Wednesday, March 16, 2005


'What If'?Wednesday-Pluralist Paddy's Day

What if St.Patrick's Day was an event that all communities in the North could enjoy?Ideally this would be the situation at present.Unfortunately though, there will be no St.Patrick's Day parade in Belfast this year.It seems that even a figure like St.Patrick, who came to Ireland before we made a real mess of everything, can still become dragged into the tribalism of this island.

I think it's a shame that St.Patrick's Day can't be enjoyed by all communities in Ireland's north but what is the answer?Ban the parade altogether?I don't think so.Nor do I think the answer is to ban all emblems and symbols.As far as I'm concerned, the St.Patrick's Day parade in Belfast should go ahead.Unionists clearly have issues in terms of having to deal with their Irishness but nationalists shouldn't suffer because of that.The 12th of July celebrations aren't respected by all communities in the North but God forbid we attempt to ban parades on the 12th of July!

The simple fact is, St.Patrick's Day is a celebration of Irishness.The French have Bastille Day, the Yanks have the 4th of July, while we get Paddy's Day.It is our chance to show our patriotism and show we love our nation.There is NOTHING wrong with that.Why is it OK for me, a nationalist from Dublin to celebrate St.Patrick's Day and my identity, but not a nationalist in Belfast?Why is it OK for people in Dublin, Cork, Galway etc. to celebrate their nation but not a nationalist in the North?They have a right to celebrate the Irish nation just as much as anyone else in the island.Unionists have denied them that right because nationalists would seek to wave a tricolour instead of a St.Patrick's Cross.For that, Unionists should be ashamed of themselves.


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