I dont like military ceremony. More so…I dont like “Remembrance”, the way Officialdom takes over and uses “Memory”.
“Remembrance” is always a means of using suffering to create an agenda.
So I dont like my TV set being taken over by people….the great and the good….solemnly proclaiming about the “going down of the Sun”. Yet today, one of the centre-pieces of the Decade of Centenaries takes place…the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
It would be churlish of me not to recognise it, even if it means stepping outside my nationalist and republican comfort zone for the length of time it takes to compose this. I was actually impressed by the way football supporters from Ireland and Norn Iron “got along” over the past three weeks. The way it should be rather than some faux organised “letsgetalongerism”.
We DO have to face our History. It is right and proper that First Minister, Arlene Foster attend the ceremonies. The Somme has always been a big thing for unionists. As a nationalist and republican, it has never meant much to me. Traditionally nationalists are excluded from AND exclude ourselves from ceremonials that mean more to unionists.
It is right and proper that an tUachtarán na hÉireann should be at the Somme today. A lot of Irish nationalists died there too. Right and proper that they should be written back into the Irish story. But we must make the distinction that their bravery, their sacrifice and their service to a British cause has nothing to do with the “ethos” of the Irish Nation. Let us accept the History without re-writing it.
There should be recognition without an agenda. I reserve the right to be skeptical of the northern nationalists who had angst about commemorating the Easter Rising because of the militarism and civilian casualties but will place themselves …today….in the first row of any ceremonial that will advance their career. And press the “send” button on the tweets they composed last night.