, 28 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
I'm seeing a lot of misinformation regarding life in NI in regards to Brexit & the backstop etc & my experiences of being in England reinforce this fact. So strap in, or on, I'm not here to judge, & I'll take you on a tour of growing up in NI from a Catholic pov (aged 39 & 3/4s)
1. There was, most definitely, a hard border in NI. Crossing that border meant being stopped, almost always being questioned & sometimes being searched (if they didn't like the look of you, were bored or suspected you of being a criminal). The military were very obviously armed!
2. The reason we don't have this hard border now is thanks to the Good Friday Agreement, a very hard fought for peace agreement that isn't perfect but involves compromise on both sides. This means a lot of property has been built astride this border #GFA
3. Life during the troubles meant being routinely searched when entering shops, having school buses stopped and searched and regular checkpoints at random places at any time of the day or night. The Foyle Bridge/Strand Road (in Derry) were regular haunts for checkpoints
4. The threat of violence was a constant presence. Streets, homes, businesses would be frequently evacuated due to bomb scares, both viable and hoax. There were certainly 'no go' areas depending on your religious background.
5. There was a lot of ignorance on both 'sides' regarding the lives, attitudes and opinions of the 'other side'. Discrimination and prejudice were rampant and led to further mistrust and violence. Derogatory terms were often used and are still sometimes used today by a minority
6. Having a catholic background meant I was aware of anti-English sentiment (in some areas) and a general feeling that the English regarded us as savages and were happy to let us kill/main/bomb each other. We were a problem they weren't interested in solving.
7. The education system in NI focuses *mainly* on British history/literature/culture etc. Irish history only really made a larger element of the curriculum at GSCE stage and above. I know more about the tudors than I do the Easter Rising
8. Voting habits here are very entrenched along tribal lines. Catholics often vote Nationalist/Republican and Protestants often vote Unionist/Loyalist. This is slowly changing with each generation that lives under the GFA but is still problematic for central/liberal folk
9. Some areas here are physically marked by artwork, flags and pavement painting. This can sometimes be intimidating if you find yourself in the 'wrong area' according to your religious background. It's also intimidating for some who live there as it often invites trouble/tension
10. The marching season is viewed as a celebration of culture or antagonism depending on your background. Here in Derry, we have made great strides to compromise & reduce tension/flashpoints for violence and now marches can go ahead without safety barriers. It's still not perfect
11. Education here is extremely segregated & often controlled by religious groups. This facilitates mistrust & ignorance of those from outside your religious background. Mixed schools are in very low numbers. Hopefully this will change to allow for more mixing of communities
12. Jobs used to discriminate based on what school you put down on your application form. It was an instant indicator of whether you were Catholic/Protestant and decisions were made accordingly.
13. We also had gerrymandering (and to some extent still do). Catholics could not vote unless they owned property. They also could not work in certain public sectors. Here in Derry, we have a phrase 'Say nothing till you see Claude'. Claude helped catholics get homes
14. These restrictions also affected poor protestants and the civil rights movement was not solely one sided (on behalf of Catholics) but we tend to forget this. We should not forget this.
15. The UK has a north/south divide. Here in NI we have an east/west divide. West NI is severely lacking in infrastructure and investment. This breeds resentment and has allowed fanatical elements to gain hold in impoverished areas.
16. As a people, we in NI voted overwhelmingly to accept the terms of the GFA (over 71%). We want peace and are grateful to all those who have had to accept uncomfortable concessions in order to have this peace. Most people are appalled that Brexit threatens this
17. We also voted significantly to remain a part of the EU (55.8), despite DUP assertions. We appreciate how brexit will affect our daily lives, both from a peace perspective and a border perspective. We have already seen a return to violence, death and bombings
18. Since most remain votes lie along Sinn Fein representation, those who voted remain here in NI feel voiceless as there is no one representing their votes in Westminster as SF refuse to work with the UK government. You cannot affect change on the outside!
19. We have not had a functioning goverment here in over 2 years. This has severely affected our education system, healthcare provision, public facilities and so on. We are disgusted by our politicians lack of work to change this despite receiving full pay.
20. As a nation, we have become more accepting of women's right, LGBTQ rights and so on although we fall behind on the provision of those rights. The minority contradicts what the majority would like, which is to see people have equal rights and to live as they wish.
21. We still hold tradition close to our hearts & sometimes that makes others uncomfortable. In some ways we've come so far, but then suddenly you're hit up the face with traditions & rules that are hundreds of years old & which seem out of pace with modern society. We don't care
22. We also hold humour as a weapon in order to deal with the horrors of our past, but also as a way of showing affection. If someone here greets you with 'how's about ye ye ugly fecker?' you're held in high esteem.
23. We have one of the highest rates of mental health issues here, compounded by decades of death and civil unrest. We do not have adequate funding to deal with this, despite repeated requests. Remembering atrocities here can still reduce even the mildly affected to angry tears
24. Agriculture, the transport of goods and services and the movement of workers across the border here is vital. It's also a continuous and daily happening. Brexit will adversely affect all of that in ways we cannot even envision yet. We feel Westminster is dismissive of this
25. NI has a rich and complicated history. We are not savages that need to be educated and 'put in our place'. The same goes for the Irish Republic and threats of starvation or invasion are unwelcome and foolish.
26. Perhaps before commenting on how we just need to do this or need to do that, please learn about what we went through. Don't dismiss our lived experiences as fake news. We cannot accurately predict how things will turn out but we'll remember how we're being left behind.
27. So ends this broadcast. I speak only from my own experience & of those around me. However, I'm sure there will be people from all sides here in NI that will not agree with some, most or all of what I've said. That's fine, but please just listen to their accounts & remember...
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