In the last days and weeks Northern Ireland has been hit by many bomb alerts and security alerts, many of which have turned out to be hoaxes. I doubt that many people living in the rest of the United Kingdom have any idea what this is like.
Imagine a family with young children, who are asleep at the time of the alert, being roused by a knock on the door from the Police. No, we don’t want to speak to anyone here – but there is a bomb alert at the bottom of your street. We need to evacuate you.
Where do you go?
Well fortunately, in many cases local Councils open up leisure centres, or community centres to assist you. But until that alert is over, you cannot go home.
This is happening across Northern Ireland more and more, and we don’t really hear about it from our friends across in England, Wales, or Scotland. Be glad that you have not had this curse on your communities. Hopefully, the criminals, for I will not dignify them with the word ‘terrorist’ will learn that we do not want to go back to the days of violence, of mob rule, and where everyone here cannot go about their daily lives without the risk of that being disrupted.
Seems that St Patrick is to be expunged from the Union Flag…
Now any observer of flags in Northern Ireland will tell you that there are many variations in the flags that are seen around the Province. But this one, first seen by me on a Facebook page, is a new one even for me.
It is placed on a page somewhat dedicated to so-called Loyalism that appears to have sprung up following the decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union Flag from City Hall on the designated Flag-flying Days. Most of these pages want to see the Union Flag replaced, that is hoisted once more on City Hall, not replaced by a new design such as the one above.
It now appears that anything Irish is not wanted in the Union Flag – so St Patrick’s Cross has been removed, and the Six-Pointed Star and Red Right Hand of Northern Ireland, ensigned by a Royal Crown placed in the centre. Whilst I agree that it does seem an anomaly that when most of the Kingdom of Ireland left the United Kingdom, St Patrick’s cross remained wholly in the Union Flag, I am not convinced that this Flag will bring any more loyalty to the UK as left.
Coat of Arms of Belfast City Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My thoughts and prayers are with all Alliance Party representative and their staff at this difficult time following the decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union Flag on designated days.
Reports are coming in this evening that a constituency office for Stewart Dickson MLA, the Alliance representative for East Antrim has been set on fire. According to the BBC the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service are at the scene.
As with the protest yesterday that forced Naomi Long MP‘s office to close early, all that these actions will do will be to stop local people from getting the assistance that they so often need with benefit queries, housing, social care needs, passport applications, and other local issues that they so often need help with. The thugs and criminals that have done this must be caught by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and brought to justice.
If any public representative has urged people to come out on to the street and protest, I suggest that he thinks again about the wisdom of this. The matter of the Union Flag has been dealt with by the body responsible in one local government district – Belfast City Council. It is outrageous for so many so-called Loyalists to be protesting in areas of Northern Ireland which are specifically affected by the decision.
I call on anyone with any information to pass it to the PSNI as soon as possible, that the real scum who have done this are brought before the courts.
The AGM of the Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats will be held on 30 January at 7.30p.m., in the Premier Inn, Waring Street, Belfast. All party members are invited to attend. Among the items of business are the election of a chair, treasurer, membership development officer, and voting delegates to Federal Conference.
Trouble appeared to be brewing in East Belfast as the bus I got home was making its away into East Belfast. There were just too many police landrovers lurking on street corners. Sure enough, there has been rioting in the Short Strand area of Belfast this evening. The BBC is reporting that homes in the Short Strand have been attacked by a large group of masked men.
All too often during summer months we are used to hearing about rioting somewhere in the streets of Northern Ireland. All of us have our individual rights to live our life without fear and without prejudice. It is vital that community leaders in the area sit down with local people to work out their differences with each other.
Rioting, throwing stones, missiles and allegedly pipe bombs is not a way to solve issues at all. I appeal to all in our community right across Belfast and Northern Ireland to work together to combat sectarianism and prejudice of all types.
All too often we hear about paramilitary style shootings here in Northern Ireland. Local politicians may be in charge up at Stormont in the Assembly, but on the ground it seems that local people are still being terrorised by criminal gangs. We also have had many bomb alerts in or near Belfast in recent days. The people of Northern Ireland are fed up by these attacks on our peace and democracy.
There must be people in our communities who know who is responsible for these attacks. I call on them to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland as soon as possible, so that the Criminal Justice system can be used to put these criminals, thugs, and bully boys behind bars. Let’s hope that the Prison Service and Probation Service will be able to work together with other agencies to reform the criminals in our midst.
You can contact the PSNI on 0845 600 8000 or if it is an emergency by dialling 999.
The DUP’s speaker was Jim Wells who said that when it came to his party’s policy on international aid and development he was it, that whatever he said went. Most of the speakers mentioned the fact that the Assembly was looking at doing a project in Uganda, along the lines that the Scottish Parliament has done with Malawi in the past, because even though at present there is no remit for aid in the Assembly’s powers there is a desire to do so.
However, the DUP’s spokesman and it would appear policy maker on international aid and development came unstuck at the first question. The Rainbow Project’s Education Equality Officer Gavin Boyd asked a question that as many of the candidates mentioned Uganda how they felt the Assembly could reconcile giving aid or development funding to Uganda or the 50 African states where being gay is illegal.
A couple of the party representatives did come up with a response, however when it came to Mr Wells his response which is in full was,
I have no position on that question.
So the man who only a few minutes earlier said that he was the guy in his party to form and lead policy on any issue there was about international aid had no position on giving to countries that had a poor record on LGBT rights.
Of course this is hardly that surprising as the DUP don’t really have positive positions on homophobia in Northern Ireland or for that matter within their own party.
Together with activists from Yes to Fairer Votes members of the Liberal Democrats in Northern Ireland will be attending the event at Belfast City Hall at 1pm.
Last May three of Belfast’s four MPs were elected on a minority mandate, without the support of a majority of their constituents. More than 70,000 votes were wasted, cast for a candidate who never stood a chance of representing their supporters.
Local party chair, Michael Carchrie Campbell said:
Today I am proud to be attending with party colleagues the event that shows that Belfast is joining fifty towns and cities across the country to help win an historic victory for all voters in the United Kingdom. It’s an argument we can’t afford to lose.
The choice in May is between change and business as usual. In Belfast the status quo is not an option.
With the ongoing shortage on water in Northern Ireland, and lack of information that is correct being distributed, it is important that people can contact NI Water. Therefore I am publishing alternative numbers to contact them on.