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.


25 thoughts on “the city that never ceases to disappoint

  1. I don’t want a flag for my birthday. I want a mulberry bag & something from Tiffanys. So could they please stop protesting/ rioting.

  2. Surely flying the Union flag on only 15 designated days will make it a lot more special and significant than flying it on every insignificant day of the year? But no, the important thing is apparently mindless routine….

  3. It is almost too depressing so I don’t want to talk about it – and then I think I should say well done you again – thank you for writing at least I do not feel alone with despair about this endless nonsense – and you do write about it well, very well

    1. I don’t really think Sophie is special, except in a ‘queen’s daughter in law, so that’s protocol’ way- I was just using her as an example of the ridiculousness of it all

  4. Actually i do want a flag for my boat, one featuring a cat and an otter. I just wish they could turn their undoubted energies to doing something positive to stop global warming or something else worthwhile.

      1. Hmmm, I wonder if you have hit on something there.
        It is terribly dull isn’t it. Angry people being angry and intrusively so, stamping on everyone’s feet while they shout about their rights. Ho hum.

  5. These riot starters are the very people who were so busy at the end of June, hanging union flags plus those of various ‘loyalist organisations’, from every lamp post or tree stump across the province. Most of them are still there bedraggled and weather worn, unfit even to be used as floor cloths. For all the shouting and demonstrating, There is no respect shown for ‘the flag’.

    1. Good to see you Macy; I hope you and the Cherub are doing well 🙂
      This trouble is unusual- our recreational rioters don’t normally go out in the cold. I have managed to avoid trouble (apart from traffic delays) so far, but others have been less fortunate. I do hope the puppet masters wise up soon.

  6. You have been on my mind Fiona. Come to Galway for a break. We will forget about the troubles for a few nights. It is – at this stage – something I thought would have passed too. And it angers me…and worries me for your children and all the other families raising children with these stresses on your doorstep. Stay Safe . . . x

    1. Móna, if I came to Galway I might not come home…
      These days, that may be no bad thing. I’ve never seriously considered leaving before, but I’m beginning to wonder.

  7. I’ve ranted at the tv, raved at the radio and shouted at all the protesters I’ve come across blocking my way home at night. I’ve shaken my fist through the car window. I’ve traversed the countryside trying to find an unobstructed route home. How civilized you’ve been – writing about your disgust at these bizarre antics!! I salute your logic and patience!!

    1. Ah, you need to remember that I wasn’t actually stuck in any of the chaos. I was ranting from the comfort of home- so much easier to be civilised that way 🙂

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