“[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

    ‘that’s only scary if you do thinkthat every catholic wants a united Ireland’
    I beg to differ with Alex Kane on that. It’s just as unpalatable to the DUP in particular if catholics want to stay with the Union because they will inherit the power unionists have had till recently especially in councils. between two stools [a minority in a UI or a minority in NI in a couple of decades]. The future is not Orange

  • PaulT

    Its been a long journey for some, once every Catholic was a Provo or at least hell bent on the distruction of the wee six

    Now every Catholic is a potential DUP voter.

    Have to ask if it’s actually Catholics who have changed or is it the DUP.

    If it’s the DUP then they need to move that date a lot further back than 2003

    If it’s Catholics than some research is needed on their Bi-Polar problem

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    Another catholic unionist post? Why not, what’s one more?

    A cynical person might think that this explosion of references might be due to a certain set of statistics about to be released.

    Here’s a fun game to play over this festive season: Everytime a DUP rep./Slugger aficianado says ‘catholic unionist’ or ‘unicorn’; down a sherry.

    Actually why stop there. Every time someone points out (rightly) how headcounts are sectarian ignoring how Northern Ireland is founded on that very principled rock, issue them a point/yellow card. Three pts/yellow cards = a round of Kronenburgs.

  • BluesJazz

    The sheer number of people employed by the British government in NI and the possible loss of such, along with the subvention might focus peoples lives to everyday practicalities rather than getting to watch the Angelus broadcast on tv every evening.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Alex Kane: 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.”

    I would put it differently. I think the UUP and SDLP did a decent enough job but they were IMO betrayed by Bertie Ahern’s precipitate action on the release of prisoners without a quid pro quo on decommissioning, followed soon after by similar actions by Tony Blair. IIRC it was Tony Blair who put it to Mark Durkan that the SDLP’s problem was that it didn’t have guns to trade [my paraphrasing]. This provided a huge boost to the political fortunes of both the DUP and SF.

  • grandimarkey

    “rather than getting to watch the Angelus broadcast on tv every evening.”

    Here, don’t knock the Angelus broadcast, finest piece of Paddywhackery there is…

  • PaulT

    Charlie you forgot “non-dyed in the wool nationalist Catholics” which is on another thread, lenghty I know perhaps NDWNC would suffice, either way I feel its a bit of a one way street with unionists bestowing more titles on this obscure sect than votes received in return. And I think you’ll find the yellow card, red card, beer game is already in full swing here, except without the beer at the end, maybe we need to do it with orange juice instead.

    But back on topic, I fail to see how the leadership crisis was good if the party realised that although they were unhappy with the leader the alternative was worse, that actually sounds like a bad situation to be in.

    And I must admit my limited vocabulary didn’t cover supernumeraries until I looked it up and now I’m more confused, surely unionists have this capability rather than SF, as the UUP (past tense) and the DUP are regularily bought off with Privvy Council roles or the House of Lords, placing the senior leaders in paid public roles without having to bother with silly things like mandates or such. Although tbh not sure if either of us are using it in context

  • Mick Fealty

    CSPRG: The trend from ten years was slightly different: http://goo.gl/6uMD3

  • FuturePhysicist

    Alex Kane continues to get no votes and no nominations to stand, how valuable must his contribution to Northern Ireland politics these days be.

    I mean I’ve been elected to QUBSU on no votes (elected by default as a lone wolf in the Science Faculty constituency) over the last 10 years and I’ve seemed to make more of a political contribution from that then Kane has with his similar tally.

  • wild turkey

    ‘Here’s a fun game to play over this festive season: Everytime a DUP rep./Slugger aficianado says ‘catholic unionist’ or ‘unicorn’; down a sherry.’

    charlie, rather than sherry, i’ve been quaffing my nom de plume. supposedly the economy of Lawerenburg Kentucky is booming.

    oops, gotta go. there’s either a unicorn or yeti in the back garden

    mahalo

  • sherdy

    Did the thought of Nigel Dodds taking over scare the bejaysus out of them?
    Nevin: Don’t mention Bertie Ahern and quid in the same sentence – just reminds me of brown envelopes.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    Seriously though,

    why does Alex Kane get so many references?

    His only use is typifying why nationalists scratch their heads when they hear these speeches. They say they not all catholics are born nationalists. Of course that’s true, while I’m still to meet a catholic unionist, I’m sure there are plenty. Except then you have to ask why is it that the likes of Kane and chums think that protestants are a unionist lock and unswayable? Have nationalists lost the indoctrination battle by not sending enough children to join marching bands, or haven’t painted enough kerbstones or tied enough flags to the lampost?

    The SDLP just this month elected another protestant onto their executive, whilst I’m still waiting for the DUP to do something like that for even the first time. Somehow I don’t think it’s coming any time soon.

    Kane also bangs on every 5 minutes about a supposed 100,000 unionists who have stopped voting. There are plenty of nationalists no longer voting but apparently they don’t count. Every nationalist who has gone to the polls is the max limit and every unionist vote lost is just hiding in the garden centre. I don’t know how many elections have to pass before he wonders if those 100,000 are ever coming back….

  • chewnicked

    The token taig Unionist trotted out by the DUP on The View last night was a Fianna Fail representative in South Down this time last year.
    One minute leading the Soldiers of Destiny across the border into the Wee 6, the next minute…

  • aquifer

    Protestant Unionism is an oxymoron, as staining british citizenship with sectarianism destabilises the British state in Ireland.

    The IRA wrote the script and the DUP won the oscar.

    The only crime in politics is stupidity.

  • jagmaster

    All I can think of is that Robinson has gotten hold of the upcoming census religious breakdown figures and is trying desperately to put a positive spin on things for fellow Unionists. Hence this non stop talk of Catholic’s never having it so good and wanting to stay in the Union.

    Make sure you’re stocked up well with popcorn for the 11th December because it’s going to be a good one.

  • Jack2

    The DUP with their right wing fundamentalist views are a laughing stock. There are a group of MLA’s and a minister who believe the earth was created 6,000 years ago.
    Even Pat Robertson the crazy religious loon of the American right has challenged the creationist view this week.

    DUP should attract derision in a “normal” state of affairs.
    Dunce’s
    Under
    Performing

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    It is entirely possible – entirely possible – that in the medium term we move to a situation where there is a Nationalist voting majority in Stormont but the electorate refuse to vote us out of the UK.

    Are ‘pro-Union’ Catholics small u unionists? Not in my experience. They’re realistic nationalists – a United Ireland would be great, of course they’ll keep voting SDLP and Sinn Féin, they often intensely dislike NI Unionism and even the Alliance Party, they know we’ll be in the UK for the foreseeable although the don’t feel remotely British and they know there’s no way we will, at least in the short term, maintain our current standard of living in a United Ireland. That was always true, and in some ways it’s more true than ever.

    And pace some of the fantasies of people like Jeffrey Donaldson, they tend to be pretty socially liberal, at least in Greater Belfast.

    That’s what real ‘pro-Union Catholics’ look like. A lot support the Republic of Ireland football team and might well be keen Gaels. Why on earth would they vote for either Unionist party? Unionist parties are vehicles for Ulster Prod identity politics. The fact remains that all 3 SDLP MPs, for example, attract significant Protestant and even Unionist support, even in South Belfast where there is no tactical argument for doing so, whereas no Unionist politician has, or has ever had, significant cross-community appeal with the arguable exception of Sylvia in deeply atypical and very Protestant North Down, where it hardly makes a big difference.

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    All I can think of is that Robinson has gotten hold of the upcoming census religious breakdown figures and is trying desperately to put a positive spin on things for fellow Unionists.

    Because if you add up all the Catholics, they might soon get to just over 50% and then there’ll be a United Ireland? Catch a grip. That fantasy depends on Ulster Flag-waving Rory McIlroy and his family voting for a United Ireland. It also depends on Joe Soap on the Glengormley bus who has never voted in his life and does not give a flying about NI politics coming out to vote for a United Ireland in a border poll.

    Not. Going. To. Happen.

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    “That fantasy depends on Ulster Flag-waving Rory McIlroy and his family voting for a United Ireland. It also depends on Joe Soap on the Glengormley bus who has never voted in his life and does not give a flying about NI politics coming out to vote for a United Ireland in a border poll.”

    Looks like Charlie Sheen has it spot on earlier. So the missing garden centre Prods are going to make a reappearance as soon as a constitutional matter comes before the electorate but all of the Castle Catholics will stay away or vote for the Union? I’m sure it was thinking like that made Alliance so successful in your time Gerry. The reality is there a large swathes of both communities switched off from politics here and at the end of the day they largely cancel each other out. As for you supposing to know how Rory McIlroy’s family would vote – who on God’s green earth do you think you are?

  • Dewi

    “sacred” of census figures – maybe …..”scared” another matter…

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think the wheels have come off in terms of Robinson’s dream of attracting votes to his party from outside the traditional base. I feel very foolish for having spent some time taking his ideas seriously.

    I transferred high up to DUP candidates in the last assembly and council elections, for a couple of reasons. Firstly local DUP politicians have gone beyond the call of duty in helping with local constituency issues and as a supporter of the oft-cited “bread and butter politics” I have to support that. Secondly, and slightly more importantly, I felt that their constructive approach to regional government (especially following the devolution of justice) and small, but genuine, gestures had to be endorsed – one small example which springs to mind is Ian Paisley issuing a statement of condolence following the death of Pope JP2, and of course there is the far greater leap of entering into powersharing government with Sinn Féin.

    I’d class myself, hopefully without sounding too pompous, as the sort of person whom the DUP should be targeting for votes. It’s not a hard sell. I don’t mind there being a union. I dislike lawlessness and I support the police, indeed I mostly did before the – necessary and beneficial – Patten reforms. My preference is for completely non-tribal politics but that does not mean I will vote for any idiot who flies the yellow flag – I’ll happily take competent, sensible and talented politicians who believe in the strengths of this place and want to improve the lives of people here. I don’t care whether or not they occasionally fly a few flags, sing God Save the Queen or enjoy participating in a wee parade and I’m happy to overlook their nefarious past, where applicable, as long as it remains the past. I really badly want to be able to proudly transfer to DUP candidates.

    It is therefore to my immeasurable disappointment that the DUP have spent the past six months actively stoking sectarian politics for their own narrow electoral purposes. Over the summer, the DUP scrambled to get behind the fuck-the-pope bands from the Shankill and their shameful, animalistic behaviour outside of St Patrick’s Church. I’m not religious, and I have no time whatsoever for the RC church, but that building is part of my family history, it was central to the life of my grandparents and their children; we’ve got photos of the entire extended family photographed outside of it, my father, aunts and uncles were all baptized there and I think a few were even married there.

    To add further insult to injury, when the Parades Commission necessarily imposed restrictions as a consequence of this completely avoidable behaviour, DUP politicians appeared in public to incite breaking of the law – beyond justifying the illegal conduct of the marchers the DUP were now opposing the legal processes designed to restrain such conduct. The whole situation began to spiral completely out of control and for a few days I was worried that the paramilitaries would start getting involved and things would get really nasty, especially when the rioting broke out at Carlisle Circus. Then, thankfully, Robinson arrived home from his holiday and defused it – rather deftly. But personally I was left feeling so angry about the scenes that I saw and the attempts by unionist politicians to pretend that nothing happened that if I were registered in North Belfast I’d be voting tactically for Gerry Kelly. Kelly’s politics disgust me and Sinn Féin have proven themselves utterly incompetent in government; but it looks very much as if decapitating the DUP’s group leader in Westminster is probably the only way to explain to them what the consequences of rowing in behind sectarian drinking bands is, since it seems clear that Nigel Dodds and Nelson McCausland do not believe that I exist.

    You know that the outreach thing just isn’t working if it is pushing the people you are trying to reach into the arms of Sinn Féin.

    Next up we have this shameful tribal electioneering going on at City Hall over the union flag. The DUP were clearly worried that this event would pass off without anyone noticing, so to address that problem they spent significant amounts of time and money leaflet-dropping parts of Belfast (I don’t know which parts, but I doubt the mixed leafy Alliance hardcore areas figured) – attempting, rather brazenly, to pin the whole thing on Naomi Long, who is not a councillor and who will not be voting on the issue herself. Whoever heard of the idea that you should email the local MP if you don’t like what the councillors are doing rather than complaining to the councillors themselves ?

    Rough and tumble, and a bit of misrepresentation, is all part of the game and nobody can complain about that, but inciting a loyalist mob with “Alliance are helping themmuns take away our flag” is a very serious development. There is a loyalist protest planned for City Hall on Monday, there can be no doubt that it will be prominently attended by loyalist paramilitary figures. I doubt there will be trouble but the loyalist paramilitaries are unpredictable and hard to influence, there is no telling what they will do. I am certainly concerned for the safety of Alliance councillors. In the past, Alliance councillors have suffered their homes being picketed and their offices being attacked over scenarios such as this.

    All of this is happening because the DUP made an active and deliberate choice to draw attention to this issue with the sole purpose of painting Naomi Long as some sort of crypto-nationalist with the hope that it will make it easier for them to regain the East Belfast seat in 2015. The deliberate stoking of feeling among working class loyalists and paramilitary elements in order to realize this objective is the oldest trick in the DUP book, but also these days is a dangerous, high risk strategy, as the history shows that once this genie is out of the bottle it is very hard to put it back in.

    When you couple this with events over the past summer it seems very clear that while Peter Robinson gets up on a podium to talk about outreach and trying to get support outside of unionism he clearly doesn’t mean it as an instruction or a set of values which his other senior party figures are intended to implement. It seems to be that when push comes to shove the DUP fall back on the street tactics that they were using when they first got started in 1970. I really can’t see how Robinson’s talk of reconciliation can be taken at all seriously when his party is busy alienating centrist voters who are amenable to unionism – never mind nationalists.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ulick,

    Rory McIlroy (slightly controversially) comes from a Catholic background, yet wrapped himself in an Ulster flag at the end of the big golf thing earlier this year.

    Do people who – by all accounts innocently and probably unknowingly – wrap themselves in that flag are going to be up bright and early on the morning of the border poll to vote for reunification ?

  • jagmaster

    “Because if you add up all the Catholics, they might soon get to just over 50% and then there’ll be a United Ireland? Catch a grip. That fantasy depends on Ulster Flag-waving Rory McIlroy and his family voting for a United Ireland.”

    A majority of people from a Catholic background would have a negative psychological effect on the Unionist psyche regardless of any future voting arrangements.

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    @Comrade Stalin
    “Rory McIlroy (slightly controversially) comes from a Catholic background, yet wrapped himself in an Ulster flag at the end of the big golf thing earlier this year.
    Do people who – by all accounts innocently and probably unknowingly – wrap themselves in that flag are going to be up bright and early on the morning of the border poll to vote for reunification?”

    I know all about McIlroy, Comrade, and his flag-waving but what makes you and Gerry so confident to think he is going to jet back from Florida to vote to maintain the Union? As I said large swathes on both sides cancel each other out.

    As for Gerry presuming to know how McIlroy’s family will vote, well that’s just arrogance on his part. I’m sure he’s not his brothers keeper if he has one, nor Eilis O’Hanlon, Siobhán’s, nor Ronnie Bunting, nor Billy Leonard, nor Ivan Cooper, nor I’m sure would “Rors” flag-waving be the definitive indicator of how his family will vote. Any suggestion otherwise would be puerile.

  • BluesJazz

    I’m unsure of the numbers of Catholics (Roman) and Protestants (many varieties) on mainland UK . I’m guessing them token (ie agnostic), and that Athiests are the predominant grouping.
    Indeed Islam may supercede either superstition. Unsure of either mainstream superstition.

    Ireland (the island) is already unified apart from flags, some Westminster laws, and a few British army bases.
    Oh, and the £10 Billion annual subvention.

    Once the RoI government agrees to pay this fee then we’re in Dev wonderland. I take it the RoI government have taken this into consideration and accepted.

    No-one commenting will be alive to see the outreaching of this hypothetical situation, but hey ho .

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    Tell me BluesJazz, in relation to this big “£10 Billion annual subvention” the Brits send over here (if it is that much) – how much exactly do they lift out the other direction in taxes? If you are talking subventions the real figure will be one minus the other. So what is the real figure?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I know all about McIlroy, Comrade, and his flag-waving but what makes you and Gerry so confident to think he is going to jet back from Florida to vote to maintain the Union?

    You’re just being obtuse, Ulrick. I don’t know whether the guy will jet back (or rather, exercise his right to vote by proxy) but I do know that guys who wave the flag of the Government of Northern Ireland can’t be counted as nationalists even though they appear on the census as Catholics, and I think there are various middle class seams dotted around the country where this is quite common.

    I can’t think of any prominent examples in the other direction.

  • Alias

    Why should there be a correlation between Catholics voting for Unionist parties and voting for the Union?

    That correlation would have been logically assumed under the Ireland Act 1949 when the consent of Stormont was all that was required to alter the constitutional status of Northern Ireland but it is a spurious assumption now that the Parliament no longer has that power.

    Under the old regime, if the Catholics became a majority at Stormont then there was an obvious risk that they would grant the consent of the Parliament to declare that Northern Ireland was no longer a part of Her Majesty’s dominions and of the United Kingdom. Therefore, it served Unionism if Catholics either did not vote or voted for Unionist parties.

    Under the new regime, the Catholics can hold 100% of the seats in Parliament and they still won’t be able to make one iota of difference to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland by that number.

    Since the number of seats held by any political party at Stormont is now utterly irrelevant to constitutional aspirations, Robinson cannot accurately claim that he is securing the future of the Union by securing the votes of Catholics for his party.

    What then is the actual value to Robinson of attempting to secure the votes of Catholics for his party?

    My view is that he is simply implementing an agenda that he was instructed to implement in return for a favourable result in a certain Code of Conduct matter in 2010. That agenda is to ‘finesse’ the re-integration of the Catholics into the consolidated British state as people who have parity of esteem with other British citizens. In short, he is to turn up the central heating in the old cold house.

    It was always the position of the British state that if the quality of the constitutional status quo could be gradually improved for the Catholics then more Catholics would gradually support it. Despite propaganda to the contrary from the likes of the Shinners aimed at the re-integration of their supporters into the consolidated British state, improving the quality of the constitutional status quo would not lead to increased demands to fundamentally change it.

    Robinson’s role, therefore, is to gradually subvert the old image of his party – and perhaps the still current practice of some of its older supporters – as being hostile to Catholics. Essentially, to complete the ‘normalisation’ agenda on his side of the dynamic.

    The game-plan is not to attract Catholics to his party but to stop them from being repelled by the Union – courtesy of some of its most ardent supporters.

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

    Comrade

    All well put.

    As it happens, I think the DUP will be disappointed with “support” for their “case” in “Loyalist” areas. In fact, I have little doubt it will have the reverse effect, with inner-city pro-Union voters becoming even less impressed by Unionist “representatives” whose priorities are so obviously detached from their own.

    Nevertheless, the fact remains again that the DUP were willing to create a mob which now means, yet again, police will need to put into place an operation taking much needed resources from elsewhere.

    Thanks Unionists, for that. Wonderful use of police time and resources.

    Here is the thing: if they were protesting about the lack of schools for children in Sandy Row, or the local A&E closure, or benefits cuts, the rest of civilisation would get it. But a flag no one knew flew in the first place, and which will actually continue to fly? Hmmm…

    The ongoing detachment of Unionist reps from real Loyalist concerns – in areas where turnout is already the lowest in the UK – is a huge concern. People deserve better.

  • Mick Fealty

    How come a big soft lad from Dublin gets this…

    “The game-plan is not to attract Catholics to his party but to stop them from being repelled by the Union – courtesy of some of its most ardent supporters”

    And the rest of you nordies can’t?

    The transformational moment for the DUP, or any unionist party is when they can get a Catholic elected. They’ve learned enough from the UCU-NF experiment not to talk about that until/unless it happens. Whoever did such a thing would have to be a pretty tough cookie.

    Are they ready for such a moment as a party?

    Psychologically, if they are reconciled to the journey they’ve undertaken since Nov 2003, I’d say yes. I just wonder if any right thinking Catholic is ready to take them on.

    I’m not thinking about flags here, just taking on the particular social mix involved and being prepared to be the lightening rod for a lot of negative experience in the past.

  • Neil

    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.

    You say the gameplan is about switching Nationalist voters off voting for unification, while your source in the DUP says it’s about taking moderate Unionists. It seems you’re coming down on the side of the first suggestion whereas I’d say most people, cynical as we are, believe this has nothing to do with reaching out to Catholics and everything to do with attracting moderate Protestants.

    I asked before on the site if anyone can cite an example of DUP outreach to my community. Comrade has already provided a fairly comprehensive list of what the DUP has done in terms of anti-outreach so I’ll not place that here.

    Now I know the shinners have in certain areas been helping OO bands get funding and so on, yet we have this constant stream of threads about non existent DUP outreach; which almost universally refer to the fact that Nationalists ‘don’t get it’.

    They may have learned not to boast about Catholic members being elected until after such a thing happens (which would be fairly obvious to most) but they’re certainly boasting plenty about their outreach before they’ve done a single thing in that regard. While us poor dumb Republicans don’t get how we need to do outreach (while we’re helping OO bands get funding etc.). It’s laughable, honestly.

    For some Nationalist outreach means becoming a Unionist and that’s it. You must cease to work towards unification, embrace a Union Jack and be a happy little Northern-Irelander. The DUP’s 2015 election strapline: Do as I say don’t do as I do.

  • Pickled_Peppers

    Not many people, bar Gerry Lynch so far have cracked this conundrum. The DUP and particularly Robinson (the only member to even hint he would like catholic supporters) certainly havent.I personally know lots of these so called catholic unicorns…but they would never vote DUP in its current form. This is not about superstitious beliefs, but cultural and “national” identity.
    A unionist party could only count on nationalist voters if it was to openly accept, even a bit, of “Irishness”. A lot of people who are openly “irish” (gaa, trad music, irish passports, gaelic lingo, cultural affinity with the island-wide historical “nation” of Ireland), really dont mind being part of the UK.
    Many prominant unionists openly hate any form of the Green irishness (eg Jim Wells refusing to walk in a Downpatrick St Pats parade because the towns name was written in Gaelic (alongside English mind) on a council made flag and banner). They are reluctant to even take on the mantle of “british irish”, bizarrely when you consider Royal Irish regiments,Grand Lodge of Ireland, and British history in Dublin etc.
    Robinson seems to want nationalists to strip themselves of all Irish identity and vote DUP, leaving them culturally blank, every bit of the “Britishness” he endorses revolves around Protestantism, and a particularly unwelcoming, aggresivelly anti-catholic strain at that.
    So he would allow us to come and watch Twelfth parades, but we cant take part as you literally have to be a protestant to do so. So we would meekly have to keep our heads down, bloody well support all this triumphalist protestant supremacy but be barred from participating even at a pro-union level, and if we died, a significant portion of our new-found Orange friends and co-UK dwellers would sniffily refuse to even attend our funerals.
    Scots and Welsh can be proud of theitr countries and identities but also proudly “British”. Theres no such thing as being just British anyway. Its very nature implies a collectivity of neighbouring small nations. Hence why no-one would describe their nationality as just “European”. Remember the UUPs “Simply British” election motto a few years ago…how did campaign buses featuring images of fish and chips, and red phone boxes capture even an Ulster Prod identity?
    Allow us to be Irish, but not have any desire to be part of a Republic for financial or other reasons (including simply liking and having an interest in the media, music and politics of modern Britain)

  • BluesJazz

    “The transformational moment for the DUP, or any unionist party is when they can get a Catholic elected.”

    Strange thing to say. I could have sworn I seen John Gorman heading to mass last week. Or is he not a *real* Catholic because he was in the army?

  • http://www.openunionism.com oneill

    “The game-plan is not to attract Catholics to his party but to stop them from being repelled by the Union – courtesy of some of its most ardent supporters”

    Not sure about that- the Union is strong today not because of Unionist politicians but quite often in spite of them.

    People aren’t stupid enough to believe that on day one of the “United Ireland” all our sectarian problems will disappear, continuing Union or 32 county state the *peace* walls stay and the 12th of July will still be the 12th of July and Union flags will still fly where people don’t want them to fly. Only difference will be (to their unbridled delight I am sure) that it will now the Dublin government attempting to deal with them.

    Also if you check Dodd’s speech last week, there was a fair bit of no-compromise sticking up for the Loyal, Orders etc so it wasn’t all the supposed stretching out to the catholics that is being assumed.

    Robinson also isn’t stupid, he knows a strengthened Union is not synonymous with a strengthened DUP, ie the Union would continue quite happily if all the DUP politicos were to disappear tomorrow.

    But less and of the middle/class protestants and loyalist working class vote in each election. It’s the former that he doesn’t want the culturalists in his party frightening in the wake of the census results- he knows as well as the vast majority on this thread that the Union is safe regardless of the results of the census. He didn’t need to emphasis the fact for the public at large, he needed to emphasis it for his own party’s headbangers.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Pickled_Peppers

    “Allow us to be Irish, but not have any desire to be part of a Republic for financial or other reasons (including simply liking and having an interest in the media, music and politics of modern Britain)”

    If you have no desire to be part of the Irish nation state, then carrying a passport from the said Irish nation state is morally vacuous. Part-time Irishmen in the north, which you sound like, seem to have no real concept of any actual responsibility to the nation you profess to belong to. You sound as though you could be Polish or Lithuanian who has no responsibilities to Ireland except to ‘yourself alone.’

    The majority of Ulster Protestants have long said they belong to the British, not Irish nation so no alliegiance can be claimed of them from the Irish nation. Anyone who belongs to the Irish nation should show allegiance to it. Voting to maintain England’s control over a part of Ireland when the majority of the Irish nation want all 32 counties of their country to be independent isn’t showing allegiance to the Irish nation whatsoever.

    Perhaps you should read the 1916 proclamation and reflect on the words; “The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman.”

  • Pickled_Peppers

    Connaught

    What utter tripe. I’m 100 per cent Irish. I just happen to acknowledge that a significant portion of this island are British also. I don’t count myself as one of them but they live here and aren’t going anywhere. Ideally I’d like a UI but I’m not really in any hurry. Before 1916 it was perfectly acceptable to be British and Irish, and it still is for a growing number of northerners from both communities. Until a majority here want it, a UI isn’t in the cards for a long time yet, andthe removal of an invisible border isn’t worth one broken toe let alone the loss of one more life by ignorant terrorists whose every actin in the name of a unification cause act

  • Pickled_Peppers

    actually sets it back years.
    Ps if there is to be a UI kiss goodbye to the Tricolour and Irish constitution. It will be a different republic than you can wrap your blinkered mind around.

  • Mick Fealty

    Neil, what would qualify as: outreach; your community?

  • SK

    “Allow us to be Irish, but not have any desire to be part of a Republic for financial or other reasons (including simply liking and having an interest in the media, music and politics of modern Britain) ”

    _________

    So you’re Irish, but you want the bulk of your fellow Irish to kept at arms length. You’re British, but only because there’s a few quid in it for you.

    I suppose that’s a fairly pragmatic approach to the identity issue, but it still strikes me as incredibly shallow.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Pickled,

    Your own words said explicitly: “not have any desire to be part of a Republic for financial or other reasons”

    Every person in Northern Ireland is entitled to vote as they please. That’s democracy. But people who vote for the continuation of the Union are de facto British unionists, because they are voting for the British union to continue.

    And there are many thousands of British people living happily under Irish law in the Republic, so British people living under Irish law isn’t the problem. The Ulster Protestant supremacist streak is the problem.

  • SK

    ” But people who vote for the continuation of the Union are de facto British unionists, because they are voting for the British union to continue.”
    _________

    That’s fair.

    If you vote for the union you are, by definition, a unionist. As such you should probably respect the symbolism of the union to which you pledge your loyalty and stop complaining about union flags.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    jagmaster[12.24]That’s the main point to remember in all the kerfuffle over the census return on Tuesday week, that the airwaves will be filled that Talkback edition abd other outlets the reassuring noises from unionist politicians and sympathisers that the approaching end of the 1922 rigging, will not bring forward a UI, while the denial, from the same sources about what it means for the future of unionism will be avoided as it’s the elephant in the room the psychological block which can’t be got past, which exposes their real angst about the loss of power. Even if there were a catholic majority already, the local BBC and UTV would still act as if the old stormont still ruled as they are the unionist establishment. Their news programmes are now unwatchable annd might as well be sponsored by the NI tourist board.

  • Pickled_Peppers

    SK who said anything about keeping anyone at arms length. When i visit counties in the Republic i dont consider myself in a foreign country; i just happen to be in a part of Ireland where there is a slightly different political set-up. Im still at ‘home’ there. When in Britain i definately feel as if im in a different country (as indeed i am in the historically literal sense) but i certainly wouldnt call it ‘foreign’ either.
    Ireland now has distinct regional identities and one of them is a UK one. No less Irish than Cardiff is Welsh.
    However im on record agreeing earlier that my generous, hippie, cross community Irishness is sadly rebuffed by sectarian unionism….which i agree is the major stumbling block to any final, permanant settlement on this island.

  • SK

    “SK who said anything about keeping anyone at arms length. When i visit counties in the Republic i dont consider myself in a foreign country; i just happen to be in a part of Ireland where there is a slightly different political set-up.”

    ______

    That is precisely how I see many ostensible nationalists rationalising their Unionism in the future.

    Professing your kinship with the Irish people, while voting to remain part of the nation next door is merely a case of trying to have your cake and eat it. At least conventional unionists have a genuine love of their British heritage. You, on the other hand, seem to be suggesting that your loyalty goes to the highest bidder.

    Your perogative of course,.

  • tacapall

    Lets all be honest about what can be achieved and what cant. There is no chance of any permanent settlement without either a unified Ireland somehow connected to Britain, we are too interrelated, too close and too dependant or Joint authority. Political parties in this part of Ireland especially nationalist have the interests of the country at heart but unfortunately the electorate have their own interests at heart ie financially they would rather have the devil they know. In a sense Alias is correct Unionism really doesn’t have to do anything other than give the illusion of outreach to Catholics, if they get any on board great, if not its no big setback. At this time Unionism has the upper hand in terms of the constitutional question, it will thwart, stall, oppose any moves towards changing the status quo in the years ahead but as the relationship between Ireland and Britain becomes closer the reasons for their presence here become weaker and financially unsustainable and changes to the status quo will occur whether Unionism agrees with them or not.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    How come a big soft lad from Dublin gets this…

    “The game-plan is not to attract Catholics to his party but to stop them from being repelled by the Union – courtesy of some of its most ardent supporters”

    Sort of.

    But Robinson also needs seats in the assembly and on the councils in order to keep the referendum provision of the Northern Ireland Act at bay. And I think he is right about that one thing, a referendum campaign, even when the outcome is almost certainly likely to be the status quo, is going to highlight division at the same time as it changes nothing.

  • Mc Slaggart

    SK
    “If you vote for the union you are, by definition, a unionist. As such you should probably respect the symbolism of the union to which you pledge your loyalty”

    What pledge of loyalty?

  • SK

    “What pledge of loyalty?”

    If you walk into a poll booth and choose a United Kingdom over a unified Irish state then it is clear where your loyalties lay. And it ain’t with Ireland.

  • Mc Slaggart

    “If you walk into a poll booth and choose a United Kingdom over a unified Irish state then it is clear where your loyalties lay.”

    So when the UK signed up for Europe then their loyalties are with the EU? Bleeding the south east of English of money till they stop giving could also be a motive?

  • SK

    It will be interesting to see how the unicorns spin their rejection of unity into being some kind of act of patriotism.

    I can see it’s already started.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If you vote for the union you are, by definition, a unionist.

    I don’t think so. “unionist” means much more than simply voting for the union. There’s a whole package which comes with that term.

    Bit it is true to say that if you vote against the union you cannot be a unionist.

    As such you should probably respect the symbolism of the union to which you pledge your loyalty”

    It looks like you beat me to it, you leap from voting for the union to pledging loyalty to it in one sentence.

  • Reader

    SK: If you walk into a poll booth and choose a United Kingdom over a unified Irish state then it is clear where your loyalties lay. And it ain’t with Ireland.
    Unless he is planning to sink it, or emigrate, his loyalties are still with Ireland. Maybe not with your Ireland, but with his. I wouldn’t call him a Unionist, and that’s because I *am* one.
    On a tactical note, there’s no point in browbeating people. If there’s ever a referendum, it will be a secret ballot. Giving everyone a stern talking-to and whipping them to the polling booths may be counter-productive.

    SK :Your perogative of course,.
    In a place where so many people are trapped by tribal sentiment and primitive nationalisms even to the point of violence; PP in contrast is looking balanced and modern. More modern than me, I confess.

  • SK

    “I don’t think so. “unionist” means much more than simply voting for the union. There’s a whole package which comes with that term.”

    _______

    When you distil it down, a unionist is any individual who favours the United Kingdom as the predominant political set-up. If that’s what people are opting for, then so be it. But doing so means rejecting a unified Irish state, and the rest of the Irish people along with it.

  • SK

    Unless he is planning to sink it, or emigrate, his loyalties are still with Ireland. Maybe not with your Ireland, but with his. I wouldn’t call him a Unionist, and that’s because I *am* one.

    Reader,

    When ‘nationalists’ use the “I’m-voting- for-the-union-but-I’m-not-a-unionist” line, it’s probably music to your ears. I can see why you’d wade in to support it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    When you distil it down, a unionist is any individual who favours the United Kingdom as the predominant political set-up.

    No, that’s a simplification too far. I don’t think you know too many unionists.

  • SK

    The word ‘unionist’ may have connotations of bowler hats and lambeg drums for you and that’s fair enough. But at its most basic, a unionist is simply anyone who supports the union. The people who disagree with that thus far seem to fall into two categories:

    A) Dyed-in-the-wool ” big U” Unionists who will go along with anything that stops people voting against them at a border poll.

    B) ‘Nationalists’ suffering from cognitive dissonance, whereby they prefer partition only don’t want to say it, lest they be associated with group category A.

  • Reader

    SK: A) Dyed-in-the-wool ” big U” Unionists who will go along with anything that stops people voting against them at a border poll.
    I suppose that would be me. Actually, I don’t like to see people being pushed into black and white categories where the situation is actually far more richly interesting and individual. So that would be Category (C).
    You also left out (D), the middle ground for whom the entire situation is not at all clear cut, and who might vote either way or not vote at all on the big day, and would see the nonsense of calling themselves unionists on Monday and nationalists on Tuesday.

  • Clanky

    I think there are a lot of Catholics who, while they would not consider themselves unionists and would never vote for the DUP, may consider either voting for the status quo or abstaining if a referendum where to take place where there was a realistic chance of a United Ireland resulting from it.

    I would consider myself an Irish nationalist, but I would think long and hard before voting for a united Ireland in a referendum (if I still lived in Ireland, which thankfully I don’t), as the lot of Catholics in the north keeps improving and the lot of the people of the south seems to keep getting worse I think more and more people will view their best chances of living the lifestyle that they want as being tied with the status quo.

    That position may change in the future when Ireland emerges from the present hard economic times and there may even come a time in the future when Protestants see a united Ireland as more in their interests than the continuation of the union, but for the time being I think any referendum would go strictly along religious lines until there was a real chance of such a referendum resulting in a United Ireland and at that point many Catholics (or people from the Catholic community) would take a long hard look at what was best for them.

  • Pickled_Peppers

    SK

    Whats with all this “pledging loyalty” carry on? What are you, some kind of loyalist? :)
    I dont pledge loyalty to anyone. I simply get on with being Irish in Ireland, i dont have the time to obsess over which grey sap in a suit makes my day to day laws, a limerick one or a herefordshire one.
    If a UI happened tomorrow it wouldnt change a thing. Id like one yes, but the only everyday difference is id have to pay to get my raging haemorroids looked at by a doc.
    While ill happily enjoy the benefits of the UK while im waiting for the demographic to change and we can unify. Why the fuck not?
    Id never vote DUP though. Or any version of Ulstsr Unionism.
    Anyway, you accuse some nats of turning their back on the South. Didnt they turn their back on us and go it alone? Screw em. Maybe the North is still the ‘real irish’. Besides, you may fear a north/south political and distinction but any normal European country has one. Italy, England, Belgium. Even the States has many versions of American. So too Ireland.

  • SK

    Regardless of the countless reasons that may prompt an individual to vote one way or another, there are still only two outcomes to a border poll.

    I’ve heard it said before that if you can’t decide on something, you should flip a coin. Not because that coin will choose for you, but because, in that split second, you’ll know what side you want it to fall on.

    Well the border coin is about to be flipped, and I get the feeling that many ‘nationalists’ will have some soul-searching to do.

  • SK

    “Anyway, you accuse some nats of turning their back on the South. Didnt they turn their back on us and go it alone? Screw em”

    _____

    Fair enough, PP. Screw us.

    I can’t shove my notions of identity down someone else’s throat, nor do I have any interest in doing so. But, speaking personally, if a ‘nationalist’ majority in NI were to opt for union with UK over the people they have spent decades referring to as their ‘countrymen’ down south…well, to my mind you’d be relegated to ‘diaspora’ status and willingly so.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    SK The coin analogy proves my view that an opinion poll taken at a point when there isn’t even a slight chance of vote going the way of a UI, as the NILT and any beltel or other paper’s poll, means little or nothing. When the ref is called it will concentrate minds but a choice made in the privacy of the booth on the due date will have been only just definitely made in a majority of cases, [speaking about catholics voting that is].

  • Comrade Stalin

    SK:

    But at its most basic, a unionist is simply anyone who supports the union.

    No political parties exist which encourage or otherwise represent this idea of unionism. With the DUP or UUP, you get the package.

  • PaulT

    I think republicans learned from unionists and the IRA ceasefire to be be careful what you wish for. Yeah, we’ll keep calling for a border poll but as Daniel O’Connell said to the peasant when asked if Ireland would have Catholic emancipation, “yes, but why do you care, you’ll still be breaking rocks”

    And so for nationalists (and indeed unionists) even in a united Ireland they’ll still pay tax and worry about crime.

    A major moment will come for unionists in the near future when unionism will lose a vote in Stormont.

    Another major moment will be further down the road when unionist parties are no longer a majority in Stormont.

    The biggest one will be when unionism becomes the minority.

    These events are written in stone.

    The outcome of a border poll is not written in stone so why give unionism a potential figleaf.

    When you have a mortgage you don’t own your own home it just feels like it.

    I think the future is bright for nationalists and for NI, indeed, when the above events start to happen I suspect a British Govt will be keener on a border poll and hopefully rid of NI rather than the embarassment of ruling over a state that obviously will no longer be British.

    As for Mick’s attempt to give the DUPs current bumbling a figleaf today by insisting we read between the lines, he and others have peddled the line about Robinsons political brilliance before, I seem to recall “special devices” and Robinson been given an open goal with the Parades Commission, the “special devices” never materialised and the Parades Commission is still with us, so save the ‘Wizard of Oz’ rubbish most people are aware that poticially Robinson needs to take his socks off to count past 10.

    More likely is as others have said, Robbo knows whats in the cenus data and is on a crude mission to make it all seem ok.

  • Brian Walker

    What appears to have happened in Northern Ireland is that consociation, the theory of power sharing forcing political poles to attract, has worked better than expected. The balancing mechanism has made the DUP and Sinn Fein the majority parties instead of the centre parties the UUP and the SDLP marginalising them.

    Both parties are very rare working class parties in power. Sinn Fein uses working class agitprop more than the DUP presumably because the idea of Catholic dispossession still strongly appeals and in any case works better during the recession than “taking responsibility.”

    Mick is surely right that the DUP wish to encourage middle class unionists to confess over the tray bakes to voting DUP. Why else is a working class party so hot on academic selection? But they guard their base by carefully championing loyalist “rights” while denouncing loyalist violence.They must calculate that there is more to gain from this balancing act for as long as the lid is kept on serious trouble. A few angry words from SF is a small price to pay, although I’m not convinced the anger on both sides was contrived and artifical.

    So are there two centres or one centre? This is where consociation theory runs in to difficulties.Its critics claim it produces deadlock. Two – twin?- centres exist on the surface while its claimed progress is made slowly beneath. Yet while the centre still lacks real coherence, rival smiling strategies on the constitutional question are keeping the political climate calm in spite of the recession. More than middle class unionists and nationalists may well prefer the constitutional journey to either final destination.

    And so Peter can be nice to nationalists and Martin can shake the Queen’s hand and appear to risk his base just a little over the dissidents. Peter on the other hand has failed to do the equivalent and take a lesser risk with his base. Why? Loyalist fears of the journey’s destination as against nationalist quiet confidence that they’ll get there in the end? Or is it Peter’s long experience of patient waiting until the base for the Union has quietly widened? Remember, the people directly and not the parties have the final say on the Union. In that sense Peter does not need Catholics to support the DUP

    But can he afford to face both ways indefinitely: to court the Catholics for the Union and denounce the Parades Commission at the same time?

    Why not bite the bullet and take the Parades issue over as an Executive?

    Now that would be real power sharing.

  • BluesJazz

    We’re talking (at least) 20 plus years away, but I don’t see the £10 Billion UK subvention going away even then.
    I’m sure the treasury wold be delighted to see that annual handout (which always increases) transferred to another state.

    Good luck to them. Given the amount of debt they’re in hock to the IMF, which is actually increasing, the fourth green field will remain so to those who can afford a pint down South.

    But ..Que sera sera….

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    @PaulT

    I agree with the jist of what you are saying however:

    “A major moment will come for unionists in the near future when unionism will lose a vote in Stormont.”

    They can’t lose a vote, especially with the rate they are issuing “petitions of concern” – the genius of the GFA – something that was supposed to protect nationalists from unionist discrimination has warped into an impotent weapon of unionist hegemony.

    Anyone have the “petition of concern” count re nationalist/unionist?

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    @BluesJazz

    I’m still waiting on you proving the real figure. I asked you last night to provide the difference between the tax take and the “subvention”. Do you have it yet? If not, we can only conclude you are talking through your backside.

  • BluesJazz

    Ulick
    This is back in the good old days:

    http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/varney171207.pdf

  • BluesJazz

    Key point:
    Note this is old stuff before the recession really kicked in

    Sector make-up
    1.10 Northern Ireland has the highest level of public spending per head in the UK. The
    combination of this and relatively low tax receipts reflecting low income per head (accounted in
    Chart 1.1) results in the estimated net fiscal deficit for Northern Ireland of approximately:
    • £7 billion; or
    • 30 per cent of GVA; or
    • £4,000 per head (almost double the equivalent figure for Scotland).12
    1.11 The figures above point to the sprawling size of the Northern Ireland public sector. Overall,
    over two-thirds of Northern Ireland’s gross domestic product (GDP) is accounted for by public
    expenditure.13 That compares with the UK and the Republic of Ireland, where public expenditure
    is equivalent to around 45 per cent and 34 per cent of GDP respectively.14 And even on a
    population basis, Northern Ireland receives around a third more in public spending per head than
    the UK average.13
    1.12 The dominance of the public sector can adversely impact on the prospects

  • BluesJazz

    Links not working properly, but the point is made

    We are a heavily subsidised English county council.

    A Soviet satellite.

    Some might even call us a basket case?

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    @BluesJazz

    That still doesn’t answer the question – what’s difference between the tax take and the “subvention” – in pounds and pence please…

  • BluesJazz

    It means we take in more than we’ earn’. Including MoD and broadcasting.
    But the simple fact is that England pays for NI bigtime. We’re only 2% of the UK population,so we getaway with it.
    The Irish Republic simply could not afford us.
    I don’t really care, since Britiain and Ireland are so closely linked.
    Does it really matter?

  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    So here it is again. A UI isnt going to happen anytime soon. This is widely accepted and short of a game changer (hard to see what – Prince Charles becoming Catholic??) that would produce a complete volte face in most of the PUL community and half the CNR community, its a pipe dream.
    Peter and Mike talk about the security of the union never being more secure and they’re right, however, they continue to rub up themuns the wrong way, giving succour to SF, with their continued negativity towards cross border and irish language initiatives, flags, parades, street signs etc
    What can be said for certain is that the CNR plurality which is a definite in the next 10 years will change everything. Peter wont get a choice about a lot of these issues as they are devolved to Stormont or council level. PUL instransigence at this point will ensure the continued domination of SF in the CNR space. Once plurality is achieved, the consensus politics by SF will stop. In the majority of councils CNR community interested will be voted through. The PULs will then need to decide whether they want Marty as FM and how to cope with the fact that the basis for the foundation of NI (permanent protestant majority) no longer exists.
    There will be 3 options

  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    - Re-draw the border
    - Talk to Enda about being 20% of a new republic
    - Work with nationalist plurality

    The CNR community doesnt need to do anything, least of all try and force a vote on the people of ROI or NI who dont want it. All 3 options above involve splits and weakening of the PUL body politic. We live in interesting times.

  • Reader

    Ulick: Anyone have the “petition of concern” count re nationalist/unionist?
    A worthless metric. If the DUP needs to rebalance the measure for any reason all they have to do it propose a load of motions that nationalists wouldn’t accept.
    If you are homing on in on the observed fact that the DUP squeal too soon then case studies would be more meaningful, but also a waste of time as everyone already knows.
    Most significantly it’s the petition of concern that makes any future nationalist plurality irrelevant.
    Ulick: the genius of the GFA – something that was supposed to protect nationalists from unionist discrimination has warped into an impotent weapon of unionist hegemony.
    Did the bright sparks of SF and SDLP not realise they were cooking sauce for the gander? Also, the weapon doesn’t seem to be ‘impotent’ or you wouldn’t be so bothered about it.

  • ayeYerMa

    It is interesting that on topics like this how almost all the discussion is from people who aren’t Unionists (or are deluded in pretending that you can primarily support a peaceful and stable status quo and not be Unionist).

    Also quite absurd is the value placed on some people on rather trivial matters such as parades or flags. The repeated rants (with an odd and disproportionate sense of priorities) from Comrade Stalin et. al. on parades simply sounds like he is to his namesake, preferring a totalitarian state rather than one which promotes tolerance and freedom of speech and expression.

    Similar to flags, whereby the sovereign flag must be sooooooo offensive that is must be restricted, rather than simply respecting international norms and not making an issue otherwise (and no doubt we will see next week when it is likely the issue will escalate due to this lack of normal practice).

  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    aYM,
    Completely agree. It is quite absurd the value placed by some people on rather trivial matters such as parades or flags.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Also quite absurd is the value placed on some people on rather trivial matters such as parades or flags.

    Aren’t you the chap who said that taking the flag down was an outrageous concession to republicans ? You didn’t seem to think it was a trivial matter.

    The repeated rants (with an odd and disproportionate sense of priorities) from Comrade Stalin et. al. on parades

    The parading dispute which occurred over the summer had real potential to go very badly out of hand. I think that’s a priority.

    preferring a totalitarian state rather than one which promotes tolerance and freedom of speech and expression.

    I don’t see playing sectarian drinking songs outside of a church, or using public buildings to lord flags over everyone, as freedom of speech or expression, sorry.

    Similar to flags, whereby the sovereign flag must be sooooooo offensive that is must be restricted,

    If flags aren’t offensive, can you explain why we shouldn’t fly a tricolour on City Hall ? Sure, it’s not a sovereign flag, but if it makes the nationalists feel better why not ?

    rather than simply respecting international norms

    We’re living in a divided society with a nasty history. What international norms do you want to see applying in these circumstances ?

    and not making an issue otherwise (and no doubt we will see next week when it is likely the issue will escalate due to this lack of normal practice).

    Why should it escalate ? The normal practice at Stormont is designated days, why can’t this be normal practice at the City Hall ?

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    hmm,

    Seems like he’s off again.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/robinson-nationalism-is-in-crisis-16245366.html

    Am I the only one now starting to feel a bit sorry for him? Before I thought it was a bit of prolonged wishful thinking but now it is looking a bit obsessive and pathetic.

    Surely someone who was that sure of things would get on with implementing some policies and consider it an irrelevance but not Peter.

    Tortured soul.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    CSPRG, why do you rely on a media selection instead of linking to the real thing?

    The ‘implementing some policies’ takes two to tango; it’s the Peter and Martin Show.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    I don’t know Nevin, maybe I don’t spend enough time trawling the DUP websites to get my news.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    CSPRG, I prefer primary sources to media selections and recycled op-eds. In this particular instance, no trawling was required :)

  • PaulT

    Is it me or does the DUP never mention Britishness anymore.

    Britain gets one mention in that speech and a wee peek at the DUP website and well it seems devoided of references to Britain or British.

    Yeah it’s got the union flag, but so has New Zealand and Australia.

    Whats going on has Fish & Chips and Finchley been quietly retired in favour of an Ulster Fry and Cookstown.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Robinson is not wrong in his interpretation of the playing field IMO. A significant minority of nationalists don’t care what the constitutional setup is as long as it’s fair and that the peace is being maintained.

    That doesn’t mean they’re likely to endorse the DUP in its present form.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “A significant minority of nationalists don’t care what the constitutional setup is”

    That would put them in the Others camp, not the Nationalist one, CS.

  • PaulT

    Yet he seems reluctant to label them British and indeed Northern Ireland seems decidedly Northern Ireland and not Ulster.

    In fact in reading that speech, the shift in the DUP seems to be treating the union more like the European Union

    So I’d say Robbo is a lot less confident than you

    But, think it’s fair to say, nationalists will happily bank this big step forward by the DUP and hope that he continues to reinforce it

  • Mark

    And they’ll stay in the other camp until a vote Nevin ….

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Mark, those in the Others camp appear to be relatively unenthusiastic about the UK or a UI so they might not vote in a referendum on the issue.

    The BelTel left out the easy target of John O’Doud and his ‘sectarian’ approach. When I looked for the Coleraine area plan coming forward for secondary schooling I found not one but two: CCMS for Catholic schools and NEELB for State and Integrated schools.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “indeed Northern Ireland seems decidedly Northern Ireland and not Ulster”

    Did you mean Northern Irish rather than the first Northern Ireland, PaulT? I think you might be safer to assume that Peter prefers devolution within the UK to Direct Rule involving Dublin officials in day-to-day decision making. The St Andrews Act IMO severely weakened the positions of the UUP and the SDLP as Peter and Martin slug it out for the First Minister’s chair.

  • PaulT

    Nope Nevin, the British and Ulster identity seems to have been replaced by Northern Ireland and Northern Irish.

    But did you mean that Robbo NOW prefers devolution, cos he sure as hell didn’t in the past, in fact, the DUP use to prefer direct rule.

    The UUP is a basket case, they currently think nationalists would be happy with the Stormont Banner over City Hall as a compromise on flying the Union Flag, so they’re unappealing to unionist voters and clueless on nationalist.

    But I feel sorry for the SDLP as Robbo seems to be adopting their Post-Nationalist policy, but granted its a difference nationalism, I wish him more success than they had ………….. .no not really

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    PaulT, perhaps you should save your sorrow for Nationalist voters; SF and the SDLP have recently been running-after dissenting Republicans.

    UUP, SDLP and APNI ministers may be fairly impotent but I still prefer to see them at the helm rather than DUP and SF ones.

  • PaulT

    Well Nevin, as much as I dislike the DUP, a brief look at the polls wouls say you were in a minority, and I’m afraid thats democracy for you, but feel free to get out there and knock on doors on behalf of the UUP and/or the SDLP.

    But if I recall correctly the last time the UUP and SDLP had a go at been in the big chair all they did was bicker and fight.

    Finally I’ll be happy to cry for SF but could you give me a few examples of what you mean about SF running after dissenting Republicans, for sure the disso’s have been around for a decade or two and still to find a political voice let alone a stronghold. However, I’d have understood it if you had said DUP and TUV (although failure to deal with Tweed may well do for them)

    Sure you’ve not been reading to many of Robbos speeches?

  • PaulT

    Just to add the Alliance is doing quite well, fully on board the Executive working hard and the party seems to be growing nicely so fair play to them.

    And you may want to check out the survey from the recent SDLP conference where according to SDLP members the Alliance is only slightly less toxic to them than Sinn Fein.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    PaulT[6.32]
    Robinson is venting his frustration [freudianesque], for the second time in a week [claiming a crisis in nationalism], possibly driven by what he knows about Tuesday week’s census figures. I’m going to try to get the subject raised as an audience member in this Tuesday’s spotlight debate, albeit, It would more chance of being discussed in the next debate but that’s months away

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “running after dissenting Republicans”

    PaulT, you may have missed the Newton Emerson episode and the vote in Dungannon and South Tyrone Council.

    I don’t mind being in a minority. I was prepared to kick a SF minister back in the day when Sluggerdom saw no story and I’m prepared to kick his UUP successor when Sluggerdom still sees no story. I also wasted two hours of my time back in the day seeking the assistance of a senior APNI MLA. When it comes to accountability they all need a good kicking :)

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Apologies, PaulT, my reply included three URLs so it’s gone into moderation!!

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    I’ll separate my response to PaulT to avoid the delay:

    “running after dissenting Republicans”

    PaulT, you may have missed the Newton Emerson episode and the vote in Dungannon and South Tyrone Council.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    [contd]

    I don’t mind being in a minority. I was prepared to kick a SF minister back in the day when Sluggerdom saw no story and I’m prepared to kick his UUP successor when Sluggerdom still sees no story. I also wasted two hours of my time back in the day seeking the assistance of a senior APNI MLA. When it comes to accountability they all need a good kicking :)

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    CSPRG [1.36]
    It seems a bit neurotic alright and surely counterproductive to openly mock the aims of the community he’s claiming to be reaching out to, and in any case we know the other DUP figures around him have sussed out the ulterior motives of Robbo’s ‘outreach’ schtick, when outrage is the sentiment we’re more used to him expressing. Weird.