So, here we go with another round of 1690 vs 1916.
The local St Paddy's Day committee got a chunk of money from the council for this year's parade and because we're all now being 'inclusive' and 'non-sectarian', they banned the Irish tricolour from the official parade. So, the usual's are all screaming from the rooftops about their Christian and cultural heritage and another round of political 'whataboutery' has raged along the lines of 'If we can't have the tricolour, will they ban the Union Jack from the 12th July?'
It doesn't matter that this is a completely different issue. St Paddy's Day is supposed to be about celebrating the guy who brought Christianity to Ireland (because that's really something to celebrate since we all know how that turned out!) and whose symbol is the shamrock, not a tricolour, a shamrock.
Whereas the Twelfth is a coat-trailing exercise to celebrate King Billy getting one over on the Fenians (although they weren't called Fenians back then, but never let historical accuracy get in the way of a good opportunity to stick it to the other side) and the Union Jack is absolutely crucial to it (not that the Union Jack existed back then either).
So, everybody got very offended and jumped on the high-horse of righteous indignation and vented their spleen on Facebook and other social media platforms and so the Shinners, those self-appointed custodians of all things Irish, found themselves in the firing line, because their members are all on the organising committee of the aforementioned parade.
Ye, cud ne mick it up! (Wee bit of Ulster Scots there, just expressing a bit of the old cultural heritage! Not officially mine, but what's a bit of cultural appropriation between 'oul' compatriots, after all, I've been to Scotland several times for Hogmanay!)
So, now the Shinners have been getting it in the neck from their supporters and have been running back and forth to the council to clarify the position and while no tricolours were damaged in the writing of this blog. Sorry! Seem to have got my statements mixed up there - while no tricolours will officially appear in the parade, members of the public will be allowed to bring their own and wave it as is their wont or their 'right under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement to freely express their culture heritage as citizens of the North of Ireland as recognised by the governments of London and Dublin'.
So, there you have it! Those good Christian citizens who identify as Irish can bring their piece of coloured material and wave it all day long and who cares if it offends those other good Christians who identify as British with their piece of different coloured material. The important thing is to know that the other side were thwarted in their chance to stick one to your side and that old sectarian bigotry is alive and not just well, but thriving!
Now, Strabane is an area of economic and social deprivation and recently the main Catholic Church in the town began fund-raising for repairs. The Church was built in 1895, it's gothic in style and they needed the money to repair the stained glass windows and stonework. The amount they asked for was £100,000, a formidable amount for a not very wealthy parish. But lo and behold, the good Christian folk dug deep and raised the money in record time.
Now, I'm not easily offended, pieces of coloured material, cultural identity, couldn't care less, but this offended me. The wealthiest institution and the biggest landowner on the planet (now, the Rothschild's could be worth more but no one can really tie them down to a figure, besides they're a family, not an institution) came to ask the people of Strabane for the money to fix one of their buildings. The same institution that is still covering up paedophile activity and who committed some of the most horrific abuses against the weakest and most vulnerable members of society, come looking for a hand-out from the people of Strabane. Funnily enough, no one was offended by this at all, anywhere!
Anyway, I don't normally do St Paddy's Day, I'm not much of a drinker, to me it's just an excuse for a piss up, as if they really needed another one. By the way, did you know that 88 people die in Ireland every month from alcohol related illness? Strangely enough, no one ever seems to get offended or upset about this either! Times I wonder, is it me, is it?