Comments on Queens Flag Protest study

3/12/2014

Comments on QUB flag protest report

Two years ago today (3rd December) the Union flag was torn from our prime civic building in the capital city. This dreadful attack on our sovereignty was orchestrated by Sinn Fein/IRA, the SDLP and the Alliance party.

The response was a release of anger from within the Unionist community, an anger that had been building for many years over how the Belfast Agreement, that gross betrayal of Ulster Protestants, was affecting our lives on a daily basis.

The PSNI response to the protests was barbaric, politically motivated and without regard for the basic principles of law and justice.
A Queens University report launched today spoke to the senior officer in the DULCET team- Sean Wright. Mr Wright clearly states that the DULCET team went after those who they thought had an ‘inflammatory’ impact on the protests.
They had no concern for whether a crime had actually been committed, they simply wanted to break the protests at all costs and it was left to Sean Wright- and those like him- to decide what was ‘inflammatory’ and haul those people off the streets at all costs. The fact that on many occasions they had to concoct and contrive charges using dubious legislation mattered not!

It is important to note that the PSNI have never felt that any speech or comment made by Sinn Fein was inflammatory.
This perhaps can be explained as the ACC Will Kerr speaks in the report about how the PSNI were cosying up to Sinn Fein/IRA. He merely confirms what many of us have known for so long.

Two years on the Queens University report makes an important point. The flag protest didn’t in itself make any political gains, rather it forced the mainstream Unionist parties to take a harder line and abandon any notion of further compromise.
It halted the peace process that was rapidly becoming a ‘piece by peace’ process. That was the success of the flag protest- it forced a stop to the endless compromising and pandering to Sinn Fein/IRA.
It hardened the attitude of the Unionist community.

The Queens report also makes clear that certain elements of the loyalist community “set their face against” the flag protest. That was regrettable and in my personal view somewhat shameful. I can only surmise that the lure of money impacted their decision to oppose their own people and support the continued failing implementation of the Belfast Agreement at all costs.

The influence brought to bear by the flag protests was not exerted via electoral success rather it created a ‘ghost’ that stalks mainstream Unionism, a constant reminder that enough is enough. That ‘ghost’ will be what eventually brings down the Assembly. That is the legacy of the flag protest, and I for one think that is something extremely positive.

Two years on it is worth remembering that the tinder box that allowed that explosion of Unionist anger still exists. Pandora’s box has been opened and therefore the potential for a rallying return to the sort of widespread flag protests that brought the Country to a standstill always lurks beneath the surface.
It is a submarine that for the foreseeable future will have a considerable ability to torpedo any further compromise!

Jamie Bryson

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