Does the South really want the North as part of Ireland?

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A Note from the Next Door Neighbours (72) 

August 2012

DOES THE SOUTH REALLY WANT THE NORTH AS PART OF IRELAND?

It is difficult to overstate the lack of interest there is among people in the Republic these days in Northern Ireland, and in relations between North and South. As somebody who works in the North and lives in the South, my experience in recent years, as the economic and financial crisis has come to dominate all public discourse, is that people in the Republic simply don’t want to know.

‘People in the South are utterly happy with its 26 county shape: their mental map is the 26 counties,’ says a Southerner who has held senior public office in both jurisdictions. ‘When there was active violence in the North, and people saw the Northern conflict on the television every night, their consciousness was more elevated. Now there is no longer a constituency of the concerned in the South.’

There is a constituency – it is difficult to know how large it is – who would go further and say that after over 90 years of going their very different ways, the two are separate places, and that is the way to keep them. This view was articulated by the young woman  in the audience who attacked Martin McGuinness on the game-changing RTE Frontline programme during last October’s presidential campaign in the following words: ‘As a young Irish person, I am curious as to why you have come down here to this country, with all your baggage, your history, your controversy? And how do you feel you can represent me, as a young Irish person, who knows nothing of the Troubles and who doesn’t want know anything about it?’ (emphases as spoken).

The senior figure quoted above believes that ‘the greatest challenge for the North-South dimension of the [peace] process is persuading people in the Republic of its importance.’ He emphasises the need for more ‘people to people’ cooperation across the border, with a particular emphasis on the unionist community, who will feel increasingly beleaguered as Northern Ireland becomes demographically ‘greener.’ Unionists should ‘not have to leave their British identity outside the door’ to engage in such cooperation, he says. The Irish government needs to pay special attention to unionism, which is feeling less confident than ever, with Catholic pupils and students now making up majorities at every level of the NI education system, the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence and the lack of an obvious leader to succeed Peter Robinson.

The distinguished journalist Olivia O’Leary agrees. At the inaugural Garret Fitzgerald Spring School she urged the assembled dignitaries to re-animate North-South cooperation.  She proposed three ways in which this might be done: through more ‘people to people’ cooperation; more cooperation (to mutual benefit) in the joint provision of public services; and the economic and social development of the often marginalised border region.

For any of this to happen the dominant mood of boredom with and disengagement from the North will have to change, although I don’t see this happening any time soon.  However it does beg the bigger, longer-term question: Does the South really want the North as part of an eventual united Ireland?

Opinion polls over the past decade or so show that a bare majority of people in the Republic now say they want Irish unity.[1] As long ago as the mid-1980s the political scientist Peter Mair described the attitude of Irish voters as: ‘Unity would be nice. But if it’s going to cost money, or result in violence, or disrupt the moral and social equilibrium, then it’s not worth it.’[2] This view was stated again in a 2011 survey of attitudes to North-South relations among a sample of University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast social science students.  As one UCD student put it: ‘Neither of us want it [Northern Ireland]: neither us nor the UK government. I’d say if you asked the majority of Irish people – yes, nationalists, out of a sense of allegiance, might say they wanted a united Ireland – but it’s really far more trouble than it’s worth. I mean, to integrate Northern Ireland into this state – why would you be bothered? The status quo satisfies everyone.’[3]

But history doesn’t stand still. If Scotland becomes independent after a referendum in 2014 (or maybe five to ten years later if there is an inconclusive result and the Scottish Nationalists demand a re-run), it will surely only be a matter of time before the English government (because it will be largely English by then) and people start asking themselves what is the point of their continuing constitutional union with the north-eastern corner of Ireland. One doesn’t have to be a Sinn Feiner to wonder what will be the position of the government and people of the rest of Ireland in that eventuality. It is a question that they would almost certainly prefer not to contemplate. But it is one which they need to start  thinking about very seriously.

Andy Pollak

PS  Wasn’t it nice to see Belfast celebrating two local boxers winning Olympic medals for Ireland, and Coleraine celebrating three local rowers winning Olympic medals for the UK?  This is the kind of ‘both Irish and British’ identity we in the new Northern Ireland can begin to enjoy, rather than the divisive, often violent ‘either/or’ of Irish nationalism versus Ulster unionism. And wasn’t it great to see Katie Taylor, a Pentecostalist and evangelical Protestant from Bray, Co Wicklow, winning a boxing gold medal in such thrilling style for Ireland?  There must be a few stereotypes beginning to creak there, particularly in the North.

 


[1]  e.g. the European Values Survey (1999-2000) found that 54% of people favoured Irish unity.

[2]  Mair, P. (1987), ‘Breaking the Nationalist Mould: The Irish Republic and the Anglo-Irish Agreement’, in Beyond the Rhetoric: Politics, the Economy and Social Policy in Northern Ireland, ed. P.Teague

[3]  De Burca, A. and Hayward, K. (2012), ‘The Agreement Generation: Young People’s views on the Cross-Border Relationship, Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland, No.7

  • OneNI

    “The Irish government needs to pay special attention to unionism, which is feeling less confident than ever, with Catholic pupils and students now making up majorities at every level of the NI education system, the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence and the lack of an obvious leader to succeed Peter Robinson.”

    Oh dear oh dear. It might be that wee Protestant orange ‘unionism’ is feeling unconfident but given that support for the Union is surging in the Life and Times survey the idea that Unionism in the broadest sense lacks confidence is nonsense.
    Given the economic state of the Republic there is more chance of the Republic joining the UK

    As for the nonsense about ‘Catholics making up majorities’ havent we done this to death? Just as Catholics in the South are turning their backs on ‘Irish Unity’ many Irish Catholics in the north are prefectly reconciled to life in the UK. Face reality.

    Salmond knows the Scottish independance goose is cooked even if you hope otherwise

    It really shows the underlying weakness of the simplistic ‘its all one island so it should be one country’ Irish Nationalism in that it failed to defeat what passed for Unionist Leadership over the past 30 years. It shows that Unionism can see off Irish Nationalism with weak or next to no leadership so robbo going will be no loss

    Why would England (in the unlikely event of Scottish independence) question NI’s position in the UK now when it stuck by it through the huge political and financial expense of the Troubles? At the very least there approach will be ‘let sleeping dogs lie’

    Read some economics, do some mathematics a United Ireland is completely for the birds. Frankly anyone suggesting it as a viable proposition should seek medical help

    Does the Republic want the North? Absolutely not.

    A more relevant question is can the Republic survive?

  • JH

    Largely agree with the article, but

    OneNI:
    “Read some economics, do some mathematics a United Ireland is completely for the birds. Frankly anyone suggesting it as a viable proposition should seek medical help”

    Have you done any of the economics? From what I can see they go completely against your argument. You describe the notion of ‘one island, one country’ as simplistic then go on to rely on (presumably) simplistic economics to justify your own position.

    Such as that old classic “sure the south can’t afford the north!”, which completely ignores that the deficit in the North is lockstep with the maintenance of the Union with Britain.

  • OneNI

    Perhaps the most insidious and irritating thing about this article is that is its underlying assumption that north-south cooperation is about reassuring unionists. The implication is that ‘things are headed in one direction’ towards a United Ireland.
    Complete nonsense
    I support north- south cooperation for mutual benefit of all on this island and to help nationalists become reconciled to the fact that their will never be a United Ireland.

    Frankly the population of the Republic reached that reconciliation years ago. Time for the slow learners to catch up. Incidentally Olivia O’Leary’s three ideas for co-operation fit that scenario just as easily as your obviously crypto nationalist agenda

  • whelp

    Ah yes, nothing like a little of the innate unionist superiority surfacing, mixed with a pinch of schadenfreude.

    Fear not, OneNI, we will continue to survive, difficult though it will be. More importantly, we shall do so on our own and as an economically viable unit and not hanging – subsidised to the hilt – to the coat tails of those across the water. Who, incidentally, would ditch you in the morning if they could, for all your professed Britishness.

    Returning to the original subject, the writer is sadly quite correct about your average southerner, most of whom feel little connection with those in the North in an increasingly globalised world. Unfortunately, the frequent sectarian spats are of no interest now the ‘national question’ is viewed to have been largely settled, at least in terms of violent conflict.

    That leads to questions like the one outlined above, which was asked by either a Fianna Fail or Fine Gael stooge, if I recall correctly. They do reflect a certain mindset though, particularly in Dublin, no doubt about it.

    The best chance of a united Ireland will be part of a united Europe. That might seem a long way off at the moment, but down the line the little Englanders will quickly set their prejudices aside once they realise their very economic survival is at stake confronted by the growing dominance of the likes of China, Brazil and India.

  • OneNI

    JH To be clear the economy of the north is a basket case. totally dependant on UK subvention.
    The Republics economy is screwed beyond redemption.
    The idea of a UI is clearly nuts.
    The UK economy is in deep difficulties but is recoverable.

    Of course its not all about economics but are people for the north increasingly happy in the econonic and cultural mix that is the UK? Yes!

    Nationalists rabbit on about how ‘unionists’ would have much more influence in an all island set up. ‘sure you are only one million in 60 at Westminster’
    Number one it is deeply worrying that nationalists seem to see ‘unionists’ as a tribe that EVEN in aUI would require separate political representation – it reeks of racism frankly.

    More importantly they fail to see through the nonsense about the benefits of an ‘all island’ economy are completely outstripped by the benefits of the UK economy AND they cannot see that the Republic is now in the control of the ECB at best and the Germans at worst. It seems Irish unity under German control (as part of a EU monolith) is preferable to the UK?

    I suspect given the straight choice most north Irish Catholics will increasingly stick with the UK option over the psuedo independant option.

  • sonofstrongbow

    If a united Ireland is such a dead cert why the need for the constant navel gazing? Why not just await the arrival of the tide of baby nationalists at their destination (Dublin Central?)?

    If Irish Nationalism is assured of its ultimate victory why does it grasp at any straw in the wind as the harbinger of A Nation Once Again? (The most recent was the Team GB name during the Olympics – ‘they’ve left out NI, they don’t really luurve you ya know’)

    If it’s for the benefit of unionists in order that we see the writing on the wall and thus save ourselves a nice cosy place on the Ireland of Equals may I, as a unionist, say don’t bother on my account.

    Just relish your Golden Future Time, but in silence please.

  • Brian

    The idea of an a united Ireland lost its luster after 35 years plus of murder, outrage, hatred, and destruction.

    the ROI has other things to worry about besides accomodating a bunch of bigots, two tribes that hate each other, and a massive welfare payments.

  • Obelisk

    The Life and Times survey isn’t a guide, it’s more of a snapshot demonstrating increasing political apathy in favour of the status quo in these, for us at least quiet times.

    Andy is projecting forward, showing the changes that MAY happen over the coming years that could disturb that emerging apathetic consensus.

    He mentions the inevitable demographic shift, when the North becomes majority Irish over majority British. How would you feel about a Northern Ireland where the majority were culturally Irish and politcally Nationalist? How many decades before people start asking what is the point of two Irish majority states on the same small island?

    He talks of the ramifications of the constitutional upheavel happening in Scotland, because even if Salmond loses does anyone think the current arrangement will continue?
    How would the North work if Britishness continues to be deconstructed by the growing nationalism in Scotland and England.

    Why does nobody want to answer the hard questions he poses for everyone north and south? Sticking your head into the sand and pointing to the snapshot of the Life and Times Survey as a totem for security will not help.

    Nationalism isnt the only ideology here that has to come up with some difficult answers in the coming years.

  • ayeYerMa

    How can the southern part of Ireland tell the northern part of Ireland that it is not part of Ireland? The very question merely shows the arrogance in the south in thinking that they are “Ireland” and the contempt that they have for the North.

    As for your “wasn’t it nice” postscript — NO — northerners competing for the southern team under a southern flag and southern anthem is NOT the “Both Irish and British identity we in the new Northern Ireland can begin to enjoy”. The southern Republican team is NOT the Irish team and does NOT represent the island, and is completely incompatible and counter-productive to the concept of an “agreed Ireland” and agreed Irish idenitity promoted by more reasonable forms of “Irish Nationalists”.

  • JH

    OneNI:
    “To be clear the economy of the north is a basket case. totally dependant on UK subvention.
    The Republics economy is screwed beyond redemption.
    The idea of a UI is clearly nuts.
    The UK economy is in deep difficulties but is recoverable.”

    To me this attitude is a large part of the problem.

    The Republic’s economy is not ‘beyond redemption’. In fact it’s still pretty strong and has good potential for recovery. It went back to the bond markets a couple of weeks ago.

    The UK’s economy is strong but, in my opinion, too reliant upon capital markets and defense contracts; i.e. banking and arms sales, which are volatile markets.

    But to your original point; the economy of the north is not a ‘basket case’ any more than anywhere else. It has it’s quirks but let’s face it, we’re far back in line in terms of the UK Exchequer’s priorities.

    Now let me make one controversial point and please don’t jump to the usual defences but try to reason it out, because I’m genuinely interested in the Unionist position on this.

    It’s protected in the GFA that Unionists’ Britishness should be respected and I thoroughly agree with that. What I don’t like, however, is that I feel that I’m expected to pay for that aspiration with the potential for a prosperous economy and an ambitious future for my kids etc.

    I would predict that when the current generation of, let’s call them, ‘Troubles-people’, ages and dies off that people will start to look, as Scottish people are now, reasonably and objectively towards what the Union is really doing for them.

  • OneNI

    when the North becomes majority Irish over majority British. How would you feel about a Northern Ireland where the majority were culturally Irish and politcally Nationalist?’

    Obelisk you obviously feel these two sentences follows each other naturally.

    Number one you make the mistake of thinking everyone views things in black and white like you do.
    Many of those from an Irish Catholic background have a more nuanced approach.

    Even if they all saw themselves as ‘culturally Irish’ they are not necessarily politically nationalist.

    What is ‘culturally Irish’ am I culturally Irish is I support Ireland in the rugby?

    What if I follow English football and watch English soap operas (on Irish TV stations) am I ‘culturally British’

    I think you realise the nationalist goose is cooked – not just because you pose the question about ‘hard question’ but in your opening remarks you come close to admitting that unless there is some unforeseen upheaval (violence retruning?) that the status quo will not radically alter.

    Personally I think we will begin to see political discontent in the south after the budget and for years to come. Ironically this will see SF progress in the South while more and more in the north clutch to the safety blanket of the UK

  • Obelisk

    By politically Nationalist, I meant the majority community is going to vote for parties drawn from our side of the Community i.e SInn Fein and/or the SDLP.

    If you hold the Life and Times survey as truth, then Nationalists apathetic on unification are already doing this.

    As for culturally Irish, its an invitation to play word games. If I said the Irish people of the North rather than the British people of the North, you’d accuse of me of having a narrow view of Irishness. If I said Catholics, you’d say not all Catholics are Nationalist. If I said Nationalist, you’d probably say their numbers are dwindling because fewer and fewer actively pursue unity according to recent surveys. I said culturally Irish in the hopes it would be specific enough, indicating Nationalists but also including those who no longer care but are culturally Irish. But alas it seems I was mistaken. I will try a more specific definition.

    The people who voted for Sinn Fein/SDLP, those in favour of unity, those who don’t care but wouldn’t mind if it came about. are mostly Catholic, play GAA, see Traditional Irish music as a strong part of their cultural heritage and not fiddle-di-dee music, have a regard for the Irish language and don’t see the people of the South as foreign.

    Have I missed anything there in trying to define the bloc that is destined to become the majority in the North, or have I somehow again managed to offend you over something I’ve missed?

    My opening remarks weren’t in regards to unforseen upheavels. They relate to the very foreseen upheavels that Andy talked about and which every Unionist poster has ignored, instead launching into bitter diatribes about how unity is impossible and how the original post is what, crypto-nationalism?

    It’s crypto-nationalism now to point out that the North will one day be majority…culturally Irish (I’ll use that a shorthand for the spiel I typed out above)?. What is your reaction to that? How will we work symbols and flags then?

    How will you react to the sight of a Sinn Fein First Minister parading about saying ’till the conditions are right for unity, my job is to extract every last pound from the British Exchequer for YOUR benefit and the wider UK good be damned.’ You know, like Peter Robinson does now but without the pro-Britishness.

    What is your plan for what is happening in Scotland? Even if Salmond loses he’s going to do enough to ensure the Union will have to be reshaped afterwards to accomodate Scottish Nationalism.

    What about English Nationalism? The English seem to resent us all as spongers. They don’t like paying us money.

    I’ll admit Nationalism has a fair set of challenges ahead but this thread isn’t about that.

    What answers do you have for Andy’s very valid points beyond ‘It’s never going to happen!’?

  • Pete Baker

    Andy

    The senior figure quoted above believes that ‘the greatest challenge for the North-South dimension of the [peace] process is persuading people in the Republic of its importance.’ He emphasises the need for more ‘people to people’ cooperation across the border, with a particular emphasis on the unionist community, who will feel increasingly beleaguered as Northern Ireland becomes demographically ‘greener.’

    Futuring, much?

    Actually, the need, such as it is, to persuade people in the Republic of the importance of the North-South dimension is because of its perceived importance to northern nationalists.

    It is they who are being placated, and a bit patronised, by that North-South dimension.

    Having signed up to an agreement that secured Northern Ireland’s place in the UK until such time as a referendum in Northern Ireland, and a separate one in the Republic, decided otherwise, there is the not unreasonable lingering thought that such a twin referendum success might not be achievable for some considerable time – if at all.

    Hence the bigging up of the current limited discussions between separate jurisdictions as a balm for those feverish brows that might start thinking about what they had actually agreed to.

    No wonder Sinn Féin are, as you have noted, at best ambivalent about that North-South dimension. It isn’t quite what they promised, is it?

    And, after all, nothing is inevitable.

  • http://www.openunionism.com oneill

    Obelisk

    He mentions the inevitable demographic shift, when the North becomes majority Irish over majority British

    Northern Ireland may already be “majority” Irish, “British/Irish” or “Northern Irish”. That’s not what he (and you are) saying; he’s saying “majority” “Catholic” although he is delicate enough not to put it in such sectarian terms.

    Reading one of Mr Pollock’s pieces sometimes feels like travelling back into a time where everything a bit more black and white (or “Irish” and “British” if you like) than it is now.

    I guess keeping it in black and white terms keeps the EU funding floating up to the ivory towers.

    So…
    The Irish government needs to pay special attention to unionism, which is feeling less confident than ever, with Catholic pupils and students now making up majorities at every level of the NI education system, the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence and the lack of an obvious leader to succeed Peter Robinson.

    Political protestantism (if such a creature actually exists) may feel stressed about the thought of all those little Catholic babies on their way but the Union is as strong now as it has been since anytime since the 50s. OK, that is largely down to the complete inability of SF and the SDLP to move beyond their own ethno-nat bunkers and start looking for a way to appeal to the unconvinced middle and also because of the financial collapse of the ROI but take a vote tomorrow on our constitutional future and everyone knows what the answer would be.

    If anything, I would say political Unionism is perhaps too over-confident in believing that a future generation of Shinners without blood on their hands will continue the same good pro-Union work of Gerry and Co.

    Similarly, the Scottish Referendum. At the present moment in time Salmond is on the run. And if he’s slaughtered at the polls in 2014, that will strengthen Unionist confidence in NI?

    There is a lack of an obvious charismatic leader to follow Robinson. But there are plenty of the ex-QUB brigade in middle/management positions of the DUP who are presently running rings round their SF counterparts. Unionism doesn’t need another Paisley or god save us all, Adams. Competent, experienced and with a deep knowledge of how their opponents’ mind work- that’s all which is required.

    “It is difficult to overstate the lack of interest there is among people in the Republic these days in Northern Ireland, and in relations between North and South.”

    People on the island are no longer killing each other, we don’t have to be best buddies, but by and large we get on and if we aren’t worried about what each other gets up to on a micro level then so what?

    Cooperation is happening- it probably didn’t fit into Mr Pollack’s agenda to take note of all the background happening round the Queen’s visit for instance.

    Economically, socially, culturally and even politically that cooperation doesn’t require a highly excited or motivated general populace either side of the border.

    “But history doesn’t stand still.”

    Nor does it move in a pre-determined straight line A-B (as explained by Karl Popper in the Poverty of Historicism).
    The Union is not predetermined to doom (nor last for ever). Events may move in a line which means NI may become more *Irish* (whatever that may mean), events may move in a way in which that simultaneously occurs within a continuing British context (whatever that may mean).

    Mr Pollock, as I said before, seems to be a believer in the black/white, either/or version of Irish history which may no necessarily be our future as it has been our past.

    If it isn’t, then we’ll have the collapse of a complete Peace and Reconciliation industry and 1000s of unemployed Mr Pollocks to deal with but that could well be a cheap price to pay for what is a more healthy co-existance on the island.

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

    Andy, your stuff looks OK on the main site, but all those font-size=small and font-family=calibri spans cock up the embedded RSS rendering. Are you using Word to edit your blog posts?

    OneNI, Obelisk: you guys should start using “Hun” and “Taig” more often. It would get you out of the semantic feedback loop you’ve trapped yourselves in.

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

    Hmph. Seem to have cocked up some HTML myself. ;-)

  • Dewi

    Strange Andy – i reckon 99 percent in the south would vote for a United Ireland,

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

    i reckon 99 percent in the south would vote for a United Ireland

    At any price?

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    At the kernel of this thread it is being suggested:

    (a) that the Catholic/Nationalist community in Northern Ireland has grown apart culturally from people in the Republic; and
    (b) that this has damaged hopes of a United Ireland to such an extent that only a break-up of the United Kingdom by the Scots can turn things around for them.

    So Alex Salmond is the new champion of the Irish Nationalist cause. Rumour has it that Gerry and Martin are planning to send over their army of canvassers to help the SNP with their referendum campaign taking their inspiration from David O’Hara (the Irish fighter) in the Braveheart film.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yawn. When are we going to talk about important stuff ? Like how the global economic recession is about to enter another sharp downturn. Of course, silly me, that is a ridiculous idea – let’s waste more time going over the same old crap that we’ve been waffling endlessly about for generations.

  • Mister_Joe

    Would a “yes” answer to the question be used by some to “prove” that the Irish stereotype of a thick people is correct?

  • SK

    As a kid, it was customary in my house to have RTE news on in the background as we sat down to dinner. The headline was always the same; the angelus bell always signaled another round of fighting amongst our louder, angrier cousins up north. It’s shameful, but watching you lot kick the shit out of eachother made for interesting viewing. It was like watching a nature show, exotic and atavistic and frightening, but also familiar at the same time. Then peace broke out, so we changed the channel.

    I think honest unionists would acknowledge that most people in mainland Britain wouldn’t give a toss if Northern Ireland floated off towards the artic in the morning. Likewise, most nationalists know in their heart of hearts that we currently have bigger fish to fry down here at the minute.

    The economics are not right for unity and they may never be. I find myself reconciling this reality with a belief that partition is one the greatest tragedies to ever befall the island. Even the people who sought to impose the border, did so while holding their noses. For me, it’s not the connection of NI to Britain that is unfortunate, but the fact that such a connection necessitates a separation from us.

    Economic realities aside, things are not as black and white as the hardliners on either side like to suggest. We’re not identical down here. But we’re not foreign either. We’re not alien. Hopefully there will come a time when people up north on both sides can feel some sense of kinship with the rest of the us.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    The question is do SF want NI to work, or would they prefer it to continue to slide downwards.

    In the longer term the more serious the economic situation becomes in NI the better for SF and the more it improves the worse for their ambitions.

    Their actions over the coming years and months will reveal a lot about where they stand. Unless they desire to tell us now.

  • Erasmus

    There is an element of wishful thinking in the opening article. A recent Sunday Business Post poll showed support levels for a UI at 83%.
    I am a southerner by the way.

  • Ruarai

    RE: Southerners’ attitudes to the north/to a UI. Wrong questions.

    Right question: Strength of southerners’ attitudes to matters of state/UI.

    (Tip to communication strategists: If ‘strength of attitudes’ is weak – and on this question it is – simply label group as: “undecided/open to strongest case” then target said group with winning framing, at the right time.)

    Andy, I think you’re asking the wrong question in the following respect.

    Sure, the attitudes of southerners are important but it’s not their attitudes in favour of a UI that we should be measuring (people not feeling very strongly in favour of an abstract and-as-yet undefined concept is understandable). Afterall, (A) Southerners who must reorder their own state have enough to worry about just now and (B) Southerners generally don’t worry enough about matters within their own state never mind inter-state matters.

    The key metric, for now, is attitudinal strength, not attitudinal preference.

    As an Irish Nationalist, it’s the lack of strength of feeling in the south with regards to a whole host of matters, past and present, that concerns me more than their attitudes with regards to future constructs of state.

    If there was a metric indicating strong feeling in the South in opposition to the concept of a UI – that would be news and cause for alarm among Nationalists.

    As is, the only significant attitude in the south is the lack of strong attitudes on these questions.

    The debate will be shaped by the orators and visionaries of the future not the apathetic and distracted people of the present.

    It’s all to play for.

  • dwatch

    If the South were really serious about wanting the North they would not have agreed to change articles 2 & 3 of the Irish Constitution when signing the GFA.

  • tuatha

    I wouldn’t have the North as a gift, even with the MASSIVE subsidies from the British Exchequer. Some things are worth more than money and they do NOT include Planter mentality & Mad Dog wannabes.

  • Reader

    dwatch: If the South were really serious about wanting the North they would not have agreed to change articles 2 & 3 of the Irish Constitution when signing the GFA.
    It seems like a reasonable and responsible position to take actually. Far healthier than the previous version, and yet they have clearly left the door open.
    Not that I would choose to walk through it.

  • John Ó Néill

    But in case anyone hasn’t noticed – the north has existed on a permanent subsidy from the UK exchequer, the south is now a ward of the EU (albeit one it is being made to pay back). Partition was a vanity project of unionism in the north and the catholic upper middle class in the south, both of whom utterly failed to grasp the opportunities given to them after partition (by becoming the caricature their opponents predicted). The cost of the border, in terms of dislocated economies in areas like the north-west and the east coast, the recurring problems for sustainable and established business created by currency fluctuations in the border regions (and well beyond), and, the fallacy of maintaining disconnected infrastructures into the meandering corners created by the border are all reflected in the inability to keep funding such a luxury as two currencies, two disjointed infrastructures and economic dislocation.

    The bottom line (whatever fantasy people want to engage in) is that partition is being currently maintained by external financial support from London and the EU. Neither of whom may be particularly inclined to ask the permission of the citizens of this island if they want to remove that funding.

    In some ways, the ‘nationalism’ of the 21st century looks like it will be expressed more and more in economic terms than cultural or ideological (in a social policy sense).

  • galloglaigh

    The stupidity is in the title:

    Does the South really want the North as part of Ireland?

    The North will always be part of Ireland – unless it’s towed away or they/we dig a deep mote.

  • John Ó Néill

    Galloglaigh – only Anglo-Irish Bank could have sourced the money to do that.

    [in fairness to Andy the title is a shortened version of a statement in the post - intentionally or otherwise it makes it a much more ideological statement than I think was intended]

  • galloglaigh

    John

    Perhaps Sean Quinn could have provided the diggers.

    It’s the wording that sounds stupid. That’s my point. This part of Ireland will always be Ireland; should it be the UK propping us up, or North Korea for that matter.

  • Reader

    galloglaigh: The North will always be part of Ireland – unless it’s towed away or they/we dig a deep mote.
    ‘Ireland’ is an ambiguous term, as it refers to the 32 county island, as well as being used by the 26 county state as its own name. I doubt you can do much about the first usage, but if you don’t like the second you could always seek a change to the constitution of the RoI (aka “The South”).
    But how do you fancy your chances? You probably just need to get used to the idea that Ireland(2) no longer claims to govern the whole of Ireland(1)

  • Lee Reynolds

    “The Irish government needs to pay special attention to unionism, which is feeling less confident than ever, with Catholic pupils and students now making up majorities at every level of the NI education system, the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence”

    Sorry did I fall asleep and wake up back in the late 1990′s again or is this analysis stuck in a timewarp?

  • Old Mortality

    John O’Neill

    ‘The cost of the border, in terms of dislocated economies in areas like the north-west and the east coast, the recurring problems for sustainable and established business created by currency fluctuations in the border regions (and well beyond), and, the fallacy of maintaining disconnected infrastructures into the meandering corners created by the border are all reflected in the inability to keep funding such a luxury as two currencies, two disjointed infrastructures and economic dislocation.’

    I suppose it was only a matter of time before this old guff was served up: that Derry and Newry would have been hugely prosperous if only people from Donegal and Louth had been able to spend their money there. You completely ignore the fact that a currency union existed for more than 50 years after partition with notes and coin circulating freely on both sides of the border.
    What on earth does ‘the fallacy of maintaining disconnected infrastructures’ mean? I assume you were attempting to say that it would have been cheaper in some cases to connect elecricity across the border rather than within it. That is almost certainly true but the additional costs entailed are hardly an onerous burden on either jurisdiction.
    Both parts of the island have a high propensity to import which means that prosperity can only be increased through exports not by selling things to each other just. Removing the border will not alter that unavoidable fact of life

  • Greenflag

    Galloglaigh is of course correct .Regardless of the politics the ‘North ‘ will always be seen as a part of Ireland by most people in Ireland and abroad . There will be those who will also see it as a part of the UK although it’s local politics bear little resemblance to what passes for politics in London ,Birmingham or Manchester or indeed Finchley .

    That said both SK ‘s comment above at 22/8/12 at 9.50pm, and Ruari ‘s at 23/8/12 at 3.47 am ring true and come very close to the current state of ‘mind’ of Irish people in ROI as regards NI .

    As an Irish ‘nationalist ‘ with a small ‘n’ I also have to agree with John O’Neill’s comment above 23/8/12 at 11.51 am.

    The current economic recession in the ROI and it’s flowover into NI will eventually pass and economic growth will be resumed if not at the pace of the tiger economy then at a more modest 3 to 4 % for a number of years and then down to 2 to 3% as ‘demographics ‘ changes impact.

    And while it’s all to play for there are at this stage both North and South only a miniscule and reducing number of ‘nutters’ who believe it’s worth sacrificing their life for a UI or against one if such happens .

    And in that sense we should all be relieved that the ‘heat ‘ has been taken out of the ‘constitutional question’ for the truth is now as it always was even pre 1969 that the people of the Republic/Free State while they might have preferred a United Ireland in theory in all honesty they were not interested enough to go about it in any ‘practical political policy ‘ direction . At each election the standard mythological shibboleths of UI were dragged out by one political party or another only to be cast aside as irrelevant once the posters came down.

    Hypocrisy or just plain ‘realism ‘ .Mostly the latter imo.

  • Greenflag

    @ frustrated democrat ,

    ‘The question is do SF want NI to work, or would they prefer it to continue to slide downwards.’

    Both FD – They want NI to work for them but if it slides downwards for themuns then thats just the way the cookie crumbles in this new economy and in the world of mandated no opposition power sharing or so it seems to me . And vice versa for the other half of the power sharing duopoly :(

    ‘In the longer term the more serious the economic situation becomes in NI the better for SF and the more it improves the worse for their ambitions.’

    Perhaps in terms of electoral support but there is a limit beyond which any increase in electoral support can affect the current status of NI within the UK.

    ‘Their actions over the coming years and months will reveal a lot about where they stand.’

    I suspect those of us longer in the tooth already know exactly where they will stand . They will fit snugly inot the already worn shoes of FF , FG ,the DUP ,the UUP , the Irish Labour Party etc etc . They will become the party of Me Fein (May Fain ) or in the english ‘Myself alone ‘.

    It happens to them all once they become ‘members of the establishment ‘. Not that that in itself is a bad thing but it should’nt surprise us -any of us on this island or indeed next door or across the big pond .

    And I don’t particularly mind them becoming me feiners as long as their policies economic, social and fiscal are effective in developing the country for all it’s people .

    And if they don’t well we saw what happened to FF and the same can happen to SF and indeed any other party . I suspect that these past few years have ‘wised up’ a lot of people as regards how ‘switched on ‘ our politicians were to what was happening in the global economy 2000 -2008 .It appears in retrospect that not only were they not switched on but most were in a coma induced by celtic tiger hype :(

    Perhaps enough lessons have been learnt by a sufficient number of the voting public that no future Irish Government will ever find itself in the position of the ‘eejits ‘ we had in 2008!

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

    John,

    Ah, so partition is the root of all ills in Ireland! I’m glad to hear that all those small-minded gombeens and swivel-eyed loonies in government had no effect whatsoever.

    Wait, what’s that you say? The border made us vote for them? Curse its foul cunning.

  • Blissett

    First things first, I shall declare an interest. Cork City born and bred, no northern relations at all, SFer, but not from an SF family

    Interesting article, and some valid points.

    I do think that is misses out some of the subtleties in how we in the south view the north, but certainly parts of it are accurate.

    The UCD students comment is interesting, and probably an accurate enough portrayal of how many middle class people see it.

    The attitude in the south is a complete ball of contradictions, in every respect, from the most mundane, to the most official. The senior Government official is just simply wrong (or is betraying his own preference) when he says the mental map of of Ireland is a 26 county Ireland. Ask anyone of any age who can hold a pencil to draw ireland, they may hesitate a bit about putting in a border as well, but you can be guaranteed that they will draw the whole island.

    In school, we always learned the northern lakes and mountains, but yet belfast enniskillen and carrickfergus were towns in ‘northern Ireland’ (derry seemed to exist in limbo).

    Government officials talk about a service being available nationawide, or in all parts of the country, when they mean 26 counties, and yet in the courtyard in Dublin castle, antrims flag and corks flag can fly side by side. As far as people are concerned, there are 32 counties. That is the answer to the question ‘how many counties in Ireland.’

    RTÉ coverage, particularly of sport, is the same. Generally the north seems to be in a sort of limbo, neither foreign nor exactly native, yet for politics it can on occasion become the full official Northern Ireland. And yet, it would have been impossible to notice any difference between the way the Barnes/Conlon homecoming was covered, and the way the Nevin homecoming in Mullingar was treated.

    So I think its simplistic to point to a handful of examples as proving that southererns wuld oppose any change to the status quo. the north occupies a very particular place in our heads. Not foreign, certainly not foreign. But somehow a small bit removed, and indeed, that is hardly a surprise given it has been administered seperately for such a time.

    Instinctively, people have some level of affinity, and are, broadly, favourable to a united Ireland, but the article is right, once that doesnt mean unreasonable amounts of trouble.

    I would add a qualification. The irish middle class (and I use that in its proper, narrow meaning, rather than the ‘shur everyone is middle class nowadays!!’ meaning) does have an antipathy to the north. It sees it as backward, a bit too catholic(a bit too religious generally perhaps), and a bit…well….rough. Its not hugely keen on what it sees at those ‘backwoodsmen’, being involved in how they run this state.

    For after all, it is ‘they’ who run this state. They have it nicely wrapped up, between the media, business and politics. The way the state operates has been perfectly amendable to their little set, the Blackrock College, Clongowes and Gonzage boys. I might suggest that Government official would possibly also have such a pedigree.

    And of course, this set essentially sees all northern nationlist as a big bunch of hairy provos. Big black mark against nordies there.

    But these charming folk are the exception. Dont mistake them as the rule. The article refers to the young lady on the frontline debate. I recall looking at twitter that night, and the response to that comments was overwhelmingly bemused. Some people whined that it was a gift to mcGuinnesss, which it was, and others just thought it bizarre. Some Labour Cllr said he found it deeply offensive (think it was montague from DubCC) and more just found it hilarious, and noted Mary McAleese’ background.

    Thats where ordinary Irish people are at. Degrees of partitionism in some aspects, not so much in others. Certainly reconising a difference, and a different experience, but still, substantially the same, and a very clear sense of shared nationality. Perhaps the views of those in britain towards the north are analagous, I dont know, but I think thats closer to the reality in the south rather than the rubbish the poor young one on the frontline came out with.

  • Youknowho

    “The article refers to the young lady on the frontline debate. … Some people … just found it hilarious, and noted Mary McAleese’ background.” The difference was McAleese at least lived in the Republic for a significant portion of her life. McGuinness had only spent six months there, in jail.

    The concept of a united Ireland is a nonsense until we have a united Northern Ireland. When that happens, a UI will follow.

  • DiarmDearg

    There is a lot of talk about northerners and southerners on this page. It’s ludicrous really. Look at England, Italy, China etc, etc. There is always going to be a north/south ‘divide’ in any country. Ours was just made all the more unnatural by the border and now people put our divide solely down to it. I will be rooting for Donegal this weekend against Cork because they are northerners and I want to beat the southerners. Not because of the border.

    There are of course people who couldn’t give a fidlers about those in the other jurisdiction. But the same is true within towns and villages and counties. East Tyrone’s different than West Tyrone. For the record, I think the north/south ‘divide’ is massively overstated.

  • Alias

    “The senior Government official is just simply wrong (or is betraying his own preference) when he says the mental map of of Ireland is a 26 county Ireland. Ask anyone of any age who can hold a pencil to draw ireland, they may hesitate a bit about putting in a border as well, but you can be guaranteed that they will draw the whole island.”

    You’re conflating a geographical map with a political map.

    No one suggested that Ireland was geographically devided, so that isn’t the applicable form of unity that Pollak is referring to. The “island of Ireland” consists of two seperate political states, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

    If they drew a map of Europe, they also wouldn’t be conflating all of the states on it. The political map of Ireland in Ireland is unquestionably a 26-county map.

    As 93% of the people of Northern Ireland want to remain within the UK, the political map of Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland is unquestionably a 6-county map.

    The GFA might be Sunningdale for slower leaners but Sunningdale was the Government of Ireland Act 1920 for even slower learners. It’s one of the central and essential myths of the ‘peace process’ that only the means changed while the end remained the same.

    Reunification is not an end in itself but the British state has successfully presented it as such via its proxies.

    The Irish nation in NI has agreed to give up its former right to national self-determination in its unqualified entirety, so they are no longer seeking that which they agreed is no longer their right. What they are seeking to do is to extend the British veto from Northern Ireland to cover the whole Ireland.

    That British veto has now been internalised with ‘parity of esteem’ demanded between British nationalism and Irish nationalism and an ‘Ireland of equals’ where the British nation has an equal claim to the state. This is not nationalism of orange and green (two traditions but one Irish nation and therefore one right to self-determination) but two nations of Irish and British with a mutual veto.

    That expressly forbids a sovereign nation by imposing another nation which holds a veto over its right to a sovereign state. The clue to the meaning of self-determination is in the word ‘self.’ What is proposed is not self-determination of any sort but bi-national determination.

    And not is that just a matter of the British state’s proxies mantras: it is enshrined in the British Irish Agreement. The parity of esteem in the treaty is between nationalisms, with the state obligated to extend parity of esteem to British nationalism. In other words, it cannot be an Irish nation-state since it cannot favour Irish nationalism over British nationalism.

    What the British state has cleverly done via its proxies is offer to trade reunification for national self-determination. In other words, if the Irish nation agrees to give up its right to national self-determination and subject itself to the veto of another nation then the British state will agree to reunification.

    So you have a profoundly anti-nationalist agenda, devised by the British state, and presented to the Irish nation as their new form of ‘nationalism.’

    No one who voted for unity under the terms of the GFA could be, by definition, an Irish nationalist.

  • Comrade Stalin

    John :

    the recurring problems for sustainable and established business created by currency fluctuations in the border regions (and well beyond), and, the fallacy of maintaining disconnected infrastructures into the meandering corners created by the border are all reflected in the inability to keep funding such a luxury as two currencies, two disjointed infrastructures and economic dislocation.

    Can you clarify something for me. Are you making a case for Irish reunification, or a case for Ireland to rejoin the union with the UK ?

  • looneygas

    Alias, so eliminate the border, and re-name the new state “Land of Brotherly Love” “Peace and Solidarity Land” or “Unity of Opposites Land” or “The State Formerly Known As Ireland.”

  • Alias

    Not sure what that is supposed to mean but the dispute over the name of the name of Ireland is another longrunning British political agenda, with the UK’s Government of Ireland Act 1920 naming it Southern Ireland and rejecting the right of the Irish state to name itself until the 1998.

    This rejection of Irish national self-determination as expressed in Article 4 is also proffered by Shinner proxies for different reasons but to the same aim. Just as the British state refused to use Ireland when addressing the Irish state, the Shinner proxies did/do likewise.

    You can look to the title of the thread and view the capitalised North and capitalised South as if these are proper place names rather than a refusal to recognise the name of the state.

    The Irish people have already named their state, and won’t be dismantling it to suit quisling entities or other nations.

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

    Blissett,

    The irish middle class (and I use that in its proper, narrow meaning, rather than the ‘shur everyone is middle class nowadays!!’ meaning) does have an antipathy to the north. It sees it as backward, a bit too catholic(a bit too religious generally perhaps), and a bit…well….rough. Its not hugely keen on what it sees at those ‘backwoodsmen’, being involved in how they run this state.

    That’s a fascinating observation, because that is word for word exactly how middle-class Unionists always viewed the Republic.

    Alias,

    Yes they named the 26-county state “Ireland”. But they (and everyone else) kept referring to the 32-county island as “Ireland”. While articles 2 and 3 remained, this was explained away as a temporary aberration, to be shortly rectified. It is harder to justify now that reunification has been pushed into the misty future.

    If the “Irish” have now given up their right to island-wide self-determination, surely they have also given up the right to island-wide identification? ;-)

  • Alias

    Well, in fairness to our British neighbours in officialdom, the studied irritation worked both ways: the Irish government departments didn’t refer to “Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

    In regard to the second: yes, but there are still a few problems with foreigners claiming ownership of that which rightfully belongs to others. As the right of self-determination belongs to the nation, another nation claiming it in the same territory is obviously problematical. Thankfully, excluding a few irredentists in the state of Ireland, that problem doesn’t arise.

    Where it arises in the other territory on the island of Ireland it is used by British unionists as a political tactic that is designed to strip the Irish nation within that territory of national rights by asserting that unionists are the Irish nation and have no desire to be governed by the Irish nation. They do, however, have a desire to be governed by the British nation. Therefore, the right to self-determination within that territory belongs to the British nation and not to the Irish nation. It is simply designed to strip the Irish nation of the right to national self-determination. This makes them, of course, British nationalists, not Irish nationalists.

    The more giddy Irish nationalists may see such declarations by unionists are progress towards an Irish nationalist agenda but they are nothing of the sort.

  • weidm7

    An overlooked matter here is the one of the media and it’s role in how Ireland is percieved by its people. As the Corkman above noted, in the south there is a contradictory view of the north, with the word ‘Ireland’ meaning two different things at different times. Ask someone how many counties are there in Ireland and they’ll probably generally say 32, ask them what the second biggest city in Ireland is and they’ll (wrongly) say Cork.

    If we look at the state broadcaster, how does it portray the Irish nation? How many northern-themed programs are there? How many northern presenters? How often is, for example, a nothern soccer game shown? And people are confused about southerners ambiguous, contradictory attitudes towards the north, look no further than the erroneously titled RTÉ. I bequeath every Irish nationalist who truly wants an Ireland united in mind and culture to send a letter and/or email to RTÉ and/or the southern minister of communications demanding RTÉ represent that other part of “Éireann” before the southern middle classes forget where it is.

    Another useful campaign would be demanding of the southern government parties, the ones so interested in public reform, that the name of the state be changed from the name of the nation, Ireland, to the name of the state, the Republic of Ireland, instead of giving fuel to partitionists north and south, returning the north to the mindset of southerners and stopping the perverse tendency to refer to the twenty-six counties as ‘Ireland’.

  • Clanky

    While the article is a little simplistic, the basic precept that the attitudes of everyone on the island of Ireland towards the idea of a single Irish nation depends deeply on their perceptions of how such a new nation would effect their own economic position is spot on.

    While at present I think the economic difficulties in the south will have an effect on how people in the south and those in the north view the prospect of a united Ireland right now, but I do not think that they would change anyone’s desire for a united Ireland eventually nor for that matter would a sudden upsurge in the economy of the republic persuade unionists that they should embrace a united Ireland.

    I have made the point on here a few times that a referendum with a secret ballot held weekly in the north would reflect almost exactly the religious divide in terms of the result right up to the point where there was a realistic chance of a result which might actually make a united Ireland a reality, at which point many Catholics would look seriously at what they had and what they could expect from a new Irish state.

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘irish national self determination’
    ‘sovereign state’
    ‘free(ayee FREE)from foreign intervention’

    Let’s stop pussyfooting about here,and call a spade a shovel……..Southern Ireland (republic of) is run/financed/ruled from Brussels.
    Basket cases running smaller basket cases.

    I hesitate to use the gem I first came up with many moons ago… BUT…..

    ‘ A Notion Once Again ‘

    ;-)

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    When I lived and worked in the Republic in 2007-8, Andy’s observation was also the main thing that struck me – people just don’t want NI other than as a very detached dream way off in the future. (Excuse the generalisations here btw). A bit like on the British mainland, NI seemed to be seen as a place apart, with little love for either sides (though a default tendency to take the nationalist side over unionists and only a vague if nagging sense of guilt about what was done to unionists in the name of nationalism).

    The subject of NI seemed to be more awkward than for the average English person, who accepts they know very little about NI; a lot of the Irish think they ought to know about NI and may even feel they do know a bit – but they are still conscious of being outsiders to what happened. Not as self-effacing as most English people, but still there’s a lack of confidence in their own knowledge (which is admirable). People know they didn’t experience the Troubles as people in Northern Ireland did and this more than anything, I think, makes them feel awkward distance between them and NI.

    I think a lot of people there regard the 32 county nationalist project as something akin to seeing a loved one in a coma after a car crash. They accept the person won’t recover, but they want to keep it alive in a vegetative state and can’t quite bring themselves to pull the switch. But they get on with rest of their life on the assumption this person isn’t coming home.

  • Alias

    “I think a lot of people there regard the 32 county nationalist project as something akin to seeing a loved one in a coma after a car crash. They accept the person won’t recover, but they want to keep it alive in a vegetative state and can’t quite bring themselves to pull the switch. But they get on with rest of their life on the assumption this person isn’t coming home.”

    Very well put. But it’s more akin to the crazy old uncle from Ballybackwoods that you only met once or twice at family funerals but never at weddings and always knew there were dark secrets about him that you weren’t told about and didn’t really care to ask…

  • Alias

    “Let’s stop pussyfooting about here,and call a spade a shovel……..Southern Ireland (republic of) is run/financed/ruled from Brussels.
    Basket cases running smaller basket cases.” – HeinzGuderian

    Herr Guderian, even with your customary froth and foam dripping your maw and your misfortunate harelip, you still manage to speak the clearest truth unto the powerless.

    Just as the post-nationalists in NI have been neutered by the British state, the post-nationalists in Ireland have long practiced self-castration.

    If matters not to our gombeen political class and electorate (or to yours) whether they are ruled by the British state or by the emerging EU state just as long as they are not ruled by themselves.

  • Greenflag

    Mainland Ulsterman’s comment above rings true for the most part until his last paragraph . No surprise that Alias jumps on the weakest link in MU’s comment and then takes off in the direction of his crazy uncle in Ballygobackwards . Why am I not surprised he has a crazy uncle ;)? Not for the first or last time has Alias misfired his attack on an emerging EU State with another swipe at our ‘misgoverning ‘class .

    Deja vu again and hardly worth repeating . But why stop at the Irish Government ? The governments of the USA and UK are also beholden to the ‘international bondholders the moneymen of Goldman Sachs & CitiCorps and BOA and Deutsche Bank etc etc .

    And the US dollar is holding it’s current value due to the continuing support of the Chinese and others who prop up it’s value .

    Not only has the Republic’s government been ‘neutered’ but it can be asserted that the governments of the entire western world and in particular the anglophone countries of the USA and UK have been deballed by their banksters .

    So while Guderian has a point above he might well consider who runs /finances /rules the UK and USA ?

    Certainly not the people of those countries .They are ruled by a tiny elite of moneymen and corporate financial interests who have a vested stake in continuing destruction and war around the world . Cromwell could’nt afford to pay his soldiers for the ‘conquest’ of Ireland so he resorted to the moneymen and to the old tactic of rewarding his supporters with the properties of the defeated and dispossessed . William the Conqueror did the same in 1066 . And the USA /UK invasion of Iraq helped keep the USA out of recession and gave Haliburton , Blackrock and the other too numerous ‘war ‘corporations a huge opportunity to carve out immense profits on the backs and off the lives of the Iraqis .

    And now 4 trillion dollars of war on a credit card later the same powers and interests want to continue their destructive purpose but this time the victim is more than half the American population -but with any luck they just might be able to ‘invade ‘ Iran with Israeli help if they can get Obama out of the White House .

    Yes indeed even crazier than Alias’s old uncle from Ballygobackwards !

  • HeinzGuderian

    …but the UK and USA are not beholding to to any other country to set their interest rates.

    The republic of ireland has been a basket case economy since 1922,and will continue to be so until ..22 !!

    Out of the frying pan,into the fire,never seemed so appropriate !!

  • Greenflag

    @ heinz guserian ,

    ”but the UK and USA are not beholding to any other country to set their interest rates.”

    And how has that helped the USA economy ? Interest rates are now at virtually zero in the USA and as per the wizards of economics the country should be experiencing rapid economic growth but instead it’s languishing on the edge of another recession . And the only fiscal weapon the ‘sovereign ‘non beholden USA has to stave off it’s next recession is to print more dollars -quantative easing and reduce interest rates even further into negative returns for it’s already emisserated middle classes .

    Its only the current status of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency of last resort that prevents the US dollar from becoming a 1930′s style Reichsmark .

    Theres more to life than interest rates of course and in terms of the overall health of it’s citizens the USA is now ranked 37th on the planet and the UK somewhere around 26th . Ireland manages to make it to 19th .

    The UK is also on the verge of another recession and it’s ‘government ‘ has the power in theory to set interest rates but in practice it’s also gagged and bound in place by the international bond holders .

    Not much point in having the power to set interest rates if

    a) They are already in negative territory and increasing them will just add to unemployment and even more mortgage foreclosures .

    b) The USA and UK and the Irish Governments are all in the same boat -gouging their taxpayers to recapitalise the banksters who have looted their economies with abandon this past decade or more ‘

  • carl marks

    We are in a very strange place, too small to make it on our own, Britain would dump us in a flash the south has a emotional attachment in the same way that you might be fond of a crazy brother but don’t want him to live with you so what do we do,
    We could try acting like adults but I fear that is not even on the horizon, Let’s face it as a political entity we are the sick man of Europe if it wasn’t for the cash poured into here by the Brits, the Irish, Europe, and America we would be more skint than Greece and the irony is that all that money only comes our way is mainly because we can’t act like adults.

  • Greenflag

    @ carl marks,

    ‘too small to make it on our own’

    Not so .Luxembourg has one third the population of Northern Ireland and it’s about the size of Counties Antrim and Down combined .It’s GDP per capita is the highest in the EU and possibly in the world . Unlike Northern Ireland it’s population is 95% nominally Catholic and it’s very multilingual with it’s own patois and it’s inhabitants also fluent in German and French . Israel is another example in terms of physical size but then they reside in a more inflammatory neighbourhood and lets face it not the best location . Still they have to be congratulated not only for their efforts to turn a desert into a land of milk and honey but somehow also succeeding in upsetting their neighbours to an extent that threatens world peace !

    BTW acting like adults is no guarantee of peace , economic and or social or political development . I can think of no end of ‘adults’ who have led their countries to mindless death and destruction and wars without end both civil and foreign .

    ‘Britain would dump us in a flash’

    True but not without your consent or so it’s agreed . You may add that the Treaty of Limerick was also agreed and see what happened which is a fair point but I would respond that we live in more democratic times .

    ‘Let’s face it as a political entity we are the sick man of Europe ‘

    Perhaps a decade ago .Today there are several new contenders for that uncoveted award. . From Belarus to Greece to the simmering undertow of troubled economies in Spain , Portugal and Ireland not to mention Italy and France. .
    ‘so what do we do,’

    Carry on up the Khyber and hope that the winds of fortune will sooner or later blow your way. They may and then they may not -It was ever so .Its not easy being Green or Orange or Red White and Blue these days !

  • Roy Walsh

    Andy, in what might be the ‘negative image’ of yourself, I live in the north and work in the south, those I work and socialise with are all wholly in favor of re-unification while all coming from different parts of the Republic and a variety of economic and political backgrounds.
    The fact too is, whether you like it or otherwise, the six counties is geographically as much a part of Ireland as Donegal or Cork, the people are as much a part of our Nation whether they come from Lifford or Strabane, I have substantially more in common with a Protestant neighbor (apart from the Passport) than he does with an Englishman, which Englishman will in any event regard him as a ‘mick’ anyway.
    In the end, and hopefully the not too distant future, it will be the decision of the Nation, even Fine Gael voters I suspect will support re-unification since division is artificial anyway.

  • Alan N/Ards

    In the last 90 years or so has the republic really tried to to reach an accommodation with the unionist irish on this island? They have talked a lot about uniting the island but have never actually come up with proposals that might lead to unified island. It is only over the past decade or so that the politicians south of the border have started to realize that for a UI to happen, unionist’s need to be listened too.

    Republican’s need to realize that if a UI ever happens that it will look nothing like the utopia that they and their fathers have been dreaming of over the years.

    The government in Dublin in the 20′s should have looked at the one million unionist’s as a lot of mouths to feed. Some of them would have had small appetites and some of them would have had large appetites, yet southern politician’s never produced the large bone with the huge chunk of meat on it that could have satisfied the unionist appetite and united the island.

    Will a large fresh bone with a huge chunk of meat on be forthcoming from the politicians in the south and placed on the table to feed present day unionist’s in the event of a UI?

  • Mister_Joe

    Funny you should mention Lifford and Strabane. I grew up in Strabane but, when young, was in Lifford almost every day. I was sent to buy the cigarettes for Da and Ma and to lie to the customs man if he stopped me on the way back. But both peoples did consider themselves to be somewhat different, though undefinable, even though many had relatives on the other side.

  • Mister_Joe

    ..a huge chunk of meat..

    That was another thing I went to Lifford for on a Saturday afternoon.

  • PaddyReilly

    for a UI to happen, unionists need to be listened to.

    On the contrary, for a United Ireland to happen, Unionists need to be ignored. Many will need to be jailed; some effectively exiled.

    Any conversation or negotiation on this topic with Unionists over the past 90 years has always broken off because the Unionist intention was that it should fail. That is the effectively the definition of a Unionist. Anyone who enters a discussion on reunification with an open mind, prepared to be persuaded, is an Alliance voter, not a Unionist.

    Republicans need to realize that if a UI ever happens that it will look nothing like the utopia that they and their fathers have been dreaming of over the years.

    I haven’t heard of this utopia thing. A United Ireland would, I imagine, look that stencil thing I used to draw maps of Ireland with when I was at school. Utopian no, utilitarian yes. A man looking down on earth from the moon would look at Ireland and say that it should be a single administrative unit.

    The government in Dublin in the 20′s should have looked at the one million unionist’s as a lot of mouths to feed.

    I’m not sure what this nonsense is about, but the Protestant population of the six counties in the 20s was little more than 600,000.

    I have taken the liberty of correcting your punctuation in my quotes. You do not need an apostrophe in plurals. It’s probably best not to use them at all unless you have been trained in how they work.

  • Mister_Joe

    You do not need an apostrophe in plurals. It’s probably best not to use them at all unless you have been trained in how they work.

    Now now. A step too far. My wife can’t spell s**t and I love her.

  • carl marks

    PaddyReilly
    You do not need an apostrophe in plurals. It’s probably best not to use them at all unless you have been trained in how they work.

    Please don’t comment on my punctuation, the only thing keeping me from showing you all how ignorant I am is spell checker.

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

    Paddy Reilly,

    So themmuns are all irrational, unthinking, pig-headed obstructionists, while ussuns are all models of reason, logic and magnanimity? Let’s turn your argument around:

    On the contrary, for the Union to be maintained, Nationalists need to be ignored. Many will need to be jailed; some effectively exiled.

    Any conversation or negotiation on this topic with Nationalists over the past 90 years has always broken off because the Nationalist intention was that it should fail. That is the effectively the definition of a Nationalist. Anyone who enters a discussion on the Union with an open mind, prepared to be persuaded, is an Alliance voter, not a Nationalist.

    Some sauce for your goose.

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

    I’ve just realised my avatar is almost indistinguishable from Paddy’s on a small screen. Hopefully my arguments are not…!

  • Greenflag

    ‘In the last 90 years or so has the republic really tried to to reach an accommodation with the unionist irish on this island?’

    The GFA ? A referendum on it in the Republic ?

    ‘They have talked a lot about uniting the island but have never actually come up with proposals that might lead to a unified island.’

    True enough .They mostly would have considered it a colossal waste of time and paper given

    a) The local unassailable unionist voting majority
    b) The overwhelming disinterest in a UI by the vast majority of those of a unionist community background .

  • Greenflag

    @ paddy reilly ,

    Early 20th century

    ‘Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone -it’s with O’Leary in the grave ‘

    Mid 20th century Ireland

    ‘ The young people are leaving 1,000 a week while Dev fiddles and dreams of comely maidens dancing at crossroads and young men playing with hurley sticks to keep themselves from becoming obese unlike their grandchildren

    1984 Ireland :

    Economic recession and mass emigration this time a mere 250,000 pack their bags .

    2000 Ireland :

    ‘We’re in the money -no idea where it’s coming from but hey it’s cheap and those billions of cheap euros wow .Fill in the app form in the morning and collect the 5 million euros for that new hotel development on the Black Sea in Bulgaria the same afternoon . Utopia is born . Dutch tulip bubble you say -naw South Sea Bubble -naw . And the classic Bertie quip to the naysayers and skeptics -’go and commit suicide ‘

    2008 WTF Ireland ?

    Now how did that happen .Who was steering the ship of State a drunk or a fool or both ?

    2012 No answers Ireland

    Nothing -zilch -not an iota -just keep paying the international bondholders and do as Frau Merkel tells us to do or else !

    And on that final note you don’t ever expect to dig up financial industry hard core information in the New Scientist and not especially via a referral from German media physics scientist Harald Lech who mentioned the New Scientist article towards the end of his 15 minute regular ‘lesson’ .

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html

    Dublin , Belfast , London , Washington , Berlin , Paris and Shanghai are all just ‘compliance agencies ‘ for the 147 ‘makers and shakers ‘ of the world’s finances and even the outcome of USA puppet show of an election will hardly matter a damn to those who hold the gold .

    From that perspective does a UI or even a UK merit waking up for ? never mind dying for ?

  • Greenflag

    ‘A man looking down on earth from the moon would look at Ireland and say that it should be a single administrative unit.’

    Perhaps but then again perhaps not .From the Moon I’d imagine the unbinoculared eye would merely see a green blur probably merged into another green blur merged into the very much larger greenish blurb of Eurasia . The ‘man ‘on the moon might instead conjure up that all of the green parts should be administered separately from all the blue parts ;)?

    Dangerous logic there PR . Water barriers have proved uniters just as much as dividers . Consider Japan with it’s 4 major islands and thousands of smaller ones ? Indonesia and then Australia and Tasmania not to mention the North and South islands of New Zealand . In extremis one could consider the uniting /divisive forces generated by the left and right banks of the Rhine , the north south of the Danube and the East /West sides of Lough Neagh ? Water unites and divides and will if given enough time wear away the hardest rock formations to granular dust.

    On the other hand your moon administrators logic is given some support by this news item today from BBC NI which shows that there is/can be a practical benefit to All Ireland .

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19418006

  • PaddyReilly

    On the contrary, for the Union to be maintained, Nationalists need to be ignored. Many will need to be jailed; some effectively exiled.

    Yes, this is a fairly accurate description of the events of 1921. Indeed, for some people, they endured as late as 1998. And of course you will see the wisdom of your words: allowing Nationalists to organise and conspire, to breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin is not maintaining the Union: it is allowing the carpet to be extracted from under your feet: taking a lethal injection in instalments.

    The reason why this approach had to be abandoned was as a result of Great Britain’s total failure to heed the Rev Ian Paisley’s sage words: because Great Britain does not actually place that great a value on the Union, wants a bomb-free City, needs its army for international duties, and sees the loyal folk of Ulster, rightly or wrongly, as a financial liability.

    The reason why I am so bold as to imagine that the reversing of this principle would work is that the figures are much more favourable to it. Unionists are only 11% of Ireland’s population; with (I think) 450,000 people on the dole in 26 Counties, the Republic has a ready made army with 3 members for every 2 Unionist voters.

    Even the present disposition has such heroic freedom-fighters as Michael Stone in jail, and Johnny Adair in exile in Lancashire. A United Ireland might increase that number, but I imagine that most Unionists would just knuckle under, because of the lack of alternatives: a receding Empire is not going to unrecede. Look at South Africa: the Whites have given in to majority rule: or emigrated. What else can they do?

    It should also be noted that Ireland has already implemented the European Convention on Human Rights, whereas Northern Ireland only did so with the GFA, and indeed was notorious for its abuse of human rights during the first 80 years of its history. This, and EU membership, should be sufficient to protect Ulster Protestants: there is no need to go giving them additional vetos.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Andrew

    To complete your reversal, I am currently looking at a map of Europe and I suspect most aliens would think the British Isles, as the clump of land of to the northwest of Europe, should probably be governed as a single administrative unit. Once informed that the people there all speak the same language – distinct from the rest of Europe – I suspect they would all come to think that way.

    Ultimately, the “geographical argument” doesn’t really help anyone. But it’s probably best made without threatening to jail anyone.

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

    Paddy,

    Yes, this is a fairly accurate description of the events of 1921. Indeed, for some people, they endured as late as 1998.

    So it was bad when themmuns did it, but it’s OK when ussuns do it. Right so.

    it is allowing the carpet to be extracted from under your feet

    You seem to be mistaking me for someone else.

    The reason why I am so bold as to imagine that the reversing of this principle would work is … the Republic has a ready made army with 3 members for every 2 Unionist voters

    Principles are universal. What you’re talking about is revenge from the barrel of the gun.

    This, and EU membership, should be sufficient to protect Ulster Protestants: there is no need to go giving them additional vetos.

    With one breath you threaten to jail them and drive them out; and with the next claim that the ECHR will protect them? Your hypocrisy is staggering.

    If you want themmuns to come happily, you need to make them an offer they find acceptable. That’s a negotiation, not a veto. If you don’t care whether they come happily or not you can’t complain when they tell you where to get off.

    Like it or not, you’ll be sharing your little island with them for a very long time. Best play nice.

  • PaddyReilly

    With one breath you threaten to jail them and drive them out; and with the next claim that the ECHR will protect them? Your hypocrisy is staggering.

    In any society, people who break the law are jailed. Michael Stone is in jail: his only crime is loyalty. And of course the little matter of storming Stormont with guns. If he and his like menace public order in a United Ireland, then they will be jailed. If they merely carry on protesting within the bounds of the law, what would be the point of jailing them? They don’t threaten the state.

    And on the other side of the divide, when the troubles were on, many a Northern (Catholic) lad found it prudent to relocate to Dundalk, to avoid complications arising from certain misunderstandings relating to lack of gun licences, etc, in their native Belfast/Derry. They were exiled, driven out. But in all fairness, they could have avoided this if they had pursued a less confrontational approach to affairs.

    The state has no reason to attack those who do not threaten it. Where the 32 country solution is superior is that the potential dissidents are so much fewer in percentage, but also because there is an obvious finality to the arrangement. If Britain withdraws from Ireland, it isn’t coming back, which leaves Unionists with no option but to like it or lump it.

    If Michael Stone feels this is wrong, he can always appeal to the ECHR and see what they think. In a United Ireland the same rules would apply. Your hypocrisy is staggering.

  • PaddyReilly

    you need to make them an offer they find acceptable.

    Article 14 of the ECHR states: The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

    As you can see this protects ex-Unionists etc from discrimination. But it also precludes any special offer which confers on Unionists any right or freedom which is not equally available to all the other citizens of Ireland. So there will be no offer to Unionists, except that they will be treated within the same legal framework as anyone else on the island.

  • Mister_Joe

    Paddy,

    You don’t think any offer would ever happen, a federated republic for example?

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

    Paddy,

    But it also precludes any special offer which confers on Unionists any right or freedom which is not equally available to all the other citizens of Ireland. So there will be no offer to Unionists, except that they will be treated within the same legal framework as anyone else on the island.

    You should well know that rights on paper are worthless without the institutional will to defend them. Gay sex was only decriminalised in the RoI in 1993, ECHR notwithstanding. We’re still fighting to get the X case anomaly fixed, how many years later? And then there is the Catholic-dominated education system. And the deference to priests of the Gardai during child abuse allegations, right up until five or six years ago in one case IIRC.

    Unionists do not believe that their rights would be as vigorously championed as those of others in a UI. And I can’t put my hand on my heart and say yes they would, because I know that gay people’s rights, and children’s rights and women’s rights have not and are not as well defended as they should be in the Republic, no matter what it says on paper.

    Can you?

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

    BTW, telling people that their rights will be fully protected in the new Republic, and that they are going to be part of it whether they like it or not, is kind of like shouting “I love you” very aggressively into your girlfriend’s face.

  • PaddyReilly

    And the deference to priests of the Gardai during child abuse allegations

    As far as I know, it is only the children of their own congregation that Irish Catholic priests have been accused of abusing, so this matter is of no concern to Unionists who are Protestants, and it is only the very small, possibly wholly imaginary grouping of Catholic Unionists with abused children that need to watch out.

    This is a very good example of why no dialogue with Unionists should be attempted, since the matters raised will merely be an irrelevant attack on Irish institutions which dare to do anything on a slightly different timescale to British ones. Who, one might ask, imposed the anti-homosexual laws in the first place? Who, but the imperial British authorities! Queen Victoria says stop buggering your choirboys and Queen Elizabeth says it’s ok to start again.

  • The Lodger

    “On the contrary, for a United Ireland to happen, Unionists need to be ignored. Many will need to be jailed; some effectively exiled.”

    Paddy,

    The fact that this attitude is prevalent in republican circles is a pretty huge incentive for unionists to oppose a united Ireland with every fibre in their bodies. If nationalists were subjected to this sort of treatment because of their political views then I suspect that people like you would be upset at least a little. I admire your honesty if not your detestable attitude to those you disagree with politically.

    “A man looking down on earth from the moon would look at Ireland and say that it should be a single administrative unit.”

    A man on the moon looking down on North America would say the same thing, but he would of course be wrong.

  • The Lodger

    “Who, one might ask, imposed the anti-homosexual laws in the first place? Who, but the imperial British authorities! Queen Victoria says stop buggering your choirboys and Queen Elizabeth says it’s ok to start again.”

    Paddy,

    Paedophilia and homosexuality are two entirely different subjects and to the best of my knowledge Queen Elizabeth has never endorsed the rape of children.

  • Mister_Joe

    A man on the moon looking down on North America would say the same thing, but he would of course be wrong.

    Thank the Lord, if you believe in him. Otherwise, as in 1812, man the guns.

  • PaddyReilly

    I have on previous occasions pointed out that the population of a United Ireland would be the same as that of Greater London, and the number of Northern Protestants in a UI much the same as the number of the London Irish.

    So, on the goose/gander principle, the correct way to treat Northern Protestants in a UI would be the same way that the London Irish are treated. Which is basically, to extend to them the same rights and privileges as the English have, and solicit their votes when it comes to election times. Nothing more.

    I was myself London Irish until a couple of years ago, and I have no complaints. A federal solution, with a separate parliament for Kilburn and Cricklewood, could only be described as an act of lunacy, and I imagine the same would be true of an analogous arrangement in Ireland.

  • The Lodger

    Mr Joe,

    Later in that century of course the Fenians tried to invade Canada, but the Canadian TA gave them a severe kicking and sent them homewards to think again. :-)

  • The Lodger

    Paddy,

    There is no great reason for you to concern yourself about a united Ireland since you will never see one. You might want to take a look at your attitudes to paedophilia though.

  • Mister_Joe

    True, Lodger. A stupid adventure if there ever was one.

  • lamhdearg2

    As the last few comments have had little to do with the original, I will insert something that flickered through my head a while back, has the fact of Northern Ireland being, been a good thing for Eire.
    One reason, just to get going, has some of the money pumped into “the north” by westminster, trickeled (or maybe flowed) into Eire.

  • Mister_Joe

    Don’t know the extent, lamhdearg, but people from the “north” have certainly spent money in the “south” and vice versa. Holidays for example. I grew up on the border and for many years the prices of certain products in the south were cheaper than in the north so there was a trickle or flow of people to buy stuff there. In recent years, the situation has reversed. I know that the supermarkets in Strabane get a large percentage of their income from Donegal people.

  • PaddyReilly

    the fact that this attitude is prevalent in republican circles

    I speak only for myself. I do not belong to a republican circle.

    ….is a pretty huge incentive for unionists to oppose a united Ireland with every fibre in their bodies.

    No incentive is needed. Unionists have always opposed a United Ireland, and nearly always hypocritically pretended that they were acting out of horror at the actions of some unremarkable Catholic or other. There was some Catholic who booted out his Protestant wife, and a Catholic at the shipyard who said that Orangemen wouldn’t be employed there after independence. All lies of course, since Unionist opposition was just as strong before the incidents complained of, as afterwards. See Aesop’s fable of the wolf and the lamb.

    If nationalists were subjected to this sort of treatment because of their political views then I suspect that people like you would be upset at least a little.

    Nationalists who opposed partition with arms were shot, hanged and imprisoned, frequently without trial. I imagine that if Michael Stone has any imitators, they will be merely imprisoned, though if they come out firing there is a risk they may be killed.

    I admire your honesty if not your detestable attitude to those you disagree with politically.

    My attitude to those who disagree with me politically—just about everyone, as a matter of fact—is that they may go on doing so. My attitude, and more importantly the attitude of all societies to those who attempt to oppose public order with arms, is that society needs to stop these people, by imprisonment or the threat of same. These are the people to whom I refer when I use the words “Many will need to be jailed; some effectively exiled”.

    As previously pointed out, imprisoning those who do not constitute a threat to the state is a waste of time and funds.

  • Mister_Joe

    lamhdearg,

    There is an exception, as always. There used to be 5 (I think) filling stations in Strabane. Now there is one. Petrol is much cheaper in Lifford so most Strabane people, of all religions, go there to fill up.

  • lamhdearg2

    heres another one,
    Would Britain have had the same open door policy to Eire (and Ulsters) people, ie, no passport needed, had, Ulster been swallowed up by Eire, and now would that have affected.

    joe, yes money comes north, but over the years “new money” from Britain must run into billions.

  • The Lodger

    “Nationalists who opposed partition with arms were shot, hanged and imprisoned, frequently without trial.”

    Paddy,

    And rightly so. You did not say anything about unionists with arms though. You merely referred to unionists when you imagined your orgy of repression. As I have already pointed out there is no need for you to fantasise overly on the subject of a united Ireland as you will never see one. However you would be wise to take a look at your strange attitude to paedophilia.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Paddy,
    You’re of course living in cloud cuckoo land. The leaders of Irish nationalism, north and south, have now accepted that there are two equally legitimate nationalities on the island, not one. So it’s really over for the idea of the island-as-indivisible-nation canard. It turns out nations are human-made and they involve people not just land. They aren’t ordained by God or nature, believe it or not.

    If you want to make a new nation by merging two peoples, the consent of both peoples I would have thought would be essential. and the merged identity would have to be something quite new. I don’t see any readiness in the south or indeed among northern nationalists to seek that consent, nor to go through the painful process of giving up their old identity for a new one. That’s even if the consent were given, which of course it never will be. The whole thing is a big nothing.

    To bring it back to Andy’s article, I think the penny dropped in the Republic quite a while ago. I understand why it’s harder for northern nationalists but really they need to let go too – it is over.

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

    Paddy,

    As far as I know, it is only the children of their own congregation that Irish Catholic priests have been accused of abusing, so this matter is of no concern to Unionists

    What happened to “cherish all the children of the Republic equally”? Are you saying that the rape of a Catholic child is none of a Protestant’s business? Isn’t that exactly the blinkered attitude that got us into the mess in the first place?

    This is a very good example of why no dialogue with Unionists should be attempted, since the matters raised will merely be an irrelevant attack on Irish institutions which dare to do anything on a slightly different timescale to British ones.

    You attempted to argue that Unionists would be protected in a UI because the constitution said so. I demonstrated that what the constitution says and what actually happens do not always correspond. Your riposte is to call me a Unionist and summarily dismiss my arguments. In case you haven’t been paying attention, I’ll give you bullet points:

    1. I may be a Hun, but I am not a Unionist.
    2. Unionists (and Huns) have opinions that are just as valid as yours. You may not agree with them, but life’s a bitch. If you disagree, argue your case.
    3. Your kneejerk instinct to distract from the matter at hand with a whatabout rant at some long-dead Brits will cut no ice with anyone reading that has more than one functioning brain cell, so spare us please.

  • http://www.openunionism.com oneill

    “Does the South really want the North as part of Ireland?”

    A quick glance at the topics discussed on Slugger this week (and some of the comments they have attracted) should show why they would be extremely unwise to “really want the North as part of Ireland”.

  • PaddyReilly

    Northern Ireland is an engine, created by Unionists, to ensure that Unionist interests prevail. Of two evils, we choose the lesser, so when there is a dispute in this area, outside entities, both in Westminster and Dublin, generally settle for something more acceptable to Unionists.

    This has produced the state of affairs referred to in the title of this thread, of the South appearing not to want the North. But it is dependant on Unionists remaining the majority in the area: if they ever lose this status, then NI will act against their interests, like a mousetrap which injures the person who set it.

    So we have two different questions: what is the attitude of the 26 counties to a 6 county entity in which the majority opposes reunification? And: what is the attitude of the 26 counties to a 6 county entity in which the majority endorses reunification?

    The answer to this is provided by the Good Friday Agreement. In both cases, we go with the wishes of the majority. That does not constitute Southern indifference: it involves putting the matter on the long finger for as long as it takes, and then coming down like a ton of bricks to ensure the rights of the majority.

    Unionist attitudes to this are contradictory. On the one hand we have plenty who assure us that this awful situation will never come to pass: the opinions polls, the stars, the spirits and the tea-leaves are against it. On the other hand we have Alan/N Ards, who is prepared to countenance this null and void impossibility, and advises thus that for a UI to happen, Unionists need to be listened to.

    I’m sorry, but for a United Ireland to happen there has to be a referendum on reunification, with the larger party, who will be Nationalist, voting for, and the smaller party, being Unionist, voting against, and the wishes of the Nationalists heeded, and those of the Unionists ignored.

    Now this is the problem. Unionists just cannot conceive of a world in which their wishes are not paramount: they have not been in opposition for 312 years. They are like a man whose horse has just lost, who then asks, “Wait a minute, when do I get my money back?” But in the event of Reunification (which we all know is totally impossible, ludicrous cloud talk), Northern Ireland comes to its All-Ireland bridegroom with an anti-Unionist dowry. That is to say, there will be X Unionist deputies returned for the area and (X + Y) bitterly anti-Unionist deputies.

    Any government which attempts to come to an accommodation with the X Unionists will be outvoted by the (X + Y) anti-Unionists and fall. As a result, Unionists will be faced with perpetual opposition. So if they wish to continue participating in the body politic, they had better drop the whole Unionist paradigm and come up with something that fits in with the ordinary pattern of Irish politics. A start has been made with the Green Party.

  • PaddyReilly

    You attempted to argue that Unionists would be protected in a UI because the constitution said so.

    I did not. I referred to the Human Rights of Protestants or ex-Unionists which are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. You might care to examine the document. This would cover the right to practise religion, to life, to form political parties, etc.

    But the concept of Unionist rights is not something that the ECHR makes provision for. This all depends on what Unionists think their rights are. The right to bear arms, the right to parade in the streets, the right to obstruct, the right not to be transferred by your employer to a different part of the country, the right not to be imprisoned in a different part of the country, the right to be consulted on everything, the right to flags and emblems, as far as I know none of these are covered.

    But the point is of course, how long would Unionism survive in a United Ireland? It’s like expecting a Conservative Party to thrive in today’s India, or a pro-Apartheid party in today’s South Africa. Unionism needs a Union: in the absence of same it is just a perpetual loser party, and will be dropped like a hot brick by those who once supported it.

  • Toastedpuffin

    I get the impression PaddyReilly doesn’t know any Unionists. It genuinely doesn never cease to amaze me how often people on here forcefully argue points from positions of utter ignorance. It’s such a commonplace phenomenon it deserves its own noun.

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

    Paddy,

    Nowhere did I argue in favour of group rights, so you’re aiming at a straw man there. When I say “Unionists”, I of course mean “people who currently describe themselves as Unionists”. Whether they stop being unionists after a UI is beside the point – they still want their religion, education, freedom of assembly etc. protected just like everyone else.

    You are right to say that for a UI to happen, all that is required is a vote. However for a UI to work, you need to try a lot harder. Promulgating the harebrained idea that Unionists will be outvoted on everything by a pan-Nationalist front of TDs is not helping your case, BTW. You’d be better off admitting from the outset that (ex) Unionists would find plenty of willing political allies on many issues.

    Do you relish the thought of an embittered ethnic minority in your new Republic? Do you see everything through the zero-sum prism of us versus them? Attitudes like yours (there’s more of ussuns than there are of themmuns, so stuff ‘em!) are the problem, not the solution. Just because the boot is on the other foot doesn’t make it right.

  • grandimarkey

    @Andrew Gallagher
    Just because the boot is on the other foot doesn’t make it right

    You are completely correct in that it doesn’t make it right and those Nationalists that are of the mindset that “Well, they did it for decades so stuff them” will probably try as much as anyone to make things work if/when the time comes. We’re not really a bad lot.

    However in very plain terms, in the event of a Nationalist majority in the North, and then the inevitable voting of reunification, Unionists will cease to be Unionists by pure definition and will, eventually, have to settle into the normal course of democracy in the updated Irish state. Their won’t really be much of a choice otherwise. That isn’t a veiled threat, that’s a political fact, you can’t be a Unionist if there is no Union to aspire to or keep intact. Perhaps there may be some regional Northern assembly, perhaps not.

    Those who are currently Unionists will maybe form a new pan-Unionist party to ‘protect their interests’ but this is the 21st Century it’s not as if they’ll have Catholicism shoved down their throats or be deprived under pain-of-death of their cultural artefacts and practices, 21st Century Ireland is a pretty multicultural and tolerant place for the most part, pretty much like anywhere else in Western Europe. The doomsday scenario is sooooooo 1920s….