Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

“Those at the heart of the Sinn Fein machine know all of this to be true.”

Mon 25 June 2012, 3:12pm

Where Mick treads softly [always stepping on someone's dreams! - Ed], Alex Kane rips the PR plaster off[Mixed metaphors much? - Ed]  ANYhoo… from the News Letter article

Let’s be blunt about this: Martin McGuinness didn’t join the IRA and become the de facto commander-in-chief of the army council just to end up at a function in which he will be ‘presented’ to Her Majesty during a tour of her United Kingdom!

But the meeting between McGuinness and the Queen still represents a form of closure for both of them. Last year she was welcomed in Dublin as a visiting head of State. In a couple of days time she will be in Northern Ireland, recognising the fact that the Province is as much a part of the UK today as it was when she became Queen in 1952. And when McGuinness meets her, he will be – however reluctantly – acknowledging exactly the same thing.

For this generation of ‘armed struggle’ republicanism the meeting represents the closure of their campaign. Yet in embedding Sinn Fein so deeply into the British system and into an internal settlement he has also closed the door for many more generations.

Sinn Fein has been trapped, stuffed and mounted and unionism is stronger today than it has ever been. It never needed majority rule to secure its base. What it needed most was a political arrangement – inside the United Kingdom – endorsed by a majority of people across Ireland and underwritten by the British, Irish and American governments. That’s what it now has and Sinn Fein (with Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams in particular) has been instrumental in securing that arrangement.

So it seems somehow fitting that McGuinness should trot along to a nicely choreographed event – one of those lovely occasions in which all of the political and PR boxes have been carefully ticked – and do whatever it is he has to do. I suspect it will be a very difficult personal and psychological moment for the Queen: but maybe she can take some unspoken comfort from the fact that she comes here as Head of State and that Northern Ireland will remain part of the United Kingdom for a very, very long time to come.

And Martin, bless him, is still one of her citizens and subjects. Three cheers, say I!

[But Gerry has "a coherent and viable strategy"! - Ed]  Indeed…

As ever, do read the whole thing.

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Comments (40)

  1. williewombat (profile) says:

    It was an article with a lot of truth all those lives ripped apart and ruined for ever by those who now stutt about in suits telling us what to do and others who should know better complying with anything for a quiet life. The real winner in this country is political apathy. Unfortunately take all the politicians and their families past and present along with those employed in fact all those being paid and therefore financially motivated out of most of the Political parties and it becomes scary just how few non paid members all these parties have. This apathy and lack of committment which I believe has been fostered by the dishonesty and immorality of the current system is reflected both through participation level by volunteer members but more worryingly by the falling number of people who come out to vote for any of the political parasites representing us or seeking to represent us motivated not so much by committment and political beliefs but by financial gain

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  2. tyrone_taggart (profile) says:

    Pete Baker why do you think Martin Mc Guinness joined the Offical IRA?

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  3. Lionel Hutz (profile) says:

    Narrative-creating, History-seeking, spin. Kane’s attempt to rip the PR plaster off, is just in itself more PR. There is no significance to this. The leaders of Nationalism and the Irish people have been meeting the Queen for over a decade. Be that our President, our parties and even our previous DFM. What is unprecedented about this?

    Is it the first time a leader of Northern nationalism has met the Queen? No. Mark Durkan did it.

    Is it the first time Sinn Fein have meet her? No, the latest Mayor of Cashel performed his duty last year.

    In a months time, this will be no more significant than McGuinness attending an Norn Iron match.

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  4. Dec (profile) says:

    ‘and that Northern Ireland will remain part of the United Kingdom for a very, very long time to come.’

    I love it when local Unionists let slip their belief that they alone control the future of the UK.

    Meanwhile in other news…

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  5. joeCanuck (profile) says:

    It (unionism) never needed majority rule to secure its base.

    I would disagree with that. They did need it for many many years. What they really did need, as Terence O’Neill told them in 1968, was to treat all citizens equally. Now that all are essentially equal, the desire for a quick unification has all but evaporated. And don’t forget that most unionists had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into that realization.

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  6. Obelisk (profile) says:

    Alex Kane simply offers the same analysis he has before, that because Sinn Fein is in government that the campaign for reunification is dead-ended.

    His triumphalist language does irritate me, I won’t lie. As the largest Nationalist party Sinn Fein de facto represents most of the Nationalist people, and references to Green Corgis, or to the de facto leader of Nationalism meeting her in the capacity of a subject meeting his monarch irk me, even if you may think the conflation between all Nationalists and Sinn Fein is a step too far.

    His language is intended to soothe his Unionist audience and anger any Nationalists who read it, so his work can be read two ways. And just as the work can be read two ways, so can the events he casts judgement upon be read in two ways.

    Do Unionists LIKE how the North is governed? Do they enjoy the sight of all the ugly scaffolding meant to keep this artificial construct from someday imploding on itself?
    Do they enjoy the fact that no matter how they vote, a Nationalist Deputy First Minister will always be there to pour cold water over some of their own aspirations?

    Alex Kane presents the meeting between Martin McGuinness and the Queen as a defeat for Sinn Fein, a subject meeting his Monarch?.
    How about the context most Nationalists will see it in? As an Irish Citizen (guaranteed remember under the Good Friday Agreement) greeting the British Head of State in a mature and grown up fashion AND in the presence of the Man he recognises as HIS head of state, Michael D Higgins. Deep down do Unionists really appreciate this meeting between their Queen and a man most of them think should be in jail? Do they see it as a victory or just something else to endure?

    Is this the victory then that Alex Kane shouts about so proudly? For a Man never afraid to tell us how good Sinn Fein are at deluding themselves, to me it seems he’s equally guilty of deluding himself.

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  7. keano10 (profile) says:

    Slugger seems to be becoming a regular PR vehicle for Alex Kane’s weekly column’s. It’s all becoming a little bit tedious and slightly boring now to be honest.

    While Alex clearly enthralls and excites Mick and Pete every week, his musings tend to be incredibly predictable and somewhat uninspiring to some of the rest of us.

    Let’s cast the net a little bit (in the interest of balance) and quote a few of our other local columnists every now and again.

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  8. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    well, I think you will find that Mr Feeney gets a regular look in here… and Newt and, admittedly less often, Fionnuala…

    Anything in the Irish news needs transcribing which puts a tax on the bloggers time, before they even get to writing something on the back of it…

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  9. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    While I think the truth as always lies somewhere in the middle, I don’t particularly like Alex’s take, Obelisk on the other hand is probably a bit closer to the mark. I still think in the long run it favours the Union, but won’ do Marty much harm.

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  10. Mac (profile) says:

    After reading that, I would almost be forgiven for thinking that Marty was forced into doing this.

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  11. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    It almost reads like something Newt wrote. :)

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  12. Toastedpuffin (profile) says:

    “Nationalist Deputy First Minister will always be there to pour cold water over some of their own aspirations”

    And that’s about the height of it, is it not? Sound and fury signifying nothing, to mix the metaphor a bit. From a unionist perspective it’s been odd to watch Republicans flaunt their impotence of late, whether it be the Irish language gimmickry that never quite takes off, the Irish flag that doesn’t get flown, the united Irish team that won’t happen, the caving in to the inevitable meeting the boss episode. Can’t see this as being a great strategy, but the fact remains it’s a product of an unadmitted defeat. A failure to face up to failure. That British Army nod to the IRA’s capability must be wearing pretty thin by now.

    Should we as a society be worried that all is not well in the Republican community? We see low level but continuous Republican violence on our streets, how long before the diehards get even more restless with the lack of “progress”? What if there are never quite enough jobs for the boys?

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  13. Mac (profile) says:

    “It almost reads like something Newt wrote. ”

    It reads like someone who realises that you can’t submit the word ‘Yeeeeoooooooooo!!!!’ as copy, and so padded it out a bit.
    A great deal of catholics comfortable with the current arrangements, feel that way despite of the sort of rhetoric Kane’s blurts out, not because of it.

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  14. Mister_Joe (profile) says:

    Might be useful to check out cognitive dissonance.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

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  15. BIGK (profile) says:

    Did Lundy come from Derry or was he a blowin?

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  16. 33rd County (profile) says:

    As time passes, I’d imagine that unionists and nationalists will continue to engage in a fair bit of recalibration and revisionism, such that perceptions of success will be adapted to the situation on the ground. It has already happened to some extent to ensure the current political arrangement stands. Unionism was never simply about the maintenance of the union, it also preached the supremacy of the tradition, the “we are the people” mentality. The peace process has undermined that aspect of unionism, but the ultimate solace of NI within the UK remains. It is a narrowing of unionism, away from Protestant supremacy, and toward the baseline of membership within the UK and the benefits that union bestows. If the conflict is seen through the lens of NI’s constitutional status, then surely unionism has won, at least for now. But as Obelisk points out, how many unionists are willing to see it that way?

    Funny that the union’s never been safer (according to some…) and at least in the modern era, SF has never had more political clout.

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  17. Mac (profile) says:

    “Might be useful to check out cognitive dissonance.”

    Useful for who is the question.

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  18. OneNI (profile) says:

    Obelisk to dismiss the idea that the ‘royal handsake’ as another denial of Irish Republican principles you overlook another sell out you state Mcguinness will be:
    ‘in the presence of the Man he recognises as HIS head of state, Michael D Higgins.’
    Once upon a time SF didnt recognise the Presdicney of the Republic have forgotten when the gave in on that one

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  19. BIGK, Blow in.

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  20. Obelisk (profile) says:

    OneNI

    I would say two things. Firstly, Republican principles have been evolving for a long time and for the better it seems. It strikes me as churlish to pounce on this and then use it to stick the ideological knife in. Moves like this should be welcomed and appreciated.

    Secondly, context is everything. Your forum name is a good starting point, due to the fact it is oxymoronic. There are two Norths who live side by side, not one. According to the Good Friday Agreement, we all have the right to define ourselves as Irish and one of the two Norths has overwhelmingly self-defined themselves as such.

    The leading representative of that one side (for good or ill) is meeting the British Monarch as an Irish Citizen meeting a visiting head of state from another country. That is an absolutely true context from our perspective. You may prefer to view it another context, one that is equally true, but that is not the context McGuinness, myself or indeed any other Nationalist is going to view this event in.

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  21. Toastedpuffin (profile) says:

    “Republican principles have been evolving for a long time ”

    Which seems to be rather the point of Kane’s article: They’re evolving into unionism. As you say, for the better. Incidentally, as the “other” of the two Norths you imagine, I too define myself as “Irish”. The penny seems to be taking a wild long time to drop on that one.

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  22. joeCanuck (profile) says:

    If it wasn’t for the fact that this could be a family site, I might say that there is a lot of comment here that could be described as something that usually happens in the night when one is asleep.

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  23. Henry94 (profile) says:

    If the union is secure then the next obvious question is what the unionists intend to do with it. It can certainly never again be the Orange state it was founded to be.

    When McGuinness meets the Queen how do you persuade young unionists that there is a threat which justifies them joining the Orange Order and spending their summers marching the roads to proclaim their dominance.

    With no menace anywhere how do you stop the border from just fading away? It is already a lot less real than it was at any other time in my life. The island is starting to feel like a single country socially.

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  24. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    I wish unionists really did believe that the union was secure and that they had won. They might then be disposed to seeing the advantage of making a couple of concessions here and there – perhaps over flags, or the odd Orange march, for the sake of securing the peace even further ?

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  25. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Henry, there are likely to be two states on the island for a very long time to come. Their precise configuration, the way they are financed, the way they are governed – it may get tweaked a bit here and there but it would be a hell of a thing to suggest that a merger is foreseeable.

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  26. OneNI (profile) says:

    I ‘stick the knife in’ as up put it Obelisk to unveil your inconsistency.
    Your suggestion that:
    ‘There are two Norths who live side by side, not one. According to the Good Friday Agreement, we all have the right to define ourselves as Irish and one of the two Norths has overwhelmingly self-defined themselves as such.’
    Is completely WRONG there are not two distinct tribes as you outline but a vast array of identities. For example, some are Irish of Catholic background but completely content to live in the UK
    The ‘two tribes’ nonsense is a sad attempt to claim all Irish Catholics for Nationalism.

    Regarding Marty’s handsake. We hear so much guff about how clever and brillant the Shinners are at playing ‘a long game’ .Truth is they have more than met their match in the British Establishment as personified by the Queen.

    When the Queen shake Marty’s hand the British state will quietly say ‘gotcha’

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  27. Obelisk (profile) says:

    OneNI

    I do not believe I am inconsistent. You are projecting the cozy political apathy on the constitutional question that characterizes the majority of the Catholic population at the moment along a trajectory that suggests they are detached from what could be considered other Nationalist aims, in terms of symbols, cultural recognition, school systems etc.

    While a variety of identities do exist, to deny that there are not two distinct tribes in the North in which the majority of those identities find a home is to deny reality. We have different flags, different nationalities, different political parties, different music, different versions of the same histories. Even our political system, with it’s system of designations, reflects the reality of the divide. Most of the Irish of a Catholic background who are content for the moment to remain in the UK will still vote for Nationalist parties. I fail to see how my statement that there are two Norths is inconsistent with reality when the very law speaks to their existence.

    As for the what the British state will quietly say when the handshake takes place, I would wager something along the lines of ‘Thank God, now we can get out of here at last’ would be a more likely utterance than the delusional self-satisfaction you like to imagine.

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  28. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Obelisk

    Your “two Norths” are actually all citizens within one real Northern Ireland, within the UK.

    There’s your inconsistency with reality.

    Or, as someone might have said, your political psychosis…

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  29. gary oh (profile) says:

    Of course NI is in the UK. U can’t deny however that it has always been the most unstable part of the UK. And when meetin sum1 from NI there’s a more than good chance they won’t identify as being british. The border is all but gone especially around the north louth south armagh area. But people second guessing what d queen r the british state r thinking is delusional. Its jus another day at the office for them. Th
    And to say that NI is an integral part of the UK is odd. Is it really? Maybe a millstone around Britains neck would be more accurate.

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  30. Reader (profile) says:

    Obelisk: There are two Norths who live side by side, not one.
    If there are two Norths, how many Irelands are there in total?
    henry94: With no menace anywhere how do you stop the border from just fading away? It is already a lot less real than it was at any other time in my life. The island is starting to feel like a single country socially.
    The border between the Republic and the UK is fading away? Blame the BBC or congratulate the EU (or vice versa)

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  31. Granni Trixie (profile) says:

    of equal interest to the “event” itself is what happens after…it’s legacy you might say. by this I mean are we forever to have Annual rituals such as “will SF go to Poppy commemorations ” etc. This will also test SF goodwill in their statements about “equality of respect” . NO going back?

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  32. andnowwhat (profile) black spot says:

    Were Poppy Day still about “the fallen of 2 world wars” the shinners would be in no position to refuse to attend but it is about those who served here, including those who killed and defamed innocent people, as well as people’s right to self determination in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

    One does not have to be a republican, by any means, to have issues

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  33. OneNI (profile) says:

    Obelisk:
    ‘We have different flags, different nationalities, different political parties, different music, different versions of the same histories. Even our political system, with it’s system of designations, reflects the reality of the divide. Most of the Irish of a Catholic background who are content for the moment to remain in the UK will still vote for Nationalist parties. ‘

    I suggest you get out more. Different music? Really? So Snow Patrols fans are all Prods I suppose. Nobody who likes Traditional Irish music likes Take That? I suppose no one who plays GAA follws the fortunes of the English Premier League.
    Granted most of ‘the Irish of a Catholic background.. vote for Nationalist parties’ – but more and more arent voting at all. Why? Also it is clear that many of those than vote for Nationalist parties arent actually particualrly Nationalist!
    What you say actually reveals alot about nationalist thinking – a frankly fanatical obsession about the ‘tribe’
    One of its cornerstone (which I note you omit) is the Catholic church whose implosion has liberated many from the binds of tribal thinking.
    Other outworkings of this perverse tribal thinking have been the politcisation of the Irish langauge and aspects of sport.
    Sadly for you Obelisk our current peace and stabilitiy is breaking down such barriers – and with it the nationalist ‘dream’ recedes over the horizon.
    In time academics with publish studies ‘How not to unite people or territorities – the folly of violent nationalism and tribal thinking’

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  34. OneNI (profile) says:

    Oh do Obelisk you honestly think that the handsake marks some prospect of British departure? Seriously?
    I suggest you try for today to step back and look at the situation as objectively as possible.

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  35. OneNI (profile) says:

    GaryOh
    ‘The border is all but gone especially around the north louth south armagh area.’
    The border was ‘all but gone’ prior to the Troubles the physical mainfestations were aresult of the pathetic murderous (and ultimately entirely pointless) IRA campaign.
    How is NI a millstone? Many areas need subvention – indeed the UK is also currently subsidising the Republic.
    But with peace there is little ‘millstone’ compared to during the Troubles

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  36. andnowwhat (profile) black spot says:

    To put it crudely, the British gave a loan to the Irish government for their own sake and more precisely, the sake of British banks that operate in Ireland. It was a money laundering exercise.

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  37. Obelisk (profile) says:

    Reader

    There are two Irelands, the Irish Ireland and the British Ireland. Nationalism is the political label that is applied to the Irish people who live in the North.

    There are not three Irelands, of Southern Ireland, Northern Nationalists and Unionists. It seems to be a wish of Unionists to build a border in our heads and for the Irish in the North and the Irish in the south to see each other as somehow apart and foreign. I won’t deny some measure of that has occured, not much but some. It is a trend to be stamped out and resisted

    Pete

    You talk of my political psychosis. This is the general retort you deploy against Nationalists you think don’t live in the real world, who like to act as if they live in a United Ireland already. To say I am wrong about my assertion that there are two North’s by pointing to the border and saying that proves me wrong is an appeal to the most mundane of facts.You point out we are all citizens within the United Kingdom.

    I am not denying there is only one physical Northern Ireland. I wouldn’t deny there is more than one physical Belgium either. But just as the Belgians, all citizens within one real Belgium mind you, are easily divisible into basically two blocks, so are we. Is it truly a psychosis to recognise this?

    You cannot divide a Nation or forge an identity between two groups by drawing a line on a map. The psychosis you refer to relatively often to me seems to be the cross border mentality Nationalists have because we act as if there is no border. I see nothing wrong in this. I see nothing wrong in Nationalist politicians pushing the envelope in trying to express this viewpoint, or formulating policy, or trying to expand our presence in the cultural sphere up here by insisting on our emblems being displayed and given as much dignity and respect as British emblems. If that cross border mentality is your definition of a political psychosis, then I am happy to be regarded by you as politically psychotic. To accept the alternative, that there is a division in the Irish Nation that is deeper than the political, a division that is cultural and ethnic, well that would be crazy on my part.

    One NI

    No I don’t think it marks the beginning of some British withdrawal, more that the British would love to return to the default position they held between partition and the fall of Stormont, that of not getting involved in Ireland as much as possible and leaving us to rule ourselves. If the Unionist victory was to secure the Union for the foreseeable future, the Nationalist victory was to reduce outside input into the North from across the water as much as possible. That process is still continuing, and each time a power is brought here that victory gets a little better.

    And I admit I could have phrased myself a little better in regards to ‘different musics’ and such. Of course I’m not going to turn off Snow Patrol and such if they come on the radio because they are from the other side. What I meant was that we have unique musical traditions we don’t share with the other side. That IS absolutely true.

    The Nationalist dream of Unity goes on. I’ll probably never see it. But I believe one day, somehow, the circumstances will be just right and we will achieve our goal in peace and prosperity. Whether it be ten years or a century, we’ll get there. There is no defeat for us, only in Alex Kane’s fantasies.

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  38. OneNI (profile) says:

    ‘There are two Irelands, the Irish Ireland and the British Ireland. Nationalism is the political label that is applied to the Irish people who live in the North. ‘
    Wrong I am Irish but I am not Irish Nationalist. My family come from the Republic – my ancestors saw themselves as Irish and British. The shameful attempted to divide into black and white has failed.
    ‘There are not three Irelands, of Southern Ireland, Northern Nationalists and Unionists. It seems to be a wish of Unionists to build a border in our heads and for the Irish in the North and the Irish in the south to see each other as somehow apart and foreign. I won’t deny some measure of that has occured, not much but some. It is a trend to be stamped out and resisted’
    Sadly I think the Troubles have meant that people in the Republic have a ‘plague on all houses’ attitude to the North. Blame Marty, Gerry et al for that not Unionists.
    Belgium is a lot more complicated than you suggest!
    ‘ leaving us to rule ourselves. If the Unionist victory was to secure the Union for the foreseeable future, the Nationalist victory was to reduce outside input into the North from across the water as much as possible. That process is still continuing, and each time a power is brought here that victory gets a little better.’ This is a complete fallacy but if it keeps you happy. We had all these powers under Stormont but it wasn’t a fast route of the UK (indeed the lack of input perhaps permited unionist misrule)
    You regard Snow Patrol as from ‘the other side’. Happily I don’t believe they view Catholics in such terms. Arent Snow Patrol Irish? If they played identical type of music but were born Catholic but had never expressed a political opinion would you think they were ‘Irish’ and ‘nationalist’ . Are Irish people restricted Traditional music? By your thinking in music and religious background U2 must come dangerously close to being British – certainly from ‘the other side’
    ‘What I meant was that we have unique musical traditions we don’t share with the other side. That IS absolutely true. ‘ What depressing insularity. Am I now banned from Clenaghans pub in Aghalee when traditional music is being played?
    ‘The Nationalist dream of Unity goes on. I’ll probably never see it. But I believe one day, somehow, the circumstances will be just right and we will achieve our goal in peace and prosperity. Whether it be ten years or a century, we’ll get there. There is no defeat for us, only in Alex Kane’s fantasies’
    Alternatively you could recognise a shared heritage and work for a political culture that recognises all forms of Irish identity within the UK. Unity and prosperity for all the people of these islands?

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  39. gary oh (profile) says:

    Subsidising? The loan is being repaid with interest and we all know the purpose of the loan was not to display british altruism far from it it was to protect british interests an that’s fine. As regards the republics attitude towards NI, I would say it is overwhelming indifference. And I wudn blame adams an mcguinnes for that. More like the likes of jim allisters belligerent attitude towards ROI. As a borderman myself I agree I dnt see people from newry as any different from me. I don’t know what its like around the other border areas

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  40. droppingwell (profile) says:

    wellTyrone taggert i belive martain became a volunter because he wanted to live his life by principals and he knew only principals endure. mind you there was some other reasons but im not really going to go into them do you know what im saying tyrone.

    What do you think?
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