“Our Two Great Countries”????

Conall McDevitt made an interesting aside yesterday referring to “our two great countries” by which he meant Ireland and Britain. A slightly unusual but probably welcome form of words.

As the American Election Campaign gets into full swing, we will get used to seeing President Obama declare that he is happy to be in “the great state of New Hampshire” and Mitt Romney will tell us that he is happy to be in the “great state of Idaho”. At some point Obama will introduce his friend Joe Biden “from the great state of Delaware” and Romney will welcome  Sarah Palin “from the great state of Alaska” on to a platform.

Thats the problem with American states. They defy statistics. All fifty are great. But would it not be refreshing to hear Obama say “I am in the extremely mediocre state of Kentucky” and would it not be great if Romney told us he was in “the godawful state of South Dakota”. Now I must emphasise that I choose these states at random. I am just a little skeptical that they are all ……”great”.

It is a rhetorical device of politicians.

But is Britain “great”?. Is Ireland “great”?

Well by any index …..Freedom, Democracy etc……Britain is great. It has an honourable record in dealing with asylum seekers, migrants, charging up beaches at Normandy in 1944. But there is an another side…imperialism, exploitation and bombing civilians in Dresden. Mixed clearly. But on the whole…..in 2012….a decent place.

And by the same indices, Ireland is great. A proud record of seeking Freedom, of neutrality, of peacekeeping. But the darkside of church/state exploitation of children, political chancers and business men/crooks is less attractive. Mixed but by 2012 standards decent.

Yet Nationalism and Unionism are defined …in the main….by not thinking that one of these countries is not really THAT great. If Irish nationalists thought that Britain was “great” well there would be nationalism. If British unionists thought that Ireland was “great”, they simply would not be unionists.

Of course Conall would call my words here “old politics”. He is almost right. My views are ageing politics and in due course will belong in the past but we are not quite there yet.

As a nationalist, I find Conall’s words “challenging”. And really I am too old to be challenged. But certainly I know that these things have to be said.

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5 Responses to “Our Two Great Countries”????

  1. bangordub says:

    Mr Fitz, It pains me to say this as a Dub, but Conall is a nice bloke but ultimately a “letsgetalongarist” in my opinion. His use of language is interesting, such as “region” for this bit of the island and in my view positive. However, he never calls it honestly. Sometimes a politician should take a risk, reveal something of themselves and to hell with the consequences. That’s what makes the leaders stand out I think

    • Well I think he is doing exactly that….revealing something of himself.
      Its unfair to say that he never calls it honestly. More correct to say that there is always an element of “calculation” and there is here.
      In 140 characters there was a code.
      Lets look at it.
      “Great pullout in todays Irish News profiling the northern olympians representing both our great nations. Let the Games begin”
      So really its 140 characters in three parts.
      1 an endorsement of the Irish News. ….Fair enough and benign. 2 looking forward to the Games.
      Nobody could possibly disagree.
      But the meat is in “both our great nations”. Thats the rhetoric and thats the real message.
      Yes it is “lets get alongerist”. It is exactly the sort of nonsense that would go down wel at a Platform for Change meeting. But it is a glimpse of the Future. As is the growing use of “Derry-Londonderry” as acceptable phraseology but it was once a Gerry Anderson joke to point out absurdity. Life has imitated Art.
      It is a glimpse of the Future but not quite yet. I wont be around to see it.
      It is more a position …..a jockeying for position….than a “policy”. It sets a tone.
      Tactically its probably a mistake.
      Twelve months ago Conall was over-promoted…and his star tied too much to Margaret Ritchie. But the leadership election came about five years too early.
      He had a very good leadership campaign. All the candidates impressed me because they all brought something to the Party (no pun intended) and from my perspective something which could have been very divisive was actually quite unifying.
      He was runner-up and I think the campaign gave him a certain gravitas.
      He had earned the right to be at the top table, being a genuine senior figure and the heir apparent..if he does not let the whole Platform for Change bullshit hold him back.
      I tend to look on it that Conall has advanced several steps and this is one (hopefully rare) backward step. He just couldnt resist it.

  2. bangordub says:

    I agree with your comments about “Tone”. I also think Conall has a bright future but has a wee bit to learn. (Not that I know the answers).
    Returning to your post and the whole “Great” thing, I believe the essential difference between the two nations is that Ireland has no history of imperialism or innate sense of superiority. We are essentially an outward looking people with, if anything, an inferiority complex regarding the wider world. OK, my tin hat is now on in expectation of responses ! 🙂

    • Well “lets get alongerism” dominates Queens University where History students are taught that the Irish were heavily involved in British imperialism. My take would be that anti-imperialism is at the heart of the ethos of the Irish nation.
      To be fair many British people are embarassed about their imperial past.
      I think this aspect of the ethos of the Irish nation has been lost to some extent. Europe is arguably undermining Irish sovreignty but events of the past few years have probably led to a renewed debate about sovreignty.
      This is at the heart of the unionist/nationalist debate.
      What price Sovreignty?
      at what point is sovreignty a right or a luxury?

  3. bangordub says:

    I’m surprised at that re Queens.
    This seriously scared me:
    I am firmly of the belief that Irish sovereignty is being gradually eroded and the weapon of choice is now economic fear as opposed to force of arms.
    At least the economic situation has improved greatly down south with yet another succesful return to bond markets this week and continued growth in the economy for the 3rd successive quarter. Jim Alistair has been very quiet on that one.

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