Alternative Ulster

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Andrew Sullivan notes that the times they are a-changin in Northern Ireland:

The one thing that has always united the Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland—as is the case with many religious extremists—is hatred of gays. I remember during the UK tour for "Virtually Normal," the first book to argue for marriage rights as the central cause for the gay movement, that I was on a TV show in Northern Ireland. It was the first ever network show on gay issues in Northern Ireland ever, I was told. I was beamed in remotely. They asked ten gay men and women to come to give their side of the story. Only three turned up. The rest were that scared of the social consequences. Yesterday, the first civil marriage took place in Britain for two lesbians. In Belfast. Gay sex was a criminal offense in Ulster as recently as 1982.

Whole thing here.

Stiff Little Fingers' history here. Snippet of Alternative Ulster here.

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  1. One of the reasons I’m a mini-archist rather than an anarchist is because I don’t understand well how anarchism would protect the rights of minorities against a small mob. Perhaps Ruthless will help me here–I remember him posting something recently about justice under Anarchy being both messy and swift. I picture something like the justice local Northern Irish meted out among themselves, and I’m not so sure that isn’t worse than whatever evils a nice little, well restrained mini-state would entail.

    And, by the way, if Hit & Run had an official theme song, it could do a lot worse than “Suspect Device”.

  2. ” Gay sex was a criminal offense in Ulster as recently as 1982.”

    And in Texas as recently as 2003.

  3. I picture something like the justice local Northern Irish meted out among themselves

    There is no such thing as the “Northern Irish”. The Protestant Unionists are descended from British colonists while the Catholic Nationalists are descended from Ireland’s indigenous population.

  4. Danger! Danger Will Robinson!

    Put down the common-sense regional description, and back away slowly.

    OK, run! Run like hell!!!

  5. “The Protestant Unionists are descended from British colonists while the Catholic Nationalists are descended from Ireland’s indigenous population.”

    Well, actually the Unionists are descended from *Scottish* colonists, but then again, the Scots came from Ireland in the first place.

  6. Yay, Stiff Little Fingers.

  7. I’ve always suspected that the Lucky Charms leprechaun wasn’t quite right.

  8. Is there any political topic in the world that cannot somehow be made into a discussion of punk bands?
    That is the question. We here at H&R are providing the answer.

  9. the Scots came from Ireland in the first place

    Yeah, the O’Neill kicked us out. The bastards!

    Ireland’s indigenous population.

    Would that be the indigenous Celts who invaded the island after being driven from Iberia, or the Scots who returned to the island after mixing with the Picts in Britain, or the Vikings who settled in coastal Ireland, or the Bronze Age people whose ancestors were there 3000 years ago? Vive la melting pot!

  10. There is no such thing as the “Northern Irish”. The Protestant Unionists are descended from British colonists while the Catholic Nationalists are descended from Ireland’s indigenous population.

    There are Northern Irish insofar as for the past century, Northern Ireland has had its own, separate polity and the description of “justice” northern-style was not particular to those of Scottish descent or those of Irish descent. Also, “Nationalists” have not been uniformly Catholic and “Loyalists” have not been uniformly Protestant.

  11. Would that be the indigenous Celts who invaded the island after being driven from Iberia, or the Scots who returned to the island after mixing with the Picts in Britain, or the Vikings who settled in coastal Ireland, or the Bronze Age people whose ancestors were there 3000 years ago? Vive la melting pot!

    No, that would be the tribe of the Scoti who left Ulster in the 5th century AD and settled in the southwestern part of Caledonia, creating the kingdom of Dal Riada, before merging with the Caledonians to form a united Scot/Pict kingdom under Kenneth MacAlpin in the 9th century. The shiring of northern Ireland begun under Elizabeth I was continued under her successor James I, who found many Scottish volunteers to go and occupy land there, so long as they were Protestant. The process reached its height under William III in the late 17th cenrury.

  12. >Also, “Nationalists” have not been uniformly Catholic and “Loyalists” have not been uniformly Protestant.

    True, although modern Nationalism has been defined as Republicanism, which was almost exclusively Catholic in its orientation, unlike earlier Home Rule movements, which comprised good numbers of both faiths.

    The funny thing is that where the North once was where all the modernization and industry–and, hence, employment-was, NI is now the poorest and economically depressed region of the UK, so much so that the far more econimically advanced and prospering Republic doesn’t relish the idea of reunification. They took a good look at the German unification, saw how much money the West had to pour into the East, and had second thoughts. As a result you hear a lot less about Irish Nationalism in the South these days–they’re doing just fine on their own, thank you.

  13. ‘Tis true: I’m magically delicious!

  14. “There is no such thing as the “Northern Irish”

    Well… I’d say the two camps have more in common with each other than they have with either mainland brits or people from the republic.

    As for the relative prosperity it has been amazing to watch the change. I remember 20 years ago when the roads improved when you crossed into the north. Now I look forward to hitting the good roads in the south. Mind you, this was paid for by the EU…

  15. Eoin, the way I heard it was that it wasn’t the infrastructure that the EU’s money went to, it was education and workforce training. The foreign jobs and investment the high educational standards attracted made the Celtic Tiger possible, generating so much tax revenue back to the state they were able to then apply it to roads, bridges and the like.

    Places like Italy, on the other hand, spent it on quick fixes like bridges and autostrada, but that’s the difference between giving a man a fish and teaching him to catch one himself.

  16. One other thing I didn’t mention. The biggest difference between the north and the republic whether republican or loyalist (or in between) is cultural. The two are just so different. It’s hard to explain with less than a book that I’m not capable of writing, but it’s huge.

    I enjoy my trips to the north and l love my friends there, but there is a certain hard, bitter undertone to the attitude. Give me Dublin of London any day over Belfast.

    Again, the reasons for the difference in attitude are many and varied (and suitable fodder for many books). The difference isn’t helpful.

    God this subject depresses me. Can we get back to Kelo or Patriot act or something?

  17. God this subject depresses me. Can we get back to Kelo or Patriot act or something?

    Well, sorry to press you over it.

    Ah, feck, no I’m not 🙂

    My guess is that the attitude difference is due to Partition, and that the North, emotionally, remained frozen in a 1922 time warp. It’s been eighty years since political violence raged through the south 26, whereas that never left the North. I really don’t think religion or even the politics have to do with it; it’s just the helpless feeling of Groundhog Day, listening to the interminable Ian Paisley and others spew out hatred the same way they did in 1972, nothing ever changing.

    As my cousin in Limerick told me recently when I asked him about it, people his age (young 30s) care more about bombs going off in Bali than they do in Belfast; they might actually go to Bali at some point.

  18. “My guess is that the attitude difference is due to Partition”

    Well, that’s true of course, as far as it goes. I just wish I could envision a resolution here in the real world rather than analyse past failures.

    Partition has been a horrible failure and yet I can see no alternative and no escape from the dilemma. Some would say that demographics will solve the problem. I wonder if a catholic majority won’t make matters worse in the north. As someone commented earlier, the republic (by and large) really wants to forget about the north.

  19. Slugger has the ceremony that was originally the prompt for Andrew’s post blogged here.

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