The Great Awakening? The Belfast Flag Protests and Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist Counter-Memory in Northern Ireland
2 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 28, 2016
This article examines the protest movement that surfaced as a result of the decision taken by Belfast City Council to remove the Union flag from Belfast City Hall in December 2012. This article examines why the issue conflagrated as it did and led to a mobilisation within working class Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist (PUL) communities on the issue. Examining the flag protests within the context of more general PUL disaffection with the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and its associated peace process, this article looks at the flag protests as an avenue for disaffected PUL communities to assert a new counter-memory that challenges not only the ‘other’ but also those within the leadership of political Unionism who are said to have used PUL communities during the conflict only to abandon them in the post-conflict transition. This article concludes by examining the future potential of the new political movement born out of the flag protests and the avenues open to it to challenge the hegemonic position of traditional Unionism that has left PUL communities behind as Northern Ireland progresses in transition out of political conflict.
Keywords: Loyalism, symbolism, memory contestation, counter-narratives
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