I have been reading 'The Blanket' for a while now,
and considered writing an article, but never quite felt that
I had anything to say to this audience.
My background is no doubt not yours. It seems to me that herein be a haven
for bitter Trade Unionists, leftwingers who are
a parody of that leftist parody Wolfie Smith,
would-be philosophers who have read too much
obscure Eastern European 19th century literature
and the blinkered Irish-American contingent. (I
don't pay much attention to the Palestinian
output, because, as you know, China is very far
away, man.) But all that is getting ahead of myself.
Let me step back a bit, and explain.
Why do I love The Blanket even if I have no real
understanding of those who write it? Because it
gives me an insight into my own country, from
those who could be considered to hold opinions considerably
different from my own. All discussion is good. Isn't that
the very raison d'etre of this journal? But I am still
ahead of myself. Step back again
Let me introduce myself. What I am is more than
likely what you despise. Middleclass Protestant,
English university educated, homeowner and not
Newton Emerson. The Northern Ireland/Occupied 6
Counties/Sectarian Statelet/home I live in is different from
yours. I enjoy going down South/Eire/Unoccupied 26 counties,
it is a beautiful place. You aspire to a United Ireland?
Good for you. Do I? Not really. Do I care? Not overly.
Aspire away. If it happens, it happens. I would rather not
be blown up while shopping over it.
So what of The Struggle then. Well, put bluntly, I
think it is over. With our equality and employment
legislation, there is no need for any member of our society
to be discriminated against. Yes, it still happens, but
until the world is devoid of humanity, it will always
happen. I have worked in a mixed workplace all my working
life, both in England and here. Have I seen predujice? Sure.
On boths sides? Yup. But then that is another problem with
the discussions on Northern Ireland. You can't say anything
about one side, without qualification and reference to the
So it isn't for me to engage with you. You
could say I have what I want, Union with the UK. But that is
overstating it. I have no loyalty to our Sovereign, no
buring desire to die for my country. Laissez-faire goes a
long way with the middleclasses. If Ireland were united
tomorrow (and not free, as we (and you) are free now, but
continue to mope if you want) would it change my
It would be, actually, a monumental hassle.
A major drag. Would my mortage
need changed? My bank accounts? What changes would it make
to my children's schooling? That is what Republicans need to
address, to make me think a United Ireland is a good idea.
Sort all that out, and I might sign up for it. As long as
you don't disturb my life, you can do say what you want,
think what you want, do what you want. As long as the doing
doesn't involve firearms, bombs and disruption. Nothing ever
changes without any pain, and right now I don't see the
point in putting myself through that pain. Why would I be
better of under Bertie? Sure, I might be, but I am not badly
off now, and I am happy to stick with that.
I mean, I would love to play Hurley. To me it is everything
a game should be, fast, fun and uses big sticks. However,
there are two reasons I more than likely never will play it.
Firstly, I imagine I wouldn't be welcome (and from reading
The Blanket, it seems that a certain type of mainstream
Republican doesn't appreciate deviation from the
cast-in-stone thought lines), and secondly, well, I can't
run the length of myself.
There is an undercurrent in some of the articles here that
imply that the only good person is a Brother (or Sister,
Brother, don't forget the Sisters) Unionist. (Trade
Unionist, of course.) Or if they can't be that, then the
definition of worthiness is stretched to the great and
always-downtrodden working class. The Orwellian Animal Farm
finale is oft-used here. I am neither leftwing nor working class.
Look at me, for I must be The Enemy. Poor undervalued
working class, patronised in the worst possible way by their
own, once their own decide that they are Spokespeople. And
that is the meaning I take from a lot of The Blanket's
output. I read the articles, and can feel the hatred aimed
at me, just for being who I am, and not believing in what
the author believes. And what happened to principled
strikes? All they seems to be about these days is pay.
Socialistic capitalism. In the (bad) old days, the strikes
seemed to be over conditions, too.
My alligances are to myself, and my family. Not to the
betterment of the working classes, not for the oppressed of
Ireland, not for Crown or Country. For me and mine. The way
I see it (and you knew this was coming) is that there is no
justification for a struggle, and less than that for an
armed struggle. The stories in this publication about life
in Belfast are fascinating. The tales of suffication of
thought, the implication that speaking your mind may affect
the health of your knees, the whole mindset just alien. I
live in a mixed village, population under seven hundred.
Yes, there are bitter people here, but that is our national
disease. Where you can pick which nation that is.
To gather all this rambling nonsense into one paragraph, the
best word is apathy. I don't really care if the political
machine turns around me, invitiably careening towards some
Tir Na Og in 2016, as long as it doesn't cause me bother.
Just open another bottle of red, there, dear, and turn the
stereo up, I like the Ah guarda sorella duet.
In theory,Communism is a good idea, Marge. In theory. - Homer Simpson