I spend a pathetic amount of time thinking of where unionism has gone wrong, how much  Irish culture has been lost (or abandoned)on the Protestant side of the fence and generally how can we mend things in the grim north?

I sometimes despair that people can't (or won't) see the correlation between playing anti-Catholic tunes in a Catholic area and the general resentment that this causes:

"But it's only a song about how great things would be if there was no Pope! It's nothing personal".

Wise. The. Bap.

Or how people can't see that using a flag much loved by loyalist paramilitaries might not be the ideal fleggy representative for Northern Ireland.

I spend a fair whack of time criticising unionism and of course have been labelled a republican or a Lundy for my trouble.

Examples of my 'treachery' include:




or even this rambling piece:


Fair enough, it's to be expected.


AKA "yours truly"

I assumed things would be much more clear over on planet Nationalism.

We'll soon see.

Here are a few things that I believe (only an opinion like) that nationalism (or at least a fair whack of nationalists) have missed:

The Nationalist Plan: It's cunning

1/ That the 'plan' might be flawed:

Simply put, Northern Ireland exists despite the following factors:

a/ That Unionists are outnumbered by 4-5 million people on the island

b/ The mother ship sees NI as an expensive and very bothersome black hole that it would do better to be rid of.

c/ The unionist leadership is bereft of vision and long term pragmatism

d/ Worldwide sympathy for the Irish nationalist cause

e/ A small but significant percentage of the unionist voting base are open to the idea of a united Ireland

Now, surely this is a promising platform for anyone ready to advance the cause of reunification?

"If we can't get them out we'll breed them out..."
Yet somehow we're still at a numbers game.

Demographics 'should' sort it out, but by golly it's taking its time.

Is there no other way that could maybe involve proselytising voters of a Protestant background (start off with  a weekend in Galway maybe...?)?

(FYI, I'm equally scathing of the unionist 'plan')

2/ The Tricolour

Yes, yes.
It's the national flag (of the Republic) and cherished by millions of people.

However, does it enhance or hinder the cause of reunification?

Think about it carefully, think of when your typical Protestant is likely to see a tricolour.

For me, I only ever saw them when travelling through an area I didn't feel comfortable in or when the news was reporting on some one who had been blown up or shot in the head (or when I lived in Dublin...).

Pavlov's dogs would be less likely to eat if he rang the bell, displayed a tricolour and then kneecapped them.

Same for Protestants and the Tricolour.

Don't blame me, them or their 'bigotry', it's a human condition. (Well, dogs too apparently...)

3/ MOPEry

Its not factually accurate, helpful or indeed sexy.

Trying to convince people of a proud Celtic warrior history is one thing ('one of the world's finest fighting races' according to Churchill) and one that I'm 'down' with.

Celtic Warrior: "Cool"
From the raiding Gaels to the Wild Geese to Wellington's Irish men to the top 5 'British' generals of WWII Ireland has an impressive military CV.

But then this impressive CV is pawned to pay for the label of 'Most Oppressed People Ever'.

Like a kid in a toy shop "you can't have both!".

Personally, I choose the great warrior history over 'victim' any day.

Celtic Warrior: "Cool"
The Croats were renowned warriors yet they didn't have their own country for 1000 years or so.

 And yes, they also endured foreign monarchies, oppressive nobles and plantations/settlements.

The Tibetans, a peace loving people managed to throw off the shackles of Mongolian overlordship after a few centuries.

Keltic Kevin: "Not Cool"
Yet according to some of the more fanciful nationalist tunes, the Irish (great warriors) have been struggling to do the same with 'the English'(scone eating jessies) for 800 years (also ignoring the point that the English were under Anglo-Norman & Angevin control for centuries).

Something somewhere isn't right. 

Perhaps we AREN'T great warriors after all? 

Or something else....?

Not listening to criticism of The Precious

4/ Not Listening I - GAA

One of the most infuriating conversations that I can have is a particular unionist orientated palaver.

Usually it's to do with applying some sensitivity to a particular topic such as parades or even listening to the points of view of others.

Using parades as an example, I would state that there are absolutely NO drawbacks to a parade if the bands didn't play sectarian tunes, didn't play outside chapels and did away with paramilitary paraphernalia.

Mr Bandsman: Upset, so he is....
However, Mr Bandsman usually gets quite upset. 

NOT necessarily at the outrageous suggestions but at the notion that this might please Sinn Fein and 'the Provos'.


Apparently the views of ordinary Catholics are not actually their own views when they highlight their problems with the sectarian aspect of parades.

Instead these views are apparently parroted snippets fed by nationalist HQ.

Cos all the kafliks are the same like....

Kafliks: They're NOT the Borg Collective

Of course this is hokum.

But Bandsman won't listen.

His view is unimpeachable.

So too apparently is the position of the GAA.

No matter how many people sincerely offer criticisms, opinions, observations or advice on how the GAA might iron out its controversial aspects and be elevated to the status of 'sports for all' there's never any acceptance that these critics (or 'helpers') may have a point between them, hence the Joe Brolly hissy fit.

Bandsmen and OO: people are telling you what you are doing wrong.

GAA and its advocates: People are telling you where you are dropping the ball (no pun intended).

Shankill Hurlers: A welcome step.

5/ Not Listening II - Irish Language

This is even more sensitive as there are many people who have worked hard over the generations to keep the language alive.

Not easy when it is permanently in the cross-hairs of unionism's gutter snipers, QED in a David McCann interview with Edwin Poots:

"On his time as Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure he (Poots) told me that his greatest achievement was ‘burying the Irish language act’ as he believes there was ‘precious little demand for outside of republican circles’... "


It is unfair.

But it's not entirely unpredictable.

One of the main obstacles regarding the widespread acceptance of the Irish language is it's opportunistic usage by Sinn Fein.

This is why we can't have nice things...


You need to hear this.

(Though I am given to understand a fair whack of people resent SF sticking their oars in and using the language as some sort of republican fashion accessory).

If SF members want to work for the Irish language behind the scenes then great, the more the merrier in fact.

They can still work heroically behind the scenes for the language whilst diluting their public association with the language.

It's the public face of the Irish language that they blemish (in the eyes of many unionists and Protestants).

In the business world such a PR handicap would not be tolerated.

People say it's daft that a language can be a thing of offence but it's not unique to Ireland.

Look east and in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar there is a similar controversy.

Vukovar was smashed up by in the wars that followed the fall of Yugoslavia.

Destruction, massacres, the works.

Vukovar: 2 cultures
Now the Serbian residents wish to promote their identity and culture by means of erecting signs written in Serbian Cyrillic.

On one hand, fair enough.

 They live there, have lived there for centuries so why not promote their culture?

On the other hand, it evokes painful memories to the resident Croats who were traumatised by the fall of their city and its destruction.

 (I'm not taking sides either way!!!).

Many see it as a politically crafted 'get it up themuns'.

Every time republicans use Irish in their literature, marches and interviews the same view is pinned on the Irish language.

I think this is unfair but it is also how things are.

If we want Irish to belong to all Irish people then there is definitely room for a very frank discussion and examination of Irish as it is handled now.

Ignore this if you must, doesn't make it any less true.

6/ Two Flags or No Flags

I agree with the designated days ruling.

I think other unionist councils should man up and do the same (like most of the rest of the UK).

What I would also like to see is consistency from nationalist politicians.

Preferably in the form of sending a negotiating team down south and demanding a similar 2 flag/no flag policy for all sports that are all Ireland based e.g. the rugby.

Yup, that's right. 

Irish Rugby games with no flags or a Tricolour AND a Union Flag to represent the island and its peoples.

Sod it, lets stick to our principles and do the same with Croke and Casement Parks too?

Let's see how rigid these principles actually are....

Or we could just drop the charade and come up with a better idea.

( Just indulging now: http://amgobsmacked.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/three-flags-real-compromise.html)

                    Yes, I'm calling the bluff.

(NOTE: I don't actually want to see Union Flags at Lansdowne or wot not, but I'm just trying to point out that the idea of 'equality' that is argued for by nationalist politicians might not be so easy to stomach when applied to other spheres e.g. the Irish rugby team is meant to represent everyone on the island and the GAA claims to be inclusive)

7/ Memorials and Commemorations

In Northern Ireland we have to remember 1690, Cromwell's expedition, WWI, WWII, the Easter Uprising, the Somme, the Siege and Relief of Derry, the United Irishmen, St Patrick, various memorials for volunteers, UDR men, RUC men, the Famine, the Civil War, a myriad of murders from the troubles and more besides.

Is it any wonder I can only remember half of my shopping list each time I head to the shops?!

If we really do wish for a brighter future then the past needs to be put in its place.

Behind us.

Columba: Catholic?
Not if you're from the Western Isles of Scotland...

8/ Talking About the Celtic Saints as if They Were Roman Catholic

(To be fair, this is more for Irish Catholic Nationalism, still part of the nationalist family though).

I simply assumed they were Roman Catholic too.

The truth is a great deal more tricky than that.

And not particularly palatable if you're a die hard believer that they were.

Best leave sleeping dogs lie in that case....

OK, as far as issues go it's not a 'biggie' in general but tagging Irish identity to Roman Catholicism isn't really conducive to a harmonious environment if there is a track record of sectarian shenanigans.

(Which there is BTW)

9/ Confusing Irish Nationalism for Irish Culture/'Irishness'

They're not the same thing.

For example, the Tricolour is AN Irish flag.

As are St Pat's Cross, the Ulster Fleg, the Independence Flag and the 'Erin's Harp' (even though they may have had foreign influences, just like the Tricolour)

Not 'Irish' enough?

Accepting the Tricolour is not accepting Irishness per se, merely an aspect of Irishness.

To have problems with Irish nationalism is not (necessarily) to have problems with Irish culture.

For example, James Joyce.

He is an icon of Irish culture and disliked (aspects of) Irish nationalism to the extent that he never gave up his British passport and refused to get an Irish one.

James Joyce: A 'hater'?
A traitor?
Or maybe he had a point...?

10/ Taking Criticism

This of course applies to everyone (myself included) but I have come across some belters whilst browsing through twitter conversations.

Brian John Spencer in particular seems to attract the occasional screamer.

For those of you who don't know, he is a man of a unionist background who (like an increasing number of us) is coldly critical of knuckle dragging loyalism.

He considers himself Irish and writes many articles about backwards unionism.


Yet even he can be branded an 'uber Brit' if he says anything remotely critical of nationalism

As well as this little snipe at the pair of us:

Ruaidri Ua Conchobai @****_*****
@brianjohnspencr @AmGhobsmacht You can't deny you're anti-RC & anti-Irish forever demonising both using historical material

*If you read my stuff you'll see I'm actually 'pro-Irish' to the extent I would like to see the Northern Protestants become reacquainted with their lost/abandoned Irish culture.
 If the Roman Catholic church sometimes gets it in the neck too well then so be it.
 I'm not religious and if I think any of the churches have done anything to compound matters then I'll say so, people shouldn't be scared to criticise wrong-doing, regardless of what 'holy men' may say
I don't so much cherry-pick historical facts as pick up the ones that have been chucked away by supporters of the nationalist and unionist narratives.
Don't blame me that Edward Carson spoke Irish, that a Pope was King Billy's ally or that some priests behaved terribly during the Potato Famine, it just happened and I'm highlighting it*

This of course is nothing that one would not see in Fleggerland, a place full of anger, paranoia and one that is impermeable to reason.

I just happen to think that there are some in nationalist quarters who are equally baffling.

Life up north could be much improved if the fleggers could be calmed.

Same applies to the hysterical quarters within the ranks of nationalism.

Priests Compounding Matters??? "NEVER! NEVER! NEVER!
 (Well maybe....)"