Jude Collins

Friday, 15 June 2012

Assist the peace process: adopt a warship

OK, I’m assuming you weren’t listening to BBC Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh’s Nolan Show  this morning. Now answer me this: what do you think of if I mention ‘the old ship Caroline’? If you’re as old as me, you’ll have thought of the good ship Radio Caroline and listening to it, or maybe you’ll remember that slightly daft film made about it a few years ago. But that’s not the Caroline ship that was discussed this morning. Apparently somewhere in Belfast, there’s a disused British battleship called Caroline. It was built in Birkenhead, was involved in the Battle of Jutland where over 8,000 men lost their lives, and commentator Fionola Meredith wants to bring unionists and nationalists together by using public money to restore it.

Eh? A British battleship that helped kill people in the course of a futile imperial war will help bring people here together?  Pull the other one, Fionnola.

Besides,  wasn’t there a ship called the Titanic on which millions of public money have been sent? And more millions on refurbishing some boat or other that brought people to the Titanic? And now Fionnola wants us to spend money on a THIRD ship, because it’ll bring more tourists? Well I suppose it might work for tourists who confine their interests solely to things maritime. They’d have a whale of a time trekking from the Titanic building to the boat that brought passengers to it to the warship. On the other hand if their interests extend beyond boats and ships, they might think one ship was enough and doesn’t this town have anything else to see?

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the warship Caroline will bring lots of tourists. If so, hooray.  But the idea that we, who’ve slowly and painfully emerged from a period of bloody conflict, could be brought together by honouring the memory of a warship that helped in the mass slaughter that was the First World War,  kinda takes the breath away. In our discussion, Fionnola called for more imagination (I think she was talking about me). I’d say anyone who thinks  a British battleship will bring us all closer together needs to turn down the temperature on that over-heated imagination before they lose the run of themselves entirely.


  1. Blinding tribalism and laughable ignorance on your part, Jude. Why could the ship not be used to explore all angles on the history of WWI?
    Are you unaware of the fascinating Irish nationalist link to such vessels, and the build-up to WWI, through Erskine Childers?
    Perhaps you would benefit from a HMS Caroline history tour yourself.

  2. For God sake Jude 'get with' the new NI programme. Golfers with American accents, sunk. ships, oh, and now the unifying HMS Caroline. It's much better than trying to understand why our own San Andreas fault erupts periodically. Ignore the past and all will get better? Except the past is not in the past it's in the present too. Ships sunk or floating will not help us. What about a bit of whataboutary. I'm all for bringing back the HMS Maidstone and the HMS Argenta it will unite those who earned the overtime payments and those who were given free bed and board, well not free exactly it was at the expense of thir liberty. You should adopt Belfast Telegraph supplement history, gardens and roses,

  3. Perhaps Fionola is right. The Titanic Signature Project has brought Unionists and Nationalists together. Unfortunately they both seem equally appalled at the waste of money.

    How many questionable projects can tourism be used as a justification for?

  4. Superb blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

    I'm hoping to start my own blog soon but I'm a
    little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with
    a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid
    option? There are so many options out there that I'm totally confused .. Any ideas? Cheers!

    Also visit my web-site :: personal injury attorney