Cultural Appropriation, Plastic Paddies and Irish-Americans – Who does culture belong to?

The first time I ever heard of Cultural Appropriation, I thought it was a ridiculous notion. How can it be wrong to copy another culture? What’s wrong with taking inspiration and emulating other nations? The idea that some cultures belonged to only one people seemed incredibly regressive, narrow-minded and almost racist. If some music and fashion belongs only to black people and white people can’t use it, then does that mean that there are some fashions and music that only belong to white people? Continue reading “Cultural Appropriation, Plastic Paddies and Irish-Americans – Who does culture belong to?”

Could The Far-Right Be Successful In Ireland?

Across the West there has been a growth in support for the far-right and a surge in the number of votes they’ve received. New Fascist political parties have been increasing in size and influence and even the mainstream conservative parties have been pulled further right. Anti-immigrant sentiment can be seen in the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump and the threat of Marine Le Pen.

So far Ireland has stayed completely clear of this rising tide. There is no New Fascist presence here and little anti-immigrant activity. There have been attempts to create a far-right party (Identity Ireland and the National Party) but neither of them got off the ground. A google search shows that their party launch was their only activity. Out of all the candidates in the 2016 general election, only a single one could be called far-right and he only received 183 votes.

So is Ireland safe? Does the far-right simply have no appeal here? Is there something about Irish society or politics that prevents the extremists from being popular? Or are we just as susceptible as the rest of the West and might one day too have to face far-right extremism? Can it happen here? Continue reading “Could The Far-Right Be Successful In Ireland?”

Scots and Ulster-Scots Are Not Languages

Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t one of those articles complaining about people who don’t use the standard or official form of English (I don’t do that myself). My aim isn’t to mock and insult everyone who speaks differently than me. Nor I am someone who thinks English should conquer the world and crush all other languages underfoot (I even speak Esperanto!). I support language diversity and think it’s good when people maintain local words and accents, as a world where we all spoke the same bland accent would be very boring.

However, sometimes the support for local languages goes too far. For centuries local dialects and languages were suppressed and discouraged in favour of English and other major languages. As if to compensate, the pendulum has swung the other way and all forms of local speech are studied, celebrated and supported. However, I feel the pendulum has swung too far and now some local differences are being exaggerated and put on a pedestal where they don’t belong. Continue reading “Scots and Ulster-Scots Are Not Languages”

I Have Dual Irish-American Citizenship But Today I Only Feel Irish

No matter which way you look at it, I’m the child of immigrants. My mother was born on a small farm in Cavan and emigrated to America in 1980. What else was there to do? Cavan is a small place and the economy was in a terrible state with no work to be found. There were 7 children in the family, 6 of whom emigrated (the rest went to Britain). In New York she met my father, a man from Brooklyn with a Danish surname. In 1990, they returned to Ireland, she had become an American citizen and later him an Irish citizen. So when I was born in 1991, I was automatically a dual citizen with a foot in either world. Continue reading “I Have Dual Irish-American Citizenship But Today I Only Feel Irish”

Uncomfortable Questions About The 1916 Easter Rising

Today is a day of celebration in Ireland. A hundred years ago today, Irish rebels rose up against British rule and declared an Irish Republic (Although technically they did this in Easter 1916, which fell at the end of April). This is a little unusual because in Ireland we don’t really do patriotism like other countries, we don’t even an Independence Day. It is also unusual because the rebellion failed and the proclaimed Irish Republic was crushed within a week. But Irish history isn’t like other histories, it’s not a collection of successes and victories. Instead our heroes are noble failures, almost always defeated, but in a brave and proud way. Continue reading “Uncomfortable Questions About The 1916 Easter Rising”

Have We Learned Nothing From The Crisis?

Do you remember 2007? The economy was booming (or so we were told) and the government was swaggering. This was all due to their wisdom and excellent management they told us. Don’t throw it away, they told us, by electing that other crowd, or even worst still, those leftists who might try to regulate the property market. There is was no debate over whether the property boom was sustainable or if the banks were properly regulated. Those who questioned if all parts of society were benefiting or if the government really knew what it was doing were dismissed as moaners. Questions over whether giving tax cuts so that people could buy bigger houses was the best use of resources were ignored. The system was working so don’t question it. Continue reading “Have We Learned Nothing From The Crisis?”

Social Democrats Manifesto: It’s No Bernie Sanders

Between Bernie Sanders strength in the American Democratic primaries and Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of the British Labour Party, there has been a surge for left wing politicians challenging the establishment. In Ireland, following the Labour Party’s embrace of austerity, there is a gap in the market for a centre-left party and the Social Democrats aim to fill this. Continue reading “Social Democrats Manifesto: It’s No Bernie Sanders”