Forming the wrong conclusions?

The BBC has throughout the day been promoting tonight’s ‘State of Minds: The Children’ programme which has been surveying children’s opinions about their identity. All of the children were born in 1997, and the findings, whilst not exactly surprising, once again underline the divisive nature of national identities in the north of Ireland today.
What is surprising, however, is the conclusions being reached by the programme’s researcher, Professor Paul Connolly of Queen’s University. Professor Connolly believes the way forward must involve “[encouraging] children’s sense of being Protestant or Catholic alongside also helping them to recognise that they are all part of a wider and shared identity as Northern Irish.”

Forgive me for being blunt, but describing identity in primarily religious terms here is an entirely bogus premise. Given that the issue of national identity runs to the core of the political problem, proposing we skirt over people’s primary source of identity-as British or Irish- and instead propagate an alternative ‘northern Irish’ identity sounds very Alliance-ish to me.

Surely a better conclusion would be to assert that we must find ways of equally legitimising and respecting the primary national allegiances of British and Irish here as a prerequisite to developing inter-communal trust from which shared identities may evolve. Ignoring primary identities and instead proposing artificial allegiances is more likely to arouse suspicion and mistrust on all sides. Let’s open this one to the floor.

  • slug

    It seems naive to ignore the religious aspect of our identity and the depth to which it is important.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good pitch Chris. The only obvious caveat is that religion is the primary difference in how schools are organised. Most of the national/cultural identity comes after that. That’s not to predetermine which people feel is primary and which secondary, but it’s entirely sensible for Professor Connolly to set his baseline there.

    Would I now speak Irish had my parents chosen to send me to (as an increasing number of local Catholic parents do) the local state school? Even though it was in the family, without the extra exposure at school it might have proved difficult. But, I’m fairly sure, religion was the primary reason for me being sent to a Catholic school.

  • slug

    I am both Irish and protestant, as well as British. The protestantism does seem to be part of my identity.

  • Fotherington

    …but hang on, ‘religion’ is in many cases just an ethnic marker, rather than denoting actual religious faith (certainly so in the case of young children). I find it disturbing that we should be ‘encouraging children’s sense of being Catholic or Protestant’. Clearly religious, ethnic and national identity should be discussed, but only once children are old enough to discuss these issues for themselves rather than have some teacher mould their attitudes according to some ministerial schema.

  • Cahal

    Can somebody explain what ‘Northern’ Irishness is as opposed to plain old Irishness.

    Does it have something to do with Ormo bread?

    I’m genuinely interested.

  • I believe the children are our future,
    Treat them well and let them lead they way,
    Show them all the beauty they possess inside.

  • feismother

    Way back in the early seventies we had some earnest student with an English accent come into our secondary school and subject us all to a battery of loaded questions about religion blah de blah de blah.

    I think she might have been a postgraduate student. We gave her what she wanted, you could see her greedily lap it all up and off she went happy. I’m sure we could have done it for the BBC too.

  • IJP

    proposing we skirt over people’s primary source of identity-as British or Irish- and instead propagate an alternative ‘northern Irish’ identity sounds very Alliance-ish to me.

    It’s probably a good idea, then.

    But I don’t recall anyone saying ‘northern Irish’ was an alternative.

  • willowfield

    Surely a better conclusion would be to assert that we must find ways of equally legitimising and respecting the primary national allegiances of British and Irish here as a prerequisite to developing inter-communal trust from which shared identities may evolve. Ignoring primary identities and instead proposing artificial allegiances is more likely to arouse suspicion and mistrust on all sides. Let’s open this one to the floor.

    “Allegiances”? Where did that come from. The subject is identity: you seem to be advocating the promotion of two entirely separate and opposing identities, albeit with equal “legitimacy”. To me, that is depressing and a recipe for entrenching social division in this society.

    Let’s emphasise what we have in common: Northern Irishness is a type of Irishness that encompasses both your Gaelic/Catholic brand and all other types, including British-Irishness.

    You really are going to have to accept that Northern Ireland, while being no less Irish, is nonetheless different to the rest of Ireland (and will be, even in a so-called “united Ireland”). The results of this survey should make that clear!

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    You make good points. However, whilst religion is the basis for school organisation, even in your own case, you recognise the cultural/ political environment which clearly influences parents when determining choice of school for their young ones.

    The conflict in the north of Ireland was a political one, though the dividing lines were clearly along religious lines due to the peculiar history of Ireland.

    On another point, you mention the number of catholic parents opting for state schools. Whilst there does exist a pattern of middle-class catholic parents opting to send their child to a state grammar as opposed to a catholic grammar, the numbers are not significant enough to suggest this is anything other than a response to local, particular circumstances. Certainly, I am aware of such a pattern in Strabane and North Belfast.

    However, I also know of a catholic primary in North Down which has a significant majority of protestants amongst its intake. The underlying theme in each case is decisions motivated by class concerns, as opposed to ‘political’ in our nationalist: unionist context.

    Having now watched the full programme, I have to say I was not particularly impressed by some of the findings. We all know catholics and protestants identify Rangers and Celtic with one community or the other, but it appeared to me that the findings were not particularly convincing to suggest an inherited prejudice amongst our youth- what would have been interesting is if the children (particularly the boys) had’ve been shown photos of children adorned with Manchester United and Liverpool shirts- I would be willing to bet that the % of boys opting for one as the most/ least friendly might have closely resembled the findings for Rangers/ Celtic.

    Of course, that’s not to dispute the authenticity of the overall findings: like in any society, we pass on our beliefs, interests, passions and prejudices to our children through shared experiences, anecdotes and choices made on a child’s behalf.

    There is no doubt that most unionists and nationalists live parallel lives here. It is incumbent upon this generation to lay the foundations for a more positive future through fostering new relationships at all levels.

    But to achieve that, we must be honest about personal and collective fears, prejudices and beliefs which have contributed towards the development of two cohesive national/ religious blocs in the north of Ireland.

    And so to the crux of the matter. I don’t believe a ‘shared identity’ is even within sight unless it is preceded by a period in which people believe their primary identity- in all its aspects- is afforded legitimacy and equal worth.

  • Hey Chris, looks like the BBC is fighting back against your analysis!! You’ve struck a nerve there mate. Touchy media types lol

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2007/06/are_you_northern_irish.html

  • Tir Eoghain Gael

    Can somebody explain what ‘Northern’ Irishness is as opposed to plain old Irishness.

    Does it have something to do with Ormo bread?

    I’m genuinely interested.

    Posted by Cahal on Jun 18, 2007 @ 07:47 PM

    As an Irish man living in ‘Northern’ Ireland I think the one thing more than anything else that I accept as my ‘Northern’ Irishness is my preference for HP sauce over that Chef shit that you can only get in every eating establishment in the 26 counties.

  • Cahal

    An important issue Tir Eoghain Gael, and one I’m sure the SDLP will be raising at Stormont in the coming days.

  • Token Dissent

    Chris, by describing Northern Irishness as representative of “artificial allegiances” you are suggesting that Irishness and Britishness are in some way ‘natural’ states of mind. All identities are artificial as such, and are constucted by the particular political, social and cultural environment.

    As Tir Eoghain Gael might have noticed, the Republic’s elections suggest that quite a few people in Ireland see a division between southern and Northern nationalist identity!

    Instead of retreating into simple exclusivist nationalisms we should embrace the diversity and complexity of identity. By doing so we could maybe even give some sort of lead to the wider globalised world which is coming to terms with many of the same issues.

    Also I believe that the centrality of religious identity in this place has to be confronted. I would argue that religion in its theology/psychological framework, its social role and in its power as an ethnic-national marker still has primary importance. I thought it was especially instructive that even the highly politicised north Belfast lad described his community as Catholic, not nationalist or republican.

  • view from the south

    While the likes of Mr Donnelly’s petulant sectarianism will not even grant his unionists neighbours the respect of uttering the name of his and their country – Northern Ireland – it is hard to see how things are going to progress north of the border.
    Until such times as he and his ilk grow up, the price of peace will be eternal vigilance over their irredentist, undemocratic brand of ultra-nationalism.
    Hopefully the recent decimation of the Provo pipe dream in the Republic will act as a wake up call in private, even if they aren’t men enough to accept the fact in public.

  • BeardyBoy

    can you not understand that no matter how many lines are drawn across maps, how often they are maintained by force of arms or artificial majorities, no matter what terminologies or nomenclature you invent we will still oppose it. we won’t legitimise the imposition by using the enemies terminologies.

  • Wilde Rover

    “we won’t legitimise the imposition by using the enemies terminologies.”

    OK, I’ll ride ye, but I’m not gonna call ye Nancy, I’m gonna call ye Niamh instead.

  • Niall

    There’s one question that hasn’t been answered yet. Should Catholic and Protestant going to be schooled together? Until that happens everything else is just word puffery. 10-year olds aren’t particularly patriotic one way or the other in my experience.

    I think most people from mainland Britain and the south of Ireland would consider Northern Irish a distinct identity. Nordies are Irish to unionists and Brits but pretty fortright about being Northern Irish when they come down south.

  • mnob

    I dont see a problem with forging a Northern Ireland identity.

    After all the ROI has its own identiy despite being culturally no different to the rest of ‘these islands’. ;-P

  • Tom Verducci Fan-club

    667 children from .666Ulster.

    You could not make it up!

  • As an Irish man living in ‘Northern’ Ireland I think the one thing more than anything else that I accept as my ‘Northern’ Irishness is my preference for HP sauce over that Chef shit that you can only get in every eating establishment in the 26 counties.

    Worse than that TE Gael, have you ever eaten the Tayto crisps they have down there? Greasy as sin, the flavour’s wrong, all in all, totally bogging.

    On the other hand, the easy availablity of Jumbo Breakfast Rolls in the South might well argue for an all-Ireland identity…

  • Oh, and while I’m at it…

    Chris is very defensive about us Alliance types this weather… shooting the messenger (who, as far as I know, has no connection with Alliance), because you don’t like the message?

    Identity in Northern Ireland is more complex than those in the Republican echo chamber would like to believe; every demoscopic examination of identity since Rose back in the ’60s has presented a patchwork quilt, and often a rapidly changing one. But as this doesn’t fit in with the simplistic, Án Phoblacht, analysis of the conflict, obviously it’s a case of these nasty Alliance types poking their nose where it isn’t welcome.

  • kensei

    “obviously it’s a case of these nasty Alliance types poking their nose where it isn’t welcome.”

    The Alliance no more deals with that patch work of identity than anyone else, and are sanctimonious with it to boot.

  • Cromwell

    Aye, those breakfast sandwiches with white pudding in them, lovely, oh dear, my tapeworm says its time for lunch.
    But seriously Chris, I hate to break it to your jaundiced little mind but there is nothing artificial about my Northern Irishness, I, like many, many others, have been raised here & when someone asks me where I’m from my answer is Northern Ireland.
    Its about time you stopped living in denial.

  • The Alliance no more deals with that patch work of identity than anyone else, and are sanctimonious with it to boot.

    Ah, I see you’re in evidence-based, play-the-ball-not-the-man, mode today ken.

    I can see those nasty inconvenient facts time and again spoiling simplistic Republican analysis of the conflict puts you in a bad mood, but what have I done to deserve you taking it out on me?

  • DK

    Seems a lot of the talk of the shared Northern Ireland identity comes down to food.

    Northern Irish = Champ, Ulster Fry, Tayto, Bushmills, HP
    Irish = Boxty, Croissant and laté, Walkers, Jamesons, Chef shit

    One other common feature of Northern Irish – their accent. When I arrived here from England many years ago, I could understand the Southerners, but it took a while before I could understand the Northern Irish. Now my daughter has a broad Belfast accent… arrgh

  • Cruimh

    Sammy and kensei in a catfight ? 😉

    It’s a tough call, but I have to back kensei – the “sanctimonious with it to boot” just tipped the balance for me 🙂

  • It’s necessary for republicans to disingenuously rubbish the true complexity of identity felt by people in Northern Ireland. Not suprising to see them doing it here.

  • kensei

    “Ah, I see you’re in evidence-based, play-the-ball-not-the-man, mode today ken.”

    Here’s the facts – a quite considerable amount of people – about a third from each community, identify themselves as one or t’other. The Alliance says their identity should be extinguished in favour of a a happy clappy Northern Irish one. I am to give up supporting the Republic in favour of the NI team. So, no more dealing with the patch of identity than anyone else. And annoying with it too.

    “I can see those nasty inconvenient facts time and again spoiling simplistic Republican analysis of the conflict puts you in a bad mood, but what have I done to deserve you taking it out on me? ”

    I’m not sure how revealing it all is. I don’t know the methodology. I don’t know how much even young children tend to give the “right” answer, rather than the one they believe. “Irish” and “British” are also reasonably clear cut, but “Northern Irish” can easily mean different things to different people; there really is no framework there. And without checking at regular age intervals, it says nothing about how those ideas evolve. And moreover, it says little about voting intention in an election or referendum.

    So interesting, yes. There is certainly a range of identity here, even within people who consider themselves “Irish” or “British”. But the study is really inadequate. If the “Northern Ireland” identity is that strong, why are there no real concrete results of it? It asks questions rather than answers them.

    As for your other question, the Alliance just annoy me.

  • The Alliance says their identity should be extinguished in favour of a a happy clappy Northern Irish one.

    Really? Where did Alliance say anything about ‘extinguishing’ anyone’s identity? Nowhere. You’re making this up.

    I don’t know how much even young children tend to give the “right” answer, rather than the one they believe.

    Maybe you’d be better off finding out before just asserting whatever comes into your head because the research contradicts your preconceived ideas?

    “Irish” and “British” are also reasonably clear cut, but “Northern Irish” can easily mean different things to different people

    I’d dispite that “Irish” and “British” are clear cut at all; Britishness doesn’t even pretend to be clear cut, and as for Irishness – well look at the total confusion and dissension among Unionists about how Irish or not they are to see how clear cut that is.

    And without checking at regular age intervals, it says nothing about how those ideas evolve.

    Although NILT looks at adult attitudes, another piece of research Republicans either rubbish or ignore because it doesn’t suit their preconceived notions.

    And moreover, it says little about voting intention in an election or referendum.

    I never said it did; but who says election results and referenda are the only important things that ever happen in societies? When the votes are counted and the results in, real life goes on, often only minimally affected.

    As for your other question, the Alliance just annoy me.

    Yep, another great evidence-based post free of personal animus…

  • kensei

    “Really? Where did Alliance say anything about ‘extinguishing’ anyone’s identity? Nowhere. You’re making this up.”

    IJP told me and anyone else who supported the Republic that I simply had to support the NI team. It is the attitude underpinning more or less all of the Alliance’s policy. You do know it’s the Alliance you’re in, right?

    “Maybe you’d be better off finding out before just asserting whatever comes into your head because the research contradicts your preconceived ideas?”

    I’m not asserting Sammy. I’m questioning. I honestly don’t know. But you think we should just accept it uncritically? For shame.

    “I’d dispite that “Irish” and “British” are clear cut at all; Britishness doesn’t even pretend to be clear cut, and as for Irishness – well look at the total confusion and dissension among Unionists about how Irish or not they are to see how clear cut that is.”

    In terms of Northern Ireland, the perception of what those terms mean when asked is quite clear cut. Certainly much more so than “Northern Irish”.

    “Although NILT looks at adult attitudes, another piece of research Republicans either rubbish or ignore because it doesn’t suit their preconceived notions.”

    Because it contradicts reality. If SF and DUP poll figures are not accurate, then the rest of it cannot be trusted either. The verifiable bit is wrong. You are the one arguing against reality.

    “I never said it did; but who says election results and referenda are the only important things that ever happen in societies? When the votes are counted and the results in, real life goes on, often only minimally affected.”

    They aren’t the only important thing, but rarely is your life minimally effected by elections, even if the effect is merely the opportunity cost in not going with an alternative government. I hate that attitude by the way, it leads to low turnout and corrodes democracy. Anyway, you were having a go as if this means the republican world falls on it’s head. It doesn’t.

    “Yep, another great evidence-based post free of personal animus…”

    And still better than the Alliance manifesto. What do you know?

  • Frank Sinistra

    On the most important point of this thread, Tayto:

    Tayto in the south was first and the innovator for Cheese and Onion crisps.

    After a few years it granted northern Tayto a license to use the name and the groundbreaking crisp flavouring technology it invented.

    Northern Tayto is just a franchise.

    So if you love your northern Tayto and think of it as a taste of home, remember where it all came from – Dublin.

  • kensei

    “So if you love your northern Tayto and think of it as a taste of home, remember where it all came from – Dublin.”

    It may be the bag and the fact I only get it on holiday, but I always thought southern Tayto nicer.

  • StarHound

    “Although NILT looks at adult attitudes, another piece of research Republicans either rubbish or ignore because it doesn’t suit their preconceived notions.”

    Sammy

    Many Republicans and Nationalists will find this research to be dubious becuase it seems to be setting out to justify a pre-agreed notion that ‘Northern Irish’ is better than ‘Irish’, or ‘British’ for that matter.

    An opinion is not less valid because it comes from a Republican source – you seem to be suggesting that your opinion is more valid than someone elses, a complaint many people have with the Alliance party.

    The end of violence, on one side at least, is welcome but the ‘New Dawn’ is over hyped and in danger of letting people down in the future – ‘Northern Irish’ is no more of a solution than ‘Northern Ireland’.

    On the sauce debate : If we’re talking tomato sauce, or ‘red’ sauce if you’re from Belfast – Chef, by a mile.

    Tayto : Both are far better than other brands, but it’s Free State Tayto by a nose.

  • IJP told me and anyone else who supported the Republic that I simply had to support the NI team. It is the attitude underpinning more or less all of the Alliance’s policy.

    Oh come on, Ken! First of all, I doubt that Ian told you that you simply had to support NI and anyway, it’s a throwaway line in a more-heat-than-light football thread on Slugger. What was he doing, threatening to beat you to death with a wet kipper if you refused?

    Besides, he might have a point, why this hostility, this pure venom, directed to Norn Iron from some Republican commentators (Robin Livingstone and half of Slugger). Sure aren’t we all Irish anyhow?

    You do know it’s the Alliance you’re in, right?

    Last time I checked. This is just another epithet.

    In terms of Northern Ireland, the perception of what those terms mean when asked is quite clear cut. Certainly much more so than “Northern Irish”.

    No, your perception of what those terms mean is clear cut. I don’t think they are for all the reasons outlined above. The two terms aren’t exclusive for a start, and people can and do perm any three into eight possible combinations from them – I’d call myself Irish and Northern Irish but not British. Or maybe I’m suffering from class consciousness.

    Because it contradicts reality. If SF and DUP poll figures are not accurate, then the rest of it cannot be trusted either. The verifiable bit is wrong. You are the one arguing against reality.

    No, it contradicts your reality. Dodgy responses to one set of questions doesn’t prove that others are wrong (although it ought to make you look at your sample); in your view just about every piece of social research in history is dodgy.

    To my mind, your denying the real complexity in political and social attitudes and voting behaviour in NI which can’t be put down simply to ‘tribe’ and ‘class’.

    Anyway, you were having a go as if this means the republican world falls on it’s head

    No, I was noting the uncharacteristically intemperate response from you and Chris and thinking, “here we go again, shooting the messenger because you don’t like the message”.

    And still better than the Alliance manifesto. What do you know?

    Aye, and my big brother is bigger than your big brother. You just bowled me over with the precision of your diamond-drill of a mind again, ken.

    Many Republicans and Nationalists will find this research to be dubious becuase it seems to be setting out to justify a pre-agreed notion that ‘Northern Irish’ is better than ‘Irish’, or ‘British’ for that matter.

    No, many cyber-Republicans will find this research dubious because they don’t like the outcome so try to attack the source (something that is not unique to Republicans, is often done by people from broadly my political standpoint and is deplorable no matter where it comes from).

    For all the talk about “Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter”, Republican philosophy, as recently articulated, is acutely tribal and almost Defenderist. The use of Nationalist not as a political description but a tribal one attached to babies and pre-school children, a secular replacement for ‘Catholic’, underscores it.

    Maybe things will change now that peace and love and happiness is upon us, and I hope so, because otherwise I don’t see that bringing about the sort of society I want to see, or that which Republicans claim to want.

    you seem to be suggesting that your opinion is more valid than someone elses, a complaint many people have with the Alliance party.

    This thread is turning into the “let’s bash Alliance” thread. I think most people in most political parties think their opinion is more valid than other people’s. That’s why they, you know, join political parties and all that. If you’re going to attack Alliance, which I don’t have a problem with as all publicity is good publicity, try and find a stronger basis for doing so.

  • Ian

    “So if you love your northern Tayto and think of it as a taste of home, remember where it all came from – Dublin.”

    And Bulmers of Herefordshire are the parent company for Bulmers (marketed as Magners in the north and in Britain) of Clonmel.

  • kensei

    “Oh come on, Ken! First of all, I doubt that Ian told you that you simply had to support NI and anyway, it’s a throwaway line in a more-heat-than-light football thread on Slugger. What was he doing, threatening to beat you to death with a wet kipper if you refused?”

    No, he was quite adamant on it, otherwise it was “denying reality” or something. What he could do about it isn’t the point. the point is the Alliance mentality.

    What policies do the Alliance have in terms of respecting separate identities, rather than forging a “Shared” one, by the by?

    “Besides, he might have a point, why this hostility, this pure venom, directed to Norn Iron from some Republican commentators (Robin Livingstone and half of Slugger). Sure aren’t we all Irish anyhow?”

    You know full well there are plenty of reasons to despise NI on purely constitutional grounds. Personally, I hate being ruled from somewhere else, particularly when it is moving ever closer to police state. You are not talking to someone who believe “Ack, well it’s all the same anyway”, in fact that’s just likely to set me off on one. I am a committed Republican.

    “No, your perception of what those terms mean is clear cut. I don’t think they are for all the reasons outlined above. The two terms aren’t exclusive for a start, and people can and do perm any three into eight possible combinations from them – I’d call myself Irish and Northern Irish but not British. Or maybe I’m suffering from class consciousness.”

    No, when asked in that fashion, they are quite clear cut. Look at the perception test, for heaven’s sake.

    “No, it contradicts your reality. Dodgy responses to one set of questions doesn’t prove that others are wrong (although it ought to make you look at your sample); in your view just about every piece of social research in history is dodgy.”

    That’d be because it’s barely real science. But anyway, lying about voting intentions towards the middle ground is not a big jump about lying about identity in middle ground. And thew voting pattern is not just a wee bit wrong, it’s a big bit wrong. You can’t handle the survey is flawed because it contradicts YOUR reality.

    “No, I was noting the uncharacteristically intemperate response from you and Chris and thinking, “here we go again, shooting the messenger because you don’t like the message”.”

    I have had a hell of a week where 20% of my company was laid off. beating on Alliance is one of my few joys. Y

    “Aye, and my big brother is bigger than your big brother. You just bowled me over with the precision of your diamond-drill of a mind again, ken.”

    Well, it is easily done. I don’t have a big brother, but it’s ok, I reckon I could take you both anyway.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Oh dear- hell indeed hath no fury like an Alliance-ite scorned, Sammy! Perhaps we should lay into Alliance a bit more often if it’s going to precipitate such a lively response.

    And before I get onto more meaty (or should that be crunchy?) matters- later on when I’ve more time, Free State Tayto surely kicks ass, for those fellow crisp connoisseurs out there….

  • Cruimh

    Typical shinners! Pick on the weak and utterly ineffectual (APNI) while sucking upto the Bigger boys (DUP ) 😉

    Youse may be recidivist unionists Sammy, but the family are here for you !

  • Chris Donnelly

    Now let’s see.

    Professor Connolly believes we should “encourage children’s sense of being catholic or protestant alongside also helping them to recognise that they are all part of a wider and shared identity as northern Irish.”

    Unless I’m mistaken, that’s another way of saying “It doesn’t matter what religion you are, we’re all northern Irish.” Could’ve come straight from the ‘national’ newspaper of that entity itself.

    Connolly’s error is in not explicitly identifying that the terms ‘catholic’ and ‘protestant’ as understood by all of us here- never mind simply 10 year olds- is another way of denoting one’s political allegiance.

    People didn’t fight a war in defence of the Catechism or in defiance of the authority of the Pope. Working with children on a daily basis (9/10 year olds as luck would have it), I can tell you that, if you ask a child what it means here to be a catholic or a protestant, the answer will invariably involve mention of Union flag, loyalists, Orange parades and being British on one side and the Irish tricolour, republicans and being Irish on the other. In short, by their innocent and honest observations, children strip away the pretence of our conflict being religious.

    I was somewhat amused by the questions asked of the children- all the more so as I have been teaching some of these issues with my own class in the past couple of weeks. As a matter of interest, I put the question of identifying our National capital to my own class today in the hall, as we waited on the rest of the classes to commence our indoor Sports Day. Not one identified ‘Belfast’, the overwhelming number confidently proclaimed ‘Dublin,’ a couple went for ‘Europe’ and one leapt at me to proclaim ‘Ardoyne!’

    Now, like national/ cultural identity and sporting preference, there’s an element of ‘caught’ as well as ‘taught’ to their answers. But that simply underlines the point that developing a truly shared identity is an enterprise only possible with widespread support and in the context of considerably less suspicion as to the motives of those promoting such a project.

    If Professor Connolly is proposing that a shared identity can be developed once the children’s sense of being ‘catholic’ or ‘protestant’-as religious labels cloaked with political/ cultural connotations- is fully respected and legitimised, then I have no quarrel with him.

    But I’m not sure that’s what he meant.

  • Cruimh

    “Connolly’s error is in not explicitly identifying that the terms ‘catholic’ and ‘protestant’ as understood by all of us here- never mind simply 10 year olds- is another way of denoting one’s political allegiance. ”

    really ?

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2006/Political_Attitudes/NIRELAND.html#religion

  • Frank Sinistra

    There is a good way to check the accuracy of the NILT surveys. Compare their result with a mass test of public opinion:

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2006/Political_Attitudes/NIPARTY.html

    They are absolutely rubbish and consistently so.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    How do the board republicans regard an ‘Ulster’ identity, as opposed to the ‘Northern Ireland’ one?

    For the sake of argument, we’ll insist on the 9-county version of ‘Ulster’ and not the ‘shorthand for Northern Ireland’ version.

  • Aquifer

    Kick religion out of the schools altogether. The sectarian split schools two cultures model has poxed this place.

  • kensei

    “How do the board republicans regard an ‘Ulster’ identity, as opposed to the ‘Northern Ireland’ one?

    For the sake of argument, we’ll insist on the 9-county version of ‘Ulster’ and not the ‘shorthand for Northern Ireland’ version. ”

    I have a sense of an Ulster identity, mainly associated with vaguely following the All Ireland. It’s probably less strong than it would have been if it hadn’t have been abused. I can remember some people in my wider family giving it much greater importance, though.

    My civic identity identity is probably stronger. Belfast is shit, obviously., but it’s still my city.

  • Southern Observer

    Maybe I’m the ultimate cynic but I must confess to being a teency bit suspicious about some posters who openly proclaim themselves to be ROIers.It takes one to know one (or one who is not?).Is it barely conceivable that some unionists
    may pass themselves off as such in the belief that arrows fired from this angle will sink in a bit deeper?

  • Frank Sinistra

    Mick said:

    “The only obvious caveat is that religion is the primary difference in how schools are organised.

    This has prompted some thoughts on how the controlled/state sector is organised.

    There seems to be a general assumption that state schools are not religiously driven while Catholics have often chosen a separate or parallel education system with the CCMS.

    Looking into this today the state sector doesn’t seem separate from the 3 main Protestant churches in many/most cases. And most of the information on this is not freely available.

    The Protestant churches started handing over their schools to councils now ELB control in the 20s. This went on until the 60s.

    In return for this they demanded a guaranteed representation on school board of governors, educational boards and the boards of newly built schools.

    Most state schools have an organisation called the ‘Transferors Representatives Council’ (no website) guaranteed places on boards. They are guaranteed ELB places too. This organisation is church based and embedded in the state school system.

    The one thing you won’t find easily by online research is exactly how many schools have these compulsory Protestant religious managers.

    Anyone any ideas on the exact number of schools that Protestant churches are guaranteed influence over?

    Anyone any idea why this doesn’t get mentioned?

  • You know full well there are plenty of reasons to despise NI on purely constitutional grounds.

    Despise? Strong words.

    Look at the perception test, for heaven’s sake.

    The perception test is deliberately trying to evoke extreme responses. And I think its of limited validity when applied to individuals anyway.

    I have had a hell of a week where 20% of my company was laid off.

    I’m sorry to hear about that and I hope you got out of it all in one piece, ken.

  • kensei

    “Despise? Strong words.”

    For a situation where we have more or less no influence over anything of import? Damn right. We have a parody of democracy, and the glorified council shouldn’t cover it up.

    “The perception test is deliberately trying to evoke extreme responses. And I think its of limited validity when applied to individuals anyway.”

    We’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t see if you are asked about “Irish”, “Northern Irish” and “British” that the two end cases don’t have some fairly specific connotations in the context.

    “I’m sorry to hear about that and I hope you got out of it all in one piece, ken.”

    Just about, but it’s not been fun.

  • For a situation where we have more or less no influence over anything of import? Damn right.

    What, the Northern Ireland football team? Admit it, it’s because they’re a crowd of Jaffas.

    Oh, and if that’s your analysis of GFA Mk2, you must be Anto McIntyre and I claim my five pounds.

    the two end cases don’t have some fairly specific connotations in the context.

    What about people who define as Irish and British? Are they suffering from false consciousness then?

    Just about, but it’s not been fun.

    Glad you survived. We shed 40% of our staff here (about 800 jobs) a few years ago and the whole experience still gives me the creeps.

  • kensei

    “What, the Northern Ireland football team? Admit it, it’s because they’re a crowd of Jaffas.

    Oh, and if that’s your analysis of GFA Mk2, you must be Anto McIntyre and I claim my five pounds.”

    I will embarrass myself by admitting I have no idea who that is.

    I believe you pointed out on another thread why Westminster still matters, Sammy. It matters because it controls most of the most important functions of government, the purse strings and can overrule us if it really needs to. And I haven’t even started about the lack of written constitution, or the patheticness of the protections. And they are still pushing 90-day detention.

    We have a lot of nice shiny blacks cars, but not an awful lot of power. Denying it denying reality.

    “What about people who define as Irish and British? Are they suffering from false consciousness then?”

    No, but context, as I pointed out, matters.

  • I believe you pointed out on another thread why Westminster still matters, Sammy. It matters because it controls most of the most important functions of government, the purse strings and can overrule us if it really needs to. And I haven’t even started about the lack of written constitution, or the patheticness of the protections. And they are still pushing 90-day detention.

    Oh shit, I agree with you here. End of that argument.

    But I still don’t see what that has to do with the Northern Ireland football team.

    Anto McIntyre, by the way, is the dude from The Blanket.