Sectarian conflict remains in Northern Ireland. This should not shock people, despite the deal struck on Good Friday 1998. The Good Friday (or Belfast) Agreement signed in April 1998 effectively settled the constitutional position of Northern Ireland; that is that NI remains part of the United Kingdom.
It should not be a surprise to anyone that Republicans/Nationalists are frustrated and angry, or why so-called ‘dissident’ Republicans continue to murder policemen, soldiers or prison officers. This is because despite years of rhetoric and violence in order to ‘advance’ the nationalist ‘cause’ and effectively wipe Northern Ireland off the political map, they have not achieved what they sought to achieve; a united Ireland.
Hence, the recent decision over the Union Flag flying over Belfast City Hall, the Capital City of NI, is yet another ‘poke in the eye’ for Unionists by Sinn Fein in order to play to their electorate and anger Unionists. Despite this, Ulster remains British and an integral part of the UK. The Queen is still the Head of State and is still on the back of any coin (of which Sinn Fein elected representatives are more than happy to pocket!).
The development and growth of social media has seen sectarian conflict and debate surrounding the Ulster question rage online, as well as on the streets. Twitter, Facebook, and any amount of blogs and websites have been developed and reflect sectarian attitudes. Such new means of communication have provided new ways for each, or either, side of the community to ‘get at one another’.
In fact, some people have faced the courts for expressing sectarian sentiment over social media. Social media has therefore witnessed the spilling over of the language of ‘street’ violence, although I imagine that a good proportion of those engaging in online conversations and debate online over the Ulster question are not likely to engage in violence on the street. This is perhaps due to a class difference.
Social media has also been used to organise protests. The recent protests, which are rather unique it has to be said, have been largely organised online and mirror as to how the infamous London riots of 2011 were organised.
Today, we have one of the most unionist governments in London since the end of the second World War. This is fact. The only way forward, the only future NI has, is within the Union in an ever changing world where nationalism and expressions of such are frowned upon, rather than embraced and encouraged by those with power and influence.Share on Facebook