05/02/2013 Spotlight


Hard-hitting investigations. Stephen Dempster tackles questions of identity, finding out what support there is for a border poll and investigating the union flag controversy.

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This programme contains scenes of Good evening. Unionists and


loyalists can relax - the union is safe and supported by a lot of


Catholics. Those are the indications thrown up by a special


spotlight poll which asked people how they would vote in the


referendum. The last few weeks have been among the most turbulent odd


that our recent history with protests about the Union flag


bringing violence and world attention back to our streets.


Loyalists believe their identity and culture are under attack and


that the other side is winning. But our poll shows most Unionists think


the protest should stop. We will discuss the findings in detail with


our political editor Mark Devenport and political parties. What began


with the Council vote to limit the flying over the Union flag over


Belfast City Hall from 365 to just 18 designated days has spiralled


into disorder that has brought city centre businesses to their knees.


Steven Dempster assesses the fall- out.


This is the image Belfast's Lord Mayor is keen to show off. A


celebration of Chinese New Year, sending out the message that


Belfast is a diversity, will bring -- welcoming all its people. But it


weeks ago, there was a very different mood at City Hall. In


December they came to proclaim their loyalty to their flag. But


expressions of identity turned nasty. Trouble began after a vote


at Belfast City Council to limit the flying of the Union flag over


City Hall to 18 days. This council should adopt the practice of flying


the Union flag, designated days. The outpouring of anger has lasted


two months. Across Northern Ireland, loyalists occupied the streets with


daily protests and sporadic rioting. The bill for policing and lost


business is over �20 million. Businesses in the City say they


have been hit very hard. While Belfast is trying to recover, this


restaurant in the Cathedral Quarter says trade is still down around 50%.


A during the week it is really quiet. People are going home. We


are not getting a reputable teatime early bird trade. Larry Mawhinney


says he is on the brink of calling in the bank. You can only sustain


yourself for so long. You still have your brakes and rent to pay,


your wages... -- York rates and rent to pay. At some point, it will


be breaking point. It is difficult to see a way out. While the


protests have been scaled down and the tactics changed, the anger over


flags has not gone away. In the heart of east Belfast, the Office


of Alliance MP Naomi Long is still the focus for most of that rage.


has been quite volatile. Staff have been subjected to verbal abuse by


some of the protesters. There have been attempts to film and


photograph staff. We have had members of staff followed to their


cars and people shouting at them. It has been an unpleasant and quite


difficult experience. Alliance voted with Sinn Fein and the SDLP


to reduce the number of days the Union flag flies over City all. And


or offers was burned out in Carrickfergus. Councillors' homes


were attacked and party members threatened. In all, Naomi Long has


received three death threats. at home in bed. The police came to


our front door and they told me that they had received a call to


say that if I returned to my constituency office, or if I


remained at my home, I would be shot. So why exactly did all this


trouble begin? It is a long-term republican objective to remove


British plants and emblems everywhere and Sinn Fein and the


SDLP called for the Union flag to be taken down permanently from City


Hall. When or refused to back this plan and opted for a compromise of


designated days, Unionists were squaring up for a fight. It was on


Peter Robinson's mind at his party's conference last November.


Just in case there is anybody from the Alliance party in Belfast here,


can we see those flags? Unionist councillors mounted a leaflet


campaign urging people to complain to the Alliance Party offices in


east Belfast and to Naomi Long. She claims the leaflet was inflammatory


and made her a target for loyalist anger. The DUP denies this. Naomi


Long and the Alliance Party are trying to distract attention away


from their culpability. The Alliance Party have brought about


this situation along with the SDLP and Sinn Fein. Know a land of


wriggling will get them off the hook. -- no amount. This


journalists are just there was a bigger political game behind the


leaflet. The UUP and the DUP decided when the flag that was


coming and bass or they could not win it how they could play this.


The way they played it was to blame it Alliance for the defeat that


they were about to suffer. But why did the leaflet focus on Naomi Long


and east Belfast in particular? The answer may lie in the fact that in


2010, she took the Westminster seat from Peter Robinson. They were also


mindful of the growth of Alliance in Belfast so they distributed a


leaflet saying that this party is not part of the Union and they are


against the Union flag and that was a way of connecting with working-


class freedom. Naomi Long is not a councillor and can see no other


reason why the leaflet drag her into the dispute. This was less


about the flag at City Hall and more about Westminster. I have not


really had a convincing denial or rebuttal of that from anyone who


was involved and a leaflet. -- Int the leaflet. It is about the flag


flying in the City Hall. It is entirely a matter for Naomi Long to


put forward her record at the next election like every other


politician and we needed to the people to decide who gets elected.


Loyalist who voted for Naomi Long next time have vowed to unseat her


in two years. Meanwhile, the police continued to protect her office 24


hours a day. The MP is under personal and political pressure but


says she will not be deterred from doing her job. I do not see any of


the constituency as a no-go area. I grew up in it in east Belfast in a


loyalist working-class community and for me, it is not about no-go


areas. It is about how I go in those areas. It is about when I go


in those areas. Obviously I have to be thoughtful and mind. It has


greater difficulties that, there is no doubt. While we know the Union


flag will fly again tomorrow over the City Hall to mark the Queen's


accession, the flag row continues and with the marching season just


weeks away, nobody yet knows where this will end.


That is how we got to where we are today. We asked our interviewees


and respondent in this poll - 1046 of them - about the flag dispute.


Mark Devenport is with me to look at them and analyse them. Good


evening. Good evening. We asked our respondents which of these options


in relation to the Union flag at Belfast City Hall do you most


support? As you can see, we gave the option to our interviewees the


same kind of options that based city councillors before they came


to that decision in early December. You whipping by looking at the


response we got that Belfast City Council got it about right because


the most popular option was the 18 designated days compromise,


favoured by 44% of the people we talked to, compared to about 35%


favouring retaining the flag all year round. 10% were looking for


the flag never to fly. You may say what is the big deal if they pick


the most popular option? Why was there such a kickback on the


streets? It was not popular with everyone. We analysed what our


Unionist interviewees said and this is what we found. The flying of the


flag really polarises Unionists and nationalists because Unionists very


strongly were sticking to the 365 days a year option. Just less than


a quarter were opting instead for the designated days compromise


which Alliance and the nationalist councillors ended up voting for.


we might expect a mirror image of that but we do not get quite a


mirror image when we look at what nationalists think. Very little


support for retaining the flag all year round. Quite significant


support for the 18 designated days compromise. The interesting thing


was that the nationalist parties set about initially calling for the


flag to come down altogether, which is the practice in some other


councils that are not have a flag. Only a 5th of their supporters


actually opted for that. Nationalist voters appeared to


regard the designated days compromise as the way forward.


vote itself sparked protests that very evening, which lasted for a


couple of months. We asked when the flag protests began, to what extent


to go interviewees agree or disagree? There is significant


support for the right to protest and in the actual question that was


asked of the interviewees, it did talk about whether people were


right to protest. That is the only way I can explain the fact that


there is greater support for the protests taking place in their


early December than there was for keeping the flag all year round.


Some people may be did not favour keeping the flag but thought that


people had a right to protest out on the streets if they oppose the


policy. We are not talking about violence but just protests. Let's


break that down. What tedious say? -- what did Unionists say? Strong


support given the fact that they favoured keeping the flag 365 days


in the first place. It is not as loyalists because they would be a


small section of this Unionist lot of interviewees. So that is right


across Unionists. 83% support in all the Unionist parties. They are


being asked at the end of January but about their views when it all


kicked off. They are saying they sympathise with it when it kicked


off in December but then there is a shift in opinion. The next question


- do you think the protests should now stop or continue?


interviews were carried out in late January. By this stage, a lot of


people had seen the violence that was barred by the protests and


there had been a call by Unionists in east Belfast backed by loyalist


paramilitaries for the violence to end. The majority of Unionists, 54%,


think that the protest should stop. But still a significant proportion


of Unionists, even at this late stage, think that the protest


should continue. I think it is food for thought for the Unionist


parties have called for this to end. Let's see how that have fits into


the overall population in our sample response. In terms of the


general populace, by the end of January you can take it that they


were pretty much that up with what had been happening over the cause


of those few weeks because you are adding nationalists and others into


the equation and you have a very strong majority. More than three-


quarters of those we talked to said it was time to call it a day as far


as the protests were concerned and the reasons they gave way of


violence, damage to business, traffic disruption and so on.


the results emerge in the course of the programme, we are keen to hear


what you think. You can textiles on 81771. You can phone and e-mail us


and put us on #SpotlightNI. Calls cost five pence per minute from


most landlines. Calls from mobiles may cost considerably more and


texts will be charged at your standard message rate. It is fair


to say that as long as Northern Ireland has more Protestants and


Catholics it will stay part of the UK but does the narrowing gap


between them in the latest census mean a united Ireland could be


coming into view? Sinn Fein thinks so and that is why they are


pressing for the border question to be put to the vote.


Sinn Fein launched their campaign for Border poll. Gerry Adams police


people are increasingly embracing their national -- Irish identity.


the mood is shifting towards thoughts of a united Ireland? The


Good Friday agreement allows for a referendum. If Westminster believes


there may be a majority in Northern Ireland who want to end partition.


So far, the response to Mr Adams has been blunt. My feeling is that


the conditions which require a border poll are not present in


Northern Ireland and we have no For Sinn Fein, however, this is


simply a delay en route to the longer-term target of a poll by


2020. Because while republicans never saw the Good Friday Agreement


as a final settlement. This is part of the British state temporarily or


permanently bore only conditionally for as long as a majority of the


people want that to be so. This was not from a shin. -- Sinn Fein point


of view, a settlement. It was an agreement on a journey, and the


core of it, it is a Road Map towards democracy and equality.


future direction of Northern Ireland, be it sticking with the


Union or move to Irish unity, has traditionally been predicted by a


sectarian headcount. It's been assumed that Protestants are all


unionists, Catholics are all nationalists, and as long as


Protestants are the majority, the Union will remain. That has er been


a pretty crude way of trying to work out what the current levels of


support are for a united Ireland, or for northern ireland remaining


within the UK. I think in recent years er there has been certainly


considerable evidence that there's also this emerging other category,


people who say that they're Northern Irish. A sign of this


change came in the recent Census figures which revealed 1 in 5 now


say they are primarily Northern Irish, rather than British or Irish.


It suggests they don't conform to type and their votes are up for


grabs and it has opened-up a new battleground between unionism and


nationalism. The phrase Northern Irish, I suppose, is, in some ways,


very ambiguous. And both sides sort of try to claim them as either for


a united Ireland or for the United Kingdom. In truth I think people


don't really know how those people would vote in a border poll.


this new landscape, Sinn Fein argue the Census indicates the pieces of


their plan are coming together. unionists are relaxed about calling


themselves Irish, albeit Northern Irish. The question is, can


republicans convince these people to share their goal of a united


Ireland? Sinn Fein has a huge challenge to persuade unionists


that their future is best in an all-Ireland context. I don't


minimise that for one second. But I think there are lots of indications


that people out there are at least up for those arguments. So are


unionists up for the debate? After Gerry Adams called for a poll, the


DUP surprisingly said they were considering it. I think the DUP


floated this idea seemingly intentionally. Arlene Foster quite


deliberately said that the DUP could be persuaded to call Sinn


Fein's bluff on this but I think that there has been considerable


rowing back since then and there's certainly very little indication


that the DUP are serious about this. But with tensions already high over


the flag, there are those who would see the calling of a border poll as


likely to further destabilise unionism. It would really, I


suppose, send people back to the trenches in many ways and that


would be a huge decision to take, particularly at a time when Peter


Robinson has been making much of the fact that Northern Ireland's


position is settled, we're secure within the union. Publicly at least,


the DUP is bullish. Republicans asking for a border poll makes


turkeys voting for Christmas look like a carefully considered


strategy. But are the DUP right to make their own assumption, that


there is a significant block of Catholics, who don't vote unionist


in elections, but would actually back the Union? Richard Doherty is


a practising Catholic, from Londonderry, who is also pro-Union.


His father was a British soldier and he was in the RUC Reserve.


Being a Catholic never excluded me from being pro-Union. I think


there's a large number of people like that. I think a large number


of Catholics would say they feel they're better off socially and


economically within the union. are talking about British identity?


It is a British again today, what remains is still under seas. Pretty


she might be but he has never voted for a unionist Party. So does that


mean Gerry Adams could at least engage, on the idea of a united


Ireland? There is not anything Gerry Adams could say that would


convince me that a united Ireland would work, particularly with in a


position of power. A representative is this you? As the census showed,


the new Northern Ireland is embracing Malta poor and mixed


identities of people no longer designate themselves as either


We come to the most interesting part of the opinion poll. We asked


This has been pored over by the politicians and the British and


Irish governments. And those surveys tell us : that the


Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud would vote if there was a referendum


This is similar wording as was used in the 1973 border poll. The same


number there who would not vote. This is an opinion poll and not a


referendum, so there is that Cav the art, and there is a margin for


error in this exercise, but it is a pretty big lead. Gerry Adams talks


about the Good Friday Agreement being an agreement on the long


journey, will it will be a long journey of these figures are born


at it. We will look at the committed voters and look at that


throws up. As we will see as we move through the results, there are


more people on the Catholic side of the divide who are telling us in


any case that they will not vote rather than on the Protestant side,


and that is why, when you take out the non-voters, you get a hardening


of that majority, almost 80%. the similar to other recent surveys.


73 opted to remain in the UK, over a united Ireland, so it is in line


with that. The big one, what did Catholics say in response to this


question? Stephen Dempster was talking to one or Catholic, and he


is not unique in holding that you Foster 38% of the cat books said


that there was an opinion poll tomorrow they would have -- boat to


remain part of the UK. Whilst that is not a majority, it is larger


than the proportion, 35%, who voted for a united Ireland. So that towns


some of the traditional assumptions on their head because it is a


larger section of the Catholic population voting for the status


And a larger percentage there, 18%, saying that they would not a boat.


And we have these people who, in the senses, described themselves as


Northern Irish. We asked how they would boat. When the census come


out, I took calls from politicians who said they were talking about


being Irish. In answer to this question, we found a large


proportion voting to remain in the UK. Again, quite a strong


proportion in terms of not voting. This new category of the Northern


Irish, seemed to be comfortable with the Northern Ireland, but


comfortable to retain the constitutional status quo. Lots of


fascinating stuff there, thank you very much for your analysis. Don't


forget, you can contact us by text, you can Collis or you can use


Twitter. We have a collection of political representatives gather.


Jerry can be, your Road Map is going nowhere - you should join the


Alliance Party. I will not be doing that any time soon. He said during


the conversation that this is an opinion poll and not a referendum.


The last thing it was tried out scientifically we were up front and


the reports -- an approach that you want an Irish republican people


vote for us in huge numbers. If you want to be signed to forget about


it, go to the last election. Peter Robinson has talked about turkeys


at Christmas, well, then, let's have it, let's bring the referendum


and put that to the test. The argument during the referendum or


during the election is an entirely different process to sitting here


after doing an opinion poll. election is also different from a


referendum. In fact, 22% of Sinn Fein respondents said they would


vote to stay in the United Kingdom. Well, I do not believe that. You do


not think that because Sinn Fein is now a party with a wider appeal,


there are people who are not married to the core Republican


beliefs? We will try to convince people that a united Ireland is the


best place for them. I am a republican. I believe it is the


best place for Unionists, republicans and nationalists. That


is a debate that we have started and will continue. We're up to that


discussion and to put that to the test. And, in the end, that has the


final Test. We have a couple of indicators, our opinion poll and a


lifetime so be, both showing similar opinion, that people are


not crying out for a border poll, and if they are, lots of them are


going to say, let's stay where we before elections, it is quite a


consistent fact, that we set before elections and underestimate the


Sinn Fein Board, over the last number of elections going back


years. -- Sinn Fein vote. We're up for the challenge. The conversation


has started. It is a huge challenge, to convince a section of Unionists


that a united Ireland is the place to go, but that there is the


discussion we are having and at least that discussion is being had.


We're up for the challenge. Let's put it to the vote. There has been


some dithering within the Ulster Unionist Party about this. We just


say that now you should have one? - - de Democratic Unionists party.


said that Sinn Fein can talk about an opinion poll, but if we had a


border poll tomorrow the greater number would vote to stay within


the United Kingdom. Gerry Kelly can talk about Sinn Fein been


underestimated in elections. You are right about that. It is not an


election. It is a referendum. And people would be very clear about


their economic and social benefits of being in the United Kingdom.


That is why people said clearly that he wanted to stay in the


United Kingdom. They are not convinced by the vision of the


Democratic Unionist Party. Less than 1% of Catholics would vote for


them. That was a challenge for us. We want to reach out to Catholics


were happy with in the United Kingdom. That was the context of my


party leader's speech back in November. Our flag protests the way


to convince Catholics to join The combined decision of the


party's who have very serious crisis Trust and sells... Clearly,


the victory that was proclaimed by the leader of the Alliance Party on


the night of this vote is a hollow victory because in terms of


electoral terms, all the aggro on there were within the Unionist


community. Most people think the compromise is the right answer.


This has come at a very high price. This has upset political relations.


It has affected community relations and it has been a recipe for


disaster. I am afraid to the Alliance Party are absolutely


nowhere. 38% of Catholic say they want to stay in the UK. The kind of


scenes we have seen as a result of this protests are likely to make


them say they want out. It is counter-productive. The people who


have most to lose as a result of this poll, followed on by the


recent census and lifestyle studies, clearly on the leadership of Sinn


Fein. Their strategy has gone. It is in tatters. There is no prospect


of a united Ireland, there is no support... But whereas the


generosity from the Unionist community? 23% of Sinn Fein's own


supporters do not believe it is achievable. But why is there not


more generosity of spirit? Are you have this vast number of Catholics


who wish to stay part of the UK and you are scaring them off. Why have


you and other Unionist leaders not be able to convince your own people


that actually, the union is safe? believe we are reaching out.


while there are figures coming up which show that you are not. On a


Northern Ireland basis, we are able to reach out and particularly to


the Unionist Party. None of a Catholic respondents would vote for


the UUP. Centrist and moderate Unionist opinion... And not one.


How can you say that? Will provide the necessary leadership that will


link all of the people. It will bring people into the real issues -


the issues of jobs, the economy and health and education and that is


whether prosperity is. That is the underlying secret and necessity for


the executive half. Alex Attwood, did you represent the 30% of


Catholics who wish to stay in the UK? Are they all convertible,


middle-class Catholics who are looking to their economic benefits


and wish to stay where they are? I had been sitting here 20 or 30


years ago, he would have said to me it was a pipe dream to persuade


people to join a partnership government if that is what we have


today. You would have said it was a pipe dream that we would have


brought about the policing we have now. While they may be a snapshot


in this poll, the challenge to all of us is to convince others about


the best way forward and we have demonstrated unambiguously and


overwhelmingly that when you apply yourselves and work up the


arguments, you can change how people think. And now you have


changed it, do people think it is not so bad here and we should stay?


Aboard a poll, if it were to happen - I think it should happen... We


have a period of time to bring about the situation... Or what


would you tell them? Catholics look to the south and see economic


distress the stock they feel more How would I do it? I would


accelerate the process of national acceleration and healing so that


the legacy of the past will be dealt with and the truth of the


past will be dealt with. I would accelerate and built up economic


opportunity so that people will five years. -- differently than we


opportunities here in the north. Let me finish. In that way, you can


change how people see our politics. We will not go back to the flag-


waving... You are not only have to convince the overwhelming territory


of the dubious population -- majority of the Unionist population


but the Catholics as well. If they said 20 or 30 years ago... Your


campaign has been unsuccessful. SDLP argument prevailed in terms of


power sharing. The SDLP argument prevailed in terms of... People


want to stay in the UK. Stephen, one of the commentators said that


there was a fear that even the thought of proposing a border poll


would send people back to the trenches but the evidence of this


poll - and it is only a poll - shows that people would not go back


to the trenches. There is a very clear message coming across from


the poll as a whole. People are concerned about tensions around


flags both before and after the vote. They also see a border poll


has not been terribly relevant our situation at present and that may


well send the book to the trenches. But the vast majority of people are


focused on making Northern Ireland work and building a shared future,


addressing the quality considerations. If we are an


outward-looking society we can have a positive relationship with the


rest of the UK and a relationship with the rest of Ireland, the


European Union and the rest of the world. All those opportunities are


on our doorstep but the real danger of what has happened over the past


six months - the entire political system has risked tipping back into


the old politics of the past. We have a real challenge and close to


make over the coming weeks. Are we going to continue on the road of


the good work of the political peace process of the past decade?


I'll be going to press on and address a shared future? Of we


going to focus on the economy? The issue of whether we are going to be


in the UK becomes less relevant because Northern Ireland works.


have had plenty to say. The notion of a shared future - huge damage


was done by the Alliance Party and their participation in City Hall.


What happened at Belfast City Hall was a compromise. The nationalist


parties backed a compromise. Danny Kennedy... Let me speak, please.


64% of nationalists thought that the designated days was a good


solution. If Unionists had played this right, they would have


recognised that for the first time, and nationalist parties poll to be


voted for the flag flying from Belfast City Hall and we have the


same outcome that is standard policy elsewhere in the UK. How


that is a threat to British identity is utterly beyond me.


Unionists have failed to convince their own people that actually


things are going their way. Can we talk about consensual politics


because there has been a lot said about it tonight? Consensual


politics was working and we all were moving forward in Northern


Ireland for what we saw at City Hall was a move away from


consensual politics. The SDLP and the Alliance Party moved into a


majority position and then they were not talking about jobs,


education or economic benefits for Belfast. They were removing the


flag of the nation from the capital city of Northern Ireland. The same


as the rest of the UK. It is no different. You can shout at me if


you want but it is not the same as the rest of the country. If you


lived in the west of Northern Ireland, as I do, there is no


designated days. Would you call for designated days for the flying of


the Union flag? Yes. I welcome that an thank you for it. Things like


the flags are not helping. When the Unionists were in charge, they did


not allow the Irish nurse of the people. All this debate centres


around Britishness. It centres around identity generally. And it


centres around Britishness. point I am making is it should. It


is disrespectful to Irish. If you are going to City Hall, as we said


today, over 95% of all the paraphernalia and emblems... Were


we are in a British city. It does not matter. We are in his city


which is supposed to be shared... Consensus is gone. Gerry, 38% of


the people in this poll are quite happy with that. Let me say this


because Arlene has been putting the perspectives of her party. We


Onneley in a 50-50 situation. The City Hall and the councillors are


supposed to represent that shared city. That shared city is almost


half Irish and therefore, Irish... In that is lazy sectarianism. It is


not. The first Republican mayor of Belfast in many years did not


trying take anything else but he put up a try colour. He wanted to


show that it was a shared city. Demanding that it remains 95%


British is not consensual. The removal of the flag from City Hall


is not the only issue where there is a lack of consensual politics.


We have, within the last two weeks of the executive, the beating of a


national crime agency by Sinn Fein. If you want to go into that


argument... I do not think we do because it is not about identity.


Why are you afraid... After signing up to the Good Friday agreement,


why are you afraid of the accountability being put on... At I


am not going to pursue this argument. Danny, I am not going to


pursue that argument. Danny! I am not pursuing that argument - it is


a different argument. I think this is the fundamental issue of


political leadership in the North at the moment. It is a challenge to


Unionism and I have to say it is a challenge to me and democratic


nationalism and it is simply this. The new order of politics that has


come through the various agreements since the Good Friday Agreement


means that we have to say to our people - Unionists to the Unionist


community and nationalists to the nationalists - that Northern


Ireland will look and feel different. Listen to this! It


sounds exactly the same for the last 40 years. That is why I am


making this point. The new order of politics means that things will


look and feel different but in looking and feeling different, it


does not mean that people have lost all won. -- lost fog won. Danny


Kennedy, please keep quiet! This is the crucial point and that is why


Abbott aspic of stubbornness and for a moment. -- I would ask people


to stop and listen. Things are going to be different but that does


not mean that Unionists have lost the national identity or


political... Where is the opportunity? The facts of the


survey, the facts of the census and the facts of previous studies


confirm that Northern Ireland's constitutional position is secure


and settled within the UK and that is not a threat and should not be


considered as a threat to nationalists who have to live there.


Accept a dollar credit vote in City Hall. The consequence of Danny's


assertion of the Unionist confidence has to be not to tell


people that when the flying of the flag is changed to designated days


that somehow you have lost your identity, some power you have lost


out, somehow your worst fears have been confirmed. That was the moment


of bad leadership. Let's regroup and show good leadership. This is


the point, Arlene. From my point of view, and as this survey shows, the


democratic nationalism accepts that the politics of accommodation may


mean that the Union flag flies not in a way that I would necessarily


opt for in the first instance but in the wake of the designated


days... It shows that we are prepared to respect your identity,


accommodate it and not in any way raised it. Although you did want to


It was quite clear that when Sinn Fein were in majorities in cases in


the West, then the flag went. We're not going to be ludicrous...


you're arguing they are and which they could easily have put up...


Gerry Kelly will let me finish. The reality is this. If Jenny says that


he accepts that Belfast Agreement he must and -- accept the principle


of consent that Northern Ireland will remain within the United


Kingdom unturned -- until such times as we can leave it. I am


challenging him to do to say, I challenge him to say in the west of


the province they should recognise Unionism on designated days.


Gentlemen, we are going to move on Forest's second. We have another


issue to address. There is a feeling of disaffection and


loyalism that they are losing out to the other side so how is that


reflected in the opinion poll? We But as Stephen Dempster found out,


once again, below the surface, opinion is even more deeply divided.


The Malone Road, South Belfast. Once the preserve of the unionist


middle classes, but as the emergence of St Bride's Church


suggests, increasingly home to the Catholic middle class too. And it


is places like this thatcould be preserving the Union. According to


the Spotlight poll, affluent catholics, like the people who


worship here, are more likely to vote to stay in the UK than they


are to choose a united Ireland. They are one important reason why


the poll suggests such a big margin in favour of staying in the Union.


And that's probably related to another finding of the poll -


middle class Catholics overwhelmingly think the current


political settlement is fair to both sides. But that view isn't


shared on this side of town. Rush hour in east Belfast, last month,


and the streets are eerily quiet. Protesters have gathered to block


the Albertbridge Road, a main route in and out of the city. Among them


are local mothers Julie Ann Workman and Sharon Kirkwood. We felt the


need to come out on the street because nobody was listening to us,


and we thought the best way to get people to listen to us was to come


out on to the street. We don't want our culture trampled on, we don't


want our culture disappearing $YELLOW The taking down of the flag


was the last straw. It's not just about one issue, there is a lot of


issues. It's Sinn Fein-IRA, they are just eroding our identity,


taking our communities down brick by brick. Sharon and Julie Anne


believe the political process is weighted against their community on


things like parading and historical enquiries. But how representative


are they? Is this disquiet among hardline loyalists or something


On that question over whether people think the political system


favours one community or another, over half of unionists feel it's


imbalanced in favour or nationalists. And that view is


strongest among the unionist lower middle and working class what


pollsters call groups C2 and DE. This sense of unfairness may be


more perception than reality, according to Professor Richard


English. He says the Union is secure but loyalists feel


threatened by the success of republicanism. Some sections of the


loyalist working class simply feel disadvantaged. Feel that they are


second class citizens. They look over the sectarian fence and see


Sinn Fein being very well oiled and well heeled. Well funded and very


professional. And they feel a certain envy towards that in terms


of not having that kind of representation themselves.


Dissatisfaction with the unionist leadership has also been voiced


throughout the flag protests. Nobody has no trust in them and to


be honest with you nobody believes a word comes out of their mouth,


because we are just pushed aside, pushed aside More specifically,


they blame the DUP. Everybody has lost faith in them and let me tell


you, my family all through the years voted DUP, my grandmother, my


granda, my mother, my father, but now we know what they are, they


don't get our votes, and they never, ever will get our votes again.


the DUP argue they are taking a lead on voicing unionists concerns


on issues like the flying of the flag and are confident of their


electoral support. We have met a range of people who say we have


been DUP voters all our lives and we will never vote for the DUP


again. Well, I heard that too. And election, and I have heard it


before previous elections. And we don't take anything for granted or


are not complacent in any way shape or form. But we need to be careful


here. The fact of the matter is, that overwhelmingly the vast


majority of unionists who voted in Belfast where we have 16


councillors. Is that the vast majority of the unionist people in


all areas did vote for the DUP, and do support the DUP. But if some


loyalists and unionists reject the DUP's leadership, who will provide


them with a voice? Already divisions have emerged within the


new Ulster People's Forum, led by Willie Frazer and Jamie Bryson.


will no longer be driven into the corner by certain politicians.


is too early to judge if a loyalist political grouping will prosper on


the back of the protests. But journalist Brian Rowan believes the


number of people on the street shouldnot be overplayed. I think we


need a context and we need a perspective. This is not a people


being on that scale of the 70s when you had the Ulster Workers Council


strike, the 80s after the Anglo- Irish agreement or the 90s and all


of the fallout that was associated with Drumcree. However, the


Spotlight poll, which suggests 45 per cent of unionists still support


the protests, eight weeks after they started, may concern the DUP.


And Brian Rowan says both the DUP and UUP leaderships have a PR


problem when they are targets for loyalist criticism. Have you seen


them walk the streets of east Belfast,? You know that, that they


would be as much a target as, as Martin McGuiness or Gerry Adams


would be if they walked the Newtownards road. Do you accept


though that Peter Robinson is unwelcome among a section of his


own community in east Belfast? look, there are always people who


are opposed to certain politicians. There will be people opposed to


every politician who has ever got elected. But under the DUP


leadership unionism/loyalism is demoralised. Why? No, I don't


accept that at all. I don't accept that. Some people will say that,


and some people will try to say that because some of them have


their own vested political interests. They are not weakening


the DUP, they are weakening the Union. And First Minister Peter


Robinson's dilemma seems clear, 46% of the general population think


he's handled the controversy badly, according to our poll. But what's


even more worrying for Peter Robinson, is that more DUP


supporters think he's handled the flags controversy badly, than


well.37% say he's done badly, to But Richard English predicts the


issues within Loyalist communities could be a problem for decades to


come and he says Peter Robinson and the DUP have a dilemma. I think


this is a difficult situation for Mr Robinson because there is the


question of his own electoral support. Because on the one hand he


wants to make sure that he looks like the most credible Unionist


leader who can bring delivery of good to his own community. There is


also the question of how he looks as somebody who is not just the


leader of one party, but is effectively the prime minister of


Northern Ireland. The Spotlight survey asked about the performance


of several politicians during the flags crisis. No one fared


particularly well. Naomi Long, Alliance deputy leader, got the


highest positive rating. 30% of the population think she's handled


things well. But 33% think she's done badly. But she needs unionist


votes to hang on to her Westminster seat, and 59% of unionists think


she's handled the flags controversy badly. The worst rating of any of


the politicians we asked about. But if people think this means it will


be easy for the DUP in East Belfast, they should also consider that 45


per cent of unionists still support the flag protests and, as our poll


suggests, a very significant percentage of unionists think the


current political settlement - agreed by the DUP - is unfair. And


nowhere will those views be more stridently expressed than by the


loyalist working classes. More food for thought. Do you accept the


Alliance has lost the East Belfast seat? The innings in the penis say


that it has been badly handled. Naomi Long has handled the


situation great dignity and integrity. Not according to 59% of


Unionists. Pensions have been inflamed. Accusations have been


laid against us, pensions have been whipped up by other parties. --


tensions. The message is that we won the seat last time round, and


how we will seek to retain the seat. Naomi Long will work for everyone


in that constituency. The office is under 24 hour police protection.


And we still have constituents wishing to engage with us because


of the record of hard work on the ground in dealing with everyone.


How would you seek to get those Unionists back on board?


addressing bread-and-butter issues, issues a round jobs, training,


educational under-achievement, in East Belfast, that have to be


addressed. Things that aren't close to my heart as minister for


employment and that Naomi Long cares very much about as well which


are of relevance to the entire community. 37% of DUP voters say


that Peter Robinson has handled the flags issue badly. There is a


section of our community who does not feel part of the peace process.


Professor Richard English got it right - it is about perception


against reality. When you look at the amateur investment going into


east Belfast, looking at the investment bodies constituency,


east Belfast gets more money spent on it than any other constituency


in Northern Ireland. If you look at their unemployment figures and I


have heard people say that it is higher than might east Belfast, it


is 5.4%, and the average is 7.8%. There is a job of work from a


unionist forum point of view. We are engaged on that. I spent two


evenings last week engaged on that form. But there were Gate weeks of


rioting. P Bull have the right to protest and we have seen that very


clearly coming through. Why did it take you this crisis to sit down


with the working-class people of East Belfast and say that actually,


you are not doing too badly. have constituency offices right


across Northern Ireland, and we are there to serve the people. Actually,


if you look at Sinn Fein and working-class nationalist areas,


they have a considerable Disconnect From politics. It is not just about


Unionist disconnection, it is nationalists as well. But they are


not out on the streets writing. They still have that this affection


and I think we should look at. Gerry Kelly, is it good for you


that there was this disarray, because it helps your argument that


Northern Ireland is not workable even though we have opinion polls


showing that many nationalists think that it is workable. Witney


repeat something you said earlier on which struck me.-let me. That


nothing has changed. We have a power-sharing government. We're


moving ahead. We're going to try to bring in direct investment. We're


making an effort in the economic downturn, to do all of that. The


difficulty is that we are discussing things like flags, when


the other work is still going on at the same time. You pushed it.


be clear about this. Let's nail this. This was over the East


Belfast seat. They were out there against Naomi along. She was not


even in the City Hall and the Alliance have got it right. Let me


bring in Danny Kennedy. Is it not true that the leaders of Unionism


have lost their flock, 42% think Mike Nesbitt has handled it badly.


The DUP would butte rightly concerned about your overall


ratings. Int -- would be rightly concerned. I have to say that Mike


Nesbitt's approval ratings are on a par with Peter Robinson's. There is


a challenge within Unionism to give leadership and we are attempting to


do that, and that is why we're engaged and involved in the


Unionist forum. It has been a very good sounding board, let me say,


for Unionist representatives and politicians. Engage with the whole


community, don't just talk about your cells. Let me bring in Alex.


If you step back, this is where we are. We need to consolidate


stability of devolution and consolidate against terror. We're


not living up to the full ambitions and values of agreement politics.


And unless we do, we're going to have a season of like disputes,


parades disputes, and other disputes. It is time to take stock


and move on, but to move on to the full purpose of the Good Friday


Agreement. You were calling for flax to be completely taken away


from city hall. And democratic nationalism work it through. In


order to demonstrate the politics of accommodation. The Alliance


Party work boot room. In the past, of nationalism and Republican has


some have said we accept that the politics of accommodation...


Sinn Fein and SDLP had been in the majority in Belfast City Hall, with


it have been flown on designated days? Please answer that question.


I will were fruit. Are we going to work on the politics of


accommodation... If you had been in the majority there would have been


no flag flying over City all. Is that true or not? It is not true.


The politics of accommodation would have prevailed. Look what happened


in Newry when republicans and nationalists combined to name a


children's park... Thank you very much for watching. We must leave it


Stephen Dempster tackles big identity questions, finding out what support there is for a border poll and investigating the union flag controversy.

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