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Irish republican songs are born out of oppression


In response to Nelson McCausland's recent address to Michelle O'Neill (Comment, July 20), on Friday week ago, Linfield lost to Celtic FC at Windsor Park. Unfortunately, for a large community in Belfast, the tickets for Celtic supporters were waivered as the safety of all football devotees was deemed paramount. Just as well really, as the town may have been subjected to a Buckfast and coin shortage.

When a whole community is excluded from supporting a team with such historical ties, it feels quite oppressive and unjust. An analogy for the long road to equitable reconciliation in this town and the positions of privilege that certain communities still hold over another.

Nelson, are you not the same man that spouts diatribes condemning ethnic cleansing of communities? Now you want to take the republican songs away. These songs are birthed from oppression, injustice, internment, land grabs and genocide.

They are sung in the 'underbelly' (your word) of Falls Road pubs, while The Famine Song has been whistled and banged outside St Patrick's church.

How much more does one community have to culturally compromise to appease another? There was no resistance to the songs marched through Ardoyne on the Twelfth this year.

I would call that progressive steps in the spirit of resolution, wouldn't you?

Like the rest of the global indigenous communities, who had to endure forced occupation, there are many sons and daughters who have died and continue to die for the economic benefit of the elite in power, who would consider all of us cannon fodder (including you).

Casualties are expected when an imperialist nation wages war. It is no surprise, then, that oppression breeds resistance songs worldwide. This is our history. An oral tradition. Songlines of a people. For someone who purports to encourage respect and anti-sectarianism, your inability to see beyond your own hegemonic discourse is extremely frustrating. Shall I get my fiddle and play The Rising of the Moon Celtic Woman-style down your street? Would you care to borrow a Lambeg, bring the Buckfast and join me in musical reconciliation?

I will not lay down my fiddle bow. These songs are about my cultural identity as much as the sash your father wore is about yours.

That tricolour loyalists burn every Twelfth has white in the middle to represent unification between two cultures. Is it respectful to annually reduce this sentiment of unity to ashes?

I am prepared to embrace the shared historical and cultural narratives of this place with mutual respect and understanding. Are you?



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