What exactly does it mean to be ‘Northern Irish’?

New national identities are extremely rare – and this one has sparked myths

Northern glories: Europe’s Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate after winning the Ryder Cup in 2014. Photograph: Inpho/Cathal Noonan

Northern glories: Europe’s Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate after winning the Ryder Cup in 2014. Photograph: Inpho/Cathal Noonan

“Miracles have been happening in Northern Ireland and we have a new vision for Northern Ireland where people will put aside violence, where they will come together to build together one community out of our now divided community, where they will begin to see themselves not as Southern Irish people and not as British people, but as Northern Irish people with a complete new identity.”

As with much of the present day discussion on the Northern Irish national identity, its first mention by the Peace People in 1976 shows enthusiastic optimism, unfettered by the restrictions of evidence.

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