Below are the opinions of the leaders of the two largest British Unionist political parties on the island of Ireland on the violent campaign against the “liberal Unionists” of the Alliance Party following the Belfast City Council majority vote to remove the British flag from its permanent position atop Belfast City Hall.
The statement of Peter Robinson MLA, DUP leader and Joint First Minister of the North of Ireland, is a thinly disguised threat of future trouble should anyone attempt to further challenge the fading domination of the north-eastern part of the country by the British minority:
“Those who supported the removal of the Union Flag on all but a handful of days from City Hall have started a debate which has undoubtedly damaged relationships in the Council and beyond. The decision by nationalists to seek the removal of the Union flag was a divisive and provocative act.
A number of months ago commentators were surprised when I put down a clear marker with Alliance’s David Ford that he was not to remove Royal symbols from the Prison Service. Perhaps now they will understand that the DUP realised where meddling with identity would lead.
Let no one be in any doubt, whether it is the Parades Commission, Alliance or Sinn Fein, the DUP believes in and wants to achieve a shared future for Northern Ireland, a shared future within the Union but that does not require and will not involve any diminution of our Britishness.”
In other words the shared future offered by the DUP is strictly a “British Northern Ireland” and to hell with any other views or opinions.
The statement of Mike Nesbitt MLA, the UUP leader, commenting on the attacks against the offices and membership of the Alliance Party is another example of Unionists turning on any group or any thing which imperils their centuries-old hegemony:
“It’s taking the focus off what the Alliance Party has done in terms of the flag of Belfast City Hall and allowing them to portray themselves as victims.
“What they have done is demonstrate that they are not a kind of cuddly form of Unionism, but they’re actually anti-British in some ways and that is where the focus should be – not on the fact that they’re being attacked…”
Then there is this:
“…it is also wrong to continue to make the Unionist people of Belfast feel that they are to be treated as a minority whose heritage and values are to be suppressed.”
A statement so monumentally lacking in self-awareness that one is simply left gasping with incredulity…