Mutilated map symptom of a partitionist mindset

Posted By: September 13, 2017

Jim Gibney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The geographical mutilation of the map of Ireland, on display recently on RTÉ’s Late Late Show, is symptomatic of a deeper psychological malaise that insidiously pervades those institutions and the powerful class of people who run them, in the service of the southern state.

The malaise takes the form of a historical amnesia. It began when the republican forces were defeated during the Civil War in 1923 and continued under the leadership of Eamon de Valera and Fianna Fáil and William Cosgrave and Cumann na nGael later known as Fine Gael.

Both parties initiated and perpetuated a narrative, almost a two nations theory, which sets aside thousands of years of history and presents the southern state, initially established as the Free State and comprising twenty-six counties as the Irish nation.

In 1948, when the then Taoiseach, John Costello, introduced the Republic of Ireland Act and repealed the remnants of the British monarchy’s statutory role in the state, the perception was encouraged that the south had fairly completed the task undertaken by the visionaries of the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Program of the First Dáil in 1919.

This myth was intensified, particularly after the conflict broke out in 1969. Given a choice of acting to defend and represent the principal victims of partition (northern nationalists) and confronting the British government which supported the ‘Orange State’, Dublin chose to facilitate the bully.

So the Dublin establishment had to emphasize just how different and apart The North was from the rest of Ireland. We were not really, really Irish. The poor Unionists were misunderstood. The British were in the middle, keeping apart two warring tribes. Republicans were the problem and had to be repressed and silenced.

The geographical mutilation of the map of Ireland is a microcosm of the routine and daily verbal mutilation of the nation contained in RTÉ’s coverage of national events.

RTÉ presents itself as a national broadcaster representing the views of all the people of Ireland, whether they live on the island or its off-shore islands. But in reality, its main focus is on the people who live in the twenty-six counties.

This editorial policy of excluding, or removing to the margins, the people of The North, a population of 1.8 million, is reflected daily in RTÉ’s radio and television coverage.

However, the geographical and verbal mutilation of the nation by RTÉ is a mere reflection of the sentiments heard and speeches made in the Dáil and Seanad to turn the state into “the nation” and equate the state with the nation constantly.

It encourages the thinking that people have no responsibility for what goes on in their own country and perpetuates a partitionist mindset.

RTÉ, in its endeavors to confine the nation to the southern state, is a mirror-image of the Belfast-based BBC, which defines the Six Counties as a country. Hence the boast and strapline by the popular Stephen Nolan that his current affairs program is “the biggest in the country.”

The BBC’s promotion of the six counties as a country and its non-stop use of “Northern Ireland” is aimed at reinforcing the idea that The North is both Unionist and British.

When I complained a number of years ago to a senior official at the BBC he told me: “After all, we are the British Broadcasting Company.” “Yes.” I said, “but remember you are in Ireland.” Perhaps to rectify this anomaly BBCNI should be rebranded as part of the BBC’s World Service.

The BBC treats the southern state as a foreign country through minimal coverage of day-to-day affairs thereby depriving the people of The North of an island-wide sense of where they live.

What confounds these continual attempts to reinforce partition is that too many people across the nation think differently and have not been brainwashed or cowed.

And it was this mood that Sinn Féin and others tapped into to win a campaign to have the presidential vote extended to all the people of Ireland and the diaspora.

One cannot help but feel that at the end of the day these attempts to consolidate the partition of Ireland in the minds of the people are doomed to failure and can only delay the inevitable – an island, independent, organized and managed on a thirty-two county basis.