Monday, February 26, 2007

Was Croker a turning point?

I wish I'd been there. Not just to see Ireland hammer England at their first-ever encounter in Croke Park, but to hear the respectful silence as the British national anthem, the Éire national anthem and "Ireland's Call" were played.

There had been huge fears of hissing and boo-ing, but the crowd was statesmanlike. What a tribute to our nation - one spanning two jurisdictions and (at least) two mainstream cultures.

Ed Curran has written an inspiring account of how he experienced Saturday's political and cultural détente. Give it a read.

Away from election fever, the Big question Northern Protestants should be asking ourselves is: what can we do to show an equal amount of goodwill to our southern compatriots? The answer to this question will answer, in part, the question that is the title of today's post.

What a great age this is to be Irish.


At 6:27 p.m., Anonymous Tony said...

Great sentiments all round BU.

Hope you are not too modest to reflect that you may well be a credit to your nation for espousing such sentiment.

I only hope that others follow your fine example!!

At 10:37 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully the english do us all a favour and beat the french

At 4:41 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

I don't think what happened at Croke Park was so much a turning point as a very important manifestation of something that has been going on for quite some time. To that extent it was important for people to actually see how far they had come. It is also heartening to know that the reputation of the Irish for hospitality is still intact.

As for Tony's comment, my background is Ulster protestant. When my parents were born in Ireland, it was all one country. I was raised an Ulsterman not an Northern Irishman. One of my two passports is Irish. We wil be a nation once again. We will just have to wait until we are England's last colony to do so. (A Celtic federation would be nice).

At 10:02 a.m., Anonymous Tony said...

"(A Celtic federation would be nice)."

I was part of a semi-serious disscussion on slugger last year. I was advocating it quite vigorously to test the water. The only voices of dissension were Unionists, whom I believed would probably be most comfortable. Sadly they wanted it all(ie the union) without any prevarication.

Economically Ireland is doing very well. I believe that Scots free of control of a government obsessed with the south of England, would unleash a dynamism sadly lacking at present. A loose federation would make perfect sense.

Bill my background is quite similar to yours. Although the Scots and Irish have been mixing for thousands of years and are thoroughly intermixed. Of late My great-grandparents first came to Glasgow from Ulster because they couldn't get peace to live. She was the well to do Protestant farmer's daughter, and he was the Catholic labourer.

Whilst in Australia my uncle was visited by his uncle(my great-uncle, an Ulster Orangeman. It was a real "don't mention the war moment" I was introduced, then quickly ushered about my business by my uncle's wife, whose Da she was proud to regale us with had rode the white charger in Stirling's 12 July march. I think that they were afraid that I would open my big mouth.

I think in Scotland we are really intermixed compared to Ireland, I met loads of mixed couples from Belfast alone while living in Oz.

At 11:39 p.m., Anonymous bill said...

I don't think the Unionists want the Union so much as what the Union represents.....hegemony. Somehow, they seem to still believe that they can use the Union to rule their private fiefdom. While some of their concerns are legitimate, and I may share those, most concerns are the same as those suffered by some of the white South Africans (some of whom came from Ulster) at the demise of apartheid. They will go kicking and screaming all the way.

At 5:36 p.m., Anonymous beano said...

"I don't think the Unionists want the Union so much as what the Union represents.....hegemony. Somehow, they seem to still believe that they can use the Union to rule their private fiefdom."

Well done Bill. Excellent reading of the unionist psyche. Honest to God I can't believe some of this shit.

Maybe they're just fed up at being branded sectarian or bigoted or some other evil thing just because they don't agree with everything nationalism proposes like good little subservient pets.

Why does British people wanting to remain part of Britain represent any more hegemony or "desire to rule their fiefdom" than Irish people wanting to become part of an all-Ireland republic?

My main objection to the "loose celtic federation" was that it's basically the UK without England - which seems to be nothing but xenophobia. Some of us just aren't blessed with that same inferiority complex.

At 5:05 p.m., Anonymous Tony said...

"My main objection to the "loose celtic federation" was that it's basically the UK without England - which seems to be nothing but xenophobia. Some of us just aren't blessed with that same inferiority complex."

Strange that you believe that we have an inferiority complex Beano. Having a big non-Celtic nation like England in the equation might just upset the balance of two roughly Celtic orientated nations, similar in size and population. Kind of defeats the whole idea.

Oh! don't wish to be shrill, but the days of empire are long gone Beano, we will choose our own way. With or without begrudgers.

At 10:14 p.m., Blogger B.U. said...

a big non-Celtic nation like England
I take your main point, Tony, but the people of Liverpool and Cornwall might disagree with your phrasing ;-)

At 11:10 p.m., Anonymous Tony said...

Aye b.u. maybe Celtic in outlook might have been a more appropriate way of phrasing it.

Saying that I'd rather that we retook Berwick-on-Tweed first before looking anywhere else. I believe that the Welsh have their eyes on retaking their ancient homeland(England) if their national anthem is anything to go by. Wouldn't want to tread on our Celtic cousins toes now would we.

Glad to know that you are on board at any rate;¬)

At 2:56 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

When I worked in Gallaher's, a situation existed that was typical at the time. Protestants became bosses, foremen, operators etc. with all the decent wage jobs. Catholics, particularly females, worked their guts out in all the crap labour jobs just trying to make ends meet. At that time it was hard for a Catholic to get a decent job. In places like Derry, of course, since anything outside of ghetto housing was allocated largely (if not exclusively) to Protestants, they didn't even have an effective vote for Council (who allocated housing)......Hegemony! Northern Ireland was gerrymandered to create a state protecting the vested interests of a rich, powerful, Protestant elite such as the Brookboroughs. It was very easy to use religion to control the Protestant majority. Keep them ignorant, poor, and you can manipulate them all you want. It's been used all over the world. It also provided an employment/unemployment buffer for the English. While England could still milk it, it was a sacred cow. Now that it costs money, it's just an old carcass to get rid of. Part of my background is Norman-Irish, some would say Anglo-Irish. I grew up with those fine British traditions. At some point, I realised that the Irish, Scots (and Scot-ish) and Welsh did most of the building of those traditions. We have been mercilessly exploited for a very long time. British though I may have been, I have never been English but always an Ulsterman.

At 4:27 p.m., Anonymous Tony said...


Someone I know remarked in conversation with me that he thought the Protestant working classes allowed themselves to be manipulated too easily. And in essence betrayed their working class counterparts in the Catholic community.

It was food for thought.

In retrospect, at a time(late 19thC onwards) when the British working classes were realising that unity was strength. It seems the Irish working classes were allowing the elite, using conduits who would not be dissimilar to Paisley's of this world. To scupper any kind of strong working class movements.

Any thoughts on this?

At 3:36 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

Divide and conquer predates the Brits by a long shot. There have been several times when protestants and catholics have worked together in common cause. The civil rights march to Derry that helped set the last thirty years plus fiasco up involved a cross section on the working class. At that time protestants and catholics were even dating. While most of the fighting for independence was done by the IRB/IRA (with limited success), the greatest gains towards independence came about because of protestants. They were the only ones who had any real access to parliament.

The Brits promised Home Rule to whoever could defend it. In the meantime, they had armed and were training protestant militias in order to protect their financial interest. My grandfather was involved in training them. The IRA had to start playing some serious catch up with the odds stacked against them. When it looked like the vote would go agaist them, the Brits gerrymandered Ulster to vote separately. In the meantime, the protestant elite in the North were rabble rousing against the catholics. When the vote did finally come, three counties were let go to the Republic because there was too big a catholic vote in them. Ergo Northern Ireland.

The Ulster prods have been used the same way the poor whites were used in the American deep south or in Rhodesia and South Africa. "It ain't that good for us but we're a hell of a lot better off than that trash. If we lose our establishment, they'll come and take it all." I might point out that many, if not most, of those other poor whites were descended from or actually were Ulster prods.

At 9:38 a.m., Anonymous Tony said...

Bill much of what you say relates to southern Africa, did you spend time there? or just well read on the subject?

The Curragh incident and the fact that the Liberal government of the day were brought down. They genuinely feared a bloody if short, civil war for continuing to back Irish home rule. Fear impregnated by those that are leaders in the community, does tend to motivate some to actions that they might not otherwise have intended.

I speak of the rabble-rousing of Unionists, be it a hundred years ago or forty. Indeed it could even be the anti-asylum seeker nonsense that I see in Glasgow just now. We get the UK news with all the English worries re-immigration. The fear strikes home here even though we only have a miniscule amount of immigrants in comparison with England. Result, increased levels of xenophobia.

I just wonder if early 20thC in Ireland's Catholic population, the shoe being on the other foot would have been roused to similar bigotry as Protestants did. If say for example the church led a campaign against Protestants, leading to discrimination against them. I would have to say at the time, Catholics would probably have fell into the same traps. The same question posed in the latter half of the last century would probably have been different, certainly now it would not be entertained.

At present can it be supposed that ordinary working class Protestants are able to differentiate between what is good for them. And what is in the interests of political leaders. I'm not sure they are on the whole, certainly some of the paramilitaries wised up to being used as death squads for British and Unionist interests. However some would still answer the call.

Sorry for going on a bit;¬)

At 5:05 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

I wasn't in South Africa but had relatives from Belfast live in Rhodesia and later, when it became uncomfortable, in South Africa. I also had a great old friend who was asian living in Uganda until Amin threw them all out. After the army, I had intended to join the mercenaries in the Congo but it didn't turn out that way.

The problems that we're looking at go way beyond protestant/catholic. We thought after Hitler and Stalin it would never happen again but look at the former Yugoslavia and most recently the Tutsis in Africa. It's a mind set that needs to be addressed. We need to understand that we the people have more in common with one another than with the politicians and elite who rule. They have more in common with other politicans of other nations than they do with their own people. As for religion, we need to know that all serve one God and the sectarian stuff is only man made window dressing.

At 11:52 a.m., Anonymous Tony said...


Interesting times, could've got a free ticket for "Rumble in the jungle", "Ali bumbaye" and all that.

Couldn't agree with you more on all counts. Make people afraid and you can lead them where you want.

I would have to admit post-9/11 falling into the "get the bastards before they get us" mind set. It was short term fear that numbed my mind to the greater machinations being orchestrated in Washington. I don't know if in mitigation fear for my young children can be used for my stupidity. I was taught a lesson nonetheless about how fear can overcome rationale.

Off to watch Celtic pummel the teddy-bears now;¬)

Hope I'm not being too nosey Bill, but where are you hanging your hat these days?

At 12:11 a.m., Anonymous bill said...



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