Your humble narrator has stumbled upon topics, posts and blogs way above his mortal comprehension.
In his few moments of hobbled comprehension he could make out certain phrases, words and slogans that seem to be doing the rounds, such as 'shared space',' integration' and 'reconciliation'.
|NOT a shared space|
After perusing the dictionary and finally finding out what an 'Aardvark' is (A nocturnal burrowing mammal with long ears, a tubular snout, and a long extensible tongue, feeding on ants and termites) as well as the afore mentioned buzzwords, your humble narrator has decided to take upon himself the role of highlighting just what it is that annoys 'themuns' about the everyday culture of others.
If we could 'tweak' a few things, then how much better could it be? Or worse...?
|The Aardvark: Couldn't give an ant's arse about Shared Space|
After doing so your awkward narrator will relocate to somewhere more laid back and less dangerous to politically interested Hiberno-Ultonian-Scotto-Anglo-Celtic-Identity-Riven-Unionist bloggers.
1/ Flegs (again...)
In this instance though, we'll look mainly at the all Ireland aspect of flags (there is already an unworthy post regarding Norn Iron and its lack of a fleg: http://amgobsmacked.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/marketing-filthy-word-deleted-from.html)
It is well known that most people down south (whenever it's not too expensive for them) would like to see a United Ireland.
Naturally that implies that they have given very little thought to all the hassle that comes with having us lot as their new compatriots, but anyway, each to their own.
As a sovereign nation they have their own flag and are very proud of it.
It is rumoured that many other countries have taken inspiration from this flag.
Too boot, it has a noble sentiment: Green, white, orange - Peace (white) between Catholic (green) and Protestant (orange).
Furthermore, it must be acknowledged that nearly half or indeed half of Northern Ireland's population have it as the flag of their choice.
Again, can't argue with that, especially as to date Northern Ireland has yet to offer them an alternative (for the millionth time the Ulster Flag is defunct) and like many people all over the UK (e.g. Billy Bragg) they're not too enamoured with the Union Flag (unlike your humble narrator).
Now, by a similar token, it must be respected that the other half of Northern Ireland's population aren't in love with the Irish tri-colour.
Indeed, they hint as much by burning dozens if not hundreds of them every bonfire night (the night before the apex of 'Carnival Season').
|Loyalists: Trying to tell you something?|
With this animosity in mind and the official stance being one that aims to bring us all together then is it beyond reason that perhaps some of the larger sporting bodies should perhaps take note and act as such?
Remember, an all Ireland sporting body is exactly that - one that takes in 'all' of Ireland as in the two political bodies.
But is this earnestly portrayed or does one simply bull doze over the other?
If it is the bulldozer then does this mean that decades of talk about parity of esteem, minority rights and respect are just ignored?
Well, lets see:
First of all, the Ireland rugby team.
Well, lets be honest, they do try, but it is a tri-colour fest and until relatively recently it was standard practice that the Anthem used was the anthem of the Irish Republic.
Thankfully, in a bold step (much to the irk of Tim Pat Coogan) they brought in a neutral theme that could apply to BOTH political entities, not just the larger one.
So in that aspect, it's IRFU 1 - IFA 0 (the Belfast based IFA still play GSTQ, the anthem of the UK, Northern Ireland as of yet doesn't have a regional anthem unlike some of the other UK nations).
BUT, the fleg.
As of yet, they still fly the tri-colour, the flag of the larger entity.
However, in their defence, they'd be signing their own death warrant if they got shot of the tri-colour completely.
And for Northern Ireland's part, well, they don't have a flag (no, this record ain't for a changin') so one can't argue for 2 flags to be flown at games as to date only one of the political entities has a flag.
Your narrator must tip his hat to several pubs in the Northern Ireland mothership that circumvent such squabbles by flying the IRFU flag instead of a tri-colour.
This displays sensitivity and a fair degree of common sense.
|Replace the Tri-Colour?: "On second thoughts Mr O'Connell, it's grand the way it is, I'll be on my way so..."|
The Irish Olympic Team
Well, in fairness to them, they pretty much represent themselves on this one and as such are right to play their anthem and fly their flag.
Granted, it is open for Northerners too, since the GFA we can all get Irish passports.
Should anyone from NI want to compete in the Irish team then it's quite clearly a case of dancing to their tune as the case would be if one decided to compete in any other team on a 2nd passport whether that be Ireland, Canada or Pakistan.
If you don't like their flag or anthem then don't join, just try and get selected for team GB (good luck...)
|I actually did a Google search of "Hot Irish Olympic Girls" and this came up...|
Other All Ireland Sports teams
Well, it's a mixed bag really but by and large it (seemingly) tends to be the case that the flag and anthem of the larger Irish political entity is used.
Given that there is so much trouble around the topic of flags and that sports are meant to overlook political pettiness, is it really too much to ask to have an all Ireland flag for all Ireland sports instead of choosing one political entity's flag over the other's?
What about these?
Surely this would help alleviate (a very little bit) some of the Northern Fears about having Republicanism 'thrust' upon them?
Who would lose out by such a move? Certainly not Ireland.
The Flegs of Themuns
On the Unionist side of the fence (mentioned before) there is a plethora of flags.
Some redundant, some offensive and some down right contradictory e.g. A Union Flag and an Independence Fleg on the same lamp post? C'mon people!
What do they have in common?
Even in some mainly Nationalist towns like Magherafelt they're all over the place. And not just for the 12th either.
"It's our culture!" I hear you cry.
But only recently.
Since we (Protestants/Unionists) WANTED it to be so.
What did Protestants do for culture before these flags appeared (and in some cases officially disappeared)?
Fiddling and Folk Music - big part of Scottish culture, introduced to Ulster (course it was quite big there already)
Pipes - Belfast once had a decent number of Bagpipe bands, but now it's the rural areas that are the mainstay of piping.
Also, once upon a time there was a class of 'Gentleman Pipers', effectively posh Protestants who played the Uilleann Pipes.
The playing of Uilleann pipes is now thought of as something that 'themuns' do.
|A Gentleman Piper: A.K.A. "A Prod"|
Dancing - A mix of Scottish and Irish culture (shock!).
Dances were quite the big thing in Orange halls till a few decades ago. Indeed, you were more likely to find dances in Orange halls than in bars in the Republic as there was some sort of 'fun-Gestapo' there that thought "down with this sort of thing!"
Shinty (!!!???) - OK, you're bedeviled narrator is pushing the boat out on this one, nonetheless, it was more common than given credit for.
Look no further than one of the founders of Dunloy GAA Club, Co Antrim.
|CULTURE: The Good Old Days?|
So, given the rich history of the Northerners, why is 'fleg flyin' so important? (other than to mark out territory)
There's a rich vein of history and culture to dip into, potentially the best of Scottish and Irish culture if they wanted to just show off altogether.
Kerb Painting and Crap Graffiti
It looks bad.
FYI, nothing will make you look more stupid than when you draw a Red Hand of Ulster with a thumb and FIVE fingers. You know who you are...
|Pretty damn cool actually|
2/ The IFA
Actually, your humble narrator has already vented his long suffering spleen on this one:
3/ The GAA
Bit of a hot topic this one.
No matter, there are a few facts that must be stated:
1/ Most Protestants and Unionists in Northern Ireland see it as an engine room of Nationalism if not Republicanism.
There are those who simply just aren't interested in it and there are those who see it as a Republican structure that fuels the 'insurgents' up North
2/ It is a non-sectarian organisation.
There are many Protestants within it's ranks down south (who frankly can't see what all the fuss is about, the tri-colour is their flag after all) and a small (teeny in fact) number of them in Northern Ireland. Though their number does appear to be increasing: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/schoolchildren-play-hurling-game-in-loyalist-heartland-28628903.html
3/ The GAA does have it's roots in Nationalism and does nod a wink towards Republicanism now and again e.g. a number of it's clubs are named after Republicans.
Note to all: If you want Northern Protestants to think that you are the Devil's offspring then name your club after a Republican. It's almost a guaranteed way of ensuring that Northern Protestants won't join it.
4/ Some times some of it's members don't toe the party line and do use the GAA as a backdrop for Republicanism
5/ It's perhaps much easier for Catholics to get involved as they are exposed to it in Catholic Schools.
|OK, so this picture isn't really relevant, but it's about time I had some pictures of pretty girls on here. And they are political. And they're protesting. Plus you all need a break, this is quite a big point this section here.|
So if you go to a state school, tough titty.
If only someone could invent a school that was able have Protestants and Catholics in the same room without one set bursting into flames.
Perhaps in said fire-retardant school people could be given a choice to play Gaelic sport.
As it stands many are pretty much denied this opportunity.
Till a scientist comes up with solution this will remain the case....
6/ Being a mainly Southern based entity, it, like many sporting associations blindly follows the tri-colour and quite frankly can't see why so many people get hot and bothered about using it.
If only they would quit complaining and use the tri-colour sure wouldn't everything be fine so?
But then again, even if they were to make the brave and unpopular move of flying 2 flags in tandem within Northern Ireland (or at least at Casement Park) it would be quite a feat as (again) Northern Ireland doesn't have its own flag.
So there's only so much bleating one can do till Norn Iron has a flag of its own (not one to share with the other UK nations).
7/ Antrim and Down GAAs could 'backfire'
What if Protestants were to up the ante and join Antrim and Down GAAs in Droves?
It would certainly lead to a Unionist majority in Antrim and a slight majority in Down.
What would happen?
Would political types use these GAA counties as political hostages (and cause grief for everyone as usual)?
Would they re-open the dreaded Belfast 'fleg' issue by insisting upon Union Flags to be flown on GAA grounds till 'tha fleg goes up again'?
When one looks at the 'leaders' of various Unionist protest groups one does wonder:
|Future GAA leaders?|
TO BE FAIR TO WILLIE FRAZER (as much as your narrator is not a fan of is, reinforcing a link between Protestantism and the Union Flag is a disaster for Irish Unionism), AS A YOUTH IN SOUTH ARMAGH HE DID PARTICIPATE IN GAELIC FOOTBALL.
THE TRAGIC EVENTS THAT AFFECTED HIS FAMILY IN THE FOLLOWING YEARS UNDERSTANDABLY DID A LOT TO SOUR HIS VIEW OF THE ORGANISATION GIVEN ITS CHERISHED PLACE WITHIN REPUBLICANISM
4/ The Orange Order and Loyalist Bands
Well, we'll keep this short:
The Orange Order.
Has a lot of nice chaps in it. Seriously.
It has a lot of old men too.
And a fair whack of religious nutters.
It is paranoid about the shrinking Unionist Population and the rise of Themuns.
It can't seem to move with the times so it falls for every PR trap in the book.
All your humble narrator can do is implore the obvious: That they use a bit of common sense when dealing with contentious issues.
For example, perhaps not asking for thousands of people to descend on controversial route after a day's heavy drinking in the sun.
Also, have a word with the chaps who organise the bonfires in the name of the 12th.
It may only be a few bad eggs here and there but burning tri-colours and displaying banners that say KAT (Kill All Taigs) is bad PR. And unlikely to endear you to the local population.
Just one suggestion to begin with:
Given that all bands on a parade take a break (one can't flute constantly for miles on end) why not kill two birds with one stone and coincide the breaks with the stretches of the march that go past Catholic Churches?
It could be an unwritten rule.
Everyone wins and nobody loses.
What is over looked is that these bands are an amazing spectacle.
And the skill levels of some of the lads on the fifes and batons are pretty hard to beat.
Which makes one wonder why they put so much effort into flushing some thing this great down the toilet when the opportunity presents itself.
This video is the culture at its best.
Folk music for the first part, WWI footage throughout (Northern Protestants have a great deal of pride in the 36th (Ulster) Division and its exploits in WWI) and only a misanthropic, soul-less Chekist would deny the skill level of the music for the final minute of this video:
Whereas, the behavior that makes it to TV screen every year belittles the whole culture (that's the bottom line, doesn't matter WHO started it).
5/ Segregated Schools
Just mix them.
It'll be hell for a while, but it'll fizzle out.
|Integrated Schools: The work of the Commie-Jews...|
Some Nationalist commentators have been honest enough to admit their chief fear is a loss of Nationalist culture may ensue.
Your humble narrator sees their point, state schools can be a bland affair.
In that case, can we simply give the choice to pupils if they want to play Gaelic games or learn Irish?
Or is that not enough brain-washing?
Whilst some Catholic kids may decline this offer it's almost certain that some Protestant children will be adventurous enough to taste the forbidden fruit of Gaelic games.
There is a feeble brained argument doing the rounds that once the kids get to 'Tech' or grammar school then everything'll be fine.
This ignores the point that the kids have spent 12 years learning apart.
There's only so much can be done to bring them together.
Such was the case in the 'Tech' school of your lowly narrator.
There was very little mixing between the tribes.
We sat in class existing with each other but the social groups were largely religion based.
Were the kids to be sat beside each other from day one then Wee Davey McLoyalist might have more respect for Gaelic games and culture if his best mate Wee Sean McHurleystick was playing hurling for their school.
It's a bit more difficult for this to permeate the mind of a 16 year old who has listened to years of playground dogma regarding 'Themuns'.
Perhaps Wee Davey will some day go out with Wee Sean's sister (snake in the grass that he is, I never trusted thon...). Hows that for 'integrating'?
Some people point to the moral teachings of Catholic schools.
These people should learn that state schools have similar classes too so a Catholic education is no more or less likely to ensure a morally upstanding citizen.
HE IS WATCHING YOU ALL. (especially when you touch yourself, sicko...)
Anecdotally speaking, your humble narrator was never bested when it came to a 'Bible show down' with his Catholic opposite numbers.
And that's coming from an immoral State school.
Someone's argument somewhere is porous...
AFTERTHOUGHT: Your besieged narrator's views on mixed schools usually run into the following attempt at a rebuttal:
"I know a fella who went to a mixed school and he was a fierce Republican/Loyalist..."
You humble narrator knew of similar fellows in mixed schools.
It's not the political school of thought that your narrator despises, rather the bigotry that comes much easier from an environment where there are none of 'the other sort'.
One can be a fire-breathing-dyed-in-the-wool Republican/Loyalist and bear no grudge (or interest) in some one's religious beliefs.
It has also been suggested within earshot of your despairing narrator that mixed schools are not necessary as teachers educate people on the importance of respect for others.
A noble sentiment and one which your narrator salutes.
Although, he must point out that teachers also warn of the following pitfalls:
Poor exam results.
How confident then can one be that the evils of bigotry against people whom you never mix with are received 'loud and clear'?
|"Bigotry is bad mmmkay?"|