Northern Ireland Life and Culture

Northern Ireland Tourism

Living in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Culture

Influences: Religion, America and Europe

Religion. Northern Ireland is the most religious part of the UK with more people going regularly to church/chapel each Sunday than anywhere else. As a result of that we're only now starting to permit shops to open on Sundays and only for part of the day even then. If you're reading this, you're probably wondering why I've not written pages about the "religious conflict" that's been going on here for over 30 years (some would say 300 years). Well, that's because it's not a religious conflict. It's a political conflict between those that wish to remain part of the United Kingdom (ie British) and those that would rather be part of a United Ireland (ie Irish). Unfortunately, those that want to remain British are largely Protestant and those that would rather be Irish are largely Catholic and that alignment of politics and religion has resulted in the conflict being labelled a religious one when it never has been in reality.

Smallness. Partly because it's a small city the people are quite friendly and people would normally know their neighbours. I don't know if it's like that in the countryside in every country but here at least any news spreads like wildfire, even more so if it's actually factual news. You might also notice that people here can be quite nosey, particularly in the country.

American influences... Well everybody uses credit/debit cards these days: even my Mum! The TV is full of American programmes, even more so for the satellite channels though there are also foreign language channels from Europe on the satellite but then nobody watches them (well except for the x-rated ones from Scandinavia and the nude chat shows from Italy). Surprisingly perhaps we only got our first McDonalds a couple of years ago but the TV dinner has been well entrenched for years. We drive on the left but I figure that sooner or later Europe will enforce a switch which should be VERY interesting (they did it in Sweden about 20 or 30 years ago). Both our electricity (220V) and TV standard (PAL) are different so the Canadian across the road has a garage full of useless electrical stuff which she probably paid a fortune to transport here.

European influences... Mostly this relates to stuff that doesn't affect peoples' lives directly as it's at such a high level eg there's a lot of legislation relating to takeovers of European companies at the European level. We've not adopted the 'social chapter' yet but some bits of that creep in sometimes so that there's a maximum length of the working week now of 48 hours. There's also bits and pieces relating to human rights but really that doesn't affect normal people. Once you're in mainland Europe you don't need a passport to cross most of the borders but then the immigration people never really bothered much about passports anyway. You don't need to go through customs anymore when you're travelling between European countries which is quite handy. The French keep trying to impose maximum quotas on the American TV programmes but the UK is ignoring that as we'd rather have the American programmes because they're much better than the European (ie non-UK) ones and they do have the distinct advantage of being in the right language for us too. Consumer products tend to be produced on a European-wide basis these days but it's really only noticeable on the multi-lingual packaging and, of course, in the wider variety of food we've started to get lately.



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