Meeting the Queen could free up psychological space for Sinn Fein to move into Westminister…

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Tonight the Telegraph have a typically sage and balanced op ed from Paul Bew on what meeting the Queen means in real political terms…

…what is next for Sinn Fein, given that the most recent poll in Northern Ireland shows support for a united Ireland at a new low of 7 per cent? It is now clear that Sir Patrick Mayhew’s prediction in the early Nineties that Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom would come to a crucial test before that of Northern Ireland was justified.

So before any credible move can be made towards Irish unity, Sinn Fein has to entertain itself and its supporters. It is a top-down organisation, with a leadership strengthened by the cult of the collective personality. It has found it relatively easy to cast dissidents into the darkness, but even so, something must be done to maintain interest.

The royal handshake was a psychological hurdle, and Sinn Fein has overcome it. That indicates a tactical flexibility and a willingness to come to terms with the British Establishment. It does not detract from the gesture Sinn Fein is making to say that if the Coalition was to break up and we were to enter a period of Conservative minority government, this flexibility could be significant. Surely the next move must be to end the abstention of Sinn Fein’s five MPs from the House of Commons.

It should not be forgotten that the Callaghan government lost the fatal vote of confidence that ushered in Margaret Thatcher thanks to the critical role played by Irish nationalist MPs.

Now, I’ve heard this endlessly speculated about in the past, and it has never come to pass. But Bew has a point. Once you’ve met the Queen on foot of your status within the Stormont administration, what’s the block with Westminster? You might, for instance:

  1. create a little tactical space to allow you to put a move on some future UK government;
  2. remove the final reason for hold out nationalists to vote SDLP, ie SF’s abstentionism.

Stranger things have happened at sea…

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  • Mister_Joe

    Interesting idea but too soon after the present move. It will happen, eventually, I believe.

  • StW

    And why on earth could Michelle O’Neill not meet the Queen today MP for FST?

  • StW

    And why on earth could Michelle Gildernew not meet the Queen today MP for FST?

  • Henry94

    I don’t see it happening. The tactical advantage against the SDLP would be of less concern than a possible boost to an abstentionist challenge from other republicans.

    It’s one thing to meet the Queen but quite another to swear loyalty to her. Nobody could agree to that and credibly claim to be an Irish republican.

    I was for every step in the evolution of the Sinn Fein position but I don’t see thus as any kind of a logical next move. In fact it would fly in the face of what my understanding of the SF long term strategy is.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Paul Bew: .. there is nothing more for [SF] to gain.”

    Paul seems to have overlooked the symbolism of the post of First Minister followed by more nationalist MLAs or MPs than unionist ones. The MSM is unlikely to dig too deeply into the continuing dark side of Sinn Fein and other parts of the PRM so the party is likely to eat further into the SDLP vote – with the aid of some positive PR.

  • Mick Fealty

    Long term Henry? Possibly. I’ve never been quite sure of the leaderships rationale viz a viz the SDLP.

  • Mister_Joe

    DeValera took the oath eventually. Don’t SF claim some sort of allegiance to him?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_Allegiance_%28Ireland%29

  • Pete Baker

    I think Paul Bew may be guilty to some degree of futuring.

    He correctly identifies the forthcoming meeting as Sinn Féin attempting to catch up on their failure to accurately predict the reaction to last year’s visit to Ireland by the Queen.

    And the same reasoning then does match the reasoning behind Sinn Féin’s abstentionist policy.

    But he neglects to mention how Martin McGuinness was hoist by his own petard following his declaration during that presidential election campaign.

    That’s the real reason behind this week’s meeting. And why it’s not being accompanied by, for example, the NI Culture Minister attending the Stormont party. Or, indeed, anything involving the party president.

    Anything else is speculation.

  • tacapall

    Maybe someday Sinn fein will be in power in the 26 counties and be the largest party in the 6 counties and even become the first party with elected politicians sitting in all three its not beyond the realms of possibility, a position that has no doubt been pondered over.

  • Pete Baker

    And, as Alex Kane said

    …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.

  • keano10

    If stranger things have happened at sea Mick, then I have yet to be enlightened…

    Complete and utter baloney. It will never happen.

    Clearly you have flogged the handshake issue to death with multiple threads so you decide to spin it out in the world of Neverneverland.

    Oops – Just as I’m saying that some Cartoonist has popped up with a cartoon about you know what…

    Jeezz what are you all gonna talk about when Mrs W has flown back to her tax-funded little condo?

  • Mick Fealty

    Keano,

    Jumping the shark, would you say?

  • Henry94

    It is because she is clearly not our Queen that Irish nationalists are no so relaxed about her. The sovereignty of the north belongs to the people of the north in the Agreement and the British monarchs position in the north is conditional on the majority support. She can be voted out in the north. But even within that the right of Irish people in the north to Irish nationality is firmly established.

    For northern nationalists she is as much a foreign visitor as she is in Cork.

    How nice it was to see her entering a Catholic Church without having to put up we any of the abuse David Trimble was subjected to for the same thing a few years ago. It is a bit unfair that Sinn Fein are getting so much positive publicity when the increasing maturity of unionists is almost taken for granted..

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “recognising the fact that the Province is as much a part of the UK today as it was when she became Queen in 1952.” .. Alex Kane

    Except that it isn’t. Back in 1952 it’s most unlikely that the authorities in Northern Ireland were implementing a Dublin proposal that was rubber-stamped by London or that civil servants from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice in Dublin were involved in on-the-ground police decision-making here.

  • Mick Fealty

    Interesting metaphysical interpretation:

    “The sovereignty of the north belongs to the people of the north in the Agreement and the British monarchs position in the north is conditional on the majority support.”

    So we’re a republic within a monarchy?

  • Henry94

    Mick

    Close but not quite as there are only two allowed options in the exercise of sovereignty under our agreement. NI doesn’t have the option of independence for example. Or re-partition.

  • dwatch

    Nevin, Alex K is correct, the whole “National Territory” of NI is still very much part of the UK today as it was back in 1953. In fact Unionists of today are eveen more at ease with their neighbours in the ROI since: “Article 2 and Article 3 of the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann) were adopted with the constitution as a whole on 29 December 1937, but completely revised by means of the Nineteenth Amendment which took effect on 2 December 1999.[1] As amended they grant the right to be “part of the Irish Nation” to all of those born on the island of Ireland and express a desire for the peaceful political unification of the island subject to the consent of the people of Northern Ireland. Before 1999, Articles 2 and 3 made the claim that the whole island formed one “national territory”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Articles_2_and_3_of_the_Constitution_of_Ireland

  • Mick Fealty

    Henry,

    So the people of Northern Ireland have an ‘option’ rather than a ‘future’ (where the date transfer and value of the commodity is predetermined) on becoming part of the sovereign of the Republic. But for now, the sovereign surely is HMQ?

    I’m not trying to embarrass anyone here, but for once, surely some clarity on the matter (which is anything but creative or ambiguous) would surely help explain the action?

  • Brian Walker

    You’ve got to hand it to them. Sinn Fein have got us all focusing more on The Handshake and what it means to them, than on the jubilee and reconcilation between real people. As Bew says, they have to do something to keep up the interest..

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t think an end to abstention is imminent, for the same reasons as outlined by Henry. Personally I am not an abstentionist, but it is reality that while there are one or two minor advantages to being present in the Commons, by and large it is of limited interest to republicans. The DUP seem to spend most of their time there bigging up their British nationalist credentials, ie over Europe, terrorism, various wars etc.

    One could argue that things like air passenger duty were solved by MPs. In practice I suspect if every MP in NI abstained the problem would still have been brought to a head through the assembly and talks with the Secretary of State.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    dwatch, NI is still part of the UK and, as we saw in Portadown back in 1996, London has the final say. However, I doubt if many Unionists are aware of the roles played by Dublin ministers and officials in both devolved and non-devolved NI matters. As illustrated in the Dick Spring link London-Dublin ‘conversations with a purpose’ are in secret ie there is no scrutiny and therefore no accountability.

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    Indeed. Which will be why many have predicted it will happen, it’s not going. The matter is different for the DUP.

    They have to maintain proper independent relations with the British parties, and an odd bit of leverage in these hard times does not go amiss.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Sinn Fein have got us all focusing more on The Handshake”

    Brian, the Lyric performance is akin to a Brian Rix Whitehall farce. Just think even for a moment of the inconvenience that, say, President Higgins has been put to to hide Martin’s embarrassment. Do you suppose our little emperor will be wearing new clothes for this new ‘hand of history’ moment?

  • Mike the First

    Henry

    “For northern nationalists she is as much a foreign visitor as she is in Cork.”

    If true, this raises a few questions. Do they oppose the GFA? Do they just mentally blank out the bit about NI remaining part of the UK? Don’t they realise the Queen is Head of State of the UK? Do they imagine they live in the Republic of Ireland?

  • OneNI

    “For northern nationalists she is as much a foreign visitor as she is in Cork.”

    Indeed but many Irish Catholics are increasingly not northern nationalists.

  • tacapall

    If Sinn Fein would shake hands with the commander in chief of the British army in the interests of Ireland then why wouldn’t Sinn Fein go a step further and take their seats at Westminster in the interests of Ireland. A ballot box in one hand and an armalite in the other has been replaced with “By any means necessary” Whats the difference between denying you swore an oath and were a proud volunteer of the IRA and saying you’re swearing an oath, tongue in cheek to Mrs Windsor and taking seats in her parliament to further Ireland’s cause. Nothing can be ruled out, all’s fair in love and war and when outnumbered and all seems lost, when in Rome do as the Romans do.

  • Framer

    Everything Sinn Fein do in the north is about legitimising their war so if they felt that would be advanced that they would take their Westminster seats.
    Currently they are seriously reduced by not being able to participate in ‘big’ politics, especially global and international issues.
    Taking an oath to the Queen could be sold to the nationalist and part of the republican electorate on the grounds that they are missing out on money and power by absenting themselves.
    West Belfast may have gone SF in the 1980s where it didn’t in the 1920s but the people there and their needs are much the same.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Framer

    “Everything Sinn Fein do in the north is about legitimising their war”

    “A War to Be Proud Of” that is how they view it. A few mistakes was made but is that not the nature of war?

  • Henry94

    Mike

    NI remains part of the UK under the Agreement but the Irish people remain Irish and therefore by definition the English Queen is foreign

    Mick

    But for now, the sovereign surely is HMQ?

    No more than Michael D. is sovereign in the south. In reality the people are now sovereign in both jurisdictions.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick Fealty

    “So the people of Northern Ireland have an ‘option’ rather than a ‘future’!

    If you live in a place which has say “£5,000m” subvention then you have neither options or a future. The UK has a debt of £1,216,000,000,000. and when they get round to try and sort it out (a next UK government type problem) I wonder how they will tell “Oliver” or Billy that “NI” is being sold to Germany as a base for windmills.

  • http://andrewg.wordpress.com Andrew Gallagher

    Mister_Joe:

    DeValera took the oath eventually. Don’t SF claim some sort of allegiance to him?

    Dev had quit SF years before he committed that particular apostasy.

  • Mike the First

    Henry

    “NI remains part of the UK under the Agreement but the Irish people remain Irish and therefore by definition the English Queen is foreign”

    What you said was “For northern nationalists she is as much a foreign visitor as she is in Cork.”

    In fact she’s the Head of State of the UK, in a part of the UK.

    Does a “northern nationalist” living in, say, Manchester or Glasgow, see the Queen as “as much a foreign visitor as she is in Cork”?

  • Henry94

    They would probably consider themselves the visitor in that case Mike. I certainly would.

  • Neville Bagnall

    I don’t think it’ll happen too quickly, for political reasons.

    But logically, the political dispensation is settled and allows a republican perspective on the NI structures of state. Leaving the challenge of convincing a majority of the electorate of course.

    As for Westminster, republicanism has a long history within it, has never been limited by the oath and republicans and nationalists have always found reasoning and wording to express their dissent:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oB9n8T65Kw

    On a separate issue it’s always been my understanding that while the Queen is the sovereign, Parliament is sovereign under the unwritten UK constitution. After all, it is Parliament that determines who is the sovereign through the various succession related Acts.

    SF could argue (like other republicans) that since the Westminster Parliament is sovereign, the oath is merely the price of admission and a historically proven dead letter.

    They could further argue that Westminster has devolved the sovereignty of Northern Ireland to the People of Northern Ireland on a permanent basis. Similar to how it will devolve sovereignty to the People of Scotland if the referendum there includes an independence option.

    But of course, just as in 1921, ’27, ’36 and ’48, it’s much more about politics than an unenforceable “loyal oath”.

  • SDLP supporter

    I’m amused that Sinn Fein MPs consider themselves to be better Irishmen (or women) than Parnell, Davitt or even O’Connell, all of whom had no problem taking their seats at Westminster.

  • Neville Bagnall

    A further thought.

    There may be a case for SF to call for a sovereignty referendum under the terms of the GFA.

    When they lose, they could take their place within Westminster on the grounds that they were complying with the sovereign will of the People of Northern Ireland, (in devolved compliance with the will of the People of Ireland as endorsed through the referendums on the GFA).

    Yet still only recognise Westminster and the Queen as those institutions recognised with jurisdiction under the GFA.

    Convoluted? Definitely. But no more than the arguments that made the Army Council the “Government of Ireland”.

  • http://www.ur2die4.com/ amanfromMars

    Do none of yous realise that Sinn Fein is an organisation which easily morphs into an intelligent pragmatic position unencumbered of the past, with that particular and peculiar cross being something which their political opponents lumber themselves with?

    Or would that be considered too smart a view of them and too accurate a view of their unionist counterparts?

  • Mike the First

    Henry

    “They would probably consider themselves the visitor in that case Mike. I certainly would”

    There’s some mind-boggling illogicality in your “For northern nationalists she is as much a foreign visitor as she is in Cork” statement then.

    Recognising that NI remains part of the UK? Check, apparently.

    Recognising that the Queen is Head of State of the UK? Check, presumably.

    Recognising that whereas Cork is in the Republic of Ireland, a separate sovereign state outside the UK, Belfast, Enniskillen and the rest are in Northern Ireland? Check.

    So at what point does the “as much a foreign visitor as she is in Cork” bit arise?

  • Alias

    Sinn Fein (not the Provisional Sinn Fein) objected to taking seats in either the Irish or British parliament for two declared reasons: (a) they didn’t recognise the sovereign authority of either parliament, and (b) both parliaments required their members to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen. When the Irish parliament abolished the oath in the early 1930s (1933?), Sinn Fein still refused to take seats. That left reason (a) as the outstanding issue.

    Provisional Sinn Fein recognise the authority of both parliaments, with McGuinness being a British minister in Her Majesty’s government’s devolved administration and with all legislation by Her Majesty’s government’s devolved Assembly ending with Royal Assent.

    The issue with the the Shinners taking seats in Westminster then is not a refusal to recognise the legitimacy of British rule or its sovereign parliament but a refusal to recognise the queen as the head of state, and The Sovereign.

    As McGuinness, a minister Her Majesty’s government’s devolved administration, is meeting Her Majesty as his head of state, it would seem to be the case that the Shinners no longer refuse to recognise Her Majesty as the head of state. That then is the de facto resolution of reason (a).

    That frees up the Shinners from legacy doctrinal issues to proceed with the next stage(s) of the normalisation agenda and fuller integration into the British state, e.g. acceptance of the Queen as head of state, outward acceptance of the role of Westminster as the sovereign parliament – and further down the line, acceptance of honours, the same support for Her Majesty’s army as is given to Her Majesty’s police, etc.

    If later focus can be placed on the oath as the sole reason why the Shinners can’t complete the next stage of the normalisation agenda then amending the oath or providing an alternative version which omits mention of the Queen will overcome that objection, with the Shinners then able to present their fuller integration into the British state as another great victory for the sheep, etc.

  • Henry94

    Mike,

    Because Irish people are not British and Ireland may be divided into two states on a political level but we have no obligation to internalise that artificiality.

    The man who met the Queen this morning was an Irishman in Ireland. The Queen is not an Irish woman in Ireland but a British woman

  • Mike the First

    Still trying to cut through the layers of illogicality here, Henry.

    I was under the impression that rather a lot of the nationalist and republican aspiration was connected with what sovereign state this territory of ours belongs to. Now you seem to be saying that this can just be ignored by a sort of mental sticking your fingers in your ears. OK then – can the whole ambition to end the Union thing be dropped?

    If not, then we’re back to the fact that NI is part of the UK, a situation nationalists and republicans want to change but have recognised exists until the people of NI vote to change it. So the UK’s Head of State, when in this part of the UK, isn’t, by very definition a “foreign visitor” who is exactly like she would be if visiting a location in the sovereign and independent Republic of Ireland. Unless you’re engaging in some rather alarming doublethink.

    And let’s deconstruct the “The man who met the Queen this morning was an Irishman in Ireland. The Queen is not an Irish woman in Ireland but a British woman” bit.

    The Queen is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and this morning was in Northern Ireland. The national adjective of the UK is “British” – she was the British Head of State on British territory. If the UK bit causes you terminological difficulty, real or contrived, I can also put it like this, the Queen this morning was a British woman in the British Islands. I don’t think any of this will be new to you.

  • gendjinn

    sdlp supporter,

    I’m amused that Sinn Fein MPs consider themselves to be better Irishmen (or women) than Parnell, Davitt or even O’Connell, all of whom had no problem taking their seats at Westminster.

    Parnell, Davitt were home rulers who wanted to retain the monarchy, not republicans. O’Connell hunted down the rebels of 1798 alongside his British masters.

    SF have never said they are better than any of the three you cited, they have a republican objective requiring and offering an oath of allegiance to a foreign monarch is incompatible with that.

  • tacapall

    gendjinn

    “SF have never said they are better than any of the three you cited, they have a republican objective requiring and offering an oath of allegiance to a foreign monarch is incompatible with that.”

    Thats 19th century politics and waging war with Queensbury rules. This is the 20th century and politics is just another theatre to get a step further to the final objective – For all Irishmen to be in control of their own destinies. Well if you would kill for it why not just play with words to get the same thing.

  • JoeBryce

    Is there scope for creative thinking that improves everyone’s position?

    So, SF sits at Westminster.

    And:

    People in NI get a vote in the Irish Presidential election.

    Because ever since Mary Robinson the Irish president has been a de facto figurehead for the whole island. We may as well have a say in his / her election.

    There used to be northern nominees in the upper house of the Dail. Maybe there should be a certain number of elected positions from the north. Why not? At any given election we can vote for a councillor, an MLA, an MP or an MEP. What’s the problem with one more.

    The GFA crossed the big jump. National identity is accepted as being fluid and constitutional arrangements can be fashioned to accommodate the multiplicity of identity.

    Let’s play with ideas and see what we come up with.

  • lamhdearg2

    Conor (today on talkback) when ask by wendy “why”
    laid out the reasons why sf do not take their seats, when he had finished, Wendy did not take the chance to ask him if that means they wont be taking them. and no, she did not ask him about the DRD.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Can’t see why SF would take their seats in Westminster – a lot of loss of brand identity for them for no gain.

  • Mister_Joe

    Mainland Ulsterman,

    What if the last general election had been even closer and SF had held the balance of power?

  • Brian

    The fact that Provisional Sinn Fein has hijacked the name “Sinn Fein” from a proud, glorious truly patriotic party is just another in the long line of injustices they inflicted on the Irish people.

    As for the Westminster issue, they should start showing up to Parliament after they let their voters know that is what they plan on doing. I suspect they won’t lose many votes. If they show up, they may actually be the deciding vote on something important. (like whether to leave the Euro?)

  • Brian

    EU*

  • Clancy25

    “Mainland Ulsterman,

    What if the last general election had been even closer and SF had held the balance of power?”

    I agree with MU on this one. Westminster abstensionism allows Sinn Fein to have their cake and eat it- they can claim an ideological principle that doesn’t cause problems for their practical concerns and goals. The argument for ending it seems to be based on hypothetical scenarios that don’t really pop up THAT often in Westminster- there are also complicating factors like 8 DUP MPs, etc. that further reduce the opportunities for Sinn Fein to play that kind of kingmaker role.

    The problem with a lot of this speculation (which probably started the first time Adams won West Belfast almost 30 years ago) is that it’s based on the “logic” that because SF dropped or modified policy A over in this corner so naturally they HAVE to drop policy B over here in due course. I don’t think its as simple as that- it’s doesn’t necessarily follow that decommisioning after years of saying “not a bullet, not an ounce” means anything for abstensionism for example. But that’s how some of the media speculation over the years seems to have played out.

    You really have to look at the individual policies and the practical pros and cons for keeping them or dropping them. Do I think Sinn Fein would change their mind if there was a vote tomorrow that would decide on a United Ireland and they were the deciding votes- of course they would. But its not going to be decided on a Westminster vote.

    The devolved assemblies I think have removed some of the relevance of Westminster, both psychologically and practically. And I have a feeling the next ten years will be very interesting in terms of devolving further powers and establishing more of a federal Britain (if not outright dissolving it). That’s where Sinn Fein should concentrate their efforts at this point.

  • Alias

    Clancy, it all depends on whether you regard the current leaders of the Shinners as free agents or agents of influence.

  • Clancy25

    Yes, i suspect we would have very different opinions on that. ;)

  • Mike the First

    JoeBryce

    “Because ever since Mary Robinson the Irish president has been a de facto figurehead for the whole island.”

    I strongly disagree. Maybe nationalists like to see the Republic’s president that way, but I would say that most people in Northern Ireland see him/her as simply the head of a neighbouring state, and certainly not a “figurehead” for NI as well as the Republic of Ireland.

  • jonno99

    or perhaps the de facto figurehead for all nationalists in Ireland (island of)

  • Alias

    Here’s a quote from Mary Robinson, Queen of All-Ireland:

    I asked Mary Robinson if the great changes Ireland has undergone, north and south, in recent years mean that we have moved closer to a re-united Ireland. Perhaps significantly, given that she speaks as a former president, Dr Robinson said this constitutional question “isn’t on the agenda” and “doesn’t need to be on the agenda”. In fact, she said, the notion of a united Ireland ” isn’t even relevant to the context of what is happening [here now] … There is no constituency of pressure for a united Ireland.” She explained that when asked by Irish Americans, “Do you see the day?” she replies, “Not really.”

  • PaddyReilly

    I would say that most people in Northern Ireland see him/her as simply the head of a neighbouring state, and certainly not a “figurehead” for NI as well as the Republic of Ireland.
    An interesting question. I would imagine that Nationalists/Catholics see her as their president, Unionists/Protestants do not, and Alliance bods are neutral.

    We could use the matter to test the water for when to start the Unification process. Unionists are trying to delay this for as long as feasible by restricting the vote to once in every 7 years. In the meantime, we could have a proxy referendum involving the head of state. I would recommend questions such as:-

    Should the head of state of Northern Ireland be

    1) Queen Elizabeth (and her heirs and assigns);
    2) The President of the Irish Republic;
    3) both of the above?

    In the event of neither 1) nor 2) being above 50%, then 3) should be the solution. The precedent is the principality of Andorra, whose joint princes are the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell.

  • lamhdearg2

    I would recommend questions such as

    Should people that want to be part of an irish republic,

    1) move to it
    2) live in the U.K. and dry their eyes
    3) yap and moan, but live in the kingdom anyway

    In the event neither 1 or 2 is the option they take, then 3 will have to do.

  • Republic of Connaught

    You left out option 4, Lamhdearg.

    Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and most of county Derry will secede by democratic majority to come under the jurisdiction of Dublin..

    Because that’s what will happen if the nationalists ever truly feel a 32 county republic is completely unattainable.

  • Pete Baker

    “Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and most of county Derry will secede by democratic majority to come under the jurisdiction of Dublin..

    Because that’s what will happen if the nationalists ever truly feel a 32 county republic is completely unattainable.”

    Nonsense.

  • Mister_Joe

    Never say never, of course, but all the evidence seems to indicate that a 32 county republic is unattainable. I await the imminent (?) secession with interest, glad that i can watch it from a distance.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Pete Baker,

    If the nationalist community ever really believed unification was unattainable, then NI will not remain a 6 county entity. Only northern nationalists belief in eventual unification keeps the six counties together at they are.

  • SK

    “If the nationalist community ever really believed unification was unattainable, then NI will not remain a 6 county entity. Only northern nationalists belief in eventual unification keeps the six counties together at they are.”

    __________

    That’s a fair point.

    The unionist minority invented a new jurisdiction for itself when democracy didn’t suit it; why shouldn’t nationalists be entitled to do something similar?

  • lamhdearg2

    RoC, “but live in the Kingdom anyway” I never said it would be forever,ie “completely unattainable.”.
    In truth my comment was just a reaction to paddys 3 way split 50% , dare I say it, yes I do, Crap.
    ps, I and quite a few it would seem* other non irish nats, do not have a problem with the irish prez, if Ulster based irish nats want to SEE the prez as their head of state then so be it.
    *I don’t see folk taking to the hills to inslut the irish prez, with lizzie is our leader signs when the prez visits.

  • Republic of Connaught

    That’s fair enough, Lamhdearg. I thought the flag and sign on the hill was pointless myself. Although the fact the Irish president isn’t given any formal recognition in NI, ie. a reception at Stormont after his/her inauguration, is something that will have to change if the nationalist vote continues to grow.

    As regards a re-drawing of the border; that is inevitable IMO in the years ahead – 25/30 years – if full independence isn’t achieved by then. And if the ‘nationalists’ in the north prefer to stay under UK rule then re-draw the border with no UI in sight, then we can take it they are not Irish nationalists at all.

  • Mister_Joe

    ..they are not Irish nationalists at all….

    How modest of you to claim the right to define other folks Irishness.

  • Mister_Joe

    Just to clarify; I am Irish, both by law and self-definition. I would never vote to join a State where a church, any church, had almost exclusive control over education of the young.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Joe,

    An Irish nationalist is defined by their actions, not hot air about identity. So if you’re an Irish nationalist living in any part of Ireland, being part of the Irish nation state is the logical political/social desire.

    Living on the island of Ireland but opting to remain part of the British nation state – the UK – is the mark of a British unionist. Nothing wrong with being a British unionist, of course. But there’s no sense in denying it, either.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Mister Joe: “I would never vote to join a State where a church, any church, had almost exclusive control over education of the young.”

    A valid point about the church and one I agree with. I want to see a totally secular 32 county Ireland. But you change things in your country you don’t like by getting in there fighting for change, Joe. Not by complaining from the other side of the border about things you don’t like in the South and doing absolutely nothing to change it.

  • Mister_Joe

    Once again, how modest of you to abrogate the right to yourself to define me as a British Unionist. I remain forever indebted to your cleverness.

  • sdelaneys

    gendjinn “Parnell, Davitt were home rulers who wanted to retain the monarchy, not republicans. O’Connell hunted down the rebels of 1798 alongside his British masters.”

    I’d be interested in reading a bit about O’Connell and ’98 because I hadn’t heard that claim before and it reminds me of McGuinness standing on the steps of Stormont with his British overlord and their chief of police calling the more recent ‘rebels’ traitors to Ireland and also reminds me of O’Connell’s call for fairer treatment from the British for the Irish saying they would then be a kind of West Britons and this seems to be the first manifestation of the SF ‘equality agenda’.

  • Republic of Connaught

    I didn’t call you anything, Joe. But you seem confused by simpe reality.

    If a person lives in Northern Ireland and would vote to remain part of the UK rather than a unified Ireland then they are a de facto British Unionist. They can call themselves ‘Irish Unionist’ if it helps them sleep at night but it amounts to the same thing if are voting to remain part of the British nation state, rather than join with the Irish nation state.

  • Mister_Joe

    ..you change things in your country you don’t like by getting in there fighting for change…

    Reality? In 1891, the population of the Republic of Ireland was approximately 10% Protestant; in 1991 the figure was around 3% indicating a fall of 70% in the relative Protestant population over the past century. Good luck in your fight for secularization.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Is that meant to suggest to me that in 2012 a Protestant Irishman faces sectarian discrimination in the ROI, Joe?

    How many of those Protestants who left the new republic wanted by choice to go north of the border to the Protestant state for a Protestant people under UK rule? Or are you suggesting each and all of them were burned out? How many of them were ethnically Anglo-Irish and wanted to leave Ireland once England didn’t have jurisdiction here anymore?

    The ROI state will be secular anyway by 2020 whether the northern Protestants join it or not.

  • Alias

    Joe, if you’re Irish “by law” then you’ve already joined the Irish state.

    I assume then that you mean that you wouldn’t exercise your right to self-determination as a British citizen of Northern Ireland in favour of reunifiation. Which is fair enough.

    Incidentally, that is your right as a British citizen exclusively since no Irish citizen has that right by virtue of being an Irish citizen.

    In regard to self-definition: that is meaningless. Nobody has the right to be an Irish citizen by an act of self-definition, no more than you have the right to self-define as Japanese or as any other nationality.

    Instead, they must apply for Irish citizenship as the procedure is set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004. Under that Act, a person born in Northern Ireland is born as a British citizen, and not as an Irish citizen. If the person who is born British in Northern Ireland also wants to hold Irish citizenship then he must apply for an Irish passport, and thereby do any an act that only an Irish citizen is entitled to do.

    If the person does not apply for an Irish passport then he is not an Irish citizen. Even if he applies to become an Irish citizen he remains as a British citizen unless he applies to the Home Office to renounce his British citizenship and is successful in that application.

    There is no constitutional right for a person born in NI to be an Irish citizen and neither is it conferred on you by place of birth, so that is entirely at the discretion of the Irish parliament who may at any time amend the Act.

  • Alias

    Incidentally, the reason the Act was so amended is that it is illegal under international law for one state to claim the citizens of another state. In other words, Germany does not have a right to claim that those born in France as German. When Ireland gave up its territorial claim to Northern Ireland it had also to amend its domestic law in addition to its constitutional law.

  • Mister_Joe

    …must apply for an Irish passport..

    I have one.

  • Mister_Joe

    qalias,

    You are being obtuse. As i pointed out to you a few days ago when you implied that reunification was now impossible because of the GFA, nations can abrograte treaties if they so wish. Now you are using the same argument against me. i am gratified.

  • Mister_Joe

    Sorry, “Alias”. Double stroke of my finger.

  • Alias

    You clearly didn’t understand that argument then, just as you don’t understand the one above.

    I did not say that “reunification was now impossible because of the GFA” – that is pure invention on your part.

    I said that once you concede a principle, you can’t ‘un-concede’ it.

  • Mister_Joe

    Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.
    Groucho Marx