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Flag protests may be more to do with austerity

I AM disturbed to read about the violent protests breaking out across Ulster. Is the flying of the Union flag the real issue, though?

That very Union is imposing savage austerity on a community which has known more than its fair share of suffering.

Perhaps, instead of peace walls, the people of Belfast might have had peace housing, for the red-brick terrraced rows belong more to the 19th century than the 21st.

Here in the south, the story is the same: poor housing, decaying schools, unemployment queues.

Back in 1907, Jim Larkin managed to unite Protestant and Catholic workers in Belfast in a fight for basic pay and rights.

The lockout was suppressed when Westminster sent in troops, but the Irish Transport and General Workers Union was born.

Those years of revolution culminated in a betrayal of all of us on this island, when the democratic will of the people, as expressed in the 1918 general election, was ignored and an unjust settlement imposed. Watching a recent documentary on the marching bands of the Shankill Road, I was struck by how similar their concerns are to ours in Wexford.

Perhaps, in 2013, the people of this island will, at last, collectively say 'enough' and walk away from Westminster's arrogant indifference into a different future - one which we all richly deserve.

KEELA FREELEY

Co Wexford

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