Sectarian bigots and repentance

Once more, Sunday Sequence on BBC Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster kick-starts my thinking today.  Rev Gary Mason of the East Belfast Mission was on and drew a parallel between alcoholism and sectarianism: “I am a recovering sectarian bigot” he told listeners.  Good line. Somebody tweeted in that this was a marvellous example of leadership.

Sorry. Can’t agree. If sincere, it’s a good example of openness and humility, but I find myself getting impatient with this  “We are all to blame” approach to our problems. I don’t dispute that there’s sectarianism in all of us, to a greater or lesser degree. But saying that and/or conceding that you yourself have been guilty of it doesn’t take us anywhere. 
What I’d call leadership would be if a prominent person in the public eye were to say “I am a recovering sectarian bigot” and then list examples of the sectarianism/bigotry  they’ve been guilty of and how they recovered from it. Now that would be impressive. That would be leadership. 
Nelson McCausland devoted a blog to me some time ago, denouncing me as a sectarian bigot. As I watched Nelson in his Orange sash at the front of the protestors with Nigel Dodds yesterday, I thought how marvellous it would be if , instead of seeing the bigotry in others, our leaders were  to acknowledge their own bigotry, citing chapter and verse. And how they’d managed to leave it behind. I think that would be true leadership. 
It was Gary Mason also this morning (I think) who commended Martin McGuinness for referring to ‘Derry/Londonderry’.  He figured it helped develop confidence within the unionist community. Personally I think it’s an awkward name but if people feel reassured by its use, fine. A bit like Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster, I suppose.  

But can I conclude with an appeal? Regardless of your sectarianism and/or repentance of it, please oh please don’t ever, even if threatened with violence, refer to “the island of Ireland”. Except maybe if you’re a geography teacher. We don’t say “the human being Gregory Campbell”. Then please oh please don’t state the bleedin’ obvious when you talk about Ireland.

11 Responses to Sectarian bigots and repentance

  1. Anonymous July 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Who apart from yourself uses “Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster ? In my experience the people who use “island of Ireland ” most are Sinn Fein politicians!Maybe you should have a word in their ears.

  2. Jude Collins July 28, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Anon 16:28 – You're right – no one else I know uses Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster. Not sure what your point is… As for SF politicians – both Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are on Twitter – why not have a word with them yourself?

  3. Anonymous July 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Jude;I really couldn't care less about going on twitter with Martin or Gerry.It was you who was moaning about the reference to “the island of Ireland”.So if you are concerned,it should be your good self who communicates with the said gentlemen.The rest of us will just get on with our lives.

  4. Anonymous July 28, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    Jude a chara what an insightful few words, but I doubt it will resonate well with Nelson or indeed Gregory, as neither of them would acknowledge that they have a grain of sectarianism in their bodies. It's time they acknowledged that the days of trampling up and down through whatever areas they choose and over whoever they choose are coming to an end. They don't seem to grasp the fact that the catholic people are now equals (perhaps in many cases betters) through the excellent work in the catholic school system.
    Too many catholics have too short a memory when it comes to tossing our school system on the scrap heap, because it supposedly churns out bigots! The catholic schools in N Ireland did and still do a superb job educating young people from all backgrounds. It

  5. Jude Collins July 29, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    Anon 22:25 I'll take that as a fairly emphatic don't-want-to-talk, then. Now where have I heard that before??

    Anon 23:33 – Catholic schools, like all schools, have their flaws. But to argue that they promote sectarianism is an argument made by those who know little and/or care less about them.

  6. Anonymous July 29, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    Jude;can you read your last paragraph again and specifically “please oh please don't ever,even if threatened with violence refer to the island of Ireland”Do you not accept that it was yourself who raised the issue first?I merely commented that the people who seemed to use that phrase most were Sinn Fein politicians.You seem to suggest that this obliges me to go on Twitter with Martin and Gerry.If you don't mind,you seem to be a tad sensitive on the whole matter,especially when someone dares to refer to S F politicians!

  7. Jude Collins July 29, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Anon 09:24 – I had my sensitivity gland removed prior to starting writing a blog, so don't worry your pretty little head on that one. You do (if I may say so) use rather a lot of'seems'. But since you made the judgement that SF politicians used 'island of Ireland', you presumably have examples of same which you could deliver to them yourself – always cut out the middle man where possible. Although it might not be necessary anyway – all the best people read my blog, and if the cap fits…

  8. giordanobruno July 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    I too have not noticed anyone bar yourself use the term Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster. So as you find it awkward like the use of Derry/Londonderry then why use it?

  9. Jude Collins July 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Gio – weeellllll, I'm trying to master Irish; I think it sounds nicer than Radio Ulster alone; and it reminds me that the term 'Radio Ulster' which in fact serves six counties of Ulster really needs revision. Terrible thing to be misleading people geographically…

  10. Anonymous July 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    Jude,if you're trying to master Irish you'll have to be a little more ambitious than repeating Raidio Uladh.A blog in Irish someday ,perhaps !

  11. Jude Collins July 30, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Anon 19:34 – It's a race between fluency and mortality but I promise you I do a little more than repeat that phrase…