Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Welcome to the Great Wee Azoo

Many years ago, somewhere between the Age of Internment and the Age of the Internet, Belfast City Councillor and Ulster Unionist, Jim Rogers was filmed by local TV at Belfast Zoo.

Mr Rogers was complaining - as he often does - about some crisis at the zoo. I can't actually remember what he was prattling about, although I think it may have had something to do with a proposal to close the zoo.

Red-faced and indignant, Mr Rogers protested against the proposal. He couldn't understand why anyone would want to take such action.

"This is a great wee azoo!" he exclaimed.

Such was his fury, that Mr Rogers repeated this phrase several times, turning a serious issue into one of weird comedy. What was this 'Azoo' he spoke of?

After some thought, I reckoned this 'Great Wee Azoo' must be something akin to 'Our Wee Country', 'The Province' or - and I shudder to echo the words - 'Norn Iron'. These phrases have often been uttered by Jim Rogers and his Unionist friends, primarily to legitimise the Northern Irish state as a glorious wonderland best viewed through Brookeborough's rose-tinted spectacles.

Some of these phrases are simply trite. 'Our Wee Country' is particularly sick-making. It's not unsurprising to find it used as the name of a Northern Ireland Football Club website. Others, such as 'The Province' are stupid and inaccurate. The province of Ulster has nine counties, six of which reside within the Northern Irish state. 'Northern Ireland' and 'Ulster' are not the same thing. But try telling that to the broadcast media - particularly the BBC.

So welcome, one and all to 'The Great Wee Azoo'. Please don't feed the animals and leave your rose-tinted spectacles at home.


Anonymous said...

Northern Ireland is a province of the United Kingdom. In the same way England and Scotland are Kingdoms and Wales is a principality. It's got nothing to do with the Irish province of Ulster.

The Great Wee Azoo said...

I'm afraid you are quite wrong.