‘Man, know thyself’ was the advice Socrates gave us and that’s one of the great strengths we have, here in the north of Ireland. People in the south can go in for all that weasel talk and ach sure aren’t-you-great palaver, but here in the six northern counties, in Northern Ireland, let’s call it by its name, shall we, we call a spade a spade, NORTHERN IRELAND, the Province, Ulster, we are a straightforward, sturdy people, we stand on our own two feet and bow the knee to no one. And need I add? We can’t be bought.
Remember some years ago, all that stuff about the money from America, when these big Irish-American philanthropists were trying to make us foreswear our Britishness by dangling big grants in front of us? Hah. We were having none of it. We’d sooner eat grass, we told them, than dilute our British birthright by one iota…Well yes, things changed and true, we did weigh in behind the concept of US philanthropy and apply for and get the American money like everybody else. But we did it in a no-nonsense, ruggedly-independent way. You can take money from people and allow it to compromise you in a pathetic, I’m-a-beggar sort of way, or you can do it the Ulster way and take it without any sniveling or boot-licking. That was us – chins up, forever Ulster.
Which brings us to today. We’re told that the British Exchequer is going to release far less funds to us this time than it normally does. Normally, while of course maintaining our self-respect and dignity, we line up outside the British Exchequer each year for them to disgorge £10bn into our orange-lined bag. There are those – usually Catholic-school-educated – who would tell you that this is an undignified procedure, that having to go with even an orange-lined bag to Westminster year after year, getting a chunk of money to prop up our economy, that that’s undignified and pathetic, and that even you had to drop to a lower standard of living, it’d be balanced by the fact that you could stand on your own two feet and look at yourself in the mirror each morning without wanting to throw up with self-loathing. But as I say these are people who’ve been brain-washed by subversive Christian Brothers and child-abusing priests into thinking along those lines. The truth is, we collect that £10bn each year with a dignified smile and chins in the air. True, they don’t let us control our taxation and we have to go along with it if Britain decides that we should be protected from suicide bombers on buses by having very very expensive nuclear submarines in Scotland, and there are 5,000 British soldiers parked here on land that we could use for far better purposes, but sure, aren’t we supposed to be Ulster of the Welcomes? …That’s Ireland of the Welcomes, is it? OK, scratch that then, but you get the idea . We don’t mind British soldiers here, we don’t want to control taxation, and if Britain says we need nuclear weapons on subs to protect us on buses and in the underground and at airports, so be it.
No, I’ll tell you what’s undignified: ths plan to slash the money they give us to a measly 8.5bn. That’s an insult to all true independent-minded Ulstermen - and ladies, of course, too. It’s not the money that’s at stake; it’s our self-respect.