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Everything you’ll ever need to know about what’s going on in This Here Pravince

Flag protests – your super A to Z guide

By Squinter

A is for anger

Everything that has happened in Belfast and elsewhere since December 3 2012 has been motivated by anger. The loyalist people are angry and the main reason for their anger is that nobody seems to know what they’re angry about. Every loyalist spokesman says something different from the last when asked why they’re angry. So, actually, they are angry about being angry and that makes them even more angry. And, of course, being angry about being angry about being angry… (that’s enough. Ed)


B is for blocked

Roads are routinely blocked as part of the loyalist flag protests while ordinary citizens are blocked by the PSNI from going about their lawful business in order not to upset the protestors and cause more to come out and block more roads, thus requiring more cops to block more citizens from using the roads and pavements. And of course not only are roads routinely blocked – the protestors are all blocked too.


C is for commerce

Or Christmas commerce, if you like, which has been devastated by the protests to the tune of an estimated £15 million; which, we are told, is also the approximate cost to the taxpayer of police overtime and packed lunches. This loss of income has prompted City Hall to impose a zero per cent rates increase for the coming year, which means that not only have republicans had the pleasure of finally watching the union jack come down, it’s also saved them a few quid too.


D is for drag

Closing roads (see B for blocked) has since the inception of the state meant that republicans responsible for such illegality are dragged and/or beaten unceremoniously from said roads by the police, sometimes with the assistance of loyalists (B can also mean Burntollet). That this remains the case is evidenced by their robust response at Ardoyne shops in 2011. But under no circumstance are loyalists to be dragged or otherwise manhandled; rather they are to be monitored, which is much less painful.


E is for equivocate

Newspapers, radio and television programmes are concerned about losing loyalist readers, listeners and watchers, so they have invented a new language to deal with inconvenient facts that might tend to alienate the true blue. Riots, for instance, are not riots, but trouble or disorder. Attacks on the Short Strand by city centre protestors returning to East Belfast are not attacks but interface clashes. Protests at which prams and children are present are good-natured while protests at which no attempts are made on the lives of police officers or Catholics are termed uneventful.


F is for Fenian

A Fenian was a member of a republican brotherhood of the late 19th century. It is also a catch-all term for anyone who doesn’t have a union jack draped across their shoulders. Therefore, in the right circumstances police officers can be Fenians, journalists can be Fenians, car drivers can be Fenians and Mike and Peter’s Unionist Forum can be Fenians. Fenians are mostly Fenian bastards, but when the WKD kicks in they quickly become Fenian c***s.


G is for Great Britain

Great Britain is an entirely separate entity from Northern Ireland, viz ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ and not ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Wales or Scotland’ on the front of a UK passport. Therefore, the flag protestors are technically not British at all, although to point this out is to run the risk of incurring their wrath (see F is for Fenian).


H is for aitch

One of the things that most incenses loyalists (see A is for anger) is the PSNI’s cold-case unit, the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which carries out investigations into unsolved killings from the past. It is often wrongly assumed that Protestants don’t like it because it focuses too much on the UDA and UVF, but this is only partly true. Mostly they  don’t like it because too many of  its officers these days say Haitch ET in stead of Aitch ET (see K is for Kafflick). The HET is also looking into the activities of the RHC, which complicates things devilishly.


I is for information

Information on how the Alliance Party intended to vote on the City Hall flag issue was disseminated in a unionist unity leaflet which the unionist leaders now say they had no information about; this leaflet sent East Belfast into DefCon 10. Since then information on the flags issue, alongside poorly-spelt death threats, has largely been made available on the ‘Loyalist Peaceful Protests Updater’ website although this is constantly being closed down (see A is for anger, B is for blocked and F is for Fenian).


J is for Jamie

The de facto leader of the flag protests and co-founder of the Ulster People’s Forum, Jamie Bryson, cuts a distinctive figure in his East 17 ‘Stay Now’ white anorak in which he made his BT4

‘Go Now’ advice to First Minister Peter Robinson. His Jim Allister-like speech idiosyncrasies undermine somewhat his clear wish to be an Uwster weader and owator of Edward Carson’s stature, as does his passion for playing hurley in Turkey. Jamie’s second love is soccer and he’s the new mascot of the Northern Ireland football team, whose luck has already turned with an against-the-odds 0-0 draw in Malta.


K is for Kafflicks

An East Belfast synonym for Catholics, Kafflicks are generally to blame for the unrest (see E is equivocate) surrounding the flag protests because they are ‘gittin’ every’hing’ while loyalists are ‘gittin’ nathin’.’ What Kafflicks are gittin’ and what Protestants are nat gittin’ is generally unclear (see A is for anger) althought a consensus has emerged that gittin’ nathin’ goes beyond havin’ the fleg tuk down.


L is for largely

Flag protests that end in trouble and/or unrest are largely described by journalists as largely peaceful (see E is for equivocate). Why? Well, It’s too often forgotten that periods of intense violence are generally preceded by periods of non-violent protesting and non-violent walking or running to get to the violence. There are also periods of peace during which petrol bombs are being prepared and bricks and bottles gathered. In a similar way, an apple containing a single worm is largely edible. Riots in Kafflick areas (which are the only places that riots are to be found in loyal Ulster) can never be preceded by largely peaceful protests; rather protests in disloyal parts of the city erupt in violence.

M is for minuscule

Flag protests are most notable for the tiny numbers of loyalists attending them, although this fact is generally ignored. The Office for National Statistics this week released data showing that the average localised protest is attended by 34.7 persons, while Belfast city centre weekend protests are larger with an average attendance of 123.4 persons. Despite these modest numbers, flag protests are accepted by all media outlets as empirical evidence that le tout Ulster is deeply unhappy (see A is for Anger).

Next week: N-Z


N is for No Surrender

A bag lady in a knitted cap and Deirdre Barlow spectacles became the unexpected face of the fleg  protest when she screamed the stirring loyalist slogan ‘No Surrender!’ at a City Hall back door. It’s not clear whether a brick or her shrill voice shattered the glass in the window through which she popped her lovely head. Playboy have reputedly offered her a fortune to be photographed naked doing not a dance of the seven veils, but a dance of the seven union jacks. Her agent says she’ll consider it only if it’s tastefully done.


O is for Outworking

It’s the outworking of the Belfast Agreement that has caused this explosion of anger among the loyalist people of Ulster. While Sinn Féin have not done anything that expressly contravenes their responsibilities, they have contravened the spirit of the Belfast Agreement and that’s enough for the roads to be blocked and the petrol bombs to fly. The problem is, no loyalist or unionist can quite put their finger on what the spirit of the Agreement is, as distinct from the Agreement itself and that is in another unfortunate outworking of the peace process (see A is for Anger).


P is for Protestant

Although nationalists and republicans (see F is for Fenian and K is for Kafflicks) are often reminded gloatingly that they are part of the United Kingdom whether they like it or not, the union jack is most decidedly not their flag, rather it is the flag only of the Protestants, or of the Protestant People. Protestants are part of a wider group that has become known in recent years as PUL (Protestant, unionist, loyalist, as in: ‘Jamie Bryson’s going to be our leader? Aye, PUL the other one).

Q is for the Queen

The British national anthem is often sung lustily at fleg demos, although in true-blue Ulster the words ‘No Surrender!’ are added between the third and fourth lines to give it a more loyalist feel (see P is for Protestant). This is also the case at Northern Ireland international football matches, and with pleasing synchronicity, Northern Ireland football flags are also flown at fleg protests and Jamie Bryson is the mascot of the Northern Ireland football team. Not all the words are sung, mostly because the vast majority of those present don’t know them, but because time is short and other tuneful celebrations of Britishness require to be fitted in, such as The Billy Boys, Bouncy, Bouncy and The Sloop John B (but not The Famine Song).


R is for Rangers

Fleg protestors (see P is for Protestant) are extremely fond of Rangers Football Club, or as it’s better known, Sevco 5088 (see A is for Anger). Declarations of support for Rangers are common, with jerseys, coats and flags particularly prevalent. Scarves are popular too, but these are not worn around the neck, rather they are wrapped around the face so that the wearers can pose for pictures beside unionist politicians. Rangers play in the Scottish Third Division after they were knocked back by the South Fermanagh Boys Brigade second tier league. Next week they play Clyde (the football team, not the orang-utan from Every Way But Loose).


S is for Spelling

Fleg protestors are not big on spelling, as a result of the loyalist system for 90 years failing the loyalist people of Ulster (see A is for Anger P is for Protestant). Nevertheless, with admirable pluck, they persist in bringing home-made banners to their demos, notably at Braodway, Dundonlad and Finahgy. Loyalist online forums are best avoided by those with an affection for the queen’s English as appalling atrocities are committed on the language, ironically in the name of that very queen (See F is for Fenain, P is for Protistint and R is for Ragners).


T is for Traitor

Traitors (also known as Lundys) are a large and disparate group within the PUL community (see P is for Protestant) at present mostly made up of the PSNI, who have no business standing about brutally monitoring flag protests (see D is for Drag). Nationalists cannot be traitors by dint of the fact that they are inherently and incorrigibly disloyal (see F is for Fenian and K is for Kafflicks). All Protestant members of the Alliance Party are presently deeply traitorous, lily-livered sell-out merchants, as are anybody else with politics less loyal than the protestors. This includes certain members of the UUP, the DUP, the UDR Were Magic Association, the Torch Andytown Now Society and the Bring Back the B-Specials Coalition.


U is for Upside-Down

For a people who profess to love their fleg so much, there is an astonishing amount of confusion over the right way to fly it. It’s pretty simple if you take a second – the white diagonal bar highest up near the flagpole needs to be a thick one and not a thin one; unfortunately thick is an adjective that’s not only applied to the various bars on the fleg. There is a school of thought that says that an upside-down union jack is a distress signal and that those who fly it the wrong way round are actually making a profound and sophisticated statement on the political process in their beloved province. Given that one of the people flying a union jack upside-down outside the City Hall also had an ‘Oi Skinz!’ tattoo on his neck, that seems unlikely. And anyway, the other side of the argument is that those fly it the right way up – probably a small majority – must be tickled pink with how things are going. And nobody could say that about some of the angriest of the protestors (see J is for Jamie).


V is for Victory

First of all we were told that the protests would stop when the flag went back up on City Hall, and since Billy Hutchinson had a secret master plan Black Adder-like in its cunning, that day seemed not too far away. But 12 weeks on and Billy hasn’t produced the goods and the issue has disappeared from the City Hall agenda, so victory must perforce take on another guise. Victory will now come when those many things that are upsetting the loyalist people (see A is for Anger) are addressed and when Sinn Féin stop breaching the spirit of the Belfast Agreement  (see O is for Outworking). Just when that great day will arrive is not entirely clear, but as ever in loyalist politics, everything will be ‘sweet as’ again when the Brits chuck a few quid at the UVF and the UDA.


W is for Willie

Willie Frazer has been in more groups than Eric Clapton, but unlike the noted guitarist, his list of achievements remains stubbornly unremarkable. Willie has been welcomed into the bosom of the Ulster People’s Forum (see J is for Jamie) although he and the leadership fell out badly over the decision to change tactics (W is also for White-Line Pickets). Briefly estranged from the nascent loyalist group, he is now back in good odour with the leadership although he’s still not convinced about the white-line pickets, which he believes are too, ah, middle-of-the-road. Willie is well used to riding two horses at the same time, however. He has used his trademark megaphone not only to lobby for a return of the fleg to the Dome of Delight, but also to accuse the IRA of introducing to the supermarket shelves horse-meat mixed with beef; or as he calls it, Chuck Steak.


X is for Xenophobia

The loyalist fleg protestors of This Here Pravince don’t much like the Irish people of This Here Pravince (see F is for Fenian), or indeed the Polish or Phillipine people of This Here Pravince (see K is for Kafflick). The protestors like Scottish people so much that they have many of them at their demos, but only a certain kind of Scottish person is welcome at City Hall – intoxicated, heavily-tattooed and with a union jack around his shoulders (see R is for Rangers).

Y is for Yesteryear

Once upon a time, not that very long ago – only a few short years, in fact – Belfast City Hall was a bastion of co-operation and respect. Then those nasty Shinners decided to get rid of their nice councillors and replace them with snarling newcomers, red in tooth and claw, who engineered the current flags controversy. So uncompromisingly hard-core and unreasonable are these interlopers that they went along with the Alliance Party and voted for the union jack to be flown at City Hall on designated days. So, in summary, Sinn Féin were dead-on until they decided to go down the Alliance Party route. Who said politics in this city never changes?


Z is for Zero

Zero is the number of times that the loyalist protestors complained pre-December 3 2012 about the union jack only flying over the Stormont Assembly on designated days. Zero is the number of unionists on Lisburn City Council who spoke out in recent years about the same policy being in effect at their Council headquarters. Zero is also the number of extra days that the protestors have managed to get the flag back flying over any building in the North and zero is the number of times that this has been pointed out to protest spokespersons. Zero is the number of suggestions that the DUP and the UUP have for introducing fleg protestors to the 21st century and zero is the respect for the flag displayed by protestors who leave Council workmen to pick union jacks up off the roads around City Hall the morning after the night before. And finally, zero is the amount of interest shown in the protest by other parts of this United Kingdom.

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