What am I doing here?

Alan McBride with some thoughts on 11th Night bonfires, past and present, including personal experiences, in today’s Sunday Life.

  • observer

    I find it repugnant that you take comfort from the words of a man destroyed by repubican murderers and parade them in this fashion. You, Mr Donnelly, clearly think that his condemnation of his tribe’s scum in some what excuses the murder of an innocent woman (and children / pensioners) by sectarian Irish natiotalists. Shame on you.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I was there last year, standing among the masses and listening to the customary soundtrack of loyalist propaganda fill the air with a hatred of all things Catholic.

    I watched as the flames touched the night sky and the Irish tricolour started to burn to the sound of a deafening roar, and I asked myself – what am I doing here? What is it all about? Why is it that so many get a kick out of shouting obscenities aimed at those whom they perceive to be from the ‘other side’? ‘

    Enough said . Perhaps Irish Republicans and Irish Nationalists need to inculcate into their Easter Rising festivities ‘ritual ‘ burnings of the Union Jack . Maybe the Irish Government should offer subsidies and grants to community associations throughtout the Republic so that they too can build bonfires and burn the Union Jack ? I’m sure the British Unionists of NI would have no objection .

    After all if there is to be parity of esteem etc etc etc why not parity in flag burning ?

    Again the simple political truth which now faces the majority of Irish nationalists and Republicans in Northern Ireland is that an NI devolved government will not work and that the best route to take is to move along to the new district councils and from there to effective Repartition as the only practical solution to irreconcilable contitutional differences.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Priceless stuff, Observer. No wonder you won’t leave your name to stand over such rubbish.

    Address the substance of what Alan McBride is saying next time you post or leave yourself exposed as just another whinger with nothing to contribute to this site.

  • Brian Boru

    I find it very difficult to believe it could become a “tourist attraction”. It’s image is too tarnished internationally. Also its ban on marriages to Catholics looks bigoted.

  • Miss Fitz

    Nothing surprises me in terms of comments here any more, but Chris, I think this was a great article to post.

    Alan McBride has shown in his quiet, determined way that he was not ‘destroyed’ by his personal tragedy and loss, instead he has gone on to preach tolerance and understanding both professionally and personally.

    Instead of one word of criticism of this article, we should be celebrating and embracing the message that is here.

    Like Alan, we all need to remove our narrow, sectarian spectacles and start to see our actions and passions as hollow, hate filled and destructive.

    And yes, the 12th could become a tourist attraction. As I have said beofre, it needs a lot of work, and that is the kind of work mentioned here….. decomissioning of sectarian hatred and mind sets. The 12th has the potential to become an open carnival like festival, but many aspects would have to be reviewed. Personally, I would focus on the Field, and try to enhance the entertainment aspect there. There is huge potential for this area, and although it takes a big leap (as opposed to small step), it is possible.

    Finally, the only way any of us can take big leaps, is by becoming used to small steps. How many of you have gone to the One Small Step website?

    As Chris said, stop whinging and contribute for a change

  • Greenflag

    ‘And yes, the 12th could become a tourist attraction.’

    Nonsense ! Who would want to visit ? The Ku Klux Klan or some other bunch of idiots ?

    As long as the Orange Order maintains some of it’s ‘outdated’ rules re Irish people and as long as the OO is a prop to support the NI sectarian state then the 12th will remain what it always has been – a day out to remind Orangemen that they ‘rule’ NI or at least used to.

    The OO marches should be banned for 10 years or until such time as the OO becomes a ‘civilised’ organisation that is in tune with the second half of the 20th century never mind the 21st .

    A shower of backward hypocrites is what they are !

  • Bill

    hmmm, I wonder if N. Ireland will ever rise to be something greater than the bigoted little backwater of the UK it currently is….

  • Greenflag

    ‘the 12th could become a tourist attraction.’

    And pigs will learn how to fly . In a smaller predominantly Unionist State where the Irish population is about 10% of the total than an Orangefest tourist attraction along the lines of a protestant ‘mardi gras’ could evolve .

    But why anybody Irish would want to celebrate the last English conquest of Ireland in 1690 is beyond me ? Polish people do not celebrate the German or Russian conquests of their country . Italians do not celebrate Napoleon’s invasion of their country nor do Koreans celebrate their occupation by the Japanese . The Chinese do not celebrate the rape of Nanking and the Israelis remain skeptical of the benefits of the Holocaust and the British attempt to prevent the establishment of a jewish state .

    Celebrating ‘protestant’ faith is not at issue . Celebrating England’s conquest of Ireland is . For in brief that is what July 12th is all about. There is no need for us Irish to pretend otherwise .

  • Rory

    Greenflag’s answer seems to be to corral all unionists within a two county statelet while leaving them a 10% nationalist minority to abuse at will. How that would contribute to the mardi-grasisation of the celebrations I fail to see.

    I was also disheartened by so many of the responses to this good warm-hearted article by a man clearly determined on the path of peace and reconciliation. It is almost as though rather than being prepared to take chances for peace, as quite a few of the leaders on both sides have already shown themselves willing to do, we are now slowly sinking into a “peace is impossible anyway so we might as well go back to war” attitude. Almost it seems as a hankering for the good old days of slaughter. I do not look back on those days with much fondness and they were lightened only by those examples of unconditional acts of kindness, pity and human charity that yet arise even amidst horror.

    Depressing indeed.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Greenflag’s answer seems to be to corral all unionists within a two county statelet while leaving them a 10% nationalist minority to abuse at will.”

    Not at all . The answer is to accept that the political division between British Unionist and the Irish in the 6 county State is permanent and to deal with this divison in the only practical way which in my view is a fair Repartition carried out by a neutral international agency such as the EU or UN.

    ‘I still attend the Eleventh Night celebrations in the estate where I grew up, however, these days I am seeing it through very different eyes. ‘

    As for Alan McBride’s comment above . Good for him for asking himself some tough questions and I hope he can find answers that he can live with . I do not begrudge him his enjoyment or pleasant memories of the ‘twelfth’ . Just as I would not expect him to begrudge our Easter celebration of the 1916 rising.

    As for the ‘returning to war ‘ nonsense . There is no need not that there ever was . We on this island just need to accept two political realities .

    1)A United Ireland will not happen anytime soon and probably never given the true financial state of the 6 counties .

    2) The 6 county NI State is never going to be anything other than a sectarian backward entity mired in it’s eternal rituals of remembrances of them un’s and us un’s etc etc ad infinitum.

    It appears that a majority of people in NI no longer want the ‘devolution’ solution or the GFA and that they prefer to be ruled directly by Westminster with Dublin involvement . At least in this area there is cause for optimism . The people of NI may well be ahead of their politicians .

  • Rory

    I am afraid we will simply have to agree to differ on this question, Greenflag, as I am most unlikely to be persuaded and you seem implacably convinced of the merits of your own case.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Why has this man Alan Mcbride never been proposed for public office? He continues to impress me by his willingness to reflect without apparant rancour and ponder on the why’s of it all. Surely Unionism and others could do with this kind of voice in it’s ranks.

    I read it this way, this man seems to be on a journey. I wish all the happiness in the world to Alan, and hope he arrives safely to where he is going.