News from Ireland

• Our guide in Belfast claimed that the different communities were beginning to appreciate each other’s customs. But what this can mean in practice is that the one community might adopt the other community’s customs, in reverse. If Unionists will go marching around in nationalist neighborhoods, then nationalists will go marching around in Unionist neighborhoods. If Unionists have huge bonfires on which they immolate nationalist symbols, well then nationalists will do the same with Unionist symbols. A twitter post from Leave.EU showed a recent nationalist bonfire in Derry that consumed several Union Jacks, Ulster banners, poppy wreaths, a British Army flag, various Protestant paramilitary flags, a Trump flag (!), and, to the consternation of the Times of Israel, an Israeli flag.

• I don’t know which community was the first to paint its kerbstones in the relevant colors (red, white, and blue for Unionists; green, white, and orange for nationalists), but apparently doing so counts as a hate crime now (or at least, you can report it as such, and the PSNI is obliged to investigate).

• Féile an Phobail, or the West Belfast Festival, was founded in the late 1980s in order to convince people that the Republicans who lived there had other interests besides terrorism. Alas, you can’t have something in West Belfast without someone ruining it; the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar opened the festival this year and was roundly criticized for doing so, after the appearance of IRA flags in the crowd. He had been warned that this was likely to happen, but went ahead and participated anyway.

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