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Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Irishness of Protestants

I've fairly simple criteria for what it means to be Irish.

Are you from Ireland? If you can answer yes, then you're Irish in my book.

Of course, not everyone sees it the same way. And according to a new study by a Protestant academic, apparently Irish Protestants are seen by many of their compatriots as somehow being a lesser form of Irish.

Which is frankly despicable, especially in this day and age when the Irish Times and the many, many statefunded multicult quangos spend so much effort trying to insist that people from distant continents who arrived here in the last few years to scam our welfare system are, in fact, 'new Irish.'

Let's be blunt - Irish Protestants are Irish. Some may like, as indeed some Irish Catholics like, to carry other passports too. But they're no less Irish for that or indeed for their choice of religion or their family background.

This study is now likely to be used as another stick with which to beat the Irish nation. A cold house, Rome rule, etc, etc.

But I think perhaps something else is feeding into this.

All Irish people are familiar with the selective co-opting of Irish people by Britain when it suits them.

When Michelle Smith was winning Olympic medals, she was hilariously described as 'one of ours' by the BBC. But when she was caught urinating whiskey into drug sample bottles, of course she became an Irish cheat.

And let's not forget Samuel L. Jackson's legendary correction of Brit telly hackette Kate Thornton when she sought to claim Colin Farrell as British.

But this trend continues today, even in something as vapid and irrelevant as Piers Morgan's top 100 British celebrities list. The former tabloid hack states up front that Irish celebrities 'such as Bono and Colin Farrell' aren't included.

Then he goes on to list a bunch of Irish people on his list anyway - Kenneth Branagh, Christine Bleakely, Graham Norton.

Let's go through that carefully for a moment. Branagh and Bleakely are from the North, which is British-ruled. But Norton? Born and raised in Cork, for goodness sake. And where's Liam Neeson or Terry Wogan, surely bigger stars than either Branagh or Bleakely?

Obviously the real criterion here is their religious background. According to Morgan, you're British if you're an Irish Protestant, even if you're from Cork, but you're not British if you're an Irish Catholic, even if you grew up under British rule or lived your entire working life in England as the beloved voice of middle-aged Middle England.

We remain firmly in the cultural hinterland of London, and hence it isn't surprising to me to find that research indicates a reticence about the Irishness of Protestants, when the British media still firmly insist that the Protestant community of this island belongs to them.

I look forward to the day when Irish Protestants start directing their anger at attempts to dilute their nationality, not only at their fellow Irish people, but also at the British who continually assume prior claim to them.

One further criterion I ought to have added above: you're Irish only if you want to be Irish.

So while I consider it despicable that some Irish people see their fellow citizens as somehow lesser, I think the only way that can be addressed is for the Irish Protestant population to be a bit more vocal in insisting on their nationality, especially when it comes under such regular assault from our ever-colonial neighbours.

You're Irish - shout it out and then no one can dispute it, not your Catholic neighbours or your British ones.


Anonymous said...

Or how about another test - everybody from the British Isles is British?

No , it's not a definition that I would agree with either - so be careful with the 'Everybody from Ireland is Irish' line.


JC Skinner said...

Everyone from the British Isles IS British.
But Ireland isn't a British Isle.
Thanks for your interest.

parmenides_2 said...


JC Skinner said...

It's still not a British Isle, even if you call it Irlande, Irland, Ierland,Irlanda,Ирландия or 愛爾蘭.

Anonymous said...

At least everyone understood the cricket test?

JC Skinner said...

Everyone except Eoin Morgan, that is.