Belfast Telegraph

'Northern Ireland is not in Ireland,' BBC's Nolan tells listeners

By Jonathan Bell

It started off as a conversation on the lack of government in Northern Ireland before descending into the name of this place who calls it what and why.

Indeed one caller got in touch with the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster to voice his exasperation the debate had moved from the vacuum of political leadership to "semantics" which, he claimed, would come to the relief of Sinn Fein and the DUP who would be "rubbing their hands with glee" for the distraction.

"If we all call it home should we not be working to make it better?" he added.

BBC presenter Stephen Nolan was forced to come out and defend his assertion Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and not part of Ireland during Thursday's show.

Callers came out both to criticise and support the presenter after he said Northern Ireland was not in Ireland.

"That's right," he said, "It is a statement of fact Northern Ireland is part of the UK. For Northern Ireland to become part of Ireland, the GFA, says if there is a vote to change that it may happen in the future.

"What is factually correct is that Northern Ireland is on the island of Ireland. You can wake up everyday and say 'Northern Ireland is in Ireland' but it it not.

"Northern Ireland is not part of the Republic of Ireland, that's what I mean.... The official name for the Republic of Ireland is Ireland, politically Ireland is the country not the Republic."

One caller said Mr Nolan and the BBC had to comply with the Good Friday Agreement and parity of esteem on Irish national idenity.

"Ireland is our home land. You want to talk about different jurisdictions. The UK is a state not a country and whatever its territories are it's irrelevant," the contributor said.

"If someone says they live in Ireland it should not be for you to dispute that, you should uphold that."

Nolan responded: "If Northern Ireland is part of Ireland right now would we not be spending the euro?

"I am talking about legal jurisdiction and I am making it very clear that Northern Ireland, the last time I looked, is part of the UK. You have every right to change that, and you know this through the Good Friday Agreement.

"You could get up everyday and convince yourself Northern Ireland is not part of the UK... but it is. I was not talking about citizenship."

If we all call it home we should be working to make it better?

Later one caller caller said Mr Nolan comments annoyed and hurt him saying he was Irish and "it's not common knowledge... the only ones that call this place here Northern Ireland are loyalists".

"So don't you or your BBC try and shove that down my throat," he added.

"I am stating the obvious," Mr Nolan said, "this is not be being patronising ... I'm stating fact.

"You have every right to describe yourself as am Irish citizen. It's a given.

"All I'm saying is for those saying Northern Ireland is part of Ireland. Northern Ireland is on the island of Ireland but Northern Ireland is part of the UK. If you want to fight politically to change that then fair enough. What's the problem?

He added: "Constitutionally Northern Ireland is part of the UK - not just if you are a loyalist... and not just in my eyes - If you want to bury your head in the sand and convince yourself it's not then there we go, I can't do anything about that. There we go.

"The best way to sum this up. It's the difference between geography and political reality.

"Ireland is a geographical island. It is also the name of a state that covers 26 counties in the south. What is so hard to understand about this?

"I am talking about constitutionally. Northern Ireland is part of the UK.

"We have had these conversations before. For some unionists they call themselves British in Northern Ireland and when they go off on their holidays they are Irish.

"I don't know what I am any more."

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