I know I won’t win any popularity for posting this but I believe there will never be peace in Northern Ireland.
I say it as someone who detests the Nation Once Again nationalists, and the aggressive Provos selling an Phoblacht in Dublin pubs. The Póg mo Thóin patriots turn my stomach. I say it as someone who refuses to stand up for the national anthem just because some some bunch of leipreacháns decide it’s time to finish their gig. I say it as someone who couldn’t give a rat’s arse if there was ever a united Ireland.
I simply say it as a fact.
Remove the people from it and look at the system.
Take a rational approach to the problem, detached and untroubled by preconceptions.
No logical study of any phenomenon would arbitrarily exclude facts about that phenomenon. If you had to examine a chemical reaction, you would never say that half the equation was irrelevant because it was too old. No mathematician would ever suggest beginning half-way through a proof.
And yet, in the Northern Ireland issue, we’re invited to ignore much of the history and to focus on the present. Nobody has quite defined the stage in history when it would be appropriate to cut off our attention because these days our discussion of such matters has been influenced by the unreality-field generated by two consummate liars: Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.
But the fact is we can’t ignore the process by which our current situation came about. This is especially so when one party to the conflict is so deeply rooted in the past.
The loyalist community has never moved away from its origins as an invading force. It has never ceased to see itself as something separate from the indigenous Irish, and continues to assert its British identity. It has never ceased to regard the locals as inferior and deserving of subjugation.
This attitude comes from within the loyalist community, which celebrates, every 12th July, its conquest of the native Irish and feels no embarrassment about proclaiming its otherness.
If I say these loyalist people are not Irish, I don’t in any way reject them. I simply repeat their own words. This is what they themselves believe, although they and their ancestors have lived here for 300 – and in some cases 400 – years. Of course, to facilitate this mass settlement, local people had to be displaced and defeated. That’s the reality of plantation, whether it takes place in Ulster, North America or Israel.
Since that time, loyalism has never seen itself as anything but a movement of colonists and invaders, which is a great pity.
This may be your land, loyalism says, and the place names may be Gaelic, but we own it now and we’ll hold it by force of arms.
I wish they had a more conciliatory attitude to the Irish, and I wish they had integrated, but unfortunately, they didn’t, and it seems they never will.
Let’s take an objective look at the problem.
Are the Irish so aggressive that they’d launch attacks on their neighbouring island for no reason?
Would the Irish, left to their own devices, have produced the murderous Provos?
If the Loyalists had found common cause with the Irish, would we have seen violent republicanism?
Would the Irish have assimilated the loyalists?
Certainly, as history shows.
However, Irish history is dominated by the last three hundred years, in the minds of the indigenous Irish and those who colonised the land. Both are obsessed with religious affiliation as a marker of their faction, even though neither have any particular religious, ethical or moral beliefs.
This creates a bizarre situation where the Irish Protestants and Catholics whose alignment preceded the Ulster Plantations find themselves pushed into the same corners as the newcomers.
Neither the old Irish catholics nor the old Irish Protestants are the problem, however.
The real problem lies in the siege mentality of those who have never ceased to think of themselves as invaders and conquerors. The problem will never go away until the loyalists free themselves of those mental chains and start to view the rest of humanity as equals, instead of enemies to be kept down in their own land by force of British arms.
I don’t say that as a rabid nationalist because, as any regular reader will know, I think nationalism is a curse. I say it as a rational human being.
I can’t see the loyalists ever regarding the indigenous Irish as equals, and that’s why I think there will never be real peace in Ireland. They will always think of themselves as the invaders, and therefore will always be looking over their shoulders.
What a shame.