Anorak | The Belfast City Hall Flag Riot: Photos of Prince Edward’s most meaningful moment

The Belfast City Hall Flag Riot: Photos of Prince Edward’s most meaningful moment

by | 4th, December 2012

PA 15300752 The Belfast City Hall Flag Riot: Photos of Prince Edwards most meaningful moment

ON the day Kate Middleton announces her pregnancy, hundreds of Northern Irish monarchists come out waving Union flags. But they weren’t happy. They were angry. Kate has opted to get pregnancy treatment in London not Belfast. The future King or Queen will not be Irish. But that wasn’t it. This was about flags.

The flag waving was punctuated with violence. In response to the Alliance Party’s proposal, Belfast councillors voted by 29-21 to change their policy on flying the Union flag over Belfast City Hall. The flag will only flutter on 18 days of the year (the BBC has 15 days). The flag has flown from the building every day since the place opened in 1906. The custom must change. A crowd descended on the building. They attempted to storm the building. Some later attacked St Matthew’s Catholic Church in a nationalist area of east Belfast. A tricolour was burnt. Representatives of Her Majesty’s police force were injured.

Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland’s First Minister and leader of the loyalist DUP, reacted:

“There is no excuse or justification for attacks on police officers, council staff and property…The decision to pursue the removal of the flag from City Hall and other council buildings, despite warnings of the likely consequential impact on community relations, was foolish and provocative. Those who talk most about building community relations have by their actions in the council substantially damaged relations across the city.”

No excuse or provocative and foolish? Any fool could have seen the aggro coming.

Brian Kingston, a DUP councillor, added:

“The removal of the flag is part of the nationalist parties’ anti-British agenda yet there is no sense that this was a burning issue in the nationalist community. Polls show that Catholics in Northern Ireland want to remain part of the United Kingdom yet these parties continue to ask to remove any emblem of British identity.”

Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford says:

“DUP and UUP politicians fomented this protest, with both leaflets and the use of social media. They called people on to the streets. They must have known, from experience as recent as this summer, that violence was almost inevitable. They cannot avoid their responsibility.”

The Union flag flies on Government building for 17 designated days. BElfast City hall has bene brought into line. Sinn Fein say it’s contaminated:

The British flag, whatever political allegiance it may convey, has been used by unionism as a symbol of political dominance and a tool of sectarian coat trailing. Parity of esteem, equality, inclusivity and the promotion of mutual respect should underpin future decisions on the flying of flags at government and public buildings.

The Democratic Unionist Party says:

The Union flag is a constitutional symbol recognised internationally. As an integral part of the United Kingdom the Union flag is therefore the constitutional symbol for Northern Ireland and should be accorded no less standing and acknowledgement than in any other part of the Kingdom.

The Alliance Party opines:

Any proposal for the flying of flags in Northern Ireland should take account of differing views within Northern Ireland society, as well as precedent in other parts of the UK. The Good Friday Agreement recognises that Northern Ireland is a deeply divided society, that mutual respect should guide this society’s approach to the use of symbols and that symbols are not to be used to stress dominance and exclusion. The Agreement also entrenches the Principle of Consent: that Northern Ireland remains a part of the UK unless and until its people decide otherwise. While the Union flag gives formal recognition to Northern Ireland status as part of the UK, the use of shared symbols – such as the European and a new Northern Ireland flag – should be encouraged.

What are the 17 desigated days of flag flying over Stormont?


20th January – Birthday of the Countess of Wessex
6th February – Her Majesty’s Accession
19th February – Birthday of the Duke of York
A day in March – Commonwealth Day
10th March – Birthday of the Earl of Wessex
17th March – St. Patrick’s Day
21st April – Birthday of Her Majesty The Queen
9th May – Europe Day
A day in June – The Queen’s Official Birthday
2nd June – Coronation Day
10th June – Birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh
4th August – Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
15th August – Birthday of The Princess Royal
21 August – Birthday of The Princess Margaret
A Sunday in November – Remembrance Day
14th November – Birthday of The Prince of Wales
20th November – Her Majesty The Queen’s Wedding Day

Crumbs! Prince Edward. The Weed in Tweed. The most useless so-and-so whose even pulled on a crown and his topless stunna wife are at the heart of the rioting. Oh, we take it back Eddie, you fomenter of aggro and political discourse. We know you stopped making films about your granny’s houses. But what about a documentary on flags? It will be truly contentious and controversial.

John Lowry from the Workers Party has the last word:

The pitiful sight of thousands of people protesting outside Belfast City Hall about flags is matched only by a chamber full of councillors debating it inside.

The real questions that must be asked about this tribal debacle are the ones that Sinn Fein and DUP voters in particular must ask of themselves. While jobs are being lost, prices rising, homes being re-possessed, child poverty increasing and thousands of people across the city facing a daily ‘eat or heat’ dilemma, Councillors in Belfast are using flags and emblems as a smokescreen for their failure to even address these issues.

Sinn Fein and DUP supporters must now ask themselves “Do I really want to vote for a party that is happy to ignore social and economic realities to secure their own tribal positions?”


15300751 The Belfast City Hall Flag Riot: Photos of Prince Edwards most meaningful moment
Picture 1 of 8

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags block the back of the City Hall in Belfast where councillors are debating whether or not to keep the flag flying at City Hall. Currently the flag is flown every day of the year at the building. Nationalist councillors want it removed as they argue that this would create a more equal and neutral environment.

Posted: 4th, December 2012 | In: News, Politicians Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink