On our Celtic troubles with the English…

Picking up from Brian… Peter Murtagh with a paean to the largely unspoken verities of the English. Yet strains of anti English sentiment persist, not just in Dublin but in Belfast (and on both sides of the communal divide), and in Scotland, where 7% of the population is made of English people (there’s a must see Newsnight Scotland report here), the Moderator of the Church of Scotland has likened it to sectarianism…The substantive hook for Murtagh’s piece was Noel Browne, a thoroughly modern Irishman who was possibly 30 or 40 years ahead of his time:

Noel Browne grew up with an understanding of the English – their likes, dislikes and societal values. As a young man, he returned to Dublin where, funded by another generous benefactor who paid his medical student fees, he became a doctor, eventually specialising in psychiatry.

It was as a doctor-politician, of course, that he made his greatest contribution when, as minister for health in 1947, he began the process that all but eradicated TB from Ireland, thereby saving hundreds, maybe thousands, of lives. He crashed in flames in 1951 when he attempted to bring in universal free healthcare, particularly for mothers and their children, and fell foul of the Roman Catholic Church.

But all those years later in Against the Tide, Browne remembered to say thanks to the English. He wrote of their essential decency and generosity and, if memory serves me right (because I don’t have his memoir to hand), their tolerance. When I read the book while living in London, that point struck me as being absolutely true.

According to Douglas Robertson, an academic and author of The English in Scotland, these warm sentiments that are not widely shared in what used to be known as the Celtic fringe. So just what is our problem with the English, now the political balance appears to be shifting back towards the fringe? ONe quotations stands out from the others in that Newsnight Scotland clip that’s worth putting down here:

“The whole notion of outsiders; although on the surface they like to think of themselves and quite welcoming actually they find it very difficult to deal with?”

It strikes me as being cultural as much political conditioning. For instance, I don’t particularly perceive it, in Northern Ireland at least, as particularly a Nationalist problem. So are we just conditioned, on some level or other, just to repel all boarders? Is it the unbearable burden of history?

Or are we still, as Robert Cooper might put it, culturally jammed between the pre modern and modern eras, waiting for the waters to rise sufficiently to take us into a more open, tolerant and Cosmopolitan world view?

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  • Mick,

    I sometimes think you’re going for the prize for the most garbled English. What on earth are ‘the verities of the English’?

    Having read (and largely agreed with) Murtagh’s piece in the IT I kniow that what you really mean is the qualities of the English.

    The old story of ‘anti-English’ prejudice is dragged up every single time Ireland plays England in a sporting event. It is a very tired story. We can all think of occasions where anti-someone prejudice has been uttered, be it anti-English, anti-Irish, anti-French, anti-German, anti-European, whatever. But I think your piece is setting up a straw man – there simply is little or no evidence of any anti-Englishness in the south (at least), and you know as well as most that there is little remaining anti-Irishness in England.

    The residual dislike of the trappings of the old British empire (flag, anthem, etc) is nothing to do with the inhabitants of England, Scotland or Wles. If anything, the dislike of those trappings is kept alive by our very own native British, and their aggressive use of such things to try to dominate thir neighbours.

    To be honest, the English and most of the Irish see fairly much eye-to-eye on any things, and get along fine. Old animosities are long forgotten, except when dragged up by the mad relatives in the attic. The English certainly seem to be more at ease with the southern Irish, culturally and economically, than with the incomprehesible northerners. The ‘loyal tribe’ are the single fly in the soup.

  • Democratic

    Excuse the language but – F*ck me – so basically any residual anti-Englishness kicking about is the fault of the Ulster Prods…..you couldn’t make it up! LOL!
    PS – How’s that work with Scotland?….

  • Wistful claptrap about ‘the essential decency of the English’ no doubt gives the folks at the British Council the horn, but we would all do better to avoid viewing any people as essentially decent and generous.

    Because if it can be observed, on the basis of one’s encounters with the brother-in-law and so on, that a certain people are essentially decent and generous, then we must also recognise that it is possible for another person to observe, on the same basis, that a certain people are essentially rotten and depraved.

    This is not to say that there are no decent Irish people or no decent English people but what makes them decent has absolutely nothing to do with the fact of some essential, transhistorical Englishness or Irishness.

  • percy

    that’s about the way of it horseman.

  • Tee Dee Um

    The antipathy towards the English in Ireland and Scotland (and indeed Wales) is not unique as a cultural expression. Similar issues arise towards USA citizens from their fellow North Americans.

    Russians also experience such feelings from their near neighbours. It is just a by-product of having a powerful country cheek-by-jowl with less powerful neighbours with all the historical exploitation that goes with it.

    In Ireland this phenomenon rubs up against the victimhood that certain Irish people like to wallow in and adds a degree of bile and bitterness to the pot.

    Of course these same Irish people cannot see the beam in their own eye and claim to be all loved-up about the English welcoming them in as long as they bin overt manifestations of their culture such as flag an anthem; so they can be English as long as it’s with a lower case ‘e’.

    Loved the argument that it was all down to them damn prods up north. I suspect the unionists are also reponsible for global warming and world poverty.

  • Democratic

    Lovely – someone else can swallow Horseman’s self-delusions on anti-Englishness….I can see how this thinking obviously correlates with Brian Walker’s related piece from what he witnessed on Saturday…..

  • Democratic

    I heard that us damn Prods caused the Biblical Great Flood too – back of course in the days before we became the “Lost Tribe of Israel”

    Like I said – you couldn’t make it up – though some obviously are…

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “I suspect the unionists are also reponsible for global warming and world poverty.”

    But ye’s do have an Environment Minister who refuses to believe in Global Warming. 🙂

    BTW, there is truth in Horseman’s statement. Generally, folk in the south of Ireland get along pretty well with their English neighbours. There’s a lot in common regarding sport, entertainment, boozing etc… Should check out the plethora of English stag and hen parties in Temple Bar, Dublin any weekend. Proof of the pudding is the comparison in numbers of English visitors to the north and the south of Ireland.
    The south is not the anti-English place that some Unionists would love to believe!

  • Democratic

    “The south is not the anti-English place that some Unionists would love to believe!”
    Who said what Ulster Unionists believe – wasn’t it small pockets of hostile Irish/Scottish types mentioned in the two related articles by Mick / Brian as the issue – the only involvement the Ulster Prods had was being touted as the reason for such residual hostility – which lets face it is a stretch by anyones logic….

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    I’m saying it…in response to you and Tee Dee Dum. See below….

    “Lovely – someone else can swallow Horseman’s self-delusions on anti-Englishness”

    “In Ireland this phenomenon rubs up against the victimhood that certain Irish people like to wallow in and adds a degree of bile and bitterness to the pot.

    Of course these same Irish people cannot see the beam in their own eye and claim to be all loved-up about the English welcoming them in as long as they bin overt manifestations of their culture such as flag an anthem; so they can be English as long as it’s with a lower case ‘e’.”

  • RepublicanStones

    Nobody likes a schoolyard bully….plain and simple.

  • Democratic

    I know that Anti-Englishness exists Greagoir – I’ve seen and heard it – In fact if I’m honest about it some Ulster Prods I know are some of the worst culprits.
    However the daft idea from Horseman that where it does exist in Ireland as a whole (not Scotland though I guess) – it is down to the behaviour and continued presence of the native born British Prods of Northern Ireland is simply laughable! – Do you think this part of his viewpoint has “truth” in it too.

  • Democratic

    Who are you speaking of Republicanstones – the English, the Ulster Prods or Irish Republicans?….

  • borderline

    This joker describes England as ‘our nearest neighbours’.

    He should ponder

    a) an atlas

    b) his ‘England is Britain’ mentality which causes so much anti-Englishness

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “I know that Anti-Englishness exists Greagoir – I’ve seen and heard it – In fact if I’m honest about it some Ulster Prods I know are some of the worst culprits.”

    Indeed Democratic, I am not denying that!

    Regarding Horsemans comments about NI, but I believe that English folk can be put off this part of the island because of the legacy of the troubles and tensions that still exist today there.

  • Dave

    Murtagh’s article is a classic propaganda piece. His main evidence of what he hysterically refers to as “Anti-English racism” is an anecdote where the sound for the English national anthem is turned down in an Irish pub, thereby depriving the nation of the opportunity to enrich themselves by singing God Save The Queen and, presumably, following it with a rousing spontaneous chorus of Rule Britannia.

    The slight flaw with this asinine tosh ‘compelling evidence’ is that one only has to produce a counter-example of the sound for the Irish national anthem being turned down in a quaint English pub to disprove this entire thesis that “the affection the English have for the Irish is real and persistent” and then launch into a reciprocal dismal lament about “Anti-Irish racism” in the UK.

    On the other hand, one could simply point to a plethora of studies and legal cases that show that “anti-Irish stereotypes persist in British society”1 and that the consequences of it are often tragic. For example, the Report of the Commission for Racial Equality in the UK prompted this intervention from the Irish Department for Foreign Affairs:

    [i]”These patterns of disadvantage have been highlighted in the recently published Report of the Commission for Racial Equality which examined discrimination and the Irish Community in Britain. I have to say that the findings of the Report are disquieting. I hope that it will be examined by Government agencies and statutory bodies whose activities and responsibilities impinge on the welfare and interests of the Irish community. In this connection I welcome the undertaking by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, that he will ensure that the concerns which the Report raises will be given proper attention in his review of Britain’s community relations strategy.

    Irish people are over represented amongst the street homeless.

    Irish people have an older age profile and are more likely to live alone.

    There are more Irish people amongst the ranks of the unemployed than their English counterparts.

    Irish people are more likely to encounter problems with the criminal justice system.

    The health of the Irish deteriorates on arrival in Britain, the only migrant group to do so.

    Irish people in Britain die younger than in Ireland, and the level of long- term disability is higher than the norm.

    The incidence of mental health admissions is double the national average.[/]

    So while the evidence of widespread anti-Irish discrimination in the UK is conclusive and irrefutable, there is no corresponding evidence presented to support Murtagh’s spurious assertion that the British people who live in Ireland have suffered similar or any discrimination by the State or abuse by its citizens. There is no equivalent term of abuse for the English to “Paddy” or “Mick” or “Bogtrotter” in Ireland.

    Mr Murtagh cannot refute the substantial body of evidence of widespread anti-Irish discrimination in the UK, so he simply ignores it, pretending that it does not exist.

    His propaganda continues when he cutely compares the alleged “racial” abuse (existing only in his creative imagination) to a virus that must be eradicated much like TB was eradicated. Oh, and just in case we think that celebrating the national anthem of a foreign nation is the progressive course to follow (instead of turning the irrelevant blathering off), then we are reminded that Irishness means suffering horribly in dilapidated hospitals in the poverty-stricken 50s while being tormented by the “Roman” Catholic Church. Therefore we must discard all vestiges of nationalism, and kiss the Royal arse and its symbols like good little colonial types who have recovered from their “post-colonial hang-ups” and are now eager to resume their rightful place within the British Empire.

    And folks still think that The Irish Times is a serious newspaper rather than a propaganda rag?

    (1) http://www.paradigme.com/sources/SOURCES-PDF/Sources15-1-04.pdf.

  • Dave

    [/i] Closing italics

  • Democratic

    Didn’t an English pipe fitter sucessfully take a pretty high profile case for racial discrimination/intimidation based on his “Englishness” against his Dublin employer in the Southern courts in the latter stages of last year from memory? Found it:
    http://www.herald.ie/national-news/englishman-wins-836420k-for-racial-abuse-in-workplace-1452651.html

  • Mack

    Democratic

    Excuse the language but – F*ck me – so basically any residual anti-Englishness kicking about is the fault of the Ulster Prods…..you couldn’t make it up! LOL!
    PS – How’s that work with Scotland?….

    LOL, very good. I kind of see where Horseman is coming in terms of the antipathy to the vestiges of empire in the south. But any residual anti-English feeling in the south has very little to do with the North.

    There’s a kind of mental schism or bipolarism that exists in the south. People normally have very close and friendly relations with English people, most have family that live there – and thus now English born relatives or in-laws. But yet, their is among the older southerner some mild form of post-colonial inferiority complex, that manifests itself from time to time in the form of some extremely odd comments. (I’ve found that particularly in terms of English authority figures, who when acting identically to the manner in which an Irish person would will be completely misinterpreted in anecdotes for decades to come). There is also some degree of genuinely felt historical grievance, that normally only manifests itself in certain drunken contexts. And there is a minuscule minority of anti-English bigots. I agree with Horseman though, the antipathy to the anthem is not antipathy to the English anthem, but to the anthem that once represented their sovereignty over this territory.

  • Mack

    Dave

    In fairness two demographic Irish groups were inclined to emigrate to England – the highly educated and the under educated. Basically, Irish emigrants to England were not representative of Irish society as a whole and certainly not English society. A large number went to England, where they had little social support network, with very little qualifications. Leaving them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and the ravages of economic downturns. That’s not to say that anti-Irish discrimination did not exist, and didn’t play a part in contributing to the lowly status of many of the Irish in England. Just that other factors should be taken into account too.

    The other group fared reasonably well. And from what I’ve heard from relatives in England most were made feel welcome even in the darkest days of the troubles – many other warring groups have treated each other in a much less civilised manner.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “Didn’t an English pipe fitter sucessfully take a pretty high profile case for racial discrimination/intimidation based on his “Englishness” against his Dublin employer in the Southern courts in the latter stages of last year from memory?”

    I remember that case too! Good to see that this case of discrimination was addressed and the victim compensated.

  • Dave

    Mack, while it’s terribly sweet of you to superimpose your own conclusions on the cited reports sans the bother of reading them in your haste to act as an apologist for injustice, I suggest that the reader deters to the conclusions of the experts who authored the reports. You might find, contrary to your contemptible assertion, the cause of the abuse that they suffered was external and not internal, i.e. that anti-Irish discrimination occured because Ireland exported its genetic garbage to the UK and that their misery was therefore a consequence of their own condition rather than a consequence of other factors.

  • The following is a ranked list of things that make me hate the bloody English:

    1. Wayne Rooney’s Metatarsal
    2. Their tendency to confuse England with Britain
    3. Refusing to take NI bank notes
    4. Generally ignoring serious developments in NI politics because some celebrity said something daft.
    5. Claiming British and Irish sportsmen/women as their own – when they win, but not when they loose
    6. Temple Bar stag parties
    7. Thinking that the use of the term ‘Paddy’ and jokes about potatoes constitute an example of high wit.
    8. The Royal Family – what a shower of weirdos
    9. 400,000 million years of oppression
    10. Eastenders

  • I should probably include the tendency to confuse England and Britain with the UK as well as number 2. And probably the annoying tendency to use the Union Jack and God Save the Queen at inappropriate times, is pretty annoying.

  • Tee Dee Um

    The English are much more welcoming of the Irish than is the case in reverse.

    Witness the number of Irish people who are or have been household names in England; Bob Geldof, Grame Norton, Terry Wogan etc. How many English people ‘star’ on RTÉ for example?

    Ask an Irishman for a English person who is a household name in Ireland and like as not they would come up with Cromwell.

    Think about the Cheltenham race festival when the Irish tricolour is flown or worn by most of the Irish who attend. Can’t recall the same thing happening at the Curragh involving the Union Flag.

    How many ‘John Bull’ pubs are there in the Republic?

    How many times do you hear English commentators slag-off the Irish head of state?

    Petty stuff I grant you but indicative of a malaise that lies on or just below the surface for many in Ireland.

  • Mack

    Bloody hell Dave, where did I say that? I suggested that among those who emigrated were those least able to cope with adverse situations, sans the usual social safety nets they’d have at home.

    And some of the points are just stupid.

    vis

    Irish people have an older age profile and are more likely to live alone.

    Really? In order to have a younger age profile immigration would need to continue at a constant or increasing rate. Surely a good thing it didn’t?

    More likely to live alone? FFS. That’s a personal issue, surely.

    Other points re – health and the like. You move people out of their natural habitat where they have their social support around them (family, friends, broader community) and put them in a strange place for a long time where they would on occasion experience harsh conditions – is it really implausible that some would suffer disproportionately, compared to those who live at home with their social safety nets in place?

    Also, I think you are expecting a lot from the host nation. We’ve taken in a lot of Poles lately, are we responsible as a people for their health – mental & physical? Or do you believe in individual responsibility? How does this square with your other views?

    Again, there’s no doubt there was anti-Irish rascism in England (just as there is certainly rascism in Ireland today, often targeted on specific national groups), and there probably still are linger remants of those attitudes.

  • “Ask an Irishman for a English person who is a household name in Ireland and like as not they would come up with Cromwell.”

    True.

    So long as you leave out the musicians, actors, writers, singers and sportsmen/women we worship.

  • A Retired Banker

    “. Refusing to take NI bank notes”

    They are accepted currency and not legal tender so they are not acceptable outside their area of issue.

  • Tee Dee Um

    It would be interesting to carry out a poll and see if any from a list of cultural/sports stars feature.

    I still contend that Cromwell would be at or close to the top, and not because they think he is the boss on “X Factor”.

  • Mack

    Tee Dee Um

    You’re whole comment was pretty much nonsense, this took the biscuit though…

    Ask an Irishman for a English person who is a household name in Ireland and like as not they would come up with Cromwell.

    Eh? Even Jack Charlton likely wouldn’t even get a look in. I suspect as a typical enough politically motiviated Nordy, you’re making the classic mistake of presuming everybody is just like you. Southerners are much less aware of / influenced by the tribalism that infects northern life. Asking that question in poll would likely lead to a sprawlingly long list on which Cromwell would like feature very far down, as most southern households have BBC, ITV, Channel 4, E4 & all those British digital channels not to mention British shows on Irish tv, as well as British sports, inane celeb mags, British newspapers are also widely circulated.

    In reality even Kerry Katona would whoop Cromwell’s long dead arse..

  • Oilifear

    “Of course these same Irish people cannot see the beam in their own eye and claim to be all loved-up about the English welcoming them in as long as they bin overt manifestations of their culture such as flag an anthem; so they can be English as long as it’s with a lower case ‘e’.”

    I don’t know any one that has a problem with St. George’s Cross being flown anywhere in Ireland. The barely-observant will find a 10ft hanging in the centre of Dublin and outside many bars up and down the country.

    Some of the most famous “traditional Irish ballads” are in fact, English ballads e.g. Danny Boy, Dirty Old Town, Long Way to Tipperary.

    Be big E all you like.

    Tee Dee Um,

    “Ask an Irishman for a English person who is a household name in Ireland and like as not they would come up with Cromwell.”

    Walk in any southern home, turn on the TV, switch to channel 5, watch the BBC. When done, turn around, walk over to the coffee table, pick up and English tabloid, read. Now, go to the pub and talk about English football or, as your preference, any other form of English current affairs. When done, consider this question again.

    If you mean to ask how may English people are Irish-media household names, I think that says more about the pulling power of the BBC compared to RTÉ than anything about a like/dislike of the English.

    Now, let me answer your question in five words: Republic. Of. Ireland. Football. Team.

    “Think about the Cheltenham race festival when the Irish tricolour is flown or worn by most of the Irish who attend. Can’t recall the same thing happening at the Curragh involving the Union Flag.”

    The flag of England is St. George’s Cross.

    “How many ‘John Bull’ pubs are there in the Republic?”

    How many ‘John Bull’ pubs are in any county outside of England? What the heck is a ‘John Bull’ pub anyway?

    “How many times do you hear English commentators slag-off the Irish head of state?”

    I cannot recall the Queen being “slagged-off” by any Irish commentator. Overall, southern commentators are friendly towards the royals. Contrast to the public vilification regularly meted out to them by the English yellow press.

    Now, since you are in the mood for asking questions, ask any Englishman to explain the scoring system in Gaelic football, to name the current Irish prime-minister, to say a common phrase in Irish, to tell how many counties there are in Northern Ireland, to point to Cork on a map, to name an Irish athlete or an Irish business. I think you will find subject stuck for words. Ask similar questions of an Irishman about England and you will hear every question answered with such familiarity you might swear England was his own native home.

    When done, take your preconceptions about Irish and English attitudes towards collegialism between the peoples of these islands and turn it on it’s head.

  • RB, it’s ridiculous. I can use German euro coins or Spanish euro notes in any Euro-member country I care to visit, but I can’t use a NI banknote in Newcastle? It’s the same freakin’ country! They have the option of accepting them, so what’s the deal? Why the reluctance?

    And Tee Dee Um, if you think that Oliver Cromwell is more of a household name than Simon Cowell, you greatly overestimate the Irish education system. Just look at the rankings for any Irish tv station. The highest rated programmes mirror the British stats. X-Factor, Dancing on Ice, I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here, Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother, The Premiership, Coronation Street, Eastenders, Emerdale and all of the popular British-made shows are just as popular in Ireland as they are in England. All of the most popular English bands of the past few decades have been just as popular in Ireland as in England. If Oasis, Bloc Party, Girls Aloud, Blur or Razorlight decide to play in Dublin, their shows will sell out just as in London, and much faster than in other European cities. English football clubs (and players) are more popular in Ireland than any other European country. If Irish people are as anti-English as some would have us believe, we sure as hell don’t express this hatred with our wallets.

    About ten years ago when I was in school, a teacher made a reference to Kevin Barry. Nobody knew who he was. Everybody in that class knew who David Beckham was. I really think that there’s no merit to the notion that the Irish are less accepting of the English than vice versa.

  • Tee Dee Um

    I’m not exactly sure what a “Nordy” is but I imagine it is a term of abuse. As someone from the Republic you seem to restrict your tribalism to inhabitants of the island. Well done you.

    No doubt you believe that the volume was turned down on the TV in the Dublin pub by a blow-in from NI.

  • PaddyReilly

    A Yugoslav friend of mine- in England for 20 years- I trust his impressions more than my own- says he has never heard anyone English utter any hard word against the Irish. They reserve all their bile for the Welsh, he says.

  • dewi

    Watched the Newsnight clip with an open mind……but when I hear a pair of English intellectual immigrants patronising the Scots…..well I don’t know…sort of reinforces things. Here over the last fortnight we’ve had English parents writing to the papers complaining about Welsh medium education in Carmarthenshire….I wonder if they do the same in France – to be honest I wouldn’t put it past them…this ain’t racism it;s just conditioning.

  • Tee Dee Um

    Niall, if everything thing is a honky-dory as you say why is England playing Croke Park worthy of comment in the first place, why the issue around a visit from Queen Elizabeth to the Republic?

  • Mack

    Tee Dee Um

    I’m not from the Republic, you just (evidently) don’t know anything about it, but yet feel able to publish all sorts of rubbish about the people there. ‘Nordy’ is friendly slang for people, like you and me, from Northern Ireland.

    So, having identified that you’re post was nonsense, you now post more nonsense conjecture? When you’re in a hole stop digging 😉

  • Tee Dee Um

    Mack you (evidently) read Irish Republic-Social Attitudes 101 at university.

    A nonsense accolade from you I take gladly.

    I lived near Dunsaney County Meath for nearly seven years and local TV watching habits notwithstanding I know something of the attitudes of some of the people in the Republic.

  • England playing in Croke Park is barely worthy of comment anymore. It was worthy of comment because it hadn’t happened before, but now that it has, it’s not really a big deal. To be honest, opening Croke Park to ‘foreign’ games was a bigger deal.
    Singing ‘God Save The Queen’ at Croke Park was mildly controversial given the history of the GAA and the armed forces of which said Queen is head, but it was more of a manufactured media controversy than anything.

    I have never met a single Irish person who has expressed a desire to keep England out of Croke Park, or the Queen out of Ireland. Now I’m sure that at least of a percentage of the people I’ve met might have a problem with at least one of the above, but it’s not really a topic many people care enough about to discuss – unlike the Premiership results or what Phil Mitchell did to Ian Beale.

  • Mack

    Well, I’ve lived here for slightly longer than that, and would fundamentally disagree with your analyses. To be honest, I’m shocked you actually lived in the south! Maybe you were looking for northern style political conversations?

    Though Meath is perhaps still close enough to the border to be different..

  • Tee Dee Um, as a matter of interest, when exactly did you live in Meath and how regularly did Cromwell come up in conversation?

  • Dave

    “More likely to live alone? FFS. That’s a personal issue, surely.”

    Still busy downplaying anti-Irish discrimination like a good little brainwashed self-censoring Irish Times reader, eh? If you had actually bothered to read the report of the Commission for Racial Equality (“Discrimination and the Irish community in Britain, 1997”) that the Irish Foreign Minister referred to and thereby acquainted yourself with a few salient facts, you’d grasp that this relates to the concept of social exclusion linked to Irish identity in Britain and its connection to anti-Irish discrimination and racial stereotypes. Specifically, the ironic exclusion of the Irish community from the Social Exclusion Unit established that year.

    “Also, I think you are expecting a lot from the host nation.”

    I don’t expect anything from the UK by way of alleviating the propagation of anti-Irish discrimination and racial stereotypes, since they have carefully fostered them throughout the UK’s historical involvement in Ireland, and in service of that involvement, e.g. to inoculate feelings of inferiority into the Irish race with the purpose of undermining their confidence in their ability to govern themselves, thereby fostering a belief that they needed a colonial power to order their internal affairs and promoting the self-censorship of any latent Irish nationalism (as opposed to the desired British nationalism).

    Despite forming the largest ethnic racial group living in the UK, and despite being subject to widespread racial abuse, the UK persistently refused to classify the Irish community in the UK as a racial group, thereby depriving them of the legal protection and other support that is offered to other such groups. That dismal situation was only alleviated in recent times by the incessant campaigning by a plethora of Irish groups such as Brent Irish Advisory Service, London Irish Women’s Centre, CARA, etc, and by high-profile interventions by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs which had the purpose of rebuking the UK for failing in its duty to protect its citizens.

    This is not a case of promoting the Nanny-state. It is a case of the State failing to prevent the racial abuse of its citizens, and the misery that was inflicted on those citizens as a direct result.

  • Oilifear

    “Tee Dee Um, as a matter of interest, when exactly did you live in Meath and how regularly did Cromwell come up in conversation?”

    Indeed was the man himself there at the time? Did you ask him what he had against the poor English of Drogheda? Or why against the Irishmen that were defending the crown of the English king (who himself was only defending the religious and civil rights of much of the Irish)?

  • Danny O’Connor

    Te Dee Um
    The English welcome for the Irish,My late father was sent to England by the dole-who offered work to him as part of the campaign at the time (Late 1950’s early 1960’s)to export as many Taigs to England as possible to ensure the status quo was maintained.
    The Irish were not alone at this time in seeing the abject racism of many English people-NO DOGS ,NO BLACKS, NO IRISH-was the sign on the doors of the guest houses and b&bs;.
    I have my own experiences of the little englander mentality.

  • J

    “How many ‘John Bull’ pubs are in any county outside of England”

    There was one in Springfield and it sort of exploded.

  • Ulster McNulty

    “On Saturday, he sat watching his team being beaten, wearing a green Irish rugby shirt and smiling broadly.”

    How cool are the English?

    Contrast with the Irish – remember that football match at Lansdowne Road a couple of years ago when the guards took it all out on the English fans – jolly bad show.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “Contrast with the Irish – remember that football match at Lansdowne Road a couple of years ago when the guards took it all out on the English fans – jolly bad show.”

    You say this Ulster McNulty, but you are more than likely the type who saw no wrong with the RUC baton charging Catholics in NI years ago!

    Tee Dee Um, hard to believe that you lived in the Irish Republic.
    BTW, Tracy Pickett (daughter of Lester) has a nice little job on RTE. But you should know that.

  • skullion

    As someone who lived in England for many years i have to say there ain’t much wrong with your average Englishman.People here shouldn’t confuse the english tabloid media and their pompous politicians with the normal man on the street.On the whole they are a generous and extremely tolerant bunch.Bear in mind the provos were bombing the shit out of the place and the majority of casualties were average joes.Even then not one disparaging remark was ever passed to me.The vast majority of englishpeople just wanted rid of the north.To be honest i have found far more racism and intolerance in the north than ever i did in London.

  • Tee Dee Um

    Niall, 1985 – 1992. A friend visiting from Dorset brought along his dog. The dog, a Jack Russell, was called ‘Cromwell’ (don’t ask me why) and I was taken aback by the number of comments made about the name.

    “Don’t take him into Drogheda, he’ll not get out alive”, “Did you train him to piss on the Irish like his namesake”. I thought it was just banter at first but there was a nasty element at times and the number of unwelcome conversations about history that the dog’s name opened up was surprising. By the end of the visit the dog was referred to as “Welly” in public.

    Before you ask the dog was not sporting a Union Jack waistcoat. It may be that it was all just me and perhaps I have a “Nordy” chip on my shoulder. Just put me down as another loon from the “lunatic Northern tribe” if you’re comfortable with that. I really don’t mind.

  • The Reincarnation of Paul Revere’s Horse

    Well speaking as an Irish man who has lived in England for the last 6 years, the general feeling is that these days the English are very welcoming of the Irish.

    Fair enough you come across the occassional ‘Alf Garnett’ and I’ve been called Paddy and Bogtrotter in a friendly manner sometimes too. But those cases are rare.

    English people by and large are amoung the most polite people I have ever come across. Its the country that has given me a job and education where as my own hasnt been able to do the same. So I find it hard to hold anything against ‘them’ as such.

    OK so they have afflicted upon the world, soccer football, Big Brother, thrashy tabloids, the antique roadshow, Jeremy Clarkson and Chavs but we cant judge people on their worst traits alone.

    After all this is the country that gave us The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Clash and the game of rugby, how could you not like them?

    Also traditional English pubs beat Irish pubs hands down when it comes to the range and uniqueness of drinks available.

  • kensei

    Tee Dee Um

    Name a dog “Hitler” in England and see if there are soem strange attitudes to the choice.

  • Ulster McNulty

    Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “You say this Ulster McNulty, but you are more than likely the type who saw no wrong with the RUC baton charging Catholics in NI years ago!”

    Yes indeed, but the Irish and the Catholics aren’t as cuddly and lovely as the English (read Murtagh’s article) any baton charging they get they deserve, and they’re lucky that’s all they get.

    F’chrissakes Murtagh’s English brother in law watched the Ireland v England rugby match wearing an ireland top and “smiled broadly” as England got beat. That’s how decent, tolerant and positive towards Irish that the English are.

    Can you imagine Ireland rugby fans watching an Ireland v England match wearing England tops and smiling as Ireland get beat? It wouldn’t happen, the Irish have too many post colonial hang-ups and they’re too racist to allow that sort of thing to happen.

  • kensei

    F’chrissakes Murtagh’s English brother in law watched the Ireland v England rugby match wearing an ireland top and “smiled broadly” as England got beat. That’s how decent, tolerant and positive towards Irish that the English are.

    More to the point, why is he wearing an Ireland top, the patronising git. It’s more a football problem, but I hate this “but we support you….” nonsense from English fans. They don’t get the slight contained within.

  • Mack

    Tee Dee Um

    Well, that does explain it. I’d agree Cromwell provokes strong reactions, but would disagree concouisness Cromwell lies anywhere near the surface.

    Incidentally, Cromwell, a Republican, butchered Loyalist Protestants in Drogheda. Funny how we look back on things , eh?

  • Jimmy Sands

    I remember our house had an arial the size of a flagpole so we could get BBC, but my grandmother would leap out of the chair at closedown lest our ears be polluted by their anthem. The piece reminded me of an incident in London during the 80s. Some friends were over for the rugby and after a long night drinking in Knightsbridge we walked past Harrods to the tube shortly after the bombing there. Some of the group started up with a song celebrating the fact which continued onto the tube. Pretty much every other occupant of the train suddenly found their feet fascinating until one young woman angrily told them to shut up. One of them complained to me about how the English had no sense of humour. I asked him consider the likely reaction to an Englishman behaving in a similar fashion in Dublin. He concluded that he would probably be killed, and the singing stopped. I like to think that the same realisation has dawned more widely in the ensuing years.

  • DavidD

    The main point is this: despite the best efforts of the IRA and the acid comments of some uber-republicans, the English can never regard the Irish as foreign. Personally the relationships are usually excellent and even at the group level the Irish are viewed as sometimes amusing, frequently as exasperating but still they are part of the family.

  • Ulster McNulty

    DavidD

    Personally the relationships are usually excellent and even at the group level the Irish are viewed as sometimes amusing, frequently as exasperating…

    I like it, it’s almost victorian with Pat, Jock, Taffy and John Bull – where Pat is a “wee daftie” as the Ulster Jocks might say.

  • Oilifear

    “The dog, a Jack Russell, was called ‘Cromwell’ (don’t ask me why) and I was taken aback by the number of comments made about the name.”

    “don’t ask me why” – I take it from this that you do understand the matter, so while your friend may have been taken aback by the number of comments, I don’t see why you would be. Lest you don’t, here is what Winston Churchill has to say about Cromwell and his consequence for the very topic of this blog:

    “We have seen the many ties which at one time or another have joined the inhabitants of the Western islands, and even in Ireland itself offered a tolerable way of life to Protestants and Catholics alike. Upon all of these Cromwell’s record was a lasting bane. By an uncompleted process of terror, by an iniquitous land settlement, by the virtual proscription of the Catholic religion, by the bloody deeds already described, he cut new gulfs between the nations and the creeds. ‘Hell or Connaught’ were the terms he thrust upon the native inhabitants, and they for their part, across three hundred years, have used as their keenest expression of hatred ‘The Curse of Cromwell on you.’ The consequences of Cromwell’s rule in Ireland have distressed and at times distracted English politics down even to the present day. To heal them baffled the skill and loyalties of successive generations. They became for a time a potent obstacle to the harmony of the English-speaking people through-out the world. Upon all of us there still lies ‘the curse of Cromwell’.”

  • DavidD

    Ulster McNulty, I think you made my point. Replace the IRA/republican parts as you think appropriate and transpose English and Irish and I think what I wrote would still be true – especially the amusing and exasperating part.

  • hovetwo

    I still remember the survey of racial / ethnic origin that I had to complete a few years ago for my then employers – a rather large management consultancy in London. It asked me to choose whether I was “White” or “Irish”. Strangely you weren’t allowed to say English or British……….

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “….any baton charging they get they deserve, and they’re lucky that’s all they get.”

    Your mask has slipped here, Ulster McNulty!

    An insightful comment from yourself toward the Irish Catholic Nationalists of NI ….such a facet of personal opinion revealing why the NI Troubles occured in the first place.

    With such comments, you endorse the stereotype image of angry and unreasonable Unionists!

    …..not that you care either I suppose.

  • Richard James

    So Horseman, Republicans don’t have a problem with Britishness, just those feckin’ huns…

    But of course it’s not a sectarian ideology, thats the kind of thing only them stinkin’ Orangies get up to, eh?

  • Republic of Connaught

    The English get on well with the Irish. Indeed, it fascinates me how much hatred there seems to be in Scotland for the English, and yet they still share a political state with them. One would have thought the Scottish were the ones who had fought a rebellion in 1916 to get out of the Union with England and not the Irish.

    There will always be rivalries among neighbours. It’s human nature. But your average Englishman and Irishman have fought countless wars together for generations, lived together for generations and inter-married for generations.

    It is the upper echelons of politicians and aristocrats in lower England who brought about conflict between England and Ireland. And they brought about countless wars with other countries too. Yet they are also the people who made England such an important country in the world for centuries. Ambition is often ruthless.

    Personally, I believe the contemporary people in England are among the most liberal and decent in the world, when you live there. Their one major flaw, however, is that they always see themselves as being morally right, morally superior.

    Even with NI, they protray themselves internationally as the peacemakers between two depraved Irish tribes. When in reality the historical depravity of their monarchs and governments created and nourished the divide in Ireland, to suit their own political gains.

  • Ulster McNulty

    Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “Your mask has slipped here, Ulster McNulty!”

    You’re mixing me up with someone who’s a unionist.

    DavidD

    “Ulster McNulty, I think you made my point”

    I was trying to do irony.

    The negative perceptions, mutual enmity and outright hostility that has been a feature of the relationship between the Irish and the English over centuries is not simply the fault of Irish republicans. To say that is perverse

    Also, such hostility doesn’t make sense anymore in our common, secular, homogenized, Anglo-American, boom and bust culture.

    The view which Peter Murtagh seems to have is that the Irish are more fundamentally bigoted against the English than the other way round. This seems to me to be just another stupid and inaccurate stereotype of the Irish.

    Murtagh’s article is really simplistic nonsense. I have lived and worked in England and Scotland, albeit quite a while ago, and I came across some individuals (and in the case of Scotland an entire organisation) with a negative attitude to the Irish. But I didn’t conclude therefore that the Irish are better than the English or the Scots.