On a slightly less political note, I was struck today by the comments of Seamus Heaney, Ireland's renowned poet and Nobel Laureate, who has lent his voice to all those opposing the government's plan to drive a motorway through the ancient Hill of Tara. Heaney stated:
“I mean the traces on Tara are in the grass, are in the earth - they aren’t spectacular like temple ruins would be in the Parthenon in Greece but they are about origin, they’re about beginning, they’re about the mythological, spiritual source - a source and a guarantee of something old in the country and something that gives the country its distinctive spirit.”
“I think it literally desecrates an area - I mean the word means to de-sacralise and for centuries the Tara landscape and the Tara sites have been regarded as part of the sacred ground,” he said.
I know that for most Northern Unionists one of the things they admire most about the Irish Republic is its booming economy and entrepreneurial spirit - yet as a southerner living in the North I was also often questioned about the changes in values which have gone alongside this economic growth.
Preserving our shared environment strikes me as one of those things where almost all nationalists and unionists would agree - just like the way all parties, from SF to DUP agree on the need to keep nuclear power plants out of Ireland.
The environment is one of those issues which really does transcend political boundaries - both north/south and east/west. After all the history of Tara goes back through the millenniums, far far predating the modern differences between Ireland's unionist and nationalist traditions.
The whole debate about this proposed motorway strikes me as a false dichotomy between Ireland's past and future, as though the two cannot be reconciled. Supporters of the motorway paint their opponents as fuddy-duddy environmentalists, lost in the past. But why do we have to destroy the past to embrace the future? This makes no sense to me.
In my mind, I'm all for prosperity and progress and like most other southern unionists I take great pride in the progress of our Irish Republic in recent years, yet I cannot for the life of me fathom the logic of destroying an ancient part of our history and heritage just to knock five or ten minutes off of the commute to Dublin.
(this post, like all others on this blog, reflects the views of the author and not necessarily the views of other Reform members or of the Reform Movement as a whole - let us know your own views using the comments section!)