Jude Collins

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Pass the passport, please...

So – what colour’s your passport? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Mine’s is red, which doesn’t necessarily tell you a lot. But big news this morning is, if I were a university-age student and had an Irish passport, there’s a good chance I’d get a place in a Scottish university without paying fees. Why? Because students from the EU get exemption from fees in Scotland.  Except, that is, they’re from England, Wales or Northern Ireland….Hold on. Shouldn’t that mean students from here, regardless of whether they carry a British passport or an Irish one, will have to cough up the fees? They kicked this one around on Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh  this morning for fifteen minutes at least and were as far ahead at the end as the start.

But as so often is the case, it’s not what’s happening that is revealing, it’s how people react to it. They had some people on air from my own alma mater, St Columb’s in Derry, and not surprisingly the students there are clutching their Irish passports and hoping they’ll be able to swing it. More interestingly, they talked to people  at Grosvenor High School in East Belfast , and they were talking in very similar terms : hoping  to God this thing comes off because it’ll make a huge financial difference.

I’ve been in Grosvenor High School a number of times over the years. I can’t speak about now but then it was an impressive place. Well-organised, friendly principal, hard-working staff.  In the entrance area, they had if I remember aright, signs in every language saying “Welcome to Grosvenor”. Did I say every? Um, not quite. No “Cead mile failte” in Irish. Not even a “Failte”. Tells you something, that, I think: the school was prepared to identify with any language in the world except  Irish. In short, it was making clear it had no Irish identity. Now their students are busy filling in forms to get Irish passports.

Sort of astonishing, isn’t it? Students from a unionist background applying for Irish passports so they can study in Scotland, a country that looks as though it just might go for independence and shatter the Union. We do indeed live in interesting times. 


  1. I expect this means about as much as St Columb's students declaring themselves UK citizens to get their student loans ie nothing.
    But it's allowed you to flaunt your sneering contempt for the unionist identity, and that's the main thing.

  2. Come on Jude, you're not that old and naive surely?

    People do what will benefit them, doesnt mean they're about to start voting SF or learning Irish, its simple Maths.

    Spend about a hundred quid on a bit of paper, or spend 30,000. Come on.

  3. Loyal to the half crown as opposed to the Crown perhaps? Some things never change.

  4. This isnt the story here as I would swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen if it made me 30000 better off. The real story is the usual reaction from our idiot MP's, step forward as always Gregory Campbell who never misses an opportunity to make himself look foolish. He is calling the Scottish parliament to give Northern Ireland some sort of special exemption to try and prevent good unionist boys and girls aquiring a ''foreign'' passport. The sooner those boundaries are changed and this dinosaur is voted out of one of his many jobs the better.

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