Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The GAA is an Irish nationalist organisation

Last Sunday there was some controversy at Healy Park in Omagh when several GAA supporters flew Palestinian flags in the ground.  This happened during the senior GAA championship game between Tyrone and Monaghan.

The Palestinian flags were removed and afterwards a GAA spokesman told the Irish News (22 May): 'There is no flag allowed other than the official (GAA) flag, national flag and team colours.'

By 'the 'national flag' he meant the national flag of the Irish Republic, the Tricolour.

Of course no GAA team is going to object to that since the constitution of the GAA contains in it support for a 32 county Irish republic. Another little reminder that the GAA is an Irish nationalist organisation, with a constitution that prevents unionists from joining.

A Protestant nationalist could join but not a unionist, whether that unionist be a Protestant, Roman Catholic or someone of no faith or another faith.  It is not a religious exclusion, it is a political exclusion, and the Tricolour rule is merely an expression or outworking of that Irish nationalist ethos.

Susan McKay - 'John Bull raped Mother Ireland'

Susan MacKay - journalist, author and commentator
Recently Sinn Fein TD John Brady claimed that England had 'raped and pillaged ' Ireland.

It's not the sort of terminology we hear so much of these days but John Brady has certainly brought it under the spotlight.

I have already posted about his tweet but some readers may not be aware of the history of such language because he is certainly not the first person to use it..  

The first time I came across it was back in 1984, which is more than thirty years ago, and it was in the pages of the Sinn Fein newspaper Republican News, but the person who used it was not a member of Sinn Fein.

That person was Susan McKay, who was born in Londonderry in 1957 and came 'from a Protestant background'.  

Susan MacKay was one of the founders of the Belfast Rape Crisis Collective and as a member of the BRCC she wrote an article on Rape - A Women's Issue? which was published in the Sinn Fein newspaper Republican News on 11 October 1984.  In the final paragraph she wrote: 
'The rape of Mother Ireland by John Bull provides a powerful metaphor for the national struggle.'
It was a metaphor which must have struck a chord with republicans in that it portrays the United Kingdom as a vile male rapist and Ireland as his innocent female victim.

However the same issue of Republican News reported the brutal murder of a former UDR soldier by the Provisional IRA in Cookstown.

Susan moved on to become a community worker in Sligo and Fermanagh and then turned to journalism.  In 2000 she wrote a book Northern Protestants: An Unsettled People, which she described as 'a study of the people I uneasily call my own.'

When we remember that she used the 'metaphor' of rape we can understand why she uses the word 'uneasily' in relation to 'northern Protestants'.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Sinn Fein - bitter and twisted

There has been worldwide interest in the Royal Wedding and it is certainly not surprising that RTE broadcast the event in the Irish Republic.  They did it because there is a lot of interest in the British royal family, even in the Republic, and furthermore the programme was provided to them by the BBC.

Some republicans were clearly annoyed by this and one Sinn Fein TD, John Brady, who represents the constituency of Wicklow, made his view very clear with this tweet.

.At the age of 44 he is not one of the veterans of the republican movement and he is younger than his new party leader Mary Lou McDonald.  He was only elected as a councillor in 2014 and then as a TD in 2016 and that was after electoral defeats in 2007 and 2011.

However there is a bitterness about his tweet and a very twisted understanding of history that says a lot.  Indeed it probably shows usw what a lot of Sinn Feiners in the Republic actually think.

Declan Kearney MLA, the Sinn Fein chairman, has this programme of engagement with unionists and talks about a New Ireland built on 'national reconciliation' but beneath the honeyed words and the polished performance there is a a very different reality.

Moreover Sinn Fein can't keep up the pretence for long as we have seen with Barry McElduff, Mairtin O'Muilleoir, Martina Anderson and now John Brady.  Even the language of 'raping Ireland', the choice of words, shows the depth of the bitterness.  

With people like that representing Sinn Fein in the Dail and with leaders who continue to eulogise IRA murderers, Declan Kearney's carefully crafted narrative of 'national reconciliation' and a New Ireland with equality for all lacks any credibility

Friday, 18 May 2018

Eamonn Mallie's tweet - is it not smug, arrogant and patronising?

Eamonn Mallie
Eamonn Mallie has just posted the following on Twitter and Facebook and it is based around a comment from Professor Jim Dornan on the future of the Union and his view of that future.

#Brexit/NewIreland ....I’ve been uniquely saying thinking Unionists share Prof Jim Dornan’s view. “There is a lot of people nowadays, not just me, who are saying ‘you know what, if somebody offers me a better deal and somebody offers me a good deal, then I would go for it’."

So Eamonn is 'unique' in saying that 'thinking Unionists' share the view of Jim Dornan about the Union and the United Kingdom, a view which could be described as ambivalent or even agnostic.

So as someone who does not share that view I must be, according to Eamonn Mallie, an UNTHINKING UNIONIST.

Is there not something rather smug about a commentator dismissing so many of us as UNTHINKING?  Is there not something rather arrogant about dismissing the overwhelming majority of unionists as UNTHINKING?  Indeed is there not something rather patronising about describing us as UNTHINKING?

I don't know if Eamonn is actually 'unique' in saying this, which is what he claims, but if he is .... then he is uniquely wrong.

I disagree with Professor Dornan but I have no objection to the tone of his comments.  It is the way that Eamonn Mallie has tweeted about it that is the problem.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Bookshops are on the rise

A new report by PWC highlights the winners and the losers among shops on High Streets across the UK.

I was pleased to see that coffee shops, tea rooms and ice cream shops are on the rise and especially pleased to see that there has also been an increase in the number of book shops.

Meanwhile there has been a fall in the number of estate agents, banks, travel agents, convenience stores and pubs.

At one time there were so many predictions about the demise of the book and its replacement by the internet.  In fact I find the internet complements the book but those predictions have proven to be unfounded.

Yes some people will order books over the internet but there is no substitute for the pleasure of browsing in a bookshop.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Celtic fan who runs Politics Home

Earlier today I was looking at a report on the influential political website Politics Home, which is edited by Kevin Schofield.  I wondered what newspapers he had worked with before taking up his new post in 2015 so I checked out his Twitter account and was shocked.

For those not familiar with Kevin, here is how he describes himself on his Twitter account:
'Ex-Herald, Scotsman, Daily Record and Sun.  Now editor of PoliticsHome.com, Husband, dad-of-two and lifelong Celtic fan.'

So there we are, what is the world coming to?  One of Britain's most influential political websites ... edited by a 'lifelong Celtic fan'.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Strengthening the Union

Policy Exchange, which is probably the UK's leading think tank, has organised a conference in London on Monday 21 May on The Union and Unionism - Past, Present and Future.  

There are political speakers from across the United Kingdom, including Michael Gove MP, Ruth Davidson MSP, Arlene Foster MLA, Lord Murphy of Torfaen and Jim Murphy, former leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

There are also contributions from historians and commentators, including two from Northern Ireland, Professor Lord Bew of Donegore and Arthur Aughey, Professor Emeritus at the Ulster University.

Some weeks ago Sinn Fein organised a United Ireland conference in London,  This time Policy Exchange is organising a United Kingdom conference and it certainly looks to be a much more substantial event.

It is right that pro-Union politicians and parties should engage with historians and others to reflect on the Union and how we can strengthen it.  We also need to do more to sell the benefits of the Union to those who are ambivalent and indeed the two go together - we strengthen the Union when we sell the benefits of the Union and convince the waverers and the unconvinced.