The idea that the singing of the anti-IRA song Zombie by The Cranberries is partitionist is not supported by the facts, Shane Coleman has said.
The song was written by the Limerick group in the aftermath of the Warrington bombing in England in which there was widespread revulsion, North and South, at the murder of two schoolboys by the IRA.
The song includes the lyrics, ‘But you see, it's not me/ It's not my family’ - which some have interpreted as Southern indifference to the suffering of Northern nationalists.
The song was sung with gusto on Saturday by Ireland rugby fans at the World Cup in France - much to the annoyance of some Twitter users.
“I’m not a fan of Zombie as a song, I do think it’s a little simplistic,” Shane told Newstalk Breakfast listeners.
“But I do not buy the idea that it’s partionist and here’s why; the assumption here is if you start arguing that this song is partionist and disrespectful to people in the North, you’re assuming that everybody in the North and every nationalist in the North supported the IRA’s campaign of violence."
Shane noted Sinn Féin never won a majority of the nationalist vote in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, as the majority were opposed to uniting Ireland through physical force.
“Sinn Féin got 10% of the vote in [the 1992] General Election, Gerry Adams lost his seat in 1992 and the SDLP won four seats, Sinn Féin won none,” he said.
“The SDLP vote… was two and a half times that of Sinn Féin.
“So, the idea that every nationalist in the North supported Sinn Féin, there was widespread rejection of the IRA’s campaign of violence by the nationalist community.
“So, the idea that this is a partionist song, I’m sorry the facts do not bear that out.”
'The idea that this is a partitionist song, the facts do not bear that out.' Shane Coleman on the controversy over the use of the song 'Zombie' after Ireland's victory over South Africa. @NTBreakfast pic.twitter.com/T5jyx7a8zm
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) September 25, 2023
Co-presenter Ciara Kelly said she has always found the word ‘partionist’ a curious term given that partition has been the reality of life in Ireland for over a century.
“Of course, the lived experiences of people in Northern Ireland was extremely difficult and, of course, it was extremely different to those who lived in the South at the time,” she said.
“'Partionist' always strikes me as a term that says, ‘You accept partition’ - well, I was born in 1971, partition had existed for generations at that stage and I was a kid.
“So, yes I did accept partition, I didn’t know of much else, to be honest.”
Ciara added that most people in the South had a very different experience of The Troubles and that affected how they viewed the conflict.
“We saw it on our news every night; the kneecappings, the punishment beatings, the bombs, all of that,” she said.
“It was frightening growing up in the South seeing it even at that remove.
“It’s a very different lived experience; it’s a diluted version of Northern Ireland, for sure… But it’s not like people down here weren’t affected or didn’t care or didn’t feel troubled by it.
“We had different lived experiences.”
Main image: Split of Shane Coleman and a Bobby Sands memorial.