Imagining a Shared Stormont of Tomorrow

In May 2015, the Stormont Executive and Assembly agreed in principle, through its Assembly Commission, to transform the grounds of the estate into a powerful representation of the troubled history of our peoples. Below, a tour guide describes what can be seen from the deck of the tour bus:

As you travel through the main gates, on your left you can see twin statues which pit two stern faced men against one another: King William of Orange and Patrick Sarsfield, recalling the years of the Williamite Wars in Ireland. The mini statues of the geese in the small pond beneath the figures recall the Flight of the Wild Geese. The orange lilies in the tidy garden beside the pond represent the Orange tradition which remembers this conflict annually in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.

Just ahead on the right, there is a monument upon which the words of Seamus Heaney’s ‘At a Potato Digging’ have been etched, recalling the effects of An Gorta Mor, the famine, in Ireland. The statue is of William Sharman Crawford MP, who was Chairman of the Newtownards Board of Guardians during the famine. The small field (patch of ground) behind the wall is used for planting potatoes by children from local schools which, when harvested, are eaten by the members of all parties in the Northern Ireland Executive as part of a special shared meal with one another, their Dublin counterparts and the British Secretary of State annually in Stormont.

Further along can be found the statues of Rev Henry Cooke, leading 19th century unionist figure (the statue was moved from College Square East in Belfast in 2016.) Facing Cooke can be found a statue of Joseph Biggar, a leading nationalist political figure of the 19th century.

The impressive statue of Edward Carson, unveiled in 1933, predated the recent renovation by some 80 odd years, but in reality it belongs to a different place: a time when Northern Ireland was not a shared entity but rather one exclusively reflective of the dominant British and unionist tradition.

Carson remains where he was originally located, but to his left can be found a statue incorporating two figures: one is the famous signatory of the 1916 Proclamation, James Connolly, and alongside him the republican and trade union activist, Winifred Carney. Carney’s story defies our troubled history: a Bangor born Irish republican, close ally of Connolly who went on to marry a Shankill Road Orangeman and former Ulster Volunteer. The floral display at the foot of the monument includes Easter lilies, symbolising the Irish republican tradition.

The Many Faces of Us garden on the left as we approach Carson and Connolly includes tributes to Harry Ferguson (famous inventor), Thomas Andrews (shipbuilder), CS Lewis (author), Seamus Heaney (poet), Thomas McCabe (18th century founder of United Irishmen and noted anti-slavery business leader) and Inez McCormack (renowned feminist and trade union activist.)

It is said that it is exactly one mile from the gates of the estate to Carson’s statue. But just beyond the statue and on the slope leading up to the steps of Parliament Buildings sits the final statue: that of two seated figures, comfortably sitting beside one another and smiling as they gaze down on Carson and what has passed. It is said that the two figures represent Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, political giants loathed and revered in almost equal measure, individuals who define our collective baggage, contradictions and yet developing capacity to compromise and ultimately face into a shared future together. The figures face east, inspired by the Buddhist conviction that enlightenment could be reached by meditating on the rising sun.

That concludes this part of our tour, but remember to look out for the statues of Lord Craigavon and Joe Devlin when you enter into Parliament Buildings itself.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Great article Chris, I’m a fan of the imagined-future pieces 😉

  • barnshee

    Then we come across a series of bronze reliefs the first depicting the Omagh bombing then the Enniskillen remembrance bombing– then on to an apparently endless depiction of men women and children being bombed and murdered with careful juxtaposition of the perpetrators (“heros” ) of the struggle with a detailed description of the “events” leading to their “heroic status””

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Chris
    Had you and SF spoke out against the retention of the name of McCreesh Park in the interests of a ‘shared space’ then I ‘might’ be inclined to believe the sincerity of this article.

    You did not (as far as I recall). SF did not.

    Ergo, ‘cobblers!’.

    This is ‘shared space’ carry on is a useful vehicle for SF that can seemingly only traverse one-way streets (unless there are TV cameras there, then it can do a U-turn and shake hands with the Queen).

    It is not genuine. It is a façade.

  • Deke Thornton

    Before leaving the building, a sudden-blinding- apparition appears to all who enter. The Golden shrine to the English Taxpayer. However this apparition is dismissed by tour guides as a freak phenomenon and no-one must mention it for fear it may one day disappear and the LEGOLAND freak show with it.

  • Korhomme

    just for a moment I imagined you were thinking of Francis Joseph Biggar, a Belfast solicitor and antiquary. he certainly was sympathetic to the nationalist cause, though not a politician.

  • siphonophorest

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  • SeaanUiNeill

    My grandfather’s old friend (and patron) F.J. “Frank” Bigger was probably a much bigger influence on local culture in all its forms than anyone else mentioned above. Interesting that his entirely political uncle Joseph Biggar (same family, but using an “a” rather than an “e” in the spelling) gets his statue above…..

    Frank gets easily pegged as a nationalist, but for him, the rather one sided affair that goes under that name which we are familiar with today would be a very “strained through a sheet version” of the full blooded complex and contradictory reality he considered as Irishness. Frank’s “nationalism” took in every expression of Irishness, including every aspect of those contrary folk in whom Frank traced his own antecedents who are so cussedly Irish they do not appear to think that they are Irish at all. Very much a “unity in great diversity” vision of Ireland, and someone who worked arguably harder for an Irishness incorporating and reconciling this diversity than anyone else mentioned in the piece.

    A neat summation, here, of Frank for anyone still unfamiliar with him:

    http://www.ardrighbooks.com/fjb.html

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I simply don’t believe SF’s enthusiasm for ‘shared space’.

    I’m happy to call out the OO and political unionism when they’re messing up, by the exact same token I’ll call the Shinners out on it too.

    They claim ‘shared space’ and then ‘named’ (or rather endorsed) a park after McCreesh, that is a clear contradiction only ever countered with whataboutery.

    A number of nationalists and republicans on this site commendably agree that SF messed up on that particular point.

    With that in mind is it really so wrong for me to highlight this inconsistency?

  • Ernekid

    I like the idea for the Famine memorial. After all the Famine affected all people in Ireland regardless of religious tradition. The blight didn’t take into account whether you were Protestant or Catholic.

  • Deke Thornton

    Frank Kitson is the only person of that first name to deserve recognition in our little parish. It was the Brigadier who sowed the seeds of bringing ‘peace’, albeit through a not very transparent mechanism.

  • chrisjones2

    I welcome the Devlin statue. I never agreed with his politics but seem to recall that the first time I ever voted I gave him apreference for the man that he was.

    I also think that Gerry Fitt should be there – perhaps in bas relief guarding the top of the stairs in house when PIRA led a mob to burn him out but I doubt that imagery would be acceptable to today’s republicans – too many uncomfortable memories

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  • Zeno

    Line the road up to Stormont with 3500 white coffins and let them reflect when they look out the windows.

  • Reader

    Chris, you left out most of our Nobel prize winners. Very much a cross-community bunch.

  • Granni Trixie

    There are few if any symbols or even language to Represent (for want of anything better) ‘the middle ground’. However, people such as Bon Cooper who was instrumental in bringing in Fair Employment legislation deserve recognition and in doing so would be recognising the existence of people like me. Some call it the third tradition.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    That is a fine outfit he’s modelling!

  • siphonophorest

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  • T.E.Lawrence

    Interesting inclusion of Henry Cooke. When Republicans where doing an ISIS (Cultural Cleansing) I was always surprised how the ‘Blackman’ did not get obiliterated ?
    https://telawrenceblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/cultural-cleansing/

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “He’s not a representative of SF.”

    Not from a lack of trying. He is (at least until recently) a SF member and seldom critical (if ever) of SF.

    My assumptions regarding Chris’s silence on SF park are not off the cuff “what he DIDN’T say” knee-jerk reactions rather they are based on his contributions to Slugger O’Toole over the past couple of years.

    We have butted heads on occasion but it is by no means is a given that I automatically disagree with everything that he says and I certainly don’t draw my conclusions lightly so you can drop the faux outrage act.

    IF he is opposed to or disapproves of SF’s endorsement of McCreesh park then I’d like to hear it.

    Till then, my cynicism regarding SF’s enthusiasm for things like equality, neutrality and shared space remains robust.

    Now, if you’d care to highlight the inconsistency in my stance of seeing the McCreesh naming affair as directly at odds with idea of ‘shared space’ please go ahead, you’d be one of the very few to do so.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Frank Kitson, eh, Deke, well each to his own, and pretty glad you’re confining his recognition to a single parish. As Tacitus quotes one great Gael as telling the Romans: “solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant ” And, regarding those methods you extoll, as Ghandi said, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

    I’d stick with Frank Bigger and the enrichment of the life of every portion of our community through culture myself.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Zeno, why stop at anything as arbitary as the last fifty years? You could have a line of coffins reaching to the Atlantic (at least!) if you took the period since 1541 into account……….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Do these bronzes simply commemorate one experience or do they represent the entire communities (not just one portions) deep memory all the way back to 1541?

    Repelled as I am at the valorisation of any of the murderers in our five century long civil war, I do not see how this does not apply equally to both communities in their long historical quarrel. All who suffered from the brutality of the “ever right” of either persuasion need to be taken into account.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed it is! Frank was the “onlie begetter” of the Irish Kilt, for if we’d followed the collective opinion of the conference on national dress instead, Irish military pipers. etc, would be wearing something much nearer the Dungiven costume, something Pádraig Mac Piarais described as “a man in his long johns who had forgotten his trousers”. I have a photo of P. T. McGinley somewhere on file wearing this, but a page with my old friend Simon Chadwick the harper wearing a modern copy will have to do for now:

    http://www.simonchadwick.net/harp/costume.html

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thanks for the link to the interesting blog, T.E! I do hope that it will not give anyone any ideas……….

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Seaan, Thank Goodness we have wised up from those bad days, I do not agree with the destruction of any historical cultural man made monuments built across the world, it denies future generations of a phsyical seen history of past times.

  • Zeno

    Simple Seaan, Stormont is inhabited by people who where directly and indirectly responsible for those 3500 deaths.

  • barnshee

    “Do these bronzes simply commemorate one experience or do they represent the entire communities (not just one portions) deep memory all the way back to 1541?”

    Thery represent the entire communities highlighting the actors and detailing their acts

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Delighted to hear it. Thank you! I will look out the bronze relief representing Sir Henry Sidney’s vilification and hounding to assassination of my illustrious namesake with some interest, alongside those of the inhuman atrocities of the Elizabethian conquest and after.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Met both of them occasionally in the 1960s in my callow youth, chris. That was at a time when there was some kind of labour movement and we did not have the Tweedledum/Tweedledee choose between the current threadbare variants of neo-con wannabes…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Sadly, I have rather less faith in human nature than you seem to have. Perhaps you are simply a better person than cynical old me. I was told at coffee at Culturlain last year that the shiny new (and utterly inappropriate) cross erected over Frank Bigger’s grave by some sweet, well meaning but visually illiterate people to replace the original fine revival Celtic Cross inexplicably blown up at the time of the PD Derry march had in its turn been blown up. I drove to Mallusk cemetery on my way back to the Glynnes, utterly convinced, and found it still in place, but I am all too ready to believe that the vandals have returned when I hear such things.

    Also, the vandalism “lite” of the removal (and sale!!!!) of the burnt out black stone shell of Antrim Castle counts as equal vandalism with its original burning with me! We have so little “material culture” anyway, that the loss of anything at all sickens me. But those blinded by politics were always selective amnesiacs……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And, Zeno, by also those who would approve (at least retrospectively) the system of colonialism built on the other deaths. I offer no priority treatment for any of the dead whose ends have been the foundation of the good fortune of some amongst us, they are all, in the final analysis, just as dead.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Good Post ! Agree !

  • Croiteir

    Nah – more pandering to the ourweeulster mob, just turn it into a parador and allow people to share it that way.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “the best course for nationalism is to ignore you shower because you are all, to a man, round the f’ing bend & it is a complete & utter waste of time to attempt engaging you”

    So much for the “shared space” … as we suspected.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I like the spud dinner idea

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m not sure Cooke and Carson are the best representatives for unionism in there. We’re stuck with Carson perhaps. But I’d be honouring Trimble as the man who made the shared future possible and grudgingly John Hume, just to show I can accept having people I don’t like in there. I’d have a place too for Paddy Devlin. As another unionist figure, how about the leader that never was, Rev Robert Bradford http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bradford_(Northern_Irish_politician). Not my kind of politician either but his presence there for eternity would represent the triumph of democracy over paramilitarism.

    And any figure representing terrorists in a positive light would I think have no place in the shared space. Though I would be open to a representation of some terrorists outside the grounds, in an Anthony Gormley kinda way, behind a big fence, on their knees, humiliated, defeated and drowning in the bones of the dead, having to look in at the beauty and calm inside: what the world looks like without them.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    What, these narrow-minded, ill-educated bigots? http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b054yhkz/imagining-ulster-episode-1
    Yes, they have no ideas …

  • siphonophorest

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  • Zeno

    Unfortunately there exists no opportunity to rub the noses of dead perpetrators in it. But the ones who are alive and swanning are fair game.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Just a reminder of the story here. Am Ghobsmacht said, “I simply don’t believe SF’s enthusiasm for ‘shared space’.” You took issue with that but in doing so let slip “the best course for nationalism is to ignore you shower because you are all, to a man, round the f’ing bend & it is a complete & utter waste of time to attempt engaging you (unionism)”. I then said that seemed to make AG’s point.

    So now we’re here and my question is, what are you saying then exactly: that SF is genuine about “shared space”? If so, how does that square with your saying there is no point engaging unionism?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    An art work I’d like to see depicted as a warning to history: Gerry Fitt’s front door on the Antrim Road, which I regularly went past in the 80s, usually paint bombed and daubed with disgusting, offensive graffiti by Republicans.

    Or more disturbingly still, how about this for a fountain for the new complex: a statue of a child tied to a lamp-post, with another child urinating onto them (it could be a water feature). This is what happened to one of Fitt’s children.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Do you have anything more concise?

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  • smeeho

    Quick question, is Stormont big enough to hold all these pieces of art and countless memorials? Seems to me that if we’re going to cram every symbol and every icon in, we may need to start planning an extension.

  • Tacapall

    Robert Bradford who was a member of TARA along with the paedophiles McGrath and that serial murderer John McKeague of the Red Hand Commandos or what about their connections to the UVF or Davy Payne remember him, yes we could even put a notice board explaining the connections to Kincora, British intelligence, loyalist paramilitaries, murder and the mutalation of children.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “A. Chris is not in SF, does not speak for SF”

    When exactly did Chris leave SF?

    B. There is so much in the article but you skip straight to shooting the messenger with a serving of dark cynicism.

    I don’t have a great deal of gripe with the article’s content per se, some I like, some I don’t, it’s the double standard of supporting SF when they speak of things like shared space and equality and being prepared to turn a blind eye to things like McCreesh.

    I make no bones about not liking SF, but the reason why I don’t like them is because they talk out of both sides of their mouths. Yes, all political parties do but SF give themselves the extra standard to up hold of ‘equality’ which is a very finely defined area in their book i.e. they get to pick and choose what is equality.

    “. If that’s your standard for scrubbing from the public space then there is going to be a lot of Imperial/British/Unionist names, iconography that will have to go too. Cromwell for a start

    I said it before, these names came from a previous era and administration that the likes of McCreesh claimed to be very opposed to yet here they are aping that very behaviour.

    I oppose naming places after controversial figures in this day and age but I also oppose re-naming places just because the goalposts have moved or someone’s name has been successfully blackguarded (not Cromwell, obviously, he was always controversial).

    The US (a republic) to their credit didn’t bin all their monarchy related place names e.g. the Carolinas, Georgia, the Virginnias, Maryland, Louisiana just because they were a republic that fought against various empires.

    “My favourite one will always be that Unionism was right to oppose NICRA because the IRA were involved. Craig’s statements on this are simply the best!


    I don’t really see the point in that statement, also I was on here getting stuck into Craig a couple of weeks ago, I’m on record as not being a fan.

  • Guest

    I’m pretty sure I would have remembered seeing a statue of James Connolly at Stormont.

    It’s not a reference to the Reconciliation sculpture, is it? Because that definitely does not depict Connolly.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Tac, Did Robert Bradford know that McGrath was paedophile, or that McKeague (in your words) was a serial murderer? Was he in TARA when he was murdered? That appears very like a smear job on your behalf.

    Is the leadership of the GAA at fault for allowing known IRA members, and indeed, serial killers, membership of the GAA? Should they, along with the OO, be allowed to have their culture on display in Stormont when they have allowed known serial killers to join their organisation?

  • Tacapall

    “Tac, Did Robert Bradford know that McGrath was paedophile, or that McKeague (in your words) was a serial murderer? Was he in TARA when he was murdered? That appears very like a smear job on your behalf”

    For a start Alan if you want to put people up in pedestals then make sure they have no skeletons in the cupboard first. I dont have to smear anyone if you dig deep enough you’ll see im simply exposing facts. Its irrelevant what you think Bradford knew he was still a member, a founding member of an anti Catholic organisation that was up to its neck in peadophiles, murderers and British intelligence the UVF and the UDA. Did Bradford know about McGrath well thats a secret only certain members of the UUP know, like the late James Molyneaux or even Jeffery Donaldson but I’d be pretty sure he did as thats why he was murdered, just like Edgar Graham, on the orders of British intelligence by a British agent in the IRA. Did he not know of the links between his paramilitary group and other loyalist paramilitaries and including the Orange Order where they met in Clifton Street, well thats like believing Gerry Adams when he says he was never in the IRA –

    “Weeks before his murder, Robert Bradford confided in a Conservative Party member that he had concerns about activity in East Belfast – what exactly, he never said. Over 30 years later, senior Unionist figures including local Member of Parliament (MP) Jeffrey Donaldson and former
    Ulster Unionist Party leader Jim Molyneaux, have expressed suspicion about the murder”

    “John McKeague at the beginning of the seventies was the most important paramilitary figure in N. I. He had overthrown Terence O’Neil by a series of ‘agent provocateur’ bombings and street disturbances which backed Paisley’s political agitation with devastating effect. He became leader of the Red Hand Commando Loyalist paramilitary group set up with the help of British Intelligence as a pseudo-gang. It was directed from ‘Six’ local HQ in the Culloden Hotel at Craigavad, beside MI6 administrative HQ in Laneside House on Station Road”

    Are you pushing the notion that Bradford, a unionist MP did not know John McKeague or his history, that you did not know RUC special branch knew there was to be an attempt on his (Bradford) life but allowed it to happen or that Edward Heath, Lord Mountbatten were two well known personalities with abnormal sexual behaviour. Both it is believed frequented Kincora.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Tac, I’m putting no one up on a pedastal. You seem to know a lot about Robert Bradford – a lot more than me. The problem I have is that you forget that many people change their thinking over time. I’m sure that you are aware of other unionists who were involved in TARA but then rejected what they stood for. The same can be said about some republicans and their allegiances.

    Where do we draw the line in representation of of our own separate histories etc at Stormont? Are you happy to see both GAA and OO being represented there while both have allowed paramilitaries into their ranks?

  • Tacapall

    I agree totally with what you say Alan I was responding to the poster before yourself who peddled the notion that Bradford was everything and anything except the man that he was, a bit like most unionist politicians of past and some still present.

    We’re getting mixed up here Alan the GAA and the OO are institutions, people who join are individuals, you can still have the history of the GAA and the OO represented at Stormont but not the individuals who people would find insensitive.

  • barnshee

    “A. Chris is not in SF, does not speak for SF”

    When exactly did Chris leave SF?

    ??

  • barnshee

    “Bloody Sunday was obviously the murder of civilians by the army right from the beginning but for over 30 years Unionists screamed that every single person murdered was a terrorist that deserved to be killed.”

    I had the “fortune” to be in Derry on BS -If you search Slugger you will see my first hand (civilian) account
    The civilians did not deserve to be murdered -The army/police did not deserve to be attacked by bricks iron bars tins of ahem bodily fluids -and worse– I agree there is a section in protestantism which believes they deserved all they got.

    Just setting the record straight this was not a church outing – there was a rioting mob the Brits got fed up and shot some of the rioting crowd–Ciivil insurrection brought the army on to the street — deaths are inevitable

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  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Your banging on about SF is pure trolling”

    Hardly, they continually refer to things like shared space, ‘duplicated services’ and ‘neutrality’ and wot-not and I call them out on it, I’m not going to stop just because this valid point hits home or people don’t like being reminded of it.

    If I’m wrong then by all means end it by stating why I am wrong.

    “The logical outworking of your argument is that Republicans must go from 1 offensive name to 0 while Unionists remain unchanged at a metric sh*t tonne”

    Then so be it.

    I can’t advocate re-naming place names because the political flavour of the day doesn’t view them in a favourable light.

    That means every century or so names will be changed according to the norms of the day.

    Belfast was built as a Victorian era imperial industrial centre, why would you start renaming streets just because attitudes have changed?

    That’s what they did in the USSR.

    I would though be up for reverting towns or counties back to their original names (as in the towns/villages themselves, not just renaming villages after the surrounding townlands, that would be open to abuse), so Londonderry could become Derry again, County Londonderry could become Coleraine again, Draperstown could be Borbury, Larne could again be Old Fleet or whatever.

    Anyway, if it’s a logical outworking you want then please logically explain to me how someone can advocate ‘neutrality’ in public spaces and at the same time approve a name that is quite clearly NOT neutral?

    “Craig as Unionist exemplar of the general Unionist attitude NICRA.”

    Well whoopee do, how does that affect me?

  • barnshee

    My position is quite clear– anyone who got up in the morning and set out to murder another person should go away for a very long time.
    I think you will find that (unlike the murder gangs prod and mick) the police, for example, did not set out on murder missions.

    When you can provide the appropriate evidence that the murder gangs turned up in uniform–stood under a hail of abuse and worse and then shot civilians I might consider any appropriate apologia

  • Croiteir

    Are they narrow minded and bigoted – what gives you that idea or are you just making it up?

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  • MainlandUlsterman

    it was irony 🙂
    I was saying the exact opposite of that.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    like I said, not my kind of politician, but I was suggesting him because he could represent, as the most prominent local politician to be murdered in the Troubles, something about imperfect democracy triumphing over terror despite itself.

  • Croiteir

    Odd that – as no one else mentioned it. That may as well have been just another political broadcast on behalf of the NIO trying to promote a “Northern Ireland” identity, oourweeulsterism or as it is more commonly expressed laterally ourweecountryism. (UlstarScoots – OorWeeCoontryism) .

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t think it’s some kind of NIO conspiracy, just a good documentary series. Exploring aspects of specifically NI identity, whether it’s your thing or not, is very interesting for a lot of people in NI. For me personally, it was a rare chance to see an important part of my own identity discussed non-dismissively on tv. So as a navel-gazer, I was fascinated 😉

    I think it also let breathe some threads of thinking about Northern Ireland that too often get suffocated by the usual focus on the British/ Irish national allegiance divide.

    I also think it was valuable in answering the question that I’ve been asked rather aggressively many times on Slugger – aren’t you lot just a load of knuckle-dragging bigots, or at best, people providing a veneer of respectability around knuckle-dragging bigotry? Of course there are knuckle-dragging bigots out there, but “Imagining Ulster” showed there is something else going on with us too – something that isn’t just about opposing nationalist attacks, though we are forced to spend way too much of our time doing that. It showed there is a legitimate sense of identity specific to this part of the island, which is thoughtful, sensitive, passionate and real, whatever else it can also be. After “Imagining Ulster”, it can’t just be dismissed. It’s not an identity that closes off any other identities – it sits alongside them. It is a threat to no one.

  • Croiteir

    I do not accept it in anyway a place apart, you may well say the same for the so called Galloway Irish. What you are really seeing is the continuum that always existed between John O’Groats and Mizen Head being manipulated to suit a modern day political objective, one that was promoted as the program exposed by David Trimble.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree too there is a continuum of peoples across the British Isles. In that light, the secession of the Republic from the UK was an unnecessary break in that. But I accept their political right to do that.

    With the continuum though, it is not a smooth sliding scale of identity from John O’Groats to Mizen Head, as you put it. It is lumpy. And one of those lumps is in Northern Ireland.

    At the Scottish-English border, it’s not some kind of gradual transition from Scottish to English (though the old Kingdom of Northumberland was once a common land that spanned that area). You hit a point within a few miles where people go from strongly self-identifying as Scots to strong self-identifying as English. This happens all over Europe and all over the world. Sometimes the political boundaries follow those boundaries of identity and sometimes not.

    Identity is bound up with how we feel about our national belonging, necessarily. Regional NI identity became more important after NI, slightly accidentally, found itself as a new unit in 1921 due to southern Irish insistence on seceding from the Union. And it will continue to develop. It’s interesting that NI identity seems to be growing now, with around 20 per cent in the last census saying it was the leading strand of identity for them (and many others having it as a secondary pr tertiary strand). It’s something anyone interested in the place needs to engage with and understand. I thought the docco was very interesting in that regard.

  • barnshee

    Yea Yea but when did he leave SF?
    Or is he denying he was ever a member?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well yes, it is a waste of time if you can’t break the back of my main argument.

    Also, I just gave the thumbs up to reverting Londonderry city and county back to their original names, not often a unionist would agree to that eh?

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  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’d rather be blind to my cognitive dissonance that be blind to hypocritical stances.

    I’m also not blind to the fact that other posters have been called out on the policies of their party of choice, if I recall correctly for a while Turgon was constantly being pinged for TUV support (whether he is a TUV member though, I don’t know).

    So, the precedent has been set on this very site.
    Trolling implies a type of personal malice or grudge which is very far from the case, I have no problem with Chris personally and he does on occasion post some very nice if not heart warming posts.

    This could be one of them but for the shaky foundation of supporting SF who have an ever alternating stance on ‘equality’ and ‘neutrality.

    That I think that I have an argument at this stage is more to do with the non-arguments against my assertion that SF’s stance on neutrality and equality doesn’t add up.

    Square that circle if you can.