‘Sectarianism is alive and well at the Paper of Record’ by Patricia McBride

 

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Last Saturday, the Irish Times published a letter from one Aoife Lord of Co Meath which I quote in full below.

“Sir, – We don’t want them, we don’t need them, we can’t afford them, we are somewhat afraid of them, we think that they are culturally different from us, we don’t approve of their prejudices and we don’t want them to influence events in the Republic. We also feel that Northerners feel the same way about us. So let’s forget about a Border poll, and let the British government get the best deal possible for Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations. – Yours, etc,”

Now you will know that I am a fan of due process and when one reads a letter in the newspaper with which one disagrees, the proper process is to write to the editor and tell him so.  It would be fair to have a reasonable expectation that your counter-point be published, assuming it is not libelous and is reasonably coherent.

So it was last Sunday morning I drafted my response, dispatched it to D’Olier Street and received an acknowledgement of receipt. 

Again, I set out in full my letter:

“I am shocked and appalled that the paper of record saw fit to publish Aoife Lord’s letter of 23rd inst. given that it constitutes hate speech.

To paraphrase, she says we do not want or need them, we are somewhat afraid of them and think that they are culturally different from us. She refers to “Northerners” but if she had been referring to black people, Muslims, gay people, refugees, or Travellers then under no circumstances would such hate speech have been acceptable for publication and her attitude would, rightly, be challenged.

It is not the gift of any other person to define, to give or to take away my identity.  My citizenship and nationality as an Irish person are my birthright and are protected in national and international law. It is not up to Britain to make the best deal for me in any negotiation, it is the duty of every person who ascribes to the ideals of the Republic to cherish all of the children of the nation equally – including me and my children.

I am from the next parish to Seamus Heaney who, when offered an honour by the British State following his Nobel Prize, famously wrote: “Be advised, my passport’s green, no glass of ours was ever raised to toast the Queen.”

Who would ever consider saying to Seamus Heaney, Dana, Phil Coulter, Nell McCafferty, Seamus Deane, John Hume (and that’s just some of the Derry ones) that they are less Irish because of where they were born? Of course no right thinking person would. That means it’s not acceptable to think it or say it of me either. “

And I waited.  And waited… And on Wednesday I wrote again to the Editor saying surely you don’t intend to let such sectarianism stand unchallenged?  And what did Kevin O’Sullivan say?  Nothing.  Nada.  Rud ar bith.

Aoife Lord’s attitude isn’t unique, unfortunately, but that still doesn’t make it acceptable that the Irish Times has not published any challenge, from me or anyone else, to this sectarian and even slightly racist rant.  I say racist because I would wager Ms Lord thinks I am from another country.  One must therefore conclude that there is a tacit acceptance in the Irish Times that such sectarianism is just fine.

It would nearly make me think about buying the Indo again.

70 Responses to ‘Sectarianism is alive and well at the Paper of Record’ by Patricia McBride

  1. MT July 30, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    “I is not up to Britain to make the best deal for me in any negotiation”

    Since she lives in the UK, I’m afraid it is.

    • jessica July 30, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

      “Since she lives in the UK, I’m afraid it is.”

      And that is what needs to change.

      It is no longer tolerable for us to remain in the UK
      It is now spreading sectarianism throughout the country.

      Britishness needs to be removed from Ireland

      • PF July 30, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

        Jessica,

        You do confuse me at times.

        A few days back, when I posted a few comments about ‘Britishness’ – including a reference to ‘Robin Hood’, which was a poor way of saying that I grew up with the myths and legends of England rather than: The Children of Lir, King Conchobar mac Nessa, Emain Macha, Cú Chulainn, Queen, Medb, Deidre of the Sorrows and the Táin Bó Cúailnge – you told me that you had no problem with anything I had mentioned.

        Now, “Britishness needs to be removed from Ireland”, and you wonder why Unionists hesitate.

        • jessica July 30, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

          I have no problem with English heritage, but England is another country across the water.

          Ireland is Ireland and I am more interested in our relationship with the rest of Ireland than the poor relationship we have with unionism.

          If the stamp of britishness in Ireland conflicts with Irish interests then yes it needs to go.

          Unionism will need to build bridges and make peace with the rest of this Ireland if it wants to survive. We should not tolerate Britain or unionism causing any further divisions in Ireland.

          The ball is in unionisms court, it can decide for itself what it wants to do. Nationalism should do likewise and that is put the Irish people and Ireland first.

          • PF July 30, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

            Jessica

            The last time we had this conversation you very strongly implied:

            “I don’t know anyone who would have a problem with any of those (cultural expressions of Britishness) PF.
            We really should talk about this more.”

            Now you seem to be very strongly implying that when this (my cultural expression(s) of Britishness) “conflicts with Irish interests then yes it needs to go.”

            Then you say, “Unionism will need to build bridges and make peace with the rest of this Ireland if it wants to survive.”

            If there is a United Ireland, then by definition there will be no *Unionism*; what there will be, however, is a community which identifies which the expressions of Britishness we have been talking about.

            This is not about *isms*, this is about people, and unless one million people physically leave the country, then ‘Britishness’ remains – United Ireland or no United Ireland.

            Britishness is, among other things, a cultural expression of a large minority of the island – and it is in Ireland’s interest that it is harnessed and not banished.

          • jessica July 30, 2016 at 9:39 pm #

            Unionism is creating the problems for itself PF.

            If its refusal to reach out and reconcile with the rest of Ireland is going to cause a problem for nationalists then there is no choice to be made.

            Is unionism prepared to do this PF or is it going to keep pushing and pushing and causing as much problems as it can just like a spoiled child?

          • PF July 30, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

            And something else, does the topic of this thread not demonstrate that you and I both are unwelcome in the bigger part of the island?

            I can understand them not liking me (probably stereotyped as a ‘flegger’), but it puts Northern Ireland’s Nationalists in a bit of a tight spot.

            One community disowned by its father (Britain), the other by its mother (Ireland).

          • jessica July 30, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

            Exactly PF.
            We could bend over backwards to try and reach out to unionism, Sinn Fein have been proving how pointless that is for years now.
            It is not reciprocated and our determination to reunite our country is still not being taken seriously by unionism.

            We are approaching the point where that is no longer acceptable.

            If England is not interested in us that is fine, they are another country on another island. But we simply cannot allow unionist intransigence to spread and impact on the relationship with our fellow citizens across this island.

            I am sorry but there is only so far I can go before we have to say enough is enough.

            If you want your british identity to be respected in Ireland than I am afraid unionism will need to do more to earn it.
            At the moment you would be happy to drive a north south wedge deeper into this country.

            We are not british and never will me, Britain is the other island and has never included any part of Ireland.

            If unionism is unable to reconcile with Ireland then please leave those of us who do want what is best for all of our people on this island in peace to do so

          • PF July 31, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

            “Is unionism prepared to do this PF or is it going to keep pushing and pushing and causing as much problems as it can just like a spoiled child?”

            I have no idea, but what I do know is that Unionism, by definition, wants union with Britain.

            Hence my statement that in the context of a United Ireland, one disunited from Britain, there is no Unionism. Unionism, will, in that context, have lost the argument.

            But seeking union with other nations, is not in and of itself wrong. And what you are asking Unionism to do is to abandon their preferred British Union for a different Irish Union and then saying people are intransigent for seeking what they prefer.

            There is nothing wrong with arguing for a United Kingdom – just as there is nothing wrong with arguing for a United Ireland.

            My, point, however, is that in the event of a United Ireland there will still be one million citizens in the new State who will, whether people like it or not, instinctively look east, rather than south – and they are Irishmen and Irishwomen too – and you are telling me that this “stamp” must go.

          • jessica July 31, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

            “what you are asking Unionism to do is to abandon their preferred British Union for a different Irish Union and then saying people are intransigent for seeking what they prefer.”

            No I am not, I am saying unionism is intransigent for its refusal to compromise or look at its own faults.

            Why is it only what unionism wants that matters?

            You say unionism looks east and wants a union with Britain. All well and good, But more want what is best for Ireland first and for the relationship with Britain to be one of equals, with strong trade links, good relations, a common travel area perhaps, etc… but not direct rule.
            Some may think it is time for even the common travel area to end and for all ties with Britain to end completely.

            In a few short years there will be a major demographic shift and I am starting to feel it is pointless to even try to compromise with unionism, and perhaps cutting all ties in the longer term is the way to go.

            You are doing nothing for the argument that a union with britain within Ireland should be prioritised over the relationship Ireland has with itself.

          • PF July 31, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

            “You are doing nothing for the argument that a union with britain within Ireland should be prioritised over the relationship Ireland has with itself.”

            That’s not an argument I’m trying to make – I very much doubt you are persuadable.

            Nor have I said that Ireland’s relationship with itself is should come second to any other – or that only what unionism wants is important.

            I’ve said none of those things.

            All I have said it that it makes no logical sense to say on the one hand that, “Britishness needs to be removed from Ireland”, if in a United Ireland one million of the citizens will be politically Irish, but culturally British.

            If what you mean is that you want an end to Direct Rule and a United political Irish State (as per above) then fine, but that is not the same thing a removing Britishness form Ireland, and that is the distinction I am trying to make.

          • MT July 31, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

            “That’s not an argument I’m trying to make – I very much doubt you are persuadable. Nor have I said that Ireland’s relationship with itself is should come second to any other – or that only what unionism wants is important. I’ve said none of those things.”

            Jessica relies rather a lot on straw men.

          • jessica July 31, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

            If you call culturally British, holding thousands of marches by groups steeped in sectarianism, flying the union flag all over the place and having annual bonfires to burn Irish symbols then yes PF, I mean removing all traces of it.

            If you mean expressing actual culture which is non offensive then no, and I would possibly be even willing to join in.

            As for 1 million, there are not 1 million culturally British people in Ireland and the number is declining fastest.

            This is from 2011

            British 876,577
            Northern Irish 533,085
            Irish 513,390

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_Northern_Ireland

            You are possibly below 750,000 by now and there will be an Irish majority from these three groupings within a few years.

        • Jack Kelly July 31, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

          Just for the record, there are now approximately 900,000 Catholics and the same number of Protestants. Demographics has already changed things here. The minority community will be Protestants by the time of the new census in 2021

        • PF August 1, 2016 at 10:50 am #

          Honestly, Jessica, you’re all over the place on this.

          Previously you have told me that you have no problem with the expressions of culture I mentioned, including the Orange one, now it’s thousands of marches steeped in sectarianism.

          As for flying the Union flag, my view is that hundreds flown on lampposts demeans flag and nation, and demonstrated a lack of respect, but it’s no different to the Tricolour flown in the same way.

          With regard to the numbers you quote, given that I’ve previously been told that a Northern Irish designation means less than Irish, I’ll happily claim half of them as British. Three national labels, as we now have, is nothing short of political spin. I’m not Northern Irish, I’m British. And United Ireland or not, I won’t be leaving.

          • jessica August 1, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

            I agree PF, I would love an agreed settlement on the constitutional issue, but unionism wont participate and its leaders still continue the same old intolerant stance.

            If this is causing problems with people in the south not wanting us, then that is providing additional problems for me which were not present in prior comments, probably because we have got used to unionisms behaviour and can deal with it better. It is also emotional for me so I can be all over the place.

            But I also hate to see the tricolour flown from lamp posts, I have called for it to be flown from nationalist controlled buildings instead of any union flag but I suppose it could be seen as bringing the flag into disrepute.

            And no one will be asking you to leave PF, thee are plenty of British people living all over Ireland quite happily and that will not change. You will find many nationalists in the north will rally around our protestant friends when a vote for unification is finally passed and to reassure them.

            The difference will be instead of being ruled from London by a government we cannot vote out and who cares nothing about us for that reason, just as the Dublin dail cares nothing about the north now for the same reason, we will for the first time have a direct input into who is selected as our own government and only then and for that reason will they listen.

    • Ryan July 30, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

      “Since she lives in the UK, I’m afraid it is”

      MT, you would think after the Troubles and everything else that Unionists would’ve learnt their lesson by now.

      As the great Michael Collin’s said: “Our greatest weapon is our refusal”

      The British Government doesn’t represent me and never will, and there’s nothing you can do about it MT. Nothing.

      • MT July 31, 2016 at 11:58 am #

        “The British Government doesn’t represent me and never will, and there’s nothing you can do about it MT. Nothing.”

        You live in the UK and are a UK citizen so I’m afraid it does.

        • jessica July 31, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

          “You live in the UK and are a UK citizen so I’m afraid it does.”

          And that is why we MUST leave and break all ties with the UK

      • Robert July 31, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

        Ah the great M Collins is that the same M Collins who sold out Northern Nationalists with the treaty…love the way you are using him to back up your arguments.

        • jessica July 31, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

          One of the greatest Irish men who ever lived Robert.
          He was a true friend of the north and my greatest of all hero’s.

          • Robert July 31, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

            He sold the Nationalist community out in the treaty something at least Dev wasn’t prepared to do. As for Collins he died before he would have naturally disappointed.

          • jessica July 31, 2016 at 10:36 pm #

            He will always be a hero of mine Robert.

            But I think it is time we focussed on reconciliation in all parts of this island than go over past divisions. I am sure unionism would like us to reopen the old wounds from the civil war, it seems determined to focus on division and what divides us.
            That is what is so frustrating.

            Is that the plan, to be as disruptive and uncooperative as possible and hope to spread your poison as far as possible?

    • Sharon Douglas August 2, 2016 at 1:12 am #

      She is from Meath

      • MT August 2, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

        “She is from Meath”

        In that case the UK government won’t be representing her so she’s nothing to worry about.

  2. jessica July 30, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    I see hatred and bile are equally as rampant in the south.

    I heard similar comments while attending the 1916 commemorations in Dublin as well as online from some gobshite from Limerick.

    The Dublin establishment has fostered this division in the south. It is the Dublin establishments responsibility to rectify it.

  3. Pointis July 30, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

    Yes Patricia,

    It would not be tolerated in any media outlet if it referred to any group of people other than people from the North. Aoife’s intent is racist if that is the real name of the author of the letter.

    The best laugh I had in reading Aoife’s letter was the irony overdose “we don’t approve of their prejudices”!

  4. donal kennedy July 30, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    THE IRISH TIMES left D’Olier St some years ago and is now in Tara Street.

    The collective name for most of its columnists is THE TARA STREET WALKERS.
    They have acted as comfort-ladies to H M Forces for most of the paper’s history.
    They continually repeat the fiction that Irish Nationalists and Republicans have airbrushed
    the role of Irishmen in the Battles of The Somme and, Jutland and Gallipoli.

    See blogs -“Gallipoli, Two German Officers and the Fog of Military History”
    “Sermons in Stones”
    and “Carson’s Kiss of Death.”

    h

  5. Robert July 30, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

    So Jessica you want the Irish government to think the way you do how interesting anything else on the wish list. Seriously Jessica you need to get a grip

    • jessica July 30, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

      I want and expect the Irish government to represent all of the Irish people on this island and to stand up for the best interests of the Irish people especially those living on this island.

  6. Freddie mallins July 30, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    Whilst I am sympathetic to Patricia’s point of view, I am also sympathetic to Aoife’s. I too would not want Sammy Wilson becoming s member of my society and having speaking rights in the Dail. The swings would be locked up on Sunday’s before you could say, ‘ parody of esteem!’

    • jessica July 30, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

      “I am also sympathetic to Aoife’s”

      So is it ok to just abandon the Irish citizens in the north to have to endure the antics of unionism, to just abandon the whole north eastern part of the country, OUR country to British interests?

      I would love to ask Aoife what it is we have to do to be accepted and acceptable in our own country?

      • Ryan July 30, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

        Jessica,

        Aoife Lord most likely wasn’t referring to all Northerners, read her comment again carefully, she is obviously describing Unionists. Of course its wrong to label all Unionists as the same but since the extremists in Unionism always shout the loudest, get the votes and rule the roost then it is understandable why they all get a bad name.

        The latest poll done in the South showed 65% supported Irish Unity. There has been constant support for Irish Unity from the South for decades. But you have to understand too that a small minority in the South don’t like the idea of the DUP sitting in the Dail, that is what puts them off. Its the same in Britain too. Do you think having politicians like Nelson McCausland, Sammy Wilson, Gregory Campbell, etc is appealing to people in the South or in Britain? People who go on radio complaining about a movie they didn’t even watch yet or who mock peoples languages or who constantly stir up sectarian hatred. They don’t appeal to no one, its only in our sick society that they get elected.

        • jessica July 31, 2016 at 11:43 am #

          That is what is worrying me Ryan.

          Sinn Fein look weak over reaching to unionism, I have tried to accommodate unionist and British affinity in my thinking on this site, but it just gets thrown back in our faces.

          Perhaps there is no other solution other than to vehemently oppose unionism and remove all britishness out of Ireland starting with nationalist controlled councils.

          If pandering to unionism is causing us to be rejected in the south then that needs to be addressed? I don’t mind compromise and I am glad Sinn Fein are showing reason and good manners in their dealings with unionism, but there is a point when enough has to be enough and failure or blatant refusal of unionism to reciprocate needs to be acted upon.

          And then why does our president refuse to attend dinners without DUP buy in? There is mixed messages being sent here.

    • Ryan2 July 30, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

      Hardly. The GAA plays most of its games on a Sunday and noone will ever interfere with that ever. LOL.

  7. Brian Patterson July 30, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

    I Ald wrote a much shorter letter to th OF to the effect that had she written a letter using similar terms about any group other than her compatriots to the north and east of the border there would have an avalanche of letters protesting at such racism. Needless to say my letter was not published. Not the first time northerners have been vilified in its columns. Many years ago one of its columnists, Englishman who also happens to be a landlord of rented property wrote smugly that if he lifted the phone and a northern accent enquired about his property he would simply replace the receiver. No dogs, no northerners?

  8. Maitiú O'Sirideán July 30, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

    Aoife Lord must consider herself to be more pure Irish than her neighbours in the occupied six counties.
    I can accept her Christian name as such, but I don’t see much Irish in her surname.
    What does she mean by the ‘us’ and ‘them’ business? I was born on the island of Ireland and have lived on it for the whole of my life, so I resent some part-Irish woman suggesting that I am a lesser person than she!

    • KopparbergCentral July 31, 2016 at 8:45 am #

      Little Irelanders came from somewhere else too originally. There is a point where all Nationalist talk inevitably begins to slide into the realms of Nazi ideology and of uber menschen and of whose blood is purer (or inbred the most) Egyptian Pharaohs took a similar view on the purity of their bloodline, ironically turning their gene pool into a gene swamp. And how do we know Lord isn’t Aoife’s married name? For all anyone knows her lineage could stretch back to the very first migrant who stepped foot in Ireland by walking along the Giant’s Causeway which had still not been submerged 10, 000 years ago.

      • Sherdy July 31, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

        Kop, – You are obviously not a follower of Caleb, or you wouldn’t be talking about the Giant’s Causeway 10,000 years ago – it just appeared 6,000 years ago, fully formed, and it was still quite a swim to the Scottish coast!

        • KopparbergCentral August 1, 2016 at 12:54 am #

          The more I read the more I learn. From reading and learning, I’ve found out I’m not a fan of 2000 year old mid-east religions, all of which sprang forth from ancient Egypt. Nothing against ancient Egypt, but in 2016, people should have moved on a bit more by now.

          • Ernesider August 2, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

            Last Saturday I attended an anniversary mass for a good friend who died a few years ago. Entering the Church everyone was handed a piece of paper with some writing on it and a pen. I was told that all would be explained during mass. During mass a lady explained that there was a Jesus Christ Adoration group in the Parish and they were looking for new members. Apparently every Wednesday groups of four sit adoring Jesus Christ for one hour from 10am to 10 pm, making a total of 48 men/women hours adoration. The piece of paper was to indicate if and when I would be available for aforesaid adoration.

  9. Ryan2 July 30, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

    Look it, Aoife is most probably a professional middle class practising Catholic who owes her allegiance to a foreign country. ie, The Vatican.

    Irish middle class Catholics don’t like change and they most certainly don’t like competition to their perceived hegemony.

    She doesn’t speak for the majority.

    The Irish Times is not called the ISIS Times for nothing or RTE Pravda.

  10. giordanobruno July 30, 2016 at 8:25 pm #

    I think Patricia McBride is being overly sensitive on this.The letter writer expressed robust views against unification but they were hardly sectarian or indeed racist.
    We are a bit different in the North. Decades of killing and hate have surely left many if not all of us who lived through it with prejudices. Many in the South may not want those attitudes infecting their society.
    We may disagree but I don’t see the racism at all.
    Isn’t this just more of what we are supposed to refer to as the PC brigade, trying to xtop people saying what they think?

    • jessica July 30, 2016 at 9:43 pm #

      Speak for yourself gio, I find it deeply insulting and extremely hurtful

    • Joe Canning July 31, 2016 at 12:11 am #

      giordanobruno… Methinks you must be Ruth Dudley Edwards in covert mode.. Poppycock/

      • Jude Collins July 31, 2016 at 10:54 am #

        Joe – you may – or may not – be right. But present an argument rather than name-call. I mean comparison to RDE, I meantersay…

      • giordanobruno July 31, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

        Joe
        Let’s break it down. She says;
        “we don’t want them”
        Many people in the South do not want to be united with the North. We know this,it is not a shock, neither is it racist. It is just a political view.
        “we don’t need them”
        Again a perfectly valid political view, which may or may not be correct, but is not racist.
        “we are somwhat afraid of them”
        This is as close as she gets to being offensive and I read it as a tongue in cheek reference to our more aggressive recent history.I suppose someone very sensitive might be hurt by that but that seems a bit ridiculous to me.
        “we think they are culturally different from us”
        Well, we probably are what’s the problem with saying so?
        “we don’t approve of their prejudices”
        As I have said I believe there is ample evidence for prejudice in what is still a divided society here in the North. Do you disagree?
        All in all a complete over reaction on the part of Patricia McBride, who seems to share Donal’s belief that their letters to the media could only fail to be printed, through nefarious and cowardly cover-up on the part of the establishment.
        Poppycock yourself!

        • jessica July 31, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

          and you consider yourself an Irish republican lite gio?

          In your head only

          • Robert July 31, 2016 at 5:59 pm #

            Wolfe Tone would have despised what Irish Republicanism has turned into sadly

        • Ernesider August 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

          “”we are somwhat afraid of them”
          This is as close as she gets to being offensive and I read it as a tongue in cheek ”

          No Gio, the lady means exactly what she says and she is speaking for a lot of people. I am back and forward across the border a number of times every week and I can see it in peoples’ attitudes and reactions, (have seen it for many years). Of course it could be just me, but I don’t think so ..!!

    • paddykool July 31, 2016 at 11:30 am #

      Part of me agrees with you gio …Is this Political Correctness gone mad? ,you query. I sometimes feel a little like that in respect of the over-sensitivity of people to a joke , for example ,or even something like the banning of the basically benign “golly” symbol on the Robinson’s jam -jar . That one survived as a harmless children’s nursery ,storybook character right up until the 1990’s until it was deemed somehow unwholesome and vaguely racist connotations which had long -since been lost alongside the origins of the “Teddy Bear”. I thought that might have been a little over the top, for example.This is something else, though.There’s one thing for most of us to have ingrained prejudices , having lived through some lividly barbaric times within our own small, cut-off fiefdom, but very few in the republic or come to that, inengland , experienced the awfullness that we di , first-hand so to me it does come across as somewhat xenophobic in much the same way that racists carry unwarrented prejudices.
      “Sir, – We don’t want them, we don’t need them, we can’t afford them, we are somewhat afraid of them, we think that they are culturally different from us, we don’t approve of their prejudices and we don’t want them to influence events in the Republic. We also feel that Northerners feel the same way about us. So let’s forget about a Border poll, and let the British government get the best deal possible for Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations. – Yours, etc,”….That’s what I’d call a very sweeping statement that could be applied to any entire grouping….of any creed, ethnicity , colour , sexuality or whatever ….Take your pick out of that lot and it’s simply a sweeping slash at “difference”.As a southern guy working in a bar in Amsterdam greeted me recently …”Hey ,cousin” , in reference to our shared Irishness…we are all here fro the same root…in many instances only a few minutes down the road… and not some foreigner with no similarity of culture or name.Many of us have names rooted in this land.
      I see this letter in much the same way I’d see the letter of a Little Englander writing in the” Daily Mail” who believes they can roll history back to the times of the Angles …before “England” was even “England ” at all.The pure stock of the Englalanders… unsullied by those pesky ne’er-do-wells, the Norman and Breton invaders and all that nonsense at Hastings in 1066.

      • jessica July 31, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

        Well I agree with Patricia totally. I may well indeed be being over sensitive but I found the remarks very hurtful and they did change me.

        Only last week I was trying to explore how we could accommodate unionist views and now when faced with the risk of being further deemed an outcast in my own country, I am now finding unionism more unpalatable than ever.

        This could well be a case of one persons prejudice inspiring another but it did provoke a change of opinion in me?

        Is our tolerance of unionism and are allowing them to abuse us so freely causing problems for us?

        Can you imagine Mexicans burning the US flag and effigies of president Washington on huge bonfires or what the reaction would be?

        Perhaps we are too soft on what we allow unionism to get away with.

      • giordanobruno July 31, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

        paddy
        You are a sensible man and I respect your views. But I cannot see the racism here.
        Alright the letter writer does not come across as particularly nice,but she is talking about unification and in that context she is saying we are not wanted.
        That is an entirely legitimate political view to hold is it not?
        How often do we see comments here saying the British are not wanted, they should piss off back home (ahem jessica!).
        That is not racism it is politics, at least I assume it is intended that way.
        I am not a member of the nonPC brigade by the way, and I do think words can cause harm when used against minorities or vulnerable groups but this just doesn’t appear to be the case in this instance, to my mind.

        • paddykool August 1, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

          …but that’s the thing, gio.What way would you interpret her statement..?.”…We don’t want them, we don’t need them, we can’t afford them, we are somewhat afraid of them, we think that they are culturally different from us, we don’t approve of their prejudices and we don’t want them to influence events in the Republic. “.

          Stop and think exactly what she is saying and how many ways it might be interpreted. What does she mean by “culturally different”?Each one of us is culturally different from the next fellow if he is an individual at all. His influences and viewpoints will develop from his personal tastes and his own mindset. That will mould his sense of culture. Culture is not necessarily the product of a narrow street .

          For example…. is she targeting All “northerners”or is she targeting maybe only “unionist “northerners.? See what I mean? Why might she do either of those things? I’d say her prejudice might be drawn from what she sees in the media which might sway her thoughts either way.It’s been said , for example , that the Orange Order in Belfast is an entirely different beast than the same institution in the more rural places. Well that might mean that the country folk are different from the city -folk in some ways. Does her broad brush make any allowances for something like that?

          What she is seeing in the media is usually centred around the most news-making aspects of our daily life here(not what any of us would call our”normal” everyday grind) …and it’s not usually good reading . Think about the mad stuff that has made the headlines in the past five years and you’ll get a sorry tale of homophobic bakeries, Twaddell Roundabout, loyalist bandsmen taunting outside churches , dubious “Christian “clerics speaking love and hate at the same time, hammering Muslims for being Muslims…. A First Minister saying he might only trust them to go down to the shops for him. There’s the outright hatered of anything vaguely Irish , even when it is a known fact that practically half of the people who are supposed to be represented equally are being openly dissed.Then there’s the mad “Hokey Cokey” stunt-politics which were frankly embarrassing (who would want that carry-on in government anywhere?)

          Then there are the ridiculous huge bonfires and the lawbreaking that they represent . ..the hate crimes and burning of many national flags and symbols. Then there’s the over the top reaction to flying flags like they do in the rest of the UK. There is the non-acceptance in any way that they share ground with a popullation practically evenly divided in cultural aspiration and a mistrust of anything that is vaguely foreign. You can see why the letter-writer might have a very specific target in mind.It is what she has seen in the media down the years. If she’s read any history at all she ‘ll know where the violence originated.it’s easily researched.

          Now if that is what she’s afraid of , she might have a point alright. Anyone might find all of that off-putting…plenty do and regularly leave the place for the month of July every Summer to get away from the worst aspects of it..and that would be a lot of folks on both sides of the Great Divide…but is she afraid of all northerners? All those in both nationalism and even some unionism or non-voters…who don’t condone any of those miscreant practices and wish that politicians here would get a grip…get a bit of sense and enforce a few sensible hate -laws?

          Her view appears as a narrow non-specific view but open to many interpretations ….but is as narrow as those who refuse to even debate a different possible future for Ireland ….for fear that if they speak the words , what they say might just come true.

  11. Ryan July 30, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    I think a lot of people aren’t properly understanding what Aoife Lord is saying.

    Is Aoife referring to all Northerners? Well she gives clues. She mentions that they are culturally different to Southerners. She cant be talking about Nationalists because we have always regarded ourselves as Irish. She is obviously referring to Unionists, who class themselves as British and are hostile to Irishness (like on the 11th July). She says that they have prejudices. The Orange Order has extreme prejudices, specifically against Catholics. Racist attacks are mostly carried out in Unionist areas. Sectarianism is even described as a “Culture” by many Unionists. She doesn’t want them to influence events in the Republic. Well Sinn Fein has 23 TD’s and is an All Ireland party for decades, she cant be referring to them, it again must be Unionists. She also hints that Northerners don’t want the South influencing events in the North like she doesn’t want Northerners influencing events in the Republic. She is obviously referring to Unionists, not Nationalists. Unionists, despite becoming a minority, keep saying in vain for the Republic to “Keep out” of Northern affairs.

    This attitude towards Unionism isn’t unique to Aoife Lord. If people remember back at the 2015 British General Election there was a lot of concern in Britain itself at the prospect of the DUP joining a coalition Government at Westminster. Nick Clegg, then the Deputy PM, said he wouldn’t want the DUP to have any influence on a new Government. Gay Rights groups in Britain voiced their concern at the DUP being in power. Jonathan Powell said during the live count on TV (available on youtube) that the “nutcases in the DUP” will be a nightmare for any coalition government.

    Regardless of all this, the most recent poll done in the South showed 65% of people supported Irish Unity, around 30% opposed it.

  12. Pointis July 31, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    Gio, It is well for you to admit your own prejudices which many here already know but for the rest of the population that sort of ignorant, sweeping, generalisation may justifiably be considered as racist and offensive.

    You put a lot of effort into s##t stirring!

    • giordanobruno July 31, 2016 at 11:55 am #

      Pointis
      You don’tthink the majority of people affected by the troubles were marked with some measure of prejudice? That surprises me. The bitterness and hatred on this blog and many other blogs as well as in the media politics,and in society in general suggests there is plenty of prejudice about.
      But if you disagree fair enough.
      I still don’t see any racism in the letter.
      As for s**t stirring I am just giving my opinion on the article. Am I not allowed to disagree?

      • jessica July 31, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

        your sole purpose on this blog is shit stirring and the promotion and encouragement of unionism which also happens to be the main source of prejudice not the troubles.

        Why is it I recall so many Catholics who lost loved ones to British paramilitaries come out with messages of forgiveness and calls for no retaliation, yet unionists in the same boat are more bitter, hold grudges and seek revenge through whatever means.

        The people in the south are right, British unionism is a sickness and a blight in Ireland and it needs to be removed.

        • Scott July 31, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

          “Why is it I recall so many Catholics who lost loved ones to British paramilitaries come out with messages of forgiveness and calls for no retaliation, yet unionists in the same boat are more bitter, hold grudges and seek revenge through whatever means.”

          Funny isn’t It how people seem to get so angry about a sweeping prejudice statement (such as Aoife Lords letter) about there own community, yet are quite happy to claim a disgusting prejudice about another community.

          It’ll be interesting to see how many contributors here are as quick to condemn Jessica’s words here as they were to condemn Aoifes.

          Pretty disgusting words there Jessica.

          • jessica July 31, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

            You are probably right Scott but it is a circle of prejudice that we need to break and that isn’t going to happen while unionism refuses to acknowledge its past and at least attempts to reconcile with the rest of the island.

            I apologise if I have caused offense, it is a genuine opinion I hold but was not a deliberate attempt to offend. I just do not have a good opinion of unionism but I will acknowledge that does not give me the right to be careless with my remarks.

          • Wolfe tone July 31, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

            Well Scott perhaps you should address Jessica’s point rather than call the thought police?

            Throughout the troubles large proportions of the nationalist community did condemn the IRA. Not only did they condemn them through words but through their deeds. Added to that umpteen nationalist families forgave their loved ones’ unionist killers and called for reconciliation etc.

            Meanwhile on the ‘unionist side’, when unionist militia were carrying out their deeds it was indeed noticeable the lack of condemnation. When words of condemnation did come it was usually followed by a sweeping condemnation of both sides and a subliminal hint that it was the IRA’s fault anyway.

            ‘Not in my name’ was a regular chant amongst sections of nationalism towards the IRA; I have yet to hear similar sections of the unionist community say the same for unionist militia?

            The so called moderate unionist masquerading as a letsgetalongerist, will say they condemned unionist violence and wanted no truck with it but unfortunately their words ring hollow when you compare it to their deeds. Just like when they pay lip service and condemn the traditional orange hate fest antics eg burning national flags, Catholic religious items, sectarian chanting and violence of flute bands, their words ring hollow. You can’t say you condemn those antics on the one hand and yet applaud the march or bonfire they are part of.

            If I attended a republican parade were a band was singing about killing Protestants I would be horrified. I would make it clear I wouldn’t attend that parade again until that band or individuals were roaded. I would be well aware that by attending that parade I am lending credence and giving support to the parade participants. I would be well aware that another community could assume that everyone at that parade was endorsing the offensive band. I would be well aware that by not demonstrating that I abhor the actions of the hate band that people could make a sweeping statement that everyone at that parade condoned the bands actions.

            Cheering on/attending orange fest parades or bonfire ceremonies whilst the participants/organisers indulge in offensive antics or violence can easily lead to sweeping generalisations. Condemning the antics but continuing to attend/cheer the same parade/bonfire and whilst the same antics continue can lead to sweeping generalisations too. Common sense really. If it’s not ‘in your name’ then don’t attend their events, don’t share their platforms and don’t make excuses and blame others for their actions, otherwise sweeping statements could be offered.

          • MT July 31, 2016 at 11:52 pm #

            “Meanwhile on the ‘unionist side’, when unionist militia were carrying out their deeds it was indeed noticeable the lack of condemnation.”

            No it wasn’t.

            “When words of condemnation did come it was usually followed by a sweeping condemnation of both sides and a subliminal hint that it was the IRA’s fault anyway.”

            No it wasn’t.

          • Scott July 31, 2016 at 9:56 pm #

            That’s very gracious of you to apologise Jessica and that takes a lot of character.

            I understand how easy it is to get carried away and step over the line (myself included) when discussing politics and I would hope that if I get out of order someone will pull me up on it.

          • Scott July 31, 2016 at 10:14 pm #

            Well WT first of all I don’t attend parades/marches/bonfires. I was never raised with Orangeism and feel zero affection towards. In fact il go as far to say I hate it probably as much as you do.

            The comment Jessica left that I chose to reply to only had 3 points as far as I can see

            1. “your sole purpose on this blog is shit stirring and the promotion and encouragement of unionism which also happens to be the main source of prejudice not the troubles”

            I have no opinion on whether Gio is a s**t stirrer or not.

            2. “Why is it I recall so many Catholics who lost loved ones to British paramilitaries come out with messages of forgiveness and calls for no retaliation, yet unionists in the same boat are more bitter, hold grudges and seek revenge through whatever means.”

            This was the comment I most took issue and pointed the ridiculousness of it.

            3. “The people in the south are right, British unionism is a sickness and a blight in Ireland and it needs to be removed.”

            Well I disagree that all people in the south want the removal of Unionism and I also disagree that it’s a blight or sickness or that it needs to be removed. That of course is debatable but it wasn’t the reason I took offence.

            If you are seriously trying to construct an argument that is trying to justify the second paragraph Jessica wrote then I’m sorry WT, but I find it so blatantly hateful and self evidently wrong that I have no interest in debating it with you mate.

          • Wolfe tone August 1, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

            MT, what age are you? Your words of wisdom and powers of debate should be studied the world over. To me to you to me to you to me to you………

        • Robert July 31, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

          Jessica that’s pretty poor perhaps when you get angry which seems a lot stay away from the computer your remarks are offensive and have unpleasant parallels with a regime that came to power in the thirties in Germany.

          You should be better than that.

        • giordanobruno July 31, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

          jessica
          “your sole purpose on this blog is shit stirring and the promotion and encouragement of unionism”.
          That would be two purposes!
          I had no idea there were so many delicate flowers around here; given the constant abuse and personal attacks that are dished out I would have thought this letter would be dismissed with a shrug.

      • Pointis July 31, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

        Gio,

        She said all Northerners are prejudiced!

        I don’t believe that Northerners are a different race, culture or Nation but Aoife claims we are so if she is labelling us all as prejudiced in a very negative way in the belief that we are which fulfils the criteria of a racist slander.

        You may agree with her which is your right but you don’t have the right to agree with her in my name and everyone else from the North!

        I know as most of the others here know you are a rational, intelligent man and you know that if Jude said all Israelis, Germans, British, Africans or Americans were prejudiced you would be the first to defend those Nationals.

        • giordanobruno July 31, 2016 at 9:46 pm #

          Pointis
          She did not actually say all northerners were prejudiced though clearly she thinks many of us are. It seems to me that is not far from the truth.
          We are not a different race from her (I assume) and she never says we are.
          She simply does not want the South to be united with the North.
          I don’t agree with her opinions by the way.

          • Pointis August 1, 2016 at 10:13 am #

            Gio,

            ‘She did not actually say all northerners were prejudiced’

            Yes she did!

            “Sir, – We don’t want them, we don’t need them, we can’t afford them, we are somewhat afraid of them, we think that they are culturally different from us, we don’t approve of their prejudices and we don’t want them to influence events in the Republic. We also feel that Northerners feel the same way about us.

            No qualification of subsets just “Northerners”!