According to my friend Fr Peter Thompson, a Coleraine resident has written this for tourists and other visitors to our country, so that they may easily understand our politics here and in the South.
Ireland is an island to the west of Britain, but Northern Ireland is just off the mainland – not the Irish mainland, the British mainland.
The capital of Ireland is Dublin. It has a population of a million people, all of whom will be shopping in Newry this afternoon. They travel to Newry because it is in the North, which is not part of Ireland.
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. It has a population of half a million, half of whom have houses in Donegal. Donegal is in the north but not in the North. It is in the South.
There are two parliaments in Ireland. The Dublin parliament is called the Dáil, an Irish word meaning a place where banks receive taxpayers’ money. The one in Belfast is called Stormont, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning placebo, or deliberately ineffective drug. Their respective jurisdictions are defined by the border, an imaginary line on the map to show fuel launderers where to dump chemical waste.
Travel between the two states is complicated because Ireland is the only country in the world with two M1 motorways. The one in the North goes west to avoid the south and the one in the South goes north to avoid the price of drink.
We have two types of democracy in Ireland. Dublin democracy works by holding a referendum and then allowing the government to judge the result. If the government thinks the result is wrong, the referendum is held again. Twice in recent years the government decided the people’s choice was wrong and ordered a new referendum. Belfast democracy works differently. It has a parliament with no opposition, so the government is always right. This system generates envy in many world capitals, especially Dublin.
Ireland has three economies – northern, southern and black. Only the black economy is in the black. The other two are in the red.
All IRAs claim to be the real IRA but only one of them is the Real IRA. The North’s biggest industry is the production of IRAs. We now have the Provisional, Continuity and Real IRAs. The Real IRA is by far the most popular among young graffiti writers because it is the easiest to spell.