A plea to Northern Ireland – the fight is not ours

I don’t tend to emphasise the fact that I’m Northern Irish. I’m getting better at it… but perhaps the constant returns to utter stupidity are something to do with it. I came across this plea in a friend’s Facebook notes… and whilst I wince slightly at the hyperbolism and flowery prose (something of which I am all too frequently guilty) I thought it was most definitely worth sharing. Thanks AF.

A plea to Northern Ireland in light of the Ronan Kerr car-bomb.

The fight is not ours.

It is a historical fight derived from the cunning and deliberate divide and conquer policies of an imperial power.

The localised violence that continues to haunt parts of Northern Ireland allows the success to be theirs as we play the game set for us. We have been divided and we have been conquered and while the blame lies with our own people, the truly guilty party was an empire that is now long defunct.

Yet, despite this inalienable truth, we still fight. We still suffer car bombs, we still suffer shootings, we still suffer the threat of terror. Northern Ireland, I implore you, look at the history, take a non-compartmentalised glance and understand our past. If we continue to fight and bicker, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, Ulster will once again descend into flames. We are seen as a disgrace in modern Europe, an embarrassing backwater of tribalism, violence and depravity. But we are also seen as a vibrant, progressive and creative society that offers the world an unlimited amount of good.

Look at us, look at them, look at the past, you decide.

It is time to move on, this is not our fight.

Thank you and to Northern Ireland: be proud.

I imagine this plea could be applied to many other conflict zones around the world…

Comments and thoughts appreciated.


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About Chris

Scholar of religion/nonreligion... PhD Student (Lancaster University), blogger, singer, actor, thinker... Northern Irish living in Scotland. Co-founder of The Religious Studies Project. Director at the NSRN. Baritone masquerading as a tenor. Vegetarian for no particular reason.

3 responses to “A plea to Northern Ireland – the fight is not ours”

  1. Derek Williams says :

    This seems to be wanting to have a bob each way in that it is not making a clear exhortation to do or not do anything particularly specific. On the one hand it’s scolding the terrorists for anonymously blowing up a young policemen, and on the other it’s handing back to long-gone Imperialist Britain, the historic blame for conquering and subsequently dividing the country in the first place.

    There are other geographical parallels, including the 38th one that divides North and South Korea, the war between North and South Vietnam, and of course Scotland and England. Perhaps it’s got something to do with conflict between the Earth’s Grid North, Magnetic North and True North, and sunspots. :)

    Whatever the explanation, it seems to me that blowing up a young copper, weeks into his new job, is no way to go about winning the hearts and minds of the masses. If certain individuals or groups want Northern Ireland to unite with the Republic, it’s up to them to get on the soapbox, articulate their case openly and win over the people and the relevant instrumentalities to their cause. This takes persistent and determined effort, charisma, and most important of all, transparency. Anonymous murder is the complete opposite of transparency.

    How can people who terrified out of their wits by terrorism be expected to make informed decisions about their government? How much better did those how killed the policemen make Ireland as a direct consequence of this act? And if by some incredibly remote chance, the perpetrators of anonymous, and therefore cowardly acts of murder were to float to the surface and command a government of their own design, the rule of law would almost certainly be founded on the same rationale: “if people don’t do as I want, then I will anonymously blow them up until they do”. A government by such people would be a police state.

    While I have ancestral (Dublin) and present family living in Killarney, Éire, I also have friends from Northern Ireland, and I have to say, they do not in any sense come across to me as being refugees from a repressive police dictatorship. If anything would make one want to leave Northern Ireland, it would be the fear of being blown up.

    Looking at the history of the United Kingdom, initially a scattering of hegemonies, with a history of some successful invasions (Roman and Norman) and others unsuccessful (Battle of Trafalgar, and 2nd World War) it’s clear that provided people are free to openly elect their government, have access to adequate food, housing, education, health and welfare, they’re happy to let others get on with the job of providing social amenities and taking care of local and national security. National identity is more important to some than to others, but to a considerable extent, devolved moderate governments throughout the British Commonwealth, such as those in Australia and New Zealand have proven they’re able to achieve this, while delivering services.

    Looking at the present uprisings in so many countries in the Middle East, it is also clear that police state type repression cannot outlive its enablers and enactors. The people’s defiance is as open as it is legitimate. The dictators have lost whatever right to rule they may have had, because they have parted company with the hearts and minds.

    If there really is a unified desire in Northern Ireland to depart from the United Kingdom and unite with the South, provided the Republic also want this, then I think there should be open and large scale public manifestation of this. Mass meetings, petitions, public advocacy and open debate through oratory via the soapbox, the TV and Facebook. If the cause is legitimate, people will go for it. A country united against its rulers is ultimately ungovernable, as many revolutions gone by will attest.

    By contrast, blowing up a handful of total strangers in the local communities is exceedingly short term thinking. It is as cowardly as it is divisive and it won’t achieve its objective, whatever that may be.

  2. Ollie Aldie says :

    I’m not sure which of the above I take most issue with:

    The “Imperial Power” is so long gone, its policies so long spent, I doubt there is a man or woman within the Province, or the Republic, who can remember it with any real clarity. To fight the memory of a shadow, no matter how it is manifest within the current political sphere, is ridiculous – especially given the government of the Province is legally bound not to discriminate, and that members of that government are drawn from the actual command structures of the violent opposition to the partition.

    Is there a police state in the North of Ireland? Is there even a slightly reasonable comparison between it and the current uprisings in the Middle East? Given the longevity of discord and violence I suspect the six counties would have long ago been ceded to the Republic had there been a popular demand for reunification – and in terms of history we cannot forget or ignore the reality of Home Rule and then the creation of the Irish Free State as outcomes of civil unrest. That is not to discount the shocking lengths the then Imperial Power went to in order to prevent both – but the point it moot: it happened in the end, as the second writer atests, the right to rule rests with the people themselves.

    This violence, it seems to me, has nothing to do with governments or politics or the will of the poeple. It is about terror and violence and naked thuggery. The people who carry out such atrocities clearly do not have the support of Republicans on the whole, the government of the South, or the vast majority of the people of the North.

    These are the acts of gangsters for whom the terrible, violent and bloody history of a troubled part of Europe is good excuse, and nothing else. If there is a comparison to be made here, then the Balkans in the late 19th & early 20th century would be better; or perhaps Albania today, or the tribal areas of Pakistan.

    Any comparison with what is happening in the Middle East or North Africa is frankly bizarre. Where is the dictator in Northern Ireland? Where is the oppression (other than that brought about by the threat of terrorist violence)? If there was any legitimacy left in what is going on now then there would be a wind of change no one would be powerful enough to stop – and yet there is only bombs, and shootings and horror; there is no popular uprising – there is no legitimacy anymore.

    Here’s a thought: instead of blowing up policemen, stand to be elected and see where the other boot drops. No one will stop it. No one will prevent it. If they win enough of the population of Northern Ireland, I’m reasonably certain Her Majesty’s Government will brow-beat Dublin into taking the six counties back – because it would be a damn-sight cheaper than keeping them on.

    That is the reality of what is happening in the North: violent thugs claiming to fight a fight that makes no sense anymore. The truth is it would be more cost effective for the UK to give Ulster up anyway – so what is the real reason these people are still killing?

  3. Derek Williams says :

    @Ollie Aldie

    I would ask you please to have a detailed re-read of my post, or perhaps I expressed it poorly and need to clarify my points, because as we are without shadow of a doubt singing from exactly the same hymn sheet:

    • I myself already described Imperial Britain as “long-gone”
    • I did not claim anywhere in my post that there is a ‘police state’ in Northern Ireland, I said the exact opposite, namely “they do not in any sense come across to me as being refugees from a repressive police dictatorship”
    • I stated that if however those planting bombs were to take office by such means then “A government by such people would be a police state.”
    • To highlight this, I went on to point out that police states have a limited shelf life: “police state type repression cannot outlive its enablers and enactors”

    In no way have I represented that any part of Ireland is a police state. It very obviously is not. Nor did I liken modern Ireland to the Middle East uprisings, which would indeed be bizarre. What I did make clear is that if the terrorists ever managed to take hold of the reins of government then Ireland would then become in effect a police state, through the wielding power by terror.

    My reference to the Middle East was meant to highlight what happens when countries are run by dictators in a police state. A reign of terror is always doomed to eventual extinction. Nowhere have I stated that this applies to present day Ireland, which in both North and South has democratically elected government. My point was intended to illustrate what would happen if terrorists were to achieve their objective in ruling by terror, and thus creating such a police state.

    Finally, I stressed that the only way forward for those seeking to change the system of government in Ireland is to persuade the people by consensus through “meetings, petitions, public advocacy and open debate through oratory via the soapbox, the TV and Facebook”.

    I hope on reflection, that you will come to the view that every word you have written is in complete accord with that which I have written.

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