In this article, éirígí representative Pádraic Mac Coitir takes a look at recent developments in Belfast’s Union flag controversy.
In recent days there has been controversy over the issue of a union flag flying over Belfast city hall. Unionists, as expected, reacted violently to the decision to fly it on eighteen designated days a year. How many times have constitutional nationalists told us the Orange state is no more and that we live in a more tolerant society?
The spin put out by propagandists that the British flag has never been taken down in decades is not true. In June 2008 éirígí activists scaled the perimeter fence and climbed up to the roof to replace it with an Iraqi flag. This was in response to war crimes being carried out by the US and British governments in Iraq.
The issue of flags is a smokescreen for the wider sectarianism being waged by unionists. Sinn Féin and the SDLP bowed to pressure during a debate in Belfast city council and agreed to let that flag on certain days, including the birthday of the English queen. Already in many parts of Belfast unionists are putting up more flags, especially in so-called interfaces. On Saturday [December 08] they are expected to flood Belfast city centre with even more flags. No doubt their allies in the PSNI will stand by while this happens. This is in stark contrast to the PSNI response to peaceful marches and protests held by republicans.
Those constitutional nationalists, SF and SDLP, who claim the removal of this flag as some sort of victory would do well to remember the words of Connolly as far back as 1897 when he stated that the removal of an English flag would not, and could not, lead to freedom.
Without the establishment of a socialist republic, Connolly said, the Irish working class would still be ruled by capitalists, by landlords, by financiers, by a whole array of commercial and individualist institutions.
How very true his words are today. Such cosmetic changes will make no difference to our lives. The working class people in Ireland today still await a meaningful victory.
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