Read this – a truly rare article

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Reading this piece from the Irish Examiner, I was at first refreshed and then depressed. Refreshed, in that finally someone south of the border could talk about the Troubles in the north in a factual, understanding way. Depressed, in that such an article as this is such a rarity in the southern newspapers. Bainigi sult as –  enjoy.

13 Responses to Read this – a truly rare article

  1. Patrick McDermott April 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    Well written ,Jennifer. At last a piece, written by a 26 county correspondent, that tries to shed some light on events, feelings and aspirations in the 6 counties, and makes an effort to understand the convictions of nationalist/republicans here, and how events have unfolded here over the years from partition through the troubles to now culminating in a real sense of abandonment by the people and powers that be in the 26 counties at this 100 year commemoration of the Rising. I would have to say I have never felt as low before regarding the realization of my all Ireland aspirations. I could certainly hold on to Hope and let things take their slow step by step course if I felt that the population of the 26 counties and their political representatives together with media outlets shared my hopes and aspirations. But sadly, I think not.- at least not unless there are increasing numbers of journalist like Jennifer to offset the likes of Ruth Dudley, Finton O Toole etc to inform and educate people and encourage them to read their history and THINK FOR THEMSELVES.

    • Joe Nolan April 2, 2016 at 5:29 pm #

      It must be quite comforting for northern nationalists too that the Irish ambassador in London helped to launch the aforementioned Ruth Dudley Edwards’ latest polemic on the the seven signatories of the Proclamation recently. He was even discrete enough in his speech to complement her on her contribution to the understanding of Irish political history.

  2. Iolar April 2, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    “…finally someone south of the border could talk about the Troubles in the north in a factual, understanding way.”

    Perhaps you missed P Coulter on RTÉ Easter Sunday morning. Viewers were treated to a perspective of the song Danny Boy. It was stated that most families had a drunken uncle who could sing the song, badly.

    “…What’s done is done…”

  3. billy April 2, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    in a factual understanding way.

  4. Perkin Warbeck April 2, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    To adapt a timeless and remarkable remark of our times, Esteemed Blogmeister, the Six Counties which lie north of the Black Sow’s Dyke are indeed a, erm, cold attic as far as the Twenty Six Counties which lie north of same, are concerned.

    The step ladder which might have linked the political me feiners in the South with the sinn feiners in the North has long since been chopped up into firewood. It has since served to fuel the fire of amour propre for the DIY Back Slappers of B.A.C. / Dublin.

    -We are THE best self-commemorators on Planet Earth!

    We know that because acute and detached observes of the doings of the day – from the preternaturally objective Marian Finucane to a transcendentally unbiased Noel Whelan – have chorused this definitive conclusion from the same her and hymn sheets.

    This modest claim is but the latest bead on the rosary of self-approval which stretches back to Italia 90 when, indubitably, Eireland enhanced the inter-continental footie festivities

    -We are THE best footie fans in the world !

    This is a rosc catha / mantra which even at this m. in time, going forward, is being dusted down in preparation for Paris 2016, come June. And those who whine about the hoopla whupped up by the media and its political wing, the, erm, Government about this Easter 16 thingy, just wait. Youse truly haven’t seen Le Rien yet.

    What with the poppy-wearing pair of cross-border unionists and co-bhainisteoiri, Martin O’Neill, the Londonderry Lad and Roy Keane, de ultra rebel from de Rebel County at the helm during the overwhelming Operation Overlap, and all.

    (What ? No lily-wearing over the Easter by the comh-Bhainisteiori by these high livers, oops, achievers? Alas, the nit-pickers of narrow-gauge gnationalism will always be with us. )

    Operation Overlap is a synonym for Paris 2016 for a simple yet compelling reason: the Final days of the Euro footie tournament will overlap with the centenary of the First days of the Battle of the Somme.

    -We are not only The best footie fans in the world but ,both simultaneously and at the same time, we are also THE best self-commemorators on Planet Earth !

    The only thick to be boxed, oops, the only box to be ticked at this moment in time.g. forward, is the identity of he/ she who will be the incumbent Prime Minister to drape his/ her celebratory arms around the shoulder to shoulders of the comh-Bhainisteoiri.

    (Il y a un precedent – c.f. CJH et le Tour de France. Je suis Le Grand Charlie was l’homme in le maillot jaune / geansai bui under the bridges of Paris or was it sous le tour d’Eiffel. A gauche or was it , a droite? Gauche, in any ways).

    Zero Somme evenings of the enchanted variety do lie ahead , mes amis !.

    Poppy days will be here again ! Allez les Verts !

    To conclude, where one began: cold attics etc . It is not only the Six Counties which have been consigned to the cold attic of Southern indifference. The memory of the Seven Signatories has also known this chill.

    To extrapolate from attics, cold or otherwise, to houses; from houses to high-rise buildings ; from high-rises b’s to tower blocks, specifically the Seven Tower Blocks of Ballymun, Dublin 11.

    For any one flying in to Dublin Airport (ne Collinstown) from the late Sixties onward, the first sight that would have greeted their eyes from the window seat of the Fokker 427 Friendships would have been those seven tower blocks, each named after one of the seven signatories: Ceannt, Clarke, Connolly, Mac Diarmada, McDonagh, Pearse and Plunkett.

    Almost from day one the same seven towers began go downhill. Perhaps, even in a metaphorical way as well. A policy of malign neglect seemed to have been put in place by the municipal authorities. For starters, there didn’t seem to be any security system in situ, even of the most basic sort.

    The c-word, for instance, was nowhere in evidence. (One is not talking about graffiti here).
    But, rather the French word , c for concierge. L’homme du no nonsence who sits at the reception and keeps an self-loading eye on who gets in and, crucially, who doesn’t. (It’s not pocket billiards, or even rocket science itself). It is not that there was a lack of willing applicants for the c-job. Unemployed veterans of the Congo, come to mind.

    (There were certainly no shortage of same filling the sweaters of bouncers around the gin-joints of Dublin at the time. Ensuring that the Sweaty Betties and the Sweet-perfumed Nellies opened their handbags on the table provided before entry in the off chance there might be, erm, contraband gin contained therein . No suspicious ordering of lonely tonic bottles in those gin emporia, no siree).

    The Perkin has memories of moseying up, in the post-Commitments era, with friends of his (well, alright, with a friend, no exaggerations here !) on a number of occasions to test the ease, if you please, of entry into each or some at least of the Seven Towers.

    A doddle didn’t come into it. Like the Dubs waltzing through the Meath defence it was, maybe even easier, if one can imagine that far. You’d almost think the Municipal Authorities couldn’t give a toss about the tenants in the Towers.

    Fittingly, the Seven Tower Blocks of Ballymun were all demolished (some, Lord Fittingly enough, by , gulp, controlled implosion) – just in time for the 2016 Celememorations. Much to the merriment of the low-rise high-brows who, from the beginning , felt that tower-blocks were just not suited to the, erm, ‘Irish temperament’.


    The same hind-end mind-set which would have also dreamed up the whizz of dooming the project from the off by penalizing them with the brand names of the Seven Signatories.
    Perhaps the nadir / summit of this dismal story of the Fifteen -Story Tower Blocks came in a scene from The Vomitments, oops, The Commitment . When the time-honoured traditions of the (gasp) Pig in Paddy’s Parlour was given a life-saving injection by the (gulp) Piebald Pony in the Lift of the Pearse Tower-block.

    What a thigh-slapper of a scene ! It brought hoots and hollers all the way from Howth to Herbert Park.

    One, somehow, does not find it too difficult to imagine uber-Dub Roddy Doyle guffawing to himself as he dreamed that Punchy dodge up, and him to be proudly wearing the same geansai gorm / blue jersey which is never too far from his official photo-ops.
    The blue jersey of Dublin !

    Well, no, actually.

    The geansai gorm of, erm, Chelsea.

  5. Byc April 2, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    Depressing all right. Twenty years after the GFA a new generation comes along to take up the propaganda war with one-sided troubles tourism.

    “the Orange vote”? Do people still talk like this about everyday unionist voters? If they do then she’s right about one thing – “the Orange vote” isn’t the biggest stumbling block. The biggest stumbling block is attitudes like this that make the the most conservative unionist siege mentality look like common sense self-preservation.

    • Antonio April 2, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

      ‘Do people still talk like this about everyday orange voters’?
      Not in my experience. But how do you know she is not specifically talking about those with the most conservative siege mentality when she says ‘ the orange vote’.
      Why assume she means all Unionist s?

      Don’t you think you are overreacting just a little ?

  6. MT April 2, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

    A bit of a strange article. Unionists are mentioned only as an afterthought. She juxtaposed a pro-terror mural in the Shankill with a memorial to victims of violence in the Falls, which is rather dishonest. And what exactly is the writer proposing?

    • Antonio April 2, 2016 at 9:00 pm #

      She’s addressing the nationalist population specifically. I don’t see any problem with that, as long as it is not ALWAYS the case.

  7. Antonio April 2, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

    Flip me, seems we haven’t lost all of them after all, phew !

  8. billy April 3, 2016 at 12:07 am #

    8 dead.maybe she reading them books by susan mckay

  9. Ryan April 3, 2016 at 5:46 am #

    A very rare article indeed! Lets hope it becomes less rare in the future.

    The great irony about last week’s Easter Rising celebration parade in Dublin was that if the Leaders of 1916 were alive today they wouldn’t have been within a mile of it. I’m confident that if Connolly, Pearse, etc and many of those who fought in the Tan War were alive last Sunday then they would’ve been 100 miles up the road in Belfast, watching Republican parades which remain dedicated to the principles of 1916 and to a United Ireland.

    Do I feel abandoned or betrayed by the Republic? No but I don’t think like that, I’m not one to feel “betrayed” unless I totally put my trust in someone and make them aware of that and they then turn on me, that’s my interpretation of “betrayal”. I have never put my trust in the 26 county government to begin with, so I don’t feel betrayed or abandoned. To me, when it comes to the Troubles and the current situation, we Republicans/Nationalists/Catholics in the North are alone in this but at least we have each other. Do we need help from the South? Well it would certainly be welcome. We certainly got more help from Irish America and Libya than the Government in the 26 counties, that’s for sure.

    Some people have commented recently about how they “feel more Irish” when they cross the border. I don’t feel more Irish when I cross over the border and visit family in Dublin. Belfast is as Irish as Dublin. The 6 counties is as Irish the 26 counties. From my point of view there’s no reason to feel more Irish when we cross over the non-existent border. In many ways some would argue that Republicans/Nationalists in the North are MORE Irish than people in the South because we fought for so long to protect our Irishness but I don’t want to start that sort of tit for tat off.

    I have never felt “British”. Its not that I have rejected British, its just it is alien to me, like French or Russian would be. Indeed many Unionists/Protestants themselves were surprised when they went to England and found it to be very alien. They thought it would be just like Norn Iron but it was anything but. Indeed some famous Protestants, such as C.S.Lewis, the author of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” or “The Chronicles of Nardia” was born in Belfast into a Unionist Protestant family. When he first went to England he was shocked, utterly shocked at the change and difference between Ireland and England. He was so shocked that he wrote that he hated England and that the English landscape made him “sick”. He said Ireland’s beauty far outshone that of England’s. He said the English accents were like “the voices of demons”. He said the hatred he had for England took “many years to heal”. He then realized that he was truly Irish and strongly adopted an Irish identity. He wasn’t an Irish nationalist, he really didn’t have any interest at all in politics. He was deeply interested in Irish culture, poetry, legends, myths and the Irish language. Lewis turned down an offer of an “MBE” from King George VI in the 1950’s.

    (English Author and “The Lord of the Rings” creator J.R.R Tolkien was a great friend of Lewis. Both had a huge interest in religion. Lewis himself, though brought up a Protestant had in later life turned an Atheist. It was due to Tolkien, a devout Roman Catholic, that Lewis returned to Christianity. To Tolkiens horror, Lewis didn’t become a Roman Catholic as Tolkien encouraged but joined the Anglican Church. Tolkien was an interesting character. He disagreed with the Catholic Church ditching Latin Masses so much that he use to shout the Latin words every time the Priest spoke when he was at Mass.)

    It would be interesting if many self proclaimed “devout Unionists” did what Lewis did, go to England to live for a time and then see if they still feel so British. Many Protestants interviewed by Susan McKay have done just that and most have later proclaimed to be Irish and only Irish or they choose to stay in England and never return to the North of Ireland because they said the “British” culture in the North was nothing like that in England where ” peoples religion doesn’t matter”.

    • Am Ghobsmacht April 3, 2016 at 5:21 pm #


      I think you’re confusing ‘Englishness’ and ‘Britishness’.

      My memories of the Protestant community back home was one of a surprising amount of Anglo-phobia (especially amongst some Orangemen I knew).