‘Colony: a country or area under the full or partial political control of another country and occupied by settlers from that country. ‘
‘Colony: a group of animals that live close together’
It’s funny the things that make people’s jets red-hot, isn’t it? Earlier this week Billy Hutchinson said he had killed two Catholic men on their way to work and so helped prevent a united Ireland. It’s a statement of fact but a pretty grisly and heartless statement of fact. As I said in an earlier blog, if Martin McGuinness had made a similar half-boast about killing Protestants, there would have been sparks flying from the jets of unionism, a firestorm of criticism. But did, say, Arlene Foster spring forward to disassociate herself and her party from Billy’s boast? Not that I noticed.You Virigina – no? I thought not.
But when Anna Lo referred to our little north-eastern corner as a colony, unionist politicians were lining up. Arlene made it clear that Anna Lo had a right to say what she chose but then went on to make it clear that she had no right to say Northern Ireland was a colony. Reg Empey was right behind her, expressing his shock and distress that the Alliance Party should contain such views. The Alliance Party leader spluttered that she’d said a united Ireland wouldn’t happen in her lifetime.
I’d say there are two things behind the jet-screech of unionism to Anna’s remarks. One is that it sometimes hurts to be told the truth. I’ve given above the definition of ‘colony’ from two different dictionaries. I’m sure we’re all agreed that the second of the two would not describe any group here, except you see human beings as essentially animals with brains. The first definition strikes me as a fairly good description of our own situation.
We’re a country if you believe Stephen Nolan (“The greatest show in the country!”) or we’re an area as a lot of the rest of us would see it. But we’d be agreed on one or the other.
OK, the next bit – ‘under the full or partial political control of another country’: I think it’s fair to say we’re under partial political control of Britain. We’ve no control over taxation or foreign policy, for example; and it took a long and bloody struggle before we arrived at our present limited power-sharing institutions. Finally ‘occupied by settlers from that country’. Well yes, that is a little problematic. Unionists are not from Britain – many of them have been here for centuries. Which would make them Irish. So you could say that part of the definition doesn’t apply. Except, except: the claim to be British, not Irish, is the very bedrock of unionism. So it looks as though we do fit the colony definition.
Around here, when you speak the plain truth on some matters, you’d better put your crash-helmet on. But listen, forget that bit about animals, will you? Some of us do a very good imitation of being human.
Oh, I nearly forgot – I did say there were two things behind the unionism jet-screech, didn’t I? And I only gave one. Apologies. The second is, of course, the election, stupid.