What do the loyalists make of Queen Elizabeth honouring the old IRA? What do the high-fibre, low-fat, I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-the-IRA make of the GAA president welcoming a British royal to Croke Park? The two complementary parts of the age-old bitterness, who need each other like ancient co-dependent spouses, must be vanishing up the fundament of their own bewilderment as they behold the appalling scenes in Dublin.
For the loyalists, the queen has created an impossible paradox. You’re loyal to your monarch. You’ve even murdered people in the name of that loyalty. Ironically, though you hate nationalists, you yourself are an extreme nationalist. You continue to harass Catholics in the name of your professed loyalty. Now, that monarch to whom you are loyal is honouring the very enemies whose existence brought you into being. So you can’t be loyal to the monarch. But then you’re not a loyalist so you have to remain loyal. But you can’t. But you must. But you can’t.
And therefore, like an old science-fiction computer, you explode under the pressure of contradiction, but not in a shower of springs and valves. No. Your explosion is made of tattoos, pit-bull terriers, dumb-bells and Rangers t-shirts.
And what if you’re the mirror image — a Republican loyalist? Your loyalty is to an imagined Ireland that never existed, and though you chant “give us back the six counties” you can’t quite say who governed them before the Brits. Was it an Irish government of the people? No. It was a monarchy of sorts, which makes you a royalist. And so you reveal yourself as a craven serf just like your loyalist brother in bitterness. You don’t even know who the word “us” refers to.
And so there you are on the streets, making a clown of yourself, claiming to speak on behalf of the Irish people, even though those people have consistently offered you two fingers at every election you’ve ever entered.
Were you on the streets protesting when Cowen’s government committed treason by selling us out to the bankers?
No. You were not.
You’re self-appointed. You represent nobody but, like all of your kind throughout the world, you care nothing for what the people think. In time, you will tell them what to believe. You are the Taliban.
No. You’re more ridiculous. You are the People’s Front of Judea, or maybe the Judean People’s Front.
And now, in your Celtic-twilight madness, you see the legitimate elected (unlike you) government of Ireland welcoming the British Queen. You witness a guard of honour drawn from the legitimate (unlike you) defence forces of this country. Worst of all, the hated monarch is laying a wreath at the memorial to your venerated heroes. In offering respect to the tradition you claim to be a part of, the queen has just offered you the worst insult you can imagine, with the blessing of the Irish people.
You’re not even permitted to nurse ancient grievances, as the bastion of Irish nationalism, the Gaelic Athletic Association, greets the queen of England in the most iconic of locations : Croke Park. Now what will you do for festering resentment?
What’s left to be loyal to? Not the State. You never recognised that. Not even the Irish people. But if you can’t be loyal, then what ..?
You have no choice but to explode under the weight of your loyalist contradictions, in a welter of what?
Tattoos, of course, and pit-bulls and, ludicrously, Manchester United shirts.
You’re not so different from the other guy, are you?