December 18, 2014

Sinn Fein's logophobia of "Northern Ireland"

Cartoon by Ian Knox
Martin McGuinness might be a chief administrator of a devolved province of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, but he can't seem to say the name of the place which he governs, opting instead for the term, "the North". Holywood man Paddy McEvoy wrote a letter to the Irish News about the increasing use of "the North":
"The term “North of Ireland”... has crept into common parlance in recent years. This now seems to be a generally accepted code for those who think they are staying on-side, striking a blow for freedom by refusing to say Northern Ireland, just as some on the non-conformist wing of politics refuse to say the “Republic of Ireland”, they prefer “Free State”, “26 counties” or “the South”."
John A Murphy called this "juvenile", "fantasy-land stuff"; An indication of arrested political development.  He said about the inability of Sinn Fein to say “Northern Ireland”:
"Another peculiarity of Sinn Féin modes of speech is the refusal to accept the legal forms and common usage of “Northern Ireland” and “the Republic of Ireland” as the correct descriptions of the two political entities that comprise the island. Sinn Féiners refer to “the North”, “the North of Ireland”, “up here” and “the Six Counties” but never to “Northern Ireland”. Similarly they use “the South”, “the 26 counties”, “down here” or, if they are really being naughty, “the Free State” but never “the Republic”. In a recent, hour-long interview with Marian Finucane on RTÉ radio, McGuinness employed the usual verbal evasions with remarkable agility in order to avoid giving its proper description to the state of which he has the honour to be Deputy First Minister."
He continued: "In the tortured theology of Sinn Féin nationalism, accepting and using “Northern Ireland” and “Republic of Ireland” would be to accept partition and, even worse, to compromise and betray “the true republic, as in 1916 established”. Irony of ironies, Sinn Féin played no part at all in Easter 1916!" Newton Emerson wrote:
"Through the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein has seemingly had to accept that a unionist people exist and have a veto over change, which is a big step for a party that until the late 1980s an anti-colonialists analysis and seriously proposed that unionists be ‘repatriated’. However, it remains too much for Sinn Fein to take the next logical step and accept that unionists created Northern Ireland in an act of self-determination. That would legitimise the state whose name must never be mentioned."

The logophobia remains contained, with hostility and fear of the term Northern Ireland remaining largely within Sinn Fein ranks. Though Tara Mills, hosting BBC The View in 2013, indulged Gerry Adams inability to say “Northern Ireland” and proclivity to saying “the North”.

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