Monday, July 22, 2019

"Isn't it all just sectarian?"

I froze in my seat momentarily but tried to not let it show. A while back I was in 'polite company' and one of the people who was there, who I'd never met before but who knew a bit about me, remarked "Ulster-Scots – isn't it all just sectarian?". You expect clever people to choose their words a bit more carefully, but it was in equal parts stupid and yet honest. That perception had been formed in the mind of an otherwise intelligent human being.

Its fellow-traveller remark is "it's all just political". These twin tracks have been relentlessly reinforced ever since the Belfast Agreement catapulted Ulster-Scots from the fringes into the middle of contentious public life in Northern Ireland. I remember life at those pre-1998 fringes. I remember someone back then saying to me something like "no matter what the political future holds, Ulster-Scots is about culture, and cultural confidence".

That was true then and it remains true today and tomorrow, from whatever the Brexit future will present.

Lazy minds in Northern Ireland resort to 'sectarian' and 'political' far too easily. Our past, our future and our complexity demands better.