On the Shankill Road, there’s a very different atmosphere. The shops are pulling their shutters down early, and most people seem more concerned with getting home at the end of a long week than discussing the new political deal. The majority of those who do stop feel aggrieved, sidelined and let down.Will the DUP will listen to these sorts of comments, and try to row back on their commitments? It seems that if they don't then they stand to lose a lot of votes - but perhaps they hope to compensate for them by taking (or keeping) the more moderate unionist support that would once have gone to the UUP. Is there really room any more for the DUP between the rejectionist TUV and the UUP-UCUNF, though? Unionism cannot provide enough votes for three major parties - one has to go, maybe even two. The DUP will have to box clever to avoid being one of the victims.
“We’re just fed up with the whole lot of them, that’s what everyone says on the Shankill,” calls one woman. At Mooney’s butchers, Alexander Brown and Darren Hinds are despondent about the future of the Protestant community. “Our politicians haven’t negotiated hard enough. Now everyone thinks the Prods are too soft,” says Brown. “I don’t think there will be any Orange parades now, and in another five or 10 years, we’ll be seeing a united Ireland.”
“The British government has just given in to Sinn Féin. If I had my chance I’d be out of here and away to Australia,” adds Hinds.
At her greengrocer’s shop across the road, Kathleen Dalton says that unionists have been let down by their representatives. “I won’t vote for the DUP again. I’ll give Jim Allister my vote next time. He stands up for his principles.”
But pensioner Malcolm McCalmont says that politicians have got their priorities wrong. “Too much has been made of parading. And they’ll argue about policing and law and order for another 100 years. They’re going on about the Garvaghy Road while hundreds of thousands are unemployed in Northern Ireland. It’s a load of rubbish.”
“Sack the lot of them,” agrees James Pollock, behind the counter of SOS Shoe Repairs. “They’re not worth a bag of onions. You feel you can’t trust them. Where’s the honesty and the integrity?”
Sunday 7 February 2010
Vox pop on the Agreement
This blog’s initial reactions to the Hillsborough agreement were that it represented a climb-down by the DUP. While it is, of course, too early to know how things will actually turn out, it is interesting to note that the feeling of ordinary working class Protestants on the Shankill Road are not dissimilar to those of this blog. A vox pop carried out by the Irish Times provides the following comments: