Have you heard? Michelle O’Neill used the term ‘Northern Ireland’ in Stormont a while back, and now she’s gone and used it AGAIN at Westminster during an interview. “I think we shouldn’t get hung up on those things. It’s the beauty of the Good Friday Agreement – British, Irish or both or neither.” That’s what she said.
I mean, bloody hell – what next? Meeting Queen Elizabeth? Shaking hands with Prince Phili – oh right, he’s dead. Well, Prince Charles then. Pressing the flesh with the Prince. Now the concessionary ball has started rolling, there’ll be no end to it.
I myself, like lots of other right-thinking people, would never say ‘Northern Ireland’… No, NO, Virginia. I did NOT just say ‘Northern Ireland’, I was … What do you mean, I’ve said it again? Rinse your ears out: I never, never, never, never say ‘Northern Ireland’. I take my stand with the stout-hearted media of the South – they always refer to ‘Northern Ireland’ as the North. Except when they don’t.
But wait a minute. Maybe we should all remember – and I include myself in this -maybe we should all try to realise that there’s a positive side to Michelle’s words. This linguistic move of hers will mean that unionists will now stop talking about ‘The Province’ when they mean two-thirds of the province. And they won’t use Ulster any more, because, well, see above. They’ll say things like ‘We the people of two-thirds of Ulster demand our right to remain British.”
There’ll be unionist politicians competing to lead the field. Shouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a terminology race. I can just see Gregory Campbell going neck-and-neck with Jim Allister, one shouting “Derry! Derry!” and the other “Six Counties! Six Counties!” And the local BBC, they’ll make that morning programme of theirs ‘Good Morning Belfast and other places’. Not as neat as ‘Good Morning Ulster’ but more geographically accurate.
As for talk of the Mainland, that’s bound to be over. Except they’re on Rathlin Island.
The more I think of it, Michelle has actually made an astute move here. Stand by to be astonished at how open to change parties such as the DUP and the TUV are.