For God’s sake put on your clothes, Ma’am

I don’t usually think of women in their eighties wearing no clothes, but RTÉ’s Tommie Gorman had a programme on last night which forced me to. It started off with Luka Bloom, brother of Christy Moore, singing a song called ‘The Seed Is Sown’.  It wasn’t about seeds at all, it was really about the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland earlier this year. The camera came away from Luka and there we were again in the Garden of Remembrance on that day in May, Queen of England and President of Ireland side by side, heads bowed in memory of men executed nearly a century ago by the British Army.
The no-clothes bit? Well it’s the Emperor thing, innit? Or in this case Empress. The entire media world, as far as I can tell, sees this heads-bowed moment and the visit in general as terribly, terribly significant. That and Her Majesty using that bit of Irish at the banquet. Why? Because it signals a “flowering” (D Cameron’s word) of real friendship between our two islands. It puts the cherry on the cake that celebrates the end of centuries of cruelty and conflict.
Eh? Am I missing something? Is Ireland now an independent country? Has Westminster handed back financial and foreign-policy control to the Irish people? Have 5,000 British troops gone home for Christmas and stayed there? Is the map on the BBC’s Newsline 630 about to change its Isle-of-Man shape? Because that’s what I was under the impression was the source of the centuries-old conflict between our two countries – that Britain continues to exercise jurisdiction over a part of Ireland. How did Her Majesty, fully-clothed or otherwise, standing with bent head for a few seconds, change all that?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a party-pooper, nor do I wish to drizzle let alone rain on anyone’s parade. But if we’re all going to sink with a contented sigh into a pink cloud  of fantasy, where optics count for more than awkward facts, we’re never going to solve this thing.                                          

20 Responses to For God’s sake put on your clothes, Ma’am

  1. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    It is solved. Your dissident leanings will be reported to SF. Expect to lose your Andytown News column shortly.

  2. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Once again you miss the big picture with your narrow minded and little irelander republican views
    This north east corner of Ireland is part of the uk because the majority of the people here including a sizeable amount of Catholics believe that their financial economic and cultural future are best placed in that context.
    I don't know why you rail against these facts and waste precious time confirming many peoples beliefs that to be in a republic with small minded and bitter people like yourself would be horrendous.
    Why not be gracious,try and build bridges and explain to me and others why a united Ireland is such a great idea
    I really cannot think of one good reason why a united Ireland would be beneficial for me at all…umm perhaps a better football team…no still thinking here Jude,nothing comes to mind
    So get with the program accept the north has changed beyond all recognition and work positively,engage,be forgiving,don't continually sneer and snipe and you never know as the provos used to say “our day will come”
    Unfortunately just not in your or my lifetime Jude…

  3. Jude Collins December 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    Anon 11:04 – thanks for your detailed thoughts.
    Calling me narrow-minded or a little irelander republican is a pretty weak argument, I'd say. I realise that the NE of Ireland is part of the UK and I'm sure lots of people think that's absolutely tip-top. I don't. I assume I'm entitled to express my views? I don't 'rail against these facts' – read the column, pu-leeeease. I simply state that the reason there has been conflict between England and Ireland is that England/Britain declares jurisdiction over the NE corner of Ireland and backs that up with military force. Fact. Closing one's eyes doesn't make it go away.
    “small-minded (hyphenated word, Anon) and bitter” – you know, Anon, if you keep calling me names I'm going to delete your comments as wasting otherwise valuable space for people with a point of view.
    I never said an UI would be “a great idea”. I believe it would be a grown-up idea. That's what you do when you're grown up – attend to your own affairs, not allow someone else to do it for you. I agree the north has changed significantly – after decades of bloodshed – and I'm more than glad that's the case. It still doesn't change the point I'm making.
    “Engage, forgive, don't continually sneer and snipe” – I'm certainly engaged with the arguments for and agains, I am fortunate enough to have little or nothing to forgive.
    As to a UI not occurring in your lifetime or mine – you could well be right. Don't remember ever saying anything to the contrary.
    But thanks for your thoughts, Anon – apart from the name-calling.

  4. Jude Collins December 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Anon 10:36 – Ha ha haaa – thanks for the best laugh over the Christmas period. Other posters tell me I'm a puppet of SF thinking, you tell me I run counter to same. As for my A-town News column – you could be right but maybe for the wrong reason. Truth is, I'm a crap writer. Nobody of any intelligence reads me…

  5. PJDorrian December 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    It's hard to convince someone, without the confidence of identifying THEMSELVES, about the validity of your views when they hide behind the acronym of “Anonymous”, so many people use it. As for the rest of the article, I thought what you were saying was spot on. There was nothing significant about “Brendas” cupla focal, she does the same going to any non anglo-phone country, as for the war memorial, sure she must have seen more memorials than actual soldiers. The main significance of the visit was that there was no attempt to Mountbattenise her, in fact there seemed to be a desire from certain sections of the Dublin4 set to re-embrace the British Monarchy as their own. Jude good article.

  6. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    To anon 11:04 “This north east corner of Ireland is part of the uk because the majority of the people here including a sizeable amount of Catholics believe that their financial economic and cultural future are best placed in that context.”
    Don't think its possible to know that without a border poll/vote on a united Ireland and even in that poll/vote I don't think that there'll be a “I'm a Protestant/Catholic” tick box so it'll be impossible to tell the sectarian breakdown. So I don't think Jude is railing against facts just railing against your opinion.

  7. giordanobruno December 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    The Queen as you well know is merely a figurehead. Did you expect her to announce that she personally was withdrawing all British troops from Irish soil?
    There was some symbolic significance in the visit. Maybe you should be pleased about that.
    By “Mountbattenise her”, I presume you mean murder her?
    Why not just say so.

  8. Jude Collins December 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    gio – what did it symbolize?

  9. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Re your comments Jude,to critic me for calling you bitter and then being pedantic regarding the grammar of the term small minded says a lot…I'm sorry if the term bitter offends you but if you read your blog it is a never ending stream of overt and covert digs at the British state and northern Ireland
    As for the assumption that the British claim NI with military force,cant remember the last time a Brit had a gun at my head demanding that I remain British.
    However if I was trying to subvert a democratic state then I suppose I might expect to have those forces pay me a visit….fair enough you must concede Jude

    However as I have stated before your problem is not westminister claiming ownership here,it's me a guy from Ireland who considers himself British….that's your problem jude

    As for a UI being a grown up idea… Really,are you serious…so as opposed to just the south living in penury you would want give that gift to the whole island,through unaffordable unification costs,unaffordable healthcare costs etc etc and what do get in return for this… I know,a lovely gaelic homeland with no interference from the British and a chance to shape our own affairs because that's worked really well recently!

  10. Breige December 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Dear Anonymous, if the blog bothers you so much, why do you read it?

  11. giordanobruno December 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    No one as far as I am aware ever said the Queen's visit changed everything. That's a bit of a straw man on your part
    Maybe it symbolises that many Irish people view their neighbours with benign indifference these days. Some people came out to watch, some to protest, most ignored it.
    Not everyone is motivated by bitter resentment.
    Some bloggers are constantly banging on about the evils of the Brits or Unionists.
    Look at your colleague Squinter for example (what's that? you thought I meant you? Tush!)
    Every week its ; the Trevors did this, aren't Orangemen funny, what about them DUP ones etc etc.
    It all smacks of deep insecurity.

  12. Jude Collins December 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    Gio m'man ( that's a sexist assumption, I know – you may be female or bisexual) – I agree QE2's visit didn't change everything. In fact it changed nothing, despite the manful (another sexism) efforts to make it appear so. If you've an issue with Squinter, why don't you tell him he's insecure? I happen to know him and a less insecure person I can't think of. But he'd be interested in your view of him, I'm sure. And a final point: because someone is critical of Britain or some unionists doesn't mean they're bitter and/or twisted. They might just be right – ever thought of that?

  13. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    pedantic semantic,s round and round over and over back and fro ,you said this i said that boring ,the majority voted that way it was a gerrymandered state ,blinkered thinking , i,m im in my trench no shooting but still throwing jibes and insults this go,s on and on switch the bloody tune ,no not the sash

  14. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Breige… The blog doesn't bother me it fascinates me… It fascinates me that someone can hold such views,I believe such views should be countered and exposed at every opportunity.
    It's not personal with old jude as I know one day I will convert him and he will realise all these years he's been wrong hypocritical and on the wrong side of the argument….ain't that right Jude (-;

  15. Jude Collins December 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Anon 17:02 – I won't ask the question asked earlier – why read pointless bloody tuneless stuff (sic) – but I will note that politics (local/Irish) is what people here like reading about. I know – I was a columnist for years with the VO before they…Oops, I'm not allowed to talk about that…but I was a columnist for years and I know it was when I wrote about politics, that's when the readers' blood started pumping. The only thing that came near was football. And if there's one thing writers can't stand, it's not being read…

  16. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    Jude,why are you not allowed to talk about your departure from the Irish News?Is there a confidentiality agreement?You mention the 5000 British troops in your blog.I thought Sinn Fein had promised to get these out of the North.Perhaps you would post a blog criticizing them for their inaction.Oops,I forgot,you never criticize Sinn Fein!

  17. giordanobruno December 29, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    First, I am a little concerned about your knowledge of biology. If I was bisexual (and I'm prepared to give it a try), I would still be either a man or a woman. I think.
    Whether the Queen's visit changed anything or not, as the man said about the effects of the French Revolution, it's too soon to say. I don't, myself, think it did any harm.
    Finally,I have no problem with criticism of British policy or Unionist actions; there is plenty to criticise.
    Perhaps we ought to take the mote from our own eye first though, as the good book says.

  18. Anonymous December 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Surely the previous contributor has made a reasonable point. It is fairly well known that you were in the happy position of being able to chose between a column in two different papers. You went for the option which turned out to be a farce and folded the following year. Why do you seek to make a conspiracy out of a simple error of judgment ?

  19. Jude Collins December 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    gio – hurried column, written this morning. I meant to suggest you might a hermaphrodite for all I knew, not bisexual. Apologies.

  20. Anonymous January 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Hi Jude,

    the media obsession with the visit being terribly significant was simply a reflection of the establishment view in Dublin.

    The southern political parties and their fellow-travellers (who are for various reasons, less than keen on Irish unity) interpreted the visit as a signal that the debate about partition was over. It was their 'End of History' moment.

    Why was it okay for her to visit now and not — say 20 years ago? Because, the North's status within the UK has been solidified and put beyond doubt. Articles 2 and 3 are gone.

    It was only those pesky northern nationalists who did their best to rain on the parade — and they were duly ignored.

    They played little role in the southern media narrative surrounding the event (bar the fact that President McAleese is an Ardoyne woman).

    I certainly don't recall any vox-pops from Newry — or any serious attempt to gauge the mood of these awkward buggers.

    Keep up the good work.