Thursday, October 27, 2005

stories worth a thousand words #47



Irish soccer fans are known all over the world [for good reasons]

Written: December 15, 2004

[Since I wrote this, much has happened, little has changed IMHO]

“And we have an email here from JL Pagano which reads: ‘The only photograph we want to see would be one of Dr Paisley and Mr McGuinness outside Stormont ready to go in and govern the north’; many would say, Mr Donaldson, that this is a picture that Dr Paisley himself would NOT like to see?”

Not surprisingly, The Irish national broadcaster RTE’s current affairs panel show “Questions And Answers” devoted its entire hour to the latest developments in the Northern Ireland “peace process” two nights ago. Among the panel members were Jeffrey Donaldson, a high ranking member of Dr Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party, and Mitchell McLoughlin, a senior negotiator for Sinn Féin; up to now you would never see the two men sitting at the same table.

Naturally I was extremely chuffed to have my email offered as a contribution to the debate by host John Bowman, and also that the leader of the Irish Labour Party, Pat Rabitte, said “here, here” as it was read out. I was referring to the photographic proof of the obstructionist notion of “decommissioning” that the Reverend Paisley is demanding to see before he accepts a resumption of the mechanisms laid out by the “Good Friday Agreement”.

The email encapsulated everything I feel about the whole situation in Northern Ireland; if it were down to me I would grab the two parties by the scruff of the neck and throw them into Stormont Castle and tell them to get on with governing the people that elected them. I have had it up to here with “800 years of oppression”; I have had it up to here with “Ulster says no”; “Tiocfaidh ár lá” and “Fuck The Pope” are old worn out clichés from the “war process”. Nobody that says such things can rightfully consider themselves Christians.

One wonders if two political parties, one with a name in the Irish language that effectively means “We want nothing less than a united Ireland” and one whose name contains the word “Unionist”, can ever reach an agreement on the governing of the six counties in the north that were famously separated from the rest of the island by a Treaty agreed on behalf of the Irish people by Michael Collins back in 1922. One also wonders if the fact that both parties exist because of the conflict has an influence on their desire to resolve it.

So what would my own vision for The Republic Of Ireland be? It is very simple. I long for a day when considering yourself a citizen of this country does not go hand in hand with lamenting the troubled parts of its history. I would love to be able to wear a green and white hooped Glasgow Celtic football jersey and know that all it represents is the fact that I am happy when that particular team wins a game.

Speaking of sport, one of the prevailing debates in this country today is whether or not “English” sports should be played at the amazing Croke Park stadium in North Dublin. Most countries would love an excuse to show this impressive facility to the world, but no, not us. Seemingly the Gaelic Athletic Association would rather have it stand as a monument to the past than as one to the future. And what’s most laughable is that one of the sports we do play there, Gaelic football, is nothing more than an amalgamation of soccer and rugby with a shamrock label stuck on it. At least hurling has some genuine historical claim to "Irishness" in the puc fada, but the football remains by far the nation’s most preferred pastime.

Though many holders of the harp-laden passport choose to ignore it, the great wealth in this jurisdiction that has been created by the so-called “Celtic Tiger” has brought a vast influx of people from numerous other countries, and they are taking all the jobs that locals have decided to forego, such as working in fast food restaurants, nursing, manning petrol pumps and the like. I hung my head in shame when the public voted this year in a referendum to allow the Government and not the Constitution decide who gets to be considered an “Irish citizen”.

Maybe these people who turn a blind eye think such immigrants are only here for a few months, but the reality is that they are settling here. Not too far down the road, there will be an entire generation of people just like me; ones who have their own history from abroad, but who should consider themselves to be Irish just as rightfully as anyone from Dublin 4 or Cahirciveen.

Who’s to say that thirty years down the road we won’t be considering someone by the name of Okechukwu Uwakwe to be our next Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister, pronounced TEE-shock]? Or with tongue firmly in cheek even someone called JL Pagano? If in a bizarre set of circumstances I were to run for the highest office my mandate would be to put an end to nepotism as the prevailing political ideology in this land. It won’t be who you know it will be how you can do the job. I would also award huge tax breaks to anyone willing to highlight pitiful customer service resulting from indifference from both management and unions. I think I may have my work cut out to get that manifesto achieved, what do you think?

Of course I do not see all to be doom in gloom. I want to grow old and die on this island. I want my children to at least be educated here. I am fully aware of all the wonders this country has to offer; the scenery, the social life, the craic, the Guinness. I just wish more people could see the way our culture is evolving and realize we don’t have to go out of our way to be different from Queen Elizabeth’s subjects anymore to prove we’re Irish. Living here does more than enough to accomplish that.

© JL Pagano 2004


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