Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Top Ten Tuesday - Why NI is unwanted

Where is NI? My earlier post about how NI has been excluded from an online lottery as well as the comments from the SDLP's John Dallat that it was the "latest in a long line of examples where people in Northern Ireland are excluded" got me thinking about how much the people in the so-called "mainland" feel about NI.

In contrast to attitudes felt here in the Republic, it seems abundantly clear that NI is unwanted by the people of Britain.

Permit me to explain through this week's top ten list examining the top ten reasons why NI is unwanted by the British. So without further ado:

1. They told them so - This poll in The Guardian showed a majority of British people in favour of a United Ireland and seeing as this poll was conducted at a time when the IRA was still committed to its armed campaign and at a time when David Trimble was the leading figure of unionism instead of Dr Paisley, I wager that majority is significantly larger now.

2. They dislike paying for the place - Britain props up NI with an annual subsidy of £1.5bn. That is extraordinary. The cost of the North's Assembly has been hundreds of millions even though it has just been sitting there idle. The British government and people I'm sure are quietly outraged at this massive financial burden.

3. The British disagree with unionists - The policies of the British government are not indicative of a government that agrees with the unionist mindset. When the British Secretary of State comes out and recommends an all-Ireland economy and says NI is "unsustainable" in the long term, that sends out a very telling message indeed!

4. British don't understand the place - One could argue that there is apathy for NI amongst Irish people in the South but it is not to the extent of the apathy felt in Britain. I mean, how many of the counties in NI could the average Briton name? Could he or she name any? I wager most Irish people could at least name a couple, if not all.

5. Increasing respect for Irish history - The decision by the British government to send their Ambassador, Stewart Eldon, to the 90th anniversary celebrations of the Easter Rising was a sign of the mature and sensible attitude the British have in relation to Irish history. In contrast, the hysterical reaction of the unionist politicians offered a revealing insight into the gulf between the British and the unionists.

6. They exclude them - As I pointed out in my earlier post, the British are not afraid to exclude NI when it suits them. So much for the "United" Kingdom eh?

7. The British like Irishness - While a lot of unionists are afraid to look on Irishness in any sort of positive light, the opposite is true in Britain and as Balrog pointed out in this post, a recent survey revealed nearly half of all English, Scottish and Welsh people questioned said they would prefer to be Irish, after their own nationality. Another sign of this gulf between NI and Britain!

8. The British feel distinct to NI - While Irish people would understand aspects of unionist culture like Orange Order parades and the reverence for the Battle of the Somme, this would be lost on most British people and many of them would not have a clue about the Orange Order I suspect. The cultural gap is too great.

9. British feel more of an affinity with the South than North - I would personally be of the view that most British people, if pushed, would say that they felt closer to the Republic than they do NI. After all, an extraordinary number of the faces on British television are Irish people from the South. Terry Wogan, Graham Norton, Craig Doyle, Des Lynam etc. and one has only to observe the way the British treat St Patrick's Day to see the respect they feel for a nationality that many unionists have open hostility towards.

10. Don't understand the politicians - I think another significant point is that the British can't relate to the North's politicians. The Irish people at least understand the problems of NI but I think the average Briton is a bit bewildered by them all. Very soon, I think either this week or next week, the BBC's Question Time programme comes to NI and what I really enjoy about when this programme comes to the North is the comments from the British public who don't seem to care or have a clue about what is being said by the politicians.

So there you have it. The top ten reasons why NI is unwanted by the British. Feel free to comment on my choices or offer up some of of your own.


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