Name? Arlene Foster
Westphalian identity? Northern Irish, even though she would probably prefer “British”.
Why is she in the news? Because Mary Lou McDonald is in the news. Wait, who’s that? She is the leader of Sinn Féin, the political party that has just won the elections in the Republic of Ireland. So…why does Arlene care? Well, she’s had a rough year; Boris Johnson betrayed her on Brexit, and her fight to keep Northern Ireland from joining the Republic seems ever more futile. Mary Lou McDonald’s victory is only the latest setback for Arlene, with Sinn Féin likely to pursue unification. Oh, and Sinn Fein was the political arm of the IRA who bombed Arlene’s school bus when she was a child on her way to class.
Why do we care? Brexit was a terrible idea for many reasons. But the worst problem has always been the subsequent position of Northern Ireland. Whatever happens next, it will likely lead to a return of sectarian tensions and possibly even violence in Ulster.
Why should you care? The world talks a lot about identity politics nowadays. Arlene is at the forefront of one of the oldest and most violent identity conflicts in modern history, namely the one between Protestants versus Catholics. To quote the Old Testament, “Understand Northern Ireland, and Thou shalt understand Humanity”.
Who else cares? The Christian God, presumably.
Any further comments? Ok, sorry, we bore false witness against our neighbour; that quote above was made up. But the point stands.