Inching towards equality

 

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I never come off a radio or TV programme without feeling yet again that the broadcasting media allow you to scratch the surface of a topic only. I had that old familiar feeling yesterday and today, after participating in two discussions.

Yesterday was the Ulster Museum   (no, Virginia, the question of  it catering to nine counties or six wasn’t raised). Actually  the topic of discussion wasn’t the museum itself but rather what the book/souvenir shop sold . Apparently the DUP’s Brenda Hale visited it with her daughter and was “disappointed” because it had a bias in its book selection towards “the nationalist and republican traditions”. Not enough stuff about Ulster-Scots, the Orange Order and the First World War.  Talkback’s presenter William Crawley visited the shop earlier yesterday and it seemed they did have a fair amount of stuff that reflected the unionist tradition.

My central point was that the book/souvenir shop should, in its books section, reflect both republican and unionist traditions. Talkback very kindly tweeted this, but unfortunately forgot to add what I said immediately after, which was that we didn’t want to make the historical mistakes that were made with Belfast City Hall and Stormont, in which the nationalist/republican tradition is represented so marginally, it’s scarcely visible. I could have added that for fifty years and more, one major aspect of nationalist culture, the GAA, didn’t exist as far as the building in which we were sat was concerned. You just didn’t go to the BBC if it was Gaelic football results you were after, let alone coverage of games. And it goes on: the newspaper which gave Brenda Hale’s complaint front-page coverage was the News Letter. In the same edition’s sports pages you’ll find extensive coverage of soccer, cricket, rugby, golf, boxing, motor-cycling and archery,  but no mention of Gaelic football, the biggest participant sport in the state. Although to be fair, they did mention in their News section the funeral of  a  GAA player who’d died in a car crash. So for Brenda to complain about imbalance in the museum’s book/gift shop is a bit rich, in a city where  the streets (Royal Avenue, Windsor Avenue, Prince Charles Way) the buildings (Windsor House, King’s Hall) and even  bridges and university (Queen’s University, Queen’s Bridge) cry out “We are loyal subjects!”.  And isn’t there something a bit weird that your focus in a museum is on the book/gift shop and not the museum displays themselves?

Of course Brenda’ s complaint fits into a pattern of similar complaints: unionists are being done down at every turn.  This morning I was on the Nolan radio show (shut up, Virginia), discussing the judgement handed down in court to the Young Conway Volunteers flute band, who circled in front of a Catholic church playing ‘The Famine Song’. This was immediately linked to the shouted remarks of the band The Druids, who at last year’s Ardoyne Fleadh told the British army and their Orange brethren to fuck off back to England.  Suggestions were made that the flute band’s song was an innocent ‘Sloop John B’ and not meant to be provocative,  while at the same time pointing to  the stupid, uninformed, sectarian views of the Druids and complaining because they hadn’t been prosecuted. Yousins are getting off all the time and usins are having our culture stripped away. When I suggested that the 2- 3000 marches by  bands each year belonged to an anti-Catholic organisation called the Orange Order, I was told I was a bigot.

Unionism is not having its symbolism and heritage stripped away each day. It is still more than visible throughout the north, on gable walls, in Stormont, in Belfast City Hall, in the streets and buildings and bridges. It’s just that we’re edging towards a society that aims at equality for all, and some people find that very hard to bear.

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24 Responses to Inching towards equality

  1. William April 30, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    A local tweeter reminded me that the poster depicting the photos of murdered RUC men and women during past 40 years, has been removed from the NI display section by the present administration.
    The only visual reference which I was able to locate was an RUC-capped individual present at the scene of a riot.
    RUC info was not easily accessible on the tour.

    • Jude Collins April 30, 2015 at 11:07 am #

      That is unfortunate, William. I think all of the combatants should be represented – RUC, British army, UDR, UDA, UVF, IRA, INLA, etc. Trying to erase parts of our history is doing no one any favours.

  2. Iolar April 30, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    Nine note nonsense

    “Though nothing like melody/he blamed their fingers and ear/as unpractised…”

    In Heaney’s poem, The Given Note, the artist does not create but is ‘given.’

    Emphasis is now being placed on nine specific notes played by the Young Conway Volunteers’ flute band and the fact that while notes were heard, the lyrics were not audible or meant to be provocative?

    Perhaps we should note comments made by ‘leaders’ of a hard-line UDA faction in north Antrim,

    “violence is likely to escalate further…in a bad July.”

    We should also note a question posed by the Chief Constable,

    “…17 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement…Why on earth do these groups even exist?”

    Unfortunately, the threats of violence during July are being attributed to disloyalists feeling “marginalised” and that the Good Friday Agreement was a bad deal for loyalists. Cooler heads might point in an entirely different direction. Marching round in circles or to the top of a hill to wave fire arm certificates has not made one iota of difference to educational attainment for vast numbers of individuals in this divided society.

    Unionist leaders continue to exploit flags and other symbols and the close proximity of conflicting groups in their ongoing attempts to influence and maintain electoral advantage. Animosity, a false perception of enmity and deep-rooted fear prevail when constituents are reminded that the enemy is living just a few streets away. In such a climate people are vulnerable and easily manipulated. Loyalists are being duped into thinking that their survival is at stake in order to inspire uncritical support for political unionism.
    Some unionist politicians aspire to hold the balance of power in another Tory administration. What will holding the balance of power mean for constituents?

    Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, has taken the extraordinary step of lifting the lid on Tory plans for an £8bn plan to cut welfare, including slashing child benefits and child tax credits.

    The proposed cuts include:

    • Limiting support to 2 children in child benefit and child tax credit, so cutting up to £3,500 from a family with three children.

    • Removing the higher rate child benefit from the first child, an average cut of over £360 for every family with children.

    • Means testing child benefit – cutting £1,750 for a two child middle income family

    This is not music to our ears. We are in urgent need of an overture for a political dispensation which will build a sustainable peace in our divided society.

  3. ANOTHER JUDE April 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    In order to redress the imbalance between Nationalist and Unionist cultural references in the six counties, all new buildings, bridges, etc, should be named after Nationalist folk heroes. I suggest fifty years or so, then we would be going some way towards equality.

    • Jude Collins April 30, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

      I agree completely. But given the brouhaha about flying the union flag on ONLY 18 days, can you imagine the cluster-meltdown if your suggestion were put forward by nationalists/republicans? It’s OK that they did the naming, that naming should remain, but don’t even think of naming anything in honour of famous nationalists/republicans. And that includes playparks, btw…

      • giordanobruno April 30, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

        Jude
        As far as naming things goes, I am all in favour of correcting the imbalance you highlight (so very often).
        I don’t think naming public furniture after controversial figures from living memory is conducive to peaceful relations. And we are all about moving forward are we not?
        Many families suffered at the hands of the IRA in S Armagh so it seems to me insensitive to be naming things after them.
        If there are significant historic figures or indeed non controversial recent ones why not use them? Why does it have to be violent men?
        Yes, to save time, I think that should apply for both sides and it holds for the statue in Lisburn (I think it was) honouring the UDR.

        • Jude Collins April 30, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

          That sounds fair, gio. Mind you, it’ll mean nationalists and republicans will have to put up with Victoria, Carson, etc, etc,etc…Do you care how they feel about that? Have always felt? And will feel?

          • giordanobruno May 1, 2015 at 8:57 am #

            Jude
            Of course I care, though it’s not an issue I hear people in the real world talking about much.
            I imagine SF controlled councils will be taking every opportunity to do a bit of renaming. I just hope it is done with genuine goodwill and sensitivity rather than simply repeating the triumphalism of Unionism.

          • Am Ghobsmacht May 2, 2015 at 1:37 am #

            Some food for thought Dr C:

            What kind of precedent are we setting for future generations if we go about renaming things that are no longer in vogue?

            What if there’s some sort of demographic reversal in the next 100 years or new political movement that is at odds with unionism and nationalism? Is it right for them to just coldly rename places regardless of how the surviving nationalists of the day feel?

            I would say this to this new hypothetical group “by all means name the new stuff after your civic leaders and big wigs but don’t go renaming John Hume airport or Cathal Daly motorway just because you don’t like them”.

            This idea of renaming things is a recipe for another 100 years of ‘get it up ye’ and will no doubt result in stupid ideas such as renaming Larne ‘Oldfleet’ or ‘de-irishing’ place names like Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Ballymoney, Donaghadee amongst others.

            This is just an appeal for a bit of rational thought and behaviour here, it’s things like this that feed the monster.

          • Jude Collins May 2, 2015 at 8:24 am #

            I agree with every word you say (again) AG – but the fact is, leaving things as they stand, in a state that’s teetering on 50-50, the overwhelming number of buildings, statues, roads, etc commemorate/honour one side only. That’s not a recipe for harmony either.

  4. Belfastdan April 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    Unionism still has the whip hand when it comes to cultural symbolism. Belfast is the only city in the world that can have a St Patrick’s Day celebration that some how manages to avoid references to the words Ireland and Irish.

    Look at most of the housing developments. They are usually named as if they where located in the English Home Counties or the Lake District: all dales, shires and mews with no connection to the native Irish area they are set in.

    As for Unionists getting upset over the naming of a play park sure don’t we have a Cromwell Road right here in Belfast!

    • Jude Collins April 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

      And I’m told there’s a ‘Bates Park’ named after the redoubtable Dawson Bates (Please, no jokes about the young Master…)

      • ANOTHER JUDE May 1, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

        I would rather have it named after Norman, at least we know he wouldn` t hurt a fly. MOTHER!!!

  5. Diarmaid Rankin April 30, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    I was actually of the reverse opinion of the some Ulster Museum exhibits, Jude. I found them to be very colonial. But i didn’t feel offended by that. I also felt a distinct bias at the beginning of the civil right exhibit, so much so that i decided it wasn’t for me.

  6. Perkin Warbeck April 30, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    Your blog today, Esteemed Blogmeister, once again served to remind one just how united the sporting establishments on both sides of the Teddy Bear-shaped island known as Ire Land are.

    Certainly where the erm, estabbing in the back of that troublesome Thomas A Becket of Sports Organisations is concerned: the GAA.

    Take the Irish Dependent the day before today when their resident sit-down comic, Dec ‘The Neck’ Lynch had this to sneer: ‘Discovering what it was like to be present at something that Mattered’.

    An intrigued Perkie was immediately hooked, not least at the implication of that intriguing, come-on title, i.e. to discover just exactly what was that something that did NOT matter.

    He had not long to wait: ‘Jack Charlton had been quite fond of the big days out at Croke Park, though being the typically gruff Yorkshireman that he was, bravely expressed reservations about a sport which is played in only one country’.

    (For the record and for the benefit of one’s younger reader: Jack was the lad who managed his hugely entertaining Charlatan Athletic team which, if it FAI-led to actually win any silverware, did succeed in capturing something far more valuable, the hearts and,erm, minds of fans both at home and abroad, even as far as unto New Ireland itself).

    The Yorkie connection is what got Perkie’s inner historian’s taste buds salivating at this point. It was, tar eis an tsaoil / after all in York (the old version, so much better they only had to name it once) that the King Henry who made the relevant comment was crowned: ‘Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?’.

    Dec the Neck endorses JC’s dissing with ‘these so-called national games of Gaelic football and hurling’. How these words must have been spit-written through gritted teeth ! His sub-editor, with an eye to the main commercial chance, would never allow D.L., a cosmopolitan enthusiast for the ‘bootiful game’, from using his irresistible terms of diss: ‘bogball and stickfighting’ respectively.

    The sick as a p., shoneen scribe’s readable parroting between the lines is, of course’ ‘who will rid me of this last but definitely least of all troublesome sporting organisations?’.

    As to its games being only played in one country, another quotation comes to mind:.This was first made (allegedly) by a strapping, lion-hearted chap from Royal Meath: ‘The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton’.

    One of Perkie’s sporting fantasies is to imagine the Duke of Wellington (for it is he !) playing full forward for Mornington Gaels in the Royal Meath county championship and for him to be marked by another strapping chap from the Summerhill club,their bashful full back, Mick ‘Realpolitik’ Lyons.

    Could it be that the reason why stickfighting is only played in one country is because its weapon of choice is a caman/ hurley ? Once wielded by Setanta before he morphed into the pin-up boy for the Loyalist Paramilitaries, Cuchulainn. The LP’s seeminlgy liked the way the latter put up his, erm, myths.

    Ash groves being noticeable by their absence in the immediate environs of Eton their choice of weapon was understandably restricted and so their alumni were compelled to resort to Webleys, Maxim sub-machine guns and of course Enfields when they graduated to besporting themselves on foreign fields. Bravely. (see above).

    Perhaps the contrasting treatment of bogball and the bootiful game in the Free Southern Stateen’s DOBlin media is best illustrated by two players, one name.

    That one name being: James McCarthy.

    One of whom is a greyhound-limbed wing back for the Dublin Bogball team; the other is a (fill in blank) wing back for Everton.FC.

    ( Not having knowingly watched the, erm, Premiership since it was made Compulsory, Perkie’s inner malcontent is unable to describe the physical stats of the forever Evertonian, or at least till a bigger sporran is on offer).

    One of these two James McCarthy’s column inch coverage in the FSS sporting media comfortably outstrips the other’s by a ratio of 99 to 1. Which one might that be?

    Here’s a hint: his voice sounds like a bagpipe blown winsomely with the right nostril.

    Not to be outdone by its sister paper of recrimination, The Unionist Times, in today’s very edition has a piece by its soc. cor, oops, football correspondent, Emmet Malone, entitled ‘Dublin City Council keen to progress with Dalymount Park deal’.

    Yes, the same DCC which has some form in this class of deal, as has its Reserve Teams in the South Dublin and Fingal Councils.

    Though ‘class’ being a more appropriate term, perhaps; form being temporary, class being permanent.

    A spokesman for the considerate Dublin City Council was quoted: ”We want to buy Dalymount Park and to pay a reasonable price for it and if the fine pays all the debts, that’s fine’.

    Hmm.

    Could this be the same considerate DCC which has shown its class in Croke Park from the Unfinished End to the Non-starting Garth Brooks gigs?.

    The latter was the ultimate turkey in the straw that broke, if not the the dromedary’s back then assuredly the two-humped camel’s back. Combining as it did the two big bete noires of the West British Establishment of East Coast Eireland: the red-neck and the bogball.

    Hmmm.

    Interesting word that, alright: bete noire. Consider for a nano-mo the following: if instead of the rather pedestrian G. Brooks the performer in q. was to be, say, the easy-listening Charlie Pride. Whatever else one may say about old Charlie what one cannot accuse him of is being a redneck. For that he is indubitably not.

    Now, that might well have put the latent inverted racialism at the heart of the G. Brooks foul-up to the test. And even as he sat in his Dublin City Council office beneath the CC, the unelected Decision Wallah would have had some cause to pause. And while he paused, perchance to hum:

    Oh, the Crystal Chandeliers light up the paintings on the wall
    The marble statuettes are standing stately in the hall.

    Whereas the Garth. Brooks decision might have been a one woodbine problem a hypothetical Charlie Pride verdict would be a cigar of a different colour altogether; even,perhance, a King Edward box sized one. Leading even to the possible humming of the following lines:

    But will the timely crowd that has you laughing loud
    Be there to dry your tears
    When the new wears off your Chrystal Chandeliers?

    Ah, there’s the rub / Sin i an cheist.

    To conclude on a further aural note and to go back to square one: the day before today.

    Yesterday (for it is it !) one woke up to a gushy sports reporter on RTE Wireless headline his piece with a (gulp) ‘;fairy tale’. About a soccer, oops, football club beginning with B.

    Barca? Non.. Bayern Munich ? Nein. Boca Juniors ? Non, otra tiempo. Who then ? Bournemouth FC.. Yes, open your proud mouth wide and say it loud: B for Bournemouth FC.

    A flummoxed Perkie was so overcome by the unexpected INCLUSIVITY of it all that he did not quite pick up on the actual details of the,erm, ‘fairy tale’.

    No matter: it was one to add to the rivetting collection of,erm, fairy tales currently being retailed and retold by the Bourneville Boyos on the hissy-tit side of the Yis ! Same Difference Referendum.

    Sure, who said Bournemouth wasn’t as Irish as Burnfoot ?

  7. Antonio April 30, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    It was noteworthy that no D.U.P member such as Nelson McCausland who has said the judgement was wrong, came on the Nolan show to debate this issue with you Jude. Instead a U.P.R.G representative was on the show with you. A useful idiot for Unionists if ever there was one.

    • Ryan April 30, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

      I’m not even a loyalist and even I was embarrassed for Gerald Solinas. According to Gerald in the newsetter or Belfast Telegraph, he turned down a £100,000 per year job and even a place at Sandhurst in order to support the Orange men at the Twaddell camp.

      So, basically, Gerald turned down £100,000 per year, a top quality military training placement in exchange for sitting in a run down, second hand caravan, wearing an orange sash, eating chicken & mushroom pot noodles and waving a flag while waiting to parade up a road which he and everyone else knows he wont get to do….

      Gerald Solinas is definitely well suited to be a Loyalist, that’s for sure.

  8. Ryan April 30, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Jude, Equality to Unionism is like Kryptonite to Superman. I know, poor comparison, Superman was for Justice and Equality for all, the same can hardly be said of Ulster Unionism but I think people will see the point I’m making.

    Gerry Adams may have used the wrong words but he was still absolutely right when he said “Equality is what’s going to break these bastards (political Unionism), equality, that’s the whole republican strategy”.

    Unionism was founded on the principles of Protestant fundamentalism, Anti-Catholicism and Protestant supremacy. And those are still its principles today regardless of what certain Unionist politicians today say. I’m in no way calling the majority of the Unionist/Protestant people bigots but there’s certainly a powerful group within Unionism that are and that group is certainly lead by the likes of the Orange Order, which is an Anti-Catholic group to its core, it was formed specifically for that reason. I read somewhere recently that 50% of all Unionist elected politicians are members of the Orange Order. I don’t know if that’s exactly true but I would bet my house that its pretty close to the true figures.

    I’m just going to be blunt and not beat about the bush, what Unionism wants is dominance, no one can deny that, there’s tons of evidence to support it. 95% of all emblems within Belfast City Hall today, in the year 2015, are from the Unionist tradition, not 1915, the year 2015, this is in a city where republican councillors will maybe have the majority on the council by the next local elections. You cant go down a street in Belfast city centre without it making reference to British Royals or the British colonial empire. And yet its British identity that is being erased according to Unionism.
    What is being erased isn’t British identity, its British DOMINANCE. And that is why the Loyalist flag protestors took to the streets. That is why a “civil rights camp” was set up at Twaddell for past 2 years. Its not about British identity, its about “them’uns”, the “fenians”, the “taigs”, the Catholics getting their equal say and also because of the demographics changes too. Its protesting, not for British identity, its protesting against Equality is why the flag protests occurred and the Twaddell camp was set up.

    As for this band playing sectarian music in circles in front of a Catholic Church? It was all caught on camera. The local residents in that area said this has occurred many times over the years. What more evidence do you need? I’m glad the band was found guilty but I’m very disappointed in the suspended sentences they got. A slap on the wrist basically. I’m sure that’s going to go a long way to making sectarian bandsmen think twice before they urinate on or spit at a Catholic Church….

    PS: I was on facebook the other day and I noticed on Loyalist FB pages that they are setting up protests in support for the retired british soldier who was charged with shooting dead a mentally handicap Catholic man in the 1970’s. It seems Justice is the next thing Unionism/Loyalism will be protesting against….oh, protesting only against Justice for “them’uns”, of course…..

  9. michael c April 30, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    You are wrong Jude about the BBC not reporting Gaelic results in its first 50 years.My late father often recounted their “report” on the 1958 all Ireland final.The one line they gave it was “Gaelic football- In todays final,Eire side Dublin defeated Lononderry ” (and then gave the score!)

    • Jude Collins April 30, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

      Very good, Michael…I guess I just never thought of checking such an unlikely source…

  10. Conchubhair Ó Cinnéide April 30, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    That the DUP’s Brenda Hale got only so far as the books in the gift shop is testament to how offended she may have been. Had she perused further on she would have encountered a wealth of dinosaurs, stuffed, plastic and printed on pencils and erasers by the tonne. To talk of imbalance. Not a creationist toy in sight.

    • Pointis May 1, 2015 at 11:35 am #

      It is ironic really that people who believe that the earth is only 4000 years old belong to a party ‘coming down’ with dinosaurs!

  11. Am Ghobsmacht April 30, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

    Dr C

    A few things.

    Firstly, I disagree with Brenda Hale (disagreeing with a DOOPER, quelle surprise…).

    But my reasons for disagreeing with her could apply to Irish nationalism too.

    Basically I object to any form of nationalism being given a foot-up.

    In Norn Iron you have two groups of nationalists (well maybe 3, but I’ll concentrate on the two main ones); Irish nationalism and British nationalism (more commonly known as unionism but this is a banner of convenience).

    Both groups have their own tinted view of the past and have startlingly contrasting views of the same events.

    Both groups like to retrospectively apply their modern views and fashions on their forbears to justify modern arguments, in this case the naming of streets as if naming McCreesh park is somehow comparable to naming streets in Belfast after the fashionable figures of the day.

    For example, if we had a time machine and went back in time to when Belfast was on the industrious ascent in the empire and recommended NOT naming streets after royalty the reasoning would be this:

    “Please don’t name these streets after royalty because a group of people who don’t yet exist but who will eventually be shaped by things that haven’t happened yet, such as a grotesque world war, a rebellion, a war against Britain, a civil war, a hostile and unequal state and another civil war/war against Britain (sort of) will have drastically different viewpoints to the people alive and well in this city in this day and age.

    Yes, every other city in the Empire from Melbourne to Glasgow is doing so because it is fashionable, but due to unforeseen circumstances this vogue will be part of a cultural demarcation with only one part of society endorsing royalty (previously the part of society that was the most anti-royalty) and the other completely turning its back on the idea of royalty altogether.

    Yours faithfully
    Concerned residents of the future of Northern Ireland*

    PS *When it comes to naming Northern Ireland you might want to use a name that’s more geographically water-tight or perhaps swap Inishowen for South Armagh, you’ll see what we mean in due course…”

    I also hate the DUP’s view of Ulster-Scots.

    They have taken it to mean something completely non-Gaelic and non-Catholic and as such a completely fabricated and exclusive ‘club’.

    This at a stroke pushes away people from Donegal and Monaghan and indeed north Antrim, a place full of Catholics of Scottish ancestry (the place is awash with McAuleys and McShanes) not to mention large parts of Western SCOTLAND from whence the likes of Messers McCausland, McCrea and Campbell are extracted (albeit centuries ago).

    They would do well to remember that Ulster-Scots is part of the Irish family tree and that NI is the Irish part of the united Kingdom.
    Irish nationalists would do well to remember that Irishness and Irish nationalism are two completely different things.

    It is possible to be Irish and unionist and that upsets this argument for a ‘purge’ of city hall’s artefacts.
    I’ll be in Belfast in about 4-6 weeks and I’ll try my best to find an inventory of said artefacts and take it from there.

    A harp on a Union Flag is still an Irish artifact, if it represents a unionist or nationalist cause well that’s perhaps more of a reflection of the times rather than a statement.
    That does not single it out as something needing to be purged like a crazed Bolshevik smashing up double headed Romanov eagles.

    Right, spleen vented.

  12. paddykool May 2, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    I like it AmGhob!
    Sound reasoning .It is a strange thing I was thinking , that the “unionist community” before the island of Ireland was separated into two zones, were quite content to see themselves as “Irish” and as “Irishmen”.They were under British rule , of course.

    This “Ulster -Scots” business is actually only a fairly recent construct.It was never really talked about too much but was introduced as a line of demarcation by some unionists. The idea that it implied a unique language and even a different culture than the “Irish” is a construct.
    In some respects all of us are mongrels, carrying many different strains of religious and cultural backgrounds. If you go back apiece it can also be discovered that many of the Scots are of Irish descent anyway. In other words , their ancestors arrived into Scotland from Ireland and then later , their descendants went back to Ireland again.This kind of tooing and froing was the way of the world and continues to be so.

    Vague as all our family trees might be if we step back a few generations, I can trace back even two or three generations ago to a granny on my father’s side whose own father was a Presbyterian working in Jameson’s distillery in Dublin.She married my grandfather and became a catholic .My great grandfather had a pedigree going back to the Hugenots.

    “Around the start of the eighteenth century, as Irish conditions became more settled, two groups of continental Protestant refugees were settled in the country with official, or semi-official help. The first of these, the Huguenots , were French Calvinists persecuted intermittently by the Catholic rulers of France throughout the seventeenth century. The second group were the German Palatines.

    Small numbers of refugees from this persecution had come to Ireland, mainly via England, from 1620 to 1641, and again with Cromwell in 1649, but it was in 1685, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had guaranteed them toleration, that the main body of Huguenots began to arrive, mostly from the countryside around the city of La Rochelle in the modern region of Poitou-Charentes.

    After the end of the Williamite wars, large Huguenot settlements were established in Portarlington, Youghal, Cork, Dublin, Waterford and Lisburn, where they became celebrated for their expertise in textiles, specialising in weaving, lace-making, and glove-making. In the course of time, they became thoroughly absorbed into Irish society through intermarriage, and names such as Boucicault, Maturin, Le Fanu and Trench are still familiar in Ireland today.

    Approximately 5000 French Huguenots came to live in Ireland.”

    My granny carried on that weaving tradition because she met my grandfather while working at a weaving mill in Milford {home of the original penalty kick} which is a little village two miles outside Armagh.

    As for the Ulster -Scots as a language ? I can remember my other “country” grandad using words like “purties” for potatoes in common speech but everyone used all sorts of odd local words which were a mixture of English , gaelic Irish and who knows what else. Languages evolve like that anyway .Our own speech is now full of Americanisms and bits and bobs from Australian soap operas and Cockney slang.
    As far as naming public places after figures who will prove to be divisive. In a society as poisoned as ours , it might be better to err on the side of caution.Even English heroes after whom many streets and places are named had feet of clay and may even be forgotten by now.
    Just a thought…Can you imagine attempting to name a new road or a street in Liverpool or Glasgow….”Margaret Thatcher Boulevard” …Can you imagine how often the street sign would have to be replaced?

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