Apparently unionists worry about certain things. They are unsure whether or not some Irish Nationalists really want local government to succeed. They are dubious that republicans might want this to fail even though Martin MCGuinness attempted everything short of walking -on -water to prove to them that he wanted it to work. Unionists have some notion that his out-reach was all an elaborate scam of some corrupt and byzantine profundity. They think he might not really have wanted it to succeed at all, even though it was he who tried everything to make it work and made all the out-reach ; they cannot see that it was their own actions that made it look as though it could never work. Now they have the idea that if it had worked it had the potential to destroy the republican project by making voters feel too comfortable in their skins and feel that it was an entirely permanent part of their lives forever and ever…like some wishful unionist fairytale. They need not worry too much ; Nationalists and republicans might want the local Assenbly to work for their own reasons…that is , to prepare unionists for what lies ahead for them in a projected future of equals….something wholly unique in a future Ireland…. but they want it to work at least until unionists realise that they have not grown horns and forked tails.. What it has not been doing was working properly. There appears to have been a misunderstanding as to what “equality” for all citizens might mean and that is the very reason that the DUP are not yet ready for an Assembly , even though it is the thing they most desire. They are simply not ready for real government ,yet .
There’s an argument being floated currently that imagines if Nationalists in Norneverland get too comfortable and begin seeing themselves as “Northern Irish” , with their own tight little local Assembly,as opposed to simply being “Irish”, that they’ll suddenly stop thinking of the possibility of an eventual United Ireland and somehow feel good and comfortable about being sort of tribally “British” ,or become another tribal version of that other made-up one, the Frankensteinian, cobbled -together “Ulster-Scots” sobriquet and start feeling like a fully -integral and integrated tribal part of a “British Isles” or a “United Kingdom”….or a “Great Britain”…… possibly something like “a Great British Islander”! Most Irish Nationalists have never felt “united” with the English king(dom), anyway. They never wanted to feel “English” or Scottish or Welsh or even a vassal of the English king ,either.They never felt there was anything “great” about Britain for that matter , other than the size of the place compared to Little Brittany. No they never felt part of that at all.They just thought on a basic level that they had a pushy neighbour living beside them who liked to shove his weight about.Well the neighbour had at one time quite a bit of weight to shove about and did so on a world scale for some time .That empire had a good long run but that’s a thing of the past now.It exists no more.
I have to say , it’s been a long, long time since Ireland was “planted” by imported Scots and English.In 1606 small , private colonies began by some very wealthy Englishmen and some three years later in 1609 some half a million acres across Donegal, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan, Armagh, Down and Antrim was taken from the Gaelic chiefs, the majority of whom went into exile in the Flight of the Earls and fled to Europe in 1607. In Antrim and Down most of the land was privately colonised .From an English perspective this was seen as a way of preventing any further rebellions because the area had been most resistant to English control during the previous century. The dropped-in colonisers were obviously very loyal to the English ideal which was never going to make them very populat with the indigenous Irish whose land they had purloined.That might have been some four hundred years ago but as Maggie Thatcher was wont to say…”A crime is a crime, is a crime”. There’s no real way around that and the Irish have long memories.
You’d imagine that anyone being born and growing up here within the last hundred years or so would see themselves as simply Irishmen by now . I mean some of us have French blood , Italian blood, Polish blood , Chinese blood ,in our lines as well as Scottish blood , from times gone by , but we don’t bang on about it ad finitum .You might as well cast your mind back to our human African roots on the plains of Africa and carp on about our Afro-Irish lineage, eh? Or the odd bit of Viking in the family tree. I know there were some French Hugenots in my own timeline on my father’s side, but that was generations ago and those French men and women had to come from somewhere before they arrived in France, so their roots go back somewhere else too. I read somewhere that a lot of us carry the DNA of Genghis Khan in our lineage.For every two hundred men across the world , one of them is a direct descendant of this man who lived 1000 years ago . That is some 16 million men .Of course,as far as I’m concerned, in the here and now, I was born in Ireland and no matter how I approach it and how that came to be , I’m simply an Irishman by birth and that is how I will always feel…..Genghis Khan or no!
That’s not to say that everyone feels like that.Many others who were born in the very same towns villages and cities as myself ,don’t “get” that at all.They want to carry all that earlier baggage I mentioned above , with them .They want to hang on to those old roots to the point where they imagine they are not Irishmen at all. I find that almost incomprehensible to tell the truth. How many generations can that kind of thing be sustained over?
Then there’s my fellow Irishmen only a few miles southwards.That’s another story too. They want to pretend that I’m not quite as Irish as themselves, simply because they all but abandoned us about a hundred years ago in a dodgy land -deal which drew an imaginary border across the island .They think it is too much hassle and too messy now to give my “Irishness” full- credence, so they might prefer that I forgot entirely who I thought I was and just go ahead and embrace another recently made-up identity.
Now that Brexit has thrown the island of Ireland and the adjoining Great Britain into chaos ,they are all having to have second thoughts at a very late hour.Some say that Sinn Fein brought Stormont down because they thought that some Irish nationalists were becoming complacent and getting too cosy with the idea of being “Northern Irish” but I’m not so sure. I still believe that Sinn Fein wanted Stormont to work …albeit as only one step in their entire New United Ireland political project. Their problem was not the notion of “Northern Irish”complacency but rather the fact that they coulddn’t get their unionist partners to grow with them. The DUP(Democratic Unionist Party) have no real sense of the changes about to happen , but it seems that our fellow Irishmen in the south are at last beginning to give it some belated consideration as a way to get rid of that problem border we are about to confront.Yes….suddenly the idea of the border is going to be a problem for someone else besides ourselves .

6 Responses to A PROBLEM SHARED

  1. fiosrach April 24, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    I think perhaps that a suitable analogy would be the white colonists in black Africa. Never will a white man become a black man no matter how long he lives in Africa. He might have to suffer minority status and imposed parity of esteem but he’ll always be white even if he’s in rags. So it is here with a lot of our waspish brethren.

  2. Freddie mallins April 24, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    Harry, nice piece. I think the point you make at the start about unionism doubting the integrity of McGuinness’s outreach was, not so much that they doubted his sincerity, but that they feared his sincerity, because that would demand reciprocation. Remember what Molyneau said about the first ceasefire. Nationalism can only make gestures because we have little to give, but unionism has held all the power and ignore gestures to avoid having to reduce their control, for the greater good.

    • paddykool April 24, 2017 at 3:40 pm #

      Well Freddie , they have a tendency to change their argument as the wind blows ,anyway.MMcG would never be right no matter what he would ever do and we all knew that was their attitude.Still … the game had to be played out to prove it.Everyone else knows and sees just how they’ve screwed themselves completely and what a very slippery slope unionism finds itself on now.It will be interesting to see how the good farmers, for one example ,react when they are pulled from the EU teat and just how right they think their unionist leaders have got it. It will also be very interesting to see how the DUP will ever get an Executive back up without splitting their party asunder.If half the party are against equal rights and refuse to countenance that idea , they’ll have to go before the DUP takes any seats again which will weaken the party. If they don’t give in on equality and equal rights for our gay brothers and sisters, they’ll never get back in. How will they ever put that one right when no one who voted for Sinn Fein ,wants Sinn Fein to go back in with them unless everyone is to be treated as equals? That’s a dead-end right there. The only way around it is for Westminster to take the ball away for a period and introduce equality while the DUp are not in an Executive.Then the DUP can say that they did not introduce it.That’s the kind of twisted hypocrisy that might get them off that specific hook.I can’t see any other way.then there’s the Language Act to sort out too…and a few other bits and pieces that should have been done long ago.

  3. Freddie mallins April 24, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    Yes I think you’re right, Harry. Is it not quite unbelievable that in this enlightened age, equality is the issue that will doubtless see an end to the DUP as we know it. Someone put it less subtly recently about equality and breaking them and all that! But it seems that the human demand for equality for all will actually rid society of that nefarious fundamentalist lobby once and for all.

  4. fiosrach April 24, 2017 at 5:56 pm #

    As recently as Sunday night past, Gavin Robinson (Gavin the Graceful) stated that the DUP did not sign up to any Irish Language Agreement. The train stops here.

    • paddykool April 24, 2017 at 6:16 pm #

      Toot toot, fiosrach…end of the line………..!