The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

'Ulster Britishism' Or The Myth Of Nationality


Liam O Comain • 14 September 2004

The phrase 'Ulster Britishism' first appeared in an article in 'The Blanket' and it refers to the myth that the unionist and loyalist people of the six counties of British occupied Ireland i.e. six of the ancient Ulster province of nine counties share a common nationality with the inhabitants of Great Britain. Now the concept of myth is here taken to be something that may have some truth but lacks the full truth. Which raises the question is there such a thing as 'British Nationality' which we will consider later on in this article?

During the process of ethnic cleansing since the arrival of the invader to our Irish shores over the centuries an important part of the invaders strategy was to bring the inhabitants of different parts of Britain and settle them in the land and homes of those natives murdered, transported or who fled to the hills and barren wastelands in order to survive. This policy was implemented over the centuries at times by dribs and drabs and on other occasions like its occurrence in the northern province a mighty movement of people which history records as the Ulster Plantation. From that process of ethnic cleansing we have the phrase allegedly expressed by Oliver Cromwell- 'To hell or Connaught'. Which really meant 'hell' for to survive in the west of Ireland at that time meant that the Irish really needed God on their side.

As the Irish people, and here I define 'the Irish' by the fact that they were born in Ireland or if born elsewhere gave their allegiance to their adopted country, were a proud independent people who as confirmed by historical facts always opposed the invader and in time assimilated many to the extent that the Normans were said to 'become more Irish than the Irish themselves'. Which fits into the definition that the Irish as a people are a river of many streams including Pre Gael, Gael, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Scottish, etc,. Thus birth and opting to be by those born elsewhere for example the Irish patriot and republican martyr Erskine Childers who was English born is what defines an Irish man or woman. And by this definition especially its first part the northern unionist community are as Irish as the heather on the mountains or the walls of ancient Derry by the Foyle! As for the second part of the definition Childers apparently had no connection whatsoever with Ireland but through his love of the fundamental right of personal and national freedom he made his choice for freedom rather than tyranny. And also there is the case of James Connolly who was Scottish but died as a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin.

Now following the above line of thought with its definition of Irishness the claim to be British by nationality of the northern unionist community is based upon falsehoods fed by the bigots of religious sectarianism. The founders of the 'United Irishmen' were influenced by the French Revolution especially the alleged father founder Theobald Wolfe Tone and although not as anti -religious as the French revolutionaries Tone knew that for the benefit of the Irish people Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter had to come together for the welfare of all. For since the Protestant Reformation originated Tone was aware that the English ruling classes and their supporters from which he came was using religion as a means of fostering division in order to strengthen their stranglehold upon the inhabitants of Ireland.

The flowering of this sectarianism was the establishment of the Orange Order in the 18th century which then and since has been used to divide the Irish people along sectarian religious lines which has been used by the Protestant monied classes as well as various British governments to divide and conquer and or to hold Ireland for their own political and strategic benefit. The latter strategy is traditionally known as the 'orange card'.

Let us now consider the concept of a 'British nationality' a concept which is irrelevant for in truth there is no such thing. Britain is as we all know a large island between the mainland of the continent of Europe and our island home whose name arises from a Celtic tribe having origins in an area between the north part of England and a part of southern Scotland. On that island or in that political state or kingdom there exists four nations England, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall. Yes, Cornwall is the forgotten nation with its own language and traditions with a rich history of nationhood. But due to centuries of war, commerce, subjugation and relationship what has developed is a British culture from those four nations. A culture that has influenced the writer just as the American culture, etc., has done but that does not mean that we are British by nationality or that I am American. For just as there is no such reality as a European nationality there is equally no such thing as a British nationality. What we have on the island of Britain are four nations however subdued just as the wider European land mass is composed of numerous nations, numerous nationalities. And although acknowledging the reality of a British culture the latter is not the same as a nationality. The concept of a 'British Nationality' was the creation of the English ruling classes initially after they subdued the Welsh, the Scottish and the inhabitants of Cornwall. Of course the Irish also was drawn into the reality of an imposed unity in order to serve the creation and expansion of an empire. An Empire whose brutal tentacles reached out across the globe from what was the western isles of Europe to be changed by the myth makers into the so called 'British Isles.'

Of course in order to oppose Irish national unity in which they would become minority citizens of an all Ireland state the myth of separateness or other has been nurtured by the leaders of a unionist minority in order to prevent the unity of Ireland. The Orange Order of today as of the past uses religion to prevent national liberation and self determination. Even the myth of a language- the so called 'Ulster Scots' which is really a dialect of English although a rich dialect worth preserving has been resurrected in order to create a mythical divide.

Tone never nor would he or could he deny his nationality. Many other non Catholics over the centuries of various classes acknowledged their Irishness and the latter included Jews as well as other Christians plus Agnostics, Atheists, etc,. In their acknowledgement they were simply accepting the truth- what was and is reality. In fact the contribution of Protestants to the revival of Irish culture and the movement for national freedom is immense and but for people like Tone and Hyde we would never have had republicanism nor national dignity nor the survival of the Irish language. But unfortunately the myths created by religious fanatical bigots who are also in essence racists have been used and are still being used to prevent the epitaph of Emmet to be written. If only the Protestant people of the north could extricate themselves from the influence of the Paisleyite mentality which prevents the onward march of the nation which they share then the justice arising would be the basis of a lasting peace and prosperity for all. The key of course which I have emphasized before is a decision being made by the Westminster Government and Parliament to withdraw once and for all from Ireland and our national affairs. I believe it to be inevitable but whether it be voluntary or enforced the coming years of this century will tell.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

19 September 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Get On With It
Dolours Price

Who Pulled the Strings
Eamon McCann

Can of Worms
John Kennedy

British Terror in Ireland
Kevin Raftery

Big Snake Lake
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

'Ulster Britishism' or the Myth of Nationality
Liam O Comain

An Teanga Once Again?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Converting Waste into Value
Liam O Ruairc

Scargill Speaks In Belfast
Anthony McIntyre

NIPSA, the Most Important Workers Strike in Northern Ireland in 20 Years
Davy Carlin

12 September 2004

Standing Down
Mick Hall

Life in the Party
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Is There a Peaceful Way to a Peoples Republic?
Liam O Comain

Rising to the Top of the Hate List
Fred A. Wilcox

Books Not Bombs
Mary La Rosa

Fighting for the Right to be a British Drug Dealer
Anthony McIntyre

Document Stamped 'Secret'
submitted by Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh

The Final Insult
Starry Plough Editorial Collective

Tensions Escalate as Loyalists March Through the Ardoyne
Paul Mallon



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