Tuesday, 29 April 2014
Whose Union is it Anyway?
The Irish News, hidden behind a paywall, has reported that Loyalists counter-demonstrating against the Dearg le Fearg march at the corner of Castle Street gave Nazi salutes (they had stopped doing so by the time the Blether Region reached them, no doubt because the length of the parade had rendered the maintenance of such an impractical gesture even more testing than usual).
That democratic tidbit of course raises an interesting point. If, according to some accounts, there were 50 supporters of the British Union (or in this case, perhaps even of the British Union of Fascists) demonstrating against Irish, how many Unionists were demonstrating in its favour?
Well, if there were 6,000 people on the march, to find 50 Unionists among them, one would need less than 1% of those in attendance. The cross-community organisation Ultach Trust was marching, as was the Irish-speaking Anglican organisation Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise, currently celebrating its hundredth anniversary. Moreover, there has always been a fair-sized minority of Catholics in favour of the Union anyway, and while that may be smaller among Irish-speakers, it's still reasonable to assume that it's higher than 1%.
Not only that, but the Nazism of the Loyalists will have been deeply offensive to many, if not most, people in their own community.
The avowed aim of the marchers was to normalise the Irish language. Whether they ultimately succeed in that remains to be seen, but the counter-demonstrators certainly succeeded in de-normalising opposition to it.