Team GB: Britain’s careless inattention to its own edges?

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I hate to say it, because spectacle is no really my thing, but last night’s opening ceremony was impressive. At a quick reckoning, I think it is the first live one I’ve seen since Munich in 1972. I think what Danny Boyle got right, was the narrative thread (and a set that must have cost an absolute bomb… Best write up I’ve seen so far, is this from the NYT:

…a wild jumble of the celebratory and the fanciful; the conventional and the eccentric; and the frankly off-the-wall, Britain presented itself to the world Friday night as something it has often struggled to express even to itself: a nation secure in its own post-empire identity, whatever that actually is.

I could hardly agree more. But come here! What’s all this nonsense about Team GB? I’ve no innate or personal political objection to its use, but it is, as Norman Davies might put it, a simplifactuer par excellence.

It’s NOT Great Britain lads! That IS the old imperial term and it displays carelessness that speaks poorly of the centre’s inattention to the edge.

,

  • Republic of Connaught

    In fairness, Mick, Britain is the home island of the British people. It’s where’s 60 million plus British people live. They are quite happy with the name ‘team GB’.

    Asking them to change it because of the paltry number of British nationalists who don’t live on their nation’s home island is like asking team Ireland to change its name because the Aran Islanders feel left out.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Mick Fealty,

    I’m not so sure that ‘Great Britain’ “IS the old imperial term”. Its use predates the British Empire and may have been originally used to differentiate between ‘Britain Major’, the island of Britain, and ‘Lessor Britain’ that portion of France, Brittany, that was held by the Crown.

    However does it really matter? Best not to allow Northern Irish prickliness the run of itself.

  • Toastedpuffin

    sos:

    Great Britain and Lesser Britain are terms that predate the British presence in gaul: Lesser britain is Ireland’s first name

  • http://ansionnachfionn.com/ An Sionnach Fionn

    I’m confused. Is it the “Great” in the name Great Britain you object to or the use of “Great Britain” instead of the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”?

    In any case, as an outsider looking in, perhaps “Team Greater England” would have been more appropriate since the other “nations” of the UK seem to have been all but invisible? And where they do appear it is only part of a riot of English nationalist vitriol over alleged refusals to sing the British national anthem at various soccer events, and Daily Mail calls for the Welsh and Scots to go home (“GB” presumably not being home).

    Even the opening ceremony (wonderful though it undoubtedly was) was largely an English celebration of an English nation (albeit a multicultural one). Wales and Scotland were very much A.N. Other. The Welsh and Scottish cyberspheres are reflecting that impression today.

    Perhaps the choosing of the name was part of the deliberate rehabilitation of the formerly imperial Great Britain? “Yes, we had an empire but honestly it wasn’t like everyone else’s – we were the good guys, see! Apples an’ pears, lor’ luv a duck, ‘av a banana!”

    Ferguson has been doing a good line in that, Paxman too, and the British (for which read English) are lapping it up (no matter how much the Guardianistas may rail against it – and even they are not immune to the allure of the new imperial revisionism).

    However, when all’s said and done, the opening ceremony was far better than any previous event I’ve seen. Spectacular, but with a real touch of wit and self-deprecation. I enjoyed it and I hope it does bring some good to the people of London in these double-dip times. And the team from their neighbouring island-nation was greeted with a loud roar of welcome when it walked out. Which was nice.

  • sonofstrongbow

    TP,
    You’re a braver Puffin than me Gunga Din. To suggest that Ireland is Little Britain on Slugger is courage beyond the call.

    Was it not the Romans who coined Britain, the Land of the Britons? Did they not also note Hibernia? The ‘Great’ came along post William and the beginning of the English/French imbroglio.

    Anyhoo whatever. GB will do for me.

  • dwatch

    Northern Ireland shines in 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19023463

  • sonofstrongbow

    Yes the Opening Ceremony was soooo English. The Welfare State and the NHS being highlighted. A big thanks to that Cockney lad Nye Bevan there.

    And those Home Counties’ stalwarts J M Barrie and J K Rowling getting name checked too.

    Not to mention Sir Chris Hoy, no doubt born within the sound of Bow Bells, leading out Team GB.

  • carnmoney.guy

    Am I the only sane person in this assylum, this ceremony is the best they could do, with seven years to plan.
    Fireworks – yawn
    Fly past – yawn

    The highlight is the ‘Queen’ parachuting from a helicopter, does anyone not feel uneasy about that, with up your skirt shots.

    The original plan for the stadium was to surround the whole outside with the worlds biggest led display screen, but they ran out of money . . . 10 billion spent

    How many people would buy a DVD of the opening ceremony ?
    Once the media frenzy subsides we will see the monarchs new clothes…

  • http://www.thedissenter.co.uk thedissenter

    Being British is not a blood or land thing, its a personal place to be which is why it is often difficult for those not in that place to identify or define and for those in that place to have very different notions of what it is to be, which is itself very British.

    To be expected that in a nation of 70 million competition is tough for a place in Team GB, so well done them for being the best of the best and making us very proud of them. Saw Alan Campbell on BBC this morning talking ahead of his race. Great hearing a Northern Ireland accent representing a Great British team.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    I watched some of the opening ceremony and the bit were they went around the regions of the UK showing scenes of each region with sports clips . As they sung Danny Boy, I got a bit confused when they showed a rugby clip, for Northern Ireland, a clip of an Ireland try???

    Should they not have been the great Gerry Armstrong scoring against Spain?

    Does Danny Boyle know something we don’t. Is there going to be a united Ireland, back under British control.

  • tyrone_taggart

    In marketing terms Great Britain is better understood than UK.

    See tje English version of the Netherlands…….is called….Holland.

    “Welcome to Holland.com, the official website of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, “

  • The Lodger

    “Even the opening ceremony (wonderful though it undoubtedly was) was largely an English celebration of an English nation”

    And who could be more blue blood English than a man named Boyle?

    Some people just can’t see the wood for the trees.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    I know things are a bit tight down south but this takes the copper and silver.

    “Betting investigation for unnamed Irish Olympic team member”.

    “It has been alleged that a competitor at the London games previously bet on an opponent to win an event in which they were both competing”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19027361

  • Republic of Connaught

    Ardoyne u,

    There’s twice as many NI athletes representing IE than GB. No doubt you’ll be cheering the Irish team on?

  • Dec

    ‘Being British is not a blood or land thing, its a personal place to be which is why it is often difficult for those not in that place to identify or define and for those in that place to have very different notions of what it is to be, which is itself very British. ‘

    Pseud’s corner beckons.
    Gibberish aside, it was great to see the greatest song ever written, Pretty Vacant, given extended exposure in the music segment. Still amazes me how few people realise what Johnny Rotten is actually singing.

  • andnowwhat

    Is it just me or did anyone else feel like you were living in a soviet style nation while watching the ceremony?

  • andnowwhat

    Jaysus Cramoney!! You just reminded me of that queen/Bond thing. In what world was that respectful of her office?

  • Mister_Joe

    Those of us who take vicarious please in seeing OUR team do well might ponder the advice given by Usain Bolt to Tyson Gay:
    “Remember, you’re not doing this for your country or your family, you’re doing it for yourself”.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    RoC and as they live in the UK no doubt you will be cheering on Team GB&NI.

    You know RoC when Paddy Barnes represents Northern Ireland and walks behind the Ulster flag, one does feel something special. Knowing that a guy from not far from me is happy to walk behind the Ulster Flag and proud to represent Northern Ireland it has to be a good thing.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    I know its one of the more politicised terms in our recent history, even so:

    ¶ By the late third century/early fourth, the Roman GOC of Britannia Inferior (i.e north of the Humber) was dux Britanniarum. Coel Hen (“Old King Cole”) was dux Britannorum by the very early fifth century (but see John Morris, The Age of Arthur).

    ¶ King Ecgberht of Wessex (and therefore an Anglo-Saxon of whom Mitt Romney would approve) was Bretwalda (“ruler of the Brets”) as early as the ninth century.

    ¶ The Welsh were happy to live in ynys Prydain nearly a millennium back.

    ¶ All the early “great” Britain references are to distinguish north of the Channel from Brittany.

    ¶ James VI & I thought “Great Britain” a notional title for the combined kingdoms. It didn’t become official until 1707 (and, for Ireland, until 1801).

    All of that is peripheral; but I’d tentatively suggest that the distaste for being “West Brits” didn’t stem from Daniel O’Connell:

    The people of Ireland … they are ready to become a kind of West Briton if made so in benefits and justice; but if not, we are Irishmen again.

    but from “Tom Kelly” (a.k.a. David Patrick Moran) and The Leader. Moran, of course, was using the term explicitly as one of many sectarian gybes:

    … the Irish nation is de facto a Catholic nation [as opposed to] English who happen to be born in Ireland.

    [Michael Pierse's essay in History Ireland, vol 19, no. 5 (Sep/Oct 2011) is useful for how an "exclusive" Irish identity was a literary construct.]

  • GavBelfast

    Mark Cavendish is from the Isle of Man …. and “GBR” (officially “Great Britain and Northern Ireland”) is his team, too.

    We do get in our knickers in a twist, don’t we (the Royal we, of course)?

  • Republic of Connaught

    AU,

    It doesn’t matter where they live. They are Irish men and women representing team Ireland, a 32 county team.

    As for team GB, I’ll support team USA, GB, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, after Ireland’s athletes.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Oh, and Boyle was conjuring not only something explicitly “British” and “English” (I thought the Pandemonium segment was particularly inventive and spectacular — it certainly got some Tories up tight) but also something specifically “London”. Even more so, something “East End” — not just that damned soap, or Dizzee, but true Brit Ken Brannagh (now, where did he spring from?) posing as Brunel (second generation immigrant, French educated) before “cameras”, to recreate the iconic Great Eastern Millwall photograph of 1857. Smug, huh?”

    That achieved (and it was) the larger audiences, even the international ones, had to be satisfied.

    And Dec @ 2:51 pm is one of the few to get the irony:

    Don’t ask us to attend
    ‘cos we’re not all there.
    Oh don’t pretend ‘cos i don’t care:
    I don’t believe illusions
    ‘cos too much is real;
    So stop your cheap comment
    ‘cos we know what we feel.

    However, deep philosophy it was not. So stop over-analysing entertainment (except when it puts Mitt Romney back in his box).

  • babyface finlayson

    carnmoney.guy
    So no fireworks and no flypast in your version then?
    Sounds better already.
    I know, what about no music too, that should improve things.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    ‘ArdoyneUnionist (profile) 28 July 2012 at 2:14 pm
    I watched some of the opening ceremony and the bit were they went around the regions of the UK showing scenes of each region with sports clips . As they sung Danny Boy, I got a bit confused when they showed a rugby clip, for Northern Ireland, a clip of an Ireland try???

    Should they not have been the great Gerry Armstrong scoring against Spain?

    Does Danny Boyle know something we don’t. Is there going to be a united Ireland, back under British control.’

    The rugby clips confused me too – rugby is not an olympic sport but I understand that the UK can select a new sport for the next games and have picked rugby for Rio so that may have something to do with it.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I grew up with “It’s a Knockout” and we were always GB in that, plus it’s what we use for our international motoring sticker, so I’m fine with it. People can get too literalist with the nomenclature, it’s clearly a UK team and it’s really non-issue.

    I don’t think the opening ceremony was especially Anglocentric – Branagh and Mary Peters among others had key roles from our neck of the woods, plus the main narrative of rural life being transformed by industry is very much a story that binds Northern Ireland to the rest of the country, especially the North and Scotland.

    As a proud Briton I was moved to tears on a couple of occasions with sheer love of this place, which Danny Boyle did such a brilliant job of evoking. Really nice to see the Britain I know and love – the country of the Sex Pistols, Mondays, ‘Bonkers’, Gregory’s Girl, Suffragettes, NHS, industrial grime as well as pagans on hillsides and so on – taking centre stage. I hope non-Britons can see what a remarkably rich and diverse country and culture we have. It is something to be proud of.

    The only bum note for me was finishing on Macca doing Hey Jude: I’m a huge Beatles fan but you needed something unique to finish the show with. He’s played that card too many times before for other occasions. If it has to be classic rock, you needed something with greater rarity value: maybe a reformed line up of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Small Faces with Paul Weller in them or maybe Bowie on his own doing that freaked-out version of Let’s Spend The Night Together (on Aladdin Sane).

    Personally I think there is no better celebration of the nation than a Half Man Half Biscuit gig, so I’d just have had Nigel Blackwell et al on there playing the whole of 90 Bisodol.

  • Mister_Joe

    If a new sport is selected does that mean one is deselected?
    Here’s my starter for 10:

    Individual synchronized swimming. So stupid and oxymoronic..

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    P.S. when I saw HMHB in Leicester the night before the royal wedding last year, they dedicated “National Sh*te Day” to the occasion. Perfect.
    “I try to put everything into perspective
    Set it against the scale of human suffering
    And I thought of the Mugabe government
    And the children of the Calcutta railways
    This works for a while
    But then I encounter Primark FM …”
    http://www.chrisrand.com/hmhb/csi-ambleside/national-shite-day/#ixzz21vn5U9o9

  • Barnshee

    “It doesn’t matter where they live. They are Irish men and women representing team Ireland, a 32 county team.”

    Obviously- they were simply not good enough to get into Team GB

  • Alan N/Ards

    I thought last night was absolutely fantastic. I wonder how long it will be before Danny Boyle hears the words “Arise Sir Danny”. It was a really brilliant spectacle.

    Why worry about the name Team GB. We know that technically it is GB and NI and that’s a bit of a mouthful. Is the full name of Team Ireland..Ire and NI?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Barnshee,

    That might well be true for the Protestant athletes in NI who end up in team Ireland because they can’t make the GB team.

    But they are still welcome into the Irish team anyway because they’re from of our wonderful Emerald isle, whatever their politics.

  • Alan N/Ards

    RoC

    Do you have to be a citizen of the Republic to represent them?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Alan,

    I’d imagine you have to be an Irish citizen to represent Ireland in Olympics, yes. There’s wouldn’t be a separate Irish Olympic team if we weren’t a soverign nation with our own passports,

  • The Lodger

    “But they are still welcome into the Irish team anyway because they’re from of our wonderful Emerald isle, whatever their politics.”

    ROC,

    Unless they are holding up the place of a slower southerner.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/gutted-joanna-mills-out-of-olympics-16189058.html

  • Alan N/Ards

    RoC

    ” That may be true for the Protestants athletes in NI who end up in team Ireland because they can’t make the GB team”

    What has an athletes religion got to do with whether they are good enough?

  • Alan N/Ards

    RoC

    Should an athlete from a unionist background have to deny their birthright to compete for the republic? Where is the parity of esteem of which republican’s are always talking about?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Alan,

    Protestant athletes in NI probably dream of representing GB at the Olympics with the Union Jack. So if they had a straight choice between team GB or Ireland they would probably choose GB.

    If they can’t make the GB team, however, then they will represent Ireland if they can and if it gets them to the Olympics. And as I say, they’re still welcome.

    Lodger,

    Is that just a MOPE or can you prove it had anything to do with the fact the girl was from the north that she was left out?

  • Mister_Joe

    Are mopery jokes allowed? I’ll chance it and hope to avoid a silver medal yellow card.

    Catholics can run faster because it was passed on from their ancestors who learned it running away from their Saxon foes on horseback.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    RoC,
    I hope Northern nationalists appreciate how the normal rules are bent for them so they can represent the Republic.

    I’m not sure many other national minorities are granted this right. Though I think on the break up of the USSR, ethnic Russians in Ukraine were allowed to nominate Russia for sport. May be the same in the Baltics, not sure. In principle I don’t have much of a problem with it.

    As for ethnically British sportspeople in N Ireland choosing to represent the Republic: you have to admire their personal ambition and determination to take any opportunity to play international sport, but it does make a bit of a nonsense of the idea of international competition and it doesn’t say a lot for their integrity. I think if you can’t make the British team, tough, you shouldn’t then take advantage of the desperation of a neighbouring country to project itself to the world as something it isn’t. That country will be accepting you for some very dodgy reasons, among which is often a chauvinistic and dismissive attitude towards British identity in N Ireland from those running sports. This needs to be challenged, not pandered to.

    But personal ambition I know trumps all those considerations and I do understand that. Sports people are not so much the problem – they are just playing the system they are presented with – as the governing bodies and politicians here.

  • The Lodger

    “Catholics can run faster because it was passed on from their ancestors who learned it running away from their Saxon foes on horseback.”

    Mr Joe,

    True, but that is only of use to them if they remember to get up out of bed in time to compete. :-)

  • The Lodger

    “Lodger,

    Is that just a MOPE or can you prove it had anything to do with the fact the girl was from the north that she was left out?”

    ROC,

    Well she was demonstrably faster so why was she left out?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Alan,

    If all athletes in NI declare they want to exclusively represent team Ireland then I’m sure the flag etc.. will change to signify that exclusive allegiance shown from NI athletles to team Ireland.

  • Republic of Connaught

    MU,

    Northen nationalists, like everyone else in NI, can get an Irish passport if they so please. If they’re Irish citizens they can represent Ireland in sport like an Irish citizen from any other part of Ireland.

    Lodger,

    I don’t know exactly the reason the girl was left out. But unless I see evidence to the contrary, it’s mopery to suggest it was because she was from the north.

  • The Lodger

    “Lodger,

    I don’t know exactly the reason the girl was left out. But unless I see evidence to the contrary, it’s mopery to suggest it was because she was from the north.”

    ROC,

    Could it be more to do with the fact that her dad isn’t the ROI team doctor?

  • veryoldgit

    “Does Danny Boyle know something we don’t. Is there going to be a united Ireland, back under British control”.

    Don’t even joke about such things ardoyneunionist. The only time I’d not care about that happening is if we English had declared independence and the Celtic nations were the rump UK, Great Britain, Britain, Team GB, Celtic United or whatever they wanted to call it!
    As for Team GB, I look forward to the day when England sends her own team to the Olympics and we can forget all this British nonsense!

  • Republic of Connaught

    Lodger,

    That could be it, I honestly don’t know. But that would still mean that one girl got in because she had pull and the other was left out because she didn’t have the pull. Not because of where she was from.

  • Toastedpuffin

    sos:

    I don’t think there is any real doubt as to the origin of the term “Great Britain” – Ptolemy used the terms “Albion” and “Great Britain” (Megale Bretannia) interchangeably to refer to the larger of the British Isles, and “Lesser Britain” (Mikra Brettania) and “Ivernia” to refer to the smaller. IIRC he was not the first to do so, but I’d need to check. This predated British influence in what is now France by some centuries. I don’t think the ancient Greeks

  • Toastedpuffin

    …ahem, as I was saying, I don’t think the ancient Greeks cared greatly for 21st century nationalist phobias.

  • ayeYerMa

    If many are so keen on the Great Britain name, then why don’t we get together and clear up this mess of terminology for good — officially rename the United Kingdom to “Great Britain” and in conjunction officially rename the big island to “Albion”? Sorted!

    Alternatively, why don’t we in Northern Ireland get our own back by by renaming the mouthful of a name “Northern Ireland” to my own suggestion of “Greater Ulidia” (which would naturally be shortened to “Ulidia” in colloquial speech). United Kingdom of Great Britain and Greater Ulidia anyone?

  • The Lodger

    “Lodger,

    That could be it, I honestly don’t know. But that would still mean that one girl got in because she had pull and the other was left out because she didn’t have the pull. Not because of where she was from.”

    ROC,

    But that still means that my original statement stands. Nordies are welcome so long as they are not taking up the position of a southerner. All be it a well connected one.

    I hope that the ROI story in these Olympics is not going to be dominated by corruption of one sort or another.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Lodger,

    Of course it doesn’t stand.

    If girl A got in because of pull then it didn’t matter if girl B was even from the same town .- all that mattered was one girl had pull and the other didn’t. It has absolutely nothing to do with north/south only to a MOPE.

    The corruption story I believe is about an individual, and it might well be a northerner. Wouldn’t that make you smile, Lodger!

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    Now that the Olympics have started, can we have some blogging about it from Slugger. At the last Olympics, blogs about sport by Slugger writers were much too thin on the ground. Come on guys.

  • Mick Fealty

    Norman Davies reckons this kind of popular mistake is rooted in the decline of teaching history in schools… From his intro to his book The Isles

    …a society unaware of its history is like person suffering from amnesia. It simply cannot function efficiently. One should not be in the least surprised that on every hand one met people who do not care about the difference between England and Britain or between Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Such distinctions, which are rooted in historical change, were simply not noticed.

    The true extent of the mix ups is marvellous to behold. One of the most extraordinary aspects of the current scene lies in the number of citizens of the United Kingdom who do not appear to be familiar with the basic parameters of the state in which they live. They often do not know what it is called; they do not distinguish between the whole and the constitutuent parts.; and they have never grasped the elementary facts of its development.

    That’s my objection to the use of the wrong term… It’s an expression of historic and constitutional ignorance…

  • john

    MU
    ”I think if you can’t make the British team, tough, you shouldn’t then take advantage of the desperation of a neighbouring country to project itself to the world as something it isn’t. That country will be accepting you for some very dodgy reasons”

    MU I presume you are not a sports fan seeing as pretty much every sporting team throughout the world select whoever they can as long as they are ‘eligible’ – are all these teams desperate and projecting falsehoods to the world. I dont think the England cricket team or rugby team or the French or German football team for example would care too much about that as long as they keep performing (ps in my opinion naturalised Aussies and South Africans for example have less afinity to an England team than Northern Protestants to an Ireland team especially when most sports in Ireland are run on an an all Island basis.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Here is how republicans treat the Olympic torch as it made its way through Londonderry, the United Kingdoms first city of culture 2013.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-foyle-west-19031444

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    RoC,
    Having a right to a passport is different from full citizenship, clearly. Otherwise people would have a right to vote in Rep of I elections and be governed from Dublin etc – which just doesn’t work with the realities of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, not to mention the accountability issues.

    If people want joint sovereignty for N Ireland then they can put it to a vote and see how they get on – but in the meantime, it’s unfair and undemocratic to seek to bypass the actual constitutional reality people voted for.

    The passport thing was a nice throw-away gesture, not to be confused with full citizenship. The hands-in-the-ears irridentist brigade seek to use it as an opportunity to foment creative (for them) confusion over the issue, with some success it seems.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mainland Ulsterman
    RoC,
    “Having a right to a passport is different from full citizenship, clearly. Otherwise people would have a right to vote in Rep of I elections and be governed from Dublin etc”

    At what point does a Dubliner who is living in Belfast stop being a full Irish Citizen?

  • Republic of Connaught

    MU,

    In sport people can represent a nation if they are entitled to a passport from that nation. It isn’t exclusive to the north or south of Ireland. As is mentioned above, it happens with countries all over the world. The GFA clearly states people in NI can choose by law to have an Irish or British passport, or both.

    If people choose to have an Irish passport, and that fully entitles them to represent Ireland in whatever sport, then that’s their business, not yours. You cannot really think you can dictate to Irish people in NI in 2012 whether they can represent Ireland or not?

    If your problem is with ‘ethnically British’ people in NI choosing to represent team Ireland because they can’t make the grade with GB, well that’s a different argument.

  • mollymooly

    The British Olympic Association is affiliated to the IOC under the name “Great Britain”. The Olympic Council of Ireland objected in 2004 when they tried to change it to “Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. The same crap that gives us “Chinese Taipei” and “Hong Kong, China”. Though I’m not sure the linked BBC report’s claim is or was ever true that “According to the International Olympic Committee’s existing charter, the Olympic Council of Ireland represents the whole island of Ireland.” Possibly also significant and/or confusing that the only foreign country visited by the 2012 torch relay was Ireland (or “Irish Dublin”…or “Dublin, British Isles”, or…)

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Ah, Mick Fealty @ 7:09 pm, you’ve been at the Introduction to The Isles again. Page xxvii if I’m not mistaken (because I’ve just looked it up).

    He’s at it again in Vanished Kingdoms:

    Having lived a charmed life in the mid-twentieth century, and having held out against the odds in our ‘Finest Hour’, the British risk falling into a state of self-delusion which tells them that their condition is still as fine, that their institutions are above compare, that their country is somehow eternal. The English in particular are blissfully unaware that the disintegration of the United Kingdom began in 1922, and will continue; that they are less aware of complex identities than are the Welsh, the Scots or the Irish. Hence, if the end does come, it will come as a surprise. Those who seriously believe ‘There’ll always be an England’ are whistling in the dark.

    Whatever was right, left, or wrong about Danny Boyle’s concoction last evening, he was cynically correct that ‘Merrie England’ was, and remains, a myth, that change and decay is all around, that we are never arrived at some terminus ad quem.

    I am not surprised at the outburst (‘leftie multicultural crap’) by Aidan Burley, MP. Some dimwit had to do it: we ought to have run a charity raffle on which one. Equally predictable was it had to be David Winnick MP who was the opposing rentagob. What ought to be of more moment is the sequence of dullards on (e.g.) the Mail and Telegraph websites, all deploring that [a] we didn’t have more of the dastardly Hun, ca. 1940 (see Davies, above), and [b] more militarism. After Beijing, they want more of the same?

    By the way, any hope that chapter 14 of Vanished Kingdoms could be made required reading for Sluggerdom? Notably pages 666ff [hardback first edition]?

  • Reader

    tyrone_taggart: At what point does a Dubliner who is living in Belfast stop being a full Irish Citizen?
    The details are a bit confusing, but it looks like the answer is : if you define it by referring to voting rights – almost immediately:
    http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/moving_to_ireland/introduction_to_the_irish_system/right_to_vote.html

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Interesting thought, Reader @ 8:58pm.

    By coincidence I was just addressing my mind to Mick Fealty’s thread on Seanad reform; and I recalled the rubric on a TCD graduate’s eligibility to vote in Seanad elections:

    Every person who is a citizen of Ireland and has been admitted to a degree (other than an honorary degree) by the University of Dublin is entitled to be registered as an elector in the DU register of electors. The right to vote is not automatic; it must be claimed.

    So, as you suggest, it’s not watertight.

  • http://andrewg.wordpress.com Andrew Gallagher

    So if the “national” Olympic committees do not represent the same “nations” that are recognised in international diplomacy, why do they use the same symbolism?

  • Toastedpuffin

    “That’s my objection to the use of the wrong term… It’s an expression of historic and constitutional ignorance…”

    Bit of a bugbear of mine too. As Mollymooly pointed out above, this issue has been raised before with a view to getting the name changed. I think the Team GB term was kept (essentially) because it sounded cool and tripped off the tongue nicely. I understand the Channel Islands are also excluded by the term

  • http://andrewg.wordpress.com Andrew Gallagher

    a

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Anyone felt that the stereotyping going on in this thread has approached Olympic Gold Medal standard? You should instantly apologise.

    It’s all done far, far more successfully by Damian Thompson for the Torygraph.

    If you hanker for those bizarre nineteenth-century Punch cartoons of Mr G. O’Rilla and other things Oirish, you will feel quite at home.

  • HeinzGuderian

    We all live in the beautiful British Isles,so we all support Team GB…..don’t we ?
    Last nights Opening Ceremony might not have been everyone’s cup of cha,but it was never going to please everyone,was it ?
    Relax,sit back,and enjoy the games…….or switch channels……whatever floats your boat.
    but for pities sake stop whinging about it.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Mick Fealty [7.09] I thought the GB bit was because, at the time the olympics began, just over a century ago, that was the state of affairs pertaining. You had the British Isles with GB and Ireland. The IFA must be fretting that FIFA will use this as the perfect excuse to end the concession of four UK memberships which would er….finish the IFA.

  • tyrone_taggart

    HeinzGuderian

    “We all live in the beautiful British Isles”

    We do not! I live in the islands of the North Atlantic
    (IONA). You should visit its lovely.

  • Neil

    The details are a bit confusing, but it looks like the answer is : if you define it by referring to voting rights – almost immediately:

    No one does define citizenship by voting rights though, with the exception of the Ulster Unionist who seems intent on defining other people’s nationality. It would appear that the Irish government did not extend all Irish people living north of the border the right of citizenship – it was all a little lie cunningly detected by Mainland Ulsterman. We’re not citizens until such times as he allows us to be, despite what might be stated in the GFA.

    All horseshit of course. An Irishman living in any part of the world has the same voting rights as an Irishman in NI, likewise the children of Irish citizens living far and wide. Apparantly you guys would like to redefine citizenship specifically so the Irish people in the northern part of Ireland don’t qualify. It’s a good job your opinion on that matter is fairly much irrelevant these days.

  • Neil

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizenship

    Citizenship denotes the link between a person and a state or an association of states. It is normally synonymous with the term nationality although the latter term is sometimes understood to have ethnic connotations. Possession of citizenship is normally associated with the right to work and live in a country and to participate in political life.

    Seems to me we have the right to live, work and vote/stand for election in Ireland. What definition of citizenship are you boys using?

  • Reader

    tyrone_taggart: We do not! I live in the islands of the North Atlantic
    (IONA). You should visit its lovely.

    I’m sure they would visit, if only they knew where the place was. Tell them it’s slightly better known as the North West European Archipelago.

    Neil: An Irishman living in any part of the world has the same voting rights as an Irishman in NI
    Thankfully, the heat has gone out of the issue since the RoI abandoned the territorial claim a few years ago, which makes the failure to include residents of the 6 counties in the electorate less glaring. But it always made practical sense to exclude them from decision making. There is always the long slow push to include nordies in the Seanad franchise, though.

    Neil: It’s a good job your opinion on that matter is fairly much irrelevant these days.
    Quite; in fact, in electoral terms, it’s pretty much as irrelevant as yours.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Neil. The point you made in the last paragraph, [sentence starts with apparently], is also seen in the UUP insistence at the time of the talks leading to the GFA in ’98, that the articleas 2 &3 in the Irish Constitution be ended. This was also the malign motive to isolate NI nationalists from the rest of the island’s population. But that backfired badly on unionists since another device was negotiated by Nats parties which has now led to catholic players going to the FAI. The ability to do this predated the GFA, but it’s highlighting in the GFA alerted more players to the option.
    The IFA has reason to hate unionist politicians for that as it’s effectively finished them.

  • Reader

    Neil: Seems to me we have the right to live, work and vote/stand for election in Ireland. What definition of citizenship are you boys using?
    Yep – you’ll be voting for your local TD next time round.
    (Your sensitivity on the issue is noted – I only went off and found the link to the franchise out of curiosity, being well aware of Thatcher’s determination to extend the franchise to British Ex-pats, and wondering if anyone of substance in the RoI had ever seen an electoral advantage in indulging the ex-pats, grand-pats and quasi-pats. Apparently not.)

  • tyrone_taggart

    Reader:
    Have you been in the “British Ocean”?

  • Reader

    tyrone_taggart: Have you been in the “British Ocean”?
    I’m far too young – that was over a hundred years ago. I have been in the Irish Sea, though – fortunately the Manxmen don’t seem to have a permanent chip on their shoulder over the issue.

  • BluesJazz

    Mark Cavendish isn’t even a resident of the UK.

    Eoin Morgan is possibly the best England batsman.

    Barry McGuigan won the *British* title enroute to the World one.

    I could go on….

    The point is that for many sportsmen and women, the nationality factor is secondary to secondary (at best) to Olympic or sporting glory.

    I always smile when people refer to Arkle as an ‘Irish’ horse.

  • Reader

    Malcolm Redfellow: It’s all done far, far more successfully by Damian Thompson for the Torygraph. If you hanker for those bizarre nineteenth-century Punch cartoons of Mr G. O’Rilla and other things Oirish, you will feel quite at home.
    Is a stereotype that is as new and fresh as this one *really* a stereotype? Straight into the link you provided, the illustration wasn’t what I was expecting, and Damian Thompson seems to significantly favour the Irish working class over the political classes.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    An apology

    Re: Reader @ 1:06 pm

    The following, as I previously suggested, are not stereotypes; but scintillating examples of original thought:

    1. To anyone who knows modern Ireland, the notion that Dublin went a whole three years without multicultural awards is frankly incredible. Somebody really screwed up. They’re supposed to happen every month at least. [This is not believed to be applause for the not-quite-annual Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards. Anyway, why would anyone want to encourage or celebrate, or even notice cultural diversity, when we can all be happy little green peas in the same pod?]

    2. dim hectoring feminists with DIY Sinéad O’Connor haircuts. [Remember: feminism is just Communism wearing hiking boots with a butch haircut. Especially so when it questions the wit, wisdom and omniscience of Mitt Romney.]

    3. an especially toxic strain of political correctness has infected almost the entire Irish intelligentsia [Cf: too many blog-posts to count, but notably the ecumenical Gates of Vienna, where it has been a regular these last four or five years.]

    4. a transvestite traveller quota in the Dáil [Cf: past vampings in the same key, e.g. "save the lesbian whale" and variants thereon.]

    5. political correctness, much of it imported from the European Union at the height of Ireland’s Brussels-worship [see John Midgley for the Bruges Group, 20 June 2005.]

    I clearly failed to appreciate the merits of:

    Thompson’s house style of triumphalist, sneering, ultra-papalist camp – in which he is joined, day after day, by a claque of equally mean-spirited groupies and hangers-on … catty, obsequious towards the Vatican, vainglorious, snidely dismissive of both Rowan Williams and the “liberal” (by his standards) Catholic hierarchy in England, and crudely self-promoting. [Heresy Corner blog, 28 Oct 2009.]

    Finally: a denial

    It is not true, as some unkind suggestions have it, that Reader is merely a Malcolm sock-puppet, maintained to provide opportunities for Malcolm to display his corruscating wit, general knowledge, and occasional grasp of HTML codes.

  • The Lodger

    “The corruption story I believe is about an individual, and it might well be a northerner. Wouldn’t that make you smile, Lodger!”

    ROC,

    It certainly would not come as a huge surprise. Surely the other story about the excluded Nordie also sounds like there might be a touch of corruption involved?

  • tyrone_taggart

    Reader
    tyrone_taggart: Have you been in the “British Ocean”?
    “I’m far too young – that was over a hundred years ago. I have been in the Irish Sea, though – fortunately the Manxmen don’t seem to have a permanent chip on their shoulder over the issue.”

    You must be thinking of a different British Ocean but no matter I am glad you will not have a chip on your shoulder over the issue on the years to come.

  • SK

    “The passport thing was a nice throw-away gesture, not to be confused with full citizenship. ”

    _____

    MU,

    Well it’s nice to see that you brought your Ulster pettiness with you when you hit the mainland.

    Have you ever read the inlay of an Irish passport? Or does touching one have the same effect on you that holy water does on dracula? It;s not an interesting read, but it is a fairly self-explanatory piece of paperwork: “The minister for foreign affairs requests all whom it may concern to allow the bearer, a citizen of Ireland, to pass freely and without hindrance..”.

    Note the word citizen there.

    I was impressed by the opening ceremony. Possibly a bit tacky in parts, but that is par for the course for such spectacles I suppose. It was packed with surprises and considerably better than the previous Chinese attempt, for sure.

    What is perhaps less surprising is the fact that a great chunk of the unionist-oriented comments about the opening ceremony have not actuallty been about the opening ceremony. Nope, the super Prods seem more interested in slinging mud at the the neighbours than praising Danny Boyle. Now there’s a shock.

    Rather than a rendition of Danny Boy, perhaps Northern Ireland would have been better represented some turnip-headed farmer with a face like a smacked arse, screaming “no surrender” into a camera. A glimpse of the real Northern Ireland.

    Incidentally, Danny Boyle’s mother is from Galway. You’re welcome, lads.

  • The Lodger

    “Rather than a rendition of Danny Boy, perhaps Northern Ireland would have been better represented some turnip-headed farmer with a face like a smacked arse, screaming “no surrender” into a camera.”

    Someone from Tyrone perhaps.

  • BluesJazz

    Hoping Rebecca can get a medal for us shortly.

    However the highlight of the games so far has been Mitt Romney. Genius.

  • Alan N/Ards

    SK

    As an Irishman living on the island of Ireland and holding a British passport, would ( or should) I be able to represent Team Ireland without an Irish passport. Can a person only be recognized as Irish if they possess an Irish passport?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Alan,

    You don’t seem to accept the fact that you can have an Irish and British passport. You don’t need to renounce your British passport to get an Irish one as well.

    If it makes any athlete uncomfortable getting an Irish passport to compete for Ireland at the Olympics, then they should really stay at home or compete for someone else. Because it’s a bit ridiculous to want to compete or Ireland yet have any problem getting an Irish passport..

  • Bejasus

    After four years on this island, three in Belfast, the opening ceremony was something of a watershed for me. I tuned in sceptical – like Mick said, not normally my thing. I didn’t intend to do more than have it on in the background, but I found myself transfixed: I can’t tell you how proud it would make me if such a performance could ever have been conceived in the U.S. It was everything we are incapable of in the public sphere.

    It was also another type of watershed: I realized just how irritated I was by the “Team GB” thing. (I also think it’s a “regulation” worth changing for practical reasons: “Team UK” rolls just as easily off the tongue, and has greater name recognition: I can’t tell you how many of my friends and family at home have questioned GB first time they heard it: they honestly don’t know what it stands for at first: they know “UK” and they know “British” — even if they don’t understand constituent parts too clearly. But “Great Britain” is not widely used so GB doesn’t immediately click…)

    In both my admiration for the show, and my pique at the GB thing, I guess I’m becoming well and truly acculturated! Be proud of the show — and keep pushing to change the team name!

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    RoC,
    Right to a passport is not a right to citizenship. Which was my point really.

  • Alan N/Ards

    RoC

    I am aware that a person can have both passports if they so desire. The question I was asking is can an irish athlete represent Team Ireland without holding an Irish passport. Surely being born on the island of Ireland is all that is required to represent Team Ireland.

    If there was a UI tomorrow would the unionist citizens of this new Ireland be forced to have an Irish passport to enable them compete for irish teams? Or would you accept them as fellow irish citizens if they continue to hold on to their British passports and not apply for irish passports

  • Republic of Connaught

    MU,

    Many Irish citizens don’t live or vote in the Irish state. It doesn’t alter their right to represent their nation in sport if selected. I really don’t see the issue, and nether does international sporting organisations.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Alan,

    If there was an independent united Ireland tomorrow, then Unionist people would clearly have to get a passport to be a citizen of that new state. They could also maintain their British passport.

    As for the Olympics 2012, do you realise the very fact the Republic is a sovereign state that issues its own passports is what allows team Ireland to exist?

    It’s the Republic’s sovereignty which gives NI athletes the chance to represent a ‘team Ireland.’ You need to get that into your head because if it was up to unionists in ‘Northern Ireland’ team Ireland wouldn’t exist. We’d all be part of team GB – supposedly cheering on a few hundred English athletes in GB shirts as ‘our’ boys and girls.

    How you ‘feel’ about your identity is your own business, Alan. But in international sport, and law, you need a passport or two passports to prove you’re British, Irish or American or whatever…..

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    SK,
    Leaving your sectarian comments aside – “some turnip-headed farmer with a face like a smacked arse, screaming ‘no surrender’ into a camera” (deary me) – I wouldn’t get too literal about the Irish passport. Are you suggesting it *does* confer full citizenship rights? Really? How exactly? I look forward to hearing how all those rights possibly could be exercised from another country.

    The thing is that not everything that looks legally kosher is legally kosher. The statement by the Irish Foreign Minister in the Irish passport sounds like a puff, like when the Irish constitution claimed NI was part of its territory – patent nonsense, but there it was in what was otherwise and important legal document. It’s just that you had to kind of ignore that bit. Don’t let legal-looking documents and statements fool you, the appearance is not the test of their legality. The Irish foreign minister just doesn’t have the authority to grant full citizenship rights to people outside the national territory, so that statement is meaningless (and rather unhelpful). Sounds like a remnant of the bad old attitudes that most of the Republic has happily moved on from now – but perhaps it needs to be cleared up. Might be worth following that up, SK, if it’s troubling you.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mainland Ulsterman

    “Right to a passport is not a right to citizenship”

    You have to be a citizen to get a passport?

    If someone never gets a passport they are still a citizen.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Tyrone,
    With respect, you’re getting a bit confused. All citizens can get passports (but do not have to); but not all people who get passports are full citizens. For example, people in pre-97 Hong Kong were allowed to be British passport holders but those passports did not grant them full UK citizenship rights; and there are lots of other examples of the grey area of passport holding being something other than being a full citizen. This is in effect the situation you have with NI-born Irish “citizens”.

    Of course, perhaps we’re using some uniquely Irish definition of the word “citizen”. Perhaps it’s another area of creative ambiguity that keeps people happy and is perhaps best not scrutinised too much – as it really doesn’t make a lot of sense when you pick at it.

    But look, I have little issue with Irish Catholic people in NI representing the Republic over the UK (though if it’s the choosing the Republic over NI on its own, as with the football, I have much less sympathy). But I am a bit bemused by British NI sportspeople choosing Ireland just to get in the team. I can see they want to get opportunities they would otherwise miss, but I don’t admire it much and don’t cheer them on. They’re doing it for themselves after all.

  • BluesJazz

    The passport issue is laughable.
    Eamonn de Valera had a USA one. Blair Mayne, Field Marshal Montgomery and Tim Collins all had/have Irish ones.
    No idea what Tony Cascarino’s was, don’t think it’s a British one like Andy Townsend’s or Ray Houghtons.

    I think Arkle had an Irish one though. A true gael, went to sunday mass and GAA matches.

  • SK

    MU,

    I am indeed suggesting that it does confer full citizenship rights.

    “But they can’t elect TD’s to the Dail, so they can’t”

    So?

    I am from Dublin. If I moved to Belfast, I wouldn’t be allowed to vote for my southern gombeen of choice either. Would that make me less an Irish citizen? It would not.

    I understand why a northern Unionist might take issue with people opting to identify as Irish citizens. That uniquely Ulster blend of vindictiveness and insecurity prompts folks like yourself to ram “Britishness” down as many throats as possible. I get that.

    I would ask though- if you have no intention of respecting the nationality of others, then why should they bother their arses recognising yours?

    PS. “Turnip-headed”? A sectarian slur? Deary me.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “This is in effect the situation you have with NI-born Irish “citizens”.”

    That is a statement do you have anything to show that it is true?

    Something like this:

    “As a result of the Agreement, the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland was amended. The current wording provides that people born in Northern Ireland are entitled to be Irish citizens on the same basis as people from any other part of the island of Ireland.”

    “Department Of the Taoiseach”. Taoiseach.gov.ie. Retrieved 16 June 2010

  • Ciarán

    Mainland Unionist:
    Your Hong Kong example is incorrect, the passport issues to pre-97 Hong Kongers is different and under their nationality it states “British National (Overseas)”. No Such distinction is made on our Irish passports.

  • Alias

    Most countries don’t allow dual citizenship. It is the generosity of the UK that allows folks in NI to acquire Irish citizenship without terminating British citizenship. Plus, of course, the generosity of the Irish state that also allows this arrangement.

    Are the natives grateful for these acts of indulgence? Not in the slightest. We should increase the price of a passport to at least 5k for folks born in NI. That way they might actually attach some value to it.

  • ayeYerMa

    Mick, I think that this carelessness applies to both “Team GB” (sic) and “Team Ireland” (sic). We need to Stand Up For the Ulstermen all round and stop letting us locals get bullied and drowned out by the larger voices within both British and Irish nationalism!!!!

    And for the destructive subverstive irredentists trying to play games and undermining the true meaning of Ireland / rejects abusing the Republic team, here it is from the IOC themselves:

    IOC rule 31.1: ” In the Olympic Charter, the expression “country” means an independent State recognised by the international community”