Thursday, 28 April 2011

Colour coding Norn Iron

WE’RE a thoughtful bunch here in Norn Iron – we colour code areas of staunch sectarian attitudes. We can safely lay claim to being the first, if not the only country to colour code sectarianism.

No, not something straightforward as flags or bunting: no, we go one step further and colour code our pavements’ kerbing.

Although the practice is dying out as quickly as traditional industries and support for paramiltarism, there are still parts of Belfast were you will know by way of a green, white and gold kerb, or a red, white and blue kerb, just what the general affiliation of the inhabitants is.

But with the passing of the majority of pavement artistes there has emerged another reliable sign of when you move from one demographic affiliation to another; that is the election poster.

If you see a large amount of DUP and UUP posters then in all likelihood you’ll know you are in a Loyalist/Unionist ward. Similarly, a large amount of Sinn Féin and SDLP posters and you are in a Republican/Nationalist ward.

And, if the net value of the houses in the ward is well above the average then you might see Alliance posters.

[In terms of balance we’d like to say there are other parties contesting the election, check them out on reliable media; or failing that try the local papers, BBC and UTV].

With such sectarian colour coding, it reveals a deep flaw in Northern Ireland politics. The four largest parties do not aspire to gain votes from, wait for it, “the Other Side”.

Much as a token member or voter will appear when politically opportune, or for media purposes, the parties have not the confidence in their message to have any ambition of winning voters by argument. If they did, the arguments on so-called bread and butter issues would justify campaigning in every ward.

Instead we have what we have: the old saying that we get the politicians we deserve may well be true after all.

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