By S Burns
The revelation that the 1916 memorial in Carnlough was removed in the dead of night by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is unsurprising but symptomatic of a political establishment and narrative that seeks to remove all vestiges of Irish nationalist and republican culture and history.
While it doesn’t come as a shock that a unionist council was behind this it is a fact that Sinn Fein and the SDLP are now also part of this one dimension context that solely promotes a unionist, British, loyalist and ‘Northern Irish’ outlook.
It is surrealism of Monty Python standards that a small 1916 Uprising granite memorial was taken away while the same council is awash with all things British military, unionist, loyalist paramilitary and most ridiculous of all a garish,13ft Gold Crown in the centre of Larne that has no planning permission but which still remains standing. It’s stomach churning double standards of the worst kind but indicative of unionism who, when they have outright control of any political institution abuse their power.
However, it is the two nationalist parties who should really be hanging their heads in shame. Sinn Fein and the SDLP have bought into a political process that has completely negated any Irish dimension; where the Irish language, culture, history and symbols are being not only ignored by the Stormont Executive but which are also being scorned, ridiculed and abused on a daily basis by unionism.
Where in the Stormont Estate and Parliament Buildings are there any symbols or acknowledgement of 800,000 Irish people in the north?
Nationalists are increasingly irritated at continually being told by unionism, the media, British government and shamefully a partitionist, self-serving southern establishment that we are ‘northern Irish’ and to forget about our Irish heritage.
One also has to look at Belfast and the millions being poured into the eastern side around the Titanic Quarter and HMS Caroline etc to see this ‘northern Irish’ unionist narrative being promoted and advertised. Where in the Titanic Quarter does it even mention the sectarianism of the shipyard, the anti-Catholic pogroms of the 1920s and the constant attacks on those few Catholics lucky to even have a job?
Where is the investment and economic strategy to help those west of the Bann and rectify the decades of discrimination and gerrymandering?
In such a scenario and context is it any wonder the overall nationalist vote is dropping and people are losing faith and confidence in the political process?
Perception is everything in the north and the nationalist community feel they are not getting a fair deal. The DUP are making it clear that they are top dogs and their new leader seems determined to let the nationalist community know that ‘rebels and renegades’ are not of any concern to her at all.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein and the SDLP look the other way because for them the trappings of Stormont, ministerial office and opposition seem far more important than their own constituencies.