If you meet someone from Northern Ireland and ask where they come from be prepared for a range of answers depending on their political, cultural and religious background. They could be Irish, British, Northern Irish, from Ulster or even the Occupied Six Counties. It’s a bit of a minefield and kind of epitomises why there is so much division and disagreement on this little green patch of the earth we all call home. I’m confused and I’ve lived here all my life!
I’ve always plumped for Northern Irish unless I’m abroad when I say I’m Irish to avoid lengthy explanations as to the difference between one and the other. I’ve also always carried a British passport for no other reason than if I got into difficulties abroad, I reckoned it would be preferable. All this has changed, though, with the recent furore over the United Kingdom (including little old Northern Ireland) leaving the European Union. The dreaded Brexit.
I’d never really considered it before but I quite like the idea of being European. The concept of free travel between member states and ‘all being in this together.’ I voted for the U.K. to remain within the European Union and was quite surprised to realise the national vote went the other way, even though the Northern Irish population voted to remain. Now all this talk of hard borders, food shortages and jingoistic flag-waving have confirmed my initial thinking that remaining was the better option.
I’m no great political mind and ask me about the detail behind Brexit I’ll stare at you blankly and suggest you ask me a question on sport. But I’ve decided that next time my current British passport is up for renewal I’ll be applying for an Irish one. My dual nationality allows me to do this. It’s no great statement on my part, just reassurance that I’ll hold an official document confirming I’m a citizen of a European Union member.
From now on I’m a European.