A PROBLEM SHARED

#429 

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 .

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