Tag Archives: Belfast

not silent

Dank. January.

Cold, grey, soggy.

Time to gather the thermals, the hats and scarves, and the tambourine.

Friends, bloggy buddies, the politician/ citizen, the musician and thousands more.

We gathered. We milled about, chatting , huddling, small folk getting bored.

At 12.55, for five minutes, we made ourselves heard. A small portion of the NI “silent majority” let rip.

There were shaky things, drums, biscuit tins, whistles, horns, trumpets and a didgeridoo.

Cheering and clapping. Whooping

not silent protest

drummer boy

I’ve been protesting about whatever you’ve got for years; in truth I’ve never had such fun doing it. But. But. But…

What are we doing?

Belfast is headlining national news again. There are riots, water cannon and plastic bullets. These affect us all, even if we live a few miles away, mostly untroubled. The huge problems in our society, those problems that politicians try to ignore, are making themselves forcefully felt. The protests are nominally about a flag, but are about alienation, the loss of power and status. People who traditionally had no need to value education or political involvement feel that they’ve been left behind as NI has moved on. Local politicians used this, deliberately provoked the anger, and then walked away, washed their hands as the situation mushroomed out of control. Disgraceful behaviour. The result of years of sectarian voting and political arrogance.

A didgeridoo, my tambourine and few drums. What do we think we can change?

Maybe, just maybe, we can remind the world that there’s more to Belfast than protestors literally using a flag to beat the police with.

who is winning?

Lives are threatened.

Homes and businesses are threatened.

There is rioting, and water cannon in action.

Main roads are blocked at the busiest time of the day.

Families are anxious; will they all be able to get home?

It’s apparently a good news story when 500 or 2,000 people gather to protest and block roads, but do so without violence breaking out. No matter how intimidating they are. No matter what chaos is caused by their behaviour.

Politicians say “There is no excuse for violence, but…”


city hall flag protest

We’re seeing masked men on the streets. Banners announcing “democracy doesn’t work.”

Shops and restaurants are losing money, at what should be the busiest time of year. The time of year that could save some of those businesses, those jobs.

This is not simply about a council decision regarding a flag- many of the protests are happening outside that council area. This is how some people react to what they see as a loss of power and status. Their view of the natural order has been threatened and an unholy tantrum is the chosen response.


The bit that I’m missing is this: who is benefitting from this situation? A week ago I thought I knew, now I’m as baffled as the rest of the world.

The economy is losing.

The reputation of the region as a place to visit or do business is vanishing.

Children born long after ‘the troubles’ are being introduced to political violence in their city.

Any jobs going where you live?


pictures from Belfast Telegraph

the city that never ceases to disappoint

Hellfire and damnation are reigning. Since Monday there have been riots, road blocks, water cannon, death threats. Disruption and chaos have returned to Belfast and surrounding areas. Police officers have been injured, cars have been burned out, elected representatives have had themselves and their homes attacked

I’ve blogged before about how flags are very contentious in this tiny, small-minded, angry part of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Then, I was vaguely hopeful that the worst was behind us, that my children wouldn’t be exposed to the full madness that takes over this place from time to time. More fool me.

On Monday the city council voted that the union flag should not be flown over city hall every day; instead, it should be flown only on the designated days that it’s flown on other public buildings. These designated days are times of apparent special significance when status as a British city needs to be emphasised. There are 18 of these days, including the birthday of the Countess of Wessex. (She’s the wife of the Queen’s youngest son. We wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to celebrate her birthday now, would we? In truth, I can’t imagine too many in Britain being that bothered about Sophie’s birthday, but if that’s the protocol, then fair enough.)

I’d been thinking that all this trouble was about some misguided notion of parity with the rest of the UK (where the union flag is not flown daily) but I’ve decided that’s not it at all.

The rioters may be more republican than they would dare imagine: they want parity with the Countess of Wessex. If the flag flies every day, then everyone gets it for their birthday.

Now, if only they’d just said that.


You think I’m trivialising vital issues? Stopping myself from packing up the family and leaving the country by making light of trouble? Spinning my boiling rage into humour?

That too. But, the birthday issue makes at least as much sense as any other reason for the trouble.


Blogging continually surprises me. I never expected to produce one post on geometry, never mind two.

It’s not so much the WordPress photo challenges or daily prompts that spark my mind, more the responses of my bloggy buddies. It takes more than coffee and an email to kick my mind into action.

Some early morning geometry from our world…

Some of the responses to this photochallenge have shown natural geometry, full of beauty, gentle curves, and symmetry.

That doesn’t sound like something I’d find so much of round these parts, so instead you get nature fighting back against imposed geometry…

photochallenge: geometry