Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Difference fetishists: Why they hate the GAWA so much

A persistent theme on this blog has been opposing the fetishisation of cultural and communal difference as actively pursued by Sinn Fein, with sporadic collusion from the DUP and “loyalists” in the unionist community when it suits their agenda.

The difference fetish is pursued in a perniciously euphemistic language heavy with phrases such as “respect for symbols” and “equality rather than neutrality” which are employed with gnawing frequency and feature in balefully disingenuous, subjective interpretations of the concept of human rights.

You will recognise the fetishists through their desire to see whatever divisive symbols or activities their own community can muster thoroughly perpetuated whilst simultaneously rejecting the validity of anything comparable issuing from the other community.

However, what draws the most venom from a true difference fetishist is anything that represents a shared Northern Ireland, a drawing together of the two communities or a shared cultural space for both to engage. The very idea that Irish and British identities can be equally expressed through common cultural or sporting experiences is total anathema to these people.

Thus the decision by FIFA for which the official announcement is still pending, that international eligibility for the football teams on this island will be decided by territory rather than by an individual’s perceived nationality has drawn shrill protests from the fetishists. Showing a wilful ignorance of Irish football history they wish to see a situation where the Republic of Ireland team represents a nationalist Irish tradition and the Northern Ireland team represents unionist British tradition.

By perpetuating the lie that the Republic of Ireland football team is “Ireland” and represents everyone who considers themselves an Irish citizen on this island, they misrepresent the intentions of the Good Friday Agreement as well as the actuality of FIFA’s statutes.

The Good Friday Agreement enshrined people’s right to consider themselves Irish, British or both. What certainly wasn’t enshrined in that agreement was a right to ignore the laws, institutions or territorial reality of Northern Ireland, nor was it agreed that the institutions of the Republic of Ireland, whether legal, cultural or sporting would extend their remit over the entire island.

The reality is that there is not one football team that represents Ireland. There are two football teams, both Irish, which represent different territorial parts of the island. Whilst that is the case the mooted FIFA decision is the only sane one that can be reached.

Of course what really, really annoys the fetishists is the strides made by Northern Ireland’s own supporters, the self-styled Green and White Army to make supporting their team a fun and inclusive experience.

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