UlsterBorder Sixteen

The farmer buys diesel at a service station in #Pettigo which has petrol pumps in both euro and sterling. Ireland joined the euro as a common currency but the UK kept sterling and miles. When you cross the #Ulsterborder in recent years, the end of kilometres, the beginning of miles and a change in currency are the only obvious differences. #Brexit and new trade barriers highlight how the borders created in the aftermath of colonialism, the industrial revolution and national self-determination in the last century need to be reassessed in the 21st century. Is it possible to talk about the historical impact of plantations, British Imperialism, and national self-determination as history without recrimination? Do we Ulster folk understand the mix of Irish and British in our identities, economies and cultures before and after #Brexit?

The ties between the communities on these islands are closer than retro-nationalists would have us believe. The poet Nora Hughes, now living in London, echoes the cross-community hunger marches in Belfast in 1932 “before the start of the war/when people of the city/ left their safe havens to chant in unison the old/ droll song…Yes we have no bananas…” Nora’s poem acknowledges the bonds of hunger, slavery, war, and colonialism which reverberate to the Windward Islands and beyond. In Great Britain, “Black British” can be a non-binary plural identity for those, including the many Irish in England, who do not readily claim English identity. Are the labels Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, British, European or British-Irish or Irish-British equal in Ireland or is any dealings with the Brit label seen as a betrayal?

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