Armistice Day stunt: The sham of shared but unequal remembrance

There was something entirely fitting about unionist politicians breaking into God Save The Queen during the Armistice Day ceremony in Stormont today.

And before this gets landed on the extreme unionist fringe represented by Sammy Morrison of the TUV, it is worth noting the words of DUP MLA Peter Weir and UUP Leader, Mike Nesbitt, who have called for the British national anthem to return formally to the order of service at the 2016 Armistice Day ceremony in Stormont.

The flag protests and parade controversies that cast dark shadows over our political process bear testimony to a unionist leadership that has abjectly failed to ‘lead.’ Why anyone would believe they would find it possible to do so over an issue as sensitive as remembrance is mystifying.

Shared Remembrance? This was nothing of the sort, and all present knew that the moment every shade of political unionism broke into triumphant song in the Great Hall as Craigavon stared approvingly down upon them.

I’m sure the nationalist politicians present must have been smarting, but they laid claim to the moral high ground by remaining dignified throughout.

Sinn Fein will think again before allowing themselves to be nakedly exposed in such a manner.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

In truth, Armistice Day does have the potential to become a shared form of remembrance in a manner that the British Remembrance Sunday, and the associated Royal British Legion poppy, can never be.

The one-time firebrand loyalist, Glenn Barr, now organises World War I commemorative ceremonies, including this one in Derry earlier this year. Note how the Union Flag is held alongside the Irish Tricolour in a gesture of truly shared remembrance, with the focus being on those who died in the First World War, respectful of the fact that they had fought and died for differing traditions, yet side by side.

Today was not that.

For political unionism, remembrance is a battleground that will be fiercely contested. The ludicrous faux outrage cultivated by The Belfast Telegraph regarding the non-wearing of embroidered poppies by Ulster rugby sits alongside the farcical loyalist protest of a Shore Road branch of the German supermarket chain, Lidl, after supervisors made an entirely logical decision to decline the offer to allow the Royal British Legion to sell poppies in the shop.

Nationalist Ireland has correctly created space within our narrative for those from our tradition who made the unfortunate decision to fight and die in the First World War, and striving to develop a shared form of remembrance around that episode in history is entirely appropriate.

If a truly shared remembrance is not possible with the active participation of unionist politicians, then so be it.

As things stand, expect Stormont’s shared Armistice Day commemoration to be a one and done event.

The croppies don’t do lying down anymore.

 

  • MainlandUlsterman

    exactly – you’d have thought someone had sung the Horst Wessel song or something. It’s the national anthem for goodness sake – being sung in a part of the UK where sovereignty is now universally agreed. I’d rather this person hadn’t burst into song (I haven’t seen it) and it sounds embarrassing – but come on, it’s just the national anthem of the country the NI people have chosen. It’s better than a bomb.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    there is much more to agree about here than disagree. Shared remembrance is good, we don’t want to make it jingoistic, this guy’s anthem stunt was unhelpful and nationalists are going to try harder to stop the insensitive “remembrance as controversy” niggling. I think that sums it up; let’s move on, those of us who can.

  • submariner

    Can anyone tell me how I can find out why my reply to MU about an hour ago seems to have been pulled/censored. I want an explanation

  • Devil Eire

    Perhaps you should look up the word ‘literally’ in a dictionary.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    ah, I missed the ‘literally’. Fair play. Yer man should look up “land mass” by the same measure. If you’re going to be pedantic, get it right, is the lesson here

  • Zeno

    Seaan do you remember when GSTQ was played at the end of everything? Every Dance, every trip to the Pictures. Bands had to learn both for when they got gigs in the South.

  • mickfealty

    Weeks not months. And yes Pete did follow up on it. I’ll point out that we have had two blogs up pushing the no foul SF line here and none making the case against.

    I’m as entitled to take an unpopular minority view as the next man/woman. You call it bias (which is fair enough as far your own biases take you of course), I call it saying what I see and moving on.

    Recognition of bias is important. I know I have mine and to be fair I am as entitled to them as the next person. I value bias in others precisely because they don’t match mine (if that doesn’t seem too perverse).

    What doesn’t wash with me is the idea that bias is itself a terminal fault, or that the accusers themselves are somehow free of the stain themselves (which nine times out of ten is how it is presented).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh Croiteir, one keeps hearing these odd suggestions that the air came from somewhere else. A lot of music sounds similar to some other piece of music, and an old harp port of the 17th century, “the Bishop of Argyle’s Lament” sounds awfully similar to d”Anglebert’s brilliant harpsichord piece “Le Tombeau de M, de Chambonnieres”. Perhaps a few creative people actually passed over the waters now and again…….

    But it’s very well attested that both the air and most of the words of what is now called “God Save the King” originated as a Jacobite anthem of the late seventeenth/ early eighteenth centuries. Every time I hear these staunch Sons of William praise the usurping line with words and music that were first employed to affirm the undeniable rights of Dutch Willies unfortunate uncle Jamie the Rover (the original “Ceann Dubh Dílis”) I cannot suppress a slight smile.

    Poor Louis did undergo a number of very painful operations such as the link speaks of. But I’d be as unhappy about seeing this story as the fountainhead of the air, for the anthem used by both monarchies of France and the three Kingdoms, “Vive Le Roi” predated the headmistress of St Cyr’s possible reworking of air by almost a century.

    “Marche Henri IV” also called “Vive le Roi Henri”. The first version was far from complimentary:

    Vive Henri quatre
    Vive ce Roi vaillant
    Ce diable à quatre
    A le triple talent

    De boire et de battre
    Et d’être un vers galant
    De boire et de battre
    Et d’être un vets galant

    By the later part of the century this had transmogrified into the 1686 reworking mentioned in your link:

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed I do. Us nice boys from the leafy suburbs out towards Dundonald used to go to the flea pit on Mountpottinger Road and run out just as the national anthem started up at the end of the movie. The Loyalist boys would chase us back up the Albert Bridge Road with curses.

    But yes, every single occasion when I was growing up, except perhaps the folk club at the old War memorial Building, Warring Street, during the mid 1960s and certainly not often at Salisbury Street folk sessions to raise money for the old Labour party YS.

  • Granni Trixie

    Sorry to repeat myself but Mike continues on his usual path of speaking with forked tongue for whilst he seems to have apologised to MMG he then said the anthem ought to be part of the ceremony in future!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, that’s what I’d expect here, certainly. I must email my friend, a retired officer on the far south coast and ask him how things are managed there. I know he is a citizen of the ROI as are the few of his fellow RBL members whom I’ve met on visits.

  • Granni Trixie

    MU SF stood in dignified silence whilst GSTQ was sung. This is one occasion where it was not they who generated controversy. No, it was a unionist own goal. …give them enough rope?

  • Robin Keogh

    Where agreement has been reached to exclude the anthems yes of course i stand by it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    fine, I accept that, though I haven’t seen it – but whatever dignified silence there was at the time seems to have been short-lived, judging by Chris Donnelly’s post we’re commenting on here. Is he not complaining fairly vociferously about the anthem?

    I was annoyed because it was the latest of many posts from nationalist contributors during the remembrance period on here, in which remembrance has been treated like it’s just another knockabout issue to have a tug of war over. It deserves to be treated differently and much more sensitively. I’m sorry, we’ve come to this pass because of a rather insensitive and self-regarding nationalist approach that has developed over recent years of seeking to controversialise remembrance and embolden those who don’t want to show respect for it. Some unionists are responding inappropriately now and playing into SF’s hands; but they are right to be angry at SF’s targeting of remembrance as yet another little cock-pit in which to peck away at the British population and traditions we hold dear. Have they no shame? After what they did at Enniskillen especially? I find it sickening.

    But I suspect provoking division and causing hurt to unionist people is very much the intention. I’m not sure SF’s treatment of remembrance is properly described as “dignified” overall; and I’m sure they lap it up every time they get a rise out of a unionist. Congratulations to them.

  • Pete

    Both statements are compatible. It’s provably my view too.

  • Dominic Hendron

    Mike likes to cover all bases, he’ll probably tweet “good luck” to the ROI team tomorrow night

  • Ben Archibald

    I’ve had a long time to think about this more deeply. Train from Dublin to Ennis will do that to you. Whoever started singing a song not on the order of service at a sombre and inclusive event showed deep disrespect to the attendees and by extension to the fallen. They should be ashamed. Nesbitt was right to call it stupid.

    I love my anthem, but this is the musical equivalent of a tattered fleg halfway up a lamppost.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    MU

    The day unionists learn how to react cleverly to attacks (perceived or otherwise) then SF attacks will cease to be a problem.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I don’t think you have to be generous with the rope either, they’ll weave the rest themselves…

  • Theelk11

    my grandfather from Dublin fought at Gallipoli The war museum must have made a mistake according to you, you believe no Irishmen fought in that war ( and don’t bother with the” they were all British back then” semantic ) He fought for Redmond .. Who stabbed who in the back?

  • Gingray

    “Weeks not months”
    What are you referring to here?

    Course we all have bias, my own would be unionist politicians, misuse of stats, travellers, Rangers/Celtic fans and monarchies. Some are rational and I embrace them, some are not and I try not to let them cloud my judgement.

    Slugger has no obligation to present fair and accurate coverage in a balanced way, but most of the time it does. Most attacks on Sinn Fein are more than justified.

    However the last Red C poll was grossly misrepresented to suit a particular bias and presented as fact (particularly the failure to mention no change against sinn fein in the polling numbers). It doesn’t help proper analysis – the story became Sinn Fein drop because the IRA still exist when the drop occurred months before and had leveled off.

    Similarly with the unionist stunt – if you want to be inclusive don’t pull things like this. If you don’t, then let people know and they can stay away.

    Instead of this view you immediately are talking about needling, softly implying that someone else is to blame.

  • npbinni

    who stabbed who… I think I was clear; Irish Republicans of the SF ilk. The honourable Irish fought the Germans.

    Asit happens my grandfather also fought in Europe in WW1, and ended up in Dublin after the war: but that’s another story. My father-in-law was in the British army in the 50’s and 60’s and said that Irishmen were some of the best soldiers in the regiment.

  • willieric

    Scratch a typical northerner and you will find a bigot. In my opinion.
    And recent events have not caused me to change my mind.
    Northerners employ and endure a segregated education system practically from birth so no surprise there.
    Apologies to the under threes, and the home schooled.

    Here’s to integrated education and a clean cull of the current crop of dinosaurs.

  • npbinni

    A UI has been put on hold for maybe another century, Roger, in case you haven’t noticed.

  • sk

    “Too often, nationalism seems to seek out the negatives and the divisive in an event that really does not need to be controversial at all.”

    Just checking, because it seems you waded into this discussion without having even seen the footage- but you do realise that it wasn’t republicans or nationalists who stirred up controversy here, yes? I’m only asking because in your rush to defend the tribe you seem to have overlooked that. A perfectly dignified event was marred by a silly, pointless stunt. And yet it’s not the idiot who pulled the stunt who is at fault, it’s themmuns. It’s always themmuns.

    Just to recap for you: the agitating, the stirring, all of it stems from the poorly-judged stunt of a second tier TUV politician. Martin McGuinness and the other republicans in attendance stood respectfully as soon as anthem started. Didn’t skip a beat. And yet you still find a way to whinge about how poorly have handled the situation. It’s almost pathological.

    Incidentally, the next time you whinge about how alienating the presence of nationalist symbols can be to unionists at ostensibly cross-community events (St Patrick’s Day, GAA, Rugby, whatever), you should be reminded of this thread. After all, it’s not acceptable to take offence at Irish symbols in 21st century, post-agreement NI.

    “Let’s take the heat out of it.”

    Jesus wept. Watch the video. The source of the heat is not nationalist.

  • sk

    PS:

    if you find it tiresome when nationalists invoke Bloody Sunday as a reason to dislike the British army and remembrance Sunday, then stop playing the Enniskillen card in similar fashion

  • Reader

    Moving the goal posts! On the other thread, I clearly and quickly pointed out that I disapproved of the ambush. We are already in agreement there.
    But here, on this thread, in the context of the guiding principles of a shared event, you said: “Playing one over the other or vice a versa in any shared event is an effort to be ungracious at the least.” (my emphasis, your words!) So I gave an example of what is clearly a shared event – the IRFU rugby matches – and now you are reneging on what you presented as a principle.
    Did you not give a moment’s thought as to what might count as an example of vice-versa? Would you like to present St Patrick’s day as a shared event, or is the price too high now? Would you like to involve unionists in Easter rising commemorations, or would you definitely prefer that not to be a shared event?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You’re commenting on the incident – if you read my comment, I was commenting on Chris Donnelly’s piece. His piece was about the incident but my beef with it was not specifically about that, I was making a wider point about the remembrance period and the habit of seeking incident and controversy from it. I wasn’t commenting on the footage, but I take people’s word for it that the TUV guy acted like a dick. I’m not excusing him. My point was, the only reason we’re commenting on remembrance at all, as some kind of live issue on which feelings run high, is that it’s been made into one over several years, for obvious political reasons. It is not to the advantage of unionists for remembrance to be portrayed as controversial.

    When I last lived in NI full time in the early 90s, it was just not an issue of controversy in the public space. Perhaps Enniskillen was still too fresh then for Republicans to see the benefit in agitation around remembrance. But as time has passed, they’ve realised they can get away with pushing this as an issue. A whole generation has passed and memories of the Remembrance Day outrage that shocked the world have faded for some. This is not something you can credibly blame unionists for. That has been down to a rather cocky, in-your-face brand of Republicanism which sees its mission in life as to chip away at whatever British-related culture in the province they can get traction on, and try and get a rise out of the Prods. There has been years of it now and people are fed up. I certainly am.

    What you’re seeing with the TUV guy’s little stunt is an incoherent kicking out in frustration. Not the way to handle it at all. But it would be remiss to comment on him while letting those responsible for creating bad feeling around remembrance – the same people who blew up a remembrance parade, remember – off the hook for stirring this all up. They’re like one of those annoying kids we all knew in school who would flick elastic bands at another pupil in class every two minutes, then laugh in triumph when their target gets caught flicking one back.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    And your point on the nationalist symbols, feel free to bring up any of my past posts. If you read my posts more carefully, you’ll see I haven’t objected to the use of nationalist symbols per se. Where I think nationalists tend to trip themselves up in discussions around the public use of symbols is in confusing their desired state of affairs with what is actually the case now, i.e. they give no weight at all to the fact British symbols are not just factional community symbols in NI but are also legitimate state symbols due to NI having UK sovereignty (by choice). But look, if you have a specific example where I’ve been inconsistent, please bring it up. Context is all and it’s hard to comment on your point without you giving concrete examples of what you think the inconsistency is.

    The source of the heat on remembrance is very much nationalist, I’m afraid, even if the source of idiocy in this particular incident was indeed some TUV man. We’ve all seen what’s developed over the last 10 years and it’s no accident. It’s part of the wider cultural manoeuvres SF is making against unionist people, aimed at portraying themselves as magnanimous peace makers while seeking to antagonise the thicker unionists into making dicks of themselves, which they are usually quick to do. Only revealing the nasty reality of unionists, you might say; but you might also say, SF seem intent on bringing the worst out in unionists rather than the best. It can hardly be described as a friendly strategy. They seek to belittle and sideline, when what is needed is genuine partnership.

    Republicanism seems trapped in this aggressive, needling mindset, when it’s really not appropriate for society’s needs. They don’t seem to do genuine reconciliation – there’s always an angle. You sense that even the big gestures, like meeting the Queen (whom they insisted on referring to as the “English Queen”, revealingly) are only really done as political manoeuvres aimed at nationalist voters, mainland British opinion and overseas opinion. Gestures of rapprochement towards Ulster British people have been conspicuous by their infrequency. They have gone from an armed struggle to a cultural battle. We are the other and we are lesser.

    On remembrance though, it’s fair to say more broadly there have been some real positives too, despite the tedious SF-inspired offence-taking strand of discourse. The growth of the culture of WW1 remembrance in the Republic is a big positive. But I think nationalism’s record on remembrance currently is still best summed up as a curate’s egg.

  • Alan N/Ards

    I was at the cenotaph, in Belfast, on Tuesday last week. I was there with family at a cross planting remembrance service organised by the RBL and the anthem was not played. A cross was planted in memory of my uncle (along with many others) and the last post and was played, but nothing else. It was a dignified event and there was no muttering about the lack of the anthem.

  • willieric

    Truly excellent post. My sentiments exactly.

  • willieric

    Agree.

  • willieric

    Agree once again.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Ben, I foresee the Protestant coalition picketing the Dublin-Ennis train line for its Lundy generating properties.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    true. But does that mean we’re guilty for wearing short skirts (as it were)?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    they should Terence – everyone who played a part deserves our gratitude. I was chatting to an old biddy the other day who was telling me about her work in the war, making uniforms I think. There are so many stories.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Well, focussing on Bloody Sunday alone won’t give you a fair overall view of the Army’s record in Northern Ireland over the Troubles as a whole. They should be judged on their overall contribution, which was to give many of their own lives, take many, many fewer, while protecting the public day in, day out from terrorist attacks. Likewise, I’m not judging the Republican Movement on Enniskillen alone, I’m looking at their whole record.

    But obviously when we discuss remembrance in Northern Ireland, it’s hard to get away from Enniskillen. Really that should have been the end of any Republican criticism of remembrance, if they weren’t utterly shameless.

  • Theelk11

    Brilliant .. To be clear… Some of the colonials were wonderful soldiers… I’ll bet you even have a coloured /Eire friend who the ladies find adorable…. My sort turned up to honour the dead at stormont ..An Orc started singing a song he doesn’t understand . ….. Jolly good..:-)

  • Devil Eire

    “If you’re going to be pedantic, get it right, is the lesson here.”

    Indeed. As well as being used informally to refer to the UK, the term ‘Britain’ can also refer solely to the geographical extent of Great Britain. In fact that is its original usage, as seen here from the OED:

    Etymology: < Britain, the name of the largest of the British Isles, and also (now hist.) of Brittany, originally < classical Latin Brittannia, Britannia (see below), and subsequently reinforced by Anglo-Norman Brytayne , Brutaigne , Britaine , Bretayne , Bretanye , Bretannie , etc., Anglo-Norman and Old French Bretaigne , Bretagne (Middle French, French Bretagne ) Brittany (c1170 or earlier), Britain (early 12th cent.; now only in Grande-Bretagne , the name of Great Britain) < classical Latin Brittannia the island of Britain, in post-classical Latin also Brittany (6th cent.; from 11th cent. in British sources), variant of Britannia (see Britannian.).

    Here’s a recent example of this usage by the UK flag-carrier airline showing that it is current.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Funnily enough, I saw Britain used to refer to the whole of the UK at Heathrow airport the other day though – on an ad for the third runway campaign.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Depends on the dress code….

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    TUV: making unionism unappealing #BossedIt

  • Granni Trixie

    If you are sayng that remembrance ought to be above party politics I totally agree. However,it does Sound to me that you lack accurate knowledge of what actually took place namely that SF and SDLP participated with representatives from all other parties. It was politicised when a TUV person started off singng GSTQ. As far as I could see from the TV record SF, with all other reps, stood in dignified silence. ok they were ‘acting’ but the point is they did the right thing in the circs.

    The SF Speaker may be responsible for not makmg it clear to all concerned that the Anthem was not part of the ceremony. However, in the interests of proper remembering I do hope that before next November there is dialogue and an emerging Consensus that an inclusive remembrance ceremony is the way forward.

  • Robin Keogh

    Reader, you are being deliberately ridiculous but i will bite. I have on a number of occasions suggested that neither anthems be played at rugby games and both or no flags be flown. Moreover, the people in the irfu are not elected representatives they are sporting heads and i have no idea what criteria they use to come to their decisions. Where elected representatives are concerned i expect grace and decency on behalf of their constituents, something that was very absent the other day among some unionists but clearly present amongst their nationalist colleagues. Paddys day is a world event, i couldnt give a flute who celebrates it and how they choose to do so.

  • Reader

    Robin Keogh: Where elected representatives are concerned i expect grace and decency on behalf of their constituents…
    This sort of thing, you mean?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-12769581

  • Reader

    Robin Keogh: Reader, you are being deliberately ridiculous but i will bite.
    If you actually agree about the rugby why did you say that point was ‘nonsense’?
    As for my later examples – separate response for St Patrick – the Easter rising issue is more fun. Do you recall quite recently that Slugger posters – including, I think, Chris Donnelly – have suggested that the Easter rising commemorations are a reasonable parallel with Remembrance day? I disagreed at the time, and still do. Do you disagree with him?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Well I hope so – and it seems, reading further reports, that it was the first year the anthem wasn’t there and it surprised some people. So perhaps singing the anthem wasn’t as outlandish as I had been led to believe from the posts on here. But probably shouldn’t have happened. That’s by the by.

    I did read reports and other comments on what happened btw. But my initial post was prompted by ChrisDonnelly’s article, not the incident itself. It was one step removed, if you like, but still a valid and relevant post I think and actually addressed the bigger picture around the appalling growth of “remembrance agitation”. SF-led nationalism has been wandering down a sh**-stirring path over remembrance in recent years. It’s not only unwarranted but deeply insensitive.

    On inclusiveness, I’m all for that. But obviously with remembrance, it’s not something to have the usual NI inter-ethnic cultural bun fight over, it’s just not appropriate. That was my point really – it shouldn’t be treated as if it were some NI-only inter-community affair. This is NI
    taking part in UK national remembrance. People can have other remembrances for other things; I’d be against any changes that deprived NI people of the kind of remembrance ceremonies other parts of the UK have.

    I see it in a pluralist way – let an Irish tradition be as Irish as people want it to be, let British traditions be unabashed
    about being British, let Polish people in Balham be as Polish as they want, etc. If inclusiveness is taken to mean all cultural traditions have to be adapted so as to be embraced by everyone, you make it impossible; or, you end up with all culture being a kind of sludgy compromise no one wants or relates to, apart from a few bien pensants inaffluent suburbs.

    Coming back to the remembrance thing, the problem with making inclusiveness too much of a watchword is that you get nationalist agitation for the watering down of British-derived traditions, resulting in them being made less British to suit nationalists – but without any reciprocal process of Irish traditions in Northern Ireland being made less Irish to suit us British. Result: imbalance and an impression of Irish-on-British cultural aggression. Big problem.

    The answer then is either we allow no specifically
    British or Irish flavour to our traditions at all, or, much better, we respect and don’t seek to tamper with the British or Irish flavour and symbolism of existing traditions. I think the latter makes much more sense. But within that, of course a few tweaks where appropriate to help people not feel excluded is absolutely appropriate and good. Softly, softly though. For starters, people need to really stop seeking offence where none is intended. We all need to chill out on these things and see the bigger picture. Remembrance is not just about Northern Ireland. The family I lost in WW1 for example – great-uncles – served in the King’s Liverpool Regiment in France and the Middlesex Regiment in northern Russia.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I think this was a nice picture produced by Loyalists to accommodate all symbols of the 3 Irish Regiments.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    T.E, surly you mean Divisions rather than “regiments”? The 36th Div was composed of three brigades, in turn made up from a number of battalions from three regiments, the Royal Irish Rifles, the Royal Irish Fusileers and the Royal Inniskilling Fusileers.

    The 19th Irish Division may have had a majority of Battalions of Irish origin, but also contained battalions of Sikh and Punjabi origin. Its 31st Brigade was composed primarily from the Irish Fusileers and the Inniskillings, with two English and one Indian regiment.

    The 16th Irish Division was raised primarily from National Volunteer formations, but with strong admixture of English, Welsh and Scots regiments in the last year of the war.

    The only moment that I know off where two of these divisions fought side by side was at Messines, where their juncture line met on the west to east road to Wijtschate. I was told by some of those who fought that there was a healthy rivalry with much bantering between the regiments attacking close to one another, some of it in Irish!

  • npbinni

    what?

  • Alan N/Ards

    I visited a German WW2 cemetery in Normandy a few years ago. People had placed poppies on some of the graves. I found this quite touching.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My grandfather, who commanded mortars on the Somme, had met Pearse and others from St Endas who took part in the Easter Rising before the war in Conradh na Gaeilge circles, regarded the “stab in the back” saw as rather crude civilian propaganda. The modern tendency to see these issues in black and white and quite anachronisticlly ignores the far more complex responses of another age. Sinn Féin in 1916 and Sinn Féin in 2015 are quite different things, with a very different quality of person involved.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Thanks Seaan for the correction my blood comes through both 10 Batt Royal Irish Rifles and 9th Royal Irish Fusileers (Belfast & Armagh) but I have a soft spot for the 10th Irish Division (The Munsters) because of my friends from Limerick. Some very sad stories they can tell you about their grandfathers returning home to Limerick and how they where treated by the state. Thank God the RBL helped them families.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’ve heard some of those sad stories myself, T.E. I’m reminded of Gerry Nicosia’s excellent book on the Vietnam Veteran movement, “Home to War”, which I linked to over on another thread:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2015/11/11/armistice-day-a-catalyst-for-peace/#comment-2353417492

    The work of the RBL has sometimes not been at all easy in the south at other times. We are all grateful for the more liberal times that have allowed the story of these brave Irishmen to again be recognised.

    Oh, as I remember it, the most witty ribbing in Irish at Wijtschate was between the 8th RIR and a battalion of the Munsters.

  • Robin Keogh

    I thought the point was nonsense due to one being a sporting event and the other being a solemn commemorative service, they are not comparable. My understanding is that unionists have been invited to some 1916 events but turned down the offer.

    I think the occasions of 1916 abd the covenent for example should by turned into cross community rememberence events which respect both traditions. I have no idea how one would go about it but ultimately if we could find a way to commemorate all victims of all conflicts involving men and women on this island together it would dispense with tge annual round of mud slininging.

  • Reader

    Wow. In my recollections from Bangor in the 70s, any nationalist would have been carried along by the rush of unionists trying to get a foot on the top step of the exit before the first note. (the unofficial rule was, if you had a foot on the steps, you would keep going…)

  • GavBelfast

    I disagree – and the thread starter is not the whole story. I think the event will be repeated next year – without anthems. Far from all Unionists knew what to do when the lone-warbler started singing, you could clearly see a lot of discomfort, and not just from Nationalists,and MIke Nesbitt was clearly heard to reach-out to Martin McGuinness about it being a “stunt” and effectively disassociating himself from it. Another Sinn Fein MLA was on the news later saying how much she appreciated Unionists speaking to her and saying they didn’t agree with what had happened.

    As far as I know, the National Anthem was not played at gatherings anywhere else around the UK, including at Belfast City Hall, the Cenotaph in London, Trafalgar Square, etc. I honestly (and you can call me naive) nationalist disdain towqrds the poppy. I really don’t see it as a Unionist or British symbol. It is a symbol of the First World War’s battle-fields, and of the horror of war. But, we can agree to argue.

    An Irish Ambassador laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in London was something that couldn’t have been predicated just a few years ago. A Republican Speaker of a Northern Ireland Assembly leading an Armistice Day event at Stormont was even less likely. But these things happened..

    I sincerely hope that the event is repeated last year, and the provocative warbler somehow excluded. He didn’t speak/sing for this Unionist. The inclusion of the day (at City all and Stormont) did.

    PS: This self-pitying talk of “croppies” is surely way past it’s sell-by date. I don’t see anyone that way. That Northern Ireland is part of the UK obviously irks you and many others,and certain institutions and formalities reflect that but, this is not a badly unequal society (now).

  • Roger

    the 1916 guys weren’t thinking of a UI….the former Ireland hadn’t even been partitioned.

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘….an old biddy.’

    ?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    aye

  • LordSummerisle

    I often chuckle at hard liners who fail to chant the correct words of the National Hymn… It is not “Our” in the last line of that dreadful dirge it is “The”. Time for some to take a “reddner” methinks. Heil dir im Siegerkranz is much better.

  • LordSummerisle

    Gosh imagine up-voting your own comment. Hail to the Chief ! I say.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You are perhaps missing the essential proprietorial nature of the “historical re-enactment” varieties of Unionism, such as the TUV and most of the DUP, my Lord.

    Their immediate ancestors even tried to appropriate poor Kaiser Wilhelm II as “a new William to deliver us” from the Irish and anyone even slightly liberal……..

    But at least the anthem would have improved.

  • willieric

    Odd comment, lacking in substance and integrity. However I shall give you the vote which you obviously crave. Or maybe not.
    BTW….freely admit to missing out on integrated education, and achieving dinosaur status yonks ago.

  • willieric

    Excellent post.