IN 1912, Sir Edward Carson drew a line in the sand with the Ulster Covenant.
In 1966, 1969, 1971, 1972 and countless other years thereafter, further lines were drawn in the sand. The Ulster Workers’ Council strike in 1974. The other loyalist strike which fizzled out. The Drumcree protest from 1995 onwards – still officially going on. And now, the Belfast City Hall flag dispute.
Is it only me or does anyone else see a pattern in this? How long before it dawns upon the loyalist people that, for some time, they have been drawing lines in sands that are shifting under their feet?
All of these protests ended “not in a bang, but a whimper”. Who believes that this one will be any different?
What will the next issue be? Scrapping the Belfast City coat of arms? Street signs in Irish around Donegall Square? Removal of King Billy from loyalist gables? Who knows?
Whatever it is, what is certain is that the loyalist protest will be uproarious, ineffective and short-lived. Life will go on until the next line is drawn.
When will it dawn upon loyalism that with Sinn Fein the largest party in Belfast City Council, the 2011 Census Survey gap between Protestants and Catholics being now only 3 per cent and the rise of multiculturalism in Belfast, times have changed?
The good news for unionists is that the same 2011 Census figures showed that a significant majority declared themselves as “British” or “Northern Irish”.
Do the people still remember Belfast’s motto? Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus – “In return for so much, what shall we give back?”
If loyalism has the wit to seize upon the residual goodwill and shared identity of their fellow (Catholic) citizens, it will realise the futility of drawing one more line in the sand.
“No Surrender!” just does not work anymore.
Pro Tanto Quid