ALLIANCE Party leader and Justice Minister David Ford has been lecturing Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness on flags. “We need to see the the First Minister and Deputy First Minister come up with a clear and strong protocol on flags,” said the Bearded But Fringeless One. “But there is clear resistance coming from certain parties, holding us all back.”
David was uncharacteristically coy about naming the parties, but we can be fairly sure that he meant the DUP and Sinn Féin and we can be equally sure that he didn’t mean Alliance. But you wonder why not.
Last week Alliance voted with the other unionists in Belfast to hoist a duvet-sized British Army flag over the City Hall as a tribute to ‘Our Boys’ in the run-up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday. They could have said, no, have you seen the size of the union jack that’s up there already? Or they could have said, fair enough, but only for one day, and let’s make that day, aaahhh, let’s see now, um, yes, let’s make it Armed Forces Day.
But they didn’t say any of these things. They did exactly as their openly unionist colleagues demanded and voted to stick it up there for a week. This in a city which already resembles the Last Night of the Proms on the evening of Victory in Europe Day. And this from a party which only a month ago walked out of talks on a Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy, which had the issue of flags high on the list of Things To Do.
So, Dave, we know you’re the Alliance Party and all, and we know we’re supposed to be kind to the Alliance Party because they were being lovely when everyone else was being horrible, but come on. At least have the decency to take a reddener.