March 01, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Tina Calder

Tina Calder is 37 and is Belfast. She is a journalist.

Brian John Spencer: "When did you first learn about the Easter Rising of 1916?" Tina Calder: 
"From my mother, she is very passionate about Irish history and culture."
BJS: "Do the men, the act or the stated ideals in the proclamation mean anything to you?" TC:
"I identified very quickly with Constance Markievicz, I was more interested in the historical facts surrounding her story.  I remember being interested by the fact that she was the only armed woman involved (or so I believe) and that she then became one of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position after her election to the British House of Commons - although she didn't take her seat and her subsequent work helping to form the first Dail Eireann where she became Minister for Labour from 1919–1922.  While the Easter Rising was "mentioned" in school, I was never really taught the history.  It was my mother who educated me."
BJS: "When did you first learn about the Battle of the Somme?" TC:
"Coming from a Protestant background the Battle of the Somme was something that was always spoken about in my family and community.  Family members were in the Orange Lodge and it seemed to be something that was "assumed" people knew and wasn't taught in school."
BJS: "Does this act, the men and their determination to show their loyalty to Britain mean anything to you?" TC:
"Because I don't identify with any religious or political culture in Northern Ireland I don't have any particular thoughts about it, other than it is history."
BJS: "As a (British/Irish/Northern Irish*) person, is the 1916 Rising important to you and your sense of identity and sense of belonging on this island?" TC:
"Once again because I don't identify with any religious or political culture this doesn't resonate with me."
BJS: "As a (British/Irish/Northern Irish*) person, is the Somme offensive important to you and your sense of identity and sense of belonging on this island?" TC:
"Same as above two answers."
BJS: "Will you be commemorating or celebrating either of these two events in April and July of this year respectively?" TC:
"No, I won't be celebrating or commemorating simply because neither event really means anything to me."

BJS: "Are you happy with the series of commemorative events put on by the Irish State? And what do you think of Arlene Foster's take on the events of Easter 1916 (she has refused to attend any commemorations)?" TC:
"I am neither British nor Irish. I am Northern Irish, therefore, what people do across Britain or Ireland - unless it involved Northern Ireland - I don't have an opinion on.  With regards to Arlene Foster, I believe in someone's human right to have their own religious and political beliefs.  My opinion on Mrs Foster's "take" on the events is completely irrelevant given that I believe in her absolute right to political and religious freedom, whether I agree with her political or religious beliefs."
BJS: "As a person on (or from) the island are you happy with the where we are now at in terms of culture, cosmopolitanism and broad-mindedness?" TC:
"I think the Northern Irish culture is a wonderful developing culture based on heritage from a number of sources and that's what makes us unique and I hope that some day I will be able to identify with my country the way other nations can.  I love that we are gradually becoming more and more cosmopolitan and that we are opening our doors to the world and making a huge impact on the world stage.  I am disappointed that the religious and political fanatics on both sides are hell-bent on ruining the huge potential of this country."
BJS: "What are your hopes for the future of this divided province and island?" TC:
"That the dinosaurs in politics and religious organisations die out and the Northern Ireland culture develops maturely with understanding and compassion for everyone who contributes to it."
BJS: "Please share any further thoughts these questions may have stimulated." TC:
"While Northern Ireland culture is seen as a green or orange conversation we will never have our own identity.  You can fight and argue and moan all you want about being British or Irish but the fact of the matter is, whether you wanted the border or not, Northern Ireland exists - it is a country of it's own with a unique set of people with a unique culture that is growing and growing everyday.  Until we accept that we don't have to conform to being Irish or British we will always be at war.  When we finally are at peace with our identity we will be at peace with ourselves and each other."
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