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Saturday 23 September 2023 Dublin: 14°C
Benji Mobeeky Why do we all still whisper the words “Protestant” and “Catholic”?
Spoken word artist Benji Mobeeky tells of his generation’s confusion about the peace the Good Friday Agreement purports to have brought to the island.

AS PART OF the government’s marking of the Good Friday Agreement, a cultural celebration was performed in the Abbey Theatre on Sunday, 1 April. 

Sharing Peace, Sharing Futures aimed to celebrate “a diverse set of voices and perspectives on this island”.

As part of the programme, two young people from the creative arts and writing organisation Fighting Words took to the podium to look to the future – and don’t just explore the Good Friday Agreement anniversary through the lens of the past. 

We re-publish, with permission, Benji Mobeeky’s contribution here, while Jenny Maguire’s speech can be found at this link.  

It’s scary thinking your opinion’s wrong or invalid,
Which is why I put my thoughts and feelings into this ballad,
Because it beats politicians pushing people with their word salad,
I’ll ad-mit I was nervous coming out tonight
But, see that’s it, Irish youth is in a global spotlight
Squander this, there’s artists in their thousands that might
Give up this, dream to innovate and highlight
The issues that, remain after you all agreed,
To sweep the past under the rug while watching people bleed.
And there’s an issue in this country that I really need
To address before I see more people plant this seed.

The Good Friday Agreement was signed to bring peace
To the people of our country and bring quiet to the streets.
It is celebrated globally, as it shows you can defeat
Any violence and conflict, when both sides meet.
I do not want to downplay the beauty of that day,
It makes me proud to be Irish, as I am in many ways.
But I believe the agreement may have led us astray
As there is rhetoric that takes all of that progress away.
What I mean to say, is that the agreement is null and void
If we are constantly told of what the Troubles destroyed.
We can learn from the past, but we are getting annoyed
Because it still feels like there’s narratives you cannot avoid.
No child or young person has natural hate,
Towards the other side of Ireland because that could be their mate.
But a seed is often planted by the older and opinionated
That grows into a form of this hereditary hatred.
If we stop the talk of Troubles, then Good Friday would be sacred,
As it marked the day that all of Irish hatred was castrated.

I hope you understand the confusion of my generation,
It’s a systemic issue that will prolong what we all want to disappear.
And the last thing I want tonight is to cause fear,
But there is something that my generation needs you to stop – applauding the peace but acknowledging the past.
How can we have both? I refuse to let it last,
Our people can’t love each other if we’re told our flags should be half-mast.

I wish that I could end with a charming nudge and a wink,
But let me end with a question that I hope makes you all think
If you have truly brought an end to the Irish conflict, why do we all still whisper the words “Protestant” and “Catholic”?

Benji Mobeeky is a rapper and spoken word artist from Greenisland who creates art that pushes for positive change among young people from all sides of the island of Ireland.

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