Archive for The 12th

Flag Season

Posted in Politics, Ramblings with tags , , , , on June 18, 2012 by Dr Dan Barrios-O'Neill

I’m an Englishman, with Irish roots, and I’ve been living in Belfast for about 5 years. I remember arriving in Belfast for the first time, coincidentally right into the aftermath of the yearly 12th “celebrations” ( Rubbish everywhere, smouldering bonfires and no one in sight, save the odd sleeping drunk. It all seemed pretty epic. I didn’t really know anything about it at the time, and I probably still don’t, but these days I call it flag season. At this time of year a lot of folk take off to the south, leaving others to get all angry and marchy.  Maybe that’s unfair, but it’s certainly how it initally felt to a mongrel outsider like myself. But, once you start getting to know a place like this, it’s not quite so piss-and-vinegar as the hundreds of flags and rioters might lead you to believe.

I live on a sleepy little protestant estate, everyone is very related, very friendly and generally it’s lovely. At this time of year little old ladies begin to struggle up ladders with their flags. Good old William. As much as I dislike the flag waving, there’s a sort of bigoted honesty to this whole process that’s more endearing than the  misguided re-branding of Belfast with this often mauve logo (specifically not one colour or the other, you see)  that you see all over town:

I think a lot of good things are happening in Belfast at the moment, but this isn’t one of them. It’s not Coca-Cola, it’s a vibrant, still fractured, often angry place. You might reasonably reinterpret the above like this (though I doubt it has much mileage with the policy makers):

Living here is still great, though, even through flag season, and this year I’ve decided to join in with the locals by putting something in the flag pole holder on the side of our house: