I have some sympathy with Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. She admitted last week that she knew pretty much nothing about the place before she took the job.
The tribal nature of voting was just one of the things that was news to her. While surprising, at least she was honest.
The admission brought the standard level of opprobrium. How dare she take such a position! Why hadn’t she studied the mass of material that is out there, developing a key and learned understanding of this most complex puzzle?!
I am from Northern Ireland. I grew up in it, steeped in it, informed by the dark mood music of the Troubles and the ever-present tinnitus of hatred. And I struggle with some of the layers.
There is a new film drama coming soon about the potato famine. The famine started in 1845. To the Irish, it’s still a fresh, weeping sore.
The English refusal to help still grates. For others, the arrival of the Normans in 1169 still annoys.