The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0898  Monday, 24 April 2000.

From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 22 Apr 2000 18:54:54 +0100
Subject: 11.0877 Re: Friel
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0877 Re: Friel

Kevin De Ornellas has the better of me

>The law banning the tricolour was lifted several years ago.
>From where I sitting right now (in West Belfast) I can see
>dozens of perfectly legal Irish flags.

Of course you're quite right in your correction of my out-of-date
information. The law was recently changed, and the Good Friday agreement
actually calls for equal respect to be accorded the two cultures. (It's
too easy in the politics of Ireland-where Catholics achieved voting
rights in the late 1960s-to be ungracious about recent improvements.)

The new ruling is that flags can be flown where they don't cause
offence.  Thus, tricolours may be flown in republican areas and union
flags may be flown in unionist areas. The city centre must, then,
qualify as a unionist area being-I'm confidently informed by a visitor
of this afternoon-quite free of tricolours but still displaying what an
earlier generation colourfully termed "the butcher's apron". I don't
suppose that the police stations of the Royal Ulster Constabulary have
been buying tricolours in preparation for its transformation into the
Northern Ireland Police Service.

>Gabriel . . . if you are going to make any 'factual' remarks
>about Ireland, would you run them by me first?

A generous offer, but surely an impossible burden on your time. Would
you settle for timely correction, as in the above case? I'll take you up
on one outstanding matter: where are we on the decriminalization of
Irish-speaking in the British courts in Ireland?

>Your support for the struggle against the anachronism of
>British involvement in Ulster is appreciated . . .

Just to clarify, it's not the "anachronism" but the ongoing oppression
I'm against, and not the "involvement" (how pleasantly communal that
sounds) but the colonization.

Gabriel Egan

PS This is not a politics list, so . . .

The significance of the emblematic "red hand" of Ulster, which forms
part of the shield of the Queen's University of Belfast (www.qub.ac.uk)
and its status as an inspiration to Shakespeare and Spenser are
elegantly outlined in a forthcoming book:

Joan Fitzpatrick _Irish Demons: English Writings on Ireland, the Irish,
and Gender by Spenser and his Contemporaries_ (Lanham, MD: University
Press of America, 2000)

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