Shared Space Is The Worst Space

Earlier today, I heard one of my daughters-in- law ask my grandsons to “share” something. I dont even know what it was…a toy, a packet of sweets but I got the feeling that it was going to add badly. It always does.
Norn Iron is no different.
Adults tell the unruly Unionist and nationalist child that they must share the toys. And the children dont want to share.
Not least because there is a dispute about ownership of the toy.
The Unionist child wont share the toy with the nationalist child, who claims it was stolen from his toy box in the first place.
The Unionist child waves his certificate of ownership.
The Nationalist child is resentful. The certificate of ownership signed by nice uncles and aunties in London, Dublin and Washington emphasised “sharing”.
Few toys have been “shared”.

Shared Space is the Worst Space. It is offered up as a challenge and even an opportunity but it is not shared space at all. It is No Mans Land. A Demolitarized Zone.
In the 1960s nobody used the term “shared space” but I lived in a “mixed street” in West Belfast. To my right Catholic streets. To my left Protestant streets. In our street the kids got along and played fotball together.But necessarily there were compromises …protocols unspoken such as no ball games on a Sunday. But there was a bottom line ..that British flags flew from a handful of houses on the Twelfth and the RUC from the nearby barracks stood guard.
And thats the thing about “shared space”. it is tempting to think that communities will bring down barriers and voluntarily agree to a set of protocols to make shared space a reality.
But the whole thing is unermined when even those letsgetalongerists who call for it draw a line. Shared space is only acceptable for unionists and nationalists up to the point where ownership becomes an issue.
The bottom line is that we can “share” the space but only on the terms that the space is OWNED by unionists. And they dictate the terms.

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15 Responses to Shared Space Is The Worst Space

  1. factual says:

    Its a very “Northern Irish” blog post in that ……… most cities spaces nowadays are very shared.

    It’s called multiculturalism. Get used to it!

    • Nonsense.
      multiculturalism does not necessarily imply anything else.
      In the Irish context, all of us are equal under the law despite our backgrounds. Chinese culture, Polish culture, Nigerian culture is not held to be superior or inferior to Irish culture.
      Orange-British culture is held to be superior to Irish culture. The British OWN the Space and ots nonsense to suggest they are sharing it. Unless of course you believe that IRISH people are a minority in Norn Iron…which is exactly what “Lord John Taylor” was saying twenty five years ago.

      • factual says:

        Don’t think to be honest these days this “held to be superior” attitude is in the spirit of the age. Sounds more like something from the 20th century.

        Multiculturalism is the spirit of the age. Get used to it. We are in a multicultural, multi-faith era, in the Western world at least.

        Shared spaces are pretty much the norm – gays openly holding hands, muslims in their outfits, Jewish people in their black suits, all racial and cultural groups, all milling around the streets of Dublin, London, and many other centres.

        Its the spirit of our 21st century. Shared space. Got to love it.

      • factual says:

        FJH the thing is shared space seems to be very much the future thing in the western world generally – its about diversity and inclusion – just not batting an eyelid when someone obviously from outside your ethnic/cultural/sexualorientation group sits down on the park bench opposite in your lunch hour.

        Cities and societies are more and more like this – it is the future – as far as I can see.

  2. Diversity is fine – except for those pesky Catholics

  3. Ronan Burns says:

    Belfast rule means Prod rule and Prod rule means Prod tyranny. A devolved government for Northern Ireland with supposed safeguards like a Bill of Rights (the “panacea” suggested by the Stickies) or built-in power-sharing means giving the Prod a sword and the Catholic a shield. When the chap with the sword cuts up rough, the shield will be useful but it will be the chap with the sword who holds the power. e.g. After 20 years of power-sharing, French Canadians had 13% of the Federal jobs even though they constituted 28% of Canada’s population. Northern Ireland’s power-sharing arrangement will have a similar result. [Remember how the Prods protesting about the reduction in flag flying on Belfast City Hall were allowed to hold the entire population to ransom.]

    We need a devolved government within the UK for the mainly Catholic areas of Northern Ireland. If the minority nation in Ireland, the Prod 20%, has a right to self-determination, by that same logic the minority nation in Northern Ireland, the Catholic 45%, has a greater right to self-determination and an even greater right to self-administration.

    Unfortunately for the Catholic people of Northern Ireland, their elected representative, Sinn Fein and the SDLP, agreed to a devolved government for Northern Ireland in the hope that this would eventually lead to a United Ireland. Those two political parties put the interests of Ireland before the interests of the oppressed Catholic people of Northern Ireland. It serves Catholics right for electing representatives who are Nationalists rather than Catholics. As people sow, so shall they reap.

  4. @Factual,

    You seem in unusually confrontational form.

  5. kalista63 says:

    Shared space is one of those loaded, passive-aggressive terms, like mature. The inference is that, if you’re not on board, you’re a bigot.

    The OWC culture (Nolan being the king and Wendy Austin being the queen) thought a switch was thrown in 1998 and everything was rosey in the 6 county garden. We even had the feel good factor of the economic boom as chocolate sauce on top.

    It didn’t take long for the price of the game to become apparent. Known criminality by loyalists was to be ignored, their leaders feted in Pheonix Park and even murders were to be played down and all links to loyalists to be scoffed and excused as being by renegades eg. Thomas Devlin murder.

    We then had unionism and loyalism showing us another trick up their sleeves, racism. With Latvians, Polish, Chinese, Roma etc. being attacked in loyalist areas, such as the Village and Antrim, excuse makers (Paula Bradshaw and Ruth Patterson being 2 prime examples) jumped to their defence.

    Nationalism and republicanism has grown massively in confidence since’98 and more and more unionists are becoming strictly small “u”, as the lack of reaction to the fleg dispute and the Maze/Long Kesh development shows. Meanwhile, the 3 unionist parties have nothing to offer other than the tired old keek that once served them so well but no more can they get a 1/4 of a million people standing at Belfast City Hall responding in Pavlovian fury to whatever bell the DUP rang.

    God forbid they ever learn this lesson but the greatest fear us nationalists and republicans have is that unionists and loyalists eve started to play ball in a fair society. Thankfully, it’s a fear we can easily dismiss, they’re incapable of it.

  6. kalista63 says:

    BTW, FJH, can we banned Sluggerites call ourselves the Slugger O’ Toole Boat People?

    Just a thought.

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