Sinn Fein’s latest line on Unity – more signs of a gradualist approach

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Thanks to Seumus Milne, the most radical among Guardian leader writers for supplying a concise account of Sinn Fein’s Irish unity conference. Subscribing to the determinist school on unity, Milne seizes on the counterintuitive argument from economist Michael Burke that the economic case is more compelling than ever. He fairly adds Andy Pollak’s opinion that this is nonsense. ( extracts of the economic arguments below the fold). The SDLPs Conall supplies the inspirational, inclusive vision of Irish Unity in the British archipelago.

First the very issue of unity needs to be elevated above politics…Secondly we need to make the North work. Ignoring the opportunity of regional government is to ignore the common ground on which a new Ireland will be built….That means maximum devolution but also imaginative regional solutions to local problems.

This is a civilised vision and different at least in tone from Pat Doherty’s. “ an accommodation not a settlement.” It’s weakness is similar to the SNP’s dilemma in Scotland and one which I suspect Sinn Fein is fully aware of : if devolution works well eventually, why disturb it with the upheaval of a radical new settlement? The same applies to Mitchel Mc Laughlin’s “sustainable compromise through respectful dialogue, grounded in anti-sectarianism.” The gradualist and unstrident approach of contributors suggests some retreat from the implacable dogma of old, but where it leaves SF’s strategy isn’t clear. It begs the question: why should unionists engage in a Unity dialogue? Are Sinn Fein left with relying on the chancy predictions of the numbers game?” Michael Burke

Dependence and control by Britain have been disastrous for the Northern Ireland economy, where living standards were comparable to Britain’s at the time of partition and far higher than in the south. Now they are well below the British average and far less than in the south, where independence allowed trade diversification and economic development impossible under British rule. Even after the implosion of the speculative boom, median weekly earnings were still £532 in the south late last year, compared with £357 in the north and £397 in Britain.

Andy Pollak

If the South’s economic crisis has pushed the prospect of a united Ireland well into the future in the view of one of Ireland’s most far-sighted political leaders, for ordinary people it is now a nonsense for more practical reasons. A survey this summer by the Southern magazine Consumer Choice found that the cost of commonly used services was now on average 30% higher in Dublin than in Belfast.
Dublin people now pay 45% more for a mechanic; 33% more for a plumber; 29% more for a dentist; and 25% more for a driving instructor or a chiropractor. The gap between dental charges can be even more dramatic: Consumer Choice found price differences for a routine dental examination and polish between the two cities of up to 54%. Those of us who live and work between the two jurisdictions know that to go to the doctor in the South costs €50 just to walk into the surgery, whereas consultations are free in Northern Ireland.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    SFs incessant fixation on the border issue is both tedious and pointless. Yes it’s a legitimate aspiration but it doesn’t need to be an obsession.

    30 years of violence followed by a decade of ‘persausion’ have failed to move a UI a step further.

    What Republicans seem to forget is that despite six decades of grinding poverty, mass emigration, clerical abuse and corrupt politics, there was never any demand within the Republic for a return to the UK. Economic, religious and social issues simply didn’t matter where soverignty was concerned. The same applies to Unionism. Unionists have that name for a reason — they not only wish to maintain the union — they have no cultural attachment or allegiance to an Irish state. If decades of murder and propaganda failed to work, the sad fact for Republicanism is that no amount of sweet talk, outreach or patronising is going to work either.

    SF need to concentrate their efforts on gettings some votes in the ROI and dealing with issues that actually matter to their electorate rather than constantly flogging a dead horse.

  • Dublin voter

    I pretty much agree with all of the above, Gerry lvs.

    Not sure if this was picked up on in any of the earlier threads on this conference, but I was taken aback to see “Jarlath Burns, GAA” listed as one of the speakers. As a member of my local GAA club, I asked Croke Park for clarification. They told me that Mr Burns is not speaking on behalf of the GAA at the conference. So presumably he described himself as “GAA” or the organisers did.
    So, in case any other people were as annoyed as I was when they saw it, Jarlath Burns WAS NOT speaking on behalf of the GAA at the conference.

  • Chuck Loyola

    Brian,

    Where is the “British Archipelago”?

    I presume the sovereign Irish state is not included in it?

  • Garza

    Dublin voter I noticed that too.

    I’d like GAA to reach out to the unionist community. As well all know Carson was a hurling player. But I’m afraid the GAA is just too politised. Sports and politics, not a good mix imo.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Conall supplies the inspirational, inclusive vision of Irish Unity in the British archipelago”

    So much for Conall’s new politics. There’s barely a mention for Unionism beyond the familiar derogatory remarks. Perhaps he needs to pay more attention to Strand 3 of the 1998 Agreement and to that strand of Connollyism which helped feed the mob confrontation of the 1960s.

  • Ulidian

    Brian

    What’s “radical” about apologias for Stalinism?

  • Dublin voter

    “As well all know Carson was a hurling player.”

    I didn’t know that Garza. Do you know what club he played for or where I could get any more details on this?

  • Garza

    Trinity University I think in his younger days.

  • consul
  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin
  • http://roevalleysocialist.blogspot.com nineteensixtyseven

    [i]that strand of Connollyism which helped feed the mob confrontation of the 1960s.[/i]

    Would that be the one where the RUC broke ranks and attacked unarmed protesters? Or the one where off-duty policemen and assorted loyalists waited by a bridge to attack students with wood and nails?

  • Framer

    It was the Provo war that did for the NI economy but the notion that earnings in GB are over 25% higher in the south than in GB (M Burke above) is very hard to credit.

  • Greenflag

    If an Irish minority can live and work within the UK why can’t a British minority live and work within a UI ?

    It’s either of the above two alternatives or repartition .

    A UI will not be achieved by violence . It might be achievable by demographic changes over a longer period . Perhaps SF need to focus on the latter and incentivise ‘members’ to be more productive ;). After all as BW points out above ‘why should Unionists even engage in a ‘Unity’ dialogue.

    They won’t until they have to .As of now and for some time ahead they don’t have to. And they may never have to . Which for the current Government of ROI is a blessed relief .

    ‘I feel convinced that you’ll swamp us yet ‘ wrote William Marshall, Presbyterian Minister of Castlerock in 1933. Your people breed and ours don’t. Anyone who thinks we’ll be got in any other way is a fool ‘

    The good Reverend did not take account of the effect of differential emigration rates nor that 50 years later RC’s would adopt with alacrity almost the same ‘reproduction’ rates as ‘protestants ‘

    In 1936, 38% of under five year olds in NI were from ‘nationalist ‘ backgrounds .

    Horseman’s ‘Ulster’s doomed ‘ tends to back up the the Rev Marshall’s when he notes

    ‘For the purposes of births and fertility rates, Northern Ireland’s 26 District Councils can be roughly divided into three groups: those where the births are mainly to Protestant mothers, those where the births are mainly to Catholic mothers, and those that are more evenly balanced.

    In the first (majority Protestant) group are: Ards, Castlereagh, North Down, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Larne, Newtownabbey and Banbridge.

    The second category (majority Catholic) includes: Down, Cookstown, Magherafelt, Moyle, Dungannon, Newry and Mourne, Fermanagh, Limavady, Derry, Omagh and Strabane.

    The third group includes: Belfast, Lisburn, Antrim, Craigavon and Armagh.

    The inclusion of some of these districts in their categories may appear surprising to those who know the political breakdowns of the areas, but a predominance of one or other political community may mask a much more even balance at younger ages. In Antrim Borough, for example, the unionist majority at voting age masks a virtually 50/50 split between Catholics and Protestants amongst the children. In Lisburn, although nationalists make up barely a quarter of voters, their children make up over 41% of the total. In Craigavon where nationalists comprise under 40% of the total voters, Catholic children are in a majority, and in Armagh where the two political blocks are very close in size, Catholic children are, again, in the majority. Some districts that appear only weakly nationalist at voting level are strongly Catholic in the playgrounds: Fermanagh is 55% nationalist, but the kids are over 60% Catholic.’

    end of Horseman’s excerpt

    Differential emigration rates may be less likely to radically affect the demographic outcome in the next decade or two than they did in the 1930’s to 1980 period .

    However no matter which way the numbers are ‘finagled’ it seems very likely that the days of a simple ‘unionist’ majority are ending while at the same time the prospect of a ‘nationalist /republican ‘ significant voting majority are not yet on the horizon .

    Thus NI will continue in it’s present format continue to be stuck between two worlds -one fading and one still in gestation .

    The GFA for all it’s faults does take into account the demographic backdrop to the current uncertain situation as best it can .

  • http://www.organizedrage.com/ Mickhall

    framer

    You might be more wise to look at the fact it was the lack of balance in the north of Ireland economy which help start the Provos war. For is you do not take this on board there will end up being another round.

    If you look at the behaviour of the norths political elite today, like their predecessors in the late 1960s, whether catholic or protestant, they have their heads in the sand. The British government is no different either, they just want the whole problem of the ridiculous historical aberration which is NI to disappear.

  • Scaramoosh

    “It begs the question: why should unionists engage in a Unity dialogue?”

    Quite simply because of the “Unionist Paradox.”

    The 1969 Provisionals were very much a by-product of the N.Irish state,as are the modern day Sinn Fein.

    Whilst the N.Irish state continues to exist,Unionists,for their sins are going to have to share power with their sworn enemies in Sinn Fein.

    Unionists reason that this is a better solution than having to live under the “grey skies of the Irish Republic.”

    They kid themselves with the notion that Sinn Fein are upholding British rule.

    The feel that under the current solution their Britishness is being protected.

    They also live in fear of nonsensical notions, such as the Irish language being imposed on the land.

    In the eyes of many Unionists, Sinn Fein,and their policies, represent what a United Ireland would be like.

    They harbour the mistaken belief that a United Ireland will somehow be a reward to terrorism,and they believe that in a United Ireland Sinn Fein will somehow rise to power.

    The irony,of course, is that Sinn Fein are not representative of Southern Irish opinion. Indeed, in the main the leaders of the party,and many of their supporters have little in common with their southern brethren/brothers.

    If there was a United Ireland tomorrow;Sinn Fein would simply be cast off into the political wilderness. They might still be able to rely on the vote of their hardcore supporters in the North;but in the South they will simply become even more of an anachronism than they already are.

    The existence of state of N.Ireland is Sinn Fein’s only recruiting tool (in the same way that it was the IRAs). It also represents their only possible chance that they have of ever being in government.

    (Notions to the contrary are as deluded as the long held Provo belief that once the Brits were bombed out of Ireland;Micky and the boys on the Executive would take up their posts as the rightful government of Ireland.)

    Unionists need to learn to see a United Ireland as being something other than a Sinn Fein led agenda.

    They must learn to understand that when Pat Doherty speaks about an accommodation, the nature of such an accommodation will be nothing to do with him and his colleagues,who would represent nothing more than a minority concern in any new Ireland.

    Unionists need to lead from the front. They need to cast off notions of existential death and grey skies, and they need to call Sinn Fein’s bluff, through fostering a notion of unity, that is inclusive of their rights and aspirations and free from Sinn Fein’s dogma.

    That Sinn Fein dogma is allowed to dominate the unity debate,is because Unionists in the main are happier to adopt a head in the sand approach to what is an inevitable outcome. This suits both them and Sinn Fein, in that it locks in, for now,
    stasis.

    Unionists must understand that the Ireland of today is not the Ireland often/fifteen years ago.
    They should move beyond Sinn Fein and engage in a Unity dialogue with the Irish people as a whole.

  • Munsterview

    Any new meaningful politics on this Island North and South must start with taking power back from the proliferation of Quangos the appointed members of which are often better known for their financial contributions to and associations with the appointing political parties, rather than any obvious or apparent skills they bring in terms of experience or governance.

    Given the current sorry state of funding for communities North and South and the fact that they and their members are first to feel the sharp end of the stick in any cutbacks, and the fact that the effects of these swinging cuts are inflicted on Republican/Loyalist, Catholic/Protestant alike, there is an excellent opportunity for new structures and new politics.

    Is it not time that we looked at a community, regional and provincial structures as something that could be done in real politics and in real time. Where two or more adjoining communities sharing similar problems are striving for funding from an overbody, the impulse will be to concentrate on a common, co-operating approach rather than the current one dimensional ‘ours first’ divisive politics.

    Of course this presents an immediate problem for Sinn Fein, they will have to bite the bullet and admit that the regional government baby was thrown out with the O’Bradaigh bath water.!

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Greenflag: ‘If an Irish minority can live and work within the UK why can’t a British minority live and work within a UI ?’

    Let’s just have a quick look at what happened since partition.
    The Protestant population in the Republic fell from approx 10% to 3%.
    The Catholic population in the north increased from approx 30% to 46%.
    Despite the latter, there is zero possibility of a border poll resulting in even a close run for a UI. Someone posted a fairly recent poll on a Slugger thread last week indicating an 18% support for UI. Even if this is lets say 10 percentage points out, we’re still hopelessly short of a 50 + 1.

    What we can conclude is that a sizeable chunk of northern Catholics are and have been happy to remain within the UK, whilst most southern Protestants (for various reasons) have either left or been assimilated. Hardly a promising scenario for northern Unionists.

    Your question omits the fact that a ‘British minority within a UI’ would no longer be British, whereas northern nationalists are still Irish and appear reasonably content with their dual nationality.

    The remainder of your post I would broadly agree with.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    “Dependence and control by Britain have been disastrous for the Northern Ireland economy, where living standards were comparable to Britain’s at the time of partition and far higher than in the south. Now they are well below the British average and far less than in the south”

    Perhaps if the Republic of Ireland had endured almost 40 years of organised murder and crime their standard of living might be of a similar standard to Northern Ireland. It’s a bit of a joke to blame lower wage levels because we remained part of the UK. Blame the people who went out of their way to destroy town and city centres year after year after year.

    “What Republicans seem to forget is that despite six decades of grinding poverty, mass emigration, clerical abuse and corrupt politics, there was never any demand within the Republic for a return to the UK. Economic, religious and social issues simply didn’t matter where soverignty was concerned. The same applies to Unionism. Unionists have that name for a reason—they not only wish to maintain the union—they have no cultural attachment or allegiance to an Irish state.”

    Well said. I’d rather watch Coronation Street on my 30″ TV in Northern Ireland than on a 50″ in a United Ireland. A higher standard of living is not going to change Unionist minds on the issue.

    “If an Irish minority can live and work within the UK why can’t a British minority live and work within a UI ?”

    Those Irish people chose to move to the UK. If the day comes when Unionists choose to live in a United Ireland then I’m sure they will happily live and work there. It won’t happen though.

    “Horseman’s ‘Ulster’s doomed ’ tends to back up the the Rev Marshall’s when he notes ”

    Sorry, I can’t take your posts seriously when you quote a blog which claims there will be a nationalist majority in Northern Ireland in only 9 years. He’s got his sums all wrong…

  • http://threethousandversts.blogspot.com Chekov

    So much for Conall’s new politics. There’s barely a mention for Unionism beyond the familiar derogatory remarks. Perhaps he needs to pay more attention to Strand 3 of the 1998 Agreement and to that strand of Connollyism which helped feed the mob confrontation of the 1960s.

    In fairness, going again the prevailing message at such a conference and declaring the IRA’s ‘war’ ‘dirty and futile’ showed some backbone.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Scaramoosh: ‘In the eyes of many Unionists, Sinn Fein,and their policies, represent what a United Ireland would be like.’

    Nail on head. As a Unionist who lived through the ‘Troubles’ and watched SFs electoral rise and efficient propaganda machine, I have absolutely no doubt that SF have a long-term strategy encompassing a post-partition agenda. They have no intention of ‘being cast off into the political wilderness’ as you put it, and have no more respect for FF or FG than the DUP.

    Exactly what such a strategy may entail is open to conjecture, but a party who’s military wing had zero problem with murdering their own community might well consider taking up arms again in the future, ‘for the greater good.’ Equally the politics of destabilisation can work just as well within a shaky coalition govt as within a local assembly.
    Either way, anyone who thinks that SF intend to go off quietly into the night following a UI obviously haven’t been paying attention. Whatever your view of the party, they are ruthless, driven and happy to play a long game.

    As for the Unionist attitude, yes many do regard SF as being akin to what a UI might be like — an abhorrence of all things British and indeed European, an insular, leftist state trading on it’s past ‘freedom-fighting glories’, a place where the Irish language is pushed at every turn, where GAA is the only acceptable sport, where Orange parades are confined to wind swept beaches and where the very memory of Unionism is villified and spat upon.
    I want to stress that many of these fears are not necessarily my own (I have for instance zero interest in the OO) — but they are doubtless felt by many in the Unionist community.

    ”They should move beyond Sinn Fein and engage in a Unity dialogue with the Irish people as a whole.”

    One simple question — why? For a Unionist, engaging in a ‘unity dialogue’ is every bit as preposterous as southern nationalists engaging in a ‘unity dialogue’ to rejoin the UK.
    As Greenflag pointed out earlier, at some future stage, there may be no choice. But given the current province-wide support for a UI, it isn’t something that anyone reading this thread, or indeed their kids, will ever have cause to worry about.

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvscastro,

    ‘Your question omits the fact that a ‘British minority within a UI’ would no longer be British,’

    Why would’nt or could’nt they be ‘British’ in a UI ?

    ‘ whereas northern nationalists are still Irish and appear reasonably content with their dual nationality.’

    Exactly and why would/should ‘British unionists ‘ be any different ? Many already make use of Irish passports .

    There’s nothing wrong with being British is there ?

    Politically I would still prefer a fair ‘repartition’ of NI rather than a long ever more dispiriting downward cycle of ‘unionist’ malaise until such time as they are ‘dragooned’ into the Irish state against the wishes of their ‘tribe’. However it appears that at least politically that’s the path that ‘unionism ‘ has decided to take for the future .

  • Dublin voter

    Thanks all for those links to Carson’s hurling days. I wonder was he any good? And if alive today, would he choose to play for Antrim, Down or Dublin?

  • Greenflag

    stephen ferguson ,

    ‘Sorry, I can’t take your posts seriously when you quote a blog which claims there will be a nationalist majority in Northern Ireland in only 9 years.’

    Horseman uses official state (British) sources to back up his numbers . I stated that Horseman tends to back up the Rev Marshall’s viewpoint ( Ireland’s Holy Wars -Marcus Tanner pp 325-324 ) A read of Tanner might open your eyes a little bit with regard to the drop in the Protestant population in the south and west both prior to the establishment of the Free State in 1922 and after.

    ”Those Irish people chose to move to the UK.’

    I was referring to those Irish people i.e NI nationalists and republicans who did’nt move anywhere i.e those who are presently resident in Northern Ireland approx 48% of the NI population.

    ‘If the day comes when Unionists choose to live in a United Ireland then I’m sure they will happily live and work there. ‘

    I’m sure one third will , one third won’t be fussed and the other third will be pissed off so much they’ll bugger off to somewhere they can be even more pissed off than they presently are :(

    ‘It won’t happen though.’

    Whatever -que sera . But no point in losing any blood or sleep over either way .

  • Ulidian

    Greenflag

    what would these “official state sources” be? When I last checked the website, his “calculation” was laughable. It involved dubious assumptions about electoral turnout applied to selectively chosen results.

  • Munsterview

    Gerry

    On your statistics

    “Let’s just have a quick look at what happened since partition.
    The Protestant population in the Republic fell from approx 10% to 3%.
    The Catholic population in the north increased from approx 30% to 46%.”

    As a historian having studied specifically The History Of The Family for my degree course let me deal with this 10% to 3% reduction in by taking an area like Bandon and it’s environs as an example.

    In the first quarter two decades of the twentieth century as in the as in the last two of the previous one a substantial employment outlet for lower and middle class educated young people was in the Civil Service. Michael Collins one of the founders of the Irish State and Sam McGuire one of the leading figures of the early G.A.A., both of whom were fro this area and worked in England are prime examples of this.

    With the Encumbered Estates Act, The Windham Act and other such Acts effectively ending Landlordism, a whole infrastructure and positions ( vulgarly known now days as jobs ) surrounding the service of these estates also disappeared and this decline of a specific section of the protestant population had started and was ongoing well before the foundation of the Free State.

    This was a response to economic and social change no different to say Boston Scientific closing in Galway recently and costing not only core company jobs but dozens of others also in the support and supply infrastructures that were no longer needed. Of course it effected Protestants more but only because they were preferentially employed wherever possible in the first instance.

    The Civil Service and other British Empire Postings offered outward and upward mobility routinely availed of by those qualified to so do. After years of such Colonial Service and becoming encultured into a particular ethos, when it came to retirement or to a change of employment into civilian life, these people followed available jobs which, given their maturity and experience usually meant well paid positions back in England or in British Empire outposts.

    When these people fully retired they usually did so to specific retirement places like Eastbourne ( that is still a retirement town and one I have visited a few times) where they could continue culture and lifestyles with which they were familiar. Once there they often even brought elderly relatives, who were also at home in this culture, over from Ireland to look after them in their declining years as they did young poorer folk to give them an opportunity in life.

    This social phenomena of internal migration was a factor also for a significant number of Catholic/Nationalists who had spend so long in Empire Service and were so steeped in it’s ethos that they too stayed on in the U.K. being unable to face the fact that ‘Mamma Was Gone’ if they came home.

    Gerry, I do not discount your figures. However if a Catholic Socia/Economic class equivalent to that specific Protestant grouping is examined I would be very much surprised it somewhat around the same figures, if not greater, would not be thrown up. Significant factors such as outlined explaining some of the decline should be better known, but it would make for boring T.V. as most things to do with statistics are.

    How much more dramatic, if one has a particular agenda, to seize on a cluster of unfortunate killings at the end of a bitter war and use these to explain a protestant exodus that was already an established pattern for at least three previous three decades.

    Lies, Damm Lies and Statistics and emotive myths may be useful to prove a polemic point, even the devil may cite scripture to suite his own purpose. Real history and facts however are usually far more mundane and prosaic!

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvscastro,

    ‘an abhorrence of all things British and indeed European, an insular, leftist state trading on it’s past ‘freedom-fighting glories’, a place where the Irish language is pushed at every turn, where GAA is the only acceptable sport, where Orange parades are confined to wind swept beaches and where the very memory of Unionism is villified and spat upon. ‘

    Where is this place ? ROI is part of the EU and Eurozone . Our biggest trading partner remains the UK . half the population or more are regular followers of British soccer teams . Our young people still enlist /volunteer to join the British Army – We watch BBC TV as well as RTE . Soccer and Rugby are supported by half the population and many people have no problem enjoying the above and GAA games as well .

    Orange parades are already largely confined in NI to areas where they are particularly welcome.

    You may be mistaking perceptions of anti unionism for anti British -They are not the same thing although it’s understandable that unionists might not be aware of the difference as it’s seen through Irish eyes .

    I personally have no time for ‘unionism ‘ as a political ideology in this day and age as I see it as essentially a defeatist and backwards looking ‘faith’ even less amenablle to gradual reform and modernisation than ‘militant’ republicanism -sinn feinism .

    The latter have shown through their ‘southern ‘ experience and exposure 1922 to the present that they are capable of ‘evolving’ to more pragmatic politics . The fact they have not yet done so in Northern Ireland is just a reflection of that State’s inability in the past and still to an extent in the present to cope with the fact that almost half it’s population does not regard the rest of Ireland as a foreign country .

    ‘As Greenflag pointed out earlier, at some future stage, there may be no choice. But given the current province-wide support for a UI, it isn’t something that anyone reading this thread, or indeed their kids, will ever have cause to worry about.’

    What’s there to worry about ? As for future predictions who knows ? Given the presence of the current ‘uncertain ‘ political settlement , widespread economic malaise North, and South -and the likelihood of this power sharing experiment coming undone in the near future – I would not hatchet any counts just yet not until they chicken anyway;)

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Greenflag: ‘Why would’nt or could’nt they be ‘British’ in a UI ?’

    An immediate reason that springs to mind is that a UI would be by definition Irish and not British. In my post to scaramoosh I outlined some of the (largely justified) fears that Unionists would have in the context of a UI, whether SF influenced or not.
    Southern protestants have basically gone one of three ways since partition (emigration, assimilation or ‘keeping their head down’), none of which involved celebrating their ‘British-ness’ in a state which, whilst happy to import certain aspects of British culture, have historically had considerable antipathy to Britain in general.

    I’d agree with you that Unionism continues to display a malaise and general pessimism which largely belies their position.

    The facts are that despite NI being of no strategic interest, having no natural resources and costing an absolute fortune to maintain, Britain has not abandoned the Unionists and has continued to support NI despite considerable international pressure, domestic ambivalence and frequent hostility from the very community who wish to retain the link with Britain.

    The GFA guarantees NI to remain within the UK until a majority vote otherwise. The assembly allows for devolution whilst retaining a strong link to Westminster and NI security forces past and present are well catered for. There is no immediate or even short term danger to the union, yet the Unionist political strategy remains one of maintaining a constant state of anxiety.

    By contrast, SFs position is considerably less rosy. Following three decades of conflict, sacrifice and self-delusion, NI remains firmly within the UK. The PIRA armed struggle achieved nothing other than seats in Stormont and the GFA, which merely guarantees partition for the forseeable future. The expected electoral breakthrough in the south turned into an embaressment and the constant trickle of poison from the past (the disappeared, Adams family woes, informers, Dolores Price) should and I stress should, make for a thoroughly demoralising mix.

    SF can do little other than tinker with minor issues such as Irish language, historical enquiries and parading. Despite much bluster they have no power to deliver a UI and the border issue has effectively been put to bed (though like your own ‘repartition’ cause celebre, I’d very much like to cement that with a border poll).

    It has in the past been in the interests of both Unionism and Republicanism to stoke up the old sectarian flames, particularly in election run-ups. Both SF and the DUP appear incapable of engaging with ‘real issues’, preferring to bicker over culture and the border. Unionism in particular needs to lead from the front and avoid playing SFs constant games of agitation over minor issues. Given Unionism’s constitutional position, I wouldn’t have thought confidence should be all that difficult to come by, but Unionism never ceases to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, whilst Republicanism can polish the ugliest turd till it shines.

  • Greenflag

    ulidian,

    Among many others there are

    2008 Labour Force Survey Religion Report (Office of FM/DFM

    Equality Commission Report 2008

    Annual Report of Registrar General 2008

    I’m not stating that I agree with ALL his predictions nor that some doubt can be put on some of his assumptions . But back to the Rev Marshall ‘s time (1936) when 38% of under 5’s were nationalist to today 2010 when 53% or more of Under 5 ‘s are from nationalist background, and where ‘nationalists ‘ are a majority of the population in all age groups up to age 30 seems to me to be indicative of demographic upheaval in the making and it’s impact on local NI politics will be seen sooner or later and probably sooner than many expect .

  • BryanS

    To repeat a post of a few days ago the IRA violence has set back a UI for 50 years. Abhorence of their violence was accompanied by a rejection of their main aim – a united Ireland (and a workers republic although this aim seems to have disappeared by now)
    Sadly rational condideration of a UI is a non-starter by those who lived through the murder and bombings.

  • Marcionite

    Irish republicans delude themselves that unionists are just deluded Irishmen who need to be snapped out of their British hypnotic state. The fact of the matter is, there are 1 million British souls in Northern Ireland.

    They and their ancestors never partook in the modus vivendi of ‘Irish’ custom or life, much in the same way the white settlers of North America are/were not Native American Indians.

    Also, before the arrival of the British, Ireland was never a unitary state, it was a collection of minor fiefdoms and kingdoms, always at war with one another.

    Therefore, what is the logical argument for this ‘united Ireland’ ? It seems to be me, that the only argument is that we live on one small island.

    There are two sets of distinct nationalities who live on this island. The existance of a British state in the north east of the island is the logical expression of this fact.

    However, like all nations, there will be inevitably national minorities who happen to find themselves on the wrong side of the border. This is normal and happens in every nation on earth. The trouble with Northern Ireland however is that the following aspects has led to its destabilisation down the decades:

    1. The size of the minority was too big. Even at 30%, this was too big. There is a more than reasonable case to be made for repartition with relocation payments if need be. Such a scheme could be done by looking at each ward. The devils in the detail of course but its worth looking into all the same. Since the minority was significantly big, it never allowed the British majority to be secure enough to evolve normal left/right politics. Instead, their very existance as British became the main and only political plank and axis of political argument.

    2. Unionists stating that NI will remain in the UK as long as the majority want it. This in it self implies the union is predicated. Does this mean if a majority want a united Ireland, the 1million British of NI would be happy with that? If NI is an integral part of the UK, then why doesn’t Northumberland declare its existance is only predicated on a majority wanting it?

    3. The name of Northern Ireland implies that the region is some kind of isthmus, a lost cousin of the greater whole. The name of the British state should not have been connected to any Irish placename, real or imagined.

    4. Unionists should call for a border poll and blow SF out of the water. If the vote for a UI is 20% or less then it would prove beyond doubt that SDLP/SF have a mountain to climb within their ‘own community’ let alone persuade anyone else.

    In summary, if point 1 (repartition) is still mocked and ignored, then Unionism will always find itself walking a more precarious tightrope from now on. The fact is, it is morally wrong to have too large a minority within national borders when borders are drawn through no fault of anyone involved. The same argument applies to those natinalist areas near the border who feel strongly about a UI.

    If a plebiscite was held on this issue, the votes for a UI should be looked at on a ward by ward basis. Those wards with a 75% plus vote for a UI, should be handed over to the RoI if they are physically contiguous to wards that vote for a UI by say 60% plus. This would prevent patchwork quiltism and would permit the maximum territorial integrity of the new NI and Eire.

    As for West Belfast, one may be surprised. They may vote SF but when one waives the benefit books at them, how Irish would they be then?

    Its the economy, you eejit.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Greenflag: ‘Where is this place ? ROI is part of the EU and Eurozone…’

    If you re-read my original post, it was made in the context of a SF influenced / controlled UI. I’m well aware that my description does not wholly reflect the current/recent ROI, merely what Unionists might fear in a UI with undue SF influence, particularly given their past experience of militant Republicanism.

    ”I personally have no time for ‘unionism ’ as a political ideology in this day and age as I see it as essentially a defeatist and backwards looking ‘faith’..”

    I absolutely accept your right to that opinion, but indulge me for a moment as a moderate Unionist who has lived in NI throughout the ‘troubles’ and beyond.
    Whilst having zero interest in the OO, I also have zero interest in the GAA, the Irish language and the ROI media. I regard the 1916 rising, the 1798 rebellion and absolutely everything perpetrated by every paramilitary during the ‘troubles’ with hostility.

    I watch ‘British’ TV, I follow British and local (NI) politics, I prefer visiting London & Edinburgh to Dublin, I prefer to be part of a major economy than a highly unstable one, in short despite having relatives in Cavan and having travelled extensively in the ROI, I simply do not regard myself as an Irish citizen and never will. This is an experience common to most if not all Unionists and one which Republicanism continually fails to grasp. They somehow believe that Unionists are merely deluded Irishmen who can be coaxed out of their British mindset and nationality. They can’t.

    The sooner everyone here realises this, agrees to differ and gets on with everyday life, the better.

  • Marcionite

    I had to laugh at this, from Ogra SF, lowering car insurance indeed. Looks like some of our culchie sectarian muckrakers had a nasty shock when they got their licence and shopped around Admiral and Endsleigh for an insurance quote. Viva the Revolution, Down with Car Insurance

    http://www.anphoblacht.com/letters/2006-07-06


    Ógra Shinn Féin campaigns actively on and supports:

    • The reunification of our country

    • The creation and implementation of an All Ireland strategy on suicide prevention.

    Lowering car insurance

    • Dismantling the British war machine in Ireland.

    • The right for Irish citizens in the Six Counties to vote in Irish Presidential elections.

    • The abolition of student fees

    • Anti-imperialism and anti-globalisation

    • The creation of a new police service, not a cosmetically altered RUC.

  • Marcionite

    further to my ward-by-ward basis, this , albeit based on a sectarian headcount, provides the closes indication to a indication of how any such referendum may turn out

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/images/maps/map12.htm

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvscastro ,

    ‘An immediate reason that springs to mind is that a UI would be by definition Irish and not British.’

    That would depend on whatever settlement was reached. There is no reason why a ‘British’cultural and religious minority in the NE could not be recognised under our written Constitution and given their largely regional location on the island be granted ‘representation’ via the Senate . We all know that ‘protestant ‘ Ulster has it’s own unique history and mores so better to accomodate them in any prospective UI than to follow NI unionist example in 1920 by ‘pretending ‘ the others in that case Irish nationalists can be safely ignored .

    Your comments re Southern Unionists need updating , Again I refer you to Marcus Tanner’s excellent Ireland’s Holy Wars where his detailing of the numerical and social facts ‘drown ‘ out the myths of propagandistic fiction that we read too often on this site and others .

    ‘ Britain has not abandoned the Unionists and has continued to support NI despite considerable international pressure, domestic ambivalence and frequent hostility from the very community who wish to retain the link with Britain.’

    Nor would I ever expect Britain to ever renege on it’s obligation to those who wish to retain the link with the UK . It would be the first time ever that any modern democratic state ‘disowned’ or expelled a part of it’s jurisdiction against the wishes of a majority of local residents . However this obligation has a reverse side as has been enunciated in the GFA i.e if a ‘majority’ in NI were to prefer a UI then the UK will facilitate such a transition.

    ‘yet the Unionist political strategy remains one of maintaining a constant state of anxiety.’

    Indeed and that is one reason why I refer to ‘unionism ‘ above as a ‘defeatist and backwards’ looking ideology at least in respect of the view from this island . Since the establishment of the NI State ‘anxiety’ has been built in . The Rev Marshall’s comment in 1933 could be repeated by even more ‘unionists’ today as being still true .

    It’s a permanent ‘neurosis’ and one which not go away and because it is a neurosis it gives rise to all of the aberrant symptoms some of which you refer to above . Like doing nothing about high blood pressure will eventually lead to the demise of the patient -a permanent state of continuing or recurring ‘anxiety ‘ is neither healthy for a polity nor for it’s economy nor for ever finding practical solutions to problems which of necessity require the full cooperation and participation of all sections within a population .

    ‘Unionism in particular needs to lead from the front and avoid playing SFs constant games of agitation over minor issues.’

    I agree but I question whether it ever can . There is always the look over the right shoulder UUP to DUP and now DUP to TUV to see who is outflanking who . Who is more /most /least ‘unionist’.

    ‘ but Unionism never ceases to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, whilst Republicanism can polish the ugliest turd till it shines.’

    But only in Northern Ireland in it’s present format . SF’s turd does not shine in ROI at least for now and imo is unlikely to . Unionism from my perspective is a turd that stopped shining that is if it ever shone a long time ago.

    To be honest I can’t ever see ‘unionism’ thriving politically in any prospective UI . I don’t have the same ‘gloomy ‘ view re a British cultural and religious minority .

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Ógra Shinn Féin campaigns actively on and supports:

    • The reunification of our country

    Setting aside the debate of whether it was ever unified in the first place, everyone excepting yourselves seems happy with the principle of consent. The verdict of the electorate north and south not good enough for you?

    • The creation and implementation of an All Ireland strategy on suicide prevention.

    A good start might be the withdrawal of vigilante groups intent on brutalising members of their community without trial. Or is there no link between paramilitarism and suicide?

    • Lowering car insurance

    Like Marcionite said, this is a ROFL.

    • Dismantling the British war machine in Ireland.

    Funny the rest of us thought this had largely been done already. Which part of the remaining ‘war machine’ particularly infringes on your quality of life lads?

    • The right for Irish citizens in the Six Counties to vote in Irish Presidential elections.

    Fine by me. You can vote for the president of Belgium as well if you want.

    • The abolition of student fees

    Funded by cuts in which department exactly?

    • Anti-imperialism and anti-globalisation

    They’re big words — sure you know what they mean? Whatever, I kind of doubt the global imperialists are going to listen to ogra SF or even give a flying fuck who you are.

    • The creation of a new police service, not a cosmetically altered RUC.

    Funny most people, including all the main NI parties seem happy enough with what we’ve got. But hey why not stand for election next time round and soak up the support?

  • Marcionite

    It seems Mary Lou McDonald’s sister is a member of Eirigi

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Lou_McDonald

    It would be interesting to see what familial links SF have with dissidents. Even though the P+J will not be going to SF, all members of the Executive will be privy to sensitive policing information and strategy and intelligence, knowledge which Policy Board members are not privy too.

    Suzanne Breen, on Talkback (BBC Radio Ulster) said that there is no socialising between pro and anti agreement Republicans. Is she so sure of that?

    DUP – you’ve been well and truly had and taken up the garden path. I’d laugh if this wasn’t so serious

  • Alan N/Ards

    If a U.I. was to come about I believe republicans in N.I. would have very little say in how this new Ireland would be structured. I believe the parties in the south will bend over backwards to accomodate unionists. The last thing they want is a large rebellious grouping in this new Ireland.

    I believe that a stormont assembly will still be making decisions over how these “6 counties” are run whether or not it’s in a U.I.

    Republicans need to realise that they will have accept many unpalatable demands of unionists to persuade them into a U.I. Here are a few of mine.

    A new constitution.
    A new flag and anthem ( you will not not unite this new Ireland under the victors emblems)
    Devolution at Stormont.
    Joining the Commonwealth.
    New police service to be formed(20% places garuanteed for protestants. The same with the army.)
    Interference from foreign powers ie The vatican and USA to cease. Are republicans serious about a new beginning? If they are then start thing about what will make this new Ireland acceptable to their neighbours. And unionist politicians should start thinking about what would make N.I. acceptable to nationlists and catholics and tell the O.O. to get lost. They have had their day just like the R.C. church in the south.

  • Marcionite

    Sinn Fein glorificatin of Nazis

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3614257/There-are-real-Nazi-lovers-here-the-IRA.html

    In 2003, Mary Lou took part in a dedication ceremony to one Sean Russell, an IRA nazi sympathiser who died on a U Boat, on his way to Ireland where he intended to whip up a pro-Nazi uprising.

    Don’t let gassing millions of Jews or gypsies and the oppression of most of Europe stand in the way of a united Ireland eh Mr and Mrs Provo.

    UnionistsBe under no illusion, SF are an Irish version of the BNP but without the over racism but their hatred of all thing Protestant and British is kept under wraps 99.99% of the time. They’re all disfunctinal and evil. No normal person could be a member of that party.

    I’m performing research exposing SF for what they really are, behind the suits and the smile so to speak. To say Adams is a man of peace is like saying Admiral Doenitz and the Nazis were men of peace for signing the surrender papers, except in those days, Britain believed in defeating its enemies and the forces of evil, unlike now where it believes in inclusion.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Greenflag: ‘Your comments re Southern Unionists need updating’

    I’ll admit to not having read Tanner’s findings, but do they directly dispute the fact that the ROI protestant population fell from 10% to 3% post partition?

    I really can’t argue with your comments on Unionist malaise. What is needed is a shelving of the childish squabbles between DUP/UUP, who’s policies are virtually identical anyway and the formation of a joint pro GFA party capable of overshadowing SF and knocking Jim out of the park. Will it happen? I’m guessing no.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Alan N/Ards — I’m really not sure where to start or indeed what side of the political fence you’re coming from.

    Let’s take a few points: ‘Interference from foreign powers ie The vatican and USA to cease.’

    You’re suggesting that Ireland as a whole give up Roman Catholicism to persaude you into a UI? You’re joking right?

    ‘A new flag and anthem ( you will not not unite this new Ireland under the victors emblems)’

    Alan what do you suppose the gold/orange part of the tricolour represents? Why would something like ‘Ireland the Free’ be preferable to the Soldiers Song?

    ‘Devolution at Stormont’.

    A toothless local assembly with endless squabbles. Hold on we’ve got one of those already…

    ‘Joining the Commonwealth’

    A meaningless gesture which can be reversed after a few years.

    ‘New police service to be formed(20% places garuanteed for protestants. The same with the army.)’

    What would be the problem with as many or as few protestants joining up as wished to? Does the republic have a history of harassing protestants by the police and military?

    Bear in mind Alan that I’m a Unionist — not one of those demands, even if it were possible to implement them, would tempt me anywhere near a UI.

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvs castro ,

    ‘it was made in the context of a SF influenced / controlled UI. ‘

    That’s a context I don’t forsee probably even less likely than any UI by a long shot.

    ‘but indulge me for a moment as a moderate Unionist who has lived in NI throughout the ‘troubles’ and beyond.’

    I too have zero interest in the OO , and zero interest in any religion – I have some interest in the Irish language -I read and listen to ROI media , UK media , European and American media and even some African news media . I regard the 1916 Rising with a little more respect than I used to . I regard the 1798 Rebellion as being part of the long struggle for democracy everywhere and a reflection of the people’s hostility to despotic rule.

    ‘ everything perpetrated by every paramilitary during the ‘troubles’ with hostility.’

    Me too but I’m prepared to forgive ‘most ‘ of those who took up arms on both sides as I know that had I been in their boots at that time chances are I too would have become involved .
    That does not mean I am ‘indifferent ‘ to the victims on all sides .

    ‘I watch ‘British’ TV, I follow British and local (NI) politics, ‘

    Same here although probably not to the same extent as yourself . I prefer looking beyond these islands for a variety of reasons .

    ‘I prefer visiting London & Edinburgh to Dublin’

    I prefer Dublin but I enjoy visiting London but alas have yet to visit Edinburgh although I’ve heard it’s a city with a rich cultural and scientific past .

    ‘ I prefer to be part of a major economy than a highly unstable one’

    So do I .Which is why I believe the EU and the Eurozone are a better long term bet than the UK and sterling .

    ‘in short despite having relatives in Cavan and having travelled extensively in the ROI, I simply do not regard myself as an Irish citizen and never will.’

    Your prerogative and your choice and I would never attempt to persuade you otherwise.

    ‘ This is an experience common to most if not all Unionists and one which Republicanism continually fails to grasp. ‘

    Are you sure ? How much of the ‘unionist ‘ experience is engendered by their local political environment and conditioning and all of that ‘anxiety ‘ neurosis ? I think many of the more switched on ‘republicans ‘ would not fail to grasp what you are saying . Whether they choose to ignore it is one supposes their business ?

    ‘They somehow believe that Unionists are merely deluded Irishmen who can be coaxed out of their British mindset and nationality. They can’t.’

    I agree . Which is why I still believe that a fair repartition of NI administered by a neutral international organisation is the only way that both ‘sides’ can be who they want to be without fear of the ‘state’ about them collapsing, or being voted out of existence by a simple majority .

    The simple majority did not work for Unionism in the past -Why else this past 40 years of uncertainty ?

    Best to end the ‘uncertainty ‘ by disestablishment of the current NI state format .

  • Marcionite

    Gerry Lvs Castro Jim McAlister does not advocate returngin to the past. Doesn’t he say he wants a normal democracy here, governed by people who at the very least, beleive that murdering civilians and policemen was and is inhumane and wrong?

    I’m just wondering why you want him knocked out of the park so to speak?

    Wake up, if you dont mind me saying, SF have not had a road to Damascus conversion from violence. THEY STILL THINK IT WAS RIGHT!!!!

    or have you and most unionists been punched drunk into believing them?

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Marcionite —

    Let’s have a quick resume: PIRA have effectively disappeared, decommissioning was carried out and de facto completed (symbolically a very bitter pill for the RM), SF have accepted the principle of consent and the legitimacy of the PSNI (again two very bitter pills). SF whilst retaining their UI aspirations, have decided to follow the path of politics and that’s blindingly obvious.

    If they made a statement to the effect that the ‘armed conflict’ was wrong, they bitterly regret it and they’re sorry for all the suffering they caused, would you be happy? How would you know if they were lying? Actions speak louder than words — the actions are detailed above.

    Fact — SF got 21% of the vote last time out — that may increase next time. Are you going to deny almost a quarter of the electorate political representation because their party won’t jump through yet another hoop?

    Let’s not equivocate — I lived through the troubles — all of it. I have zero interest in a UI — I do however have an interest in preserving the union and making NI a better place for everyone.
    What Jim is doing is splitting the Unionist vote, endangering the assembly and inviting joint authority. Jim will go the way of Bob McCartney in a year or two. The damage to Unionism he may create will not go away.

    It’s the TUV who need to wake up, not the rest of us.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Greenflag — the idea of repartition is pretty much a non-starter for everyone. If Republicans all lived in a neat line along the border then certainly, but every town and village in NI has a split population of one size or another. How would your repartition deal with Dunloy, the Waterside or Short Strand to name just a few?

  • Alias

    The leaders of the catholic tribe should come to Dublin and spout the same shite here that they spout to the muppets that vote for them in NI or for a London audience. The arrogance of these state-subsidised tossers in thinking that they can decide what sort of the State that the Irish nation can have is breathtaking. As far as they are concerned, it is the touts and tossers in another sovereign jurisdiction who are to decide Ireland’s future and the only role for the Irish state is to agree to their wish-list and to pay for it! In their odd little noggins, they think it even remotely likely that the Irish nation will follow their dismal example and renounce its right to self-determination and a nation-state simply so that the catholic tribe can serve its own selfish interests by positioning itself within a bigger majority of a bigger dysfunctional bi-national state rather than remaining among the minority of a smaller dysfunctional bi-national state. These tossers can’t even make the GFA work in their pampered little statelet yet they run around like missionaries assuring us that it is the blueprint for Nirvana! Here’s a clue, kiddies: make it work, and then give the sermons. You’ll sound slightly less laughable then – probably. Of course, they know that it isn’t a document that is fit to wrap rotten fish with but they don’t care just as long as they can get something out of it for themselves.

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvscastro ,

    ‘I’ll admit to not having read Tanner’s findings, but do they directly dispute the fact that the ROI protestant population fell from 10% to 3% post partition?’

    Tanner’s book is Ireland 1500 AD-2000 AD . He does not refute anything . Chap 14 ‘A tendency towards defeatism ‘ gives you most of the information on the decline .

    Tanner is English btw and has also written on Croatia and the Balkans . He was formerly foreign editor of the Independent (London )

    The book is a good ‘antidote’ to those who choose to believe some of the cherished myths and claims made by both sides of the ‘divide ‘ i.e Unionist and Nationalist in Ireland over five centuries.

    I don’t often recommend reading re NI or Ireland but Tanner’s book is well worth a read from cover to cover . I certainly learnt a lot from it that I never came across before in traditional learning circles .

    I’d recommend it highly to any Unionist or NI Nationalist who may be interested in the longer view and bigger picture of relations between these islands .

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvscatro,

    ‘How would your repartition deal with Dunloy, the Waterside or Short Strand to name just a few?’

    I’d leave the detail up to the neutral international agency . Obviously no repartition is going to result in a 100% unionist state on one side of a new border and 100% nationalist on the other . In previous posts a generalised East and West of the Bann was seen as being a probable new line also with South Down and most of Armagh . West Belfast and parts of North and South Belfast would need to be connected to the Republic via ‘corridor’s etc .

    I’d leave it to the cartographers if I were a Unionist . They are more likely to do a better job than those who carved out the first partition in 1920 .

    I don’t see any reason as to why both states could not continue to co exist peacefully as members of the EU and accord their respective ‘new’ nationalist and unionist ‘minorities’ the same rights as the majority citizenry .

  • Greenflag

    ‘the idea of repartition is pretty much a non-starter for everyone.’

    It is now . But with ongoing demographic change and continuing political failure in NI it will become a starter . But probably only when the writing is not just on the wall but fenced into the ground ;(

  • Marcionite

    Castro

    does it not concern you that SF think the Ennisklillen bombing and other killings were justified? They only decommissioned out of tactical reasons. They have merely GIVEN UP violence, as opposed to DENOUNCING it. what if SF deem it fit to use violence again? PIRA may be gone ( if u believe that) but there’s CIRA/RIRA to coopt if needs be.

    Is this the calibre of person you are happy to be governed by? Jesus, I can’t believe Im hearing this. As for Jim, he’s only splitting the vote if you don’t vote for him.

    As for your SF getting 21% of the vote, if a party died not adhere to basic principles of decency and respect for human life past and present, then they morally negate their mandate.

    As for TUV, shouldn’t unionists who dislike being ruled by murderers not have someone to vote for?

    If you want NI to be normal, you need to set the moral bar at the same level as GB otherwise we r setting ourselves the standards of Zimbabwe.

    There are 3 ways of saving the union:
    Repartition Repartition Repartition

  • Marcionite

    Am I the only nationalist who abhors being ruled by murderers or is this basic aspect of morality a monopoly of Unionists? It’s seriously making me reconsider my political thinking if my ‘fellow Irishmen’ have such a blasé attitude towards this.

  • BryanS

    Marc
    Am i missing some irony here? You cannot be serious about repartition. The Union does not need to be saved. SF/IRA assured that the Union will be hear longer than any of us will live.
    Repartition is logistically and practically impossible. let us all move on and see how we are going to survive in both jurisdictions in the next 10 years.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Gerry lvs castro

    I’m on the unionist side of the fence and I was speaking in the hypothetical sense. Whatever claims republicans make about the tricolour I for one see it as the provos flag. I can remember the funerals of republicans and the coffin draped by the flag. Far to many decent people died for this republican flag ever to be used as U.I. flag(if it ever happens) and it will never unite anybody except republicans. A friend of once described it as the green, white and “bloodstained orange” tricolour. I quite like Irelands call. If I was a republican/nationlist I would find it a more unifying anthem than the horrendus Soldiers song.

    Where did I say that Ireland should give up the R.C. church? I simply stated that the Vatican should not be interfering in the affairs of an independant state. I personally believe that irish catholics should have their own church. I’m not saying that they should become protestants but irish catholics should be in charge of irish catholics not some foreign bishop. By the way i’m a irish presbyterian not a british presbyterian.

    Although I am a unionist I am not afraid of debate, and I think republicans need to step up to the plate and tell everyone, including their own supporters how they are going to persuade unionists to give up membership of the UK. What are they prepared to concede. For at the end of the of the day, as Hillsborough proved recently there has to be compromise on all sides here to make progress. Why is it that only the shinners and the Social Demrocratic(and non labour)Party are the only parties who talk about a U.I? Why do the parties in the south seldom mention it?

  • consul

    Am I the only nationalist…

    You’re not seriously still pretending to be a nationalist are you? Bud you’re such a joker. ;-)

  • BryanS

    Alan
    Why do the parties in the south seldom mention it?

    the very thought of a UI would scare them shitless.
    How could they cope with 350K SF voters…. a few thousand orangemen and half a million hard nosed prod bigots.

  • Greenflag

    Bryans,

    ‘Repartition is logistically and practically impossible.’

    Why ? Because you think so ?. It was possible in 1920 and it’s no less possible today . Any qualified cartographer with the input of up to date statistical data could carve out a smaller predominantly ‘unionist ‘ NI within a month if that .

    All that’s missing is the political will. Both the DUP and SF would prefer to hold their followers and supporters in thrall to both sets of dreams .

    For now the voters will go along with it for fear of something worse .

  • BryanS

    Greenhorn
    I had you figured as a real person but repartition?
    You cannot be serious.
    Just get this into your head /… a UI has no chance in any of our lifetimes.
    If you think repartition every 10 years will eventually push all unionists into the sea… forget it.
    you should get out more.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Marcionite: ‘If you want NI to be normal, you need to set the moral bar at the same level as GB otherwise we r setting ourselves the standards of Zimbabwe.’

    Interesting thought — but did Zimbabwe recently participate in an illegal invasion of Iraq, resulting in thousands of innocent deaths? Or how about the ROI where both the main parties are direct descendants of terrorism? Should we be speaking to Nelson Mandela or any Israeli or Palestinian leader?

    Marc there isn’t a single country on the planet that doesn’t have ‘murderers’ or their direct descendants in power. SF have jumped through numerous hoops, far more than anyone might have expected — apparently your last/latest one is that they repent publicly for their past actions. As I stated previously, if they did so, would you believe them?

    Assuming you are serious about repartition, how exactly would that work? Giving bits of territory away to a foreign jurisdiction, making NI an even smaller entity, heightening sectarian tensions amongst those remaining — how would that improve the situation?

    I don’t like SF, but I don’t have to in order to respect their electoral mandate. Do you seriously think that if SF are required to make up a future coalition govt in the ROI that FF/FG will turn them away? Not everything in political life is as cut and dried and idealistic as you might like it to be. Your choice is clear — share power with SF and fight Unionism’s corner, or have the entire situation taken out of your hands and shout as loudly as you can about joint authority while nobody listens.

    Marc the TUV are a dead-end party — they even had their ‘public meeting’ in Albertbridge Orange Hall FFS. Who were they expecting to attend? Republicans — no. Nationalists — no. Moderate Unionists such as myself who have never set foot in an Orange hall and have no wish to — no. Inclusive? I don’t think so, otherwise you’d have booked a hotel or other neutral venue.

    Whatever way you cut it — the TUV have no future. Split the Unionist vote and the assembly almost certainly falls — result — joint authority. Become the largest Unionist party (you wish) and an assembly can’t be formed as you won’t sit with SF and the SDLP will walk out. Result — joint authority. Perhaps you can tell me different.

    ‘Jesus, I can’t believe Im hearing this.’

    Well at least you can’t be accused of trying to attract the bible belters with a turn of phrase like that…

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Alan: ‘Whatever claims republicans make about the tricolour I for one see it as the provos flag.’

    The provos may have appropriated it in the same way loyalist paramilitaries appropriated the red hand flag, but the tricolour is flown in the republic with relevance to the provos — it is the national flag.

    ‘I simply stated that the Vatican should not be interfering in the affairs of an independant state. I personally believe that irish catholics should have their own church.’

    Your personal beliefs on this issue are (no offence) irrelevant. It’s entirely up to the Irish govt and the Irish church to decide what role if any the Vatican plays. If a devestating child abuse scandal can’t shift this mindset, I rather doubt the requests/demands of a few northern Unionists will do so.

    Your position is naive. Most Unionists would not accept a UI any more than most southern Nationalists would accept a return to the UK. A few cosmetic changes over flags and anthems would be an irrelevancy.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Typo above — should read: the tricolour ISN’T flown in the republic with relevance to the provos

  • Munsterview

    Gerry Lvs castro Feb 23, 2010 @ 02:11PM

    Let’s just have a quick look at what happened since partition.
    The Protestant population in the Republic fell from approx 10% to 3%.
    The Catholic population in the north increased from approx 30% to 46%.

    thirty-four comments back I gave a historical context and circumstances for your figures, you seemed to have ignored the points raised, as indeed you have every right to do, may I hasten to add. However it makes meaningful exchanges impossible if real facts of history is not addressed.

    Marcionite……. in recent days you made comments re Dev claiming that the Dail was a Catholic Parliament for a catholic people or words to that effect. As I said it was a new one on me and that is why I asked you for cited references so I could look it up in context. No reply so far.

    It is cold, very, very cold on the Munster Hills to-night, snow and frost etc so no cold shoulders please, things are bad enough outside!

  • Alan N/Ards

    Gerry

    No offence taken. As I said before I was speaking in the hypothetical sense and I am not in favour of a U.I. What I was trying to suggest was that unionists will not roll over and accept any (hypothetical) settlement if they happen to be out voted on a border poll in 30/40 years time.

    You are absolutey right about cosmetic changes. I agreee with you wholeheartily on this issue. I do not want a U.I. Full Stop. I was really trying to tease out the United Irelanders on this blog on what they would personally be prepared to concede to unionists for a U.I. Do they want a shared society, were everyones cultures and traditions will be cherished and accepted as equal(they have accused unionists of not doing this). Or is it going to be, we have won this war of independance so lie down orangie and accept your fate.

    I heard part of a debate tonight on Radio Ulster between Trevor Ringland and Tim Pat Coogan. Coogan wants the IRFU to revert back to playing only the Soldiers Song at internationals as he feels that this will inspire the players a lot better than Irelands call. He said that this was the anthem of the nation. There was me thinking that this was a island of Ireland team in which all traditions were equal. I personally can’t wait until they stop playing the Soldiers song at home internationals in Dublin as they don’t play it at “home” internationals in Belfast.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    “Greenflag—the idea of repartition is pretty much a non-starter for everyone. If Republicans all lived in a neat line along the border then certainly, but every town and village in NI has a split population of one size or another. How would your repartition deal with Dunloy, the Waterside or Short Strand to name just a few?”

    Posted by Gerry Lvs castro on Feb 23, 2010 @ 05:59 PM

    A few months ago I took that orange/green electoral map and the results from the latest council elections, ward by ward, and worked out that roughly two-thirds of green/catholic/nationalist/republican voters (sweeping generalistaion, I know) in all of Northern Ireland reside in border areas. As some of these areas have a high ‘green’ density this two-thirds could be transferred to the Republic side of the border with minimal Unionists left on the ‘wrong’ side. I’ll see if I can find the numbers and maps from when I done it. I might have them saved.

    BTW, I’d much prefer the ‘Irish’ citizens in NI worked to improve NI for everyone in the country but I consider repartition an idea that should be discussed in more detail as a future Plan B if things go wrong.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Munsterview — my figures were given in the context of how Unionists generally regard the experience of southern Protestants since partition.
    There were myriad reasons for the disastrous fall in numbers — loss of jobs, cultural alienation, ne tempre decree, intimidation, moves to overseas universities amongst others. Whilst I appreciate your analysis, my original comment was framed in the context of general Unionist perception — the figures cannot be disputed — the reasons they occurred are complex and debateable, but give little comfort to any Unionist contemplating a UI.

    Alan: ‘What I was trying to suggest was that unionists will not roll over and accept any (hypothetical) settlement if they happen to be out voted on a border poll in 30/40 years time.’

    In such a scenario, Unionism would be in no position to make demands of such a nature. They would have a choice of being assimilated into a UI or emigrating. I know which I would choose, but it’s not a situation I expect to see in my lifetime.

    Stephen: I’m somewhat bemused by the constant referrals on Slugger to repartition as if it were some sort of viable long-term solution.

    From a Unionist viewpoint, it would entail losing a considerable portion of NI and would inevitably mean forcing many thousands of Unionists into the republic. From a Nationalist standpoint, it falls well short of any UI aspirations and leaves the remaining Nationalist/Republican population isolated and probably under represented politically in the ‘new’ NI.

    Besides this, surely the whole point of the power-sharing assembly is to run NI for the benefit of all communities, until such time as a majority vote for a UI.

  • Garza

    Also repartition will only see a return to violence by republican groups who see repartition as a defeat and want to “liberate” the whole island.

    It will solve f**k all.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    Gerry Lvs Castro,

    My preferred situation is for both communities to work together and improve Stormont and the country for everyone.

    However, there is no harm in discussing alternatives – especially an alternative which has some (although limited) support from both traditions. Surely something that a staunch Republican and a staunch Loyalist might agree on is worth having a chat about?

    Do you agree if the border had been drawn differently in 1920 (closer to Belfast), therefore leaving only 10%/15% of the population as Nationalists ‘The Troubles’ could have been avoided?

  • Greenflag

    Bryans,

    ‘Just get this into your head /… a UI has no chance in any of our lifetimes.’

    They said the same about a united Germany – The Third Reich was to last a 1000 years? The Soviet Union would lead to world communism ? Yugoslavia was forever as was Czechoslovakia . Events happen and when the tipping point arrives political change can be faster than what the ‘conventional wisdom’ had previously thought.

    If you are in the 70 plus age bracket you may have a point. But if you are 40 or younger I would not be as certain of the non arrival of a UI.

    ‘If you think repartition every 10 years will eventually push all unionists into the sea… forget it.’

    Why would ‘repartition’ be necessary every 10 years ? The last partition was in 1920 which is 90 years ago . Given that the population ratio was 65 /35 in NI in 1920, and given that in a smaller NI State post repartition the ratio of Unionists to Nationalists would be at least 85/15 and probably closer to 90/10 why would any further repartitions be necessary ?

  • BryanS

    Green
    ‘the last repartition’ You should say the ONLY partition. A united Ireland would be a much more sensible idea than a second repartition. Unfortunately the provos have ensured that it has no chance of happening in our lifetime. And no, I am not 70+!

  • Garza

    Not all nationalists are republican card carrying, tricolour waving, politics loving people.

    There is a good size of nationalists who just wanted equal rights – fair enough, but who really don’t give the a damn about the border. They see it as a very porous border that doesn’t stop them from being Irish. I call them pragmatic nationalists. Nationalists who won’t vote for a UI when life is good.

    As Rome found out peace and stablity favours the status quo.

  • PaddyReilly

    How could they cope with 350K SF voters…. a few thousand orangemen and half a million hard nosed prod bigots.

    Last election

    Sinn Fein 126,184
    DUP 88,346
    TUV 66,197

    The real figures are much less threatening. There aren’t even half a million Protestant males in the 6 counties, let alone half a million threats to the state.

    Can’t see the problem myself. Start a Paramilitary force called the BB Specials. (BB= Brian Boru). Use touts. Miserably fail to find the perps when a sniper manages to take out a member of every single Orange March. Start prosecuting all the disorderly cases involving Unionists which the current outfit have allowed to go unnoticed. Juryless trials. Supergrasses. Reintroduce internment.

    We only have to look into the history of the pravince in the last 80 years for the answers to all these problems. Except of course that in a United Ireland the problem would diminish in time, as indeed the Unionist population of the Free State did, whereas in a partitioned area it only grew in scope.

  • Garza

    Paddy why bother?

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to stick us all in concentration camps and sterilise us?

  • Greenflag

    Bryans

    ‘You should say the ONLY partition’

    To date. The first partition was a rushed job and a botched one . The next one should be more professional . It’s just replacing a line on a map to suit the political and demographic realities on the ground in NI and to make the ‘politics’ on both sides of the new line more relevant to the ordinary lives of the people both Irish and British Unionist. As of now politics in NI is still ‘dominated ‘ by the constitutional backdrop. Every issue no matter how trivial from kerbstone location to education to housing has to be run through the ‘constitutional impact prism’ before anything can happen.

    ‘A united Ireland would be a much more sensible idea than a second repartition. ‘

    Why would you want to absorb 800,000 plus Unionists into the Republic against their will ? More trouble and cost than it would be worth . Is this not the same as what Unionists did in 1920 to the 500,000 Irish nationalists in NI ? How did that work out ?

    ‘ Unfortunately the provos have ensured that it has no chance of happening in our lifetime.’

    I don’t believe the provos made any significant difference to the prospect of any UI other than ‘stiffen ‘ political resistance . But don’t kid yourself that resistance would still be there provos or no provos .

  • Greenflag

    garza ,

    ‘There is a good size of nationalists who just wanted equal rights – fair enough, but who really don’t give the a damn about the border. ‘

    True -up to a point .

    ‘ They see it as a very porous border that doesn’t stop them from being Irish. ‘

    Again very true and again up to a point .

    ‘I call them pragmatic nationalists.’

    So would I .

    ‘Nationalists who won’t vote for a UI when life is good.’

    That will depend very much on the political and economic circumstances of the time at which any vote would take place . It would also depend very much on the ‘track ‘record of ‘unionist ‘ political ‘behaviour’ in the interim . The continuing existence of a significant anti anything Irish element in all the unionist parties will continue to have adverse electoral consequences for the union.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Stephen Ferguson: ‘Do you agree if the border had been drawn differently in 1920 (closer to Belfast), therefore leaving only 10%/15% of the population as Nationalists ‘The Troubles’ could have been avoided?’

    No I don’t Stephen — the root causes of the ‘troubles’ were more complex than the SF revisionists like to make out. According to them the ‘troubles’ were more or less a popular uprising by nationalism against extreme discrimination, police bias and violent pogroms.

    Which most certainly was an element.
    It’s absolutely true that the RC community was at times discriminated against in terms of jobs and housing, that certain electoral wards were gerrymandered in favour of unionism and that the police force was largely protestant.

    However it’s also worth noting that the ‘popular uprising’ manifested itself in the form of the 1960s civil rights movement, a grouping similar to others worldwide at the time. The CRM sought equal rights within the context of NI as part of the UK. Militant republicanism, which had already attempted a violent campaign in the 1950s, saw the CRM as a means to justify a violent campaign aiming to remove NI from the UK. All the demands of the CRM had been met by the early 70s yet the IRA campaign intensified, running for a further 20+ years before ending in almost complete capitulation.

    Had the original RC population of NI been say 10/15% as you suggest, the same conditions would have applied. SF/IRA would and will never accept partition should there be only one nationalist in the entire province. Regardless of demographic, they see the entire island as not only one political entity, but rather hilariously see themselves as it’s rightful govt.

    From that viewpoint, I see no benefit to either side in repartition — for both unionism and republicanism it’s all or nothing.

  • Greenflag

    stephen ferguson ,

    ‘if the border had been drawn differently in 1920 (closer to Belfast), therefore leaving only 10%/15% of the population as Nationalists ‘The Troubles’ could have been avoided?’’,

    Unlike gerrylvscastro, I believe they would have been avoided perhaps not completely but you would not have an SF Deputy First Minister today in NI and certainly there would have been no power sharing or mandatory coalition government. While much of glvsc’s comment above is true in respect of the CRM and subsequent IRA campaign it would be a mistake just to see the broad Irish republican movement as merely similar to other worldwide resistance groups which emerged out of the 1960’s . I don’t believe any other ‘resistance’ grouping has either fought so long or won as much political representation as the republican movement did in NI . The broad ‘republican’ movement goes back at least 200 years in strict political terms and probably a lot longer if one includes local Irish resistance to ‘rule’ from London .

    While it is true that SF/IRA will never accept partition it is also true that in the period 1922 through 1960 approx the IRA were quiescent . They were the butt of jokes in Belfast in 1969 when the violence erupted . They are no longer a joke in NI but are part of the state’s government in their political SF clothes . This could not have happened without the widespread political support given to SF post 1981. Some may wish to blame this development on unionist political ‘stupidity’ in the wake of the Sunningdale failure but while partly true it’s not the whole truth.

    A smaller NI from 1920 would have been easier to defend and control with a 10 or 15% nationalist population . Of course as Gerrylvscastro points out ‘political ‘ unionism might still have frozen out ‘nationalists ‘ in government but ‘nationalists’ in turn might have opted out of politics almost like Southern Unionists in the Free State of the time and thus ‘unionism’ would have become less anxiety ridden about ever being dragooned into any UI. However with a 35% minority nationalist population and with 40 to 50% of each succeeding generation lining up on the nationalist side ,unionist anxiety was transferred into the maintenance of local government control , housing allocation , ward division ,absolute control of the police and judiciary and an effective one party quasi fascist paramilitary state structure pulling all the strings .

    Now in 2010 NI has a 47% nationalist minority with 50% plus in all the age groups to 30 and unionists have an aging population with higher death rates etc etc .

    I would presume that had it not been for ‘differential ‘ emigration from NI from the 1920’s on nationalists in NI today would probably be close to 60% of the population .

    In retrospect unionisism would have been best served had they accepted the 4 county offer made by the Irish Home Rule party .

    Unlike gerrylvscastro’s portrayal of the unionist /republican all or nothing scenario I’m a believer in the half a loaf is better than no bread at all form of political resolution .

    I know and understand as the TUV certainly don’t that trying to shunt SF out of power sharing by devious and diverse means will only backfire and the main victim will not be SF but the SDLP and ‘unionism ‘

    At some point it will become obvious that the current dispensation does not make for effective governance of NI . How that situation will resolve itself we’ll only see post elections . If and when the current status collapses then ‘repartition’ should be looked at as an alternative. But it wont’s be a 4 county NI more likely a 2 county sized State on the east coast -which would still probably be twice as large an area as Luxembourg with a slightly greater population .

    I don’t want to berate the point or the issue -this horse has been well and truly flogged but I still think that a fair repartition is a more practical solution than say another 50 to 100 years of what currently passes for politics in Northern Ireland . It’s not doing either side any good and in longer term effect it may be doing the opposite .

  • st etienne

    I’ve never seen so many statistics used to mean so little so few.

  • Alias

    “I see no benefit to either side in repartition—for both unionism and republicanism it’s all or nothing.” – Gerry Lvs castro

    Actually, all is nothing. It isn’t possible for a nation to exercise its right to national self-determination without having a state dedicated to the purpose. When two nations share one state then neither of them can exercise self-determination, and so the two competing claims cancel each other out. The purpose of repartition is to allow each nation to exercise its right to national self-determination. There is no other solution to the problem.

    Why do you want another nation to hold a veto over what you presumably claim is your right to national self-determination? Is this the unspoken aspect of unionism, i.e. that it is a dysfunctional political dynamic that has arisen from a plantation which had the purpose of displacing a nation and that it is not a proper nation with a legitimate claim to national self-determination? As a mix of non-indigenous nations, unionists enjoyed rewards for staying loyal to the state that planted them and by being disloyal to the nation wherein they were planted. Do unionists even have a political raison d’etre that is separate from the political engineering that created them? In other words, do they need another nation to suppress in order to feel complete, much like a beagle needs to chase things and run with the pack because it is bred into them?

    Now before you bang the desk in protest, I could have compared you to an ugly hound rather than a cute one. ;)

  • Alias

    And why, incidentally, is it all or nothing for unionism now but not in 1921?

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Alias in 1921 Unionism accepted the best deal that was possible at the time. Partition was not an ideal solution for anyone and given other British ‘solutions’, such as India/Pakistan circa 1947, it’s hardly a unique situation — a hasty fudge designed to cause minimum short-term hassle for Britain, but resulting in maximum long-term headache for it’s citizens.
    The fact is that none of us were around in 1921 but have to live with the consequences.

    From my own viewpoint as a Unionist, your statement ‘do they (Unionists) need another nation to suppress’ is completely offbeam. Please explain how any Nationalist in NI is suppressed — no-one is prevented from learning/speaking/having street names etc in Irish, setting up GAA clubs, voting for Nationalist/Republican parties, moving/working freely across a porous border, celebrating all aspects of Irish culture etc.

    Despite Republicanism’s best/worst efforts, overall support for a UI from both NI communities remains extremely low. Perhaps you could attempt an explanation as to why this should be the case amongst the Nationalist community in particular.
    It would appear that using the CRM of the 60s as a reference point, NI Nationalists have always required (quite rightly) equality and cultural recognition, but largely within the framework of NI as part of the UK. The groundswell for a UI, while noisy and frequently violent, is not borne out in any polls and were it otherwise, SF would be parading on a street near you as we speak demanding an immediate border poll.

    My point is that, flawed as the NI state is, there is no great demand for it’s imminent demise or indeed repartition.

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvscastro,

    ‘It’s hardly a unique situation—a hasty fudge designed to cause minimum short-term hassle for Britain, but resulting in maximum long-term headache for it’s citizens.’

    Very true. But while Britain turned a blind eye after the event (partition) the local Unionist Government worked vigorously to exacerbate the headache and turn it into a political cancer which has eaten away at the States innards for several decades now.

    It would be naive to believe or hope that somehow the ‘headache’ consequences of the first partition would end with this generation . They won’t. The best that can be hoped for is a non return to the worst days of the troubles .

    ‘My point is that, flawed as the NI state is, there is no great demand for it’s imminent demise or indeed repartition.’

    The people voted for the GFA (70%) which allows for the peaceful demise of the state if an when that comes to pass . Changing economic and demographic circumstances will determine the if and when . As for ‘repartition’ ? The demand for repartition will probably come from ‘unionism’ when it’s already too late to do anything about it .

    alias,

    ‘why, incidentally, is it all or nothing for unionism now but not in 1921?’

    Despite what gerrylvscastro says I don’t believe his ‘all or nothing’ credo. As he says himself unionists accepted the best deal they could in 1921 and said goodbye to Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan ‘unionists’. There is no reason to believe that they would not do the same to the ‘unionists ‘ of Fermanagh, Tyrone , Derry, Armagh, and South Down and even those in West Belfast .

    If it’s the only way to save the ‘Union’ they’ll opt for it.It’s the nature of the ‘beast’ sorry
    the ‘beagle’ ;)

  • stephenlmcc

    As a Catholic, therefore part of this mystical 40% I can say that I do not want a united Ireland. It strikes me as dangerous that Sinn Fein are allowed to assume the spokesman role for our entire faith and community when there is a substantial amount of catholics who will never admit that they are unionist but do not want to be ruled from Dublin. This is a silent non-voting group apparently and we sit idly by as Sinn Fein take us into a united Ireland. I raise one point… If Pat Doherty can’t convince all of his “own people” how will he ever convince unionists… its laughable. Just admit the fact that there is now after 90 years of partition a substantial difference between Catholics in NI and Catholics in ROI, those here in NI have more in common with Protestants on the other side of the wall than they do with people on the other side of the border and those on the other side are very aware of that too. Pat the folks in the promised land only want us if Britain pays for it… wake up and concentrate on your own country first before you try and join another.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    This has to be one of the most common sense posts I’ve read here in many a moon.

    The big problem is the term ‘silent non-voting group’ — I know there is a very similar group on the Protestant/Unionist side, who have largely turned off from politics. Unfortunately the result is and will to continue to be the endless sectarian squabble that passes for SF/DUP power sharing. We can expect to hear lots more about ‘important’ issues such as minority languages, marches and shrines, none of which affect the vast majority in either community, but are the lifeblood of our two little bigot parties.

    Quite what the solution is to the hordes of non-voters remains a mystery, but it’s posts such as Stephen’s which graphically illustrate why SF aren’t screaming for a border poll. They know too well what the result would be.

  • Greenflag

    ‘This is a silent non-voting group apparently’

    So these are the people that the UUUP/UCUNF were reaching out to and who are now going to vote for the UUP/TUV upcoming electoral alliance in the next election ? Or will they continue to non vote ?

    Your 40% is indeed mystical . The figure for the RC?nationalist/republican community background in NI is closer to 47% .

    Would you support a fair ‘repartition’ of NI instead of a UI ? That way you could continue to be a Catholic unionist ?

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Greenflag we don’t need repartition — we need the DUP & SF to get real.

    SF need to accept that they effectively signed up to partition for the long term. Rather than expending their efforts on attempting to out-green the Republic and glorifying a particularly miserable and futile conflict, they need to be trying to make life better for everyone in NI. That means focusing on real issues.

    The DUP need to put stuff like parades on the back burner and likewise concentrate on what matters to most local people — jobs, housing, health, education.

    Otherwise what exactly is the point of the assembly other than to supposedly stop the dissidents from killing people?

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvscastro,

    ‘Quite what the solution is to the hordes of non-voters remains a mystery,’

    No it doesn’t . There have always been non voters . At the last referendum on the border almost 40% of the population did’nt bother to vote (a boycott iirc)

    There is no ‘solution’ to non voters unless legislation is enacted to make voting compulsory and non voting a criminal offence punishable by a stiff fine . Very unlikely .

    Of course SF aren’t screaming for a border poll . Why would they when they know that if the result was for the status quo they would have to wait another 10 years for the next one ? In 10 years time the political landscape in NI may have dramatically changed and the demographics may be more favourable for SF’s ‘desired ‘result.

    If the two little (don’t you mean big in the NI context) bigot parties can manage to agree on P&J devolution who knows what else they may come to agree on in the next few years . These things have a habit of accruing over time . Success breeds success and the perception of political failure becomes very quickly the reality of political demise . The UUP/UCUNF crowd will understand that come the next election methinks.

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvscastro,

    ‘we need the DUP & SF to get real.’

    Perhaps it’s happening ? On the other hand it seems the UUP are becoming even more unreal/surreal than ever . I can’t comment on the SDLP as they are still seeking to find themselves and the TUV are beyond redemption . The PUP are clinging on and may yet amount to more than one voice party if the current ‘unionist ‘ political disintegration continues apace .

    The point of the Assembly is simply to keep a lid on the pot to prevent the province ever boiling over again . The dissidents will not be stopped by the Assembly .They will be stopped by the ‘people ‘ all of the people ‘ and by the NI security forces with the assistance of the security forces of the Republic . They have no mandate for their cause .

  • Munsterview

    Posted by stephenlmcc on Mar 10, 2010 @ 01:37 PM

    Nothing particularly strange or peculiar in your assertions. Neither do I see why Pat Doherty should waste one moment of his time trying to convert what you describe as ‘one of his own people’. I doubt that you are a lone voice, there are probably a significant number of Catholics in the North as in the South who are covert or overt Royalists and ‘West Brits’ It is just another viewpoint and given Irish history not an unusual one, we have had always ‘Queens Irish’ individuals and families who took that viewpoint to it’s logical conclusion by joining with the occupying Crown Forces in suppressing their fellow natives.

    Even in Cromwellian times and despite the known horror of his actions and ( to use a modern term ) the widespread ethnic cleansing carried out against all catholics, some of the final localized massacres of that campaign were carried out by former catholic soldiers and other surviving catholics who joined the Cromwellian forces and were prepared to to kill off their co-religious wherever found to prove their loyalties and continue their well provisioned existence in a starving land.

    In the early seventies I was on an estate in West Belfast that was under siege from the British Army for over thirty six hours and I could not believe what I was experiencing. The priest on sunday morning forcefully condemned violence but not one word against the actions of the authorities. This was the church where at second mass when the same sermon was delivered woman after woman from these areas stood up with arms folded until most of the women and men were on their feet and the priest stopped his rant and continued mass.

    What was remarkable to me on that occasion was to see the ‘Malone Road’ divide who of course remained seated through out and far from being in any way sympathetic to the plight of their co-regilionists, they were highly indignant that ‘ the even tenor of their ways’ should be disturbed on a sunday morning by this church protest. They were no more effected by the weekends mayhem than their counterparts in Fox Rock in Dublin.

    Just as in the South after Independence there were Catholics who moved North or to England, so also in the event of a United Ireland there will be some Catholics likewise who will move to what is left of the United Kingdom. This will be a fact of life for those alienated against their own culture or so encultured into another that they will not be prepared to adapt to the new political reality!

    If people like Stevenlmcc consider that they have a stake in this country and that people like Pat Doherty are wrong, then put forward a rational, reasoned political or other argument and contribute to the debate to shape new politics for a new era on this island. I do not want to be ruled by Dublin either nor by a political elite in trall to Builders, Bankers and W*****s like we have at present. Elsewhere in recent weeks I have put forward the case for a de-centeralised system of government that produced some feed back. Why not set out your own particular stall and see who is buying?

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Munsterview: ‘…Pat Doherty are wrong, then put forward a rational, reasoned political or other argument and contribute to the debate to shape new politics for a new era on this island.’

    The interesting thing is that whilst SF may be a big fish in the small NI pond, their ‘new era’ ideas are almost universally rejected in the ROI. FF/FG have held sway in the Republic for generations and there is little reason to think that SF or even as momentous an event as a UI would be likely to alter that.

    Your reference to ‘West Brits’ and ‘occupying crown forces’ is an archaic one — there is no huge groundswell of support for an imminent UI outside of SFs misty-eyed dreaming.
    I can’t speak for Stephen and others like him, but as he ably stated, if Pat Doherty et al can’t convince the majority of NI Roman Catholics of the merits of a UI, he’s whistling in the wind with Unionism.

    Fact is that the majority on both sides of the border seem reasonably happy with the status quo. That may well alter in the future, but for now SF really should have better things to do with their time.

    Greenflag:

    ‘At the last referendum on the border almost 40% of the population did’nt bother to vote (a boycott iirc)’

    You’re right there was a boycott, rendering the exercise pointless — such a poll today would IMO be immensely helpful at determining exactly where we are and hopefully putting the border issue to bed for the forseeable future.

    ‘In 10 years time the political landscape in NI may have dramatically changed and the demographics may be more favourable for SF’s ‘desired ‘result.’

    I’d say that’s pretty doubtful — how much have the demographics changed since 2000? True SF have a bigger mandate and can get their vote out, but whether this would translate to anything close to a UI in a border poll is highly debateable. I say put it to the vote every ten years alongside an assembly or Westminster election — not only would it provide an important snapshot of opinion, it would encourage many of those lapsed voters on either side to get off their backsides and hopefully simultaneously vote for more moderate parties (if indeed there are any — I fully agree with your UCUNF analysis above).

    As regards SF / DUP ‘agreeing’ over P&J, I don’t believe the DUP ever had any major qualms over P&J — their delaying antics seemed more an attempt to annoy SF and extract the odd concession. Now that the P&J speed bump has been cleared, we can expect endless wrangles and crises over the Irish Language Act and equally earth shattering issues.

  • stephenlmcc

    Munsterview I have always held the opinion that whatever is best for the people of Northern Ireland, the North or the six counties would be best for me also. Currently I believe that a United Ireland would not be wise.

    I also believe that you should be condemned for your woeful opinion that any catholic who is not a republican is a traitor. I am from the Falls Road and I am fully aware that an MP, MLA or Councilor from the Shankill would understand our issues more than a TD from Finglas for example.

    A United Ireland if it is the solution for us is a long way off. How are we in a position to take down a national boundary when the last peace we built was only completed three weeks ago. Our Country regardless of what you may perceive it to be needs decades of attention before we are in any position to consider a constitutional change such as joining the South.

    This is all part of Sinn Feins electoral haze. They have become the largest republican party because they needed to be included more in the government, they also needed more attention which they had gotten used to when blowing the place to pieces and the ‘alternative’ for catholics, the SDLP have just decided to lie down and die quietly. What is the alternative? At the risk of sounding like Jim Alister (depressing)- Where is the Opposition?

    To clarify, I am not a Unionist. I just see the historical differences between the two Irelands and I also do not ignore the elephant in the room that is the 53% protestant population of which 57% claim to be British. Are they just going to go away in a United Ireland? It also betrays a 2007 poll which said that 40% of the population said they were neither Nationalist nor Unionist and another survey in 2008 when 32% of Protestants claimed they were Northern Irish and 25% of Catholics claimed the same.

    A Black and White picture Northern Ireland has never been… why assume this has changed when politics hasn’t.

  • Munsterview

    Posted by stephenlmcc on Mar 10, 2010 @ 04:09 PM

    I have never held that a Republican viewpoint as currently expressed by Sinn Fein is the only valid or acceptable political viewpoint on this island nor do I assert so now. Indeed even in the few months that I have been posting I have frequently challenged that particular perspective of Sinn Fein to have exclusive claim to and sole ownership of Republicanism on this island. Republicanism as a philosophical / political ideal is a universal concept and greater, much greater than any one political party.

    Co-incidently considering the subject matter I have just exchanged ems with a writer in Germany where I made the point that Sinn Fein per se did not sweep the country in 1918, a large part of that vote was a ‘loan vote’ to do with anti-conscription and other issues that in 1922 and afterwards it went to F.G where the conservative social policies were far removed from The Democratic Program of the First Dail but well representative of the Legal/ Farming/ Business and Professional classes that was their natural support base.

    The fact that Sinn Fein’s support in the South continue to hover around 9% give or take two % points is not indicative of Southern attitudes towards a United Ireland. In my late teens as a Republican activists a Foreman in my place of work and a family man floored me with a remark that seared into my mind and it is one that have since informed all my political activity. He was generally sympathetic to the Republican Movement but yet said that he was voting Labor and gave his reason as…..” My children cannot eat the Flag”

    Prior to the ceasefire Sinn Fein was to the fore in community activity against drug dealing etc. This often involved street politics where dealers were intimidated out of areas, their drug supplies, money, cars and occasionally houses burned out etc. Such was the impact of this activity and the support for it in communities that one Southern Labor Minister threatened to terminate his involvement in the Peace Process unless all such activity immediately ceased. The requirements of the North got priority, effective anti-drug activity ceased and drugs became rampant in all working class communities with dealers openly mocking former S.F. and community activists.

    Sinn Fein in the South has not given community leadership, it is involved in the same clienteles’ politics as the other three main parties. Who is more likely to be perceived as being able to deliver a local government house, a party in power or a powerless party? Sinn Fein’s need to keep Fianna Fail sweet on the North has curtailed it’s effectiveness in the South. This was clearly displayed in the Willie O’Dea event, it concerned a Sinn Fein Councillor, S.F. should have been ‘red in tooth and claw’ on the issue in the Dail Debates yet it was left to the opposition parties to make the running and bring Willie down. In fairness to the S.F. leader in the Dail, he did accuse the same Willie of ‘ acting the maggot’, I bet that shook O’Dea up!

    Sinn Fein in the South while pulling it’s punches and avoiding street politics to keep F.F. on side is competing with Labor in a political ‘no growth’ area but these 10% figures of political support are all to do with local politics ( or rather non politics) and little to do with National issues and least of all a United Ireland.

  • Greenflag

    gerrylvscastro,

    ‘In 10 years time the political landscape in NI may have dramatically changed and the demographics may be more favourable for SF’s ‘desired ‘result.’’

    Have a look at Horseman’s ‘Ulster’s Doomed ‘ article ‘ Ebb and Flow ‘March 3rd and it may alter your prognosis re the near term (10 to 20 years) political situation .

    Your idea of running a border referendum at the same time as an Assembly election every 10 years sounds like a good one on the face of it . As you say it would show the numbers at the very least and one way or the other would force the parties (all sides ) to face up to the possibility and what it would entail .

    On the other hand having a border referendum on the same day as the Assembly elections would mitigate against the ‘moderate ‘ voters and local economic and real life issues would be drowned out even more so than now in the election campaigns ?

    I don’t believe there’s any need to worry if one is a Unionist for at least the next decade or more as to being shunted into a UI with a 51% vote .

    Ten years of effective power sharing governance could do a lot to ease anxieties on all sides as to both their futures be they in a UI or remain in the UK.

    Your assumption that the ‘lapsed ‘ voters would plump for moderate parties on both sides may be wishful thinking . Many of these so called lapsed voters may be from the more marginalised sectors of NI society and may continue not to vote either in an Assembly election or in a Border referendum .

    They may have come to the conclusion that either way a UI or the UK will not make a blind bit of difference to their lives and they may have a point .