I’m just after half-watching a programme aired by our national broadcaster, here in the South of Ireland.
(I threw in that last bit to piss people off. You’ll have to excuse me if you are one of these people who gets pissed off by the phrase “South of Ireland” — it’s just that I don’t get out much these days so pissing people like your good selves off is one of my few social outlets. Anyway. I digress… Digressions, by the way, are another unfortunate by-product of my lockdown isolation, but I’ll try to keep those to a minimum too… Count yourselves lucky you don’t have to live with me. In my home in the South of Ireland.)
The reason I only half-watched the programme was I don’t really care about a United Ireland. This is because I am still relatively sane. The kind of people who want a united Ireland above all else are the kind of hopeless romantics who still watch Disney princess movies into adulthood. They are to be pitied and even feared. They are young and old, right-wing and left-wing, rich and poor. The only thing they have in common is they are all deluded by some kind of romantic notion of Irishness that never existed. As someone pointed out, the only time Ireland was ever united was when it was under British rule. Hah! I do love irony. Ever since we got the Brits half out, some of us have been obsessed with a naive, fairytale, W.B Yeats-style, Gaelic-speaking, tribal Ireland that is about as realistic as Tír na nOg.
I have other things to care about, such as whether I will ever get a job or whether I will ever be able to afford to rent a house/apartment. At the moment, I am unemployed — and believe me, it is not for lack of trying to get a job. A united Ireland is about as much use to me as a bicycle is to a fish. The lockdown really put a spanner in any of my attempts to get on the career ladder. Had I not done a Master’s, I might have qualified for the pandemic unemployment payment by now, and then I’d be raking in €350 a week for watching sitcoms on Netflix. But unfortunately, this pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time, and my Master’s was cut short, and my career, or any semblance of it, was plunged into obscurity. I think the likelihood of me becoming financially independent might be possible by the time I’m thirty. It all depends on what the virus does — and, more importantly, what the government does. They ain’t doing a whole pile so far. They can either capitulate to the atavistic fringe element of romantic looney Gaels or they can pull their heads out of their arses and start implementing policies that serve Irish people. I’m sick of the political discourse in this country being dominated by Gerry Adams’s balaclava’d “antifa” — yeah, right; pull the other one — fanboys on one side, and neo-liberal shills who care only about maintaining the status quo and massaging each others’ egos on the other. The latter, by the way, are the reason our health and housing systems are fucked. We haven’t had a decent government in my lifetime, certainly.
Our country contains a multitude of people and perspectives — and not all of them are good. See above. Why the hell would we add the DUP into the mix for (Protestant) god’s sake? I think the Shinners sometimes forget that a so-called united Ireland would involve, by geographical necessity, the most ardent loyalists and Queen fans. (No, I’m not talking about the band here, sadly). The DUP have already told us they’re not a big fan of the whole united Ireland idea — probably because they are British, as they say. Why don’t we leave them to it? They have a right to be British if they really want to be — although someone should tell them that Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack mini-dress has not been considered remotely fashionable by anyone since, well, the day before she wore it.
To amalgamate, or “unite” two dysfunctional, disparate Irelands would be to undo all the progress that has been made since 1994. (Nothing to do with my being born, by the way. There was a ceasefire). Sinn Fein’s rhetoric of a united Ireland for the Irish people of tomorrow is nonsense; if I manage to retain what’s left of my marbles until the end of this lockdown I will be one of the Irish people of tomorrow, and what I want is a job, a house, good healthcare, to be able to provide for myself and my family, and go on a few adventures now and then. It seems like a lot to ask for when I see places stricken by famine, war, and poverty, but, Jesus, as Brian Lenihan once said, “We all partied.”
Tell that to the people living in hotels and on the streets in what is supposed to be a good country. As for me, it’s been so long since I was let out I don’t remember partying at all. Perhaps I’m coming down with the same type of amnesia as the United Irelanders. Ah well, the lucidity was nice while it lasted.