At City Hall

Susan McKay

‘Disgruntled. That’s the word.’ The man was explaining how loyalists felt as they launched into the seventh week of their street protests. ‘The Republicans have got their foot under the table now and they are out to destroy everything that is British. Everything has turned full circle. Our culture is being destroyed. They are getting all the jobs and all the good houses … The politicians up at Stormont are trying to rosy it all up as if we all love each other. They should shut Stormont down. They’ve forgotten about the working people.’ He himself was unemployed, and so was his wife. A young woman with a child in a buggy tucked a Union flag around the child’s knees. I asked a young man why he was wearing a black balaclava. ‘’Cos it’s cold,’ he said. Another man said they had to hide their faces because Republicans were taking photographs of the loyalists and passing them on to the police. ‘People have lost their jobs over it,’ he said. A straggle of teenage boys, their tracksuits shawled in Union flags, came out of the KFC with steaming cartons of chips. ‘Look,’ said one of the women admiringly. ‘He has a flag on his hood.’ There were only about fifty people. I asked what would happen next. ‘We walk down to the City Hall for a rally,’ someone said. A skinny boy of about ten beside him piped up. ‘And then we riot.’

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