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Is the St Patrick's Day Parade in Downpatrick at risk?

Paula McCann | 14:17 UK time, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Does the tricolour belong at the St Patrick's Day Parade? One of the Sinn Fein councillors in Downpatrick told Talkback on Friday that it did. Eaomonn MacConMidhe said that people shouldn't be discouraged from waving the flag if they wanted to.

Since then seven local Primary Schools have pulled out due to what they've called concerns over the children's safety. Unionist councillors have withdrawn their support and a vintage tractor group's decided to stay at home.

The Dup MLA Jim Wells told us that 25 years of good work by the council was at risk as the parade seemed to be unravelling.

Sinn Fein's Willie Clarke told Wendy that he didn't know what the DUP man was upset about because he doesn't go to the parade anyway! He woudn't be drawn on whether Eamonn MacConMidhe was following party policy by encouraging flag waving at a cross community event.

We got a strong response from callers on the issue. Sean in West Belfast pointed out that Orange Fest was being promoted as a cross-community event and yet the union flag is flown all over the 12th July.

Will the Parade be a cross-community triumph?


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    broke what rules,..cause it spoke the truth about the pira or the RC church?

  • Comment number 3.

    The capacity of our "local representatives" to completely and so shamelessly mis-represent the people of Northern Ireland never fails to astonish me. Here, we have one day in the Northern Ireland year which is perfect for joint and inclusive celebrations, one which the vast majority of people are proud of (and which the rest of the globe seem to be able to celebrate without difficulty), and what do our so called representatives do? again they do their level best to divisionalise our society, segregate our people and air religious (yes, religious and not political) differences. Who cares what flags are flown? It's a celebration for goodness sake. You would think that we could all just enjoy and not exploit it!

  • Comment number 4.

    I guess it's fair enough, as a Unionist I don't feel particularly welcome to St Patrick celebrations when the tricolour (a flag I do not identify with) is everywhere. It should be a celebration of Christianity in Ireland, not demonination or political aspirations. I remember being at a Belfast St Patrick's parade several years ago that was feverently anti-British. It would be nice to be able to all enjoy it but I think many Unionists feel that the respect for each other's cultures is somewhat one way.

  • Comment number 5.

    Does the tricolour belong at the St Patrick's Day Parade?

    Maybe I am being naive but is the above a rhetorical question? St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland is he not? It seems bizarre that the tricolour will be waved from every major city to every two horse town around the globe and yet the one place where there's animosity regarding its parading is in a small corner on the island of Ireland. The only rational conclusion to that one can come to is that the animosity towards it is only a reflection of the animosity within those who oppose it.

    One must assume that the true reason behind it is because there are people who despise that flag and to see it, and the people whom it represents, be held in such global esteem and affection must pain them deeply.

    The most pertinent point I believe however is that it seems people have forgotten what the Tricolour actually symbolises. The fact the green represents the Catholic tradition, the orange the Protestant tradition and the white representing the peace and bridge between the two, surely makes it exactly the flag to be waved on March 17th. Those who oppose the idea of the Irish Flag are those who oppose the idea of its sentiment ever coming to fruition.

    I'm an Irishman and I'm a proud Irishman. I'm proud of my flag and proud to say that there's diversity of tradition on my island but I ashamed and scornful of those, regardless of background, who bring that flag into disrepute. Whether it be through committing atrocities in its name or by attempting to keep it and it's noble ideal hidden from public view. The flag should never be seen as a flag for Nationalists as it is a flag which is inclusive off all communities that have the pleasure of calling this island their home.

    May everyone enjoy their St. Patricks Day and celebrate your own unique place in this wonderful little island. Try not to listen to the biggots and don't get embroiled in an argument with one. If you see someone arguing with a fool it can be very hard to tell which one is which ;-)

  • Comment number 6.

    2. SeasonedLoyalist1andonly

    Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Pádraig Duit!!!

    For all of you who object to the beautiful Irish language, it translates in English and Ulster Scot's as Blessings of St. Patrick's day to you!!!

    Don't forget your tri-colour if you're going to Downpatrick!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    4. jadedaltogether
    "I don't feel particularly welcome"

    It could be worse:

    I guess you would have no objection to republicans flying the tri-colour on every lampost, in every republican and mixed housing estates throughout the North, for three months before and three months after St. Patrick's day???

    Perhaps you would also have no objection to the flying of IRA and INLA flags beneath these tri-colours???

    Maybe every republican family could fly green white and orange bunting from their houses, and across their streets, in all republican and mixed streets across the six counties???

    Would you object to bands playing anti-Protestant music, while displaying the flags of the IRA and INLA, and walking down the Shankil road or Portadown main street???

    It is our culture after all!!!

    Before criticising others, take a look around you. You should think about the flying of loyalist flags, before offering you two-bobs worth on tri-colours!!!

    Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Pádraig Duit!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    I don't seem to see so much Parades Commission attention on St Patricks Day parades. The reason the tri-colour isn't appropriate on St Patrick's Day is that, regardless of alledged intent, it does not represent everyone on the Island of Ireland. I'm sure if someone wanted to fly a Union Flag or a Northern Irish flag at a St Patricks parade it would be well received - so well balanced and respectful.

    I understand the position on Loyalist parades but let's not pretend that similar flag waving doesn't apply to republicans. Also consider the real position in the Republic of Ireland that it is a Roman Catholic state where the numbers of protestants have dropped by around 200,00o in 80-90 years, I believe if that happened North of the Border there would be an outcry.

    St Patrick wouldn't have been nationalist/unionist, republican or loyalist and as such symbols from any of these backgrounds are inappropriate.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    8. jadedaltogether
    "the numbers of protestants have dropped by around 200,00o"

    Have you any evidence to suggest this???

    Perhaps this is due to an overall secularisation in the South, and indeed the North in general. Between 1991 and 2001, the Presbeterian representation on the census was down by 1%; Church of Ireland down 2%; and other non-Catholic denominations were down 3%. So that would fall in the same line as the South would it not???

  • Comment number 11.

    8. jadedaltogether
    "the numbers of protestants have dropped by around 200,00o in 80-90 years"

    In fact, when you look at those census figures: Over a ten year period, non-Catholic Christians have decreased by 53304. That is, on average, more than twice the decrease in the North as in the South over 80-90 years. I think your argument has no legs!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    I do wonder how St Patrick would view the celebrations held in his name across the world?

    I concede that St Patrick's day for the vast majority of people is Irish-fest, a day to celebrate all things Irish and the craic.

    However, I do wish that there would be just one place that would truly celebrate the great man and the culture he embraced. A celebration focused on his life and legend, without nationality.

    Downpatrick seems to me the right place to have this more historical celebration. But it seems that its parade too shall become like the ubiquitous Irish-fest... an unfortunate and depressing corruption of Saint Patrick and all that he worked towards.

  • Comment number 13.

    I presume the "Loyal" Orange Lodges will discourage the use of the Union Jack during the unending "celebrations" of all things loyalist from April to August? Will they be encouraging traditional Irish music to be played by the bands?

    Will the BBC and UTV be confining coverage of the twelfth to the news rather than promoting the propaganda that the Orange Lodge is an organisation transformed when in reality it remains a sectarian organisation?

  • Comment number 14.

    13. Brian M

    I don't know why they fly the union flag on the Twelfth, as King William III was not a unionist, nor was the Act of Union passed before or during the battle/ his reign. Perhaps they might be more accurate and fly the Tri-colour, as the battle of the Boyne was in Co. Meath!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    15. SeasonedLoyalist1andonly

    The sooner people who claim to follow,.. hmmm,.."Christianity"...actually start following what's in The Bible and start following The Christ thereof the better,...then they will stop running and foolishly following unionist man made unholy deceased Kings such as William III.

    any thing to do with those people makes me puke!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    the sooner people who claim to follow,.. hmmm,.."christianity"...actually start following whats in The Bible and start following The Christ thereof the better,...then they will stop running and foolishly following vatican man made unholy deceased saints and unionist man made unholy deceased kings such as William III,

    any thing to do with those vatican linked people makes me puke

  • Comment number 18.

    17. SeasonedLoyalist1andonly

    St. Paul commented on the range of beliefs among Christians. It was not unlike the variety of beliefs and practices seen among Christian denominations today. He called for intra-faith harmony. Paul urged believers to be tolerant of others who may follow different dietary rules, or hold religious services on a different day. He recommends that believers avoid doing anything that might make a fellow believer stumble in this faith.

    Romans 14:1-23 "Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him...One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind...But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ...Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way."

    This my friend is in the Bible. Why don't you adhere to it?

    If you are a seasoned loyalist, who are you loyal too? Is it the Queen of England???

  • Comment number 19.

    17. SeasonedLoyalist1andonly
    "following whats in The Bible"

    "You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God..."

    Anyone who is loyal to anything but God, according to the Bible, will go to Hell! Where will you go???

  • Comment number 20.

    @ disgustedin(London)derry ;)

    You write about worshiping carved images etc.
    Correct me if I am mistaken but are RC churches not full of statues of Mary??? Also do you not pray to Mary? Also you confess your sins to a mere mortal (Priests) and ask for atonement from them!?
    I'm sorry my friend I mean no disrespect but if you want to throw comments like that out there I would suggest you look a little closer to home beforehand!
    As for you comments about flag flying etc. I assume you have never been in Newcastle county down over the Easter period when the town is covered in Irish Tricolours? Or what about the many little villages closer to your neck part of the woods whisk are plasters in tricolours and GAA flags??? Then there is also west Belfast which houses many offensive symbols and flags!

  • Comment number 21.

    This particular parade is promoted as cross community with the emphasis on that rather than it just being rhetorical. Should keep to shamrock flags or St Patricks cross, green and white bunting.

  • Comment number 22.

    21. Kilsally
    "cross community"

    Therefore everyone should be respected, and that includes those of us in the six counties who claim the tri-colour to be our national flag? I don't see much consideration taken when the Unionjack, the Ulster banner, or the flags of various unionist terrorist organisations are flown from thousands of lamposts for six months of the year.

    Wouldn't you agree???

    Wise up!!!

    By the way, what does the so-called St.Patrick's cross symbolise; he was never a martyr therefore has no cross to bear! It was invented to add to the old unionflag of St. Andrew and St. George.

  • Comment number 23.

    20. Proudprod1690
    "are RC churches not full of statues of Mary???"

    I wouldn't know, I'm not a Catholic!!!

    Are COI churches not full of statues of Queen Victoria???

    As for the GAA being offensive; for what reason? Can you explain? Why is the tri-colour offensive???

    Maybe you and others are' going out of your way to be offended'!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    just incase any of you are in doubt as to why the flag of the Irish Republic is so offensive,its because the provisional ira dog of war used it as their own flag,and it seen as the pira flag,and as we seen today carried by the political representatives of the said terrorist group.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.


    the only Monarch i gave my absolute true loyalty to,is The One That Will Come Riding on a True White Steed.

    and i need NO earthly monarchs,..NO unholy statues...NO pretend representatives....and certainly NO flags....and definitely No man made saints ...

  • Comment number 27.

    i disagree with the irish flag being flown at the start of downpatricks parade i have been going to the parade in downpatrick as long as i can remember because it was never politicised i nearly didnt go today due to the row about flags but i had promised my nephew we could go so i went the parade did seem to be lacking in content i think next year the st patricks flag should be in place with no irish flags in the main parade yes ppl in the crowd bring their flags but that is up to them the council should not push it upon ppl

  • Comment number 28.

    It was very nice of the BBC and Wendy Austin in particular to promote a wee bit of Unioionist angst against all things Irish on the day of Patrick.We had our Talkback Man down at Customs House. Sq. on "Tricolour Watch".A team of seasoned Celtic top observers embedded in Downpatrick waiting for the green balloon to go up.Wendy eventually got into the spirit of the day and interviewed a guy called Kyle,who grows shamrock for the all inclusive RIR in Afghanistan.A very ungreen day for the Irish on Province Radio.Poor show.

  • Comment number 29.

    I smell bleach!

  • Comment number 30.

    Who started all the trouble at the school boy final?Our intrepid team of finger pointers at Radio Province must have missed that one.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hey!!..Cheer up folks.It is red nose day.Great chance for Wendy to interview lots of jolly English people.Golly Gosh!

  • Comment number 32.

    Oh! I forgot about the English man on Radio Wendy telling us about the jolly fun he had planned for us on St Pats Day.Water Skiing Leprehauns..........You just couldn't make that one up.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    St Patrick represents part of our shared heritage and in my view, celebration of his life should not be encumbered with assertions of political ideas.

    When we gather as an island we do so from two political entities with a history of conflict and a spirit of sensitivity, generosity and accommodation is required.

  • Comment number 35.

    Kevin. Msg 5 It is in your paragraph starting....'One must assume...' that the anwer lies. Those who are objecting to the flag are really showing their emnity for the community it represents rather the that it is the flag of the neighbouring state. It's part of the same issue with the nationalists voting in elections for SF. Both Unionist parties have now shared power with shinners. it's those who vote for them there is revealed the real reason for objection. The shrinking majority has brought to a head the insecurities. This isn't a problem for many in their community. Just the unionist establishment seeint that it's not THEIR N. Ireland anymore.

  • Comment number 36.

    I,ve been reading the discussion and I think I've solved it.

    Think about it.
    Nationalists are offended by representations of Orange Culture.
    Unionists are offended by the Republican represenations of the Tricolour.
    Solution, remove the orange bit.
    Result no representation of orange culture AND no Republican represenation of the tricolour!
    Result, nobody offended

  • Comment number 37.

    SEBASTIAN9000 ...hmmmmm,..i think its the easily offended gene we'd have to remove from those that have it.....

    although our forefathers in the late 1700s had the right idea,. break all links and connection and influence of both dominant churches at the time,the CoE and RC from politics in Ireland,..we still need to break away from the 2 powers,English Crown influence and Roman Vatican ones that like to lord over us,..the sooner all us Islanders break free the better

    God Speed that Glorious Day

  • Comment number 38.

    37. SeasonedLoyalist1andonly

    It would appear that your God fearing persona is a false flag. Why would you break the 6th Commandment in dealing with burglars? Surely if you're God fearing, you believe that God is the only one who has the right to take away the life he gave in the beginning???

    Is that Monarch on a True White Steed King William of Orange???

    Did I catch you out on your loyalty? False Gods send you to a very warm eternity, according to your Bible!!!


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