I live in Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland. An area of great beauty, heritage and some wonderful people. It is variously described as a country, province or region of the UK.
At last count we had a Population count of 1.811 million. The majority of whom wish to go about their daily business and earn an honest crust. Unfortunately there are a few………….
The Northern Ireland Assembly, sitting at Stormont, is the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. Don’t be going interrupting them with any little problems at the moment, 😉 they are in recess (14 December 2013 to 5 January 2014).
The NI Assembly is responsible for making laws on transferred matters in Northern Ireland. In recent weeks (maybe months), the members of the five main Stormont parties have been examining a draft document on the way forward on flags, parades and the past, drawn up by US diplomat Richard Haass.
Early in December 2012, the organisers of a ‘Fleg’ protest (that is how these folk pronounce the word Flag), caused major disruption to the hard grafting folk of Belfast and many other towns across the province. Marches and protests were often followed by violence, which discouraged people from shopping or planning meals out with friends etc. In times of recession, every sale is important, some establishments and stores were depending on pre-Christmas business to make quotas after poor sales earlier in the year. Many of these businesses did not survive past the end of the year.*
The organisers of the ‘Fleg’ protest, following the decision of Belfast City Council to limit the days that the Union Flag (the flag of the United Kingdom) was flown from Belfast City Hall, are the same people who decorate every highway and byway street light and telegraph pole with a flag every year for the marching season. Some of these specimens are attached to the pole at the furthest reach of the person attaching it. Many looked like the country was in mourning with the flags looking like they were at half mast.
The enthusiasm ran out, as it does every year during the marching season. The flags are crudely hung, on occasions upside down, and left there until they rot. No sign or thought of having respect for a flag, as we see in other countries. Today I managed to take a few photos of one such rag that was pristine (but cheap poor fabric, probably made in China) when it first graced a light pole in my neck of the woods, last May. Not alone is it an insult to Queen and country, it is now no longer suitable to be used to wipe your shoes.
Not wanting to be left out in the cold, ‘theotheruns’ wanted some of the action…..
On Monday 25 November 2013, masked men in boiler suits hijacked a car and forced the driver to take a beer keg packed with 60 kg (132 lbs) of home made explosives to the city centre and leave it at an underground car park entrance to Victoria Street Centre, the prime shopping location in Belfast close to one of the city’s main police stations and the court complex.
The centre was evacuated and surrounding streets closed during the alert, with dozens spending the night in the Ulster Hall concert venue. The bomb detonated at 11.15pm as army bomb disposal experts prepared to examine it. Car owners who had parked their vehicles in the underground car park, were unable to return and retrieve them until 7am the next morning.
Last Friday night dissident republicans claimed responsibility for a small bomb explosion in Belfast Cathedral Quarter. The weekend was one of the busiest for staff outings in the run-up to Christmas. Dozens of those forced to pile out onto the streets had just sat down to food, when the police began evacuating the area.
Just think of the wasted long hours spent in growing, shipping and purchasing the food. This is before the costs to purchasing premises, running costs, hiring staff and paying wages and preparing, cooking & serving the meals. One nights disruption alone, cost restaurants £60,000′.
* This three part interview with Paul Rankin and Michael Deane, made in April this year, gives a picture of the mountain that businesses have to negotiate here in this tiny corner of the globe.
Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3
If we, in this tiny speck on the globe cannot work together, what hope is there for the rest of the world? Peace how are you!