Monday, 14 January 2013

The DUP and the missed opportinity

I'm back. Did you miss me? I was over in Scotland for an interview on Friday, though sadly I am still on the hunt for that damned illusive thing called a job. However, despite being unemployed you will not find me taking part in recreational rioting.

However, while I was away from Thursday to Saturday I had quite a bit of time for thinking and here is something that I thought about.

Sinn Féin over the last 6 weeks have been saying that they do not want to totally disrespect the symbols that matter to the Loyalists. Indeed they were happy to accept the flying of the Union Flag on designated days from Belfast City Hall. It is something the the SDLP also are happy to accept.

Now here is the crunch thing. The DUP's immediate knee jerk reaction was to try and get the flag flying in as many councils as they can flying 365 days a year. Even in ones like Craigavon and Lisburn where they were part of the decision to fly it only on designated days. But what about the councils to the West of the Bann, the ones with a nationalist/republic majority?

Surely if Sinn Féin and the SDLP are prepared to accept that until the people of Northern Ireland decide otherwise that we are part of the United Kingdom and as such the Union Flag can be flown on designated days, what about those locations where the unionist community is in a minority? Should not instead of going on the attack about the flying of a flag, which by the way I did not see flying outside civic buildings in Scotland, into an appeal to get it flying everywhere in Northern Ireland on the designated days.

But no that would be far too sensible a thing to take out of this for the DUP. It is all or nothing with them at the moment and while some have nothing, some have some and some have all days of the Union Flag flying they think that is good enough. If Sinn Féin are prepared to let the flag fly on the days that honour the Monarch and Royal Family most in Belfast why not in Londonderry, Omagh, Dungannon and the rest?

But of course rather than seek a compromise for all of Northern Ireland, rather than even considering publishing the Cohesion Sharing and Integration strategy at a time the glue holding Northern Ireland together is falling away, they decide to retreat into their corner. They march out about 40,000 leaflets which told untruths to the people of East Belfast. They fail to mention that a committee had actually already voted to totally remove the Union Flag. They instead issue a legal challenge to try and overturn something was was voted on not once but twice and came to two different conclusions, just not the one they wanted.

You see while the unionists shrink back into their sections of society, they do leave men and Britishness behind. They are no long the party supporting Britishness in all of Ulster, indeed they are no longer such in all of Northern Ireland. They are only the party of large parts of Down and Antrim and smaller parts elsewhere, but largely unseen West of the Bann.

Meanwhile talking of Scotland the protestors fighting for their right to be British took their protest to the office of Nicola Sturgeon (it appears on their way to Ibrox). Yes they took their appeal to defend the Union Flag to the deputy leader of a party that wants to get rid of  the blue parts to keep all to themselves.

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