So Bertie is gone. Great. For the past few days we’ve been bombarded with constant pieces of how wonderful this man was, how mature he was. Politicians and members of the public, from all over the island, have been singing his praises. His involvement in Northern Ireland has been one of the main focus points for those worshipping at the FF altar. Supposedly, this reflects the growing maturity of the southern Irish republic in relation to it’s Northern neighbour and Bertie is the embodiment of just that. Everyone seems to be conveniently forgetting that it was FF who were denouncing anyone supporting the BA as traitors just a a few years earlier and that it was FF who for so many years, in one way or another, encouraged the despicable behaviour that sections of the republican movement in Northern Ireland meated out to Protestants and Unionists all over the province. I digress though. With all the talk of Bertie and his accomplishments in Northern Ireland and with all the talk of how mature we’ve become, I kept wondering how people were able to delude themselves so effectively. The republic hasn’t moved on . The days of politicians rallying the troops by calling for an end to partition and British rule might be gone, the days of talks of gassing Protestants might be gone, but it doesn’t mean the sentiments are gone. It’s more refined, more subtle than before.
Radio reports on Irish Protestant culture recently have forced the maggots out from under their rocks. As soon as you think perhaps Irish Protestants might just been getting enough guff to stand up from themselves once again, something happens which has a negative effect and acts to put us back in our place. The RTE documentary on the murders at Coolacrsse sparked a lively debate, and while the good-amount of logical and rational people who spoke out about it was refreshing, there was the enviable bunch of republican apologists, armed to the teeth with their revisionism and their emotional blackmail which silenced the majority. The whole debate quickly fell into nothing more than an anti-Protestant smear campaign. Old habits die hard it seems. Another RTE Radio 1 report on Irish Protestant culture brought about the very same result and while attending a function for my local parish I had the oppturnity to speak to an ex Roman Catholic who spoke of the abuse she’d be at the end of for her conversion. It seems, even on a purely religious basis, the Irish people are not, under any circumstances allowed to go to the “dark side”. To do so is the ultimate sin and act of betrayal. Another radio report on Irish soldiers in HM Armed Forces, about to be deployed to Afghanistan recently ended in the very same way. It would seem that on some small level, it is ok for Northern Irish Protestants to be who they are, but Southern Protestants are expected to toe the line or suffer the inevitable barrage of insults and ridicule.
Where’s the “maturity”?