So farewell then Dr Richard Haass. And his charming assistant, Professor Meghan O’Sullivan.
As I write this…almost 1pm on 23rd December there is no agreement on “Flags, Parades and The Past”.
Two questions. Was there ever likely to be one (or indeed three seperate agreements)? And from a nationalist perspective is an agreement desirable?
We have danced around Conflict Resolution and the Past for fifteen years. We are…arguably doing “something” albeit in a piecemeal and contradictory way. The Police Ombudsman investigates wrong-doing in the old RUC (and the Retired RUC types are not overly co-operative). The PSNI Historical Enquiry Team are turning up (limited) stuff…which at least points to the organisations (RUC/British, UVF/UDA, Irish Republican Army) involved.
Enquiries such as Saville have revealed the “truth” about Bloody Sunday.
I resent the notion that Saville revealed “truth”. We all KNEW the Truth for four decades. As we did with McGurks Bar (a new Truth narrative has been established) and we know the Truth about the Ballymurphy Massacre …a subject close to my heart…but it has not yet been OFFICIALLY established.
We dance around the Truth because of Creative Ambiguity.
No party to the Conflict…British, unionist, republican…really wants the truth to be revealed. The Civil Servants and Military Men on good British pensions hold enough Dirt on the British political Establishment to block any real investigation or revelation.
Likewise too many in the old RUC, loyalist murder gangs or Guys in the Felons blubber know too much about their political associates.
The tariff of two years jail time for offences committed before 1998…is effectively an incentive to keep the Peace. Increasingly, its unlikely that people will be charged because of simple matters like lost evidence, memory of witnesses and the passing of Time.
We have had an unannounced Amnesty for fifteen years.
It was first used as a measure to keep the paramilitaries on board with the Peace Process and is now embedded. Rather than being a threat to paramilitaries, the reality is that the Process NEEDS the paramilitaries.
Of course the other side of the coin…is the Victims.
There is a mantra that nothing has been done for Victims.
The truth is that a lot has been done for SOME Victims and very little for other Victims.
The old RUC for example managed to negotiate themselves very large pay offs…money to disappear.
The Peace Process has been a very uneven affair.
Tinkering with it amplifies the imbalance.
Everything we did fifteen years ago was for the Common Good …1998 Version.
Everything we talk about now is for the Common Good…2013 Version.
Likewise Orange Parades. These are quasi-fascists who we must tolerate. It goes too far to facilitate them and humour them. And much too far to support them. In a genuinely civilised society…the Orange Order would be a marginalised relic of an uncivilised Past. Like the Ku Klux Klan in Old Dixie.
Likewise Flegs. Belfast is no longer the jewel in the Unionist Crown. But not quite a Nationalist city. Sinn Fein and SDLP voted to remove the British Flag from the City Hall on 365 Days of the Year…and agreed to a compromise from Alliance that it flies on designated days such as “Prince Williams” birthday.
Unionists of course should have embraced this compromise. Instead they rejected it and Haass-O’Sullivan are brought over to bail them out.
A Question….just how many Fleggers know the “Royal Birthdays” without looking up Wikipedia.
What compromise can possibly be arranged around Flegs?
Designated Days enshrined in Law …flying the British Flag …on around twenty days a year…including those nationalist councils like Newry and Derry …where no flag flies.
Why would Sinn Fein or SDLP agree to that?
Are Unionists ever going to recognise the Irish Flag on any public building…I have never even seen it fly from a Belfast hotel.
The simple fact is that the most hyped Decade of Centenaries flounders on this kinda nonsense.
Sooner or later Dominic Bryan from QUB will be heading up some cobbled together Commission to look into Flegs.
The reality is that the Emergency Call that went out to Richard Haass is a hoax call.
DUP and Sinn Fein need each other too much to allow the Government and/or Assembly to collapse and the Haass role is not to find a solution but to provide some respite.
Council Elections take place in May 2014….SF will claim they held firm against DUP. DUP will claim they held firm against SF.
Lots of those Continuity RUC types are back in the fold of the PSNI and former PIRA Volunteers in their 50s and 60s are being arrested left, right and centre for actions committed in their teens and twenties. So some faction in the British state is pursuing their own truth process – via the courts – and aimed solely at Republicans of one sort or another. And to hell with the Peace Process Plc.
In Belgium on the issue of flags and emblems they use a weighted majority system. I would suggest the same for the north-east. Where 65% of locally elected councillors favour the Irish flag use that. Where 65% favour the British use that. Where there is no 65%+ majority on either side then there is no flag.
I was right with you until you mentioned Belgium. 😉
I think someday it will fall apart.
There is more papering over the cracks in Belgium than anywhere else in Europe.
Here is my Christmas compromise on ‘flegs’ triggered by your reference to Prince William’s birthday. On all those non-designated ‘fleg’ days surely some Belfast nationalist/republican would be celebrating their own birthday so why not have the ‘fleg’ flown in honour of these citizens on their birthdays on the non-designated days ?
Better yet, surely Catholic babies are born every day in Belfast so why not have the Union Flag hoisted to honour their entry into the world on the non-designated days ? That way there would be a constant reminder to unionism that time was running out and the sooner they make their peace with Irish unity, the better for them.
Wishing a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year to all – most especially the Fleggers and all those with whom I might have been at odds during 2013.
p.s. I should have said that Nationalists would of course be only too happy to celebrate the birthdays of Protestant babies by hoisting the Tricolour alongside the Union Flag in their honour on non-designated days.
Ah..As long as there is Parity.
Designated Days is a very difficult concept for unionists.
Flying the Butchers Apron on 365 days is no test of their loyalty but flying the Flag on a designated day is.
They would all be looking up at it and asking each other.
“Who is it?”
“Are you sure?…it might be Charlie”
“I think he’s dead”
And so on.
Oh O.K. In order to avoid confusion I am happy that we nationalists and Republicans volunteer to fly the tricolour over Belfast City Hall every day of the year in clebration of any and all babies born in Belfast on that day – to Catholic families, Protestant families, Muslim families, Hindu families, Buddhist families, atheist and agnostic families and especially those who are abandoned and have no family whatsoever to call their own. Let the people of Belfast, of all religions and none, be family to them that we may learn to be family to each other.
Thats our Christmas Message to Norn Iron.