Alt Amháin - Single Article


airgead  glas  oráiste  corcra  buí  liath

Please email your comments to:

All fair comments, criticisms and praise will be posted!

Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Never The Twain Shall Meet ? - North South Unity

(Explanatory note)
Daily Ireland’s "Here’s The Thing" column has a brief to be satirical and take a sidelong view of things. On Dec 3rd 2005, the column raised important questions regarding North/South relations and ultimate reunification of the country. The author, Robin Livingstone whom I admire greatly, described his own growing reluctance to “dock” with mother ship Ireland. Robin gave a long list of reasons for people living in the Six Counties not to join up with the rest of the country. After reading this depressing list covering things like official corruption and hospital waiting lists, you can see his point. There is, however, another way of looking at things:


I always enjoy Robin ‘Squinter’ Livingstone’s articles, whenever and wherever they appear in the press, and this has nothing to do with the fact that we are close friends and contemporaries as journalists. Robin has always written well (often hilariously so) and is always brave, and forthright; the most important attributes for a journalist. A ‘stand up man’ to use Belfast parlance.

Robin gives a daunting list of reasons as to why Northern nationalists like himself might be less than enamoured with the idea of what in the body of the article becomes the “Dublin mother ship”. Mother ship Ireland becomes Dublin in other words, and this is the first problem I have in his analysis. When I lived in Belfast and worked for the BBC, it was not Dublin that was our refuge from an utterly sectarian state but Donegal, and this was true for most of our friends who had the money/inclination to get out during what the BBC used to describe as the ‘carnival atmosphere’ that is the 12th of July.

Dublin is not Ireland writ large (God forbid) anymore than Belfast is Ireland in totality. Moreover, the list of negative things about the South that Robin provides could, for the most part, be replicated for the Six Counties. There are three things, in particular, that worry me about developments in that great wee country up there:

1) The rise of reported attacks on old people.
2) The proliferation of binge drinking and binge violence amongst our young people, especially in places like Belfast and Derry.
3) The ongoing rise in the suicide rate amongst the young.

There is also an economic scandal in ‘Northern Ireland’ which has rarely been touched upon which throws Robin’s telling list of ‘Orish’ financial skulduggery in the South into relief. Large amounts of money have been dishonestly obtained by certain individuals and groups, primarily within the Unionist community, using the 20th Century’s ‘Troubles’ and further back as a cover for their activities. One retired English civil servant confided to me many troubled moons ago that senior figures within the Unionist upper classes, often also senior members of the Masonic lodge with first-rate connections in London, had only to snap their fingers to gain more financial resources for the ‘cause’. It is my journalistic hunch that were a proper audit to be carried out on things like property transactions, deployment of security force personnel and the purchase of ‘equipment’ for the Troubles, that we would find a culture every bit as rotten as that displayed in the South. The only difference being that the money transactions were effected over post prandial brandies and sectarian oaths rather than brown paper bags. Nor does Robin Livingstone need me, or anyone else, to tell him that RUC Special Branch is a byword for corruption.

I understand that Robin’s article, whilst sincerely expressed, was also meant to provoke, but for the reasons stated above and many more, it is my belief that the myth of Northern rectitude, particularly when it is counterposed to a ‘dissolute’ South, is a dangerous argument because our country and culture is debilitated for every day that we lack our independence. The fact is that the two halves of the country are inextricably linked for good or ill. As one graphic example, the outrageous phenomenon of child abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests and the subsequent attitude of an arrogant Church hierarchy has beggared the beliefs and trust of Catholics in all four corners of the country.

The wider arguments for unity are too large in scale to be discussed here but, to echo Robin’s point in a way, we need a country which once again stands in the vanguard for social and economic advancement for all of our people. Instead of paying lip service to ‘ár dteanga náisiúnta’ and using hip slogans like ‘Making Poverty History’, we urgently need our thinkers, writers, artists and politicians, probably in that order, to once again begin a discourse about these vital issues rather than discussing the fluff in their distended navels. We will really make poverty history when we stop rewarding companies and speculators who amass property and wealth through unearned means and on credit and rental terms that the poor could only dream of. If we are serious about ending poverty then patronage and privilege has to end. Full stop. Here I am referring to serious, needless and pointless privilege and not the fact that you might have a Honda Civic outside your front door.

All too briefly, and to finish, what also must end is the myriad of multimedia images that our young people receive at the moment which are not just overwhelmingly based on self aggrandizement, but also seek to deify youth, make the old invisible, and are also anti community. What we need to do is to regenerate the vision and passion for social change that was so evident in former times in the struggle for national independence. Things like our language, the GAA, perhaps rugby and writers groups on the Shankill, our own films and drama are great antidotes to the prevailing global message that greed is good and that its cool to rip people off. We can only properly begin to do that when our economic and cultural infrastructures are united once again. The phrase in Irish – ‘Is maith liom Béarla ach labhraím Gaeilge’ shows that we can both be aconfident and united people, safe in our own space, and citizens of the world at one and the same time.

I send warm and fraternal greetings to you all in the righteous Black North from the fetid financial cesspool that is Dublin.

No comments yet:


Comments must be approved before being published.

Meta Information:

Title: Never The Twain Shall Meet ? - North South Unity
Date posted: 14 Dec '05 - 09:08
Filed under: General
Next entry:  » Denis <b>Donaldson – agus seo uilig cionn is gur iarr muid cothrom féinne.</b>
Previous entry:  « Scéal Frank Connolly agus “Saighdiúirí na gCinniúna.”

Baile - Home