A president, some policemen and a queen…

BERLIN - FEBRUARY 25:  Irish President Mary McAleese takes a brief walk in front of the Brandenburg Gate on February 25, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. McAleese is on a two-day official visit to Germany.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
President Mary McAleese is a woman who, in a number of ways, I admire.  When the BBC was making a documentary about  Queen’s University’s 150th anniversary, she was a major contributor and over several days I got to talk to her and watch her interact with others. Outstanding intelligence and humanity at work.  So when I heard she’d been the guest of honour at a PSNI passing-out parade, I was interested.  Why was she there?

Well, the reason she WASN’T there is that she’s interested in policemen. Or that she figured they’d like to see her, or that Matt Baggot might make her and her husband a nice cup of tea. She was there because QE2 is planning to come to Dublin next year.  The presence of the President of Ireland (well in practical terms the president of the twenty-six counties, since none of us north of the border is allowed to vote for her) at the ceremony, the pictures of her and Matt Baggot smiling and complimenting each other, the President’s denunciation of the people who had ‘set their faces like flint’ against any reconciliation  – all that is meant to make nationalists feel good, that their  top woman has definitely got a toehold and a voice north of the border. The flip-side of which is that when QE2 comes to Dublin she needs must be wined and dined at Áras an Uachtaráin,  she must be greeted with courtesy and warmth by the populace, and above all,  nobody must MENTION THE WAR. Or if they do, it’s all done now and we’re all friends together, right? That old Irish question has been answered, finally and completely.  Right? And isn’t it great?

President McAleese makes an important point when she says the time has come to put aside old enmities. Sad to say that can  be done only on the basis of justice and democracy. The fact is,  Britain rules the northern corner of this island and the majority of Irish people don’t want that.  Over 5,000 British troops are stationed in the northern corner of this island and the majority of Irish people don’t want that.  It’d be nice if such uncomfortable facts could magically vanish and we could welcome the head of state of our nearest neighbour the way any civilized country should. But it’s not going to happen while Britain insists on maintaining its political and military grip in Ireland. If President McAleese thinks that attendance at a PSNI passing-out parade will mute the almighty outcry which will accompany such a visit,  then the woman from Ardoyne, for all her intelligence, is sadly out of touch with nationalist/republican feeling throughout Ireland.

10 Responses to A president, some policemen and a queen…

  1. Anonymous July 24, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    Hiya Jude, you say that the majority of people in ireland want the british out. lets look at it from a few angles.

    do people in the south really want the six counties to be part of the republic? some do, but is there a sizeable portion that dont? would there be a general feeling that they dont want anything to do with the “nordies”, not unless they can gain power or some financial benefit?

    Another thing, the whole “majority of people from a nationalist background want a united ireland”.

    would i be right in saying that quite a few of these people, whether they are from middle class backgrounds, working to middle class too and then to throw something else in the mix, people who have come from mixed marriages, excusing the pun, these grouping would classify themselves as northern irish.

    this middle grouping in general, doesnt want anything to do with the republic, thereby you now have three distinct groups, unionists, nationalists and people who classify themselves as northern irish.

    i have come across as few people in this new group, and i found that they were near as hell makes no difference, as fundamentalist as some of the other groupings they are against.

    i know this post is long and drawn out, and has no real relevance to this particular entry, but i feel it is a subject that REALLY needs to be looked at, before it starts to make things complicated.

  2. hoboroad July 25, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    New poll findings highlight a diversity of opinion over whether the province will still be part of UK in 2021

    The people of Northern Ireland are split on whether the province will survive as a separate entity until its centenary in 2021, a Belfast Telegraph poll has revealed.

    At the start of a week of celebrations marking St Patrick’s Day, the poll sheds new light on the long-standing question of nationhood in Northern Ireland.

    It provides another fascinating snapshot of public opinion at a key time in our political history.

    The vote is split — 42% agreeing and 42% disagreeing — on whether Northern Ireland will still be part of the United Kingdom by 2021. One in four Protestants (24%) said they thought there will be a united Ireland by then.

    That year will mark 100 years since the Government of Ireland Act — which created Northern Ireland — came into force.

    The poll also flags up the impact of the economic downturn in the Republic, with 55% of Catholics admitting a united Ireland is less likely because of its fiscal struggles.

    Today’s survey is the latest in a series of Belfast Telegraph/Inform Communication polls which examine public opinion in post-devolution Northern Ireland.

    The majority of respondents, 55%, believe Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK.

    Asked how they would vote in a future referendum on a united Ireland, 36% said they would opt for unification. A breakdown shows 69% of Catholics in support of a united Ireland, with one in four stating Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK.

    The last referendum on Irish unification was held in 1973 and found 98.9% in favour of Northern Ireland staying part of the UK.

    However, the poll was boycotted by most nationalists, and represented around only 57% of the electorate at the time.

    There have been growing calls for another referendum in recent years.

    In 2002 then Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said a referendum would cement Northern Ireland’s position within the UK.

    Meanwhile Sinn Fein minister Conor Murphy has also spoken about his hope that a referendum could be held before 2016.

    The Belfast Telegraph survey confirms that nationality remains a key issue for people here.

    Questioned on its relevance, 56% said it was “very important” with a further 32% describing it as “important”. Amongst Protestants, there appears to be a generation gap with 94% of those aged 65 and over describing it as “very important”, compared to 38% of those aged between 18 and 29.

    Some 39% of those polled describe their nationality as “British”, with a further 18% stating they are “Northern Irish”. Again, there is a significant difference in responses from people of a certain age. Older people are more likely to consider themselves British, with those aged between 18 and 29 instead opting for Northern Irish status.

    Meanwhile 42% said they considered themselves Irish, the vast majority (83%) being members of the Catholic community.

    The opinion poll was undertaken by public affairs consultancy Inform Communications over the period March 8-11 2010. Across Northern Ireland 1020 adults were interviewed.

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland-split-over–irish-unity-14721124.html#ixzz0iFOrc12U

  3. hoboroad July 25, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    The findings of this poll highlight the marked divisions that exist in our community around the issue of personal national identity and that these divisions become even more marked when views on the sovereignty of Northern Ireland are sought.

    Nationality is important to nearly everyone polled, with 88% of those interviewed saying it was either important or very important to them.

    The fact that more people described themselves as Irish (42%) than British (39%) may come as a surprise to many.

    That 71% of Protestants view themselves as British and 83% of Catholics consider themselves Irish, may have been more predictable.

    However, the 18% of respondents who described their nationality as Northern Irish and, in particular, the 24% of Protestants who did so, is surely significant in terms of the impact it has on reducing the overall British figure.

    The higher than might have been expected showing for the Northern Irish identity could be seen as a desire on the part of some to distance themselves from the traditional British or Irish labels in an |effort to present a more inclusive identity.

    The United Ireland question is a complex one and the |findings of the three questions that were posed relating to it, highlight a complexity |of divergent views. If there was a referendum about a united Ireland, 55% of respondents said they would vote for Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, while 36% would vote for the north and south to unite. Significantly, 26% of Catholics would want Northern Ireland to remain in the UK.

    In contrast, only 6% of Protestants have an interest in a united Ireland.

    Over half (51%) of those interviewed believe that the Republic of Ireland’s well documented economic difficulties have made the prospect of a united Ireland less likely, and this view is shared by respondents from both the Protestant and Catholic communities.

    Opinion as to what Northern Ireland’s sovereign position will be, come the centenary anniversary of its establishment in 2021, is divided but largely evenly balanced, with 42% believing it will still be part of the UK and 42% believing it will have become part of a united Ireland. Sixteen percent of respondents were not able to express an opinion.

    When the detail behind these figures is compared with the findings regarding a united Ireland referendum it is interesting to note that while 85% of Protestants would vote for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK, nearly a quarter (24%) expect it to have become part of a united Ireland come 2021.

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/marked-divisions-around-issue-of-national-identity-14721123.html#ixzz0iFS6hVRc

  4. Anonymous July 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Interesting stats Hoboroad, have you published any articles on your blog?

  5. hoboroad July 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    Anonymous @ 15:09

    I don't have a Blog. As it would take up to much of my time. But still thanks for asking.

  6. hoboroad July 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Suzanne Breen
    Irish American Democrats have begun to campaign for a united Ireland, claiming that politicians at home have failed to pursue the aspiration.

    Resolutions supporting Irish unity have been passed in 14 cities including San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and in states including California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

    John O'Riordan of the Irish American Democratic Club, which is leading the initiative, said: “If we cannot rely on political leaders in Ireland, then we will develop our own campaign.”

    He was particularly critical of Fianna Fáil: “According to its constitution, its goal is 'to secure in peace and agreement the unity of Ireland and its people'.

    “But where are the initiatives? How many years of power do you need to develop a coherent strategy around the goal? Brian Lenihan referring to people shopping in Newry as 'unpatriotic' put the lie to 'the republican party'.”

    O'Riordan stressed the campaign was to achieve unity by purely peaceful means. He claimed partition hindered economic development both north and south. He believed US business leaders would be “more willing to invest in Ireland if the country is united”.

    A “one-country approach” would hasten recovery from the recession. It would also help agriculture by allowing for the negotiation of a “common Irish position”.

    From Doneraile in Co Cork, O'Riordan has lived in the US for 17 years. He insisted the Irish American community had clout: “There are over 36 million people in the US who claim Irish descent. As a group, they maintain a powerful influence in all areas of American life, particularly within the political system.

    “The goal of unifying the island is a long-held dream that has been handed down from generation to generation.”

    The united-Ireland campaign is supported by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, various trade unions, the GAA, and friends of Sinn Féin.

    Taken from the Sunday Tribune

  7. Anonymous July 26, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Very interesting, it seems that in america there is more interest in ireland that what is generally portrayed in other strands of the media i.e. they only care about themselves, don't care about anything outside america.

  8. writing dissertations July 1, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    You know Irish whiskey, however, remained popular domestically and in recent decades has grown in popularity again internationally

  9. dissertation services October 11, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    it's like a piece ag classic English anarchy, isn't it?? at least it looks like that, sounds like that, and I guess it's right!

  10. symptoms of bronchitis October 14, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    impeccable speech, I don't think she made even one mistake… such a great ambassador for Ireland. Content was great too. Fair play Mrs. McAleese