It is interesting that certain Unionists have been making noises recently about a concerted attack on their expressions of cultural identity. It is interesting because the “cultural” identity they are talking about are the gratuitous marching and offensive songs of confrontational bands who seem to exist solely with the purpose of offending nationalists and asserting a supremacist ideology. It is unfortunate because, of course, there is nothing “cultural” about it. It actually undermines other Unionists who are a little more confident in their own identity.
My own belief is that Nationalists have no issues with expressions of British identity and culture as long as they are respectful of those who live alongside them. Live and let live I would say.
Certain Unionists, notably those in Belfast, are having major problems coming to terms with nationalists as equal citizens. Meanwhile there are signs of hope elsewhere.
The Fleadh Cheoil in Derry this week has attracted over 430,000 visitors to the City. No riots, no “Flegs”, no problems. Interestingly the Unionist community has participated in what would have been expected to have been viewed as a “nationalist” event. Today, the apprentice boys even joined in. There have been a variety of flute and pipe bands taking part also. Everyone has benefitted and I am sure the economic benefits will be considerable. Yet again, Derry has led the way.
While certain idiots in Belfast were expressing their cultural identity by wrapping themselves in the Union Flag, knockin back the Buckfast, attacking the PSNI with ceremonial swords and whatever else as a means of expressing their “culture” a group of kids in Lurgan were getting on with a somewhat different means of cultural identity. ( I included this in a comment below a previous blog). They got together and sang a song by a Swedish singer, in Irish, complete with flutes and Drums. They threatened nobody but they had a great time. The video is out there for a week now and has been viewed 1.2M (yes Million) times. A Swedish song sung in Irish by a group of Lurgan teenagers.
Unlike any expression of Irish culture in the six counties over many years, but particularly the last 90, unionist cultural identity is not under attack. It is not being undermined, sidelined or diminished. It is a matter for Unionists to promote their own culture but on the evidence of the past week at least, it is nationalists who are actually being inclusive of that form of cultural expression as the Unionists of Derry can bear witness to.
Now that’s what I call Culture.