January 24, 2014

Being Irish is not about being anti-British, Ctd

For too many people in Ireland, Irishness is defined by their anti-Britishness. In a piece in The Irish Times, 'An inclusive Ireland can surely find a place for the Union flag - Limits on flying flag do not enhance Irishness but succeed in diminishing Britishness,' Richard Irvine said here:
"Surely Irish nationalism should have more to offer than this [restrict Union flag and campaign against Orange parades]? An inclusive Ireland must have room for Britishness; it must recognise it, even embrace it. To strike at the symbols of unionist survival, to demand after 30 years of war they pull down their flag, is not just to demand too much too soon, it is to fail to recognise unionists’ suffering, their history, their identity."
He continued:
"Just as unionists must learn to accept an Irish identity – and an Irish language Bill would be a good start – so those interested in true Irish unity must realise their task should not be to attack unionist identity but to recognise it and build an Irish identity that can include it. As the late PUP leader David Ervine used to say: “The British presence in Ireland is not the army, it is us.” Until Irish nationalism recognises that, the flags of north Antriwill keep flying."
Richard Irvine is a history teacher and lecturer in Belfast, and an independent commentator. In full here. My previous post in the series with Fintan O'Toole here. My earlier post with Conor Cruise O'Brien, Michael Kirke and Brian O'Connor is here. My long form essay on the issue of being a Protestant and Irish in the Huffington Post can be read here.

See my previous posts on Irish racism here, here and here.

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