T HEY’VE been flying the English flag in the streets and shops and pubs of West Belfast since Euro 2012 began two weeks ago. Not on its own, of course, but with the other 15 flags of the competing nations. In the East of the city, clearly they aren’t quite as relaxed about ‘foreign flegs’ – even wee tiny ones. These (right) are the windows of McLean’s bookmakers on the Woodstock Road, which Squinter passed by while out for a stroll on Monday evening. And those are the flags of the Euro 2012 teams. Well, 15 out of 16 of them, anyway. For someone has carefully removed the Irish tricolour, lest it cause a riot during that quiet period between the 2.15 at Naas and the 2.30 at Wincanton.
Of course, the odds were short that this would happen, given that loyalists don’t like the Irish flag, even when it’s flying in Fenianly districts. This week a huge one went up in (on) the Hatchet Field, adjacent to the upper Springfield, alongside a message reading ‘Éiriu is the queen of Ireland’. Jim Allister immediately got on to Strandtown barracks and demanded that they go up there right away and remove it lest it cause a breach of the peace. They didn’t bother.
After outraged mutterings on Facebook about outraged Protestants going up there and removing it themselves, sure enough 40 Sons of Ulster went up and caused a riot. The Trevors, unperturbed by the Facebook chatter, were nowhere to be seen.
Squinter had kind of hoped that Jim would lead a crack squad of TUV seals up the mountain and remove this gross insult to Her Maj himself – Where Legal Eagles Dare, that kind of thing. But it wasn’t to be. It seems a long time since 1964 when another vocal Ulsterman urged the police to go into a Catholic area to remove an Irish flag. All those years ago the RUC obliged and one breach of the peace was averted while another erupted that was to last for 30 years.
At least that didn’t happen. Or not yet anyway.