Ireland’s “Old World melting pot must adapt, learn and settle before it can progress”

Oh dear, to take up the tone from Ruarai’s somewhat sleazy letter from America, there’s a very thoughtful blog essay on the problem of Ireland. I heartily recommend reading the whole thing, but here’s the last paragraph:

While the tricky political condition resulting in the border must not be taken lightly, people of this island need to learn to transcend political reckoning with social cooperation. So where does this leave us? It leaves us without a single, identifiable voice; a petty and embarrassing construct born from invasion, divide and conquest. Indeed, if the island is to move forward, it is time for the people to reconsider their history with a fresh perspective and rethink what exactly it means to be of this island. [emphasis added]

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  • Alias

    Fortunately, it is only a tiny minority that are given to such neurotic soul-searching on the issue of national identity and, by extension, of loyalty to the concept of a sovereign nation state.

    And they’re such the victims of those who are cleverly proactive in the work of promoting the British state sponsored (this island/these islands) agenda of re-configuring the Irish into a non-sovereign nation.

    In contrast to the that state’s former removal of Irish national self-determination by occupation and violent means, this time around it is the Irish themselves who must be led to suppress their reclaimed right to self-determination in accordance with the proffered self-censorship agenda.

    Given that all of the mainstream parties of the Irish state that acted as former defenders of Irish nationalism have been successfully neutralised by British state and EU sovereignty-curtailing agendas, these merchants have a free run at the reconfiguration but like all such attempts, it is always undone in the long-run by a nation returning to fundamentals of self-government for its irrefutable advantages over the alternatives.

  • HeinzGuderian

    alais,you’ve been reading too much fitzy.

    A pat on the head and a point of Guinnes should do the trick. 😉

  • Alias,

    Perhaps if more people sat down and thought about the shifty nature of national identity we might get somewhere. You keep talking (ad nauseam!) as if the Irish nation was some objective fact and the only thing between it and its natural rights was the evil foreigners. But your understanding of the Irish nation is subjective. You can be loyal to your vision of Ireland but you have no right to expect everyone else to come along. National identity is a shared concept, and requires compromise – but we have not yet reached a compromise acceptable to all. You cannot build any notion of national rights on quicksand.

  • tacapall

    “people of this island need to learn to transcend political reckoning with social cooperation. So where does this leave us? It leaves us without a single, identifiable voice; a petty and embarrassing construct born from invasion, divide and conquest.”

    We all have to step up to the plate and acknowledge our future is being dictated by the past and that our insecurities are fermented by those who’s lifebood and lifestyle is dependent on preaching division. Planters are no longer planters they are no less Irish than those who believe they are indigenous Irish. But we cannot pretend that our futures and our best interests are secure in the hands of a people and government who’s history and wealth past and present is steeped in the blood of innocent victims and who are intent in directing the world toward mass murder.

    The Ireland of equals that Republicans strive for is unachievable a utopia, there will always be the haves and have nots and the state Unionism yearns for is long gone all we have left is a difference of religious opinion that is slowly disappearing. Our futures lie together united plotting our own destinies making our own laws and decisions that best serve our interests.

  • tacapall,

    Why does everything always boil down to evil foreigners?

  • tacapall

    Simple AG.

    “It leaves us without a single, identifiable voice; a petty and embarrassing construct born from invasion, divide and conquest.”

  • Ah, so you’re blaming today’s foreigners for the crimes of their ancestors. Never mind of course that their ancestors also suffered under the same regime. And don’t forget that their ancestors and our ancestors were in many cases the same people.

    We need to leave the kneejerk jingoistic claptrap outside the door if we’re to have any sort of sensible conversation.

  • tacapall

    AG should the Irish people not have a choice in not wanting to be associated with a government or people who invade other countries, murder its inhabitants and steal their resources, like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria and it wont be long before its also Iran. The only foreigners Im blaming for Ireland’s problems is Britain and what they do to their own people is of no concern to me.

  • Republic of Connaught

    The problem is in the north of Ireland. There is no identity debate in the South. For us in the 26 counties, an Irish Prime Minister represents Irish people on the international stage. Nothing could be more normal. The minority of people on this island who don’t agree with that statement are the one with the identity problems if they prefer being represented and ruled by Englishmen.

    As an aside, this rubbish that Ireland was never a united country should be put into its it European context. Italy’s city states only became a united country in 1861. Ireland would clearly have become a united country by that time too if it wasn’t for incessant interference in our domestic affairs from England.

  • Greenflag

    @ tacapall ,

    ‘and what they do to their own people is of no concern to me.’

    It is’nt ? Where do you live ? There are almost a million people born on the island of Ireland who are resident in Britain and another 5 million who are of second and third generation Irish and thats just from the Republic). Like it or not our past and our future is inextricably linked with Britain and thus what happens in Britain has to be of concern to us.

    Doesn’t mean we have to have the same Parliament or a political Union . We should have enough understanding of history however to know why the UK came into being and how and to also understand that it was not an inevitable outcome but events at the end of the 17th century both domestic and foreign conspired to bring the Union with Scotland into existence against the wishes of the Scottish people and the same was repeated in Ireland a century later .

    .

  • Greenflag

    @ Republic of Connaught ,

    ‘There is no identity debate in the South.’

    Correct . And the ‘identity ‘ issue that is of concern to the navel gazers of academia and others who have wider loyalties than the country or province they live in is fair enough if it eventually helps them to work out a compromise with their predicament such that is or such as it is perceived.

    ‘As an aside, this rubbish that Ireland was never a united country should be put into its it European context.’

    Excellent point and not just in respect of Italy but also Germany , Poland , Austria , Hungary and the Balkan countries .

    But even closer to home there is the UK itself now just over 300 years old which is 100 years short of the longer lived Brittania of Roman occupation .

    On Feb 5th 1705 the House of Commons passed legislation which would shape the future of the UK .The Alien Act recommended to Queen Anne that a commission to negotiate for union between England and Scotland be appointed and if the Scots did not comply and discussions were not advanced by Christmas Day 1705 -severe penalties would be imposed on the Scots . i.e All Scots except those living in England would be treated as aliens and the major Scottish exports to England of coal , linen, and cattle would be suspended .

    Now hows that for a Happy Christmas? Economic blackmail . Earlier attempts at political union throughout the 17th century had foundered on English indifference and antagonism to any union. London saw no reason to concede to the Scots freedom of trade with the new English colonies in America ( mercantile protectionism )

    Sir Edward Seymour the Tory Leader in the Commons proclaimed in 1705 ‘ Scotland was a beggar and whoever married a beggar could only expect a louse for her portion’

    Shades of present day Greece and Germany ?

    There was deep animosity towards the union by the Presbyterian Church but despite that and because of the collapse of the Darien ‘ponzi ‘ scheme and English interests needing to be safeguarded against the French in the War of the Austrian succession -Scotland’s political elite and it’s aristocracy with a few exceptions allowed the country to be trundled into Brittania Inc in 1707 .

    The Scots now 300 years later under a more democratic ambience are wrestling with the idea of a return to Scottish independence . We’ll see ..

  • weidm7

    It seems it’s the British-Irish who have the identity crisis, the clue’s in the name, British or Irish? They say ‘British’ and look with fondness at all things English, while proclaiming their own independence and uniqueness from England, while somehow still remaining ‘British’, which, by definition is four countries sown together by English imperialism, and yet they support the Republic when they play England, but would rather have political union with the country they’re cheering against?

    It’s one thing to say ‘union with Great Britain is economically advantagous’ but I genuinely don’t understand feeling both British and Irish, yet seemingly neither at the same time.

  • terence patrick hewett

    article in the IT: “Americans, if you want the full Irish, take it” Definitely not written by the ghost of Patrick O’Brian.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2012/0303/1224312716707.html

  • Greenflag

    ‘but I genuinely don’t understand feeling both British and Irish, yet seemingly neither at the same time.’

    Thats fine -you don’t have to . It’s possible to be both or predominantly one or the other .It can be a spectrum or a black and white choice or self imposition . Some individuals manage both and become greater than either of their parts and some are both and somehow manage to become lesser than either of their parts . National identity is just one part of an identity and for some individuals it’s more important than for others .

  • Greenflag

    @weidm7,

    ‘ They say ‘British’ and look with fondness at all things English’

    If only it were that simple . Had it been so they probably would have managed to avoid the 1969- 1998 Troubles and the swing song on and off power sharing up to 2007 .

    The missing ingredient was modern English tolerance , secularist mentality and the need to wash the car on Sunday morning instead of sitting/kneeling/standing in a church pew listening to a preacher or priest or minister or in some cases a demented lunatic spew forth the God of hate and eternal kebabing on a revolving spit in hell one week and the love of God for those who give generously to the church’s coffers the next .

    It’s not easy being green
    Nor for that matter orange
    Nor red , white and blue
    In the Norn Iron zoo

    They are caged within
    And caged from without
    So no surprise
    When all is shout .

    But it’s getting better
    Or so they say
    And they live to fight
    Another day.

    Which is their way
    And who would deny them
    For they’ve been at it forever
    Ad infinitum .

  • RoC,

    The problem is in the north of Ireland. There is no identity debate in the South. For us in the 26 counties, an Irish Prime Minister represents Irish people on the international stage. Nothing could be more normal.

    The identity debate has been effectively quarantined, but all you’re doing is avoiding it. The Irish Prime Minister does not represent the Irish people – he does not represent northern Unionists, nor does he even represent northern Nationalists. The “Irish State” is not Ireland, despite its pretensions.

    The minority of people on this island who don’t agree with that statement are the one with the identity problems if they prefer being represented and ruled by Englishmen.

    To address this, just consider weidm7’s comment:

    I genuinely don’t understand feeling both British and Irish, yet seemingly neither at the same time

    Why would northern Unionists prefer to be ruled by people who don’t understand them? You may argue that the English don’t understand them either, but the English aren’t actively trying to turn them into Englishmen. And better the devil you know.

  • Republic of Connaught

    “The identity debate has been effectively quarantined, but all you’re doing is avoiding it.”

    We are avoiding nothing, Andrew. There is no “debate” to be had. The north is clearly different to the rest of Ireland because of the Unionist populaton who regard themselves as primarily British. They alone prevent an all-Ireland jurisdiction on this island.

    “The Irish Prime Minister does not represent the Irish people – he does not represent northern Unionists, nor does he even represent northern Nationalists.”

    The Irish Prime Minister represents the majority of people on the island of Ireland. The British Prime Minister represents the people of Britain, (and about 1 per cent of the UK population in the north of Ireland.)

    “Why would northern Unionists prefer to be ruled by people who don’t understand them? You may argue that the English don’t understand them either, but the English aren’t actively trying to turn them into Englishmen. And better the devil you know.”

    The English have been trying to Anglicize the Celtic nations of the UK since its inception. In many ways, like language, they succeeded. In any case, I don’t expect Unionists to want to be ruled by an Irish government.

    I expect them to want to be some part of the government that rules this island while also maintaining Stormont.

  • Greenflag

    The ‘debate ‘ is over as far as any UI being imposed over the heads of a majority of people in Northern Ireland .

    ‘The “debate ‘ is not over as regards any possible future permanent constitutional future of the island -North and South .
    But it’s certainly in limbo for the time being .

    Any debate over people’s identity or combination of identities is a debate for individuals themselves if they choose to have one or feel the need to have one .

    As for not ‘understanding ‘ Unionists -that’s a fair point .
    Not too many people outside of ‘unionism ‘ do or want to and those who try find the ‘politics ‘ of unionism to be an odd mix of ante diluvian flat earthers mixed with a strong dose of ethnophobia plus a dash of old time blood and thunder religion juiced with maniacal fringe elements of British Israelitism and some strong vestiges of Victorian Age hypocrisy .

    And of course some modernists who are trying to progress beyond the 19th century when Brittania waived the rules and God was an Englishman and all was well with the world well was’nt it ?

  • Greenflag

    @ roc ,

    ‘ I don’t expect Unionists to want to be ruled by an Irish government.’

    Can you blame them ? I think the Icelanders have the right idea.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2012/0305/iceland.html

    ‘I expect them to want to be some part of the government that rules this island while also maintaining Stormont.’

    Expect away . Right now they can have their cake and eat it (being part of the UK if only 2% of it) . In any prospective UI situation they could’nt get away with that kind of ‘subsidization ‘ for it would not be affordable .

    A fair Repartition would have given ‘unionism ‘ a better chance of longer term survival as a separate political entity but the current demographic seismic shift underway has made that option look like a non starter and only possible in the event of a major collapse and breakdown of civil order in NI or across the island.

  • RoC,

    We are avoiding nothing, Andrew. There is no “debate” to be had.

    I’m debating it with you right now. So long as “Ireland” remains the name of the island, your choices are limited. Either you declare that themmuns are not Irish, in which case they are foreigners in their own country, or you declare that they are Irish, in which case you either have to modify your idea of Irishness to include them, or modify them to fit your idea of Irishness. We’ve tried option 1 and it doesn’t work. And themmuns live in perpetual fear of option 3. That leaves option 2.

    Or you could stick your fingers in your ears and pretend that “Ireland” refers just to the Republic.

    In any case, I don’t expect Unionists to want to be ruled by an Irish government. I expect them to want to be some part of the government that rules this island while also maintaining Stormont.

    This makes no sense. How can they be a part of “the government that rules this island” if that government is not Irish? Or are you trying to redefine the name of the island?

    GF,

    Not too many people outside of ‘unionism ‘ do or want to and those who try find the ‘politics ‘ of unionism to be an odd mix of ante diluvian flat earthers mixed with a strong dose of ethnophobia plus a dash of old time blood and thunder religion juiced with maniacal fringe elements of British Israelitism and some strong vestiges of Victorian Age hypocrisy .

    You’re confusing ethnic “unionists” with political Unionists, and you’re openly flaunting your wilful ignorance of your neighbours. Perhaps you might actually try understanding Unionists sometime instead of throwing cheap insults around.

  • Republic of Connaught

    “Either you declare that themmuns are not Irish, in which case they are foreigners in their own country, or you declare that they are Irish, in which case you either have to modify your idea of Irishness to include them.”

    How am I meant to modify my Irishness in the west of Ireland to make predominantly Protestants in the north of Ireland feel more comfortable being Irish, Andrew?

    IMO the Unionists in Northern Ireland, even in the event of a united Ireland, will always view their Irishness as different to mine in the west of Ireland anyway. The Protestant Irish/Scots Irish have their own distinct history in Ireland and that’s to be respected in its own right. No one said in a unified Ireland we all had to be identical. Obviously a new all-Ireland state will have to have a new national anthem and flag suitable to all strands of Irishness on the island. But as for modifying what it means to be Irish, that will vary from Belfast to Cork, Galway to Dublin anyway. The new national symbols will be the most important things to agree on.

    The main point of unity in my eyes is that all of us who live on this small island will work together under one political roof to make the island the best it can be. Because it belongs only to the people who live on it.

    “This makes no sense. How can they be a part of “the government that rules this island” if that government is not Irish? Or are you trying to redefine the name of the island?”

    I meant a Dublin government will not directly rule the north but I can’t edit posts on this. Leinster House and Stormont will work together, much as they do now, except London won’t have final say about the north anymore.

  • Greenflag

    @ andrew gallagher,

    ‘you’re confusing ethnic “unionists” with political Unionists,’

    I’m not . I don’t have any issues with unionists as people they are no different than anybody else i.e the good the bad and the ugly and of course the misunderstood . It’s just the ‘politics ‘ of unionism I don’t get . I understand how and why ‘unionism ‘ originated and I understand how and why both the Acts of Union of Scotland and Ireland came about etc and I can even sympathise with the ‘unionist ‘ predicament up to a point and I would’nt want to lose a drop of blood mine or anybody else’s to impose or defend a UI or Repartition or NI independence .But I don’t see where ‘unionism ‘ is going to and neither do I suspect do most ‘unionists ‘ .

    We all tend to stick our fingers in our ears as regards usage of the term Ireland . It’s part of the ‘reducing ‘ phenomenon that’s particularly prevalent in the English language anyway .

    If anybody asks where I’m from I simply say Ireland . They can interpret that whichever way they want . If pressed further I’ll say Dublin and if they ask me if that’s in the Good Ireland (the South /Republic / ROI or the other part the North/ Northern Ireland /Ulster /Six Counties /Protestant Part/ piece ruled by England etc my reply is – here take a biscuit and drink your coffee/tea before it gets cold and change the subject to something more interesting like Mongolian hunting birds of prey .

    That’s not avoidance it’s just common sense . I’m afraid to say that most foreigners are not bothered at the complexities of the terminological semantics or finer points and I know that’s true also of most Irish people who only ‘tighten’ up their politico geographical referential lingo re things Irish if they happen to be in a situation where it might matter or offend .

    As to some future broadening of modern Irish ‘identity ‘ It’ll happen anyway as the country is already absorbing the several hundred thousand immigrants who come from parts of the world further away than 70 miles up the road.

  • RoC,

    How am I meant to modify my Irishness in the west of Ireland to make predominantly Protestants in the north of Ireland feel more comfortable being Irish, Andrew?

    By not confusing a social project with a political project for a start. I was talking about Irish identity and you segued quite neatly into a future United Ireland without taking care to distinguish the two. Even if there is never a politically united Ireland, we still have to deal with the island identity. The landmass and the sea keep us shackled together. Any inclusive notion of Irishness has to be location-based, transcending ethnic divides and politics.

    It is all well and good to say there are many different kinds of Irishness, but you imply they all involve a united Ireland. It should be possible to be both a patriotic Irishman and a committed Unionist. The IRFU is in the vanguard with this, but even it hasn’t yet got it right.

    GF,

    Unionism by definition isn’t ‘going’ anywhere, it’s about maintenance of the status quo. I don’t really understand political Unionism myself, but I’m trying.

    We all tend to stick our fingers in our ears as regards usage of the term Ireland .

    Yes, we do. And it’s central to our problems.

    Immigrants from farther away are fundamentally different – they came here of their own accord. Yes, Irish identity will broaden as a result, but many of them will be assimilated within a generation or so. And they don’t bring the same political baggage.

  • Republic of Connaught

    “Even if there is never a politically united Ireland, we still have to deal with the island identity.”

    But the island identity is simple and straightforward for the vast majority on the island. It’s for the minority who have issues with it to sort out their own issues and decide for themselves individually what they have in common with most of their fellow islanders rather than what makes them different.

    “It is all well and good to say there are many different kinds of Irishness, but you imply they all involve a united Ireland. It should be possible to be both a patriotic Irishman and a committed Unionist.”

    I’m afraid there’s an innate contradiction in being a patriotic Irishman and a Unionist. A patriotic Irishman’s first loyalty is to Ireland and all of its people. Same as a patriotic American’s first loyalty is to America and its people etc. etc.. Unionists in NI’s first loyalty is to six of Ireland’s counties where there’s a Unionist majority and then subsequently to the UK, which is the sovereign state of the British, not Irish, nation.

    The difference, Andrew, between being patriotically Scottish and British or Welsh and Britsh and being patriotically Irish and British in the north is the Scots and Welsh don’t have to turn their back on a sovereign Scottish or Welsh state and thus the majority of their own countrymen in favour of the UK, because a sovereign Scottish or Welsh state doesn’t exist.

    People in the Northern Ireland, Protestant or Catholic Unionist, have to reject their countrymen in the rest of Ireland in favour of Britain to maintain British rule in the north and in doing that they prove their patriotism to be British and not Irish.

  • You’re confusing patriotism with nationalism. There were a great many patriotic Unionists cheering for Tommy Bowe last weekend, for example. Not everything is or should be defined by politics.

    But the island identity is simple and straightforward for the vast majority on the island. It’s for the minority who have issues with it to sort out their own issues and decide for themselves individually what they have in common with most of their fellow islanders rather than what makes them different.

    That sounds an awful lot like the majority will define Irishness and the minority can like it or lump it. How about you decide what you have in common with unionists and offer them something they can sign up to?

    “There’s more of us than there are of them” is a failed argument and a poor excuse for inaction.

  • Republic of Connaught

    “You’re confusing patriotism with nationalism. There were a great many patriotic Unionists cheering for Tommy Bowe last weekend, for example. Not everything is or should be defined by politics.”

    George Washington, Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle, Michael Collins were all great patriots. And all believed in the political sovereignty of their nations. Patriotism and a nationalist spirit are inextricably linked.

    “That sounds an awful lot like the majority will define Irishness and the minority can like it or lump it. How about you decide what you have in common with unionists and offer them something they can sign up to?”

    Unionists must decide for themselves what they can sign up to. The minority British Muslim community in he UK might not see their Britishness in the same way as the majority which are British Christians but they find ways to still be comfortable with the identity despite their differences.

    That’s a task Unionists have to figure out for themselves in Ireland.

  • Patriotism and a nationalist spirit are inextricably linked.

    Just like morality and religious observance? These are pernicious ideas designed to suppress dissenting opinion. If you don’t go to church on a Sunday you are wicked. If you don’t support national independence you are a traitor. How dare you disagree with all these fine upstanding figures from history.

    Conformist hogwash, the lot of it.

    Unionists must decide for themselves what they can sign up to. The minority British Muslim community in he UK might not see their Britishness in the same way as the majority which are British Christians but they find ways to still be comfortable with the identity despite their differences.

    Some do and some don’t. The majority could do a lot more to make the minority feel more welcome. Asking minorities to make all the compromises does not work.

  • Greenflag

    @ Andrew Gallagher ,

    ‘ I don’t really understand political Unionism myself’

    An honest man .

    ‘ but I’m trying.’

    If at first you don’t succeed try again by all means but no need to be a bloody foll about it . Sometimes it’s just best to stop trying and try something else 😉

    ‘And it’s central to our problems.’

    Our ? We (in ROI ) have some more serious problems right now -theres not a lot of space left over for concerning ourselves with the pathology of the unionist psyche .

    ‘Immigrants from farther away are fundamentally different’

    You may think that and of course superficially they may seem to be but they’re still flesh and blood human beings and carry all the baggage that humans carry whenever they move somewhere else for whatever reason .

    ‘ they came here of their own accord. ‘

    Some I’m sure. Some were forced out of their own countries. most came for economic opportunity and a chance to better themselves and some for personal resons which only they know.

    And it was no different for the ‘ancestors of most of today’s unionists back in the 17th century . the onset of colder winters and famines in Scotland drove many south and across to Ulster . The opportunity for ‘instant ‘ wealth drove the adventurers from the City of London in the aftermath of the collapse of the old Gaelic order after the Flight of the Earls . While it’s true that they did bring baggage what was problematic was the ‘religious difference’ baggage which cut them off from the majority of the island’s population . And of course in the 17th and 18th and 19th and even into much of the 20th century this baggage was critical in maintaining their separation from the rest of the island’s political development . But it was never 100% as we see from the 1798 rebellion in Antrim and the later important contributions of people of Anglo Irish protestant background and even English background to the cause of Irish nationalism and political independence and/or home rule .

    As to it being possible to be a unionist and a patriotic Irishman unlike ROC above I would’nt say it’s impossible except from a narrow theoretical point of view .

    In practice as opposed to in theory there have been many Irishmen of non unionist background who believed that by taking up arms to defend the UK they were also defending Ireland . Some do so even today .

    I’ll agree that all of us on this island need to broaden our perspective to the outside world and it would do us all good even ‘unionists ‘ not to view it (the outside world) solely through a UK focused lens . Historically we’ve been forced by reason of force majeure to hide behind or to be hidden behind the larger island both for reasons of defence of the latter and reasons of economic dependency .

  • GF,

    theres not a lot of space left over for concerning ourselves with pathology of the unionist psyche

    More cheap condescension.

    And it was no different for the ‘ancestors of most of today’s unionists back in the 17th century

    But we are not talking about the ancestors of today’s unionists. You cannot compare first-generation migrants with twelfth- or twentieth-generation settled minorities.

    As to it being possible to be a unionist and a patriotic Irishman unlike ROC above I would’nt say it’s impossible except from a narrow theoretical point of view

    You should get out more. Perhaps you should reserve judgement on unionists until after you’ve met a few. Sluggerites are not a representative breed.

  • Greenflag

    ‘More cheap condescension.’

    Not intended . Is this updated amendment less condescending then ?

    ‘Theres not a lot of space left over for concerning ourselves with the pathology of the unionist or nationalist psyches’

    ‘But we are not talking about the ancestors of today’s unionists.’

    We’re talking about people -they were people too just as present day unionists and nationalists happen to be people with all that that implies i.e the good , the bad and the ugly .

    ‘You should get out more’

    I’ve probably been out more and around and seen more of the world than you have had hot breakfasts 😉

    ‘Perhaps you should reserve judgement on unionists until after you’ve met a few’

    Eh ? I’ve not only met more than a few but worked with and been friends with many . Met a few ‘bastards ‘ too but then I can say the same about nationalists , republicans and even conservatives and socialists .

    ‘Sluggerites are not a representative breed.’

    This is not news . I’m acutely aware that there are some wayward and not so wayward contributors and bloggers on slugger and some very good ones mixed in with the sometimes moon wired element .

  • GF,

    Sure, they’re all people. But they’re people coming from different places. In the case of immigrants, they instigated the change. No matter if they felt forced – by moving they took their fate in their own hands. Unionists were here already. They did not change, their country did and left them behind. What is of crucial importance is the sense of choice. It’s one thing to make an agreement up front, and another thing entirely to alter an existing one.

    We must move in different circles. Maybe it’s a C of I thing, or maybe unionists talk differently when they know you’re in the room. 😉 I can tell you I know plenty of unionists who have no problem with their Irishness, so long as you don’t confuse it with nationalism or Catholicism. Paddy’s day, shamrocks, Guinness, whiskey with an E, rugby. Even trad and ceili dancing, so long as you sing in English. Finn McCool, Cuchulainn, Hugh Leonard and Brian Friel. All but the most hidebound instantly become Irish the moment they set foot on foreign soil, perhaps because it’s easier than trying to explain, also because the pressure to constantly differentiate yourself from themmuns is absent. But every single one will stiffen up the moment you produce a tricolour, an easter lily or a Brigid’s cross.

    There is plenty of common ground to work with, so long as one understands where the landmines are buried.

  • Greenflag

    @AG,

    ‘But they’re people coming from different places.’

    It matters not . When you emigrate to /are forced to /willingly /unwillingly to another country then you adapt to or are absorbed into that country’s ‘ethos ‘ eventually or your descendants into the second and third generation etc . This doesn’t always happen and particularly when people from an imperial power are ‘foisted’ onto another country by conquest , force majeure , or economic domination . Then what develops is a ‘system ‘ in which it pays the ‘new colonists ‘ to continue serving the interests of the imperial master country and resist any moves towards independence or ‘freedom ‘ for their new country .

    This is a phenomenon seen all over the world particularly in those countries which were settled or ruled by any of the European imperial powers .

    Ireland /Northern Ireland is only different from these other examples in that it was never fully colonised nor fully accepted as being part of the Empire up to 1800 anyway and thereafter it was at best merely a resource for food and soldiery and labour and colonists for the overseas growing empire just as were other peripheral regions of Britain.

    ‘They did not change, their country did and left them behind.’

    If by they you mean NI unionists then yes -why should they they were still part of the UK and had been for at least a century . As to their country changing ? The majority of people on the island of Ireland changed from an acceptance of being part of the UK to one of initially Home Rule and when that became impossible then independence .

    ‘But every single one will stiffen up the moment you produce a tricolour, an easter lily or a Brigid’s cross.’

    Understandable to a point especially if any of the offending items are being rammed down one’s throat -ditto for the reverse Union Jack , sash or purple -but then that goes with the ‘territory’ of being a ‘unionist ‘ in Ireland as opposed to say an Englishman or anybody else who see it just as the local flag etc .

    But if the sight of the above offensive items cause ‘unionists ‘to stiffen then theres nothing I can do except suggest

    a) they get over it or
    b) Look on the bright side and think of all the money that can be saved on viagra by keeping one or other of the ‘stiffening ‘ items close by for use when appropriate .

    BTW The best course to take with landmines is not to leave them buried but to dig them up and get rid of them permanently . They don’t do any good not on a small island like Ireland anyway and nowhere else either.