Category: Archive

Echo Editorial: A sinkable idea

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland’s economy is a basket case, surviving only thanks to an elephantine annual subsidy from Britain, so the plans to develop industry in Belfast are badly needed, and most welcome.
But is linking it all to the Titanic a good idea? Will no one tell them that the most famous ship Belfast built sank on its maiden voyage? And that 1,523 people perished? And that this happened in 1912, rather a long time ago? Is no one embarrassed by this?
Unfortunately, it’s more serious than that. The whole idea of theming an area slated for development around the Titanic is rooted in the identity crisis of Irish unionists.
Like white South Africans, the North’s unionists have a largely unusable past. Their core cultural identity, from the “original sin” of the 17th century plantations (itself a polite word for stealing land from Catholics) right up to this week’s Orange marches, revolves around lording it over nationalists.
The idea behind the “Titanic Quarter” is to give the unionist community one thing from its past it can feel positive about in the future. But this could only work if unionists were actually ready to admit they treated their neighbors disgracefully in the past, and wanted to turn the page and start afresh.
Right now it serves merely to assist them in their state of denial.

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