Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

DUP conference: dogmas, Mexican bandits, turkeys, opposition, outreach #dup12

Sat 24 November 2012, 11:36pm

The DUP is undeniably changing.

  • Ten years ago who would have thought that purveyors of the trade organisation representing sellers of the devil’s buttermilk – Pubs of Ulster – would be sponsoring a drinks reception at the DUP conference?
  • Who would have predicted that a Irish government minister would be welcomed to the DUP conference and that delegates would speak highly of his understanding of the minutiae of CAP reform?
  • Could you imagine a Conservative Secretary of State being willing to attend a DUP conference and speaking about their shared vision on various policy issues?
  • Would the party’s previous leader have openly suggested “abandoning out-dated dogmas” or recommended adjusting the party to become more attractive to disenfranchised Catholic voters?

Slowly but surely Peter Robinson is putting his stamp on the DUP’s direction of travel. While careful avoid losing too many loyal supporters, he’s weaving a deft path between those who parade and those who don’t, as well as between the conservative evangelicals and the more liberal unionists.

The party’s challenge is to find ways for all its elected representatives to own parts of Peter Robinson’s vision and language. That’s the only way it will transform from nice rhetoric to real leadership on the ground. Otherwise, Peter Robinson’s words will be judged cynically and their depth questioned. After two years of similar DUP leader conference speeches, it is time for words to be replaced with action. Voters will get a chance to give their opinion in 18 months time.

Of course, in the meantime, Robinson’s challenge is to stay statesman-like and rise above the temptation to give in to whataboutery and sniping at other parties. And maybe it’s about time he gave the Irish News an interview if Catholic voters are really going to be fêted?

[Audio recordings from the main sessions throughout the day are embedded throughout the post and also available in one long list here.]

- – -

While there were just over 100 in the conference hall to hear the opening devotions (a reading of John 1 and a prayer), numbers swelled to around 700 by the time Peter Robinson took to the stage at noon.

The morning started with a series of upbeat presentations on health – including a video of a telemedicine robot tootling around a hospital seemingly unaided – followed by a speech by Minister of Health Edwin Poots.

I intend to launch a draft cross-departmental autism strategy and action plan within the next ten days.

In part of his speech, Poots focussed on increasing accountability, announcing a “series of Ministerial accountability meetings … [that] will be conducted in public”. Each year, senior officials from some of the seventeen arms-length bodies will take part in public discussions with the minister addressing “areas such as corporate governance, quality and performance”.

Poots also made brief comments about the Marie Stopes clinic and his stance on abortion within Northern Ireland

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds began his speech by quoting Franklin Roosevelt – “There are many ways in which to move forward, but only one way to stand still” – before stating that the DUP was “a party moving forward”.

Given the removal of John McCallister from the role of deputy leader (and the abolishment of the deputy post) and Delores Kelly’s solo run on opposition at the recent SDLP conference, Dodds said that he “might have to be careful about what I say this morning”.

He name-checked successful local Olympians and Paralympians, but seemed to omit mentioning the Team Ireland boxers from Belfast.

In Westminster out influence is growing and being felt. The attendance of the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers MP and the Shadow Secretary of State Vernon Coaker MP here at our conference only serves to highlight out ever growing status in Parliament. We are no bit part players being pushed around. We play a key and pivotal role.

He called on Sinn Fein to “make up their mind” between being “part of the new future in Northern Ireland” or “simply the voice of opposition and protest”.

Sinn Fein need to decide if they are going to stop looking over one shoulder at the SDLP and over the other shoulder at dissidents and start to change their focus and look ahead …

North Belfast proves that it the will exists transformation can be made … progress was made on the Girdwood site when we all worked together. Girdwood stands as a beacon to what can be achieved in the future. But Girdwood cannot simply be a one off, it must be the norm.

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster was up next with a speech that the current state of NI businesses, schemes to reduce costs and red tape and to encourage investment, and highlighting Invest NI activity.

The leaders of the world will be enjoying good old Ulster hospitality when the G8 summit is held in the Lough Erne golf resort in County Fermanagh. What a wonderful shop window on the world. Northern Ireland will be strutting its stuff on the global stage. We will show what our wee country has to offer for tourists, for businesses and for investors.

Foster announced a review of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board “to ensure that there is a greater alignment between what this organisation does and the work of Invest NI”. While making no mention of The Gathering, Foster’s remarks turned south of the border:

It is also vital that Tourism Ireland starts to promote Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom on the island of Ireland. For too long officialdom has been afraid to promote Northern Ireland as a country with all its rich cultures and traditions.

MEP Diane Dodds was the warm-up act just before the leader’s speech. Compared to hustings and studio appearances during the last European elections, her performance this morning oozed confidence and passion.

Peter Robinson entered the hall to the same music as last year – The Call, Let the Day Begin – and his oration touched on many of the same points he spoke about twelve months ago on the same stage in the same hotel room. (BBC Two NI’s coverage of his speech is available to watch on iPlayer until next weekend.)

No unionist leader could avoid referencing the 1912 Ulster Covenant in a speech this year:

A century ago this autumn our forefathers overcame the greatest crisis which ever faced unionism, and in this decade, I believe that we have been presented with unionism’s greatest opportunity.

And this time our purpose is not to defeat, but by words and deeds to persuade.

Having failed to convince people back here of the value of a United Ireland Gerry Adams – like the undead from a “B” movie – roams around the globe lecturing people about creating a united Ireland. But I want us to use our powers of persuasion here at home, where it matters, to expound the benefits of belonging to the Union.

That means challenging ourselves as well as challenging others and it means building a society where everyone feels equally valued.

I’m sure Gerry Adams feels valued after that example of respect and veneration.

This autumn other parties have used their conferences to debate opposition, to criticise their political opponents – and sometimes their so-called friends – and to decry what Northern Ireland has achieved.

Today, I want to take a different approach. I want to talk about the Union, about jobs, about programme delivery and about reconciliation. I want to focus as much as possible on a vision of hope, of progress, of optimism and accomplishment – a future built on advancement, on prosperity and on positive politics.

And if Robinson had stuck to being positive – instead of letting the negativity and criticism of others creep in – it would have been a better speech.

We in this party are the custodians of unionism. My goal as leader is to lay the groundwork that will cement our place within the Union.

If that means taking tough decisions or abandoning out-dated dogmas, then I’ll do it. Because the essence of our success has been, and will be, that of remaining true to our enduring values, but doing so in a way relevant to this modern world.

Which begs the question what some of the out-dated dogmas that could be abandoned include?

This month during one of the saddest weeks of my term as First Minister I attended the funerals of Channing Day and of David Black.

Lives lost in the service of others. Words cannot ease the pain that their families and friends will be feeling now, but we are humbled by their sacrifice.

Both at home and half way around the world these people chose to serve their country. Nothing can bring them back, but no one can erase the lives they lived nor the service they have given.

Just as we remember those who died serving us all, let us also remember those who continue to serve whether it is here or abroad. Their extraordinary work allows each of us to live normal lives.

Dungannon Councillor Sammy Brush – sitting in the front row – had already been mentioned from the platform earlier in the day. Robinson singled him out again:

As a party it is also right that we spend a moment this afternoon in solidarity with one of our own. One who terrorists tried to murder but due to his courage and adeptness – he survived. In spite of facing a hail of bullets and being shot several times, he managed, though injured to shoot one of his would-be assassins before struggling to his vehicle and driving to the local police station from where he was transferred to hospital.

Not content with their failure to murder him, his home continues to be attacked and he and his family face on-going abuse. This recently reached a new low when councillors in the same council of which he is a valued member – in his presence – voted to have one of his would-be murderers released from jail. Conference, I ask you to rise and show support and solidarity with our colleague – our friend – Dungannon Councillor Sammy Brush.

Robinson warned against the party becoming “smug or complacent”:

The DUP has triumphed because it is united and strong; because it looks to the future and not just to the past and because it does not just say things to court a popular tide but rather it says what it believes and believes what it says.

And although we have been very successful we must not be smug or complacent.

Just recall how quickly other parties have fallen from power. I don’t need to warn anyone in this hall what division does to a party’s prospects. I don’t need to warn anyone in this hall because the DUP has always been as much a family as it is a political party.

Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson was asked to stand at one point. Robinson offered to buy the razor that would shave off his charity moustache at the end of November, saying “you can’t win seats in East Belfast looking like a Mexican bandit” – a reference to Gavin Robinson (no relation but his former special adviser) running in East Belfast at the next Westminster election.

Unlike two years ago when she was removed from the final draft of the speech, MEP Diane Dodds was praised by the leader today:

In Europe Diane has been tremendous, not just for what she has achieved in the Parliament but what she has delivered for so many individuals and groups up and down the Province.

And her husband and deputy leader Nigel Dodds was commended too:

And when it comes to friendship and loyalty I suspect Mike Nesbitt and Alastair McDonnell could only dream of the level of support that I can rely on from Nigel.

Sinn Fein’s keenness for a border poll delivered one of Robinson’s few sound bites in the 45 minute long speech.

Defeatism and despair were common-place, but today we have the confidence of knowing that a majority of Protestants and Catholics alike support our constitutional position within the United Kingdom. They know they are better off with Britain.

The one party that seems oblivious to the shifting sands of opinion is Sinn Fein. One of the most bizarre developments in recent times has been the Sinn Fein call for a Border Poll.

Now, I know opinion polls are not a perfect gauge of public opinion, but when the last one showed that fewer than 10% want a United Ireland now, republicans really should take the hint.

Republicans asking for a border poll makes turkeys voting for Christmas look like a carefully considered strategy.

More than a page of the speech was devoted to Robinson’s musings on the state of the Stormont’s “scaffolding”.

Power sharing is not something that many unionists would place as their first preference, but the reality is that cross community government has increased support for the constitutional status quo in Northern Ireland.

Understanding the significance of that trade-off is important as we plan for the future. It doesn’t mean that every aspect of the present arrangements should be sacrosanct. It means that any new structures have to be able to command support across the community.

That’s not just my view. It is accepted by virtually every unionist politician. I get frustrated, when every time I suggest changes that could make Stormont work better, nationalist and republican politicians accuse me of wanting a return to majority rule.

It’s as if they believe I am hatching a cunning plan to return to the 1930s. I’ve been around politics long enough to know that if any significant part of this community is disaffected then none of us wins.

So I call on nationalists and republicans who are fearful of change to look afresh at our political structures and ask themselves the question: what will best deliver for the people we all represent?

The DUP would “facilitate” any party wanting to take on an “opposition role”

I say to them, “Even if you don’t yet feel ready to create a voluntary coalition government, surely there can’t be any reason not to provide for a credible voluntary opposition.”

I don’t fear facing an opposition. Why should I? The DUP has by far the best and most able Ministers and there are no better ideas coming from any other party or member in the Assembly. In truth, I would prefer the UUP to work alongside us in harmony and in partnership but I am prepared to facilitate them or indeed any other party if they feel they cannot make a positive contribution in the Executive and wish to opt for an opposition role.

Let’s be open and honest, being in the Executive has not prevented some from positioning themselves in opposition when it suited them. I forced myself to listen to Alasdair McDonald speak to his party faithful – and some not so faithful. He attacked the Executive for what it had done and he attacked the Executive what it hadn’t done. He criticised the Executive for its ideas and he criticised the Executive for having no ideas. What bemused me most was not just the nonsense he was uttering but that he appeared to be completely unaware that his party was in the Executive.

In the SDLP’s world – and not theirs alone – they are in the Executive when positive announcements are to be made but they are found heading the opposition charge when hard decisions have to be taken.

But let me be clear – as the party that has consistently sought to improve the Assembly structures – the DUP remains willing to support additional resources and speaking time for a genuine opposition as a modest first step towards normalisation of our democratic structures.

Having articulated the party’s confidence, Robinson went on to look at wider society. As someone commented, he was in “growth mindset” rather than “fixed mindset”.

After all, we are not just the largest party within unionism; we are the party for Northern Ireland. So as unionists we cannot afford to push a narrow agenda. We must embrace the whole community. Because it is our responsibility to make Northern Ireland work.

That means winning the battle of ideas and it means making hard choices – not just the popular ones. It means being able to compromise when we need to reach agreements and it means standing firm when matters of principle are at stake.

Above all, it means representing the whole community, not just one section of it. In a society that is as politically divided as ours that’s not always easy. However, I would argue, that failing isn’t the real crime when striving for a worthwhile goal; the real crime is not having the guts to try in the first place.

He applauded Sinn Fein’s reaction to dissident murders, but wouldn’t forget the IRA’s role in the Troubles.

Working together doesn’t mean agreeing on everything, it’s about working through issues and finding the maximum degree of consensus possible. But while politics has made huge strides forward in Northern Ireland, every so often we are confronted with the horror of what was once an everyday occurrence.

I welcome calls from the leadership of Sinn Fein to bring dissident murderers to justice even if some of their members are still stuck in the past. I see it as real progress, but I reject absolutely the notion that there is any moral difference between those murdered by dissidents and those murdered during the Troubles. There’s never been the slightest justification for the forty years of terrorism that blighted our Province and divided our people. None of the problems in our society required a single life to be taken.

We will not permit Sinn Fein to erase those parts of history that are inconvenient. We will not allow them to engage in revisionism. Recently Declan Kearney under a banner of “reconciliation” sought to blame all the sins in Christendom on everyone other that republicans. You would have thought that the IRA had never existed. His personal and bitter unionist-hating rant exposed his intention to use the worthy goal of reconciliation to airbrush the evil acts of republican terrorists from the history books. It would be a betrayal of the legacy of all who have suffered if history were to be rewritten to salve the consciences of the perpetrators.

Declan Kearney was never going to get a vote of thanks from the DUP:

I seek true and genuine reconciliation, but it will not happen by trying to spin a false or sanitised version of the past. Though we all arrived at this point by very different routes, we all have a part to play in building better relationships.

I am increasingly impatient to publish our “good relations” strategy which is all but ready to go to Party Leaders. It doesn’t contain everything that either I or any other leader would want – but it is a hugely positive step. I must say I take a dim view of any political party that seeks to use a sensitive issue like this to cause division in order to garner votes.

Consensus government means we have to move forward with the highest level of agreement possible. Nobody gets everything they want, but even so, let us be clear about one thing, ultimately, reconciliation will not be brought about by the words of a document, but by changes in people’s attitudes.

Outreach to Catholic voters was a topic in Robinson’s speech again this year.

The reality today is that the ‘left’ and ‘far left’ policies of both of the nationalist parties leave many Catholics effectively disenfranchised. As the leader of a party that seeks to represent the whole community I’m not prepared to write off over 40% of our population as being out of reach.

And I know that building this new constituency will require as much of an adjustment from us as it will require a leap of faith from those whose votes we seek.

The exact same disconnect also applies to our rapidly-emerging new communities from Eastern Europe and farther afield. These are people who have come to Northern Ireland in search of a better life and greater opportunity. Our policies are perfectly tailored to their hard working culture of aspiration for themselves and their families.

Like every other elected representative who graced the platform at today’s DUP conference, Robinson took a swipe at the media.

Despite what you might see or hear in the media, it isn’t all arguing and bickering.

No one knows better than I do how frustrating operating a multi-party coalition government can be. But that’s the price we pay for an Executive that commands such widespread support.

As First Minister it frustrates me to hear some commentators and politicians take every chance they get to talk Northern Ireland down. To listen to them you would think that nothing good had happened over the last five years or that devolution hadn’t made a difference to ordinary people’s lives.

And because that diet of defeatism is all that people hear about the Executive and politics it’s hardly surprising that they are cynical about Stormont. So let me take a few minutes to highlight just some of our achievements that have made a real difference.

Robinson went on to celebrate Executive decisions:

  • deferring water charges, freezing regional rate and providing 20% rates discount for over 70s living alone
  • retaining industrial de-rating and extending small business rates relief scheme
  • more generous free travel policy than anywhere in GB
  • £225 million rescue package for Presbyterian Mutual Society savers
  • £20 million gratuity package for Part-Time Reserve Police Officers and ended 50-50 police recruitment policy
  • freezing Student Fees (in real terms) for Northern Ireland universities
  • ensuring the survival of grammar schools by retaining the option of academic selection

Later in the speech Robinson made many claims about Belfast’s business success and attractiveness, but omitted to mention the period of time in which these observations were accurate (last month, last year, least decade):

Belfast is now among the world’s top 10 cities for financial technology investments ahead of Dublin, Glasgow, Toronto and even Bangalore.

Outside of London, Belfast is now the UK’s most attractive city for foreign direct investment.

There were honourable mentions for HBO, Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causewayt visitor centre, Irish Open Golf tournament, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (described as “for many of us the absolute high point of the year”) and the Olympics as well as looking to future events like “Londonderry” UK City of Culture, World Police and Fire Games and the G8 summit. Despite telling a Mo Farah story Robinson avoided telling “the sash Mo Farah wore” joke.

And none of this progress would have occurred if republican paramilitary dissidents or unionist political dissidents had got their way.

Jim Allister – not mentioned by name in Robinson’s speech – will not be pleased at being included in a list of dissidents.

The speech ended with a quote from H G Wells:

Let giving of our best be the goal that motivates us in all that we do in the months that lie ahead. It was H G Wells who said, “The past is but the beginning of a beginning and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.”

We have the opportunity to make tomorrow a better day.

There was no progress report about the success of the Registered Party Members scheme in this year’s speech. Last year Robinson outlined the scheme for people “who for a variety of reasons can’t or don’t want to join a political party” but “support what [the DUP] are doing”.

[November 2011:] As an initial target, I want us to sign-up 5,000 Registered Party Supporters before the conference next year and 5,000 more the year after. And yes, I admit it. I hope that Registered Party Supporters will, in their own time, ease themselves into membership of the party itself.

Many someone from the party will enlighten Slugger readers about whether Peter Robinson’s target was met?

After lunch, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers made a flying visit to conference, and spoke about security, economics, genuine shared futures as well as the future of the union. Her physical presence at the conference was more of note than the contents of her speech.

A panel discussion titled Working Together: What is a Shared Future included contributions from Jeffrey Donaldson, Tony Gallagher and Peter Sheridan.

Social Development minister Nelson McCausland also addressed the conference about his department’s work.

One of the major challenges I face is that of having, and I stress that word ‘having, to take ‘welfare reform’ through the Assembly. Let me be clear about it, this is a real challenge. Some other parties prefer to engage in sham fights and make a pretence of ‘standing up to Westminster’ but such posturing will achieve nothing.

I am committed to making sure that we maximise on the positive elements of welfare reform and at the same time take appropriate measures, wherever possible, to mitigate against the negative cost-cutting elements that the Tories are pushing through.

I have been consistent in my approach and I have been diligent in taking my concerns, where they exist, to London and arguing for change. Already we have achieved some vital concessions for Northern Ireland, against all the predictions of the nay-sayers – concessions that Scotland, Wales and England would love to have. The approach I am taking is the approach that is working.

There is still more to be done and I am focused on delivering the best possible outcome for the people of Northern Ireland but getting that outcome is only part of what we have been doing.

While I wasn’t around to hear Friday’s opening day of the conference – and missed Sammy Wilson’s comedy routine (reported in the News Letter) which was moved away from its normal Saturday slot, perhaps after last year’s notoriety – I heard no mention today from any of the elected representatives on the platform of dealing with the past, changing attitudes to allow ‘peace’ walls to disappear, educational reform, or significant mention of working class issues.

Update – the post on Open Unionism dissecting Robinson’s speech is worth a read.

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Comments (136)

  1. Charlie Sheens PR guru (profile) says:

    When will Robinson understand that his appeals to catholics ring more hollow than any party considering the DUP still cannot elect someone outside their communal tribe.

    Does he quote the same poll that also says 94% of Belfast people want the union flag to remain? This army of unionist catholics that have snuck up out the ground certainly took me by surprise as I’m still yet to meet one.

    And the rest of queen-invoking, flag-waving stuff just shows how pathetic this party still is.

    It just smacks of the desparation of a man who has long since seen the writing on the wall….

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  2. Politico68 (profile) says:

    No surprise the Catholic Boxers of Belfast were not mentioned by Dodds, his triumphalist celebration of the existence of the union will more likely serve to drive the cause for unification than maintain the union so maybe he should be encouraged to keep up the gloating. He shows in stark light the reality of DUP outreach to Catholics. His celebration of the covenant is understandable. It was a truly remarkable time in the history of Ireland when almost half a million citizens agreed to use violence to oppose the wishes of the majority on the island. At least the naked hate speech and Paisleys anti-catholic rhetoric is gone. The DUP are moving forward rapidly, hope they can avoid the edge of the cliff.

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  3. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    A majority of Catholics are pro-Union he reckons. How’s he going to retrieve them from the Moon should a border poll be called?

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  4. The DUP have been drifting to the centre since Paisley “converted”. Long may it continue.

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  5. jagmaster (profile) says:

    Ordering an inquiry into the funding for the Narrow Water bridge scheme is really going to get Catholics onside isn’t it Peter?

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  6. Charlie Sheen. Robbo is telling the hordes of hatefilled orange bigots that they needn’t worry about a cathoic majority in NI because the fenians want to stay in the contrived orange police state as they ae happy enough with the subsidy. So carry on with the incursions on the 12th. You don’t have to moderate your behaviour and you can hate the taigs publicly during the marching season for all you’re worth. The fenians have nowhere else to go. That’s Robbo’s strategy. The devil rub it into them.

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  7. derrydave (profile) says:

    Some good noises and some advances from the DUP Vs where they have been in past years. The identification of a lack of an option for right-of-centre Catholics is potentially important. Still a long, long way to go however.
    The first photograph above for example – Union Flags and NI flags on every seat – is this really necessary ? particularly for a party which exclaims it’s desire to reach across the divide to attract Catholic voters ? Also, starting proceedings with bible readings and prayers ? Really ? The secularisation of society is already well down the road to completion – on this issue the DUP are well behind the curve (though moving in the right direction). And the pettiness of not mentioning the Belfast boxers who performed so well at the Olympics – presumably because they committed the great crime of representing Ireland ?
    If the DUP are serious about attracting a significant Catholic vote, then they should understand that these potential voters will not turn into traditional unionists with an affinity for the union flag and backward-looking bible bashing. They will likely remian culturally Irish, however with a desire to remain within the UK for now. The only chance they have of attracting these voters would be to strip out the overtly Protestant and British symbols and to focus on ‘real politics’ and their right of centre policies (which are certainly not catered for for catholic voters by Sinn Fein or the SDLP). The reality of tribal politics however is that the DUP risk of losing some of it’s base in doing this is greater than the opportunity of gaining Catholic votes, and so little movement will be made.
    As far as the border poll is concerned – if Unionists are so certain of such an overwhelmingly positive result for them (and of the resultant annihilation of the Sinn Fein position) then why not call for a border poll themselves ???

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  8. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    Have yourselves a good laugh at the comments on UTV:

    http://www.u.tv/News/DUP-leader-appeals-for-Catholic-support/477e3b4c-77e9-489a-86c1-d34b24a1cfe6

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  9. Personally I would not make a big issue about the 7% quoted as being in favour of a United Ireland.
    If the question was asked and thats how people answered then its something I would concede……while not necessarily believing anything more than its an honest survey.
    In a different context I was writing recently I noted that in 1960s Unionists interested in selling Britishnessheld three aces…………Education,NHS, Welfare……but Jobs and Housing undermined it. The legislation has actually boosted unionism.
    There remains low level political discrimination……it might be possible to fly an Irish flag in Divis Street but not on a flagpole with others at Europa Hotel.
    Nationalism/Unionism has been ebbing and flowing all my adult life.
    At the moment unionism is in the ascendency.
    Although that might reflect a little that SF cant deal with DUP.
    Arise a better form of Republican thinking. Thats inevitable.
    But ultimately theres a strand of unionism which is fundamental Christian, which just wont adapt.
    And it saves nationalism all the time.

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  10. derrydave (profile) says:

    I may be wrong, but I really do believe that the first border poll may be a real game-changer. When announced there must be at least a years notice given. Then the real job begins. Both governements will have to get involved in order to give detailed input into preparation of a green paper to set out exactly what reunification would look and feel like, and how the transition would work.
    People cannot be expected to vote on something without detail being put in front of them as to what exactly they are voting for. This, I believe, is the very reason that Unionists do not want any border poll to take place. Once this document is prepared and negotiations are held then the move to re-unification will have begun in earnest, and it will then be simply a case of when not if.
    The key from a republican / nationalist perspective will be to provide reassurance to the massive proportion of the population who currently work in the civil service as to the future for them and their jobs. To my mind, this is the key constituency – If Sinn Fein cannot convince these people then they will never achieve reunification. What they will need obviously therefore is some form of commitment from both governments to ensure these jobs are somehow supported. Easier said than done – we live in interesting times !

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  11. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    Yes jagmaster, because allocating millions to save 5 minutes on a journey in a sparsely populated area is SUCH an efficient allocation of resources. Of course there would NEVER be a political motivation behind such a bridge to now where or anything, never! /s

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  12. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    *Nowhere

    (Stupid phone)

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  13. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    Politico68, why should traitors whose behaviour only is damaging for social cohesion in Northern Ireland be worthy of mention?

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  14. SK (profile) says:

    The tribalism is still there, it’s just packaged better. They’ve managed to cobble together for themselves a more sophisticated form of sectarianism, kept between the lines rather than laid bare with catchphrases and rhetoric. Like moneys learning to use tools, the DUP have become bigots who now know the art of nuance.

    The only real progress is that Willie McCrea didn’t get up to sing this time.

    Incidentally, “country” seems to be such a confusing, nebulous term for unionists- perhaps they’d best avoiding it altogether? They seem to lurch towards defining Northern Ireland, in typical little-Ulsterman fashion, as a ‘wee country’ in its own right, before reverting back to the standard Ulster Prod doctrine of calling the folks across the water their ‘countrymen’. Which is it lads?

    “Duality of identity” would be the likely response, but if that’s their bag, why are they so compelled to snub a couple of Olympians for the crime of having identified themselves as Irish. Why lay into the tourist board for not incorporating a political agenda into their ad campaigns? They still give the impression that the only time they’d reach out to nationalists would be to slap one. Back to the drawing board, lads.

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  15. Reader (profile) says:

    danielsmoran: Robbo is telling the hordes of hatefilled orange bigots that they needn’t worry about a cathoic majority in NI because the fenians want to stay in the contrived orange police state as they ae happy enough with the subsidy
    He’s telling them that there’s no need for the siege mentality. From the same platform they were told that the Republic was a good neighbour. Of course, some of them may need it spelled out in detail, but he’s letting the notion soak in a bit first.
    I have to say, those are definitely positive vibes.

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  16. Neil (profile) says:

    Christ almighty we’ve been waiting a long time to see some of this outreach. You’d almost think they’d learned (as politicians around the world have, not least the Coalition of the Damned) it matters not what you do, you just need to keep talking the good fight.

    “The other person, he and I have quarrelled all the time – it’s well known that we spark off each other – and that’s the Education Minister, Mr O’Dowd; the happy face of Sinn Fein.”

    In a reference to Health Minister Edwin Poots’ decision to fire a shotgun out of his farmhouse window at a late-night intruder, he added: “The kind of boy that you’d love to send to Edwin Poots’ farmyard for a walk about 12 o’clock at night.”

    Now what we have here is a joke. From Friday past cracked by Sammy Wilson in his annual stand up routine, and I’ll be honest, it’s kind of funny (it went down a storm at conference).

    But then joking about trying to get on of these fenian types onto Pootsy’s farm to be shot at, kind of jars with the whole outreach, look-how-well-we-work-together message which we have yet to see any kind of genuine movement on.

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  17. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    It’s rather disingenous, Neil & co, to try and pretend that those supporting the treasonous destabilisation of Northern Ireland are target of any “outreach”.

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  18. Neil (profile) says:

    What’s disengenious in my opinion is to suggest that there is any kind of ‘outreach’ to target anyone, other than the fact that the DUP have decided to slip the suggestion into the odd speech.

    I don’t think SF are the target of outreach, but surely you see that jokes like the one referenced taken in the context of DUP behaviour over the past year say. Like Nelson suggesting that civil disobedience is a good idea in the wake of Loyalist rioting and so on.

    Alan himself says, and I don’t see anyone arguing the point, DUP outreach has been much referred to but it hasn’t actually transpired in any way. I know the much derided shinner outreach has recently led to SF efforts to secure funding for Orange bands. I’m just struggling to see if the hypocrites on this issue can actually provide an example of Unionist outreach from the DUP? Or is it all in speech form only? Attractive soundbite, just keep saying it that should be enough.

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  19. iluvni (profile) says:

    One day they’ll maybe consider some outreach to those Unionists who cant abide their holier than thou God fearing flag shaming expenses maximising smugness, and wouldnt currently vote for them in a million years.

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  20. Politico68 (profile) says:

    Ayeurma; what are u talking about?

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  21. Nevin (profile) says:

    “He’s telling them that there’s no need for the siege mentality.”

    Reader, I think you may have missed the nuance in Peter’s words – siege and siege mentality are not the same thing:

    PR: “The siege has lifted, the Troubles as we knew them are over, and the constitutional debate has been won.”

    ‘Siege/laager mentality’ was part of the abuse directed by John Hume against his Unionist opponents [see his book Personal Views]:

    a siege mentality, rooted in insecurity, in prejudice, in fear of domination [p27] .. there is a strong settler element in the deep-seated fear of revenge which underlies the siege mentality [p37] .. p37 … [the border] has reinforced the laager mentality of the Unionist people [p37]

    Many communities have been under siege and many in the more recently arrived immigrant communities will also know what it is like to be under siege. As for the constitutional debate, the unresolved constitutional question is the stumbling block that hampers political progress.

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  22. forthman (profile) says:

    Will the ‘save Ulster from sodomy’ brigade be starting an outreach programme aimed at their fellow gay and lesbian brethren?

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  23. forthman. Save Sodomy from Ulster might be nearer the mark. I’ve notivced that every ‘statesmanlike speech Robbo makes is neutralised by those behind him in days or even sometimes hours, and sometimes by himself. He well knows he’s speaking for himself alone of those in the party. Could this talk of attracting catholic votes to the DUP have been made in the knowledge about the census results we await on December 11th? Robinson has probably been privy to inf about that from census office staff who are also DUP staff.

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  24. GavBelfast (profile) says:

    Just for the record, the Union Flag hasn’t been flown on then poles outside the Europa Hotel for many years, either.

    On the bigger subject, I still could not see myself ever voting DUP. Too many mixed messages, along with all of the unpleasant stuff that iluvni mentions above,

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  25. Zan de Man (profile) says:

    Am I fantasising or did the GFA provide for a border poll every seven years after the first one was called?

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  26. [...] survey forms were being handed out to members at the DUP conference as the party works with three English universities to slice and dice and understand the make-up of [...]

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  27. Reader (profile) says:

    Zan de Man: Am I fantasising or did the GFA provide for a border poll every seven years after the first one was called?
    It says no more often than every 7 years. I expect if it was a close result first time then it would be 7 years, but if there was a big gap then it would not be so soon. No point in wasting money and winding everyone up every 7 years if it’s all for nothing.

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  28. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    The leader’s speech is all very positive and there’s a lot of good stuff in it.

    But I don’t think the DUP really know what sharing and outreach really mean. Not with the shameful conduct of the party’s senior figures during the marching season this past year.

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  29. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “The tribalism is still there, it’s just packaged better. They’ve managed to cobble together for themselves a more sophisticated form of sectarianism, kept between the lines rather than laid bare with catchphrases and rhetoric. Like moneys learning to use tools, the DUP have become bigots who now know the art of nuance.”

    Shame on them for blatantly copying Irish nationalists/republicans in that way.

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  30. Submariner (profile) says:

    “The tribalism is still there, it’s just packaged better. They’ve managed to cobble together for themselves a more sophisticated form of sectarianism, kept between the lines rather than laid bare with catchphrases and rhetoric. Like moneys learning to use tools, the DUP have become bigots who now know the art of nuance.”

    SK maybe they are becoming more like the UUP. The phrase moderate unionist is often bandied about. But in reality a moderate Unionist is being an Alliance Party member or voter.

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  31. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Northern Ireland is the only place in the Western world where a politician could present himself as an opponent of “the left” and “the far left” and then proceed to boast about (rather than try to cover up) his approach to government as merely distributing one massive Santa’s Bag of giveaways – and not a word about how it’s paid for or that such things need paying for.

    To quote form Alan’s post, Stormont under Robinson consists of the following brave and far-sighted challenging compromises:

    ■deferring water charges, freezing regional rate and providing 20% rates discount for over 70s living alone
    ■retaining industrial de-rating and extending small business rates relief scheme
    ■more generous free travel policy than anywhere in GB
    ■£225 million rescue package for Presbyterian Mutual Society savers
    ■£20 million gratuity package for Part-Time Reserve Police Officers and ended 50-50 police recruitment policy
    ■freezing Student Fees (in real terms) for Northern Ireland universities
    ■ensuring the survival of grammar schools by retaining the option of academic selection

    The political class in London and Dublin must laugh at this stuff beig presented an anything other than a left-wing wet dream – though not that hard since they’re paying.

    As for the “Catholic outreach”, let’s dispense with the faux-consideration that it’s anything other than a useful and effective spin designed not for Catholic voters but for Garden Centre UUP voters who need assured that the DUP is no longer a synonym for anti-Catholic bigotry and yahoo-ism.

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  32. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    the political class in London and Dublin must laugh at this stuff. Though not that hard since they’re paying.”

    No, only London pays, or rather se England, but Dublin doesn’t want to know, and SE England is pissed off.

    We’re nobody’s child a la Hank Williams.

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  33. Michael (profile) says:

    I always get the feeling that Peter Robinson is like the assistant manager who gets promoted to be the manager but never manages to lay the doubts about ability to bed. The Steve McClaren of politics. He reminds me of the McClaren interview with a Dutch interviewer where he started to use a fake Dutch accent to seem a bit Dutch when managing FC Twente. Ultimately too close to the original management to have a definitive and original strategy that gets listened to. Some notable successes in the margins but largely an interim place holder.

    Who’s prowling in the background or is this party as totally depressing as it seems from the outside?

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  34. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “SK maybe they are becoming more like the UUP. The phrase moderate unionist is often bandied about. But in reality a moderate Unionist is being an Alliance Party member or voter.”

    An interesting position to take. You appear to be suggesting that it is impossible to be in favour of the union whilst also being a moderate person. That would mean that you consider the majority of the people in Northern Ireland to be immoderate. Since most of those people would be of the Protestant persuasion it would also mean that you have a very real problem with a huge number of perfectly decent Protestant people.

    That would make you a sectarian bigot of the very highest order.

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  35. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Let’s run with Robinson’s pretense for a moment that a majority of Catholics in NI are unionists, despite the overwhelming endorsement of said voters in election after election for decades of the two united Ireland parties.

    For if his claim – increasingly unchallenged by the media – were true, shouldn’t this party leader have a bit more explaining to do as to what it is about his party that’s so toxic that these same voters would rather support one or other of the two parties working towards a united Ireland?

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  36. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “I always get the feeling that Peter Robinson is like the assistant manager who gets promoted to be the manager but never manages to lay the doubts about ability to bed. ”

    Are there any doubts about Peter Robinson’s ability? I certainly haven’t seen any.

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  37. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    Ruarai,

    There is a similar position in Scotland where more people vote for the SNP than are in favour of independence. Here a large percentage of people vote for Sinn Fein because they hate Protestants.

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  38. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Covenater, you think a large percentage of SF voters prefer the Union and hate Protestants?

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  39. Ruarai (profile) says:

    (PS – as you know, in Scotland there are real policy differneces between the SNP, Tories and Labour, unlike in Belfast where every party thinks the role of governing simply means giving things away.)

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  40. Submariner (profile) says:

    Ruarai do not converse with Covenanter he is the BANNED poster Lodger. He also posts on a number of other sites including debate central revisited using the name Blairmayne. He has an almost pathological hatred of Catholics and Nationalists have a Google for yourself. Do not feed the troll

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  41. Ruarai. Robbo has form on deluding himself. He thinks catholics are already unionists so his credibility is severely compromised. Catholics are not yet a majority in the colony so it’s pointless having polls on their preferences. Wait until they are, then judge where they’ll put their votes. Robbo is in a fantasy world where he knowsa catholics don’t vote for unionist parties, yet he believes they’ll vote in a referendum for the UK.

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  42. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Daniel,

    I think you underestimate Robinson.

    Personally, as said above, I think that the outreach thing is more about consolidating the DUP’s dominance of the UUP than any serious attempt to engage Catholics. I think that’s effective.

    That said, I think the DUP and other unionists do believe a sizable chunk of NI’s Catholics are at best ambivalent about a UI. And frankly, I’d be surprised if they were not right about that for people will surely vote on material interests and it’s anything but clear what constitutional change would mean for material interests. At least at present.

    Leveraging both those factors is something Robinson is doing more effectively than, for example, any Nationalist group or individual is managing on the flipside.

    My own sense on all of this at present is that:
    A) there probably are more NI Catholics open to maintaining the Union (vs. an uknown) than there are NI Protestants interested in a UI of any description and yet
    B) there probably are more NI Protestants who feel culturally Irish (in some respect and not necessarily at the expense of feeling any less British, though for some perhaps that too) and increasinly so, than there are NI Catholics who feel culturally British in most any way – including those NI Catholics who would opt, if they had to decide in the morning, to remain with the known: inside the UK.

    Point with relation to Robinson being, amidst some interesting attitudinal changes – or at least ‘broadenings’ – within both of the two main NI ‘blocks’ Robinson, faced with these changes, is winning hands down in terms of accentuating, marketing and catalyzing these changes that suit is political objectives and electoral strategy. That’s what sophisticated politics looks like, in my view.

    If Robinson’s legacy is nothing more than

    1. a dominant DUP within the culturally Protestant block, including DUP reign at Stormont mark 2
    2. a NI wherein Nationalists spend more time concerned and occupied by their UI advocacy’s lack of persuasiveness and atrophying attractiveness of even among fellow ‘Nationalists’ than time invested in making an appealing and in-any-way effective UI case to NI’s ‘cultural Protestants’ (never mind the south)
    3. A NI more stable than at any time since its inception

    …then, ya know what? As legacies go, that ain’t half bad.

    I’m sure he take that without losing much sleep over the low mark beside the box “Catholic outreach”.

    The only real counter to Robinson is for a Nationalist to emerge who can convincingly outline:

    1. A coherent UI: what would it mean – not simply in terms of the mechanics of a proposed new governing structure or the ‘protections’ for rights and so on. No, what would it actually mean, economically, culturally, internationally, in Europe, in the global economy and so on. Why would it be better?

    2. A case that is at least interesting to a sizable chunk of NI’s cultural Protestant and British block

    3. Someone possessed with more than a tin ear for the reality that Ireland’s Protestant-British block(s) is (are) a real, proud and distinct tradition(s) that merits more than ‘respect’. It merits celebration, promotion and, concomitantly, we should tone done or at least develop the international presentation of ‘Irishness’ as simply synonymous with the Green Flag.

    4. A “Nationalist” fluent in more than the politics of grievance, rights, and social justice; a nationalist interested and credible in innovation and job creation who engages commerce as a player rather than a suspicious and resentful dependant

    At present, do you see any Nationalist who resembles anything remotely like this one described above?

    In the absence of anyone new on the UI: Case for side, Robinson is NI’s only politician who is speaking a language designed to shape and win a new era. Like all political language, it’s part spin.

    But it’s not the language of a fool.

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  43. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Sub, he’s banned as Limerick too…

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  44. [...] Catholics now (ie, right now) would prefer to stay with Britain than take their chances in what (as Ruarai points out in the comments zone) remains a hugely undefined united [...]

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  45. carl marks (profile) says:

    ayeYerMa,s says it all,
    His attitude describes the hatred for all things Irish that the DUP have. The complete failure to understand what it is to be a catholic or an ex catholic (by the way us atheists of catholic extraction still remain Irish) in Northern Ireland.
    His casual tossing around of the word traitor even through the GFA (agreed by a majority in the north) enshrines the right of both cultures and nationalities in the six counties to exist and to be treated equally.
    This is peters big problem if he changes his party to attract Catholics then he will have to do something about people like ayeYerMa and let’s be honest if that happens the knuckle draggers will all head of to the TUV,
    But hey i could be wrong perhaps next year come the marching season perhaps the DUP will tell the “loyal orders” that they should talk to resident groups and behave like civilised people when passing nationalist/catholic areas, maybe they might even start to treat the loyalist terror groups with the same contempt as they treat the Provos.
    One interesting point that he did bring up was that Catholics have no right wing party to vote for, this is right there is no right/left politics here what we need are a right wing party for both communities to support and a left wing (lacking in unionism) party for both sides to vote for then perhaps we can get on with real politics here.

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  46. carl marks (profile) says:

    (lacking in unionism) should read (lacking inside unionism)

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  47. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Point of order, let’s try and back up statements with some reference to fact?

    Point of information on polling on the status of Northern Ireland, from the Belfast Agreement (http://goo.gl/7B2bI):

    1. The Secretary of State may by order direct the holding of a poll for the purposes of section 1 on a date specified in the order.

    2. Subject to paragraph 3, the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.

    3. The Secretary of State shall not make an order under paragraph 1 earlier than seven years after the holding of a previous poll under this Schedule.

    NB: 1, Peter Robinson cannot block a Border Poll if the Secretary of State deems there has been a switch in the sentiment of the people. 2, triggering one does not automatically trigger another every seven years. It means s/he cannot do hold another one any sooner than that.

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  48. carl marks (profile) says:

    mike want to explain the yellow card

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  49. PaddyReilly (profile) says:

    Someone possessed with more than a tin ear for the reality that Ireland’s Protestant-British block(s) is (are) a real, proud and distinct tradition(s) with merits more than ‘respect’. It merits celebration, promotion and, concomitantly, who advocates a toning down of the international presentation of ‘irishness’ as synonymous with the Green Flag

    It is, I should point out, inherently absurd to claim that you are British and simultaneously demand that you be included in the definition of Irishness.

    I don’t see that the presence of large numbers of people of Irish descent (and others) in England means that the English aren’t allowed to celebrate their monarchy, and can’t celebrate Shakespeare without giving equal time to Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna.

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  50. PaddyReilly (profile) says:

    It means s/he cannot do hold another one any sooner than that.

    Yes, the essence of Unionism is not so much the holding of elections as in the postponement of elections.

    The way I see it, the GFA is a contract between various parties. One important part of the agreement is the Irish Republic’s agreement not to lay claim to the Six Counties. In the event of an elected majority in Stormont, or a majority of the Westminster MPs, or 2 out of 3 of the Euro-Deputies making a request that the Republic reverse this measure, there is every moral reason for it to do so, and nothing to stop it.

    When that happens, the GFA is dead on the ground. So the 7 year rule does not apply. Northern Ireland becomes ruled by the wish of the contemporaneous majority, and not the (now partially deceased) majority who were around in 1996.

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  51. GavBelfast (profile) says:

    I think we see a good idea there, from one of our visiting absolutists, of how, while the British state can (and does) encompass Irishness, as well as Welshness, Scottishness, and Englishness (and other things), a purist Irish state would have difficulty successfully encompassing any strand of Irishness that was not of the green and gaelic variety.

    (Thankfully, of course, absolutist ‘interneters’ would have a redundant role in such a prospect.)

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  52. carl marks (profile) says:

    a purist Irish state would have difficulty successfully encompassing any strand of Irishness that was not of the green and gaelic variety.

    Certainly a “purist” Irish state would have difficulty accepting anybody different, ethnic purists are like that as we have seen in for example the racist attacks that have become almost a daily occurrence in those parts of the north that like to scream their purism from the lamp posts.
    However I see no evidence that anyone is calling for a purist state in Ireland, the argument is of the straw man variety. I see no movement north or south that is calling for a purist state and see no reason why the Ulster/Scots culture cannot be accommodated in a united Ireland.
    Perhaps apart from the unionist’s propaganda machine can you tell me where this desire for a “purist Irish state” is stated? Dev’s old nonsense of a Ireland exclusively Gaelic and Catholic is long dead and let us hope it stays that way
    Ireland is now a multi cultural society that has had little difficulty in accepting those of different race, colour and creed.

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  53. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    The problem for Peter, and some of the pro-union Sluggerites, is that we only have to be lucky once. They have to be lucky all the time.

    I think it was Liam Clarke who called it right. With a border poll, comes negotiation. The final outcome, which will be unification eventually, will have to be negotiated, so that the minority of Protestants on the island are protected from their own form of discrimination.

    Why would unionist turkeys’ negotiate what spuds would go nice with the Christmas dinner? They will have to do it at some stage though.

    Would it not be better for them in the long-run, if they did it now when unionism (in N.Ireland) is strong, and the Irish government weak?

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  54. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    Wrong thread…

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  55. PaddyReilly (profile) says:

    On a world stage, it would be very unusual to find a nation which is grateful to its former occupiers. On Independence Day, Americans do not stop to observe, Hey guys, let’s just remember what awesome dudes the British were. Equally the French have no festival which remembers, affectionately, the German occupation, and the great collaborators who worked for them, particularly among the Alsatians.

    As things stand, anyone born on the island of Ireland who achieves anything has a good chance of appearing on a postage stamp. Even George Fox, who only visited, had one to himself. I have yet to see Casement on a British stamp though. Pot, kettle, anyone?

    There is a problem here of course in that much, nearly all, of what passes for P/U/L ‘culture’, is actually a form of politics. When those politics become redundant, the culture begins to look a little pointless. In a United Ireland, would anyone even want to celebrate the crossing of the Boyne? How can we sing the songs of Zion in a strange land? Protestants in Leinster, Connaught, Munster have left all that nonsense behind them. Why risk offending your neighbours when there is absolutely no benefit to yourselves? There is an annual Orange parade in Donegal, but looking at the bands, it seems that nearly all of them have crossed the border for the occasion.

    A UI would cause a crisis in the NI Protestant mentality. Having been constantly in power for the last 322 years, I don’t think they could handle going permanently into opposition. At the same time, the Covenant mentality dictates that if you are not blessed with political power, you are not favoured by God: you must be doing something wrong. So if and when this awful eventuality comes to pass, those who currently count as Protestants will want to redefine themselves. I am an Atheist, a Socialist, my forebears were United Irishmen, my sister married a Catholic so I’m from a mixed family, anything to be on the winning side, not the losing. How they work things out is their own personal odyssey. One does not wish to retard this process by imposing artificial structures to maintain ancient hatreds which are naturally disappearing.

    Peter Robinson has a winning formula for as long as he keeps winning. Nearly 200,000 voters turn out for him. As long as he can maintain the imaginary area in which his side can pose as a majority, he is on to a winner. But placed in a larger area, he will be like a bully from a primary school on his first day in secondary.

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  56. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “Covenater, you think a large percentage of SF voters prefer the Union and hate Protestants?”

    Ruarai,

    I am absolutely certain that a large percentage of SF voters hate Protestants and we don’t just have to rely on the sort of comments that they make on these threads to work that out. Sinn Fein was the political wing of the Provisional IRA an organisation which was born out of sectarian nationalist hatred, and which specialised in murdering Protestants.

    It’s political ‘newspaper’ An Phoblacht ran a series known as ‘War News’ delighted in reporting the murders of “Trevors” which was and is republican code for Protestant policemen (though I note that at least one republican murderer turned ‘intellectual’ has now expanded the vocabulary to include “Mervyns” and “Wesleys”, bizarrely in an article about how republicans are ‘anti sectarian’).

    How could anyone who cared anything at all for Protestants vote for such people?

    As for SF voters being happy enough to stay in the UK there are a number of reasons why such a thing might be in their best interests. Not least of whch is the fact that large numbers of them are dependant on the British welfare state. Another sizeable number of them are in the employ of the British state through well funded ‘community groups’. Not to mention the politicians and their ‘advisors’ who are employed at Stormont. All of which would disappear like snow on a rope in the event in the unlikely event of a united Ireland.

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  57. Reader (profile) says:

    galloglaigh: The problem for Peter, and some of the pro-union Sluggerites, is that we only have to be lucky once. They have to be lucky all the time.
    Assassinations aren’t really a good metaphor for polls, though it does seem to be a popular metaphor with republicans. The outcome of polls isn’t random, and in this case it would be the result of hundreds of thousands of people making a decision on the options laid before them. So it’s not really like planting a bomb in a hotel and hoping you picked the right room.
    If you want a metaphor for polls, try gardening – work out how you can increase that vote.

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  58. PaddyReilly (profile) says:

    the international presentation of ‘Irishness’ as simply synonymous with the Green Flag.

    I don’t know who has the job of presenting Irishness abroad, but it seems like a cushy number to me. The point is though that the association of Ireland and greenness is already established in such quarters as the U.S.A., and they are quite happy with it.

    They want green flags, green beer, rivers dyed green: they want massive shamrocks, silly hats and leprechauns. They do not want some bore coming up to them and saying, “but you see, it’s more complicated than that, there are Protestants and…. “ By now you have lost their attention. The amount of brain space assigned to an insignificant country like Ireland is limited. We have raised the green flag: now it’s time to get drunk. Forbear: no-one abroad cares about your pathetic ethnicity. Learn to say begorrah and you might get a free beer.

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  59. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    Galloglaigh, as someone of fellow Gallowglass extraction may I point out to you that your assumption that Republicans “only need to win once” is based on a false assumption that 50%+1 changes the sovereignity. This is not stated anywhere, and it is common practice for such drastic changes in other parts of the world to require a super-majority behind such a change to ensure stability (e.g. Quebec as far as I’m aware). Northern Ireland’s current constitutional arrangement was created on a super-majority, and its going to create a super-majority to destroy it. This was also the view spelt out by the Tioseach (spelling?) during the time of negotiations.

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  60. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    As for Liam Clarke, frankly I find his opinion on anything absolutely worthless. I only get a sense of pleasure from the fact that the DUP being NI’s largest party annoys him so much; unfortunately he has brought the reputation of what was Northern Ireland’s most popular paper through the mud and destined to oblivion, but serves them right I suppose.

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  61. derrydave (profile) says:

    Covenanter,
    Your last paragraph indicates you are either blinded by your prejudice, or else are simply ignorant of the facts on the ground.
    The attractions of the famous British Welfare state is kind of offset I’d imagine by the fact that the Irish Welfare state pays it’s unemployed over twice as much in hard cash every week, no ? Also, though it is often referenced and seems a very popular topic of conversation on slugger, the actual numbers employed in ‘community groups’ and such-like are tiny and so would have no impact on the broader arguement for unity or retaining the union with Britain. Finally, politicians pay will not be something which influences the wider electorate in this arguement at all – do imply that it would is really just a little bit silly.
    If you were looking to make a serious point here, you would instead have pointed to the massive numbers employed in Northern Ireland in the wider civil-service. These are the people, republican or not, who will need to be convinced and reassured that their jobs and careers would be safe were reunification to proceed. Financial security for one’s family will always be prioritised over political beliefs in todays modern world where everyone is mortgaged up to the gills. Both my siblings who remain in the North are in the employ of the state in one form or other. Though both republican in their political beliefs I’m not sure they’d take any chances in voting for a United Ireland were their careers and therefore financial security to be placed in doubt due to such a decision.

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  62. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    I point out to you that your assumption… is based on a false assumption that 50%+1 changes the [sovereignty]

    Loyalists are fond of assumptions. My statement, and it’s not an assumption, is that we only have to be lucky once. That is the reality. The one time nationalists are lucky, regardless of percentage, will see repartition and the correction of one of the biggest disasters in Irish history.

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  63. Alias (profile) says:

    “My statement, and it’s not an assumption, is that we only have to be lucky once. That is the reality.”

    You can parrot PIRA mantras all you like but absolutely nowhere is it either stated or implied in the British Irish Agreement that a united Ireland would be a unitary state. The opposite is the case: the relationships in the treaty are supranational, con-federal and federal.

    The Treaty recognises that the people of NI have a separate right to self-determination, and does not place any expiry date on it. It is most likely to be the case that they may vote themselves back out of a united Ireland and that Ireland can also vote NI back out of it.

    It also mandates that parity of esteem must be given to both British nationalism and Irish nationalism within any unified entity and that the government shall act with “rigorous impartiality” between the two nationalisms, so that implicitly excludes the possibility of an Irish nation state. In practice it also excludes a unitary state.

    Furthermore, the Treaty recognises the right of the people of NI to self-define as “Irish or British, or both” so that will mean that the unified state will not have the right to force its citizenship on them. Since a state cannot rule those who are not its citizens, the reality will be a federal arrangement of some sort or else a state where the Queen is head of state and all citizens, Irish or British, or both, can agree to that.

    Lastly, the required majority is not specified in the Treaty so it will be whatever figure the British government sets it at.

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  64. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    Your last comment is nonsense. Everything you’ve written in it, still doesn’t take away from the fact, that we only have to be lucky once.

    Let’s say Ireland becomes a federation of counties in 50 years time. Unionists in N.Ireland then decide that they want back into the Union. Unionists would have to form a majority set by the Irish Federal government Now we know that nationalists in the 6 Irish federal counties that were once N.Ireland will be in a slight majority in 50 years time. How will unionism convince a proportion of nationalists that they are better under the Union? They won’t be able to rely on history or historical fact, as that will not favour N.Ireland, or indeed Ireland under the Union. Like Peter said, turkeys’ don’t vote for Christmas.

    Nationalists for the foreseeable future only have to be luck once. As long as we get the required majority, the democratic will of the people of N.Ireland shall be met. If Protestants wish to remain British, let them be British. Hey, the newly constituted Irish government could even lobby the British government for British benefits if they like them so much!

    p.s. When the time comes, the people of the Ireland of Ireland won’t be shoving our national flag down the throats of loyalists. Nor will our government be forcing Irish nationalism down their throats. Just because you did it to us, doesn’t mean we’ll return the favour.

    It’s called Killing Unionism with Kindness :)

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  65. Alias (profile) says:

    “Your last comment is nonsense. Everything you’ve written in it, still doesn’t take away from the fact, that we only have to be lucky once.”

    Actually, you have to be lucky twice: first to get the Catholics to vote for re-unification and secondly to get a political class of unionists who are stupid enough not to set in the stone the terms by which they (a) enter a united Ireland, (b) reside in a united Ireland, and (c) can exit a united Ireland.

    Just because the Catholics forfeited their former right to national self-determination in return for self-serving concesions within the consolidated British state doesn’t mean that unionists will do the same.

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  66. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    The political class of unionism will have to negotiate the shape of the new Irish nation. I’ve already pointed that out but thanks for reaffirming my point. We still only have to be lucky once, and you have to be lucky all the time. The thing is, and I know it eats you up, is that concession after concession, your luck, and the luck of political unionism is running out. And not just in Ireland. You can drag the Union Flag around as a comfort blanket all you like, but soon enough you’ll have to grow up and let go son!

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  67. Politico68 (profile) says:

    Its quite clear under the terms of the GFA. Consent = majority. If 50+ 1 wants a UI, there it is.

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  68. Alias (profile) says:

    As I said, good luck getting a class of unionists who are stupid enough to forfeit their consolidated right to self-determination since your ‘strategy’ is predicated on the emergence of such a class.
    The actual right belongs to the Northern Irish nation, of course, but there is considerable evidence that no such nation actually exists. The protections in the Treaty are not, for example, offered to the Northern Irish nation but to the British nation.

    There is a simple logic that you rely on (and it is fair enough to rely on it if you don’t know any better) that if Northern Ireland no longer exists then its right to self-determination will no longer exist. Ergo, they can only vote themselves out of existence but not back into existence.

    The Northern Irish nation – which doesn’t really exist – may vote itself out of legal existence but the British nation will not. It is this nation that will seek to make explicit promises of constitutional guarantees that are implicit.

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  69. Alias (profile) says:

    Politico, the GFA is just a piece of paper with no legal status whatsoever.

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  70. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    Alias

    Get off your cloud. The GFA is an international agreement between two governments. No amount of Ulster’s stupid political class can do away with it. The agreement’s authority is of no concern of theirs. You’re making yourself look stupid now sir. Either that or you’re delusional…

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  71. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    good luck getting a class of unionists who are stupid enough to forfeit their consolidated right to self-determination

    They’ve come and gone. They negotiated, and forfeited their consolidated right to self-determination – We know them as the Ulster Unionist Party… :) :) :) :) :)

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  72. Alias (profile) says:

    The GFA is an all-party agreement between political parties of the British state from which all political parties of the Irish state were excluded. It has no legal status whatsover.

    You are confusing it with the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (an act of the sovereign UK pariament) and with the British Irish Agreement (a treaty between two sovereign states).

    I won’t charge you for the basic education…

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  73. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “The attractions of the famous British Welfare state is kind of offset I’d imagine by the fact that the Irish Welfare state pays it’s unemployed over twice as much in hard cash every week, no ?”

    Derrydave,

    Yes it does, but only to people who have contributed towards it by a certain amount during their working lives. The southern dole is also time limited, so that those who have contributed the most are limited to twelve months of benefits whilst those who have contributed less are limited to lesser times of receiving dole.

    A northerner who has spent his entire life claiming the dole, DLA, occasional personal injuries claims etc, and has contributed nothing to the southern exchequer, would not find those conditions particularly attractive.

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  74. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    Alias

    What utter nonsense are you talking about? Now you’re trying to wind me up. It won’t work.

    Now tell me this, since you’re so well educated on the ins and outs of the GFA: What about the British-Irish Agreement?

    This Agreement between the British and Irish states, is based on both Irish national self determination and British constitutional convention. The UK signed up to the principle that Northern Ireland has the right to secede into the Republic. This would come through local referendum, and the British and Irish governments recognise the authority of Irish national self determination throughout the island of Ireland.

    In international law the UK’s relationship to Northern Ireland is federal. According to Professor Brendan O’Leary of the London School of Economics ‘Westminster cannot, except through breaking its treaty obligations, and except through denying Irish national self-determination, exercise power in any manner in Northern Ireland that is inconsistent with the Agreement’.

    You should try educating yourself as to the fact of the matter (as opposed to unionist lies and bullshit), that when we are lucky that one time, your luck has run out. It’s lights out for Ireland and the Union; It’s lights out for the Union :) :) :)

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  75. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    galloglaigh,

    Luck wont have a thing to do with it. From your point of view that should be a good thing as Irish republicanism does not have a great deal of it. Historically they are the most unlucky buffoons on the island.

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  76. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    Covenanter

    Might I remind you of our political history? In 1800 a group of greedy Protestant Landlords ruled Ireland. Now Irish republicans are involved, and indeed in power right across the island of Ireland. The most unlucky buffoons on the island would be the ancestral political lineage of the people that folks like you vote for.

    That is one fact wikipedia won’t get you out of this time The Lodger’…

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  77. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    *Now Irish republicans are involved in local and national government, and indeed in power right across the island of Ireland…

    Makes it even sweeter. Suck it up!

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  78. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    Irish republicans are currently involved in administrating British rule in Ireland. I suggest that you suck that up, because that is about as good as it is going to get for you.

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  79. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    I’m quite content in the fact that Irish republicans are administering British rule in Ireland. As I’ve outlined above, it’s provisional, and won’t go on forever. We only have to be lucky once.

    British rule in Ireland is coming to an end. And as 50 years of unionist discrimination, and 30 years of British dirty war have taught us, things under Irish republican rule are generally more peaceful and prosperous for all.

    Unionist political control is no-longer. Republican political control is here to stay. Suck it up :) :) :)

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  80. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    There is no Irish republican rule. Only a fool would believe that there is.

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  81. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    Keep telling yourself that and it’ll make it OK. You have no basis for an argument so there’s no point in me wasting my time. I’ve pulled your pants twice in the last ten minutes. It’s getting boring, and I hate to make a fool of you over and over…

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  82. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    Whatever you may happen to be pulling it is not my pants. The philosophy of Irish republicanism relates to a sovereign united Ireland free of British rule. It does not include administrating British rule in Stormont, supporting the British police, surrendering republican weapons at the demand of the local British populace, or indeed toadying up to Her Majesty the Queen.

    If you think it does then we have more than achieved our aim.

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  83. Alias (profile) says:

    “According to Professor Brendan O’Leary of the London School of Economics ‘Westminster cannot, except through breaking its treaty obligations, and except through denying Irish national self-determination, exercise power in any manner in Northern Ireland that is inconsistent with the Agreement’.”

    Westminster is not under any obligation to consider “Irish national self-determination” so that is a spurious argument from Mr O’Leary (previously a Shinner go-between). Another spurious argument is it cannot “exercise power in any manner in Northern Ireland that is inconsistent with the Agreement.” It can, and has already done so. Stormont was suspended without the consent of the Dublin government and in contravention of the terms of the Treaty. What did Ireland do? Send in the tanks? His claim is also spurious the governments are only obliged to act within the exact terms stated in the Treaty within the areas stated, and do not have any obligations of a more general nature in non-specified areas so there no measure of what is “consistent” and no one to judge.

    Apart from those flaws, he is correct that a Treaty imposes obligations on the state that signs it. But treaties are violated all the time without any consequences. There is no court, alas, that is going to fine the UK if it tears up the Treaty (not that it would have to claim that unionists can vote themselves back out of a united Ireland) and the UK parliament remains sovereign at all times as it is a condition of Dicey’s Doctrine that all can be revoked by parliament. Unless O’Leary is claiming that the Irish government received an ‘opt-out’ from Dicey’s Doctrine and constitution of the UK was thereby overturned, I’d say he’s re-assuring the Shinner sheep at the expense of academic accuracy…

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  84. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    I’ve already said I don’t mind all that crap you’ve outlined. It’s provisional, and on the way out. That makes me smile. It gets up your back – which me smile even more.

    Unionism’s aim was stopped in it’s tracks by Michael Collins and Co. It had been weighed down by the likes of O’Connell, Davis, Parnell, and Redmond, and will come to it’s final station, perhaps under Martin McGuinness.

    It’s like grafitti, the writing is on the wall.

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  85. derrydave (profile) says:

    “Yes it does, but only to people who have contributed towards it by a certain amount during their working lives. The southern dole is also time limited, so that those who have contributed the most are limited to twelve months of benefits whilst those who have contributed less are limited to lesser times of receiving dole.”

    Covenanter – the above is all factually completely and absolutely incorrect. I can only imagine that you simply made it up on the spot as it is quite simply nonsense,

    The jobseekers allowance in the south is Eur188 per week. Rent allowance is then paid over and above this in addition to childrens allowance. None of these allowances are based on any contributions to the system at all, and there is absolutely no time limit on how long you can claim them. You are obviously mixing this up with the unemployment benefit. All this info is available on-line.

    I very much doubt therefore that these levels of benefits will put the Norths unemployed off reunification – quite the opposite in fact – you may find a large section of the Norths lazy layabouts from the PUL community being severly tempted by the Republics half-crown over their loyalty to her maj !

    On a personal level I think the lazy underclass scum livin perennially off benefits North and South should all be rounded up and sent to forced labour camps and made to slog day and night for their benefits – but then that’s another subject for another day :-)

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  86. Alias (profile) says:

    “That makes me smile. It gets up your back – which me smile even more.”

    It doesn’t ‘get up my back.’ I just see it as a public service to lead an innocent Shinner sheep in the right direction. I sort of pity the poor creatures.

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  87. Neil (profile) says:

    You haven’t detected the slight downward trajectory of Unionism in Ireland then? From controlling 32 counties to dwindling away in the remaining six and any decision nowadays subject to a Nationalist veto?

    Every step has been a step forward for Republicans up to and including the GFA a few short years ago.

    Alias will tell you the GFA means nothing and the British ultimately decide everything and theoretically that could happen. Or the idea of subverting the democratic will of the people will prove too poisonous just as it did when Posh Boy Call Me Dave went up to Scotland to tell Alex that no 16 year olds would vote in a referendum which would be held in the afterglow of the Olympics.

    Also, just so we see how you like your deck loaded, can we assume that if an arbitrary figure for a yes to a UI were to be set at say 55% (for arguments sake) then a 46% vote for retaining the Union would keep us there. Then surely a 46% vote should be enough enter that middle ground where the constitutional status is up for negotiation. Or should we assume that sort of thing only comes into play where Unionists benefit.

    All nonsense obviously, as 50% + 1 keeps us in the Union, 50% + 1 will sever the link. As I say, ignoring the democratic will of the people is yesterday’s game for our British neighbours. The shoe’s on the other foot now. I relish a border poll, though I’m not sure how long the holding of one can be tied to a highly ridiculed survey.

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  88. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    Alias

    Are you a Professor? Everything you’ve argued above is your own opinion. It means nothing. Your opinion means nothing. Accept that we only have to be lucky once, and you have to be lucky all the time. You can’t seem to grasp that. It says more about you, than it does the research done by the Professor.

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  89. SK (profile) says:

    “Yes it does, but only to people who have contributed towards it by a certain amount during their working lives. The southern dole is also time limited, so that those who have contributed the most are limited to twelve months of benefits whilst those who have contributed less are limited to lesser times of receiving dole.”

    ___________

    That is completely untrue.

    You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. If your political position is based on such misinformation then I would suggest that you reconsider it.

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  90. derrydave (profile) says:

    Reunification will absolutely happen – the only question is when. In the meantime, as gallo mentions most republicans and nationalists are quite happy for NI to become ever greener and with the changing demographics the pace of this change will only increase.
    At some point Unionists will be faced with the nightmare scenario of a Sinn Fein First Minister, a Sinn Fein dominated assembly, a Sinn Fein dominated Belfast City Council, and a Sinn Fein dominated Derry City Council ( if SF in the city can ever get it’s act together). It’s at this time that Unionists will start to realize that a United Ireland doesn’t seem all that bad hahaha :-) Will take time, but we’ll get there !

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  91. derrydave (profile) says:

    The only arguement against 50+1 would be if the demographics could swing either way in future years – it’s clear however that the demographics are only heading one way and will continue along that trajectory. 50+1 id therefore perfectly acceptable as a basis for changing the constitutional status of NI. I think to be honest that 50+0.0000000000001 will be quite sufficient in fact as far as the UK government and people are concerned :-)

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  92. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “Unionism’s aim was stopped in it’s tracks by Michael Collins and Co.”

    Unionism’s aim was to keep the six northern counties which constitute Northern Ireland within the UK and without a Roman catholic run southern state. In that they were absolutely successful. Collins will soon be dead a hundred years and NI will still remain within the UK.

    Indeed the murder campaign launched by Collins and subsequent terrorist clones has played a huge part in justifying and cementing the union. It would have been less easy to argue for it remaining had it not been for the fact that Britain would have been abandoning a million Britons to the lutches of hatefilled, blood thirsty sectarian murderers.

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  93. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “You are obviously mixing this up with the unemployment benefit.”

    Derrydave,

    I defer to your expert knowledge on what you can claim on both sides of the border. I had a look at the website as you suggested and I note that there is no automatic entitlement to this money however. The claimant has a number of hoops to jump through such as demonstrating that he is seeking work every day.

    On top of that of course there is the absolute fact that the ROI economy has collapsed and these sort of generous payments, introduced by FF in order to bribe votes from the unemployed, are unsustainable.

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  94. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. If your political position is based on such misinformation then I would suggest that you reconsider it.”

    My political position is based on my nationality.

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  95. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    Dry your eyes Lodger. Carson and unionism’s aim was to keep all of Ireland under the Union. N.Ireland was a failure for them. In fact Carson was disillusioned by partition. It was Home Rule in Belfast which they fought against.

    You really need to start reading books. Stories told by the Orange fireside aren’t always true. :)

    By the time Edward Carson’s dead 100 years, the unionist dream will have become a nightmare. A vision of the past: The past failures of unionism in Ireland.

    The Union is over. No amount of loyalist myth, or Orange revisionism, will keep Ireland within the Union. You have no argument as usual, and you take the thread to your childish level.

    You’re fooling no one on here The Lodger.

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  96. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “At some point Unionists will be faced with the nightmare scenario of a Sinn Fein First Minister, a Sinn Fein dominated assembly, a Sinn Fein dominated Belfast City Council, and a Sinn Fein dominated Derry City Council”

    I can also recall this being eagerly predicted by republicans just before the last assembly election. They didn’t even come close to achieving any of those things.

    It would seem that the only comfort blanket available to republicans is their ability to continually fantasise about their goals being just around the corner. Michael Collins used to do that a lot as well.

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  97. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    And Michael Collins made inroads, as unionism was relegated to 6 out of 32…

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  98. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “Dry your eyes Lodger. Carson and unionism’s aim was to keep all of Ireland under the Union. N.Ireland was a failure for them.”

    Carson abandoned southern uionism and embraced Ulster unionism precisely because he knew that the south was a lost cause. The big clue is in the name Ulster Unionists. Note that they did not refer to themselves as Irish unionists. Northern Ireland was precisely what they wanted to achieve.

    As a southern unionist of course Carson was disappointed that the south broke away from the rest of us. He was however a realist and knew that maintaining a united Ireland within the UK was a lost cause.

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  99. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “And Michael Collins made inroads, as unionism was relegated to 6 out of 32…”

    Yes indeed. He helped to creat partition. Again I think that if you read up on it, and think about it really hard, you will find that partition was not actually a republican ambition.

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  100. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    A lost cause is a failure is it not? Oh Come on, give up with the bullshit, the argument’s over. You’ve been shown up again. I even have a redner for ye this time!

    What do you think?
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