Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Republicans impoverished vision of identity


The BBC in Northern Ireland have continued their habit of subjecting those of us in the region to pointless local variations. The latest is a survey of children’s attitudes in the province, which suggests that (brace yourselves) Protestant children are most likely to consider themselves British and Catholic children have a tendency to consider themselves Irish.

There is little or nothing useful, instructive or enlightening about the programme’s findings. What is instructive however, is the welter of criticism from republicans the academic expert on the programme, QUB’s Professor Paul Connelly, received for emphasising the sense of a distinct Northern Irish identity many children from here increasingly feel. Professor Connelly also had the temerity to suggest that perhaps embracing this inclusive identity may be a positive thing, and perhaps a means to moving beyond the old tribal, ethno-religious divisions of the two traditional communities.

I am not instinctively a fan of this type of identity navel gazing. It panders to a nationalist version of politics which seeks to neatly categorise people into national ethnic groups. I do however, find it fascinating to see republicans dismiss patent realities because they don’t correspond with the impoverished view of identity, they need to adopt to feed their warped political analysis.

The fact that people actually do feel distinctly Northern Irish has to be ignored and rubbished. The subtleties and the multi-layered characteristics of people’s identity are ignored in preference to a simplistic British / Irish divide. The fact that people can feel Northern Irish, Irish and British is seen as an anathema. Thank god the reality is different from their jaundiced propaganda.


O'Neill said...

It panders to a nationalist version of politics which seeks to neatly categorise people into national ethnic groups.

Although to be fair Chekist, that simplistic interpretation has also been exploited by the fundamentalist wing of Unionism which seems completely incapable of catering for the non-prod or civic brand of unionist.

I've given up getting stressed at how nationalists misinterpret my identity a long-time ago, I'm as Irish as they are with the added bonus of also being British...if thye struggle with that concept, that's their problem.

BTW I'll link you up shortly, the link you sent yesterday was wrong and directed me to a religious site- I thought you were a mischevious troll, hence my rather sarky reply...sorry!

JC Skinner said...

As the 'research' was designed in order to highlight such self-definitions, I don't see how you can criticise it for that, while at the same time accepting some of the definitions that were uncovered and denying the validity of others.
Frankly, as long as I have access to an Irish or British passport, as permitted by both Governments, it really doesn't matter which way I perceive myself, so long as others accept that definition as legitimate.
The incorrect usage of 'Ulster' among one community as a deliberate obfuscation to distance the concept of the statelet from the actual geographical island of which it is part, is one simple example of how some people seem to have an ongoing, state-approved horror of their own Irishness.

Chekist said...

You seem to have rather ignored the point of the post, which is Republicans attempting to rubbish the validity of an identity which people genuinely do feel. I am comfortable with my Irishness, as are many other unionists. It is the nationalist interpretation which seeks to simplify and negate any concept of multi-layered identity.

I notice with your last comment that you are the one wishing to corral a section of the community into an identity they don't accept.

The civic unionist idea is that all of these identities are legitimate and equally as valid and that they are all welcome in a multi-national UK.

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