Back To The Future With Naomi Long

Kudos to Naomi Long MP for East Belfast, for suggesting that a new bridge in East Belfast be named for the newest member of the British “Royal Family”.
I am not entirely sure how this fits in with the Alliance Party’s vision of a shared future. Indeed the bridge is inside Belfast City Council property…Victoria Park. Shared Future? Shared Space?
But I think it DOES neatly fit in with Naomi’s need to rehabilitate herself and her discredited Alliance Party with the unionist voters in East Belfast.
That should bring out the Garden Centre vote after the debacle of the Flegs Dispute, which was totally mismanaged by Alliance.
Even if she loses Westminster in 2015, Naomi can put her feet up on a bench in the “House of Lords”.
I have often made the point that living in Norn Iron in 2013 is a bit like living here in the 1960s. A passive time.
And in December 2012,I blogged about the naming of a Bridge in Belfast…in the 1960s. With loyalists calling for a new bridge over the River Lagan to be called after Edward Carson, the letsgetalongerist/liberal unionist Prime Minister, Terence O’Neill decided on “Queen Elizabeth Bridge”
Choosing a “royal” name did not help Terence O’Neill because within a few years, he was ousted by extremists.
The precedent is not therefore good for Naomi Long.
But thats the whole point of “British Royalty” in Norn Iron. To provide cover for “letsgetalongerists”.
But the new “royal baby” seems a bit young to be shamelessly used by Naomi Long to save her Westminster seat.

Most readers will be far too young to be familiar with the 1960s song “The Bridge” I believe it was by the Go Lucky Four and had the lines.
“Is it Wolfe Tone, Carson, Lagan Bridge…somebody called it Paul….I think that we would be better off of we had no bridge at all”.
It doesnt sound like Naomi has it in her record collection.

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37 Responses to Back To The Future With Naomi Long

  1. the Bridge – to the tune of the sash?

  2. bangordub says:

    Is it not obvious that the bridge should be given a unique name, something refreshing and original? Kings Bridge !

  3. Ronan Burns says:

    I think that you are incorrect in blaming Capt Terence for the naming of the Queen Elizabeth 2 Bridge. The Prods wanted to call it “the Carson Bridge”. I think it was a Republican Labour councillor who suggested “the Queen Elizabeth Bridge” and the Prods could not be seen to oppose such a suggestion. I seem to remember that the then governor of Northern Ireland spoke out against naming the bridge after Carson. Paisley then accused the governor of interfering. (Was the governor a Lord Erskine?) A few months later Paisley led a Prod mob through the Markets on his way to picket the Presbyterian General Assembly. His followers insulted Lady Erskine, the governor’s wife. As a result, the then Minister of Home Affairs, a Brian McConnell from Lisburn, apologised to the Presbyterian Church for the failure of the RUC to protect their guests from the Paisley mob. The Presbyterians were not impressed and summoned McConnell to the Assembly to apologise in person. [The Catholic bishops never managed to summon an Eire government minister to Maynooth to apologise in person to them about anything.]

    Carson’s son claimed to be offended and came from England to campaign against Capt Terence O’Neill. He made himself a candidate for the North Belfast constituency to oppose the sitting Unionist MP, Mr Stratton Mills in the UK general election of March 1966. Those were the days.

    • bangordub says:

      Great stuff Ronan ! I enjoyed that and learnt a few things too

    • Im not sure youre right about how the bridge was named.

      • Ronan Burns says:

        Nor am I. I am relying entirely on memory – an increasingly erratic memory.

        I still seem to remember that it was a Republican Labour councillor who proposed the name “Queen Elizabeth 2” for the new bridge.

        I am not sure that the then governor of Northern Ireland was Lord Erskine. It might have been Lord Wakehurst.

      • I think The sequence was Wakehurst…Erskine…Gray.
        Im inclined to think it was Erskine.
        I recall the incident.
        Not sure who the “Lady” was but she was visibly shaken.

  4. Political Tourist says:

    I thought Naomi’s song was ‘In the middle with you, clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right’.

    • Ronan Burns says:

      I have made further enquiries. The Governor General was Lord Erskine and it was he who suggested Queen Elizabeth as an alternative to “Carson Bridge”. It was his wife who was insulted by the Paisley mob when she was going into the Presbyterian General Assembly.

      I still hold to my view that at the meeting of Belfast Corporation, a Republican Labour councillor (not Gerry Fitt) proposed the name “Queen Elizabeth 11” for the bridge.

      Mr Fitzjameshorse, please remember that I am not just a pretty face.

      • Yes….The only other Republican Labour politicians that I recall were Paddy Kennedy who took the small Central seat at Stormont from JJ Brennan (???) in Early 1969. Kennedy might previously have been on the Council but thats unlikely as he was very young and was too Republican to join SDLP when it was formed.
        Harry Diamond was Republican Labour MP for Falls in 1960s. lost his seat to Paddy Devlin.
        Maybe Harry was on Council.

  5. Ronan Burns says:

    Harry Diamond lost his Stormont seat in the “Ulster is at the Crossroads” election of early 1969. I think he had ceased to be a councillor long before that. Indeed, that absence from local government might have contributed to his defeat in 1969.

    I do not think that Paddy Kennedy was ever a member of the old Belfast Corporation. Was there a Republican Labour councillor called “Hanna” whose son married a daughter of Gerry Fitt? All of this is really at the edge of my memory from an era when I had far more interest in girls than politicians or anything else.

    • Hanna is Frank Hanna and his son Vincent, the BBC journo of Blackadder married one of Gerrys daughters. He had five daughters and referred to them as the Miss Fitts.
      He was not Republican Labour as such…but caled himself Irish Labour or Ind Labour or some such.
      The Crossroads Election…my FJH family circle all lived in Falls. I was too young to vote.
      My uncle who worked with Paddy Devlin at Andrews Mill, canvassed for him. my parents certainly voted Devlin. They had previously voted Diamond. Diamond was a publican and knew my father.
      I think the main reason they voted Diamond was “change” and he was to my young mind a “very old man”.
      A contributory factor was that there was a significant Protestant population in Falls constituency. Our street was “mixed” and I can still remember my dad saying that they were all voting Devlin.

      • Ronan Burns says:

        I did not know that there were Prods living in the Falls. I never knew the area well.

        I seem to remember a “Centre-half bar” owned by a McKenna. Beside it there was Leeson Street leading to Raglan Street where there was a school. That was in St Peter’s parish. Divis Tower had not yet been built. There was a Balaclava Street and a Seastapol Street. The whole area reminded me of my history class about the Crimea War. And, yes, there was a Crimea Street. I cannot remember a Lucan Street although it was Lord Lucan who led the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War.

      • The “Crimea” streets ….Sevastopol Street , Odessa Street, Balaclava Street, Romania Street, Balkan Street, Varna Street , Raglan Street and others were on either side of the Falls Road.
        In my day the Grosvenor Road was “mixed”. The left side going up from town was mostly but not totally Protestant although in my day There was an Orange arch in one of the side streets. These streets included the italian Streets …. Milan, Turin, Venice, Naples etc.
        On the right hand side of the Grosvenor Road the streets which were actualy small and had industrial and corporation property were mostly Protestant. Then there was a cluster of Mixed streets and Cullingtree Road and above was Catholic.
        Of course streets between Falls nd Shankill…Dover, Percy, Conway, Cupar were mixed.
        Broadway was also mixed.

  6. factual says:


    Do you not think it would be a good idea to have more integrated education?

    • Ronan Burns says:

      For those who want it, yes. For the others, NO, NO, NO.

      • factual says:

        Surely it is only with greater inter-community contact and integration, north of the border, that the conditions for a UI can best be brought about?

  7. Ronan Burns says:

    I see no evidence that greater inter-community contact will lessen inter-tribal tensions. The opposite is the case. As the American poet Robert Frost put it “Good fences make good neighbours.” The Prod protests of last winter, following the reduction in Prod privilege concerning flag displays, were often organised on Facebook and similar media. Many of the most vicious anti-Catholic posts were from former students of integrated schools.

    Even if I were convinced that integrated education would reduce sectarian tensions, I would resent any suggestion that a generation of Catholic children and teachers be subjected to sectarian harassment so that Prods might learn that Catholics are human. If segregated education does not cause Catholics to picket schools and throw balloons full of urine at 4 year old pupils, why should it have that effect on Prods? I am tired of Eire people making excuses for Prod bigotry – and gambling courageously with the safety of Northern Ireland Catholics.

    P.S. I am opposed to a United Ireland.

    • factual says:

      Many in Dublin govt circles ….


      • Ronan Burns says:

        The fact that “many in Dublin govt circles” want something is a very good reason for Northern Ireland Catholics to be suspicious.

      • factual says:

        Ronan Burns: Those attacks on protestant homes and halls that have been happening in the news lately north of the border over the weekend. And similar attacks on Catholics. Well, integrated education would help those who are of different faiths to see that “the other side” is much better than they fear and hence stop attacking them.

      • kalista63 says:

        Integrated education assumes the one is as bad as the other nonsense..I’d be keen to see a nationalist or republican equivalent of this sort of nonsense being pushed as culture, for this is what kids will fed after their school day with Seamus and Ciaran.

        Look at Philip Brett and Ruth Patterson pushing lies, discredited by unionist residents in Suffolk, about the incident on Friday. This is the source of our problems.

      • factual says:

        I never buy the argument that the “source” is something you can pin on the other side. Its a systemic problem.

  8. Ronan Burns says:

    How do you know what integrated education WOULD do? It has not prevented many Prod from being vicious anti-Catholic bigots.

    If you really want integrated education in Northern Ireland, spell out your guarantees that Catholics would get fair play in a single education system for Northern Ireland.

  9. Kudos to Naomi on what can only be described as the single most transparent bit of nonsense I’ve seen in a while but she’s got a seat to keep is not above the fray as is so blatantly obvious here.

    BTW Mr FJH, we’ve got the first post from Cleenish, he’s looking into the SDLP ( and I would love your opinion and also that of your readers and commentators here too (that includes you Factual)

    • factual says:

      Conal McDevitt


      • factual says:

        FJH: Can you clarify your criteria for censoring posts?

      • The Blog is a pan nationalist Blog which seeks to create an atmosphere in which nationalists of every hue can contribute thoughtful posts. To your credit, you often so do.
        The Blog works best when nationalists engage in the spirit of seriously looking at the weaknesses in their own SDLP/SF/Other case and look to the strengths of other cases.
        It is not a mere exercise in propaganda for one nationalist view at the expense of another nationalist view. Its not about point scoring.
        In paying tribute to your ability to analyse and make useful contributions, Id not be doing your powers of analysis any good if I allowed contributions which merely parrot the latest Sinn Fein line.
        Nor do I particuarly like your tendency to say things like “X is well regarded” or “it is said…”
        You totally underestimate your own abilities.
        On this Blog I actually want to see what YOU think. Dont tell me what Somebody Else thinks.
        Dont be so academic…youre not writing an essay.
        Youre involved in a discussion with FRIENDS. Look on it that way and you wont go far wrong.
        I know youre young.
        I know Im an old man.
        Sorry if it sounds patronising ( its the only pleasure I have left) but your own thoughts and opinions are much better than you think.

  10. Well if “shared space” is the theme of the day then the bridge must of course be named after Roger Casement. A proper son of Belfast and Antrim (albeit via Dublin). What better than a liberal, centre-left, gay, Protestant, Anglo-Irish and Scots-Irish man Ulsterman and Irishman for “NI21”? Every box ticked. I feel a campaign coming on!

    By the by, the majority of people in Belgium are Roman Catholics, both Walloons and Flemings, and attend RC patronised schools. Yet the majority of Wallons and Flemings are diametrically opposed? Could it be because its not about religion? To misquote someone else, Its nationality, stupid! 😉

    • Sign me up to the Roger Casement Bridge campaign.

    • anewdawn says:

      What chance would there be for Roger Casement when they couldn’t even stomach the idea of naming the new peace bridge in Derry in honour of John Hume. To divisive they said for a city where the main bridge is named after James Craig. Imagine what they would have called it in the good old days. We also seen how they reacted to a park named after Raymond McCreesh.
      They like to claim these new landmarks for British royals British army or any other Loyalist icon or event from history. These days If they can’t put a PUL stamp on it then it has to be totally neutral with CNR excluded from the pecking order.
      The flag has gone from Belfast city hall but only from the outside. When Sinn Fein and the SDLP become a majority I’d like to see them stripping the place of the various symbols which reflect only the Unionist view or an equal amount of space being made for Nationalism. A shared future lets get along blablabla lets put them to the test.
      A statue of Henry Joy or Thomas Russell on top of the dome overlooking the city would be a good start.

      • Ah yeah, true, but Sir Roger D. Casement, scourge of colonial exploitation, gay man, Protestant, Planter scion, Ulster-lover, liberal, revolutionary and sufferer of a tragic end would be a great sell to Ireland as a whole and internationally too. And it would annoy the bejaysus out of certain Unionist illiberals. I say lets go for it.

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