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New years honours: ‘póg mo thóin’ carries new message

3 January 2007

John McAnulty

The British honours system is famous the world over for bringing butt-kissing to hitherto undreamed of levels.  The monarchy kisses the butts of various aging pop stars, dignitaries and parochial worthies, they in turn kiss the butt of her majesty to indicate just how satisfactory they find the decaying feudal structures perched on top of British capitalism and imperialism.  Up until now the Blairites have been able to hover in the background making a few bob and the whole edifice has been drenched in mock-tudor ritual and flummery.

So it is yet again in 2007.  However within the usual small change of celebrity there are a few pointed messages to different sections of the Irish population.  Perhaps the most pointed was Peter Hain’s message to both the Paisleyites and the Nationalists through the award of the OBE to ‘Victims Commissioner’ Bertha McDougall.  McDougall was appointed commissioner by the simple expedient of Hain tearing up all the standard methods of appointment and simply putting her in place at the behest of Ian Paisley.  An inquiry is now underway to establish if Hain misled the High court after a judge ruled that he had acted “for an improper political purpose” when filling the post.  The secretary of state’s response was to extend Bertha’s appointment and now to include her in the honours list.

This is not a small issue.  By so flagrantly breaking all his own rules Hain is endorsing the Paisleyite dogma that they – the bigots who created, operated and defended the sectarian state – are the victims and those they oppressed the aggressors.  He is signalling that in a new administration it is the bigot Paisley who will be their trusted servant and it is Sinn Fein who will, in the words of Ian Paisley, wear sackcloth and ashes.  Simultaneously he is asking the nationalist politicians “What you gonna do bout it?”

The answer came simultaneously with the message:  The awarding of an OBE to Donal Flanagan, chief flunkey to the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools and to sister Rosaire Boden, principal of Belfast’s Dominican college, is a response from the Catholic church, indicating that they are happy in their symbiotic relationship with imperialism and willing to return to the days of provincial patronage within the sectarian state.  Earlier boasting by Irish president Mary McAleese of her relations within the colonial police force and the announcement that U2’s Bono was to receive an honorary knighthood – to be awarded in Dublin – show that Ireland’s capitalist class stand foursquare with the Church.  The nationalist family, which Gerry Adams boasted would provide a route to a united Ireland, have firmly twisted Sinn Fein’s arm up it back and pointed to the door of a special Ard Fheis on policing.

Yet the sight of nationalist Ireland kow-towing to the union jack, tinpot gongs nailed to their chests, shows how insubstantial all their claims of power and modernity are.  Here we have a class abrogating all claim to part of its territory, unable even to determine what happens within the gates of Shannon airport, revelling in the second-rate honours of the colonial power.

They should make the most of their day in the sun.  It won’t be a long one.


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