Ireland visit “her greatest achievement” says Charles. But is the Queen an argument in favour of the Union or a distraction?

Is the Queen a drag  – (wait for it) – on developing a rational and newly articulated sense of Britishness that may be needed to preserve the Union? The very civility she attracts from opponents of Britishness from Alex Salmond to Martin McGuinness may have an anaesthetising effect on  the great middle who somehow will have to deal with the challenge. On the other hand inertia on the subject of the Union may be its greatest asset, buttressed by a kind of depoliticised patriotism which has replaced the old imperialism which the Queen has  gradually come to represent. On jubilee weekend, here are couple of the more detached pieces in support of the Queen’s record, the first  from one of British patriotism’s most candid friends the military historian Max Hastings in the FT(£).

Queen Elizabeth has done nothing ungracefully and endured a public life of stultifying boredom in a fashion that has done much service to her country. A few intellectual snobs mock her resistance to culture and her anodyne conversation. But she has understood the most important thing about a modern constitutional monarch: that he or she is judged for what they are, rather than for what they do.

The second comes from the unlikely figure of playwright David Hare in the Guardian, famous for his political dramatic monologues

The Queen is perceived today to be where we might all wish to be – floating some way above the stink. And for that reason the young woman who was phoned on safari in Kenya in 1952 and told to come home immediately is 60 years later overwhelmingly popular. We are grateful that there is one British citizen who is not at the mercy of market forces and shameless profiteering, nor of a government which lacks the philosophy, the intellectual equipment or the will to control them. What was in happier times the Queen’s greatest weakness – that she does not in the circumstances of her life resemble her subjects – has paradoxically, at this point in our history, come to be her greatest strength. Republicans who have recently been cowed into silence – “not a good year for us,” admitted their spokesperson – should take heart. The vestigial idealism which has recently settled on the Queen’s shoulders is a parallel instinct to that which demands television programmes not about rubbish and a publicly funded health service, where the fit pay cheerfully to help the sick. God knows, that public idealism has few enough other places to go.

Can’t resist two items of local interest, the Orange Order jubilee commemorations in Glasgow whose street parties qualify for a council grant apparently.Ireland figured quite prominently in Prince Charles’ Tribute to the Queen, as he watched the family’s old home movies and quite a bit of official archive too. He was obviously moved as he watched  the Mountbatten funeral and added – what is new to me – that in the 1960s the Queen and the family on holiday at Balmoral used to nip over to see old family friends ( “ no trouble at all”), who I assume may be the Abercorns at Baronscourt.  He had no doubt that her  “greatest achievement” was the state visit to Ireland

In many ways, that is her greatest achievement, to have been after so many years. It completely turned around the ­situation.”

 

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  • DC

    ‘On the other hand inertia on the subject of the Union may be its greatest asset’

    Good point, i think it is also relevant in relation to Scottish independence and ulster unionism in relation to Irish republicanism, I’m not entirely sure why inertia of sorts is such an effective tactic. Perhaps because the majority backs the union across Scotland and in NI and across the Uk a majority backs the monarchy, there is little point in intervening vocally and causing a scene, any scene and unintentionally attracting attention to the minority cause?

    So long as the union/monarchy remains popular or more popular than the alternatives, i guess it is up to those looking for change to try and enter certain constituencies and sell their alternatives using their own energies. Which may be less appealing if no one creates much of a fuss making it both harder all the same to sell and in getting those people to change their minds.

  • lover not a fighter

    Undoubtably overwhelmingly popular at the moment and probably with at least some good reason.

    She manages to fulfill her public engagements without upsetting people (even the usual and unusual suspects)

    Her private views remain very private.Which is probably the most important aspect to her.

    She has spared (until now at least) Britain and the world from Charles. Even he may have wised up by now but could he be trusted ?

    Aah’ here comes the But: Extremes are not good for Monarchies and such like. Being extremely popular leaves the possibility of that change of fortune.

    The present pasivity of the Tabloid Press is worth a mention at this time. Diana had been a Goldnen Goose for them and the situation changed greatly with her demise and the trouble of todays Media.

  • Rory Carr

    ” But is the Queen an argument in favour of the Union or a distraction? “

    The distraction lies in the question. It is not so much the person of Queen Elizabith II whom the usually hagiographic Max Hastings correctly identifies as having “… done nothing ungracefully and endured a public life of stultifying boredom in a fashion that has done much service to her country”. As a monarch reigning into the 21st century the woman has undoubtedly been a marvellous success, overcoming, either through her own personality or with the aid of a hardworking gang of press functionaries and hagiographers like Hastings and the more unfortunate Nicholas Winchell of the BBC (more likely a combination of both), the foibles of her extended family.

    An ardent Republican, I have nothing ill to say of the woman herself, I have not the slightest objection to her. All in all she seems to rather a lovely woman. But “seems” is the operative word here, for where she to be a mixture of Lucrezia Borgia and Lizzie Borden it is unlikely that we would know about it. There is a compact between the press and the monarchy whereby, whatever of her children’s (or husband’s, or sister’s, or mother’s little naughtinesses) Her Majesty is herself ever radiant, ever brave, ever so hardworking in the service of her subjects. Yet despite this ridiculous wall of fictitious goodery, I suspect that Her Majesty is truly rather a good human being and am admiring of the way she has fulfilled her role.

    But therein lies the rub, it is not Her Majesty to whom I am so fundamentally opposed, it is the concept of unearned majesty , the notion that majesty, greatness itself can somehow be passed down from one quite decent human being to another who may not share that trait but must nevertheless be deemed “majestic”. Is there anyone on the planet who would broach an argument that Edward VIII had majesty, even for the short period wherein he was deemed to have? Or what of Richard III or Henry VIII; and which of the two Charles’s was majestic, pere ou fils, they surely cannot both have been ?

    It is not the monarch it is the momarchy. Enjoy your jubilee ma’am, and may we all live to celebrate the jubilee of this jubilee being the last ever such royal celebration.

  • Not a distraction…..an irrelevance.
    In two ways I think.
    First off there is nothing particuarly “royalist” about Britishness. Its only in Norn Iron that the connexion is seen…..Scotland to a lesser extent. But many Guardian reading English republicans are unionist and vitriolic about nationalism.
    There is also I think a doubt about the dubious theology of annointment and Head of a Church.
    Unionists use Royalty.
    Royalty uses Unionism.
    The second way is that if Martin McGuinness or Alex Salmond thought she had any real relevance, they would not bother so much with the civility….it is mere politeness and ritualistic and not to be taken seriously although there is some capital to be made by SDLP, watching Martin McGuinness further abandon mainstram nationalism.
    That she has not made a mistake in her reign is of course a myth. That whole death of Diana seems to be a big mistake.

    As Unionism and indeed Conservatism uses Royalty to further their own philosophy then its entirely reasonable that Nationalism should try to use it.
    I dont think its reasonable to equate politeness with sincerity.

  • Can’t help but feel that Charlie’s comments were a late addition to this piece and the headline.

    As to the original points the first suggests that if the Union is to be preserved then one of its key components ie the Queen must be sidelined; the second suggests that dull inert conservatism rules OK. The first offers up the novel prospect of the evolution consuming its own, the second evolution full stop. Thus we can safely say Long live the Queen, there ain’t no revolution around the corner.

  • Mister Joe

    Is there anyone on the planet who would broach an argument that Edward VIII had majesty, even for the short period wherein he was deemed to have? Or what of Richard III or Henry VIII; and which of the two Charles’s was majestic, pere ou fils, they surely cannot both have been ?

    Depends, of course, on who gets to write the history.

  • Mister Joe

    ..It completely turned around the ­situation…

    Charles, as usual, is talking bollocks. Apart from the diehard physical force republicans, the people of all of our countries have had friendly relations for a long long time, courtesy of trade, emigration/immigration, tourism and kinship.

  • Brian Walker

    Rory, You’d be pretty well alone in thinking of Max Hastings as a ” hagiographer” in his military history. Perhaps you’ve achieved in your life standards of scholarship I’ve somehow missed. Here he is a columnist, you see and it’s possible to disagree with him – civilly.

    fitzj.. don’t think you’re right on this one. Salmond and McGuinness in their different ways are about more than empty courtesy, like softening up opposition.

  • Rory Carr

    Brian, I was not thinking of Hastings writing on military history nor can I imagine a situation where I would employ the term “hagiographer” to describe a military historian, other than perhaps if he had written an uncritical biography of a military leader.

    When I categorise Hastings’ writings on the Queen, or the uncritical treatment of her in the Daily Telegraph while he was editor as “hagiography”, maybe I am being a bit harsh but it is difficult to resist the temptation in the light of any criticism whatsoever of the nation’s leading figure over a period of sixty years.

    I have no opinion on Hastings’ military writings although some of my Australian acquaintances most certainly do, but such is their nature that they are unfit for publication in a family newspaper.

  • Mr Walker,
    I take that point fully.
    “Softening up opposition” is a step up from “empty gesture” but neither Salmond or McGuinness are prepared to be sincere.
    And indeed many of the goodwill messages (but certainly not all) coming out of town halls in say Rotherham and Sunderland will not be high on the sincerity scale. Its the done thing.
    The Jubilee is essentially for the Shires the Home Counties etc.
    I dont think many republicans and/or nationalists in England, Scotland, Wales or Norn Iron have many problems with “The Queen” herself but rather the tweedy cousinage around her and the sycophantic Lord & Lady Lieutentants,assorted equerry types and multiple ladies in waiting.
    I dont expect many of that circle are Labour voters or taking the Labour “whip” in the Lords.

    If “the Queen” has performed a service to monarchy itself, it might be about staying there for sixty years. Harmless nostalgia today but had she actually died in the 1970s 1980s 1990s there would be a more serious discussion on modernity and monarchy.

    Essentially its a soap opera. Parts are played. But easy to confuse character with the actor playing the part.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, its not like you to get things so wrong, but you ao far of the mark with your comments I’m hoping it is just a wind up.

    “Not a distraction…..an irrelevance.”
    over 80% want the UK to remain a monarchy, some more strongly than others, NI loyalist this time round if anything could be lagging behind the rest of the country in expressing their support.

    “There is also I think a doubt about the dubious theology of anointment and Head of a Church.”
    I rarely hear the issue discussed or mentioned, its low on the radar, however I would say monarchy without religion is much harder to sustain.

    “Unionists use Royalty. Royalty uses Unionism.”
    A great combination, they could survive without each other but are much strong together, yes Marty is taking a risk, but holding the de-facto joint FM role means he has no choice if wants taken seriously. The SDLP would be childish in the extreme to try to benefit, non-mainstream Republicans will make hay of it.

    ” That she has not made a mistake in her reign is of course a myth. That whole death of Diana seems to be a big mistake.”

    There generally has been only 2 criticisms of the Queen over 60 years, firstly that she put here duty in front of her family and paid the price. Secondly on one occasion she put her family in front of her duty, and paid the price. I think the “mistake” of protecting William & Harry at Balmoral was one of the wisest choices she made.

    If that is all you can come up with in 60 years it truely is amazing, Micheal D Higgins has probably made more gaffs in his few months in the aras.

    As Unionism and indeed Conservatism uses Royalty to further their own philosophy then its entirely reasonable that Nationalism should try to use it.
    I dont think its reasonable to equate politeness with sincerity.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi All,

    Funny how republicans get all exercised about the British Royal family. The Queen has no real power at all. Just a convenient figurehead with a bit of history that goes down well with the tourists. I’ve never heard any republicans getting as vexed about the only absolute monarch left in Europe – Benedict XVI. There is true power…

    Then again republicans aren’t that keen on Cromwell either. The first republican of note to come to Ireland…

  • lover not a fighter

    In Reply; To Conga Gael.

    I would greatfully give the final Slán (goodbye and good riddance) to Benedict XVI and to any that come after..

    And I am at the very least “A sneaking regarder of Oliver ”

    He made some mistakes but did good work into the bargain.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Lover,

    (That greeting just doesn’t sound right! But no matter…)

    Anyhow, I’m sure quite a few republicans also care little for Benedict. However, that being the case, why are they so keen on selection by religion rather than academic ability?

  • PaddyReilly

    Republicans do not get all exercised about the British Monarchy. The topic, worthy only of the third form debating society, is invariably raised by someone other than a republican, as is the case here.

    The touristic value of Bessie Battenberg and her family is minimal. Buckingham Palace is a better crowd puller when they’re not in it, and the tourists are free to wander round. The Louvre, Versailles, Fontainebleau all are tourist draws without having a French Royal Family in situ.

    Benny Ratzinger is not an absolute monarch, he was elected for life. His principality is really only one building (plus a summer house) and his subjects mostly commute in, are nearly all male, and do not include any children. He is more like the head of a corporation than a monarch.

    Cromwell was not a Republican, he was a dictator. He took a long look at every possible form of suffrage and concluded, correctly, that all of them would vote him out of office, so he shut down parliament (‘Remove that bauble’) and settled down to enjoying the prerogatives of absolute monarchy while terming himself a ‘Lord Protector’. He was succeeded by his son in ordinary monarchic fashion.

  • lover not a fighter

    Reply to; Congan Claen.

    If, and I am sure it could be a neutral enviroment then I would like all children educated together.

    What right thinking person would believe otherwise.

  • Mister Joe

    Ratzinger may not be an absolute monarch but he claims all of the privileges of one (try disagreeing with him) plus an extra one, infallibility.

  • PaddyReilly

    The average corporate head would consider it his right to hold loud parties with strippers and working girls. And then next week to announce that he is giving this all up and settling down to marriage with his secretary and personal masseuse, Miss Rita Chevrolet. I don’t think the prisoner of the Vatican could manage this.

  • Mister Joe

    PaddyReilly,

    Ever heard of pope Alexander VI? And you do know why there was a Reformation, I hope.

    http://www.nndb.com/people/159/000092880/

  • lamhdearg2

    She is doing something right, even ogras (gaelic youth clubs) applied and recieved a grant to host a jubilee party in her honour, good for them, and her.

  • JR

    lámhdhearg,

    just goes to show the diversity within the Irish language movement.

  • Greenflag

    Queenie has yet to visit Greece in her official capacity – Something to with the Greek rejection of the Duck of Edindurgh’s aristocratic forbears .Ironically the Duck himself is the personification of Greek German inheritance which lets face it must give him pause to ponder in these days of Athenian financial disintegration .

    To give Queenie her due -It would be much easier to condemn the elitist British Monarchy the source and well spring of Britain’s class/caste system and to condemn the Vatican also if there were western institutions which actually were ‘democratic ‘ role models and worthy of ‘respect ‘

    But anybody with eyes not wide shut has only to look at the mother of parliaments / the dail /the assembly /the USA Congress /the international financial plutarchy etc etc to see that not only is there something rotten in the state of Denmark but alas in many western states as well ..

    As the USA considers electing an anti European GOP president and member of an occult -polygamous religion- Mr Cameron begins the slide to political oblivion not because the Labour Party have the answers but because the neo cons don’t .

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/94033151-cameron-has-lost-grip-on-government-poll-shows.html

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Paddy,

    Republicans do get exercised by The British Royal family. However I sort of agree that it’s almost a faux outrage. The reason being that republicans aren’t really republicans. They’re nationalist. And nationalism isn’t really seen as that “cool” a look nowadays. Combine it with socialism and look where that can lead. That’s why “republicans” don’t like Cromwell. It’s simple nationalism.

    And the reason republicans support religious selection in schools? Again simple nationalism. Nothing to do with religion. The catholic church is headed by a monarch afterall so what good republican would want anything to do with it? The catholic church is being used by nationalism to further nationalistic ideas. Not republican ones.

    If the UK became a republic would Irish republicans want to rejoin?

    Oh and Benedict is an absolute monarch whether you believe it or not…

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Queen’s visit to Ireland was tremendously symbolic, and rather neatly, the move acted to disarm both extreme nationalist and unionist viewpoints – not so easy now for SF to snub the Queen, nor is it easy for unionists to claim the Irish state his hostile. This is a good thing. But let’s face it, it was an outworking of Anglo-Irish policy and it was done because the government told her to do it, not because she was acting on some sort of private initiative.

    Given these facts is that really the best thing she has to show for 60 years on the throne ? Over that period the UK and the people living in it have gone through massive change. Yet apparently nothing notable happened until a couple of years ago.

    I was sickened yesterday when I turned my TV on. The fawning cap-doffing servility was far worse even than it was for the wedding last year. BBC commentators struggled early on to find any way to describe what her reign had actually brought to the country. The opportunity was missed, sadly, for a real TV debate over precisely what the monarchy brings to the UK as a country – no doubt because cowering BBC executives feared “offending” the Queen. For Christ’s sake folks get up off your knees.

    The true purpose of what we are witnessing is a massive, sustained and expertly organized propaganda effort to lull ordinary people into believing that the monarchy serves a useful function in the complete absence of any supporting evidence. Unquestioning servility at the feet of the monarch is, apparently, now a permanent part of our national identity and culture.

  • Comrade Stalin

    That’s why “republicans” don’t like Cromwell. It’s simple nationalism.

    The distinction between a republican and an Irish Republican is very important. Cromwell was a complex character, and Irish republicans tend to define him based on some of his actions in Ireland (interpreted through a particular prism) which serves to grossly simplify the man. Few republicans in the modern age would sympathise with Cromwell’s puritanism either, for example.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DR,

    It’s kind of hard to make gaffes when your entire life is controlled, orchestrated and paid for by the State who tell you who you are, where you will go, what you will say and how you will say it.

    But the 1990s were one massive long fuckup by the monarchy. Divorces, lurid tabloid stories, family squabbling, sleaze, and long holidays in the sun – all this in the middle of a massive recession. Then you had the death of Diana and the Queen’s extremely insensitive and cold reaction to it, which was bad enough that Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell famously stepped in and told her to sort it out or face the end of the monarchy.

    I really cannot wait to see pro-monarchists dealing with King Charles as he popularizes various “lefty” causes and interferes in ministerial decisions while on the throne.

  • lamhdearg2

    I like Cromwell, I like the queen.
    Cromrade, would you say that all the folk that come to the U.K. and queue for hours for a qlimpse of the Queen, would come none the less if there where no Queen.

    Charles the third, The dIvorcee, maybe they will skip a go.

    As for the spineless one and the wino,telling the Queen to “sort it out” or else.

  • Alias

    Charles regards the job as one of using symbolism as a substitute for power, much like Irish presidents regard their role. The problem with symbolism is that it ephemeral, whereas constitutions, once amended, tend to be more enduring. No one will remember the Queen’s useless symbolism in Ireland one year from now (although Bono and the Shinners will still be on-message about how wonderful it was to hear the Queen speak in Irish), any more than anyone remembers any of Robinson’s and McAleese’s useless symbolism.

    On the other hand, they will remember the Queen as the person who stood idly by as her subjects were systematically stripped of their national rights and sovereign power by the EU that it was her constitutional duty to defend. True, none of these useless monarchs have vetoed an act of parliament in over 300 years but that doesn’t mean that she couldn’t have exercised her pejorative if she had the courage to do so.

  • Alias

    prerogative* 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    Cromrade, would you say that all the folk that come to the U.K. and queue for hours for a qlimpse of the Queen, would come none the less if there where no Queen.

    I don’t see why not, there are royal castles everywhere including in the UK that get visitors even though they serve no state function.

    On the usual lists of “top 100 things to see when you visit the UK” monarchy-related stuff is nowhere near the top and occupies at best three or four locations. When you look at the amount of money we spend on the monarch and compare it with investment in other kinds of tourism/monuments (national trust?) it starts becoming more obvious that the whole thing is a massive ripoff.

  • Greenflag

    The thing about the British that lots of us forget and alas not alias I can’t recall who made the comment (Wodehouse ?) but the trick is if you manage to live long enough they forgive all .Oswald Mosely the British Fascist was ‘shunned ‘ for years /decades but eventually ‘rehabilitated ‘into that section of British aristocratic society -ditto for Wodehouse but not Burgess or Macclean -they did’nt live long enough .So don’t be surprised folks if some day in the future an octogenarian Adams or McGuinness are photoed sharing a joke with King Charles at the Epsom Derby .

    Ghastly stuff this bowing and scraping before monarchs and pontiffs 🙁 One is reminded of the updated yarn from an earlier political era in which the chief supplicant was one Harold Wilson )

    David Cameron is told by his private secretary that two visitors are waiting to see him .

    ‘Who are they ?’ demands Cameron
    ‘The Archbishop of Canterbury and George Soros .

    ‘Show the Archbishop in first ,’ Cameron says , ‘I only have to kiss his hand ‘

  • PaddyReilly

    And the reason republicans support religious selection in schools?

    I think here the confusion is entirely yours. You are talking about themmuns, not Republicans. In your befuddled brain you lump them together with Catholics, but really these are opposite ends of the spectrum. It isn’t the Republicans who run the schools, it is the Catholics. They aren’t the same.

    Irish identity is based on three strands. One of them is Catholicism, whose political branch would be Jacobitism. The second is Republicanism, whose religious correspondent would be Theism, Deism or Non-subscribing Presbyterianism. The third is Gaelic nativism, whose religious correspondent would be a pagan version of the Fairy faith. Obviously these three are frequently incompatible, but we piece them together in a way which suits us. Other Republics do it differently, but everyone can suit themselves.

    Meanwhile, across the water, opposite the Houses of Parliament stands a statue of Cromwell, who shut it down. On the Thames there is a vast flotilla celebrating the monarchy, which he abolished. I sense that here too, there are contradictions. I also once read a book on great Scotsmen, which mentioned three: John Knox (1st among Presbyterians), Bonnie Prince Charlie (a Catholic) and Rob Roy (an Episcopalian). At a sufficient remove, one can stand for everything. Prince William, I should note, is a direct descendant of both Charles I and Cromwell.

    In an ideal Republican school system, the children or citoyens élèves, from every religious background, would come in every primidi morning and begin by singing the Hymne À L’Être Suprême http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJCiQhkxGkE and then, after a short reading from the life of Robespierre or Gerry Adams, settle down to watch on video-link the guillotining (on décadi) of all those bowler-hatted crypto-monarchists in whose houses monarchic elements have been found during the searches in the previous décade (ten day period).

    But the Irish interpretation of Republicanism does not go that far. The duty of a republic is defend itself by preventing monarchism: that is sufficient: it does not need to intervene to such a degree in everyone’s life. Advanced Republican type thinking, which we call libertarianism, holds that the state is less than adept at variety of activities, especially the care of children. Children taken into care predominantly end up as suicides and drug-users, and religious schools ordinarily outperform state ones. Therefore orphanages should be closed down, and go all out for adoption, and schooling financed by a system of vouchers, where parents make their own choices.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Paddy, it started off well and all got a bit loopy in your last paragraph.

  • Mister Joe

    The arse lickers are out in force, hoping for a crumb or two and not a Leveller to be seen. Such a pity and a disgrace.

  • Comrade Stalin

    That bunch of crusty hippies ?

  • The Raven

    “Unquestioning servility at the feet of the monarch is, apparently, now a permanent part of our national identity and culture.”

    And yet, as I heard it so succinctly put ont radio yesterday…’the republican argument in the UK is weak because their strategy requires dissolving the Monarchy and replacing it with….a politician”.

    It’s almost a ’nuff said’ moment…

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Paddy,

    “I think here the confusion is entirely yours.”

    Err, no. I’m talking John O’Dowd, Catrina and Marty. All have supported Catholic schools headed by a monarch. Yet they call themselves republican. They’re not. Compare and contrast with Peter Robinson calling for a shared education.

    “Irish identity is based on three strands”…

    … and not one of them Irish unionist. How convenient for you. You agree with Trimble then?

  • PaddyReilly

    There are, I suppose, two kinds of Republicanism: retributionary and democratic. The activities of the 1st French, and the 2nd Spanish Republics were of the retributionary kind, which may be characterised as aspiring to hang the last aristocrat with the entrails of the last cleric. Other Republics are dependant on the good will of the people. The democratic ethos means that all may participate, even those who are not Republican: in the 2nd French Republic half the deputies were (Bourbon) royalists, and a candidate for the Presidency was a Bonapartist, who eventually made himself Emperor.

    The early Republican violent imposition of Reason as opposed to religion, caste or tradition was due to the policy of the Bourbon Monarchy, where aristocracy and clergy were except from taxes, which therefore fell disproportionately on the people. When this abuse had faded from the memory, persecution tailed off. In Ireland, there has never been any call for retribution against the Catholic clergy, because they were never visible beneficiaries of the Imperialist rule. Catholic schools are a popular choice (curiously, convent schools are popular even in Pakistan), and as such politicians are obliged to accede to them. Martin McGuinness and Catriona Ruane receive votes from Catholics, and not just Revolutionary Socialists, and so very properly accommodate the demand for Catholic schooling: as, of course, do all English politicians, Labour, Liberal or Conservative.

    The borders of the Northern statelet having been carefully designed to ensure that Catholics and Nationalists were effectively disenfranchised, Unionist polititians like Peter Robinson are not dependent on their votes, and so can be indifferent to their wishes. Unionism is an ideology which holds that all or part of Ireland should be incorporated in and thus ruled by an entity which is not Ireland. Therefore, it does not form part of a particularly Irish identity, and indeed many Unionists insist that they are British and not Irish.

    It’s a strange old world in which there can be a hereditary head of state, and yet one woman, who thought she was entitled to be a hereditary Londoner and said so loudly in an Underground Train, was sent to jail for her pains.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Paddy,

    Many catholics favour grammar school education. Yet Marty et al are quite prepared to ponificate on that. No pun inteneded. Well, actually it was. However, catholic schools are to be welcomed as it “provides choice”? It’s grubby nationalism, not republicanism.

    NI borders wren’t carefully designed to disenfranchise catholics. It was Collins, etc who messed up the negotiations as they thought it wasn’t a viable state. Nearly 100 years later, it’s the Republic that is on the brink.

    The Irish identity is part of the British identity. St Patrick, Guinness, etc, etc are all British. Irish itself comes from the Errain – a British tribe from in and around modern day Bristol.