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N. Ireland / “An issue of identity – no matter what you answered you still got beaten up”

Ulster, Irish, British or European? In Mark Carruthers’s new book about identity in Northern Ireland, artists’ insights are richer than politicians  Read on …..’

As a young boy, the Belfast pianist Barry Douglas regularly came face to face with the bewildering issue of identity. He recalls instances in south Belfast of being confronted by local hoods. “They would say, ‘Are you Protestant?’ Or they’d say, ‘Are you Catholic?’ And no matter what you answered you still got beaten up.” That was until he learned judo, as he recounts in the BBC broadcaster Mark Carruthers’s book Alternative Ulsters: Conversations on Identity.

One of the indisputable differences between artists on different sides of the Border is about this issue. Generally writers, musicians and painters from the Republic can say, “I’m Irish,” and press on with their art. In the North it’s much more intricate, as Carruthers, who was born in Derry, explores in his series of fascinating interviews with well-known figures who have a Northern Ireland background, or who live or have lived in the place.

Read on …..’

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