“[The DUP] had come to terms with what it has done since 2003…”

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So, why not. Let’s have another go at the Catholic Unionist trope that’s been doing the rounds. Gareth Gordon looks at the idea of Unionist Catholics, or unicorns as Alex Kane once put it.

Of all the respondents in this piece, Steven McCaffrey of The Detail is the one that has it down pat. Robinson’s tactic is about switching nationalist voters off from voting for a united Ireland. Although according to one senior political source in the party that Slugger spoke to this week, it is firstly about hollowing out the UUP.

It’s not a co-incidence that North Down has the highest occurence of those who chose the epithet ‘other’ in Kathry Torney’s data sheet on schools. Given that it’s the last place the UUP had a sitting place, and (given their plummet in the east according to today’s poll) probably a racing certainty of losing their last MLA in the next election, this has some validty.

In fact, the DUP’s biggest credibility gap has been those living in the posh houses of My Lady’s Mile and send their kids to Sullivan Prep; and not the Catholics of Holywood. Both prefer, if they do at all, to vote Alliance these days. Not that that directly matters to the DUP, it’s climate change they are after.

In Alex Kane’s News Letter column on Monday, he noted that the party at large seems to be coming to terms with reality more quickly than its rivals:

…this was a party which had come to terms with what it has done since 2003 No-one I spoke to admitted to being keen on having to share power with Sinn Fein, but all of them emphasised that it was the right thing to do. When pushed about why they couldn’t have signed up much earlier they said that David Trimble had yielded too much, too quickly and had nothing to show for his efforts.

And I make that point only because I think that neither the UUP nor SDLP has yet come to terms with what they did: hence their ongoing lack of confidence and sense of direction. [Emphasis added]

It strikes me, in retrospect (sadly, I cannot claim great powers of foresight in this regard) that the crisis around Robinson’s leadership in January 2010 was actually very good for the DUP. In one moment the party had a clear choice. Stick with the leader or have another one (Nigel Dodds) take over.

By all contemporary accounts, the choice was a genuine one. They stuck with the former and the party has been the better for the unanimity it has given rise to since. Not that there aren’t problems. Too many senior figures and not enough meaningful jobs to go around is one. Unlike in Sinn Fein, there is no automatic trapdoor for transforming senior figures into supernumeraries at the flick of a switch.

Kane’s column in the Irish News today asks if outside the confines of a border poll it is realistic to conceive of a pro union vehicle capable of pulling in Catholics if even the Alliance party fails to do so outside certain limited constituencies. But he also notes:

I don’t buy into the notion that every Catholic is a nationalist and I don’t run sacred of census figures (due on December 11, by the way) which suggest that the gap between Protestants and Catholics is continuing to narrow. That’s only scary if you do think that every Catholic wants a united Ireland: and, similarly, it’s only heartening if, like Sinn Fein, your unity headcount is also based on a nakedly sectarian calculation.

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  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    PaulT [3.16]
    I’ve noticed that Robinson has stopped putting Roman in front of catholic when referring to us in speeches recently. This is clearly not naturally arrived at spontaneously but pre-arranged to curry favour but it’s wasted as the others at the DUP still carry on positively spitting out the Roman, just in case their voters might think they were becoming too friendly with themmuns’.

  • PaulT

    Er Nevin, hate to point this out, but…..

    one link is Newt talking about the SDLP, Sinn Fein aren’t mentioned.

    Another link is about a ferry somewhere (across the Mersey?)

    and the other one, TBH I haven’t a scoobie what its about.

    Is that your evidence? discussion over methinks, but happy to throw it open to anyone on SLugger who cares to enlighten me on the subject?

  • PaulT

    hold on, I do recognise the ferry, it seems to be your evidence for everything, weren’t you using it as evidence of Dublin control over Northern Ireland a week ago, now it’s evidence of SF fears of disso’s the is one versatile little boat, what else does it do?

    An unkind person might think you are just constantly plugging your blog…………..

  • Reader

    danielsmoran: This is clearly not naturally arrived at spontaneously but pre-arranged to curry favour but it’s wasted as the others at the DUP still carry on positively spitting out the Roman, just in case their voters might think they were becoming too friendly with themmuns’.
    That seems like harmless pedantry – how else are the various Catholic Churches to be distinguished?

  • PaulT

    Cheers Daniel, so thats three words we know Robbo no longer uses Roman, British and Ulster. Maybe it is genuine Nationalist outreach afterall

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    PaulT, the first link was er, a motion before Dungannon and South Tyrone Council brought by SF councillors; the second link was about the disgraceful treatment of a widow and the third was – about what it says on the tin. Now if you need any enlightenment about any of those …

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Reader There may well be other catholics than Roman ones but in the context of NI, the prospect of confusion hardly arises. Unionist politician are sticklers for formal names to the point of neurosis. The Derry-londonderry example is a puzzle since both names were british imposed, so instead of doing the natural thing and picking the short one, they insist on the clumsy one. Obviously since ‘themmuns’ accepted the older British name, the unionists couldn’t possibly accept that one.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    PaulT. If he hadn’t shown such relish in mocking the preferences of nationalists by saying it in a tone clearly derisive, I’d be tempted to agree, but he is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

  • Reader

    danielsmoran: Unionist politician are sticklers for formal names to the point of neurosis.
    Then it’s not surprising that they distinguish between Roman-Catholics and Anglican-Catholics, is it?
    http://ireland.anglican.org/about/

  • PaulT

    Ah but Daniel, he has an awful lot of people to keep on board, the DUP is a broad church, which is why I suspect that should SF become the largest party at anytime in the future the DUP may fragment with people departing to the TUV and others returning to the UUP, I think the DUP has a sizable number of voters who are onboard merely to keep it the biggest party, hence Robbo’s fishing for Catholic unicorns while trying to keep the fundamentalists inside.

    I imagine Robbo acyually needs several more sides to his mouth to talk out off to keep them all happy.

  • PaulT

    Yes Nevin, I do need proper examples, Newt rambled on about the SDLP and not SF because SF were doing nothing out of the ordinary.

    Second one, is the woman a disso or something

    THird one, seems to be about HM Treasury, have the disso’s got a grant or something

    Really Nevin is that it? A political prisoner supported by SF, SDLP, Fianna Fail and several others, a widow and her pension, and HM Treasury. Go on give us a clue how do they all prove that SF are worried about the disso’s.

    And can you do it without advertising your blog

  • PaulT

    Reader surely you just call them Protestants, simples!

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “fishing for Catholic unicorns”

    I should imagine unicorns, Catholic and Protestant, are not worth fishing for. We can expect Peter and Martin to speak out of both sides of the mouth in their tussle for the FM’s chair.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “SF were doing nothing out of the ordinary”

    Well apart from speaking out of both sides of the mouth, PaulT; condemning dissident Republicans on the one hand and running after them on the other.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Go on give us a clue how do they all prove that SF are worried about the disso’s”

    They don’t, PaulT. You referred to being in a minority at 5:39 so I just gave those second two examples about my lack of concern for being in a minority. Do try to follow your own posts ;)

  • Mc Slaggart

    “Reader (profile) 2 December 2012 at 8:34 pm
    danielsmoran: Unionist politician are sticklers for formal names to the point of neurosis.
    Then it’s not surprising that they distinguish between Roman-Catholics and Anglican-Catholics”

    Then if you must, use “Latin Catholic” as Roman Catholics include the Eastern Church. Its two and a half centuries since the last time the Church would have used the term “Roman Catholic”.

  • Reader

    Mc Slaggart: Then if you must, use “Latin Catholic” as Roman Catholics include the Eastern Church. Its two and a half centuries since the last time the Church would have used the term “Roman Catholic”.
    That circular still hasn’t reached the periphery:
    http://www.rcol.org.uk/
    http://www.armagh.co.uk/place/cardinal-tomas-o-fiaich-library-and-archive/
    And don’t forget to tell the Archbishop too -
    http://www.dublindiocese.ie/content/19012012-homily-ecumenical-service-st-patrick%E2%80%99s-church-dalkey

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Reader [8.34] But there’s not going to be confusion among these since only the Roman variety reside here. Pedantry abounds here for the sake of it.

  • http://www.openunionism.com oneill

    John O’Dowd has followed in the spirit of Wolfe-Tone McCracken et al in rebutting Robinson’s argument:

    “http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/25153#

    “The reality is of course that the reason Mr Robinson seeks at every turn to proclaim the security of the union is very simple. He knows that the political and demographic reality is that a united Ireland is inevitable.”

    “In the next number of weeks the census figures will be published. I have no doubt that those figures will demonstrate very clearly the constitutional trajectory that we are set on. Nationalists and Republicans have never been in a better or stronger political position since partition.”

    I will have to watch that census figures very closely for that er… “constitutional trajectory”.

  • Reader

    danielsmoran: Reader [8.34] But there’s not going to be confusion among these since only the Roman variety reside here.
    Church of Ireland. They haven’t gone away, you know.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Reader:

    My I congratulate you on your extensive research. One made it clear that it was the “Catholic Church in England & Wales” thank you for that. (check the url)
    http://www.rcol.org.uk/

    The other was a website giving information about Armagh. I did not know it was a religous body but I am always up to learn.

    http://www.armagh.co.uk/place/cardinal-tomas-o-fiaich-library-and-archive/

    The last one was about a ”
    ECUMENICAL SERVICE AT SAINT PATRICK’S CHURCH (CHURCH OF IRELAND) DALKEY”
    http://www.dublindiocese.ie/content/19012012-homily-ecumenical-service-st-patrick%E2%80%99s-church-dalkey

    Reader if you are a “sticklers for formal names” then you would not use “Roman Catholics”.

    “It is not possible to give an exact year when the Catholic Church began to be called the “Roman Catholic Church,” but it is possible to approximate it. The term originates as an insult created by Anglicans who wished to refer to themselves as Catholic. They thus coined the term “Roman Catholic” to distinguish those in union with Rome from themselves and to create a sense in which they could refer to themselves as Catholics (by attempting to deprive actual Catholics to the right to the term).”

    http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/when-did-the-term-roman-catholic-church-first-come-into-being

  • ayeYerMa

    Comrade Stalin, it is indeed an outrageous concession to Republicans, however, it isn’t simply about the presence of a piece of cloth. Rather, it is about the wider concept that you have mentioned whereby we in Northern Ireland aren’t being allowed to ever act in the normal manner as would be expected in any sovereign democratic country (one small aspect of which being whereby respectful flag-flying is seen as one that unifies and integrates people, and whereby it is normal to see the sovereign flag permanently on any parliament or government building). The only way Northern Ireland is ever going to have true and lasting long-term peace and stability is if we normalise towards standard international democratic practice and integrate; if we remain abnormal forever, we then self-perpetuate our instability (an instability which I believe has been caused primarily by the lack of support in terms of security from London to deal with the Republican “armed struggle” and our belligerent neighbours to the south).
    The flaw in the logic of the Alliance supporter is that somehow a simple issue of sovereignity is one which somehow magically maps directly to sectarian division (both wrong and innacuratte). You effectively award those who made Northern Ireland abnormal by perpetrating their “armed struggle” and sending out the message that violence pays and that division should remain entrenched.

    Of course, it is entirely in the interests of Alliance supporters to maintain an image of sectarian division — after all, how else would they justify to themselves their air of smugness by pretending that they are so much better than everyone else? However, appeasing Republicans will only give electoral gain to one group — Republicans. It is also in the interests of Republicans to prevent Northern Ireland from being stable, and if they see that by acting in a continuously belligerent and disruptive fashion to try and chip away every last iota of British symbolism that they get what they want through gullable Alliance-types, then they will only be encouraged to keep chipping away. The reward in the ballot-box will be to Republicans, not the appeaser.

    The Irish Republican flag should not be flown in the place where international diplomatic norms fly the sovereign flag because we aren’t under the jurisdiction of the Irish Republic, it is simply disrespectful to the agreed mechanism on deciding sovereignity, and disrespectful to the fact that the territorial claim by the Republic is supposed to have been dropped. Your comment on wanting “to make Nationalists to feel better” again exposes the flaw in your logic that somehow an either-or DECISION on STABLE sovereignity can somehow be balanced. You also talk as if Unionists have not compromised, despite making the ultimate compromise south of the border to accept defeat, and making massive compromises north of the border to deny themselves the standard democracy that any majority group in the world gaining the right to self-determination would be expected to hold. Alliance simply undermine the massive compromises already made by Unionism.

    Regarding parades and, freedom of speech and expression, I know you aren’t going to listen to me, nor challenge the Sinn Fein propaganda version of events, but even assuming such propaganda to be true perhaps you will listen to some of your fellow luvvies in The Guardian on the “Tyranny of decency”: http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/12/arrested-poppy-burning-beware-tyranny-decency

  • Reader

    McSlaggart: One made it clear that it was the “Catholic Church in England & Wales” thank you for that. (check the url)
    A *notice* on the page referred to “England and Wales”; the URL refers to the UK; and the homepage links reference “England & Wales” “Scotland” and “Ireland”. In any case, isn’t it meant to be a Universal Church? Does the RC Church begin on the other side of the Irish Sea, so far as you are concerned.
    McSlaggart: I did not know it was a religous body but I am always up to learn.
    The library is “Designated centre for Roman Catholic records for the Archdiocese of Armagh.”
    McSlaggart: The last one was about a ”
    ECUMENICAL SERVICE AT SAINT PATRICK’S CHURCH (CHURCH OF IRELAND) DALKEY”

    Your caps lock is on. The notes were presented by “Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin”. He’s the RC Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, you know. Not only will he have an excellent idea of the identity of his own faith, he’s also not going to insult it.
    It seems that some people simply don’t share your sensitivity over the terminology!

  • Mc Slaggart

    Reader (profile)

    When someone tells you they find something offensive and you reply:

    “That seems like harmless pedantry – how else are the various Catholic Churches to be distinguished?”

    I have pointed out to you clearly that it is something which does offend some people. I would not call the British queen Miss Windsor but if I could get a link to people who do would that make it acceptable?
    Gerry AdamsNow calling the British queen “miss Windsor” is at least actually factually correct and

  • Reader

    McSlaggart: When someone tells you they find something offensive and you reply:
    Who actually said they found it offensive? And in any case, with 7 billion people in the world, how can I not offend some of them?
    McSlaggart: but if I could get a link to people who do would that make it acceptable?
    I found multiple links to people who refer to *themselves* as Roman Catholics, and in mixed company too. It’s not an intrinsically offensive term.
    McSlaggart: Gerry AdamsNow calling the British queen “miss Windsor” is at least actually factually correct
    On the assumption that he doesn’t recognise the validity of marriages in the Anglican Church? I’ll wait until I hear it from the man himself, I think!

  • Mc Slaggart

    Reader:

    I have no problem with you insulting people. If that is how you want to live then its your problem not mine.

    King George V adpoted the name “Windsor” that is why the current “Bitish” Queen can be called Windsor.