If Sinn Féin are on poor ground, when they name a childrens play park for an IRA Volunteer, they are on much better ground in the new Mid Ulster Council when they introduce a measure that means the British Poppy and Easter Lily will not be sold on council premises. It is absolutely in keeping with the idea of neutral environments.
For Unionists and some LetsGetAlongerists, the Poppy transcends politics. It is a gesture to those servicemen who suffered for …Britain. I dont think they get the point that it was “for Britain”. It might well have its roots (no pun intended) in the “lions led by donkeys” mythology of World War One or fighting Fascism in World War Two…but it also honours those who fought in British uniform in India, Cyprus, Kenya, Aden, Malaya and other places around the world. It is NOT a neutral symbol.
Next month, the twenty six “old” Norn Iron councils become just eleven “new” councils. The Demographics are simple enough. Six of these new councils are unionist and four are nationalist and one (Belfast) is “hung”.
There have been winners and losers. As some unionist councils will insist on flying the British flag, all year round and the small nationalist Coincil of Moyle disappearing into unionist controlled Causeway Council (and the British flag likely to fly again in Ballycastle), it is easy to see that this is all negotiating positions ahead of alleged attempts to resolve all this later in the summer.
Later in the summer…which is after the Election of course. So it is about Negotiations and Electioneering.
Parity of Esteem. Zero Sum Politics.
There was a point during the 1998 Peace Process, when the unionists signed up to Parity of Esteem. For Gerry Adams, things such as the Irish Language are the “Trojan Horse” to get under the skins of unionists. Not to put to fine a point on it, he is analysing it correctly.
Forget all the headlines around the Good Friday Agreement. When the unionists signed up to Parity of Esteem, I told anyone who would listen that it was the great “Gotcha” moment of modern Irish History.
Simply put, Unionism is about Supremacy. Unionism was never about Parity. When they signed up to it, they sold out the very premise of their entire way of life.
Parity of Esteem is exactly what it says on the tin. …Parity. They just dont get it. They dont get that it is about either downgrading their poppy or upgrading Irish symbolism. To some extent, I undestand that their sense of entitlement is part of their psyche. There is no shame in that. But the unionist sense of entitlement is fuelled by LetsGetAlongerist support. As I have always said, LetsGetAlongerism is not neutral. It is a UNIONIST position that advocates living together happily, but only in the context of unionism being a default position.