They are not the only Alliance politicians to face violent repercussions over the decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union Flag only on a designated number of days every year.The non-sectarian Alliance councillors had helped broker a compromise and are paying a heavy price. MLA Stewart Dickson's offices in Carrickfergus were subject to an arson attack, another Councillor, Laura McNamee, had to leave her home because of threats as did East Belfast MP Naomi Long.
Now, I'd bet yo anything that the very same people who carry out this mindless intimidation, these thugs, aren't particularly in favour of something I feel really strongly about. It would never occur to me to do anything other than use my words, reasonable words, to discuss the issue with them. I'd never go to their houses, never threaten them or the people they love, never do them any harm, even if they blocked it. And in fact, reading Stephen Glenn's blog, few politicians in Northern Ireland are prepared to stand up for the LGBT community. I was horrified that one DUP politician refused to speak to him because he was wearing a rainbow badge.
It pains me to hear these people described as loyalists. They clearly don't share the liberal, tolerant values of the UK and its people so what the hell they think they're being loyal to I have no idea.
Alliance Party members have responded to the attacks on them with great courage and dignity. Activist Stephen Donnan penned this for the Belfast Evening Telegraph:
I understand and I encourage protest, that is how democracy works, as long as it is peaceful. Intimidating our Councillors into leaving their homes, burning down the offices of our MLAs and Ministers and sending sectarian abuse over Twitter to our supporters is not 'engaging in the debate', it's mob mentality.
This is not a protest, this is criminality and barbarism. You just lost the argument.The whole article is full of shock and raw emotion as well as a clear statement that they're not going to give up doing the valuable work they are doing.
I think it's important for those of us who believe in freedom and democracy to stand with the Alliance Party, which is the sister party of the Liberal Democrats. I have therefore made a donation to help them with their work and I hope that you will too by clicking here.
I'll leave you with the words of my friend Donna Dwyer on Facebook. I posted Stephen's article there and this was her response:
I spent my holiday in ireland this year. Ok it was the south but we drove through the north. I remember the pound changing into tje euro and the miles turning into km.
But at no time did the people change. I couldnt tell you from sight who was Irish, Scottish etc let alone catholic or protestant. They were all the most welcoming lovely people .I am fortunate to be blissfuly unable to understand what and why this is still going on. So as a scottish catholic i can only hope and pray that all of ireland finds the peace it so desrves ... This is such a beautiful land full of fantastic people its such ashame that its spoilt by idiot thugs and evils. Having diffrent beliefs dosnt meenn we cant live in respect, love and peace. I get that what I've said is a tad simplistic but it doesn't make it less true .