Ireland’s rising tide of colour seized temporary control of Trinity’s GMB debating hall for the inaugural Udoma subcommittee geared at incubating ‘POC’ debaters. Not knowing where else to spend a squally February evening, this at the time rather intoxicated Burkean writer stumbled into the GMB to watch proceedings.
Named after the first African president of the Phil and subsequent Chief Justice of Uganda Egbert Udo Udoma (the name of the first Catholic Phil president has presumably been lost to history) the committee is the product of two years of rancour and internal agitation for more diverse speakers on debating rosters.
Hardly a cauldron of white supremacy on even their best days, though the odd Burkean writer has taken the plinth before, Trinity debating societies have been front and centre in the restructuring of Irish institutions to placate the top down imposed American Zeitgeist afflicting our society since the martyrdom of St Floyd of Minneapolis.
In 2020 this power struggle manifested itself in a very public rupture when racial agitants tore into their white allies still humouring the notion of colour blind debating. For our efforts The Burkean earned itself a play written in our honour at the college theatre by a jilted POC playwright but that’s an article for another day….
Part scholastic witch doctor, part anti-racist televangelist none other than Ebun Joseph held the podium for the a large chunk of the event as chair. With backing vocals provided by that much marginalised woman of colour Hazel Chu, the evening played host to a dozen or so POC voices and allies whinging about bigotry from the perch of Ireland’s most elite university.
With all orations coming back to race and variations of ‘kill whitey’ 15 minutes in I was regretting my selection for the evening. Making awkward eye contact with portraits of Anglo-Irish aristocrats decking the debating hall, I endured speeches on structural racism in an institution that would have barred me as an Irish Catholic for most of its history.
As far as I’m aware the door of the debating hall must have been a teleporter to Los Angeles or Atlanta so Americanised was the tone and content of speeches given.
So lacking in historical perspective, our Nigerian guests and Irish allies mistook the land they inhabited for the antebellum American South judging by their droning magniloquence. You would think the Nigerian speakers grew up under the shadow of cross burnings rather than Celtic Tiger Ireland so forced and Americaned their recollections were.
Momentarily, the parable of the Emperor’s new clothes came to mind before glancing at Dr Ebun Joseph’s corpulent black frame resulting in some temporary gagging on my part.
Mentally unplugging from proceedings halfway in certain questions plagued my mind.
As an Irish Catholic in Trinity did I constitute the ‘I’in the BIPOC acronym?
Should I be cheeky enough to ask Dr Ebun a question about colonialism as Gaeilge or committee members about the potential for specific quotas for Trinity’s long suffering incel community?
If the alleged system of white supremacy enabled Joseph and co, to rake in six figure salaries surely it’s doing a piss poor job?
On balance I opted against having played the fool at such left wing events before and not fancying my chances of making out of the building before being pounced on by POC voices.
The hall where orange supremacists formerly put their keisters under the Ascendancy now finds the rump of Ebun Joseph happy to harangue poor paddy for the timerity of even thinking of running his nation in his interests and image.
Not wanting to chance my arm flirting with some of the genuinely fine looking female white allies for drinks after (stranger things have happened) I made my leave quietly uttering an underbreath prayer to the departed souls of John Mitchel and Denis Kearney after the spectacle I’d witnessed.
Leaving the hall I thought of the centuries of Catholics ground into the dust to facilitate Trinity’s emergence, or a particular relative of mine who to her dying day remembered the sectarian slights experienced when on faculty with scorn.
I pondered if even Archbishop McQuaid had been too lenient on Trinners or if Charlie Haughey could have torched more than just British flags for VE day to spare us the continued subversion of the university.
If what I saw on Thursday evening was our future elites in top rhetorical form then the process of dislodging them the next two decades should be child’s play.
A half century of marching through the institutions has led directly into a struggle session with Dr Ebun and bollocking from other uppity Igbos. Our elite institutions could at least produce functional progressive characters (Mary Robinson, David Norris, Ivana Bacik) in the decades before but now it is transparently obvious that in the under 25s especially they are running on intellectual empty.
The spectacle of the Udoma committee heralds the point that we can at least stop treating a third level education in Ireland as denoting even marginal intelligence.
At the least the Prods in their day could string a few coherent sentences together.