Towards an inclusive citizenship…

One of the things that marks a decided turn in the road for the fortunes of Ireland north and south is the presence of new citizens from overseas. In every settled country in Europe such a scale of in migration has raised serious questions of what citizenship and national identity actually means. Britain is possibly further ahead in its understanding of the complexities it throws up. Liam Byrne reckons that it in Britain, and in England in particular, it means developing a common cultural ground that respects diversity…

Britain is a diverse place, yet my citizenship links me not just to England but to my country. When I talk to new British citizens fresh from swearing their oath, I am always struck by how deeply moved even the cynical become. I’ve seen old men weep buckets of tears from beginning to end.

And what often moves new citizens most is how, before our flag, lots of different people, from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, who have fled wars, or moved for love or work, have all chosen to swear one allegiance to one country, its values and its sovereign. It is that expression of unity and common purpose between people who are so very different that is so very inspiring.

Surely our task in Britain today is not to plan a separation, but to combine better a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, atheist, English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Britain into one United Kingdom.

Part of how we do this must be to find new ways of ensuring that citizenship gives better expression to what we have in common, across our diversity rather than what sets us apart. The citizenship ‘deal’, of course, has to be right. Citizenship is not about just what you get. It’s about what you give. So we should look afresh at whether newcomers should ‘earn’ their citizenship other than by simply being here, working and paying tax.

We should ask whether we have the right balance of privileges between settlement — the right to be here permanently — and citizenship. Are the incentives to become a ‘citizen’, as opposed to a ‘settler’, sufficient? But what would it say about England if we chose to separate from a country with which we have so much in common?

, ,

  • jj

    “Surely our task in Britain today is not to plan a separation, but to combine better a … Northern Irish Britain into one United Kingdom.”

    Wrong. Count me out pal.

  • jaffa

    I…jaffa…do solemnly sincerely and truly affirm that on becoming a British citizen I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors according to the law

    I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom
    And respect its rights and freedoms
    I will uphold its democratic values
    I will observe its laws faithfully
    and fulfill my duties and obligations as a British citizen

    I don’t think I could sign up to this and I’ve already got the passport. Is it true allegiance to Mrs Windsor to think it would be kinder to let her retire and play with her horsies?

  • Cromwell

    jj,

    when do you want me to start counting?

  • Daithi

    Ireland for the Irish.

    Britain has no right to be in the 6 counties

  • Cromwell

    Daithi,

    Nice to see an up to date enlightened view on slugger, goodness knows they’re few & far between!

    I take it, since I see myself as British, that means me as well?

  • European Bob

    I’m right up with him for “It is that expression of unity and common purpose between people who are so very different that is so very inspiring.” essentially putting the common good before petty religious divides. We are more alike than apart.

    but then he goes and throws in a complete non sequiter ” but to combine better a Christian, … atheist, English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Britain into one United Kingdom.”

    What the feck has nationality or precisely the expected demise of the UK got to do with the common identity shared between differing religions and cultural backgrounds?

    The consitutional question has arisen not due to a lack of shared identity or citizenship, in fact you could make this arguement just as easily based on a europe wide basis with a european identity, the consitutional question has arose due to the policitcal bias of a UK paraliment and subsequent neglect of the regions and their (eventual) response to it. It has sweet FA to do with identity or citizenship

    Where has this notion that the rearrangement of politicians is due to a racial dislike of another nation sprang from? it’s utter tosh. we are more alike and get on more than we ever have done. In no small part to the european union. This is completely seperate to any idea of citizenship.

    The sheer feebleness in the quality of the arugements from the pro union camp is staggering. Their arrogance knows no limits.

  • jaffa

    “Where has this notion that the rearrangement of politicians is due to a racial dislike of another nation sprang from? it’s utter tosh.”

    Scandinavia should be our example. Tidy little efficient countries, loads of common identity and overwhelming affection between them. And plenty of football teams to go round.

  • Daithi

    Cromwell,

    Once the connections between the North and Britian are severed, you’ll drop your Britishness or be made to look a fool.

    Tiocfaidh ár lá

  • jaffa

    There speaks the voice of inclusion.

    Isn’t it a lovely day today.

    I’m gonna be Scots-Irish like the yanks.

  • Daithi

    jaffa,

    Scots-Irish/Ulster-Scots isn’t a language or culture. These people don’t have any right to call themselves Ulster-Scots, they’re really Irish in fancy dress.

    Ireland for the Irish!

  • Cromwell

    Daithi,

    What are you going to do to stop connections between Northern Ireland & Britain? Blow the Larne-Stranraer Ferry up?
    & how exactly are you going to make me look a fool?
    Your day will never come. Go back to the pub!

  • jaffa

    Fancy dress!!

    Fancy dress!!

    From a nation that dances in bouncy curly-wurly wigs and megabuck plastic dresses!!

    Splutter..cough.

    Now where’s my kilt?

    And what’s my tartan?

    Och aye.

  • protorious

    I feel that the eloquent arguements of Daithi may be among the finest contributions to Slugger…

    After all If Ireland is not for the Irish, who is it for?

    Bloody foreigners thats who!

    And you know what foreigners do don’t you?

    They steal our things!

    Our Irish things!

  • Cromwell

    He is talking like a pan-loaf & his boiler is busted!

  • idiot swatter

    Daithi,

    Get thee back to the 1800’s from whence you came…

  • lib2016

    Just over fifty years ago the ‘British’ identity included Australians, Canadians and assorted overseas types all around the world such as the Ugandan Asians and the richer Hongkong Chinese.

    Will no-one tell this poor deluded soul that his British identity is becoming just another variant on the European theme, one moreover which far from being ‘at the centre of Europe’ is fast becoming a semidetached asylum for hopeless cases lost in dreams of a long gone Empire.

    There is a conservative government in Germany and a possibility of one in France. They will have nothing to say to the modern British Conservative party – says it all really.

    Blair failed to make Britain count and Cameron won’t even be able to try and people want Irish nationalists to pin our hopes for the future on building relationships with the British. Maybe we could send missionaries – ah! Bertie’s visit suddenly makes sense! 🙂

  • European Bob

    Jaffa,

    Scandic countries are a good example up to a point, the Norges hate the Swedes, ever since the stole half their country then only gave a thin barren mountanous strip of it along the coast back after the 2nd world war. The Norges had the last laugh when the found oil just off the coast the Swedes had just given them back.

    Suppose it’s easy to be magnanmous when your the best nation in the world.

    The could have started a border campaign to get the rest of it back, but they were to busy making themselves the best wee (or big country) in the world.

    Anyway the point is, whats wrong with Scots being scots, english being english, irish being whatever the feck they want a inside the EU.

    the great thing about the EU it meant nationalism is a dead duck, we are all european. Which with the reduced importance of national identity coupled with the easier (and therefore greater) interaction between countries it becomes a question of the most efficent administrative set ups as supposed to spurious claims to creeds or races and all the associated baggage.

    And hence why Scotland about to say toodle pip to the UK. thanks for the memories and au revoir.

  • European Bob

    lib2016, you miss one vital point, europeans are flooding to Britain, well London, cause the can get better paid work there than in either France or Germany. Britain is seen as the land of oppertunities compared to the moribund economies of France and Germany.

    Unless that is your British and your flooding to France and Germany where they’d far rather employ a british contractor than a local due to the crippling protectionist employment practices, the reason why their economies are moribund. Something that the UK isn’t blighted by.

    Which is why Sarkozy will stroll it against Royal, cause she is promising more protectionism while Sarkozy is promising an economic revolution, that is, if he can get the lazy french gits of their arses.

    Wether the tories or labour gets in in the UK does it make any difference at all?

  • lib2016

    European Bob,

    I agree that British politics are, like American politics, increasingly a case of two competing wings of the same party.

    However it’s good to see our European friends grabbing a bit of the British wartime boom. No doubt we’ll all have to help out when the crash comes.

    I was in Toulouse a few weeks ago and saw the ‘cardboard cities’ under the bridges. It was worrying but then I happened to come across a description of some of the derelict cities in the USA.

    Guess we are part of a big continent and there will always be differences between different areas. It was good to see that many of the despised ‘pieds noirs’ of my youth have now become part of the surburban middleclass. The banlieux aren’t just as pervasive as our news would seem to indicate.

    Times change and so do societies, even ours it would seem.

  • Winder

    It is a distinct demographic possibility that both “Protestant community background” and “Catholic community background” will become minorities in Northern Ireland and ethnic minorities will hold the balance forever.

    In fact I’d go so far as to call it a likelihood.

  • Marie Antoinette

    Jaffa: I don’t really know where you get your facts from. The Swedes regard the Norwegians as country bumpkins (don’t we all?) and regard Norway as a lost province somewhat like we regard Eire/Potatoland. The Finns were just good Swedish cannon fodder during the Reformation and without the Swedish sapeaking Mannerheim, they would be all dead from Russian Commies.
    The Danes were a civilized bunch but after they let Iceland go, things only went downhill. Did you see the Crown Prince had a child by a commoner. And an Australian at that. The droppings of brigands and Fagins. Ghastly.

    I am all for diversity and live and let live. Let’s all get back into the real UK (of GB and Ireland). Paddy’s place is to keep the mixer going but you do seem to have quite a lot of Poles for that now.
    With all your new immigration, is Dublin overrun with the smells of chilis, garlic and the other fare of your dark skinned brethern.
    I hope none of them are interfering with the fox hunting. Eire has a lot of successful rock artists and they should be weighing in on behalf of our common values.
    Adare Manor should be nice at this time and the hounds are jolly good at this time of year. I never could make out in reading Mr Yeats, one of your better known poets (I forget who the other fellow is), how, in mentioning the 1916 criminals and the “terrible beauty”, he spoke of them thus:
    “She rode to harriers?”
    Yuk. Poor harriers, having to chase the fox with such droppings.
    If we go back to the old ways, if people know their place, then we can live together, as God intended it.

  • JG

    44 000 French citizens in the Republic.

    Could it be true?

  • Southern Observer

    Marie,
    You deserve what happened to your original namesake.It sounds as if you chew coke rather than cake.

  • Wilde Rover

    Britain is an anachronism in the modern European context and the notion that it can still punch above its weight on the world stage is ridiculed by the transformation of Tony Blair into Bush’s Gimp.

    Britain used to be able to reduce the decline of its world status by wily utilization of its civil service and clandestine services, now it must shift strategy blindly to match the vagaries of the American Neocon Empire.

    One would hope an English, French, and German triumvirate would be able to provide the leadership the EU needs if it is to act as a counterpoint to the disturbing changes taking place in that once great republic to the west.