How ‘Northern Irish’ can you get?

There’s an interesting article by Paul Gillespie in today’s Irish Times  in which he uses the word ‘through-other’ as a kicking-off point for consideration of the need to break down barriers between people here in the north. He talks about the need for a Bill of Rights and a Civic Forum:
‘Their potential is heralded by the gradual if hesitant emergence of a Northern Ireland identity claimed by up to one third of respondents in recent surveys, distinct from unionist or nationalist ones and drawing on all traditions”.
I wonder who was the clever dick who suggested including  ‘Northern Irish’ as a category in the last census form here? Could it have had anything to do with the increase in the proportion of the population which is of Catholic background?  By opening a third door, distinct from the usual British/Irish identification,  the possibility of frightening the unionist horses was minimized. 
At the same time there’s no doubt that people north of the border do have a distinct identity from those living in the twenty-six counties. How could you live under British rule for a near-century without developing characteristics different to the rest of the people of Ireland?  
That granted, have you ever met a Mayo man or woman that didn’t have a different view of the world from a Meath person? Or a Kerry man or woman who wasn’t strikingly different from a Dublin man or woman? Or do you think Cork people see themselves as the same as Kerry people?  Like England, like Scotland, like most countries,  different parts of our country shape people in different ways. The northerner is different,  just as every other section of Ireland is different; but s/he has an extra layer of difference that’s been shaped by British rule.
This extra dimension of difference has been seized upon by commentators to declare that we here north of the border have an identity we share only with each other. Well yes. Except that some of us enjoy/embrace this difference from the rest of Ireland; these we call unionists. Some dislike/resent the difference from the rest of Ireland; these we call nationalists/republicans. 
We have it on the authority of no less a figure than Margaret Thatcher: it’s not what happens to you that counts most, it’s how you react to it. So please, Paul Gillespie and others. Because a lot of people here recognise that we live in the six counties doesn’t mean we’re about to abandon our British/Irish identity. 

15 Responses to How ‘Northern Irish’ can you get?

  1. Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    You do realise having a Northern Irish identity doesn’t mean abandoning any other identity?

    • Jude Collins September 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      Well now, that’s a relief. What with all those commentators explaining it as an abandonment of Irish identity, I’d begun to get a little uneasy.

    • Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

      The last sentence of the article implies that you think being Northern Irish means abandoning other identities. So your sarcastic response to my comment is misplaced.

    • Jude Collins September 23, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      I’m sorry if you felt I was being sarcastic – it wasn’t intended as sarcasm. Understatement, maybe…Nor did I mean to imply that people abandoned other identities – that was my point about the Gillespie article. He took it as an indication people were leaving behind Britishness/Irishness

    • Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

      Well, you have me at a disadvantage because I haven’t read the Gillespie article and your summation of it doesn’t say that he argues a Northern Irish identity means abandoning any other identity.

  2. Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    You’r 3rd paragraph covers the posts I put on cvvarious forums about the motives behind the almost desperate attempt by the NI media establishment, to play down the 3% difference in the two blocs here. They ignore the headline figure of 3% and pounced on the NI identity figures, which were inserted in the census for that very purpose, not to scare the horse about the end of the majority. But in last week’s poll the BT had to admit the NI figures have collapsed leaving their, and BBC and UTV cheerleading looking embarassed that they fell for it HL&S. Nationalist noticed how their census responses had been miscontrued to save blushes of unionism. What a bunch of wallies the broadcast and print media here are, except the Irish news obviously.[madraj55

    • Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      You’re obviously not aware of Jude’s sensitivities regarding the Irish News!

    • Jude Collins September 23, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

      Just trying to keep the tone up…

    • Anonymous September 24, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      You’re correct in noting my lack of insight into Jude’s sensitivities re Irish News. I was simply unaware he had such.[madraj55]

    • Jude Collins September 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

      The words ‘sensitive’ and ‘blogger’ don’t fit into the same sentence..

  3. Jude Collins September 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm #


  4. Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    I also found it interesting, Jude, that this “Northern Irish” box was added only when the Catholic population of the six counties is at its highest in the NI state’s history.

    Many Catholics in the province do feel ‘northern Irish’ in that they have their distinct regional differences from the rest of Ireland, especially with partition. However if the choice had remained a straight one between British or Irish, we all know which way the vast majority of ‘Northern Irish’ boxes would have ticked. And it ain’t British.

    • Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

      How do you know that?

      Multiple identities could have been ticked,, including Northern Irish and Irish.

    • Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Read it again he said that if the choice had remained a straight one between British or Irish,

  5. Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    What if they asked:-

    Would you vote for a UI if the following set of circumstances came to pass:-

    (a) GB greatly reduced the block grant (artificial subsidy to support economies that would otherwise be considered as basket cases).

    (b) RoI was not longer bankrupt.

    (c) The economic case for an all island (unitary) sovereign state was shown to be demonstrably, strategically and irrefutably preferable to all parties (GB and UI) compared to the (master/servant) status quo.

    (d) the political power exercised by all sections of a new Irish state was much greater that the current limited and peripheral powers with the NI state.

    (d) any violent (anti-democratic) backlash to the new arrangement would be contained by Dublin/London

    All fairly plausible in a 20 year timeframe, fair chance that the 3% (in favour) figure would be bettered….