“Irishness Incompatible With Britishness”

Mary McAleese, President of the Occupied Twenty-Six Counties© (OTSC), today made a historic visit to Brakey Orange Hall at Bailieborough in Co. Cavan.

She quoted as being;

delighted to be in the presence of “a good Cavan man, a good Irishman and a good Orangeman.”

A view disputed by RSF with their statement that as usual is not in any linkable format anywhere:

Claims by 26-County President Mary McAleese during a visit to an Orange Hall in County Cavan that it is possible to be both Irish and British are nonsensical, a spokesperson for Republican Sinn Féin has said.

“It is not possible for someone to give their allegiance both to Ireland and to Britain. Britain represents the denial of Ireland’s rights. Orangemen should instead be encouraged to recognise that they are exclusively Irish, and to work for the benefit of the Irish Nation rather than adhering to narrow sectarian Orange ideology.

“To suggest that Unionists are anything other than Irish amounts to a tacit acceptance of Thatcherite claims that the Six Occupied Counties are ‘as British as Finchley’.”

UPDATE thanks to reader Slug here is the link to the speech that so upset RSF.

It is possible to be both Irish and British, possible to be both Orange and Irish. We face into a landscape of new possibilities and understandings. The momentum of these times is, of course, difficult for some and so they lash out in intemperate acts of vandalism that have been visited on some Orange Halls, including Brakey.

  • Steve

    Shouldnt Irish people be swearing alleigance to Brussels seeing as the EU owns you and that Ireland, be i the Republic alone, or with the North, is nothing but an EU Region?.

  • joeCanuck

    Straight out of “Sterile Arguments 101”.

  • The Raven

    “Orangemen should instead be encouraged to recognise that they are exclusively Irish, and to work for the benefit of the Irish Nation rather than adhering to narrow sectarian Orange ideology.”

    Without taking any sides here, I love it when people come together to work out their shared space and future. It’s so heart-warming. Acceptance of “difference” at its very best, here.

  • slug

    Mark the RTE site covers the President’s speech in better detail:

    Culture of Both

    This looks like a significant speech.

  • Mark McGregor

    slug,

    Thanks for that. Blog updated.

  • pith

    RSF does not know what an Irishman is, good or bad.

  • ulsterfan

    These views are so silly we should not get involved in any debate.
    Lets forget them and move on to the next topic.

  • blinding

    Hopefully this will send a message to the morons burning Orange Halls and GAA facilities to stop their infantile actions.

  • jerryp

    Heard the president was so upset by the statement from the latest group claiming to be the descendants of the first Dáil that she is considering resignation.

  • 6countyprod

    President McAleese: We have seen Ian Paisley sit down as an equal partner in government with Martin McGuinness. We have heard him describe former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern as his friend. In those events he did more for reconciliation on this island than libraries of PhDs in conflict resolution.

    Wow, praise, indeed!

  • Dewi

    Nice speech – astonished that that’s the forst time an Irish President has visited an Orange Hall. Indeed is that true?

  • pith

    Did she really say that about the bigot Paisley? Did she really say that about the man who shares so much of the blame for the misery inflicted on this country over thirty years? Did she really say that that about this disciple of hate? Wow, shame, indeed.

  • Modernist

    I’ve heard of the North being jokingly referred to the occupied territories but never the South as the Occupied Twenty-Six Counties. Just wondering mark who has copyrighted Occupied Twenty-Six Counties©. Is it a pitiful attempt by you or is it RSF to be controversial?

  • Dewi

    Been digging and it looks like it is true – wonderful stuff. Well done Mary.

  • percy

    Ali G was better:
    “So is you here on holiday” spoken to Sammy Wilson, after asking “Are you Irish or British”

  • Mark McGregor

    My view:

    To be honest it seems like a speech drafted by the Alliance party. Fluff and nonsense aspirational bullshit that reads lovely but isn’t based in reality.

    The RSF responses seems more genuinely reflective of the true divisions in Irish society.

    It does no harm, but pretending there isn’t a major and completely unaddressed rift in Irish society, while a nice read for the chattering classes, is just ignoring the massive elephant of ingrained and pervasive sectarianism.

  • Reader

    Mark McGregor: The RSF responses seems more genuinely reflective of the true divisions in Irish society.
    Well, they can’t help that, can they – being right at the fringes themselves. The gap looks wider from the edges rather than the middle.
    But I have to confess to being taken aback by your apparent alignment with their position – I had assumed you were red rather than green. Do you feel closer to Dev or to Red Ken?
    More to the point – if McAleese is wrong, and RSF is right, what is there for you to hope for in the future, realistically? A selective plague?

  • Jimmy Sands

    I thought RSF believed no-one truly gave allegiance to Ireland except them. Aren’t the rest of us all supposed to be collaborators anyway?

  • Mark McGregor

    Reader,

    I may have pasted a RSF view (I think its a first) – that sure as hell doesn’t mean I agree with them on much, if anything.

    My comment was about McAleese glossing over divisions while RSF unashamedly demonstrate and highlight them.

  • slug

    Mark

    Speaking as someone who is both Irish and British, I welcome the President’s recognition that I exist-its great that someone within nationalism has come forward and said this. I am on the other hand a bit unhappy at your reaction to this but at least you are honest about where you sit.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Speaking as someone who is both Irish and Indo caucasian, I regret that nobody passes much remarks. Wish for what you want and accept what you are.

  • Mark,

    Aren’t though RSF, especially in the north, a reflection of that ingrained sectarianism? They tell Orangemen they are Irish, then throw a fit (and some stones!) when they come to Dublin. I think that RSF view sectarianism as a problem of the other side, as too many people do.

  • I wish I hadn’t read that speech. More sickening perverse bullshit about the Great Imperialist War. People who use WWI like that have no shame. Whatsoever.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Oh aye Mary, leave out the Ulstermen why don’t yeah!!! Never happened to say it’s possible to be Ullish and British or even Ullish and Irish?

    it’ll come.

  • HeadTheBall

    Garibaldy,

    There is much to debate about WWI (how easily it might have been avoided, Britain’s share of blame for encircling Germany with hostile alliances, etc) but I doubt if many of the 200,000 Irishmen who served saw the War as a great Imperialist adventure. Many a patriotic Irishman lost his life in WWI and was clear enough about what he was fighting against – Prussian militarism. Francis Ledwidge, founder and commander of the Louth Irish Volunteers, when asked why he enlisted in the British Army, said, if I quote him correctly, “I would not have it said that they [the Brits] defended us [the Irish] while we merely passed resolutions”. He knew what was at stake.

  • RepublicanStones

    Allah wept, is this make up your own identity day ?

  • Dave

    The only good thing I can say about Mary’s second term as president is that it her final one. After this disgrace demeaned the dignity of her office by inviting loyalist gangsters, whoremongers and drug-peddlers such as Jackie McDonald to Áras an Uachtaráin as her new best buddies under the guise of ‘parity of esteem’ it’ll likely be a very long time before another northerner is elected to the office.

  • david christopher

    Great speech by President McAleese, one which will mean a lot to the border minority.

    “It is possible to be both Irish and British, possible to be both Orange and Irish.”

    As someone who’s always been “Irish and British” and never felt any contradiction between the two, it’s wonderful to hear that from the President of the Republic.

    And the broader message of “replacing either-or with Both” – as the RTE headline has it – is something of relevance to all Irish people.

  • Dave

    “And the broader message of “replacing either-or with Both” – as the RTE headline has it – is something of relevance to all Irish people.”

    No, it’s only relevant to Northern Ireland. People within the Republic of Ireland are one nation, not two (all of them loyal to the Irish Republic of which they hold citizenship).

  • Dave

    I’d quite like Gordon Brown to make a speech telling the English that they should replace “either-or with Both” in regard to the minority Scottish or Japanese identity in England. I could do with the laugh. Mary, on the other hand, can impose a foreign identity on the Irish and not be laughed out of office of cause offence to the Irish because her brand of codswallop in accoradnce with a popular agenda in a politically servile media.

    And by the way, if you need to hear a politician talking shite before you feel validation about your identity, then…

  • DK

    It’s the story with immigrants everywhere. You have the Irish-Americans as a good example – I suppose RSF would deny them their identity too.

    And Dave – I think that Gordon Brown is well known for trying to encourage the use of “British” as a catch all for people living in the UK. So you have Indian-British, Japanese-British and even Scottish-British and English-British.

    Works both ways – I have heard the term Polish-Irish and Anglo-Irish.

    RSF are racial purists. Racists, by another word.

  • Rory

    In England and Wales at least when completing most forms nowadys one is asked to mark a preference as to how one would descibe their own ethicity; White British; Asian; Afro-Caribbean: Other European; Chinese; White Irish etc. (I have not, so far anyway, come across a ‘Black Irish’category, but then that would need to be further modified to distinguish between those white indigenous Irish known as ‘Black Irish ‘ and black people born in Ireland – and maybe even a further classification for members of the Royal Black Perceptory, of whatever skin colour.)

    In any case given the example of the United States where ethnic groups of Poles, Greeks, Irish, Italian etc. proudly associate to proclaim allegience to their old motherlands there is not seen to be any conflict between this loyalty and loyalty to the state. Except of course in time of war as Japanese-Americans learned to their cost after Pearl Harbour (though not Italian-Americans).

    In a healthy state citizens would be free to proclaim what loyalties they chose providing they did not bring them into conflict with the law. RSF fail to recognise that while the 6-counties as a whole are not as ‘British as Finchley’, parts of it most certainly are, but then these are parts of their hallowed isle where RSF bravehearts clearly have never set foot. Indeed there are many parts south of Dublin that could similarly be so described.

  • EyeOnTheNorth

    Ulster’s My Homeland,
    Haven’t you ever considered that Mary was referring almost exclusively to those who see themselves as…how did you put it…’Ullish’.
    If anyone disagrees with the idea that one can be both Irish and British, then they really need a geography lesson. Being British isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of nationality.
    Ask anyone in England, Scotland or Wales whether they are ‘Simply British’ (A slogan that no-doubt alienated a ton of UUP voters, and helped ruin the party’s election chances), and they’ll laugh at you.
    Just like people from Norway, or Sweden don’t consider themselves ‘simply Scandinavian’. ‘Britain’ isn’t the name of a country, but an island of countries.
    Ireland, whether RSF like it or not, is part of the British isles, and our cultures, racial make-up, and history are so intertwinned, that it’s possible for someone from Cork or Kerry to be considered British if they so wish – just as they can join the British Army.
    However, people from the entire island of Ireland are Irish – including people from the North. If someone states they are not Irish but ‘Northern Irish’, as many unionists are wont to do, tell them the clue is in the name. ‘Northern Ireland’ is a geographical description of a region….still Irish no matter what way you put it…but it certainly doesn’t prevent anyone living here from being ‘British’, as the United Kingdom is a reality that can’t be denied.
    If only unionists would embrace their Irish heritage, and understand that Orangeism and Irish Protestantism is just a ‘brand’ of Irishness in the same way that Green, fiddly-dee nationalism is also just another brand, then this island would be a better place.
    Our political situation has reduced ‘Ireland’ from a nation to another geographical term rather than the official name of a country. And for anyone who consider’s the term ‘Ulster’ to be a seperate entity from Ireland, then another brouse in the library’s geography section is in order.
    Ulster is just one of four provinces that make up this unique island, and is itself a Gaelic term, just like the red-hand of ulster is a Gaelic symbol. In fact, historically, with lierature such as the Ulster Cycle, and the many myths and legends of the north of Ireland, it could have once been considered the ‘most celtic, most recognisably Irish’ part of Ireland.
    So as Loyalists used to say before the idea of partition was even considered, ‘God save the King, and God save Ireland’…now all I need to do is work out to say that in Irish.
    Slan.

  • I thought it was interesting that the Irish Times classified this story under their ‘In the north’ section, which is usually strictly 6 County stuff.

    If Bailieboro is in the north, then so is Achill Island (on the same latitude).

    Or is ‘north’ a code for ‘not us’?

  • Ri Na Deise

    Geographically speaking anything above Dublin is ‘in the north’.

  • John East Belfast

    I must say I would have always taken the John Hewitt line of being an Ulsterman, Irishman and British all at the same time.

    I have absolutely no problem with that.

    However I must say that in my own mind and also what I am seeing around me (especially in sport and the media) is a growing sense of “Northern Irishness” as a full, established identity in itself.

    I think it was suppressed during the troubles but in the current climate I think its day is coming.

    With Northern Ireland now in existance for almost 100 years the pasage of time and shared, painful experiences is bound to have that unifying effect and it will increasingly be so for our children and grandchildren.

    The 26 counties is so detached in so many ways now from the north and 6 county protestants and catholics have far more in common with one another than they do with the rest of these isles.

    We are fully establishing an identity among ourselves.

  • edward

    Just to throw the cat among the pigeons

    You do know to the rest of the planet that being british is just a different way of saying you are english

    I mean if you want to be english fair play to you, most of us aspire to more

  • dunreavynomore

    ri na deise
    a few questions.

    is there no east or west away down there? did the midlands disappear? have you had the oul tape out doing a bit of measuring and if so did you find dublin in the exact centre of the coast?
    geographically speaking are we all east or west of australia? who called the north pole north and what right had he/she to do so??

  • Alan

    I’m still a bit unsure about Mary after her hurtful “nazis” remarks…. but I have to hand it to her she is making an effort in reaching out to the minority on the island of Ireland. It is a disgrace though, that it has taken so long for a President to visit who he/she would consider as fellow country men and women in this Ireland of equals.

    I also hope that some day soon that people who would consider themselves Irish and British in the Republic will be able to hold a British passport along with their Irish one, which they cannot do because of the discriminating law which bars this at the present time.

  • Driftwood

    I still like the term ‘West brit’, much more so than ‘jackeen’. Is Donegal in ‘the North’?

  • George

    Eye on the North,
    another brouse in the library’s geography section is in order.

    You must be browsing in the geography section of northern libraries because the term British Isles isn’t used in the geography books used in schools in the Irish Republic.

  • Condor

    @Dave

    No, it’s only relevant to Northern Ireland. People within the Republic of Ireland are one nation, not two (all of them loyal to the Irish Republic of which they hold citizenship).

    Actually don’t they in a sense have loyalties to two geographically distinct “nations” depending on context? Those being Ireland (Republic of) and Ireland (island of). As illustrated by the recent “unpatriotic to shop in the North” campaign.

  • eyeOnTheNorth

    George,
    You have a point, but I would suggest that every other country in the world would identify Ireland as part of the British Isles. Any tattered old geography book in the Republic was obviously attempting to establish a distinct Irish identity and was compiled at a time of much hatred towards Britain.
    Like I said…doesn’t mean that Irish people are ‘West Brits’….It’s simply a loose, outadted geographical term.
    Let’s face it…people from China, Laos, Venezuala or any other country miles away from here, won’t look at Irish and Brits and think ‘Wow, they are so distinct and different.’
    Just like Scandanavians have their differences depending on their countries, or Lowlanders (Belgians, Dutch and Luxembergers) So too does Britain and Ireland have our differences, but they are so slight as to be almost imperceptible to most of planet Earth.

  • Red ring of Death

  • Red ring of Death

  • Red ring of Death

    Do Oraisté men in cavan consider themselves britlandish?
    Or are they Irish?

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “Do Oraisté men in cavan consider themselves britlandish?”

    Aye, well they are well represented on the Tri-colour, the flag of the Republic of Ireland, which I presume they wave as it’s the flag of their country!
    Afterall, they’d hardly wave the the Union flag, the flag of a foreign country!

    Only kidding Unionist folk! They are indeed entitled to wave the Union flag or whatever they want!

  • George

    Eye On the North,
    true this naming business is largely irrelevant to others in the world but I would like to point out that it’s nothing to do with hatred towards Britain. It’s the new geography books that have removed the British Isles, not the old ones. It’s to do with defining where you are from, not being defined by others.

    That said, the Chinese can continue to call Ireland the lover orchid all they want.

  • Condor

    If the term British is unacceptable for the archipelago then someone really ought to invent a new term. Because there is a common culture a la Scandinavian or Nordic (not the same thing for the linguistic purists vis a vis Finland or something). I believe that in Australia the term “Angloceltic” is often used. So how about renaming the British and Irish Lions the Angloceltic Lions?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Celtic_Australian

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Being the overwhelming section of the population in Hong Kong didn’t do the Brits much good there, did it?

  • Dewi

    Difference is that the Scandinavian / Nordic people have a fairly common linguistic base. We don’t.

  • Ri Na Deise

    dunreavynomore

    Dont be so touchy. Personally as a Munster man, everything north of the Suir is the land of The Pale:D .

    And as far as I know the midlands is akin to a black hole. Does anyone live there? Does it even exist?

  • stephen

    I must admit thatI do feel that terms such as “west brit” are insulting and derogatory.

    I am Irish,I do not adhere to a nation or kigdom or whatever you would want to call it that is, and has been involved in empire building, invasion, occupation, theft, murder, forced religious indoctrination, forced destruction of languages: the export of food during times of national famine and the cheerleading for the most rapacious nation on earth in recent times.

    I don’t really care about what maps say, 900 years of opposition speaks louder

  • Condor

    @Dewi

    Difference is that the Scandinavian / Nordic people have a fairly common linguistic base. We don’t.

    Of course we do. 99% of us speak the same first language. Also Finnish is in a different group to other Nordic languages. So wrong on both counts.

  • Dave

    “And Dave – I think that Gordon Brown is well known for trying to encourage the use of “British” as a catch all for people living in the UK. So you have Indian-British, Japanese-British and even Scottish-British and English-British.”

    He is operating under a constitutional imperative that defines a de jure reality. He is not saying that an Englishman must regard himself as any being of any nationality other than English.

    In Mary’s case, she is promoting a political agenda, not a constitutional imperative, that requires two distinct nations to share one claim to self-determination. Because there are two distinct nations, not one, they will both conflict with each other by default. An obvious and relevant example in Northern Ireland is the vetoing by one nation of the competing nation’s request for an Irish Language Act. Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights defines self-determination as the sovereign territorial entity by which a nation “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” In other words, a nation-state. Clearly, the minority nation within NI does not have the ability to “freely determine… [its] cultural development.” As that minority nation does not control the state, it cannot promote or support its language or other aspects of its culture. It’s right to do so is subject to the veto of another nation whose nationalism controls the sovereignty of the state.

    Likewise, if the minority nation was the British nation and the sovereignty was controlled by Irish nationalism, the British nation would find that there is no automatic right for it to use the state to promote its “social and cultural development.” Admittedly, the British nation would find that its language is already well supported but it would find, that were aspects of its minority culture conflict with the majority culture, that the interests of the majority will take precedence. That means that if the majority wishes to commemorate 1916, for example, that the minority would have no automatic right of veto.

    So, there will remain two separate and conflicting nations with two separate and conflicting claims to self-determination, despite the farce propagated from the likes of Mary and her ilk that pretends that these two nations can operate as one nation. I am not British, and British culture is not my culture, nor will I support any political or constitutional arrangement that imposes British nationalism or British identity on me or requires me to offer any support to the interests of a foreign nation. My nation-state is the Republic of Ireland and my national identity is Irish. I will not by any manner allow my right to national self-determination as an Irishman be compromised, curtailed, vetoed or in any way diminished by odious political agendas that are proffered by political hacks, quislings, simpletons, and assorted hangers-on.

    Unlike the hyphenated Irish (and I admit that I am one), the northern British nationalists are not seeking to live within an Irish nation-state. Ergo, they cannot be expected to ever be loyal to an Irish nation-state. That they seek is for Ireland to renounce its own claim to national self-determination as an independent nation-state and rejoin the British nation. It’s not that they actually intend to unify under such terms, but they see an opportunity to encourage said political hacks, quislings, simpletons, and assorted hangers-on to act in the traditional role of the northern British nationalists and suppress Irish nationalism by self-censoring it. Their reasoning is that the weaker Irish nationalism becomes via this process, the stronger their own position becomes.

  • Dave

    “Actually don’t they in a sense have loyalties to two geographically distinct “nations” depending on context? Those being Ireland (Republic of) and Ireland (island of). As illustrated by the recent “unpatriotic to shop in the North” campaign.” – Condor

    No, that is loyalty to free market principles. Wisely, shoppers will shop wherever they are offered the lowest prices. Wisely also, the government will try to discourage those shoppers from transferring money into the economies of foreign jurisdictions, thereby benefiting the British taxpayer to the detriment of the Irish taxpayer. A pound given to the British economy of Northern Ireland is a pound that is lost to the Irish economy. That is not to say that it is unpatriotic to import goods (we imported 66 billion euros worth of them in 2007), but it is expedient of the minister to use emotional blackmail to discourage the practice – especially if FF TDs in the border region ask him to. You could, of course, argue that it is unpatriotic of northern nationalists to wish to see money leave the Irish economy and enter the British economy but Northern Ireland legitimately exists and northern nationalists signed up to that, so it is now in their selfish interest to compete with the Irish economy by promoting the interests of the British economy.

  • Clarina

    Disgraceful to see the completely false remark stating RSF are ‘racists’ and ‘racial purists’, that lie is without any merit whatsoever. In fact, RSF are clearly claiming that the members of the unionist community (mostly but not all protestant) are just as Irish as anyone. Which of course is what they are. It is reflective of their (RSFs) foundation and roots in the words and deeds of Tone and the United Irishmen. This can best be seen in their fully inclusive federal peace plan called Eire Nua. One would think that people would at least look into a group or movement or party or whatever before stating ‘facts’ about them. They believe that Irish people, regardless of religious affiliation are able to govern themselves without outside interference, now you may disagree with that position but it certainly isn’t a racist or even sectarian one to hold.

  • Dave

    “RSF are clearly claiming that the members of the unionist community (mostly but not all protestant) are just as Irish as anyone. Which of course is what they are.”

    The fact that they vociferously and violently refuse to live within an Irish nation-state should make it clear to RSF that they don’t regard themselves as being a part of the Irish nation. Their claim to self-determination is based on being a part of the British nation (hence the UK holds the applicable sovereignty). So, RSF (and wee Mary) can claim at best that they are geographically Irish but are otherwise British. No other nation has an accepted right to self-determination in NI. Both nations within that territory, however, have a right under the applicable treaty signed by the Irish and British governments to merge their nationalities into some shared configuration. They haven’t had much luck with that thus far despite all of the propaganda supporting the process.

    Anyway, when RSF and wee Mary catch a blue between them and grasp that the day that British nationalists within NI voluntarily renounce their British nationalism and embrace the Irish nation-state is the day when they will become Irish, being a loyal and committed member of the Irish nation. Until then they’ll remain as a bunch of contrary British nationalists ‘up north’ who are far more trouble to Ireland than they will ever be worth.

    The best bet for those northern nationalists who do not want to reside permanently in Northern Ireland is to petition for repartition of that territory along Irish/British lines. The British nationalists will not be able to sustain their second claim to self-determination within a smaller territory, nor will the UK government continue to proffer a subvention sans the need to appease the Irish government, and in a decade or two they will voluntarily request to unite with the Republic on whatever terms that are charitably offered to them.

  • runciter

    Britishness can include Irishness because Britain is an imperialist entity – which by definition contains multiple nations.

    Irishness cannot include Britishness because it is not an imperialist entity – and contains only nation.

    It is vital to recognise this fundamental difference between the two nationalities.

    The colonialist mindset of Northern unionists is not sustainable in the long term, and McAleese is not doing them any favours by endorsing their delusions.

  • Dewi

    “Of course we do. 99% of us speak the same first language. Also Finnish is in a different group to other Nordic languages. So wrong on both counts”

    I used the phrase linguistic base – perhaps cultural heritage would have been more apt.

    I always tend to class Finland as Baltic but take the point – it’s usually included as Nordic if not Scandinavian and of course Finnish is Finno-ugric along with Eastonian and Sami.

  • Kang

    Irish not British
    British not Irish
    and always twirling twirling towards freedom

  • Driftwood
  • Ulsters my homeland

    EyeOnTheNorth

    “[i]people from the entire island of Ireland are Irish – including people from the North. If someone states they are not Irish but ‘Northern Irish’, as many unionists are wont to do, tell them the clue is in the name. ‘Northern Ireland’ is a geographical description of a region”[/i]

    so everyone on the island of Ireland is called Irish? why doesn’t that make sense? I’ll tell you why, it’s because not everyone in the British Isles class themselves as British. so why must it be good enough for one island and not both?

  • Driftwood

    Unless there is a genetic difference that can be ascertained, the terms British, Irish, Welsh or even Nordic are simply meaningless. Or whatever meaning one wants to put upon them. Barstool philosophy. And on that note…..

  • Ain

    As a sidenote, if I may point out, the Finnish, Saami and Estonian (not Eastonian 🙂 are linguistically much further apart than English and Irish. At least English and Celtic languages are both Indo-European languages. And historically, Finland was pretty much a Swedish colony. The Saami people were also subjected to colonisation by Norwegian (or Swedish) masters, and believe me, there is still at least some occasional bitterness lingering between those peoples. Saami culture is also quite different. So there IS a question – does ‘Scandinavian’ or ‘Nordic’ include Saami and Finnish or not, and Nordic/Scandinavian countries are not culturally/linguistically that homogeneous.

    Myself, I am from Estonia, and we have had several colonial masters, including Germans, Swedish and Russians. The German influence on our culture has perhaps been the most profound and long-lasting, although it may not be that obvious today.

  • Condor

    @runciter

    Britishness can include Irishness because Britain is an imperialist entity – which by definition contains multiple nations.

    Irishness cannot include Britishness because it is not an imperialist entity – and contains only nation.

    It is vital to recognise this fundamental difference between the two nationalities.

    The colonialist mindset of Northern unionists is not sustainable in the long term, and McAleese is not doing them any favours by endorsing their delusions.

    Both Britishness and Irishness have multiple forms in culture or in soverignty claims. You are simply shoehorning them into your own restrictive definitions.

    Britishness can easily be defined in terms of a culture, of having grown up watching Blue Peter and making Airfix planes, or of drinking Bovril at a soccer match, and the totality of such small things, for example. This overlaps with the Irish cultural experience partly and partly not. Some things would be shared between the UK and RoI and not France or other European neighbours. Some things shared between GB and all the people in NI but not with the RoI. Some things shared by the people of GB and NI unionists but not NI nationalists. While this is multi-faceted and complex it is still objective and real. If NI is not as British as Finchley it is most certainly more British than Britanny, in objective and not just subjective terms.

    By the way that RSF seek to impose an identity on others they themselves are using Irishness as an “imperialist entity”. Ironically they are doing the same thing as Margaret Thatcher’s “as British as Finchley” while at the very same time condemning it. Unionists do not do this to nationalists to anywhere near the same extent.

    Nationalists must at least have an acknowledgement of the Britishness of unionists in the cultural sense. Apart from anything else not to do so is to reject objective and not just subjective reality.

    The best bet for nationalists to convince unionists to accept a united Ireland (though at the moment it seems like a long shot) would involve some kind of pan archipelego identity within which they could fit, again like the Nordic identity that does not imply any non right to sovereignty for Norway or Sweden (for example). Again if calling this Britishness is unnacceptable then find a new word for it.

    For nationalists to seek to impose a complete identity cleavage between the two islands is to push the likelihood of a united Ireland in sovereignty terms further away. For they are being purposely divisive. It would be rather like trying to get Turkey into the EU while at the same time strongly defining European identity as Christian and as contradictory to an Islamic identity, and bemoaning the Turkish invasion of Constantinople and saying that Turks have no right to be there. It contains within itself a logic that is self defeating.

    In that way McAleese’s comments have actually promoted a united Ireland more effectively than RSF’s comments.

  • Rory

    I’m getting a wee bit lost here. Perhaps some kind soul who is proficient in set theory could lay out the ways in which one could be that but yet couldn’t be that but yet might be that and also that, while not being the other, sort of thing. If you know what I mean.

    I am pretty certain in any case that I was born of woman. Does that count in this matter?

  • Dewi

    Ain – sorry – i was being lazy. Please remain and tell us the truth.

  • ain

    The truth. 😀 I think ‘Nordic’ is neutral and no Finn or Saami would be offended by that and it applies well to both. ‘Scandinavian’ perhaps not so well and not so neutral. But we (saying we, since Estonia, although a Baltic country, is culturally also linked to Nordic countries) generally get along here quite well, occasional bickerings notwithstanding. Sorry, Dewi, I did not intend to sound too…hm, impertinent?

  • Well, RSF would say that, wouldn’t they?

    Give a poor tourist a break, wouldja?

    Which bus shelter does RSF hold it’s Ard-Fheis in nowadays

  • frustrated democrat

    What republicans want and what they will get are two different things.

    We know that 65-70% of the people living within Northern Ireland want to remain in the United Kingdom and we know that under the GFA, supported by 94%+ of the voters in the ROI and 71% in the North that until the majority decide differently Northern Ireland will remain in the UK.

    In light of the above and also the current financial slide in the ROI I suspect that it will not happen any time in the next 100 years unless at least a substantial number of current unionists are prepared to vote for it.

    Whether or not I want to be British or Irish or both is my business and not up to a Republican or anyone else.

    My advice to republicans is, work on economic and social matters and forget about narrow nationalist viewpoints. These can be no more than unachievable aspirations unless they can peruade unionists to vote for it, which is frankly unlikely as it is economically not viable and not a reasonable expectation.

  • edward

    How do you know that 65 to 70% of voters want to stay in the union?

  • janeymac

    eyeOnTheNorth
    “Let’s face it…people from China, Laos, Venezuala or any other country miles away from here, won’t look at Irish and Brits and think ‘Wow, they are so distinct and different.”

    Not my experience. I was very surprised at the comment of a street trader outside a train station in a remote part of China when asked where I was from. “Ah, neighbours of the British.”

    (I asked my guide what did that mean and he said that Chinese are neighbours of the Japanese (and in case you don’t know it, the Japanese are none too popular in China.”)

    I’ve travelled extensively throughout some fairly remote countries in the world and pretty everyone mentions some or all of the following when I’m asked where I’m from: Bob Geldof, U2/Bono & Roy Keane as being fellow countrymen. They used to ask if I was from North or Southern Ireland. At this stage we are seen as different to the British, though I personally don’t think we are.

    In fact, most of the time now is spent defending the British as not that bad really!

    As as an aside, Travel advice given out on an RTE Travel advice programme on “how to not be mistaken to be British when on holiday” (particularly in France) is to ask the waiter/waitress if they speak Irish and when they say no, then ask them if they speak English. Apparently, knowing that you are not British/English means they probably won’t charge you double/spit in your soup or something!

  • Shirley McGuffin

    Irish Catholics should rediscover their better selves. The Dublin Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers and others spring to mind.

  • Nathan

    ‘Brakey Orange Hall’ is probably one of the few remaining physical aspects of local Protestant life and tradition, I’m glad to hear that our first citizen has taken an interest in the Orange heritage of Cavan – which I presume is still visible.

    Saying that she has upset the republican whinge on the fringe with some of her inappropriate and frankly inaccurate politically charged comments, last time round she annoyed some elements within the northern Protestant community – all of which could have been easily avoided.

    I really do think she should just shut her trap more often and just get on with her civic duties and leave the talking to others, like the British head of state does. Stupid woman.

  • Dave

    “At this stage we are seen as different to the British, though I personally don’t think we are.” – Janeymac

    In which case, you are well suited to living in Northern Ireland. I assume that your wish to unite with the Republic of Ireland is based on a wish to share the joy of consociationalism and bi-nationalism. Thanks for the thought, but we’re quite happy with majoritarian democracy and the nation-state.

  • runciter

    Both Britishness and Irishness have multiple forms in culture or in soverignty claims. You are simply shoehorning them into your own restrictive definitions.

    No. Just stating a plain fact,

    Nationalists must at least have an acknowledgement of the Britishness of unionists in the cultural sense.

    The problem is that McAleese was deliberately conflating political and cultural aspirations.

    She’s not really a straight talker, you know.

    I wouldn’t recommend relying on anything she says.

    The best bet for nationalists to convince unionists to accept a united Ireland (though at the moment it seems like a long shot) would involve some kind of pan archipelego identity within which they could fit

    Actually, that’s a stupid idea.

  • Dave

    The government needs to tell the stupid tart to keep her nose out of politics and not to try to impose the conditions of the GFA that were not negotiated or agreed by the citizens of Republic of Ireland are not applicable in this sovereign jurisdiction.

    There is only one outworking of “Now we must build a new culture of Both” and it isn’t the euphemistic, sentimental hogwash that she presents it as being.

    Given that she is appointed as the guardian on the Irish constitution, her wish to see it ripped up and replaced by a Whitehall-devised document which she sees as “a landscape of new possibilities and understandings” is tantamount to treason against the Irish people, their right to self-determination and the nation-state, and would have the outcome of leaving the Irish nation among the stateless nations of the world since it would remove the right of the Irish nation to its nation-state.

    Ireland for the Irish, Japan for the Japanese, and England for the English, etc – that is the one-nation state. Those of different ethnicities who live within those liberal one nation-states must express loyalty to the culture, values, laws, etc, of that nation, and by doing so, they are permitted to join it. That is the liberal nationalism that underpins the nation-state. She is talking about repugnant ethnic nationalism that excludes all other ethnicities. Perhaps the government should her tell about the Poles, the Chinese, etc, who have chosen to join the Irish nation.

  • slartibuckfast

    I’ve asked this before of RSFers and didn’t get a straight answer: is Ruairi the President or the Taoiseach of the Republic? It’s all very confusing.

  • EyeOnTheNorth

    Ulster’s My Homeland,
    When you deny that everyone on the island of Ireland is not Irish, I once again have to remind you of your schoolboy error. The fact that you admit you live on the island of Ireland, makes you Irish, unless you were born elsewhere. It’s just simple geography.
    If you were born on the geographical island of Great Britain, then you are British…but firstly English, Scottish or Welsh.
    Ireland and Britian are not the same in that there was never a country called ‘Britain’ before it was divided up, wheras Ireland was once a full, united political entity before partition.
    Even then, the fact that the two new political entities on this island have the name ‘Ireland’ in them, makes it impossible for anyone north or south to deny that they are ‘Irish’.
    Most certainly you can claim to be ‘Northern Irish’, and enjoy a somewhat different identity to southern counterparts (although to anyone outside this island, there is almost no difference – even British people can have a hard time telling us apart in terms of accents, names, culture – yes even protestant culture such as Orangeism has a distinctly ‘Irish’ feel about it to outsiders.), however, you cannot escape the simple fact that the word ‘Irish’ is in ‘Northern Irish’…and why on earth would you want to deny that fact. Just deal with it and be a proud Irish Protestant and British citizen if you also so choose to be.

  • Wise up

    Actually, slartibuckfast, the Continuity Army Council is the Government of the Irish Republic. RSF is not.

  • slartibuckfast

    Ha ha ha ha!!

    Boy don’t I look stupid.

  • Setanta