The anti-nationalist and anti-Catholic bigotry of the unionist political establishment has ramped up as their marching season moves towards its climax next month.
Speaking about a proposal for bilingual (Irish/English) signage at leisure facilities in Belfast, DUP councillor Tracy Kelly, who attended a meeting last week in the centre, said the signs were “like hand grenades” to unionists, who could not tolerate any trace of the nationalist community.
The meeting discussed a proposal for bilingual signs to provide directions to different halls.
“You mention anything Irish to some people still in unionist communities, and it doesn’t sit well,” she said.
Backing the councillor, DUP Agriculture Stormont Minister Edwin Poots argue the signs “damage reconciliation”.
His comments ironically came a year to the day since he had himself unilaterally renamed a government building as ‘Jubilee House’ in honour of the English monarchy.
There is growing anger in the North at the hypocrisy of the normalisation of loyalist gangs in tandem with the demonisation of the republicanism, as seen in the attention give to the involvement of Sinn Fein’s John Finucane in a republican commemoration in South Armagh last week
Unionists have condemned a plan to fund a Gaelic sports venue in Belfast, while calling for increase funding for anti-Catholic parades and sectarian bonfires, many of which are closely linked to paramilitary gangs. They have also defended the provocative display of loyalist paramilitary flags in prominent interface locations, including at the Westlink in west Belfast (pictured).
There were also renewed tensions in Belfast over reports that the Orange Order is attempting to restart major confrontational parades in north Belfast with an application to hold a coat-trailing through the Ardoyne area.
Although the notorious ‘Tour of the North’ parade passed several sectarian interfaces without incident last Friday, Ardoyne residents have been concerned by rumours of plans to approve an inflammatory ‘return’ parade directly through the area.
It would have been the first time such a parade was attempted following an agreement in 2016.
The parade, however, was not approved by the Parades Commission. In its strongly worded ruling, the commission said the organisers had shown “a wanton disregard for the efforts made to achieve a local agreement and an egregious disregard for the six years of peace it secured.
“It serves only to heighten tensions in a period of political instability and risks serious public disorder.”
Elsewhere, hardline unionist councillors in Antrim succeeded in again winning council support for loyalist ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfires in July, an annual display of the most extreme anti-Catholic sectarianism.
The move comes despite one loyalist falling 50 feet to his death while constructing a giant bonfire at a council-run site outside Larne.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has ‘postponed’ until September a decision to the massive structures built on its land, even though it is already facing legal action from the family of the man who died last year — and has legal advice that councillors can be held personally liable for choosing to allow the dangerous activity to continue.