The message on the Hill


If you live in the west, north and south parts of Belfast there is a good chance you viewed with your own eyes the ‘Eriu is our Queen’ message placed on the Black Mountain. When I seen it my immediate thought was ‘who the …. is Eriu’? Ancient history is not my strongest point but I’m sure the majority of West Belfastwere saying the same. A friend of mine sent a brief resume of good old Eriu – an interesting story and one I would like to investigate further. But the real message wasn’t about who is their Queen, but rather it is who is not their Queen. Fair enough. Each to their own.

The problem for me is that no matter what Protestants hold up as symbols of their identity, republicans seem to knee-jerk a negative reaction to that symbol – they don’t seem to have a ‘I couldn’t care less about it’ reaction. Some years ago I was down at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown to register for the coming term. In the main hall there was a visual presentation about tourism and the differing aspects of this country.

What caught my eye was a display that said ‘whether you like an Ulster Fry or a six-county special …….’.I couldn’t believe this attempt to remove another semantic reference to a cultural sign-post. Who thinks these things up? It’s sad really – but, understanding the psyche, not much of a shock.

Of course the ‘message on the hill’ provoked a reaction. Some people decided to remove this demonstration of republican cultural identity – some people may have been hurt and that is unfortunate. But is it a sign of things to come? Republican youths entered at least two Loyalist areas seeking to provoke trouble. Tensions have heightened. Is that what the peace process is about? Every-time we demonstrate our cultural identity they need to denounce it as not their identity? We already know that! But remember our identity hasn’t gone away you know!


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