This is an interesting and thoughtful piece. In the furore surrounding the flag protests I was struck by how frequently criticism of the protestors became classist in nature, with particularly contemptuous references to the employment status, education level and even accent of the protestors. It's a form of class-based intolerance and bigotry that's apparent nowadays in a wide variety of discussions, and also forms the basis of a sizeable portion of the entertainment industry, no doubt making middle class media types a fair whack of cash.

But I'd like to take issue with one thing:

"For almost a century Unionist political leaders gave their community a Protestant state for a Protestant people "

This line trips off the tongue easily, but I think we need to challenge just how true this actually is. My extended family had both Protestants and Catholics (and at least one atheist...), with the Catholic "half" very much better off than the Protestant one. It's led me to question this statement, which has become something of a mantra in our society and very much a casus belli for some, leading to some dreadful acts. The Unionist government may well have discriminated against Catholics in employment (rather worryingly our current assembly has also been found guilty of sectarian discrimination!), it certainly did nothing to encourage Nationalists to embrace the new reality of Northern Ireland. However, it had little or no impact on ordinary Protestants whose lives were generally every bit as difficult as their Catholic neighbours. The Unionist working class are consequently no more frustrated than their nationalist working class compatriots, and no more prone to rioting to vent that frustration.

Ten years your junior

Good lad, Stocki. Top notch piece. Personally, I think that everyone needs to get over this 'cultural heritage' piece, which is where a lot of the hate, tribalism and feeling of injustice stems from, across the full spectrum of our complex community in this part of the world. Culture is all great fun and has a nice tasty familiar nostalgia attached, a comfort blanket if you like, but all this stuff about cultural identity shouldn't REALLY matter a jot in the grand scheme of things.

john Burnett

As an irish American I take great interest in the cultural and political unrest in N Ireland. But I find not being a part of the culture, .. viewing from afar as it were, leaves me with an unbalanced and incomplete understanding of the culture of my great grand parents (Derry) and of N Ireland today. Can you suggest readings, documentarys, films and history essays that might give me a slightly better understanding ?

John B
Massachusetts, USA

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