Belfast Telegraph

Clever and witty? Your country needs you ... to run for election

By Nuala McKeever

One of the reasons I stopped writing mainly about events in Northern Ireland and started writing on a more personal note, is because we often have weeks of news like we've just had this past week.

An interview with Ian Paisley, that was as predictable as it was depressing, started off seven days of the most soul-destroying oul cack imaginable. He said, she said, whatabout themmins, it wasn't MY fault, look at themmins, they're t'blame, no we're not, it's yousins is t'blame etc etc etc.

As Peter blamed Ian and Ian blamed Peter, and then Martin blamed Peter and all the unionists and Peter blamed Martin for being a dictator, and Joe Biden rang Peter and even that didn't help, we turned in hope to other stories for relief.

What did we get? A family of "prominent loyalists" done for horrifically abusing animals in east Belfast, and a spate of "hate crimes" carried out by a "small group of extremists" in east Belfast.

East Belfast you're not exactly covering yourself in glory this weather, are you?

Not that you're alone in being pushed on to the news by a "small minority".

Everywhere you look in this place, it's always a "small minority" who are doing the bad stuff. The widespread social personality traits of ignorance, anger, bigotry and aggression are never called just that. It's always a tiny minority. A small group with no support.

Well frankly, that's just not the case.

Support doesn't have to mean you get togged out in the latest "leisure wear", including scarf over face and go out parading, protesting, dog-fighting or rioting.

Support also means all of us, the "majority", the nice middle-classes who don't do that sort of thing, tolerating this abhorrent status quo.

It's my opinion that segregated schooling offers more than tacit "support" to this status quo.

You don't have to throw petrol bombs at Prods to be demonstrating to your kids that they're not quite as good as you are. You just make sure your kids go to separate schools, live in separate areas and mix only with kids from your own religious background. That'll get the message across loud and clear, even though it's never spoken out loud.

And you don't have to burn tricolours on Eleventh Night bonfires to teach your kids that Fenians are not quite as good as you are. You just make sure you keep them away from each other and let fear and suspicion do the rest.

If we want a revolution in thinking in this place we need revolutionary tactics. We cannot afford to cling to ideas of Britishness that are based on empire, colonisation, domination and racism. That was then. This is now.

We can't afford to cling to ideas of Irishness that are based on a fairy tale land of Gaelic-speaking, harp-playing, Mass-attending, Brit-fighting, victimhood and arrogance. That was then. This is now.

What do we actually want? The Prods aren't going back to England or Scotland. Get over it. And the Fenians aren't moving down south. Get over it. We are here. And we're all staying here. Can we please stop joking and subtly endorsing our status as "Ah he's no angel but at least y'know where y'stand with him", nonsense.

It's time to let go of our self-image as war-torn defenders of something precious. The most precious thing we have is our common humanity, right here, right now. We NEED each other. We have made each other as we are.

Could some more bright, articulate, intelligent, warm, witty, interesting, loving individuals please stand for election? We need you. Badly.

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