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Northern Ireland Protestants are not both British & Irish; they're not Irish at all.


MacAvoydgeen

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The following is an abridgement of a worthwhile column in Belfast Telegraph, 10 Dec 2008.
The author is a professor of Irish Studies in the school of politics at Queen's University Belfast.

Bertie Ahern once declared that one of the "saddest developments" in recent decades has been "the reduction in the number of people in the North from a Protestant unionist and loyalist background who regard themselves as Irish, or as both Irish and British".

One hundred years ago most unionists in Ireland, north and south, regarded themselves as both Irish and British. Post-1921, we can see the development of a heightened sense of British identity, embracing Ulster, or Northern Ireland, which denied increasingly any sense of Irishness. At the same time, the new Irish Free State experienced the growth of its own heightened form of Irish/Gaelic identity.

The movement in the northern unionist community away from an Irish identity, however, did not take place overnight and in fact many unionists retained a strong Irish dimension for decades. For example in 1929, in a debate in the Northern Ireland parliament, a unionist MP stated: "We are Irishmen ... I always hold that Ulstermen are Irishmen and the best of Irishmen." The speaker was none other than the unionist leader, Lord Craigavon. In 1936, he would repeat this point: "While we are Ulstermen, we are also Irishmen." When Craigavon died in 1940, John M Andrews, his successor, paid tribute to him as a "great Ulsterman, a great Irishman and a great Imperialist".

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lapsedmethodist

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My grandparents saw themselves as Irish - born in 1880s. My mother and uncles the same -born 1918/20. I did, born 1947. But I am of the last geneation that included this attitude.
Constant IRA campaigns - however feeble - 1950's - reinforced the siege mentality. PIRA simply ignored this and now ........?
 

Sam Lord

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If they are not Irish then what nationality are they? British is not a nationality. And Northern Ireland is not even geographically part of Britain which refers exclusively to the big island to our immediate East. The State that Northern Ireland is formally part of is titled the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. So I'm not sure how anyone in the North can describe themselves as British in any sense.

Some people, apparently, describe themsleves as Ulster but Ulster is not a nationality either. You could, I suppose, talk of a unionist six counties nationality but I am not sure if this makes a great deal of sense.

They are essentially a people who have lost their identity in the pursuit of ascendancy. Lost souls without a nation. It's sad really. Imagine growing up in a community where expressing your culture means beating large drums in an agggressive manner. I think I'd have slit my wrists at an early age.
 

Oriel27

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If they are not Irish then what nationality are they? British is not a nationality. And Northern Ireland is not even geographically part of Britain which refers exclusively to the big island to our immediate East. The State that Northern Ireland is formally part of is titled the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. So I'm not sure how anyone in the North can describe themselves as British in any sense.

Some people, apparently, describe themsleves as Ulster but Ulster is not a nationality either. You could, I suppose, talk of a unionist six counties nationality but I am not sure if this makes a great deal of sense.

They are essentially a people who have lost their identity in the pursuit of ascendancy. Lost souls without a nation. It's sad really. Imagine growing up in a community where expressing your culture means beating large drums in an agggressive manner. I think I'd have slit my wrists at an early age.
basically they are "anything else but irish".

i used to work in Lurgan with a bunch of typical loyalists. Im from the republic.
one day i won a bet with them, they said to me " thats the luck of the irish in ye" !!

and the guy that said it to me, his name was "Mc Cann". His family obviously took the soup somewhere down the line.

Here its not their fault, since they were born, Britishness was stuffed down their throat, flags throwen in their faces every day, The media in the north being so pro mainland britian, everything about them is so directed towards the mainland... the soccer on tv, the anti gaa, their own news papers....
even the protestant education system is so "not irish". The history they learn in school is all about british wars. all irish wars, 1916 etc... is very dialuted.

here, let them at it.
 

Nem

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The following is an abridgement of a worthwhile column in Belfast Telegraph, 10 Dec 2008.
The author is a professor of Irish Studies in the school of politics at Queen's University Belfast.
That was written by Brian Walker who is more of a cultural historian with an interest in identity. He has written a very interesting book: Brian M. Walker, Dancing to History's Tune: History, Myth and Politics in Ireland (Belfast 1997)

 

darkhorse

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Its nothing to do with how you 'see yourself' - its about where you were born
If you are born in Ireland then you are Irish - full stop.
If you have a problem with that and 'see yourself' as from a different country then your problem is basically psychological
 

TradCat

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Irishness has no meaning unless you accept the right of the Irish people to make the decision to opt for independence.

If you see it as a sub-set of Britishness without any other political rights then you are Irish in the sense that I'm a Munsterman. It doesn't mean anything really.

Nationalists should discuss this because we should be clear about what we want. Ideally Unionists would accept Irishness and accept the Irish majority for national independence. If they don't then we are asking them to live as a British minority in an Irish state. Those are very different options and I wonder are we sending a confused message.

The GFA is clear enough that in a united Ireland the unionists would retain their right to consider themselves British but it is a case of one or the other rather than both in my opinion.
 

Oriel27

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Irishness has no meaning unless you accept the right of the Irish people to make the decision to opt for independence.

If you see it as a sub-set of Britishness without any other political rights then you are Irish in the sense that I'm a Munsterman. It doesn't mean anything really.

Nationalists should discuss this because we should be clear about what we want. Ideally Unionists would accept Irishness and accept the Irish majority for national independence. If they don't then we are asking them to live as a British minority in an Irish state. Those are very different options and I wonder are we sending a confused message.

The GFA is clear enough that in a united Ireland the unionists would retain their right to consider themselves British but it is a case of one or the other rather than both in my opinion.

What i think is clearly preventing the unionists from accepting irishness, is the GAA's grasp of it.
I am totally of same feeling as the unionists on this matter. The GAA have such a grasp on this concept of irishness that one feels you have to be a member of the GAA to be fully irish.
THis i find is down right wrong, i find the GAA very much facist and raciest. I know they say they are open to other traditions but are they really? Its like the Nazi's saying they are open to jewish membership.

That so annoys me so much is how county councils publicly display affiliation to the GAA. I find this very "one sided community".

Take for example Monaghan Co Council. Why do they publically display the monaghan GAA county colours? what about all the other people (a sizable protestant population), eastern europeans, catholics etc... that dont follow the GAA...
And in addition, why do Monaghan GAA, take the Monaghan county symbol?

My point is, the GAA in order to be clearly a sporting organisation should cut all ties with everything else that isnt sport...

I feel the GAA alienate everyone else who doesnt follow their command, and they have taken over things that have nothing to do with sport.
 

shutuplaura

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What i think is clearly preventing the unionists from accepting irishness, is the GAA's grasp of it.
I am totally of same feeling as the unionists on this matter. The GAA have such a grasp on this concept of irishness that one feels you have to be a member of the GAA to be fully irish.
THis i find is down right wrong, i find the GAA very much facist and raciest. I know they say they are open to other traditions but are they really? Its like the Nazi's saying they are open to jewish membership.

That so annoys me so much is how county councils publicly display affiliation to the GAA. I find this very "one sided community".

Take for example Monaghan Co Council. Why do they publically display the monaghan GAA county colours? what about all the other people (a sizable protestant population), eastern europeans, catholics etc... that dont follow the GAA...
And in addition, why do Monaghan GAA, take the Monaghan county symbol?

My point is, the GAA in order to be clearly a sporting organisation should cut all ties with everything else that isnt sport...

I feel the GAA alienate everyone else who doesnt follow their command, and they have taken over things that have nothing to do with sport.
Jeez I dunno, you've little enough to be annoyed about.

I think you see the same thing in every sporting organisation on the planet. In the north, like everything else, politics is an issue (as it is with soccer), but int he rest of the country I really don't see what you mean. Its also debatable as to how much of the fault for this lies with the organisation itself and not its supporters.

The crest for counties and the GAA county crests are also different very, strikingly so in the case of Monaghan.
 

Fir Bolg

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What i think is clearly preventing the unionists from accepting irishness, is the GAA's grasp of it.
I am totally of same feeling as the unionists on this matter. The GAA have such a grasp on this concept of irishness that one feels you have to be a member of the GAA to be fully irish.
THis i find is down right wrong, i find the GAA very much facist and raciest. I know they say they are open to other traditions but are they really? Its like the Nazi's saying they are open to jewish membership.

That so annoys me so much is how county councils publicly display affiliation to the GAA. I find this very "one sided community".

Take for example Monaghan Co Council. Why do they publically display the monaghan GAA county colours? what about all the other people (a sizable protestant population), eastern europeans, catholics etc... that dont follow the GAA...
And in addition, why do Monaghan GAA, take the Monaghan county symbol?

My point is, the GAA in order to be clearly a sporting organisation should cut all ties with everything else that isnt sport...

I feel the GAA alienate everyone else who doesnt follow their command, and they have taken over things that have nothing to do with sport.
Absloute rubbish. Most people in rural Ireland are proud of where they come from. They are usually proud of the parish they were born into (which in many cases is also the parish their parents and grandparents etc. were born) and the county they hail from. One of the few outlets they get to express this pride is usually through sport and which in the majority of cases is the local GAA club as it is the only representitive side. Monaghan Co. Council display the GAA colours because there is very little else on the national stage that represents Monaghan, so they support the one thing that does. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

You have an irrational hatred of the GAA, because you percieve not to include your minority tradition. Do you know what the GAA means (Gaelic Athletic Association)? i.e. it was created to promote Gaelic games. It shouldn't have to change its traditions to accomodate newcomers (even if your family are here since the plantation) who don't regard Gaelic sports.
 

White Horse

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Monaghan Co. Council display the GAA colours because there is very little else on the national stage that represents Monaghan, so they support the one thing that does. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Oriel27 should pop over to Louth where he will see a distinct lack of any GAA flags. The local town coucils are far more likely to display the colours of the two local football clubs.

I certainly don't feel any less Irish due to our relative disinterest in GAA in this wee county.
 

netron

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May 27, 2009
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and the odd thing is - over here in the uk hardly anyone i know calls themselves "British". its either English, Scottish or Welch.

its gotten more pronounced since devolution. A good visual example of this is the England football games - decades ago the crowd would be awash with Union Jacks. Nowadays its all the St George cross.

At this rate, the only people in the world who will be calling themselves "British" will be Northern Ireland Unionists.
 

Oriel27

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Absloute rubbish. Most people in rural Ireland are proud of where they come from. They are usually proud of the parish they were born into (which in many cases is also the parish their parents and grandparents etc. were born) and the county they hail from. One of the few outlets they get to express this pride is usually through sport and which in the majority of cases is the local GAA club as it is the only representitive side. Monaghan Co. Council display the GAA colours because there is very little else on the national stage that represents Monaghan, so they support the one thing that does. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

You have an irrational hatred of the GAA, because you percieve not to include your minority tradition. Do you know what the GAA means (Gaelic Athletic Association)? i.e. it was created to promote Gaelic games. It shouldn't have to change its traditions to accomodate newcomers (even if your family are here since the plantation) who don't regard Gaelic sports.
i dint hate the GAA at all, im a member.

My point is, all protestants north of the border (and just south of the border), in order to be irish you have to embrase the GAA.

And the GAA was set up primarily for Catholics as all protestants at the time didnt need a social outlet like the GAA.
 

Nem

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Going back to the Brian Walker article. I think this was pretty much to highlight the results of the Northern Ireland Life and Times survey where there has been a steady growth in the number of people surveyed who identify themselves as 'Northern Irish'. What is striking about this is the age bracket. It is mostly young people who identify as such. Researchers point to the marked devolution in the UK which included Northern Ireland and an apparent sentiment to make a distinction with the RoI.

The latest results can be found here: NI Life and Times Survey - 2008: NINATID
 

caulfield

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Aug 19, 2006
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basically they are "anything else but irish".

i used to work in Lurgan with a bunch of typical loyalists. Im from the republic.
one day i won a bet with them, they said to me " thats the luck of the irish in ye" !!

and the guy that said it to me, his name was "Mc Cann". His family obviously took the soup somewhere down the line.

Here its not their fault, since they were born, Britishness was stuffed down their throat, flags throwen in their faces every day, The media in the north being so pro mainland britian, everything about them is so directed towards the mainland... the soccer on tv, the anti gaa, their own news papers....
even the protestant education system is so "not irish". The history they learn in school is all about british wars. all irish wars, 1916 etc... is very dialuted.

here, let them at it.
The bit about history isn't true. At my avowedly presbyterian grammar school we covered all aspects of Irish history right through from pre-history to the early days of the Republic. Mind you that was more than 20 years ago...
 

Glennshane

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Dec 15, 2008
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What i think is clearly preventing the unionists from accepting irishness, is the GAA's grasp of it.
I am totally of same feeling as the unionists on this matter. The GAA have such a grasp on this concept of irishness that one feels you have to be a member of the GAA to be fully irish.
THis i find is down right wrong, i find the GAA very much facist and raciest. I know they say they are open to other traditions but are they really? Its like the Nazi's saying they are open to jewish membership.

That so annoys me so much is how county councils publicly display affiliation to the GAA. I find this very "one sided community".

Take for example Monaghan Co Council. Why do they publically display the monaghan GAA county colours? what about all the other people (a sizable protestant population), eastern europeans, catholics etc... that dont follow the GAA...
And in addition, why do Monaghan GAA, take the Monaghan county symbol?

My point is, the GAA in order to be clearly a sporting organisation should cut all ties with everything else that isnt sport...

I feel the GAA alienate everyone else who doesnt follow their command, and they have taken over things that have nothing to do with sport.
The internal affairs of the GAA are a matter for members of the GAA. If you do not like the GAA, stay away from us. What is wrong with being fascist and racist? Why should the GAA change just to humour people who are not members of the organisation? Why should we accept anyone who is not Irish and Catholic? What symbols the GAA uses are a matter for the GAA. Please stop interfering.
 

Glennshane

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My grandparents saw themselves as Irish - born in 1880s. My mother and uncles the same -born 1918/20. I did, born 1947. But I am of the last geneation that included this attitude.
Constant IRA campaigns - however feeble - 1950's - reinforced the siege mentality. PIRA simply ignored this and now ........?
I do not see Ulster Prods as Irish. Even if they were Irish, that would not give them the right to oppress Catholics or burn Catholics out of their homes. Nor would being Irish give them the right to go unpunished for such attrocities. The "Irishness" or supposed "Irishness" of the tyrants does not make their tyranny any the less unpleasant.

I do not think that is was IRA campaigns which reinforced their siege mentality. It was their own guilty consciences - and their privileged status. The Ulster Prod mentality is of Prod Privilege and the defense of Prod Privilege.
 

scratchnsniff

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sounds to me from reading the article, that the approx quarter of the population poled who call themselves N/I first are a sign of people moving towards a more modern less divisive term. Now we all know that this term may upset those on the fringes and the professionally upset concerned class. But the author sees it as a positive inclusive mindset.
personally i think people should be able to describe themselves in whatever way they feel best describes themselves. Of course Geographically they are Irish and it would be sad to deny this, But if they are also British good luck to them. Given the history and demographics of the region I would be surprised if people did not see themselves as many shades in between. It is foolish and unjust of others to expect people to pigeon hole themselves in this way and then judge them on their description when the descriptive options are so narrow compared to the realities.
 

scratchnsniff

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The internal affairs of the GAA are a matter for members of the GAA. If you do not like the GAA, stay away from us. What is wrong with being fascist and racist? Why should the GAA change just to humour people who are not members of the organisation? Why should we accept anyone who is not Irish and Catholic? What symbols the GAA uses are a matter for the GAA. Please stop interfering.
I wouldn't normally Bother with this obvious trolling, but for the benefit of anyone not from Ireland, I am a protestant and a happy member and supporter of my local GAA. The above poster is so utterly removed from reality i would guess he is posting from outside Ireland and gets all his information from his dream leprechauns . (nothing wrong with that of course)
 
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FrankSpeaks

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To me this is obvious, being born in a stable does not make one a horse, likewise being born in Ireland does not make one an Irishperson, it just mean you are Irish born!
 

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