Saturday, 14 November 2009

Who do you think you are?

On Monday the Belfast Telegraph carried an article by Ed Curran on the ubsject of identity.  I took the opportunity to respond to this with an article entitled Who do you think you are? and this appeared in the Telegraph on Friday.  Unfortunately the newspaper changed the title to Simplistic labels ignore our multi-layered identities.

As the new title suggests the article explored the multi-layered or multi-faceted nature of identity and I explained that I have a national identity, a regional identity, a cultural or ethnic identity, a religious identity and a political identity, as well as others.  I do not have to choose to be either British, or an Ulsterman, or an Ulster-Scot or a unionist or a Protestant.  I can be all of these and more.  Many other people will have different combinations of identities and that is the reality and the complexity of identity.

At the end of the article I sent out this challenge:
Ed Curran is right ot highlight  the importance of identity and I believe that the cultural sector in Ulster, including our schools, our universities, our academics and our museums, have a key role to play in  helping us reach a deeper understanding of both our complexity and our diversity.


  1. Whilst seated on a flight home from the Canary Islands recently, I had a chat with the couple beside.

    The gentleman told me he was an Englishman and said "I assume you are an Irishman".

    This is a common assumption, as we all know. To be fair, he probably considered me British, too. I am staunchly British; though I'm loath to start an argument with strangers about my identity.

    I have corrected strangers before about not being Irish, but it just seems so inevitable.


  2. British isn't a nationality - it's more like a culture. There are Indian Brits, Polish Brits, English Brits, Scottish Brits, Irish Brits.... Perhaps Timothy might consider thinking of himself as an Irish Brit.

  3. Yes but British is never the last analysis of cultural identity. The English, Scots and Welsh mostly consider themselves those things rather than british. Because you live in the island of Ireland you are Irish by default, whether you consider yourself to share in it's cultural heratige. You can be more specific if you want and say Northern Irish, or you can still say British because you live in the British region of Ireland. Choices? Choices?