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More on that state visit… April 10, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Irish History, Irish Politics.
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…a curious tone I thought to this piece from Mary Warnock in the Guardian this morning in relation to the attendance by Martin McGuinness at a state lunch. It’s something about the language, a sort of detachment that perhaps characterises the level of engagement on the part of many English (and/or British) in relation to matters relating to Northern Ireland. And that can manifest as an oddly – or perhaps not – partial view of matters. Take for example the following:

Of course, we cannot overlook the horrors of the Orange marches, nor the continuing hatred between Catholics and Protestants.

I know what she’s getting at when she says ‘horrors’ but that simultaneously seems to exaggerate and diminish the broader dynamics which they are representative of. Or what of the following where we are treated to an old chestnut – old, but no truer about the Irish than any other people:

Though people sometimes talk as if the Troubles began in the 1970s, this is far from true. They were centuries old; and the Irish have extraordinarily long memories. (I did not live for nearly 50 years with an atheist but fanatically Protestant Ulsterman without becoming aware of this.)

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1. FergusD - April 10, 2014

It is true, especially in the context of Irish history, and the role played by England/Britain in that, that some Brits, “commentators” in particular, like to sneeringly remark about the Irish having long memories (which apparently is a bad thing, amnesia is to be preferred, apparently). All very self serving. Also hypocritical as many Brits like to remember and celebrate what they regard as their own long history. Of course such people tend to forget the bits they don’t like (civil wars, social unrest, poverty etc). After all WW1 is all over the tellybox in the UK now, a period that covered the Easter Rising, but Irish remembrance of that would probably be regarded as evidence of dreary “long memories”.

I am not aware of any empirical evidence that “the Irish have extraordinarily long memories”. If it is true I seem to be an exception – sadly!

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2. CL - April 10, 2014

The Easter Rising was an outcome of World War 1, so it is fitting that remembrance of both events be integrated.
Now that An Taoiseach has extended the invitation to the Royals to attend the Rising Centenary Commemoration it is imperative that they be encouraged to do.
One of the most poignant moments of President Michael D’s state visit was his inspection of the relics of the now-disbanded Irish regiments. It would surely be an encouragement to the Royal Family to attend if the Connaught Rangers and the Munster Fusiliers were to be reformed under the joint auspices of Alan Shatter and William Hague.
One of the tragic outcomes of the economic downturn and the disincentive effect of the welfare system is to see in many towns throughout Ireland young men hanging around with nothing to do. In times past these men would have been welcome recruits to these regiments and would have had an opportunity to see the world and spread western civilization. There are still many trouble spots throughout the world and these revived regiments could play a very useful role in creating democracy. And concomitantly drastically reduce unemployment.
Many in the Connaught Rangers were native Irish speakers. Now it is many a long year since I swam naked and drunk in the moonlight in the shimmering, phosphorescent sea not far from An Cheathru Rua. So i’m not sure if there are any Irish speakers left in Connemara. But we could always import some from Boston. It would add an authentic Irish touch to the enterprise.
It would also be a fitting gesture of reconciliation for Prince Charles on Easter Monday 2016 to lay a wreath of poppies around the neck of Cuchulainn at the GPO.

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3. roddy - April 10, 2014

I heard that arsehole Jeffrey Donaldson on the radio this morning looking for Raymond McCreesh’s name to be removed from a park in Newry.A listener informed him that many buildings around Newry were named after a mass murderer called Bagnall. Jeff retorted in his usual condescending manner that Bagnall was centuries ago and we must move on .However Jeff was instantly wrongfooted when the caller said would it be ok then to leave 1690 in the dustbin of history and stop ramming it down our throats incessantly!

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4. Séamas Ó Sionnaigh (An Sionnach Fionn) - April 10, 2014

Standard reply: the Irish remember their history because the British keep forgetting it… ;-)

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