating the feelings of those for whom that symbol bears the most horrific memories.
Was this even considered when the decision was taken to give this film the go-ahead? Did anyone canvas the feelings of, say, Belfast’s Jewish community? Or local ex-servicemen? Surely these scenes could have been shot elsewhere.
What message will it send to visitors to Belfast who catch sight of the City Hall, no less, draped in the hated symbol of Hitler’s Nazis?
Are they going to think it a follow-on to that recent Belfast ‘B’ branding exercise?
You know the one B entertained. B relaxed. B welcome. BNP ...