The Irish in Britain no longer need to think of themselves as emigrants

This acute essay by Niamh Mulvey is the first I’ve read to question directly the very idea – very politely – that young Irish who come over here to GB for a job should classify themselves as emigrants.

I am an emigrant, I suppose, but often that feels far too grandiose a term for a white girl who works in a shiny office in central London and can afford to come home a couple of times a year.

Yes I know the rich literature of the emigrant experience ranging from desolation to wistfulness and almost imperceptibly, into integration; , the agonising over the identity of the second generation; President Mary Robinson’s candle burning to welcome the wanderers home; and then  the traumas at the collapse of the Tiger and it all starts over again….

But in these days of the young mobile well-educated, not road builders drinking to blank out their loneliness, or frightened virginal girls with green eyes standing isolated  on the pavements grey, the typical experience is far closer to Ann Enright’s sassiness than John McGahern’s indelible marks of abuse. Terminal 1 is not like the Staten Island or Liverpool docks of a hundred or even fifty years ago. Sure, we all come from somewhere. I from Derry can bang on about it until they shut the gates again. And sure too, those of the unionist tradition scorned the idea of emigration on principle as they nervously asserted their right to belong, unsure of the reception. . But isn’t it time to fess up to the secret of our time? Identity in diverse London is about the narcissism of small differences. Today’s Irish were integrated before they got here.

  • barnshee

    Conveniently born in”Derry” in the UK and clutching (presumably) an Irish passport we have a whinge about being/not being an “emigrant”

    ” those of the unionist tradition scorned the idea of emigration”
    In what way can a British citizens born in the United Kingdom (brandishing where necessary their British passport) be classified as immigrants.?

    A large part of the problems arising Ireland/UK is the continued failure of the UK to classify and treat the “Irish” as “emigrants “

  • Robin Keogh

    This post appeals to me as my family are part of the cross section of migration between Britain and Ireland. I have had family members leave Dublin and Belfast to set up in Britain. That was back in the fifties when the irish were not always welcome, The Dublin side became part of the communities in places like ‘county’ Kilburn, while my Protestant family settles in cambridge, they had a few bob and the kids were sent to private schools in England. I was born in London to an Irish Mother and a very British English Army sergant father. My mother blended in totally becoming a conservative fan and a devotee to the royals. She never saw herself as an emmigrant, unlike her brothers and sisters who kept to their Irish roots and always regarded themselves as visitors with agrand plan to return to the ol sod someday. Of course they never came back and created handsome lives for themselves in England and Wales. The next generation (my cousins and I) would have always described ourselves as Irish first and then British second (except my Brother and Sister who saw it the other way around for them) but none felt like immigrants per se. I was educated in Ireland and spent my formative years here. I cant remember the amount of times I travelled back in forward but England was a place for holidays whilst Ireland was my home. My older siblings would tease me ; ‘the blondie little paddy’. But all of us cousins (27 of us), Protestant Catholic English irish whatever, always believed our home was with each other no matter where that might be, we still feel the same way. The British and the Irish have been integrated for deacdes if not centuries and you could probably fail to put a cigareete paper between us in tyerms of ‘difference’. Except of course when it comes to some elements of Unionism and Nationalism. Both can at times be truly unBritish and unIrish.

  • chrisjones2

    If I move from Bracknell or Worksop to London am I am immigrant

  • chrisjones2

    I agree. We are so interbred and intermarried that any differences are purely those engendered by politicians for their own selfish interests and myths

  • peepoday

    The history of the british isles and its people, is a story of emigrants,wave after wave over a number of centuries.It is nationalism that creates and promotes difference’ and the idea of natives and immigrants.

  • murdockp

    I lived in London with Scots Welsh irish and English for years. we were all the same but rivals during the rugby and footy.

    those were happy days

    the truth is the more diverse London becomes, the more similar the home nations become as all the culture is pretty similar from religion, food, arts, music, family, friends.

    the only difference we have us our history.

  • murdockp

    happening to me now. English wife, irish house, English job. English and irish cousins and grand parents.

    biggest lesson I learned was all the words in an anglican service are the same as a Catholic one .

    that really rattled my irish mother when she experienced that one.

  • Steve Larson

    “that feels far too grandiose a term for a white girl who works in a shiny office in central London”.

    Are emigrants only those from Asia or Africa.

  • Niall Chapman

    Barnshee the fact is, that although you might not consider yourself Irish, when you go to Britain and they hear your accent (assuming you have an Irish accent Northern or Southern) you are a paddy like the rest of us

  • barnshee

    You obviously have never experienced reality–( I was invariably assumed to be Scottish)

  • barnshee

    Er the” Country” is the United Kingdom

  • barnshee

    I was born in London to an Irish Mother and a very British English Army sergant father.

    Makes you English under the old” born there rule” So often waved at the ulster prods who claim to be British

  • Niall Chapman

    I live in Barcelona and have 5 friends here from Belfast/Bangor/Ballymena(Unionists and Nationalists), we socialise in a large group of people from all over Europe, and not one of us to my knowledge has ever been mistaken for Scottish

  • Mike the First

    And Glasgow or Swansea to London?
    Or are you using your own special (and pretty meaningless) definition of a “country” that isn’t relevant to this discussion?

  • Gingray

    British but not from Britain eh! It’s a legacy of colonialism, and while the descendents of colonists from the island of Britain went native after becoming the majority (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand), large numbers of those descendents in South Africa, Zimbabwe, India and Ireland where they where the minority, fled back to the mother island when they lost absolute rule.

    Northern Irelands just the last hold out, eligible for passports as a colony, but not truly British in the eyes of those from big Island.

    To be honest, being generally white, English speaking and the religious wars behind us, there ain’t much difference between Irish, Scots, English, Welsh, Aussies and Kiwis. Tend to mix quite well wherever you find us in the world.

  • doopa

    Reminds me of the difference between an ex-pat and an immigrant.

    It is a cringy article. Nothing grandiose about the word emigrant. London is also not England, as any Londoner would be quick to point out. Yes it is a lot easier to move between London and Ireland, and no you are not an immigrant in the same way as a non-EU citizen but this is also true in Amsterdam or Berlin.

  • chrisjones2

    At the rehearsal Minister asked my best man “Have you been baptised my son”

    “Yes father” he said

    Later he said to me “Thank God he didn’t ask what Church I was baptized in”

    “When you called him father I think he may have guessed” I replied.

  • doopa

    Possibly more likely to happen in England.

  • submariner

    Why then do Unionists persist with the myth that NI is a country or worse still a Nation?

  • Niall Chapman

    A country which should supposedly have more experience of Irish, Scottish and every other accent given their large scale immigration?

  • Patrick Murphy

    Staten Island?

  • Korhomme

    I had an odd conversation with a colleague a couple of months ago. He says he is a Celt and therefore had been in Ireland ‘forever’. I suggested that there was nobody in Ireland during the Ice Age, and that we are all migrants. I could not

    get him to see this.

    As for me, my mythological ancestors go back to the High Kings, a daughter who eloped; at some time a move to Scotland, then being ‘planted’ in Antrim; and ancestors from the north and the south of Ireland; and ancestors from England, Wales and further back, Huguenots from France. The kids can add continental ancestry to all this.

    Where do I belong?

  • Brian Walker

    High Anglican?

  • Brian Walker

    just when we were all getting along so well..

  • Brian Walker

    long may their “failure” continue barnshee

  • Turgon

    “not road builders drinking to blank out their loneliness, or frightened virginal girls with green eyes standing isolated on the pavements grey,”

    Apart from being a ridiculous stereotype of people moving from Ireland in the past this manages to be both racist and misogynistic in one pretended literary sentence. It also adds nothing to the post.

    Maybe time, Mr. Walker, to join the twenty first century in your writing especially towards women. The post would have been none the less relevant or interesting for dropping that sentence.

  • Turgon

    This is typical of people interested in their genealogies. They make great play of being related to kings, lords etc. In reality most people’s ancestors mainly consisted of poor peasant farmers and workers. They always seem less exciting though to the genealogy brigade.

  • Korhomme

    It was my paternal grandfather who did the genealogy, not me. The planters in Antrim were farmers, I believe around Doagh; later a couple were ministers, a considerable step up. Grandfather also worked out a relationship with Queen Victoria. I just find that amusing, and a reflection of the social mores of the times. The relationship with Diarmud and Grainne is mythological, but entertaining and romantic.

    Otherwise, my ancestors include a foreman in a submarine shipyard. I am not in any way ashamed of this; his ancestors were Huguenots, though I don’t know what they did.

  • Colin Lamont

    Agreed. My grandmother and her friends were mistaken countless times as Scottish in Blackpool. Although to be fair, they all have rather broad Larne accents!

  • Turgon

    Though you did not mention it at first. Initially you were more keen to tell us about High Kings: they were the first you mentioned.

  • barnshee

    It’s in the name United kingdom and NI problems arise because sections of the community could not keep their knickers on produced unsustainable pressure on state resources and whilst refusing to recognize the state that fed clothed housed and educated them

  • barnshee

    A total contrast to my experience in Barca a a waiter mistook me for a Scot–when denied he said ah– Northern Irish

  • Janos Bingham

    The Oxford Dictionary has it as ‘a nation with its own government, occupying a particular territory’.

    So the UK can be said to be a country made up of a number of countries.

  • Korhomme

    I did say that the High Kings were mythological. The genealogy from them is very dubious.

    Ease off with the sarcky comments, eh? Tell me where you think I belong instead.

  • John Collins

    They claim 95% of Southern Irish people are descended from Strongbow (Thank God I am not). However given that he died about 850 years ago they are each at least descended from 2 million other nonentities.

  • John Collins

    If the Catholics ‘bred’ so much as you and your ilk so delicately put it how come they is only a few percentage points increase in the RC v Prod ratio of population in NI since the foundation of the state.

  • Janos Bingham

    The European Union is not a country. It does not meet the definition as it does not have a government, merely a union regulated by treaty.

    Best to start with considering a ‘nation’. At one time in history a nation was simply a people sharing a language, culture and living in a defined geographic area. Things have moved on. Today it is much more nuanced: blame the human tendency for itchy feet; to say nothing of shifting alliances and conflict.

    Consider ‘nation’ and ‘nation state’. I was born in Ireland, Northern Ireland to be precise. I am therefore of the Irish nation, as an ethnic group if you like. However I’m also not Irish, as of the Irish nation state.

    Geography and politics you see.

    Back to the UK, a country by definition. Yet Scotland is also a distinct identifiable country within the UK. It is a nation living within a defined territory. It has a devolved government. But before Scottish devolution did it not exist as a country? Of course not, that would be ludicrous.

    Ditto for Wales.

    Northern Ireland is not a ‘nation’ in itself. It is part of the Irish nation (geography). But also part of the British nation (political). Nor is it an entire ‘country’. It is part of the country, Ireland (geography), and also part of the UK country (political).

    Best not to get too hung up on these things.

    Personally I go along way with ‘Leopold Bloom’ on this subject. A nation? “The same people living in the same place”. Chill on it and everything will fall into place.

  • Brian Walker

    “Turgon was the King of Gondolin and the High King of the
    Ñoldor. For hundreds of years of the First Age, Turgon remained hidden from the
    eyes and ears of the great enemy until a betrayal from within caused his

  • barnshee

    Check the stats– old boy the state dependency is concentrated in Foyle , West Belfast, Newry and Armagh hardy centres of protestantism check in particulary family size in these areas –with particular reference to subsequent demands on health education resources.

    The burden on the UK taxpayer falls overwhelmingly -as it has for generations -on a particular section of the community

    Oh wait a minute the NI govt must have made it all up

  • barnshee

    Am baffled– we are assured that demographics will see off the N Ireland state (slugger ad nauseum) Some mistake surely

  • barnshee

    Au contraire the sooner to have those brandishing Irish passports are recognised as aliens the better -move border checks to ,Stranraer ASAP

  • Chingford Man

    He must mean Ellis Island.

  • Chingford Man

    Try taking your chip off your shoulder and stop hijacking the thread for your own bigotry. Nothing worth reading in The Irish Times today?

  • Patrick Murphy

    I’m sure you’re correct but it’s a very unfortunate, fundamental and careless error.

  • Robin Keogh

    Jesus was born in a stable but he wasn’t a horse. I am proud of my English roots and unlike yourself i dont judge people because of their background or religious creed. Call me English or call me Irish, i am comfortable in my identity and happy in my skin.

  • Robin Keogh

    Ha ! Brilliant

  • barnshee

    Hardly a total stereotype– the drunken violence outside the Shamrock (Elephant and Castle) and particularly the Harp in New Cross sure lived up to -the expected “paddy” behaviour (London Irish RFC -god bless it- was largely a middle class experience with more of the “posh mick”| “wild geese” contingent-much more acceptable)

  • barnshee

    I invite you to examine how the “mainly catholic/nationalist “city of Derry” arose I further suggest you examine where the hordes in -particularly Creggan – arose -and how they were housed and fed

  • barnshee

    Repeats the unionists have not been in “charge ” for nearly 60 years yet the same areas have the same problems ?

  • barnshee

    Five or more children per family

    West Belfast
    Newry and Armagh

  • Roger

    Agree with Turgon here. My late GP uncle moved to England in the 40s; my auntie settled down with an English GP. They lived in Insp. Morse style houses and went Royal Ascot.

  • barnshee

    Shakes his head– has British passport but is not British ?
    has Irish passport but is not Irish ?

  • james

    Well, I come from NI and lived in England for a year or so. Never felt like I was anywhere but home and never once did anyone ask me if I missed ‘my’ country. I guess that they felt, as I did, that I was still in my country. As to my ancestors, border reivers and peasant farmers are the only ones I know of. Though I might have a bit of all sorts.

  • Roger

    Agree. A bit more skepticism about genealogies would be refreshing.

  • Roger

    What about Western Irish?

  • Teacher

    North Ireland has walls.

  • Roger

    “no problem with emigrants”. I don’t think anybody ever does. Out of sight, out of mind generally. Perhaps you meant immigrants?

  • Teacher

    You both white live in same island.

  • Roger

    Because, for reasons perhaps which Anglo Irish alluded to, the RCs left in their droves:

    QUOTE: Between 1881 and 1971…Protestants retained their share of the population through most of the period despite a birth rate 50 percent lower than the corresponding Catholic rate…”

  • Roger

    Agreed, as could Germany or the U.S.
    Depends on what a nation is.
    Is the UK a nation?

  • Roger

    Is Irish an ethnic group? Does nationality go by islands or by states or some other way? Are there Hispaniolans? If NI is ‘part of the Irish nation’, is Haiti part of the Hispaniolan nation?

  • Teacher

    Why do you have walls?

  • Janos Bingham

    “As I have pointed out before on this forum………”.

    You were wrong then too.

  • Niall Chapman

    My experience here is that most people don’t even know Ireland is partitioned, and much less care when they find out

  • Niall Chapman

    To be honest I had to go to Newtwonabbery Tech (Northern Regional College) for a HNC, a lot of Larne boys there from F.G. Wilson, there was definitely a Scottish twang to their accents

  • Mike the First

    No, I’m trying to tease out exactly what country you’re saying I live in, and what definition you’re using for that. (I live in Northern Ireland, by the way). Given that you’re saying NI isn’t a country, and the UK isn’t a country either.

    Yes, Scotland is a country, a constituent country of the United Kingdom. Like England, Wales and…wait for it…Northern Ireland. Or like the Faroe Islands, Greenland and (continental) Denmark in the Kingdom of Denmark.

    So I’m happy with two broad meanings of “country”, depending on context – an independent sovereign state; or in a different context, a constituent country of one of those states (only some of them, of course, have constituent countries). Scots living in England permanently aren’t “immigrants”, by the way.

    So, again, what country do you think I live in? Indeed, “Please do provide us with your definition of a country. Make it meaningful”.

  • Janos Bingham

    “Is Irish an ethnic group?” ‘Ethnicity’ simply relates to belonging to a social group that has commonalities in cultural or national traditions. With regard to the Irish the scope of what constitutes being ‘Irish’ often leads to argument 😉 .

    ‘Nationality’ is a moveable feast. It can be determined by geography, political reality and personal identity.

    Old style ‘blood and soil’ nationalists have a much more reductionist view of these things. For me personally their arguments on ‘national purity’ are too rooted in the 19th century; and should by now have been consigned to history.

  • Mike the First

    Yes, it is a British passport. It used to say those two very words right on the front cover, until they were replaced with “European Community” (and now “European Union”).…0…1.1.64.img..7.13.2355.jLAYgrcIHNs

    You seem a little confused and rather light on facts in this matter.

  • To hold the roof up

  • barnshee

    Er it is a ” Britsh” passport
    All “british” passports identify the holder -wherever he resides in the UK as “Brirish Citizen” Includes the Scots Welsh Orcadians etc etc

  • Janos Bingham

    I’m sorry to say that ‘Anglo=Irish’ is a hater of everything unionist. I’m sure he will deny the charge but all his posts are very evidently anti-unionist. In pursuit of this agenda he has managed to tie himself in knots.

    Or to be kinder, perhaps he is merely a geographical purist: for him if you’re not born on the island of Britain you’re not British – pity the poor Hebrideans and Shetlanders!

    He wants to make a silly distinction between being British and being a British Citizen, with the latter being somehow a lessor being. He does this as he thinks he can then jeer at unionists for not being really British, or at least as British as he is (I’ll ignore his own (in his terms) confused identity evident in his screen name).

    In law any qualifying person born anywhere in the UK is equally a British Citizen (and ALL referred to as such) should that be Finchley, Fortwilliam, Faenor or Fintona- and all equally British.

    Yet Anglo=Irish is too excitable on this subject to take this in.

    Perhaps he protests at British Naturalisation Ceremonies in his local area carrying a placard to wave in the faces of the participants: ‘You’re Not British’. I’m sure there are a few likeminded individuals in England that would be more than happy to join him in his crusade.

  • Teacher

    North Ireland have WALLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mike the First

    You don’t need to explain to me where I live – I live in Northern Ireland. Which is my country. I clearly stated that I live in Northern Ireland, and I asked you for what YOU think, given that you had specifically denied Northern Ireland is a country. Learn to read, and then exercise some basic skills of comprehension – and learn to stop slipping into prejudiced little rants about “unionists” based on your own complete misunderstanding about an individual’s post.

    The fact that you think either England, Scotland or Wales have “thousands of years of history” suggests that your grasp of history and/or mathematics is also extremely weak.

    As suspected, you think that the island of Ireland is a country, and state (as if it’s a fact) that neither Northern Ireland nor the UK are. But also as suspected, you are unable to give a clear definition of a “country” that justifies such a stance. Instead you ramble about independent sovereignty then immediately negate this, and about “thousands of years of history” and “unique names”.

    Again, can you give your definition of a country? (I’ve given you two objective definitions) Can you explain how it applies to other countries?

    Do you, for example, class East Timor, South Sudan, DR Congo or FYR Macedonia as countries? How about, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia?

  • Mike the First

    I wonder what he makes of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, too. Must blow his mind.
    In fact I wonder what he makes of the British Islands as an entity. Conveniently ignores, perhaps.

  • barnshee


  • Janos Bingham

    You’re providing too much fun to stop now, so…..

    As to the Isles off the Scottish coast, you say they “are included in the description Britain on the passport because they are part of Britain”

    Who says so?

    Actually ‘Britain’ is rendered as ‘Great Britain’ on a passport. Britain is a geographical unit, it is an island, defined as ‘containing England, Scotland and Wales’. Note the island is ‘containing’ the three countries. The ‘British Isles’ encompasses the islands surrounding the island of Britain- it got naming rights of the archipelago as the largest island.

    ‘Great Britain’ is a political unit. If you had read any history you would be aware that Wales was incorporated into the English Kingdom in the Middle Ages. Given that English and Scottish Kingdoms united as one the official title of the country became The United Kingdom of Great Britain.

    Northern Ireland was never part of either Kingdom and that is why it would be historically incorrect to officially include it on a modern passport as being so, hence the official title of the UK is – The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Unfortunately for your argument historical accuracy trumps some imaginary official distancing of NI.

    Who claimed to be a “native” of the island of Britain? The argument is over your silly assertion that people holding British passports are not British. You base your point on geography and not political reality and have allowed yourself to get hung up on the word ‘citizen’.

    Still I can see why you can comfortably post “I have no problem with pedants either”.

  • Janos Bingham


    With the amount of digging you’ve been doing you’ll soon surface in Australia 🙂

    Still that’s me done with my stint of care in the community.

  • submariner

    Wow more bigoted nonsense from you. The North was set up as a gerrymandered sectarian slum one party state designed to pretend to be a democracy when it was anything but. The Unionist junta in charge treated it like their own personal fiefdom and acted accordingly, yet it was all the fault of those sex crazed taigs. You really are Sluggers own version of Uncle Andy.

  • Bobbell

    You attempt to paint some difference between the UK as a state and Ireland as a country, but I wonder if you actually read your own link? It flat out states that the terms country and state are interchangeable.

    It defines a country (or state) as: ‘a self-governing political entity’. By this definition there are two countries in the British Isles, The Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. ‘Ireland’ and ‘Britain’ are commonly used but strictly inaccurate terms for these countries.

    It defines a nation as: ‘a tightly-knit group of people that share a common culture’. This would include Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

    I would also say that a good argument could be made that Northern Irish unionists meet that definition and could be considered a nation. There is no requirement for a nation to have a self-governing state.

    Finally it defines nation-state as ‘a nation which has the same borders as a State’. I don’t think it has to include ALL of the nation, so the Republic of Ireland would probably meet the definition even though a proportion of the Irish nation live outside it.

  • kalista63

    Not totally on topic but this is such a great listen The intersting thing, that’s summed up at the end of the last episode, is how the Brits don’t see themselves as immigrants.

    Actually, worse is that most do not integrate, use the nation’s health service or learn their host’s language. things immigrants to the UK are accused of.

    As for the Irish in England, half of the people on the telly seem to be Isrish of second generation Irish. Furthermore, the media allows a free flow of culture across borders and over sees. When I think of my first time in London (especially standing in front of Top Shop’s security guard with my arms outstretched as I entered their Oxford St. branch 🙂 )I most certainly stuck out as a Mick but my neices & nephews wouldn’t.

  • Chingford Man

    “the need to go out on the street and act the fool”

    Oh how tolerant you are. Pat yourself on the back.

  • Roger

    Noted about ethnicity. In my mind, it had a tighter meaning but apparently, from what you say, it’s more of a moveable feast like nationality too. Is it so vague as to be better off avoided? After all, the Irish have plenty of commonalities etc. with those of England, France and other countries etc.

    You seem to suggest you are not a ‘blood and soil’ nationalist. But, you seemed to not go by ‘state’ nationality either, as you seemed to think Northern Irelanders (as neutral a term as brevity permits) were Irish. Are the nationalist and nationality terms too vague to be of use? Or what do you go by? How are Northern Irelanders Irish?

  • barnshee

    NI was set up to protect protestants from the bigoted murderous attack carried out on their unfortunate relatives in the Republic of Ireland

    What part of

    “sections of the community could not keep their knickers on produced unsustainable pressure on state resources and whilst refusing to recognize the state that fed clothed housed and educated them”

    Is innacurate

  • barnshee

    I know a man who had budgie called Brian Boru and that was enough to get an Irish “passport”

    Any auld granny will get you an Irish passport– try the same trick for a British passport

    PS English people don`t have English passports same for Scots and Welsh

    “You are confusing nationality with racial/ethnic origins.”

    Oh dear two grandparents and mother born in Scotland makes me Scots must get a new passport

  • Janos Bingham


    There are, at least, two things in play here. Geography and politics.

    A person born on the island of Ireland can by virtue of birth location quite correctly say of themselves ‘I am Irish’. Nations were and are demarcated by their position on the Earth’s surface.

    Into the mix, regretfully, racial purists throw in their nasty ideas and start spouting nonsense about genealogy and bloodlines. Historically that has lead to some very unpleasant episodes in the history of the world.

    Additionally governments seek to manage, mostly curtail, the rights of the offspring of non domiciled parents. Especially in the West where the ruling elites are concerned with the children of such people being able to claim rights by virtue of being born there. Most Western countries have enacted laws to close ehst they regard as a ‘loophole’.

    And there are wider politics. Northern Ireland is in an interesting position. For historical reasons although part of the United Kingdom people born there can hold both British and Irish passports. They can legitimately be both British and Irish.

    In practice however individuals (driven by their personal politics) probably make a choice and choose to present themselves as either British or Irish.

    Of course this type of identity challenge is not unique to NI. When I was in Australia I met a number of Aborigines who did not regard themselves as Australians.

    In conclusion, in my own personal case, I was born in Northern Ireland. I am Irish by birth. Yet politically and culturally I am British and that’s how I answer the question of nationality on official documents etc.

    Identity is a very personal thing and everyone should explore who they are. Although there will be people (the racist purists and the political point-scorers amongst them) who will be vocal in prescribing identity for others it is best to ignore such biased advocates.

    There are lots of books and other writing touching on these issues. My advice? Read as much as you can and make up your own mind.

  • John Collins

    I mean all the people in the ROI

  • John Collins

    Oh I know AI , It is most probably all nonsense anyway

  • Reader

    Anglo-Irish: Err no it isn’t, the UK is the state. Unless of course you want to argue that England, Scotland and Wales aren’t countries?
    Well, that leaves a conundrum. Because, since you say Britain is a country, *and* you believe that England, Scotland and Wales are countries, where are the boundaries of Britain?
    Are you saying that there are countries within a country?

  • Mike the First

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. There goes your tenuous grasp of the facts again.

    The Channel Islands are NOT part of Great Britain, and they are not part of the United Kingdom. However the people(s) of the Channel Islands are British, and the Channel Islands are part of the British Islands. (Feel free to thank me for educating you). Do you accept the Channel Islanders as British?

    Yes, I know that the Isle of Man isn’t part of the UK, that’s precisely my point. The Manx people are still British. Do you accept them as British?
    (And why on earth would Northern Ireland be mentioned seperately on an Isle of Man passport, even the UK as whole doesn’t get a seperate mention??)

    Northern Ireland is part of the British Islands – an entity that comprises the entire United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.

  • Mike the First

    Did YOU bother to read the link?

    It says “A country is a self-governing political entity. The term country can be used interchangeably with State”. Yet you’ve said above that the UK is a state, not a country, and have said the island of Ireland is a country.
    In contrast I’ve already said that one definition of a country is an independent sovereign state (like the UK or ROI). Another is that of a constituent country (like Wales, NI, the Faroe Islands or Aruba).
    Again, what is YOUR definition of a country, that includes the island of Ireland? (and which excludes NI or the UK?)

  • Mike the First

    You’re still failing to provide a definition of a country here which matches your classification of the various parts of “these islands”.
    It really comes down to “I want to see the island of Ireland as a country, so I do. I don’t want to see Northern Ireland as a country, so I don’t”. Why not just be honest about that rather than flailing around failing badly to provide an objective definition that would back this up, and would be applicable elsewhere?

  • Mike the First

    I said British Islands, not British Isles.
    To help you educate yourself:

    As I’ve already said right above, the British Islands are a legally-defined entity that includes the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
    I hope you’ll have the “good manners” to thank me for educating you, then to address the point I was making about the British Islands.

  • Roger

    “A person born on the island of Ireland [Roger adds: a defined piece of soil alright – not sure how that squares with you saying you are not into ‘soil’ type nationalism] can ..”. So can people born in Luxembourg province of Belgium claim Luxembourgish as nationality? Can people in South Sudan claim Sudanese as nationality? Why are these positions any different to NI?

    “Nations were and are demarcated by their position on the Earth’s surface.” More soil-nationalism theory, and I totally disagree with this statement. Surely, you don’t really believe that? Are you not confusing nations with states here? Fair enough, states are demarcated alright. And NI is not in the Irish state….It’s in the British one. Or UK one to be more a la mode.

    “In conclusion, in my own personal case, I was born in Northern Ireland. I am Irish by birth.” [Roger, you are British by birth; born on territory that even Ireland now expressly acknowledges as British in its own constitution…This is so regardless of whether or not Ireland confers nationality on an extra-territorial basis through its generous domestic citizenship laws.]

    “Yet politically and culturally I am British and that’s how I answer the question of nationality on official documents etc.” In what sense are you Irish at all? You weren’t born in Ireland; you were born in the UK; and you don’t feel politically or culturally Irish. How is your position different to a man born in Papua (what I’d call Indonesia) explaining that he is Papua New Guinean but doesn’t feel culturally or politically Papua New Guinean and answers that he is Indonesian when asked on official documents and the like?

    It’s ok if you are tired of my questions. I won’t think you rude if you don’t have an inclination to respond further. I’ve read plenty, but am always fascinated.

  • Reader

    You said above that Britain is a country. Do you stand by that claim?
    The article that you referenced makes the following claim: “The term Britain is often used as synonym for the United Kingdom. The term Great Britain, by contrast, refers conventionally to the island of Great Britain”. It’s crazy that you would cite the article as though it gave any support to your version of the terminology – it really doesn’t.

  • barnshee

    Great Britian is the big Island on the right it don`t include all the other islands

  • Mike the First

    Actually, West Germany and East Germany were recognised as countries, even though in their case they had recently been divided by accident of conflicting Cold War capitalist/communist ideologies coinciding with post-WWII Allied occupation zones.

    More pertinently, what had been Germany lost territory to Poland and Russia in 1945. Do you insist that the present-day country of Germany includes Wroclaw, Szczecin and Kaliningrad?

    You again throw in reference to the word Ireland being included in Northern Ireland, yet I’ve asked you questions about South Sudan, East Timor, FYR Macedonia and others, which you’ve just merrily ignored. Funny that, isn’t it.
    You have NO definition of a country that would include the island of Ireland. Wouldn’t it be easier (and more honest) for you to say “I see the island of Ireland as a country; I do not see Northern Ireland as a country; I do not see the UK as a country”, rather than insisting “the island of Ireland is a country; Northern Ireland is not a country; the UK is not a country”, as if this is an objective fact that you base in a objective definition of “country”?

    Again with the hilarity, by the way. Ireland has existed as a “country” for “thousands” of years. Seriously, man, read some genuine history.

    And, also, what “cod Oirish”??

  • Mike the First

    You’re saying that people from NI aren’t British on the basis that they aren’t from Great Britain (not “Britain”, which is an ambiguous and unofficial term often used to refer to the UK). You’ve tried to claim that there’s some sort of official backing for this, based on a vague notion that the whole UK territory isn’t British. I’ve pointed out to you that the whole UK along with the Channel Islands and Isle of Man are part of the British Islands.

    So, to spell it out again as I’m having to do with every single point you fail to understand, if you claim that I’m “not British” because I’m not from a territory with the “British label”, you’re wrong – Northern Ireland is part of the British Islands, a legally-defined entity.

    You’ve simply made up your own definition of “British” (let’s call it Great British), and then told people they’re not that, when they’ve never said they were. No-one here is claiming to be Great British. What I/we are is British, in the sense of being of the UK, in the sense of being of the British Islands.(*) It’s both a legal nationality (recognised by international law as well as British and indeed Irish law) and a deeply meaningful personal identity. And it’s the only legally, democratically defined definition that exists. Your own makey-uppy definition is quite frankly neither here nor there.

    It’s a little bit like me defining “European” as meaning only the European Union and then institing to Serbians or Belarusians that they aren’t European. It would be bloody silly and pointless.

    (*Hell, there are even British people outside the British Islands, from the British Overseas Territories, your narrow mind must really struggle with them)

  • Roger

    Ah, Ireland, to give that place its actual name.

  • Roger

    To answer one must start with the big question of What does “Irish” mean. Jamos has said he is not politically or culturally Irish and doesn’t believe in some idea of a racial Irish either. He has also said he rejects “soil” based theories of nationalism too although some of his statements seem to contradict that. Given all that, I can see no grounds for him to call himself Irish. To my mind “Irish” must involve one or more of those traits or theories. Otherwise, I can’t see that it means anything. Do you disagree? If you think he still has grounds to be Irish, what grounds do you see?

    Naturally, one can call oneself what one likes and one is perfectly and rightly at liberty to do so. But that isn’t the point here. We re exploring what Irish is and on what basis a person like Jamos can call himself Irish. Although here it is in reference to Jamos, obviously it isn’t a personalised discussion. But one with wider application and framed around Jamos for simplicity.

    I presume his identity isn’t based on the generous citizenship laws of what he presumably regards as a foreign state too…