I think it is all so much chaff…this talk of stereotyping unionism and nationalism.Of course everyone is an individual with their specific mindset within the entire Norneverland community but we are all products of our individual households and upbringing or how else could you imagine that young children would end up in various marching bands of one sort or another. What we really need to be talking abou are individual politicians and political parties here and not simply some random person off the street who might have a very multi-layered personality. In that respect we are talking about politicians in the sense of them being character actors with specific “personality” roles that they play out in the public forum for our edification. They have to appeal in broad strokes so that they are readily understood.These are particular, opinionated individuals who think their views are actually worth scrutiny by the general public and they even ask the general public to specifically endorse their sometimes very weird points of view and worldviews. Such is the case with someone like the recently debated -over in these pages , the redoubtable and opinionated Mr Poots of the DUP , who for example,even though, like the rest of us in modern times , is privy to more knowledge than at any time in mankind’s existence, apparently believes in a contrary notion that the earth is only 6000 years old.. Frankly …that puts him in a special space ,ripe for satire and much leg -pulling in the eyes of a knowledgeable world.That is a simple fact.There’s no escaping it.”Private Eye ” magazine was invented for such as he.We need to sit back , no matter which household contains our personal origin story and take a really good look at what some of these individuals are saying and thinking.
You might say on one hand that people such as Mr Poots do not represent all “unionists” (and I would sincerely hope not, just as I’d sincerely hope that Donald Trump is not representative of all Americans, but plenty do make their mark and vote for him too) or alternately certain nationalist politicians do not represent all “nationalists” and that is bound to be very true ,but these are the people playing the political “game” and not necessarily just some guy, either “unionist” or “nationalist” ,whom you might have a chat with down in the pub, so they are the ones who have chosen to be seen under the microscope and it is therefore their deeds and belief systems which are in question.
It was agreed after the conflict ended in this benighted place ,that there would be real “power-sharing” in an all new Executive with a whole new outlook that had some consideration as to why that conflict ever occurred in the first place and the best ways to avoid it ever happening again in the bright new future…. and that patently did not happen .There is still no real recognition at street-level or potentially in local government , that practically half of the population is not unionist by inclination and that the conflict did not simply pop up without a coherent reason. That is what is really at the nub of of all our problems here.There is no real recognition that there was a problem that had festered for some fifty years.unionism still seems to think there never was a problem.if they do think that , they have never mentioned it.
We have the annual “Twelfth” , around which, according to a unionist Protestant perspective , all life is supposed to revolve, even though it is only relevant to one section of society. There was a time when the endless red , white and blue marching bands played for a large part of the day on local television while commentators struggled to invoke some excitement. Thankfully that is not now the case , if for no other reason than that it was incredibly boring to most sentient beings with a functioning brain.It might have its place as an expression of a specific leaning, but let us not pretend that everyone thinks of it as the ultimate fun day out.
Places are still shut down for a fortnight in its honour.Streets are deserted annually while some firms stop entirely for an annual two -week holiday ,whether or not the workforce want to holiday at this specific time of the year or not. Towns become places of a few ghosts while everyone leaves at the same time .The” festival” is specifically for one half of the community only and revolves around a very odd Order of individuals who cleave to ancient Biblical mores trickling down from the days of the Stone Age , some thousands of years ago ,which are plainly based on tribal superstitions.It is all very eccentric and if it was simply some good -humoured Morris Men reviving vaguely pagan practices of fertility , music and clog -dancing, we could all join in and have a bit of a laugh together and not take it wholly too seriously.The fact is , though, that these people take all this very ancient guff very ,very seriously and very obviously expect everyone else to do the same . That simply cannot fly in the 21st century.Added to that is a very odd attachment to some very anti-Catholic views. We can all argue that one religious practice is as bad or as crazy as the other, being all equally brimful of superstition, in their cleaving to these ancient magics and god -worshipping ,but there are so many god -worshipping cults across the planet that it obviously fills a need in a lot of very fearful people in the world ,whether or not it makes any kind of rational sense at all. Most of those religions do not parade this need every year , in endless performances on the streets.These beliefs are mostly kept to the privacy of the home.The fact that the same cult has been also welded on to a right-wing political viewpoint is a potent mixture to bring to our streets annually.It’s as crazy as followers of ISIS believing that at their violent death they will be supplied with a coterie of willing angelic virgins. A cold, hard look with a rational mind is all that is needed to realise that all of it is based on nonsense.
There is also the fact that the so -called hard -won “power-sharing” actually wasn’t worked as it had been designed and the facts that almost half of the segregated population’s “Irish nationalism” was not …and is not taken seriously by unionism or even the local media at times. , or at least political unionism in the form of the DUP political party, which has pretended to themselves these past twenty years,that their little modern-day statelet was the very same as it had been in the 1920s and should be run exactly like that. In the 21st Century the little state wasn’t the same at all and would never be again be because of the growing Irish nationalist population.They appear not to have given that any consideration and have behaved as though time has stood still and that they still had an artificially constructed dominant voice as in the past.
Part of that pretence is the presumption that Irish nationalism might temporarily accept their lot but in reality they could not really identify with the union flag of the UK ,nor the perceived oddness and essential segregation of the annual Orange festival, so some differentiation would obviously have to be made for the reality of that little fact. Unionism surely knows that the sense of “or “Orangeism” will forever be an alien concept to half and possibly even more of the population. Nothing has been done.That was what the Agreement which ended the conflict was all about.; that recognition. For some twenty years now, that lesson has not been addressed at all and the Irish and British governments have quietly forgotten just why that agreement was made in the first place and what their responsibilities to it were.That is really why the Executive fell…and essentially had to fall.All the things that political unionism holds dear have not been balanced by recognition in public life , or on the streets by recognition of Irish nationalism’s equal place in the equation. Instead we now having a Tory government making a cosy place in their bed for unionism. We know thta in essence they are well-enough suited as bed-fellows, but it certainly goes against the grain of an impartial overseer of the Agreement9with no ulterior motives as to the future of the place).
English and Irish were the two main languages spoken in the entire island of Ireland by all its inhabitants and yet unionism has a problem recognising the need to preserve that Irish heritage.They witter on about the Ulster Scots dialect as though it were a living language when it is patently no such thing ,but is rather a slangy adjunct and dialect to boththe English language and the Irish gaelic of Ulster.
The non -recognition of Irish nationalism is also seen fundamentally in the fact that the main local broadcasting organ is soley the British Broadcasting Company.The BBC may well be head and shoulders better than many broadcasters on a world scale , but they are still the “British” broadcaster and practically half the population they serve here do not regard themselves as culturally British at all. It’s a difficult one to address or to put right but the Agreement was supposed to be the starting point..Take the anomaly of local -lad -made- good- Steven Nolan ,who works for the BBC (on” The Biggest Show in The Country”….what country??!!!) as the highest paid broadcaster, locally , with wages of some near £ Half Million annually ,for his services. He essentially hoves from a working-class Protestant Unionist Belfast background ,with all that it implies ,s but try as he may , his now -revealed millionaire status will now forever make it difficult for him to identify with the current lives of those from his own working-class unionist background origins and roots , never mind those nationalists who listen to his broadcasts ,because there is no other local outlet to vent their own thoughts.The man’s a bloody millionaire for Chrissakes!! How can he now share any of their pain? It is a curious situation that Irish nationalists should even play any part in these performances at all. How could he ever identify with them? In his worldview there is little knowledge of life beyond Belfast. Mr Nolan , by any standard, is not Mr Average citizen ,anywhere, but his background also creates some distance between him and the average nationalist experience.There is also the fact that because of his age he has no real personal knowledge of why the conflict actually happened in real-time back when it did and he has never shown any curiousity to delve into the real historical record of the place.
Where is the equivalency for Irish nationalism, whether you might be one of those nationalists or not? It’s a sure bet that political unionism never had any notion of recognising any of that when they got their agreed shared -power Assembly up and running under the aegis of the Agreement. They don’t seem to have recognised yet that irish nationalism is waiting for them to catch up…(Mr Poots included) …to actually make that first move at recognising that their forefathers have created a completely divided society. Some twenty years later there still has been no movement.