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White, orange and green: the action born from love

29 Agosto 2017 Nessun Commento
di Monica Lanzoni
The love for the people, for his history and his memory: if there were three words that could resume the witness of Francie Brolly, a member of Sinn Fein and former congressman in Stormont Assembly for Northern Ireland, they should be these three ones. Impossible to be indifferent to that intervention; the Tonalestate’s public have been drag up by the passion and the struggle for the good for the people of Ireland that Francie Brolly shares during his speech. He starts speaking in Gaelic, that is, he points out, the language of the Irish people, which they’re proud of, but “despite that, we speak English, and from my speech you’ll understand better why the Irish are so compassionate, generous, sociable and mad. I am one of them”.
Away from anger and resentment, that block every historic, social and memorial process, Francie remembers that “Ireland is a small country and its people have long memories, so our history over the past 200 years influences very powerfully what we are today”. The Irish people has a long history of suffering and struggle for the independence that for the youngest generation is still strongly linked to the memory of the Easter Rising, the revolt that in 1916 bring to the declaration of the Republic of Ireland and the division between the twenty-six counties on the south, the Eire, that became free and independent, and the six northern counties, the Ulster, who passed under the direct authority of the United Kingdom.
The 1916 Rising began with the reading of the Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland; a document deliberately inspired by the vision of Theodore Wolfe Tone, a Dublin Protestant that in 1798 upraised the first rebellion for a united Ireland. Wolfe Tone articulated his vision for Ireland in these words: “to break the connection with England, the never-failing source for all our political evils and to assert the independence of all my country – these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions and to substitute the common name of Irishman in the place of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter”.
Francie Brolly insists of mentioning the religion of Wolfe Tone, who he considers one of the fathers of Irish republicanism. His lecture is far from the traditional one who pretends the conflict in Northern Ireland a pure religious problem and an eternal opposition between Catholics and Protestants. The dream of a united Ireland meant to bear in mind all the identities, the Catholic as well as the Protestant and the Dissenter. The Irish flag, that Francie praised together with his wife Anne Brolly in their famous song “White, orange and green”, the same flag who was flying over the Post Office building in Easter 1916 isn’t a division sign, but a unit one: “the green for the native mainly Catholic nationalists and the white for peace between them and the mainly Protestant Unionists, symbolized by the orange”.
When the Ulster was separated from Eire, it was described as “a Protestant state for a Protestant people”, despite one third of the population were Catholics, Francie remembers. And him as “Catholic and ardent nationalist”, he was born in this reality. After 50 years of sufferance, the Catholic nationalist community organized and created the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. The march in January 1972 in Derry culminated in violence and in the killing of 14 civilians, after the intervention of the British army who started to shoot the people. Brolly, as many others Catholic present to the march, was arrested and interned almost two years in the British prison. He said: “it is understandable that many people, especially in the North of Ireland, can still be very angry”. “Everyone is fashioned in his way by his own history. My history, says Francie Brolly, is fashioned by the dream of Wolfe Tone of uniting us all in peace in the beautiful country that we all love, Protestants, Catholics and Dissenter”.

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