Time was when I was growing up that we all knew when we were crossing the border south because the car dropped several inches on the road whilst simultaneously, our heads jumped several inches in the direction of the roof of the car.
Well, that was the generalisation which was indicative of many northern attitudes of the time and I’m not talking about Big Sam and Wee Rab in Ballyblackwilliam either. Maybe Nationalists along the border always knew the truth but you only had to move away a little and there was a superiority complex that somehow we were just that little better off, that bit more advanced and of course we had a work ethic to explain our advantage.
Utter bollocks the lot of it needless to say; and shameful that we were so gullible as to buy into this thinking which was peddled by the very people who were lying to the rest of the world about us. Funnily enough, they were the very same people who changed to telling us a few years ago that the Republic wouldn’t want a millstone like us around the Celtic Tiger’s neck.
Move forward again to 2010 and shock! Horror! ‘Forget about a United Ireland, the south can’t afford to look after their own people, never mind us!’ We are left to wonder at just what level of economic prosperity we might be permitted to put forward unity as an option without ridicule.
So, how does the average person living north of the Mason-Dixon view the current situation below? Answer; they don’t, there is no average opinion but I would attempt to give you an idea of how some consider the situation.
On the extremes, there is one school of thought who says regardless of anything, we must have unity by all means and at all costs. Mirroring this is a contented Unionist sneer that enjoys the sight of a nation dying and proving it should never have left the security of the Empire.
Both positions ignore just exactly how closely the two jurisdictions are linked and the impact recession in either will have on the other. Further than that, anyone who stops to think for a second will recognise that the Republic, at least in the meantime, has an actual economy which can be improved upon. The north, on the other hand, gets pocket money from Mummy and plays grown-ups distributing the cash around its different departments.
For many people I would encounter on a daily basis there is undoubtedly an amount of pity and not in a condescending way, Christ what have we to crow about? There is anger too, anger that financial organisations can bring our countrymen to the brink of disaster and that the administration facilitated and were downright complicit in the crimes. Mind you, the notion that politicians in Dublin were not looking after the wider interests of their people did not come as a bolt from the blue in 2008!
It would be easy to say, ‘butt out Nordie, you have a cheek considering the history there!’ and indeed elements of the press and government are already trying to spin that protests in the south are being hijacked by violent Republicans and by extension, northerners but maybe you need to think about it from the other direction; If someone from a basket-case like the six counties is in a position to criticize, then something is really rotten.
I never felt any jealousy when, in the 1990s I suddenly noticed a massive improvement in the standard of living and the infrastructure around parts of the Republic, a levelling of the road if you like, I was delighted and will be equally delighted to see prosperity return albeit in a fairer way this time hopefully, north and south and maybe even together.
Still, I bet the roads in Cavan will still be shite!
Good luck to you all.
5intheface – 21.11.2010