Glaikit braindeid nationalists at the helm o the country, fires burnin doon hoosies when they cowp, fitba supporters bungin toom Buckfest bottles at catholic pleyers an fechtin wi security. When oor media keeks owre the sheugh tae Northern Ireland these days it senns back an image that’s like Scotland seein its ain distorted form in a fun fair mirror. Aa the worst bits magnified, aa the guid bits left blurry an distortit.
Norn Iron, as Ah’ll caa oor neebors here oot o respect fir their Ulster Scots tongue, is the abandoned bairn o Scottish culture. We dinnae spik aboot it maist o the time. But this past wee whilie, three events hae gard us glower west. It hasnae been comfortable viewin.
Oor Norn Irish neebors hae lookit like patriotic, blindit ee’d bigots wha still revel in the carnival o protestant ascendancy lang efter fowk hae tyned their belief in God. This image isnae wioot justification. Let’s remind oorsels.
The Democratic Unionist Perty entered an agreement wi Theresa May. They prop her up like the stick up the dowp o a tattie bogle. So noo us Scots are in pairt haein oor future screivit fir us by this puckle o heid bangers. DUP are a slater thats creepit oot fae unner a stane an horrified aabdy. Ah’ll no rak owre the coals o the DUP deal, their clarty billion nor their doitit stance oan abortion an homosexuality. We aa ken mair nor we need tae anent thae ugsome thochts. Suffice tae say that the appearance oan the scene hasnae been guid fir the image o Norn Iron in these pairts.
The seccont hing that’s brocht the cultur o Norn Iron intae sherp focus has been thae muckle fires they set ableeze oan the eleeventh nicht o July. As we aa ken it’s oan the anniversay o the Battle o the Boyne, when twa warrin factions o royalists were each slittin the thrapple o the ither tae decide which unelected tyrant wid rule owre them.
Noo, this is a real ‘bairn an bathwatter’ situation. Aabdy loves a guid fire. They should hae them a puckle yards further fae fowks hoosies like, so’s they dinnae cowp onto the roofs an burn the hail street doon. But they should be allowed tae keep them aa the same. Whit’s at issue here is the yaise o bonfires as a wye tae cairry oot cultural intimidation. They’re gey aft yaised as a declaration that “we can dae whit we like: this toon’s oors”.
The extremists hae tane control o the symbol o the fires. But it would be the easiest thing in the warld tae tak them back. Gin a few communities o fowk that arnae total roasters would get thegither an organise a muckle pallet fire, mibbie mirrored by a few guid anes oan oor shores, then we could redd oot the foul aspects o this event like weeds fae a gairden.
The final bowfin piece o cultural keich that Norn Iron has depositit intae oor collective consciousness this month wis the scenes during Linfield Fitba Club v Celtic in the Champions League Qualifiers.
Ah ken that readers o Bella are no aye intae fitba, so Ah’ll be brief.
Fitba violence is rare in the extreme in Scottish fitba. Polis dinnae even fash thirsels tae turn up to maist fixtures. Gemmes are a fun wee day oot, whaur hail cheery faimlies gang thegither tae enjoy the occasion.
But when Celtic went tae Linfield it was wilder than a hoose perty in hell. Leigh Griffiths, a Scottish international, was getting pelted aff coins an bottles ilka time he went near the crowd. Fowk were tryin tae drive by the lines o polis an polis dugs so’s they could skelp him. It wis derk age stuff compared tae the saft cheery reality o maist fitba the day.
The bams o Linfield were representit in the press as a symbol o rotten Norn Irish culture.
Ah’d argue that it wis a symbol o the opposite.
The Linfield stadium wisnae even hauf full. The guid fowk o Belfast had stayed at hame. An the few dicks throwin hings were denounced by their fellow supporters.
Same in politics. The DUP are daein the wark o the deil here oan earth, an a wheen o Norn Irish fowk votit fir them. True. But the vast majority, 64%, didnae. So there again there’s signs tae be encouraged by.
Fae oor side, the SNP are offerin a bittie official resistence. They’re sayin they’ll gie free abortions tae lassies fae Norn Iron. Thon’s a stert. But hou’s a lassie fae a scheme in Belfast meant tae tak herself owre tae Glasgae (fir exaimple), airt-oot a doacters they feel comfy wi, bide intae a hostel, feed thirsels, then somehou mak their wye hame efter sic a emotionally an physically difficult experience?
Gin we’re tae offer free abortions we maun big a supportive infrastructure, mibbie o charity an local government warkin thegither wi the NHS. Hauns owre the watter. The new, progressive an inclusive Scotland openin up its airms wide tae help these dochters sufferin thanks in pairt tae the inheritance o the auld Scotland.
There’s loadsae derk stuff over the sheugh in Norn Iron. But its bein chased awa by the risin o the sun. Let’s no visit upon the son the sins o the faither. Lets no big up a portrait o Norn Iron wi the images o these last weeks. We create the very bogles we fear when we get myopically obessed by ae fragment o a complex tableu, an leave oot the lave. Insteid, let’s big a brig o communication an freenship, that wid allow us tae be fairly critical, an usefu in oor support.
Alistair Heather is a student o History an French at Aiberdeen University. Gie him yer chat oan twitter @historic_Ally