Peaceniks should be enhancing diversity not trying to make it disappear…

Interesting piece from Brian Feeney in yesterday’s Irish News on the Community Relations Council’s Peace Monitoring report (see Alan’s post here, and Chris’s follow up here). Let’s just say, he’s not impressed:

Look there isn’t going to be cohesion or integration. If there were, then we wouldn’t be talking about a politico-ethnic conflict. What the executive needs to be doing is addressing sectarianism and that doesn’t mean abolishing diversity as the Alliance party wants or trying to wish away the two communities as the Peace Monitoring Report seems to have as its ideal.

On the contrary it means enhancing diversity. Let’s face it, a substantial proportion of the population doesn’t even recognise the legitimacy of Norn Irn, so for the report to pose the question ‘One Northern Ireland?’ is fatuous and redundant. What the report’s statistics show is that the Catholic community, particularly educated Catholic women, are at last taking their rightful place in the north’s society.

The questions the report’s authors should be asking are how to ensure Protestants feel secure and not threatened by this phenomenon. Instead they talk gibberish about cohesion and integration and one society, which only makes the Protestant community feel it is going to be swamped in a Fenian tide.

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  • HeinzGuderian

    Anyone still using the protestant/catholic labels,really shouldn’t be taken too seriously at all.

  • I can see where Feeney is coming from, but I think he’s being paranoid. I don’t know of anyone seriously suggesting that we eradicate all trace of difference. Accusing Alliance of promoting cultural homogeneity makes me wonder what he’s been smoking recently.

  • Mick – I’m expecting CRC to reply in the Irish News at some point over the next few days. Brian Feeney was never going to be impressed with the report. He starts by nailing his anti-CRC colours firmly to his mast:

    Being a report emanating from the Community Relations Council, there is a certain view in operation plus teh usual CRC arrogance and self-importance, extraordinary for an organisation that has achieved nothing in 23 years of existence.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s ever been Brian’s provocative style. But I think his substantive point is the one about diversity.

  • Politico68

    It is completely ridiculous to suggest that Unionists and Nationalists should forget about their particular cultural background and all live together like an army of pink cuddly puppies in a dog food factory. It is perfectly normal for people with the same cultural background to homogenise around each other. The areas where there are still signs of hatred and tension should be helped out of their polar opinions through education delivered through their community organisations, schools, religious etc. The community come together every day of the week when they all go to work, then they head home to their families and communities who are normally of the same background. It is perfectly normally behaviour in any society. The overwhelming majority of Prods and Cats or unionists and Nationalists or whatever tag you want to use are happy to be living in a peaceful society and get on with their lives, The few idiots that wish to stir tensions are failing miserably.

  • iluvni

    They’d be better off investing their time and resources in establishing a strategy to assist nationalists and republicans to come to terms with ‘Northern Ireland’

  • Politico68

    ‘They’d be better off investing their time and resources in establishing a strategy to assist nationalists and republicans to come to terms with ‘Northern Ireland’’

    Why waste time doing that? The six counties exist as a political jurisdiction , some like it, some don’t. No big deal. Invest time and money in creating jobs might be a better idea?

  • slmccni

    If I am not mistaken Brian Feeney (being a former student of his myself) stood in the past for the SDLP. This is very much evident in his response. The Alliance may be mistaken in thinking that we can all mould together into one uniform NI but those who are sceptical of the idea must not be so pessimistic at the idea. All of the language used clearly defines the multi-community aspect of the idea and not once are words used which would incline observers to think that the lines between nationalist and unionist are to be scrubbed out and all will be forced to hold hands.

    What needs to be made more transparent is whether CSI aims to blend the many identities that we have now and make everyone Northern Irish (unlikely), whether it will create conditions where identity is seen as a personal thing and not a community defining, geographically limiting term or whether we should continue with our “shared-out” existence as it only causes problems once a year.

    IMO the main aim of this policy should be to draw the line between identity and the state. Both communities participate in the running of this state (regardless of their opinion on its existence) so it should not be seen as an issue to break the link between community and education for example. As a product of Catholic school I am all to aware of the latent personal views that teachers impart on their students. On the one hand pastoral care would teach us that protestants are Christians like us and we have nothing to fear from them. On the other hand geography and history, despite the syllabus have an all-Ireland basis. Even identity in school being designated as IRISH catholic. All of this helps to raise a generation who are not only geared against the existence of the state in which they live but also see themselves as distinct from others within it and in a way unable to reconcile the distinction.

    Detaching the state and its bodies from ideology and the two communities needs to be tackled before we even consider coercing people into sharing when they have been bred not to share.

  • slmccni,

    I agree, but I would also add that coercion must never be seen to take place. It is one thing to throw open the doors and tell people that they’re free to mix if they want, and another to herd them all into a new pen. The very process of people diffusing and mixing among each other over time will produce a new continuum, which will be broader than any prescriptive plan could contemplate. This is of course A Good Thing (TM).