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Brexit - Old Prejudices Find New Voices
Each week Ciarán Quinn sends a Letter from Ireland as part of the Friends of Sinn Féin Newsletter.
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Not Going Back
This week, an extreme Unionist Group issued a report laying out spurious arguments against the protections of the Irish Protocol to prevent a hard border across Ireland
This would have gone largely unnoticed, except the report was welcomed by Jeffery Donaldson the leader of the largest Unionist Party; the DUP. His party colleague and Minister, Edwin Poots committed to acting on the demands of this group.
The DUP, the only party to support Brexit, has continually threatened to collapse the government in the North if the legally binding Irish Protocol t is not scrapped.
The foreword to the report was written by Baroness Kate Hoey, a former British Government Minister, a member of the House of Lords, and a Brexit supporter.
The foreword stated, “There are very justified concerns that many professional vocations have become dominated by those of a nationalist persuasion, and this positioning of activists is then used to exert influence on those in power.”
For nationalists the inference was clear, it was not aptitude and ability that counted. It spoke to generations that were held back by discrimination and the refrain to “know your place”.
In 1933 the Premier of the New Northern State, Lord Brookebrough, acknowledged many of his Protestant and Orange counterparts employed Roman Catholics but infamously said that he would not have one about "about his own place".
In 1968 he denied discrimination against Catholics but added,“They say 'Why aren't we given more higher positions?' But how can you give somebody who is your enemy a higher position in order to allow him to come and destroy you?” (Irish Times 30 October 1968.)
That is the thing with Brexit. It was built on a warped nostalgia for a time and an empire long gone. It has freed some to openly rearticulate the myths and prejudices of the past.
Nationalist advancement was in the face of discrimination and achieved by ability and hard-won equality measures. The Good Friday Agreement is built on equal rights, respect, democracy, and peace. The continuation of the Northern State is in the hands of the people. All the people; equally.
As for knowing our place, it is as equals at the table.
The new and united Ireland that we are building will be a home to all.
There is no going back to the discrimination of the past.