Belfast Telegraph

Kevin Myers: St Patrick’s Day should be banned; it's a national disgrace

Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Flashback to 2009 - Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Flashback to 2009 - Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Flashback to 2009 - Scenes from Belfast's Holyland area during disturbances on St. Patricks day.
Irish dancer Claire Donnelly, aged 15 and musician Tom McQueen at the launch of the St. Patricks Day Celebration Concert
John Quinn and Katie Richardson from "The Beat" the company who are putting on the show as St. Patrick gets the X Factor. Tickets are on release from yesterday (23rd Feb) for this year's spectacular St Patricks Day concert in Belfast City Centre headlined by Northern Ireland's very own X Factor star Eoghan Quigg.
Belfast St Patrick's Day Celebrations March 2002. All smiles as the girls and parents from the Holy Cross School at Ardoyne lead the North belfast contingent into the city centre during the annual St Patricks Day parade
The St Patricks Day parades, Belfast 09. Freya Ballard and Chloe Hanna from Carnival Creations
The St Patricks Day parades, Belfast 09. A visitor to Belfast's St Patricks Day parade enjoys the fun
The St Patricks Day parades, Belfast 09. Jack Wilson, Joel McLean, Georgia Beggley and Erin Mills all dressed for the occasion
The St Patricks Day parades, Belfast 09. People dressed for the occasion
The St Patricks Day parades, Belfast 09. Face painters dressed for the occasion
The St Patricks Day parades, Belfast 09. Freya Ballard and Chloe Hanna from Carnival Creations
Children don colourful costumes as they take part in the St Patricks Day celebrations in Belfast where thousands of people were expected to join the carnival parade from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square for an open air concert by X Factor finalist Owen Quigg.
Members of the public take part in the St Patricks Day celebrations in Belfast where thousands of people were expected to join the carnival parade from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square for an open air concert by X Factor finalist Owen Quigg.
A young boy takes part in the St Patricks Day celebrations in Belfast where thousands of people were expected to join the carnival parade from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square for an open air concert by X Factor finalist Owen Quigg.
Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Hartley, left takes part in the St Patricks Day celebrations in Belfast where thousands of people were expected to join the carnival parade from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square for an open air concert by X Factor finalist Owen Quigg
Members of the public take part in the St Patricks Day celebrations in Belfast where thousands of people were expected to join the carnival parade from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square for an open air concert by X Factor finalist Owen Quigg.
Members of the public take part in the St Patricks Day celebrations in Belfast where thousands of people were expected to join the carnival parade from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square for an open air concert by X Factor finalist Owen Quigg.
Members of the public take part in the St Patricks Day celebrations in Belfast where thousands of people were expected to join the carnival parade from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square for an open air concert by X Factor finalist Owen Quigg.
Young children dressed as a marching band take part in the St Patricks Day celebrations in Belfast where thousands of people were expected to join the carnival parade from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square for an open air concert by X Factor finalist Owen Quigg
St Patricks Day celebrations in Belfast, 2009
Four year old Anna Lee enjoys the passing St Patricks Day parade in Belfast this afternoon from the top of a Belfast City Sightseeing Tour Bus.
St Patricks Day parade in Belfast this afternoon.
St Patricks Day parade in Belfast this afternoon passes Castle Junction.
St Patricks Day parade in Belfast this afternoon.
St Patricks Day parade in High Street in Belfast this afternoon.
St Patricks Day parade in High Street in Belfast this afternoon.
St Patricks Day parade in High Street in Belfast this afternoon.
Cultural diversity at the St Patricks Day parade in Belfast this afternoon.
St Patricks Day parade in Belfast this afternoon.
St Patricks Day Carnival and parade makes it way from City Hall to Custom House Square.
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks Day Carnival and parade makes it way from City Hall to Custom House Square.
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks Day Carnival and parade makes it way from City Hall to Custom House Square.
St Patricks Day Carnival and parade makes it way from City Hall to Custom House Square.
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
A man watches the St Patrick's day parade in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March, 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
A boy in a festive costume enjoys a St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 17, 2009. Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin emphasized that the island's 4 million Catholics must pray on St. Patrick's Day for an end to Irish Republican Army dissident attacks that claimed three lives this month in the British territory of Northern Ireland. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A dog called Shamrock is dressed in a festive costume for St Patrick's Day in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 17, 2009. Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin emphasized that the island's 4 million Catholics must pray on St. Patrick's Day for an end to Irish Republican Army dissident attacks that claimed three lives this month in the British territory of Northern Ireland. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A girl enjoys the atmosphere at the St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 17, 2009. Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin emphasized that the island's 4 million Catholics must pray on St. Patrick's Day for an end to Irish Republican Army dissident attacks that claimed three lives this month in the British territory of Northern Ireland. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
St Patricks day celebrations, Belfast 09
A man gets his faced painted for the St Patrick's day parade in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March, 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A man takes part in the St Patrick's day parade in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March, 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
The British Colombia Regimental band of the Irish Pipes & Drums from Canada lead off the annual St Patrick's Day parade through Belfast . March 2010

It’s high time Ireland’s politicians lived up to their promises and brought an end to the hideous and demeaning farce of St Patrick's Day.

It has become an occasion of national humiliation for years now. It should really be called St Patrick's DNA, as across the world, Irishmen and women have shown in full and shameful manner how we cannot be trusted to celebrate the day without making drunken disgraces of ourselves.

To measure one's national pride by advancing the cause of cirrhosis is truly bizarre: Liver Dance.

Perhaps not surprisingly, with governments endorsing the Drunken Paddy stereotype across the world, the plain people of Ireland dutifully conform to expectations, both at home and abroad.

But we have already informally established the caricature elsewhere, with the transformation of First Holy Communion into an excuse for girls to be draped with huge Joan Collins wigs, fake tan and make-up.

And the Catholic Church, as broken as a Mormon lap-dancing club in Afghanistan, is speechless at this degradation of the consecration of bread and wine into the living body and blood of Jesus Christ, the redeemer of mankind.

And no, I'm not saying that — it's what the Catholic Church actually believes. Yet it nonetheless allows the parents of a seven-year old girl to dress her up like a trollop in order to celebrate this momentous day and then to spend the aftermath getting paralytic. Men once gave their lives to keep the faith alive: now it's an excuse for alcoholic comas. It doesn't stop there. The survival of Irish traditional dance is one of the cultural triumphs of this country: but it has now been turned into a burlesque caricature as little girls are attired like tarts, with bogus ringlets, eyeliner and false eyelashes, and yet more tan.

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And they are then adorned in phony dresses apparently torn from the Book of Kells; the result looks like some grisly Hibernian minstrel show. Dance is dance, it doesn't need bogus costumes, hair extensions or make-up to make it authentic.

St Patrick's Day has thus become the one-day distillation of a ghastly year-long caricature. If the BBC were to offer comparable stereotypes of such paddy-whackery, we would be howling about the racist portrayals of the Irish.

Indeed, when the mayor of New York made some perfectly accurate observations about Irish behaviour there on St Patrick's Day, the Irish Voice newspaper predictably shrieked: ‘Mayor Bloomberg outrages Irish Americans with “people that are totally inebriated hanging out windows” comments.’

I'm sure lots of people were outraged, indignation/anger/offendedness being the default mode of the Irish. The point is: was Bloomberg right? If he was, what's the problem? Do Italians or Swedes or Spanish hang drunkenly out of windows on their national days? So, we all know the caricature is essentially correct.

Our per-capita alcoholic consumption is exceeded by only a couple of central European states with names like Boldova that have officially been declared lunatic asylums by the UN and placed in armed quarantine. But what makes our figures worse is that we have a huge population that doesn't drink at all, so that those who do drink really do drink.

Yet far from being ashamed at this achievement, it forms the heart of a really perverse national characteristic. We like to boast how much alcohol we consume - but if outsiders then agree with us, they're indulging in anti-Irish racism, and the cry goes up, ‘Call the speech police immediately. Our feelings are being hurt.’

Governments can't do much about the social culture of the people they rule. After all, Russian ways survived 80 years of totalitarian communism.

But they could start by cancelling all state-sponsored booze-ups on St Patrick's Day, with all this year's receptions cancelled - not least because they'll actually be paid for by our grandchildren. Pubs and off-licences should only be allowed to open an hour after St Patrick's parades are over.

Street drinking must be rewarded with booze being poured over the offender's head. And public urination should be punished by making offenders - both male and female - pass water into specially -made 220-volt floor-sockets at the local police station.

We’ve had plenty of law. Perhaps it’s time for some order.

Belfast Telegraph

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