Northern Irish – Promised land or no-man’s-land?

Maybe it’s because it’s still February (how long, Lord? How long?) and the weather’s turned cold, but I find myself this Wednesday morning thinking grimly as to what bright spark came up with the wheeze of including ‘Northern Irish’ as a category in the census forms. Because it clearly is placed with exquisite precision as a middle ground in which, if you’re of a delicate disposition,  you can park yourself. British? Nah – that’s for the head-bangers who get pissed on the Twelfth and love getting into sectarian punch-ups.    Irish? Nah – that’s for the crazies who tried to bomb a million Protestants into a united Ireland and failed. I’m not going to link myself with that  lot. Which leaves me with Northern Irish and sure what could be better? By ticking that box I show I’m not an extremist on either side, but view this wee country of ours, all six counties of it, as the gem that gets my affection-juices flowing. 
Some people don’t like me for it? Makes it sound as though I’m inching away from my Britishness and next you know there’ll be a tricolour flying over Belfast City Hall? Too bad. Some other people don’t like it, because it sounds as though I’m trying to hew out an identity that is peculiar to here  – that I’m answering Thatcher’s question and saying no, we here are not as British as Finchley but at the same time we’re not those muddle-headed bankrupts south of the border either? Too bad there too. 
A long time ago, when the Ulster Unionist Party was just beginning to feel the DUP pinch its bum, they devised a slogan “Decent people vote for the UUP”. That’s really what the Northern Irish people are saying: We’re decent balanced people, we see our Irishness but we also see our Britishness, and what’s wrong with that?
Well nothing really. It’s just another way of saying “I’m a unionist but a nice, liberal one. And I’m pleased to say that some very decent people – including Catholic people, for goodness’ sake – think like me”.
What was it the Bible said about this sort of thing? Ah yes, Revelations 3:16: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth”. “

13 Responses to Northern Irish – Promised land or no-man’s-land?

  1. Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    Ridiculous article.

  2. Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Although we won’t know for certain until next month, initial analysis of the last census release shows a majority of the people who ticked ‘Northern Irish’ are Catholic, tending to a significant majority west of the Bann. So your focusing on ‘liberal unionists’ here is incorrect.

  3. boondock February 27, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    The Northern Irish question is certainly causing some confusion with both Unionists and Nationalists claiming them as their own. The reality is the vast majority who chose only the Northern Irish identity in the census are from a catholic background. They are probably happy to maintain the status quo for the moment hence the all time low support for a UI but what ignorant lumps like Arlene (picked her because she is never off the TV at the moment) is that these people are not die hard union flag flying Brits and will vote in any future border poll on how it affects their pocket. This makes me wonder why SF have been so dumb on all these recent TV debates that they cannot articulate a single benefit of a UI. in fact they havent even the sense to interrupt Arlene when she is talking about the economy that scratch the surface of the UK economy and it looks pretty desperate too

  4. Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    It’s as plain as the nose on your[anyone’s] face that the census office were advised to put this question in to muddy the waters because they saw the writing on the wall fdor unionism and wanted to avoid scaring the horses, and the compliant BBC UTV and well past it telegraph went along for the ride as the news editors in those organs are unionist supporters. They didn’t like the look of the headline figures of the census and pathetically pounced on the spurious ‘N Irish’ identity to hijack catholic respondents to the census who put N Irish intending this to mean affinity with the northern part of the island as poopsed to the other 3 provinces. The honest question to have put would have been ‘Do you identify yourself with GB, RoI or NI. Then they would have got the accurate picture of the support for the colony devised here. The didn’t want the accurater picture when they dreamt up this wheeze.[madraj55]

    • giordanobruno February 28, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      Well done for spotting the conspiracy. I must say your knowledge of the innermost thoughts of news editors, all catholic respondents to the census and of course the mysterious ‘they’, is truly remarkable.

  5. Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    Don’t feel that you’re oblidged to write a blog every day if this is the best you can produce.Maybe March will see some better quality material!

  6. Jude Collins February 27, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Anon 13:21 – Um…How can I say this…There’s no ‘d’ in ‘obliged’.

  7. Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    Point taken!Pedantic as ever!Old teaching habits die hard!

    • Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      Um…How can I say this also but there should be a space between the exclamation mark and the word Pedantic.


    • Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

      And the exclamation mark and the word Old

    • giordanobruno February 27, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

      Should “the word Old” in your comment not be
      “the word ‘Old'”?

  8. Jude Collins February 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Actually all three exclamation marks are a stylistic eyesore.

  9. Ryanm29 February 28, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    I fail to understand how all these people, republican or unionist feel that they have any right to interpret what it means to the respondents.

    Yes, of course they’ll try and claim those people as their own, but did you stop to think for a moment that those people arent saying one thing and meaning another (ie meaning they’re on your side) perhaps they actually feel a bit british and a bit irish, perhaps they feel ‘northern irish’, perhaps, just perhaps they dont give a toss for any of this politics and just want to live a happy life?

    You have no more right to tell people they’re wrong, read into it about their sexuality, religion, football team, favourite colour, food or dogs name than you have to say they’re wrong/actuallymeaning/confused about their nationality or politics.