Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

The ‘Ambivalenters’: Who exactly are the Northern Irish people now?

Tue 11 December 2012, 9:52pm

Two main things to say after a great day of observations from Slugger readers and looking through some of the detail in the #Census2011. One is that the idea that Northern Ireland is a Protestant state, that can be held exclusively for a Protestant people now rests (in peace let’s hope) in the trash can of history.

To be fair to Peter Robinson, he saw this coming a long time ago. Take his speech about the sons and daughters of the planter and the gael. Even earlier than that, before the last Census results were announced, he was preaching the gospel of dual consent. Still, as Chris has noted, there is a grudgingness at the edge of the DUP’s politics that rarely matches Robinson’s liberal rhetoric from the podium.

The second thing is that the nationalist bloc, substantially Sinn Fein, has been working on the assumption that the closer the Catholic total got to the total Protestant figure, the nearer it would get to that magical 50% + 1 figure at which the gates of Hades (ie, Northern Ireland) would swing open and we’d all be free.

However the speed at which figures for those self declaring as Catholic grow is slowing substantially, making that gap harder becoming increasingly problematic to cover. The figures on national identity suggests this also translates to a growing ambiguity on the issue of the transfer of sovereignty.

In truth the Northern Irish population is enjoying its true peace dividend, which is the freedom to choose what you are without worrying about some lunatic breaking down your door and shooting your husband dead in front of the kids for doing, saying, or being the wrong thing.

In strange twist we now have Protestants and Catholics, both of whom may now have to bin any realistic expectation to take an overall majority share in Northern Ireland PLC. And they are joined by a new group. Not dissenters as such but, to coin an awkward word, Ambivalenters.

- They are the opposite of the Convenanters, or any number of fundamentalist nationalist secret societies over the years. They are ambivalent, rather than certain and ready to go to war.

- Giving creationism equal billing with geological science will alienate some; a blanket bar on doing anything on abortion (as per SF’s concordat with Paisley) will alienate others.

- So we can’t be certain they are liberals, that some aren’t fully committed Republicans, or that others are secularists perfectly happy within the United Kingdom.

- But the uncertainty they flag up about themselves and their identity signal the likelihood that Orange and Green donkeys (of which there are far too many) should be a harder sell in future.

- Lastly, I suspect they’ve always existed, but feared the opprobrium of their own tribe for stepping out of line. Also the numbers who have thrown out religion have doubled overall in the UK, so like social liberalism generally, this is part of a much wider development.

Tonight RTE’s SixOne News chose Rory McIlroy as the poster boy (you can catch it in the left sidebar) for this ‘new’ class of Northern Irish citizen. That they have blunted, if not killed off any likely exclusive claim to ownership by any religious affiliation is probably the most abiding political outcome of this Census.

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Comments (52)

  1. Billy Ghoti (profile) says:

    When the Poles Portuguese, and other EU citizens leave, what will be the percentage of Catholics in NI?

    What do you think?
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  2. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    You have some kind of nasty, underhand campaign in mind?

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  3. Chris Donnelly (profile) says:

    A number of problems immediately arise with your conclusions Mick.

    Firstly, what we are witnessing on the streets is a very clear attempt to keep Northern Ireland as a protestant and British state, and that’s very problematic for the narrative you’re constructing.

    Robinson’s rhetoric has been limited to a handful of speeches across a decade. There has been no attempt to transfer the rhetoric into reality, and, as recent days have so clearly demonstrated, there is no element of political unionism even willing to make a stand for a pluralist Northern Ireland.

    Secondly, the significance of the gap between catholic and protestant being a mere 3% should not be underplayed, not least since it indicates that the one hundredth anniversary of the formation of the state is likely to witness either parity or even a greater number of self-declared catholic citizens of the northern state than their protestant counterparts.

    Now, extrapolating voting intentions regarding future Irish reunification is a dicey business at best, but the one thing that can’t be denied is that, as we approach virtual parity between the two traditions, those embracing and articulating a vision of a state where the two traditions are treated with equal legitimacy are more likely to find favour than those continuing to set their faces against the reality of imminent parity.

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  4. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    I agree. It is the point I was making in the first para, and tried to reiterate in the kicker.

    The jump of just one percent in the Catholic figure tells its own story Chris. I’ll be interested to look deeper into the five per cent drop in the Protestant figure, but when you pare it back, we do have an unpredictable block of Others.

    The pitch needed to engage this group needs to have a more sophisticated and segmented approach. You want unification, then you are going to need to build some class of coalition.

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  5. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Oh and I agree on that last, up to a point. You can very easily overplay your hand on that though too.

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  6. Mick,

    I find myself in agreement with you. Sort of ;-)

    To borrow from what I posted on Bangordub’s blog, just 46% of the population in the census unambiguously identified themselves as British of any type (excluding the tiny “British/Irish/N.Irish” category). That leaves Republicans with a challenge and opportunity. A hearts and minds campaign to win over the half-hearted or doubtful or dual-minded represented by the 20% “Northern Irish”.

    From a Republican point of view the stats below roughly represent the situation in the north-east:

    42% = Nationalist Vote
    47% = Irish and/or Northern Irish

    If you were to accept the census at face value then a Nationalist percentage vote of 42% is derived from a census percentage of 25% “Irish”. Is that likely?

    On the other hand a “British” percentage of 46% in the census is not far away from the percentage of Unionist votes (if one includes the Alliance Party).

    Both political traditions must be drawing upon the “Northern Irish” vote (when it bothers to vote).

    That 20% must be won to the Nationalist side and I believe that objective is achievable. In fact I would argue that a sizeable percentage is already sympathetic or de facto on-board.

    “Partition” of some sort will probably remain a long-term (or permanent) feature of Irish politics. But within the context of a reunited Ireland. That is a regional legislature, executive, police and courts service, etc. in the north-east of the country but within a broader Reunited Ireland where the “border” is simply an internal administrative line. That is the New Ireland that can win over the 20% “Northern Irish”.

    The DUP, UUP, etc. may be desperately seeking the “Catholic” vote but as recent events have shown they are incapable of genuinely doing so. The Alliance Party, or its political descendants, may well be the future voice of at least some of the British ethno-national minority within a reunited Ireland. It is a case of hearts and minds, with a clear objective for Republicans.

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  7. It’s ironic that as unionists take to the streets to protest that their British identity is under threat, this census comes out and shows that there is a huge disparity between the proportion of Catholic and the proportion of population that calls itself Irish.

    In other words, those rioters have precious little to worry about.

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  8. Michael (profile) says:

    As I mentioned on the other thread – the uncertainty is not from within themselves – quite the opposite – it just flags up uncertainty in the pollsters, the media, the politicians and commenters, and those who thrive in certainties. Sheesh, I’ve just described a lot of people in Northern Ireland.

    It’s like supporting English premiership teams here – you have to go outside of here to see the real thing and so it is with so much of what makes people tick. Thing is you can be a global citizen now without going very far so the ideas of the big world continue to pour into our heads through computer screens and as a result our worldview changes and will increasingly be so.

    I can be a connected valued world citizen, sometimes more easily than being a valued, connected local citizen with all its cliques and stereotypes. I work on a daily basis with people in other countries through skype and email and I find myself interpreting what is happening here for them – I am now an observer and not an active player. It’s actually quite fun with little risk attached. On the other hand its a bit sad as I think that a lot of people with something to offer can’t find a way to engage meaningfully in our spectator sport political system.

    Those ambivalenters have decked on that you can;t rely on our own system to deliver the goods so where they can, they are making it happen themselves outside of the bubble.

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  9. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Quite Gonzo. Given they are following a party that signalled it would accept a compromise on the flags at BCC in the first place, you wonder what all of this is about any more?

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  10. Chris Donnelly (profile) says:

    Mick
    You’re absolutely correct on the coalition point, and that’s why I believe the shift towards articulating a vision of a shared future defined by equality between the two traditions is most likely to attract support across the traditional dividing lines in this society.

    That’s a slow process but begins with accepting the legitimacy of the Other, not trying to wish it away a la the foxhole invite from Robinson to catholics to be ‘equally British’ as their protestant/unionist/loyalist fellow citizens.

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  11. anne warren (profile) says:

    The Telegraph agrees with Mick and Gonzo!!

    The rioters shouldn’t worry – Ulster is safe
    As the census shows, a united Ireland has become an outdated nationalist fantasy

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/northernireland/9737742/The-rioters-shouldnt-worry-Ulster-is-safe.html

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  12. Chris Donnelly (profile) says:

    btw
    Can’t get that song ‘We are the toileteers’ from Bear in the Big Blue House out of my head since reading the title of this thread…..;)

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  13. Billy Ghoti (profile) says:

    “You have some kind of nasty, underhand campaign in mind?”

    No I don’t.

    But the number of Poles and Portuguese people living in NI in recent years, and other EU citizens, must have increased the total number of Catholics here. Hence the increased count in the census.

    Their influence on any future border referendum is unknown, and cannot be estimated according to the favoured notion of “catholics vote for re-unification, prods vote for partition”.

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  14. Mack (profile) says:

    The smallish percentage rise in the Catholic population and the 5% drop in the Protestant population are likely both related.

    Catholic proportion of the population rose by (roughly) 1.35% from 2001 (43.75 to 45.1).

    You can compare the increase in the No Religion category by Local Governement District via these links

    2011 : http://www.ninis2.nisra.gov.uk/public/Map.aspx

    2001 : http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/census/2001/key%20statistics/district/KS07bDC.xls

    Numbers claiming no religion are up everywhere, but the largest rises occur in mostly Protestant areas.

    It would be interesting to religious background by age. But I would guess these increases aren’t just limited to the kids of lapsed parents (or mixed marriages) – i.e. some people who have previously classified themselves as Catholic or Protestant have reclassified themselves as none.

    Also I would guess most, but not all, the reclassifiers are of a local or GB Protestant community background given their location (i.e. they are not the LGD’s that saw highest levels of immigration).

    The none’s increased by around 3.5% as a proportion of the total, while others increased by about 1%. Reassigning the bulk of the ‘new’ none’s as Protestant with some portion as Catholic (15-20%) would give figures more extrapolatable from the 2001 result (i.e. almost a c2% rise in Catholic proprotion bolstered by immigration from accession states, c2.5% drop in Protestant population excerabated by immigration and a c1% rise in Others caused primarily by immigration from outside EU)

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  15. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    Billy G., have loyalists treated the immigrant community in a manner to instill their solidarity with them?

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  16. keano10 (profile) says:

    Would’nt be at all sure that Rory McIlroy would be the best or even second best poster boy for this new tribe :) He seems to have rubbed up quite a lot of people in the past year.

    Tommy Bowe might be a much more intuitive choice…

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  17. Billy Ghoti (profile) says:

    Keverstino,

    I don’t know about the immigrants opinions of the Loyalists. The Loyalists never instilled any solidarity from me. Perhaps the unionists have been more successful at projecting a welcoming attitude?

    Certainly I’ve no objections to more foreigners coming here to live. It’s good to see a better selection of foods on the shelves of the supermarkets. I just wish they would bring a more pleasant climate with them, and hold more festivals.

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  18. tacapall (profile) says:

    ” I’ve no objections to more foreigners coming here to live”

    Im sure then you can understand the animosity Irish people feel about the British presence then, they had no choice to decide on the matter like yourself.

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  19. tacapall (profile) says:

    ” I’ve no objections to more foreigners coming here to live”

    Im sure then you can understand the animosity Irish people feel about the British presence then, they had no choice to decide on the matter like yourself Billy.

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  20. Billy Ghoti (profile) says:

    “Im sure then you can understand the animosity Irish people feel about the British presence then, they had no choice to decide on the matter like yourself.”

    No I can’t. If you don’t like them being on the island, you can always tell them to leave, along with all the other EU and American citizens.

    I assume you will respect the feelings of others if they do the same to all the Irish people living in their countries.

    BTW, Easons sell calendars for 2013.

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  21. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Keano,

    I think rubbing some people up the wrong way is exactly what this new category of folk does actually do. Though as someone has said previously, that’s not their intention, or indeed problem.

    They are light preferencers, but that makes them hard for those of a more fundamentalist turn of mind to catch. Which Chris, is why I’d not been leaning too hard on Equality when it’s so transparently a self serving feast.

    I suspect the McCreesh Park thing does not communicate offence to this group, so much as it does insincerity. And insincerity doesn’t sell much soap.

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  22. tacapall (profile) says:

    Billy oh I know Easons sell calenders but do you ? And I dont think Irish people anywhere around the world have ever claimed territorial jurisdiction in the countries they settled in, and no-one is asking anyone to leave,those are your own words, I guess your a Ruth Patterson type of person.

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  23. Gopher (profile) says:

    Whats wrong with Derry? 79183 Catholics in 2001 and only 80729 in 2011. That has to be the statistic of the day. Pretty pleased to have dug that one out.

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  24. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Are we getting a little over excited (and personal)? Just a friendly warning lads. Try to stay on topic and engage civilly if bluntly with your opponents?

    Otherwise there’s always the two week cooler?

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  25. Politico68 (profile) says:

    Mick,

    For the love of God, and for the sake of my sanity, will u PLEASE stop saying that the Catholic percentage has risen by just 1%. It has risen by 1.4%. BTW, the percentage of the nI population under the age of 40 is 51% CNR. Unless they change their minds in the next twenty years, u will have your Catholic Majority. Slim, but a majority nonetheless.

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  26. latcheeco (profile) says:

    Sammy,
    I imagine if you’re Northern Irish you’re still Irish.and if the fleg protesters want to live in a pradesant majority which they obviously do judging by their antics then they ought to be worried

    Anne,
    It’s understandable that a newspaper that flies the union jack 24/7 365 should try to calm nerves, but the only definite event here is that the fat lady has sung on idea of a protestant majority and taigs are needed to save Ulster.

    We can all interpret the rest to suit and justify our own narrative but there is far too much uncertainty about the census and where it leads to overextrapolate, and it’s far too early to see even how the effect of what we definately do know now plays out. Will a more confident nationalism lead to making more confident nationalists out of tamed catholics for example? Or will northern nationalism fall to the Red Branch in an unexpected ending and become sheriff of its own parish?

    It’s stunning that despite years of denials that it would ever happen, not least on this site, now or in the very near future it’s down to taigs to decide whether the once defiant pravince gets wrapped up or not, based on what best suits them. I doubt that headline will be in the Tele.

    Then of course there is the scary possibility of future traumatic wild cards and who that knows the slightest thing about Irish history would bet against one of those occurring by accident or design in the upcoming decade.

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  27. Decspur (profile) says:

    Derry came back with 75% catholic population but only 52% put down that they were Irish only, meaning about 17% said they were Northern Irish. I’d put my house in the fact that that 17% would vote for a Nat/Rep party and a united Ireland.

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  28. Alias (profile) says:

    The census is a political game changer in that it kills off the Shinner propaganda that every Catholic is a nationalist who just can’t wait (and hence Gerry keeps calling for) a referendum to change the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. That lamentable demand is now clearly exposed as a giant turkey calling for Christmas.

    It’ll also mean that the Shinners won’t be able to continue to fool their own supporters with the sole ‘strategy’ that all they have to do to achieve a united Ireland is to do nothing but sit in Stormont and patiently and wait for it to happen. That “long game” will be a tad longer than they think. Can the Shinners even function in a changed political landscape, let alone respond to its challenges with a clear vision, proactive engagement with the other tribes(s), and a roadmap? No. They’re a spent force who oversaw the total collapse of Irish nationalism – and, indeed, the Irish nation – in Northern Ireland.

    The census is also a constitutional game changer in that a united Ireland is now too much on an imposition on the Irish nation in Ireland when it is only aimed at a very small percentage of Northern Ireland’s population who hold constitutional aspirations to one day live within an Irish nation-state (not that a united Ireland could ever have been a nation state). While rights place an obligation on others, and are not subject to the discretion of others, aspirations place no obligations on others. It always seemed counterproductive to bend over backwards for those in Northern Ireland who traded their former right to national self-determination for a mere aspiration but it now seems stupid, insane, and completely self-destructive for the Irish state to even pay continued lip service to it.

    I don’t think there is anything particularly ambivalent about declaring that you are not Irish. It is a very clear statement. And it is a statement that must be taken at face value. It is understandable that those who have been sold a pup with the Shinners should want to keep to their comforting view of it being a prize greyhound but the reality is that the Northern Irish nation is not an alias for the Irish nation.

    In the other parts of the UK – England, Scotland, and Wales – there is a nation – English, Scottish, and Welsh – which shares the common nationalism of British. What was abnormal about Northern Ireland is that it was missing its constituent nation – the Northern Irish. This continued emergence seems to be an outcome of normalisation. If the status quo could be improved then more people would support it, not reject it.

    So who are they? Well, the vast bulk of them appear to be those who would have been considered to be Irish – until the census. This doesn’t bode well for that aspect of normalisation since it is required that the constituent nations of the UK share its common nationalism of British. Since it isn’t campaigning for an independent NI, it appears to support British constitutional sovereignty without affinity to the common nationalism of British constitutional sovereignty. Whoever they are, their trajectory would appear see them of course to become the largest nation in NI. Just when you thought NI couldn’t get any more complicated…

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  29. New Yorker (profile) says:

    45% Catholic minus 25% Irish leaves 20% Catholic. Northern Irish is 21%. I am not saying that all 20% Catholic not checking Irish fall into the 21% Northern Irish, but in my limited experience a large number of young and well-educated Catholics would probably identify with Northern Irish. For them the constitutional issue is settled for all practical purposes. They are not unionists or republican/nationalists. They are not ambivalent, they know Northern Ireland is not going away and look forward to living their lives. They probably associate unionist, republican and nationalist with the peace process era and they have moved beyond that era. All the political parties are stuck in the peace process era and not all, or any, will be able to transform into the post peace process era mainly because of their baggage. New parties for the post peace process era should be encouraged along with appropriate redesign of government structures to accommodate a new era.

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  30. latcheeco (profile) says:

    Evening Alias,
    You’re on duty late!.
    “They’re a spent force who oversaw the total collapse of Irish nationalism – and, indeed, the Irish nation – in Northern Ireland.” Now hyperbole like that just makes you look aggravated

    I didn’t know that was their propaganda about every catholic.And, as a mere observer like yourself, I wouldn’t be too quick to right off said shinners yet. The game might be long but through no fault of their own they started from nowhere and pradesant ulster didn’t even last the century despite all their advantages.

    They didn’t declare they weren’t irish but over half declared they weren’t British.So keeping Ulster British looks more like an uphill struggle

    Your concern for the once beleaguered and now ascendent Irish nation in northern Ireland is palpable and appreciated but you needn’t start worrying now at this late stage-

    And as a man who often decries hidden hands at work surely your eyebrow must have raised at this appearance of a previously discounted group who don’t quite fit with the parties they vote for but whom we’ve been getting prepared for quite a while.

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  31. derrydave (profile) says:

    Alias,
    You seem to have an awful habit of expressing opinion and conjecture as fact. You then extrapolate infomation boyond the realms of what the information actually represents – which is all very good, however not so when you state it as fact. This is opinion pure and simple, facts extrapolated out to suit your overriding agenda and hopes. We could all play that game very easily:

    I don’t think there is anything particularly ambivalent about declaring that you are not British. It is a very clear statement. And it is a statement that must be taken at face value……The census is also a constitutional game changer in that the union with Britain is now too much of an imposition on the British nation when it is only aimed at a minority of Northern Ireland’s population who consider themselves British……It’ll also mean that the Unionists parties won’t be able to continue to fool their own supporters with the claim that the Union is safe……Can the Unionists even function in a changed political landscape, let alone respond to its challenges with a clear vision, proactive engagement with the other tribes(s), and a roadmap? No. They’re a spent force who are overseeing the total collapse of Unionism – and, indeed, the Union with great Britain.

    See – easy !

    The truth of the matter is that the defining of oneself as Northern Irish is something which in and of itself does not indicate ones political position vis-a-vis the issue of soverignty. We all know people of both persuasions I’m sure who would define themselves as Northern Irish. It is absurd for those on either side to ‘claim’ that this group represents one political viewpoint or the other. As you say, ‘just when NI couldn’t get any more complicated’ :-)

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  32. Gopher (profile) says:

    Can anyone here explain the lack of change in Derry’s Catholic population? If the indigenous Catholic population has risen by a huge number you would expect a place with the largest indigenous population to show a significant rise. In real terms it would mean Derry’s indigenous Catholics are falling in number. On a side note I am beginning to lean towards (and it is early days yet) that looking at where Catholics have really increased appreciably suggests the principle factor is economic

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  33. Mack (profile) says:

    @Gopher also 2,200 ‘nones’ in Derry. Probably most of these are Catholic. The Catholic proportion of the population fell in Newry, probably for a similar reason.

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  34. Obelisk (profile) says:

    Anne Warren

    “The rioters shouldn’t worry – Ulster is safe
    As the census shows, a united Ireland has become an outdated nationalist fantasy”

    The prospect of re-unification will be one that ebbs and flows with the passage of time and at the mercy of events. The census provides short term succour, as many Unionists are now leaping at Catholics or Nationalists declaring a looser affiliation as saying they are happy with the status quo. What they are saying is ‘I am open to being convinced one way or another’, and at the moment that is probably in favour of continued union. However this new bloc does not have the innate rejection of the prospect of Irish unity that the former Unionist majority has.

    Besides that is not what is animating the rioters I believe. The consequence of our new pluralistic North is that, well, it’s not a state for only one part of the community anymore. And as that one side of the community held all the power to begin with, the trappings of their culture absolutely pre-dominate. Therefore over the coming years there is going to have to be a substantial re-balancing in terms of the official culture and ethos of the North to better reflect it’s outlook. Even those Northern Irish who prefer the Union, if my belief that they are primarily Catholic holds,I would doubt that they are full throated supporters of the Unionist Culture.

    This is where we must separate the two issues. Support for the Union is not the same as supporting Orange Marches whereever they like to go, the flying of a flag 365 days a year when half the population of the city wonders ‘why am I not represented’ and monuments to the glory days of de-facto one party rule.

    The Union might be safe, but what kind of State is it going to be? Remember the whole reasoning behind the existence of the North was to provide for the Protestant Minority on the island, to turn them into a Majority.
    Now once again, that cultural group is a minority, albeit the biggest group in our new pluralistic society for the time being. What animates the rioters therefore isn’t the safety or not of the Union, which is safe I believe for the next 20 years at least. What really drives them is the loss of Northern Ireland, the state founded FOR them, as the state they want. The symbols are the manifestation of the loss of control, and conversely for Nationalists or the Irish cultural bloc up here we want our symbols erected both to demonstrate that we have arrived and that the age of mono-cultural preference is drawing to a close.

    Chris Donnelly wrote

    “those embracing and articulating a vision of a state where the two traditions are treated with equal legitimacy are more likely to find favour than those continuing to set their faces against the reality of imminent parity.”

    Chris, you’re right. The future is there for the party with the skills and magnaminity to grasp it. The thing is, it is clear to me Sinn Fein is not that party.

    Sinn Fein is the perfect party for the Nationalist/Irish cultural bloc as we look to carve out our place here in the North, to roll back the overwhelming British symbolism and to fight the corner for Nationalists against the DUP. But in terms of growing support for unity, I think they can forget it.

    48% of people in the census are PUL. That’s 48% of people we can write off from supporting Unity because of Sinn Fein.
    Sinn Fein can’t reach these people because it’s leadership consists for the most part of ex-IRA members who have to glorify the troubles or else their harder line supporters might start doubting them.

    I’m not complaining. I completely understand they why of this. I wish Sinn Fein was capable of growing the pie for unity, I really do.I wish Sinn Fein’s unionist outreach were acceptable and not continually undermined by Sinn Fein’s need to keep it’s base on side by continually bringing up the troubles. I mean the Newry Play Park naming issue is a ddisaster.

    Removing the British Flag over Belfast City Hall because Unionists won’t play ball on parity of esteem and so removing symbols where we can because that is all we can do? OK, I get that. I can get behind that.

    Naming a children’s play park after an IRA member in a council with a Nationalist majority just because we can and it annoys themmuns no end is so self-defeatingly stupid it makes me despair.

    Sinn Fein is never going to apologise for the troubles, I get that. What the unity project needs therefore is time. Time to get away from the troubles, for all that horror to fade a little. And enough time for Sinn Fein to hopefully have that very hard internal conversation where they recognise that maybe celebrating the life of people who murdered the kith and kin of the very people we are trying to convince is just bad optics. I recognise Republicans have a valid interpretation of the past, as to why these people did what they did. But it is not an interpreation shared by the Majority of people, and it’s quite offensive to one of the communities.

    If we want unity, and I believe An Sionnach Fionn has sketched out the right path, Sinn Fein has to let go of the IRA and leave the commerations to private organisations.
    The current Sinn Fein leadership, with all the IRA connections, will have to fade away over the same period.
    And when the time comes for the inevitable leadership transition in the north, that person must be absolutely free of any connection to the IRA. A Pearse Doherty or Mary Lou type.

    In the meantime stop being gratuitously offensive (Newry). However I know there are going to be cultural fights with Unionists that have to be fought and will STILL enrage the Unionist community, such as over the flag and parades. That’s inevitable. But we should only fight in our own ‘culture wars’ when it is blatantly obvious we have a case.

    Unlike Newry.

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  35. oneill (profile) says:

    At the risk of certain heads exploding, I would suggest that looking at how the NI international team’s support has changed over the last two decades is a pointer to a weakening of an overarching *British* (as defined in NI) in favour of a more regional identity that fits in quite comfortably with the same contexts in the rest of the UK (everyone knows about the Scottish v British debate, but check out which national identity the majority of English plumped for in the census).

    When I first started actively supporting the team Linfield/rangers scarves were the norm, the Union flag was the de facto emblem of the team as acknowledged by a large section of the support.

    Now, quite obviously, that full “Britishness” hasn’t disappeared (thinking of you there “Lambeg Loyal”) but it is very rare today to see any display of red, white and blue be it on a scarf or flag. I am 100% convinced that GSTQ will not be our anthem within 5 years. Windsor park and any away ground we play at is a sea of green, we are almost all to a man and a woman dressed in green shirts, wigs, etc etc.

    Would any of the people who I know attend regularly plumped for Northern Irish rather than British?
    I am sure of it.

    That subtle change is one reflected in wider Unionist (non-political circles) as is a more comfortable attitude towards what is (or should be allowed to be) a shared Irish identity. None of the politicians with the exception…possibly of Robbo have any idea about how to harness that change.

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  36. antamadan (profile) says:

    Politico68, you said ‘ the percentage of the nI population under the age of 40 is 51% CNR’. Where did you get this info. I haven’t found census 20111 background split into ages. Is it released? If so link please?

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  37. simtrib (profile) says:

    @Gopher

    Can anyone here explain the lack of change in Derry’s Catholic population? If the indigenous Catholic population has risen by a huge number you would expect a place with the largest indigenous population to show a significant rise. In real terms it would mean Derry’s indigenous Catholics are falling in number.

    The % CCB declined in a number of council areas, including Derry.
    http://www.thedetail.tv/issues/155/census-data/the-northern-ireland-census-religion-and-identity-mapped

    Armagh City & District Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 48.7
    Catholic (%) 2011: 48.4

    Ballymoney Borough Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 31.9
    Catholic (%) 2011: 31.8

    Derry City Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 75.4
    Catholic (%) 2011: 74.8

    Larne Borough Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 25.2
    Catholic (%) 2011: 24.9

    Moyle District Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 60.3
    Catholic (%) 2011: 59.6

    Newry & Mourne District Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 80.6
    Catholic (%) 2011: 79.4

    Strabane District Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 66.2
    Catholic (%) 2011: 64.9

    The following saw a drop in the Catholic % but not the Catholic Community Background %

    Belfast City Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 42.1
    Catholic (%) 2011: 41.9

    Cookstown District Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 55.2
    Catholic (%) 2011: 55.1

    Fermanagh District Council
    Catholic (%) 2001: 55.5
    Catholic (%) 2011: 54.9

    In my opinion this is an indicator that the % CCB figure will start to decline in the same way as the % PCB has declined since 1991 due to secularisation and mixed marriages not declaring children as one or the other for religion brought up in. In fact the “indigenous Catholic” population as you put it may have very slightly declined in 2001-2011 if not for the artificial boost of the 1.97% of the population born in an A8 succession country who have moved here since 2004, along with the other Catholic immigrants that have arrived since 2001 such as the Portuguese in Dungannon.

    Expect the overall CCB % of the population to shrink come 2021. In reality if only Catholic “indigenes” were counted it probably actually did shrink in 2001-2011. As I’ve said before though “religion or religion brought up in” isn’t a very good measure of “community background” any more.

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  38. Gopher (profile) says:

    Cant figure it. Derry’s born in Northern Ireland figure goes up out of sync with the increases and decreases which is odd and Lisburn is even more pronounced somebody somewhere is either rutting at the death rate and those who died wernt born here or lying about where they are born. Belfasts born in NI is a big loser incidentally soon need more flag poles than the UN

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  39. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    Just out of curiosity, are the soldiers based at Ballykinler, Thiepval, Palace Barracks etc included in the census?

    I’m guessing most of them would be ‘none’.

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  40. Gopher (profile) says:

    People leaving in the barrack closures might go someway to explain Derry

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  41. Ulidian (profile) says:

    Gopher

    I doubt it – the housing is all located in either Ballykelly ward or Greysteel ward or possibly both, ie. Limavady LGD.

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  42. Ulidian (profile) says:

    I’m guessing Greysteel ward actually – that was pretty mixed in 2001, which doesn’t really make sense when you consider just how Catholic the village is.

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  43. Sp12 (profile) says:

    I think you may find a large number of the ‘ambivalenters’ here on Sunday.

    http://www.facebook.com/events/416758708395754/416765741728384/

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  44. Politico68 (profile) says:

    Antamadan,

    No the age and religion figures are not out yet, however if u look at the 2001 figures for the age group under 25 it gives a Catholic population of 50.5% If u then look at the proportion of school children under the age of 10 and from a Catholic background in the school census figures for this year it shows 51.5%.

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  45. Politico68 (profile) says:

    Sim,

    Cities generally dont see a large increase in their population due to the density and population saturation, and the tendancy for newly married couples to move into the suburbs, which in case of NI are usually in different council areas. For example although the Cat pop in Derry declined by 0.5% (which statistically is irrelevent) it jumped up by 3% in the neighbouring Limavady area. Similarly u can see from ur map that even though the Cat pop increased slightly by 1.5% in Belfast, it increased more significantly in commuter areas around Belfast such as Netnaby nd Lsbrn. In fact Lisburn is now heading for a Catholic majority along with craigavon and Antrim.

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  46. Politico68 (profile) says:

    Alias,

    If nationalism is in such a bad way, now did they manage to get that flag down?

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  47. latcheeco (profile) says:

    Mick,
    “Ambivalenters” shows a want of imagination. Denis Faul tried to tell them years ago to stop freaking out because many nats were happy enough to wait till manana.

    Mananistas is a better term.

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  48. Alias (profile) says:

    “If nationalism is in such a bad way, now did they manage to get that flag down?”

    You’re confusing tribalism with nationalism. That’s just the Catholic tribe making the British state more comfortable for itself by implementing its internal settlement.

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  49. Alias (profile) says:

    “That’s just the Catholic tribe making the British state more comfortable for itself by implementing its internal settlement.”

    I should add that is it is those Catholics who still regard themselves as Irish, excluding the large group who have deserted that national identity and now identify as “Northern Irish only”.

    While 45% of the population are Catholic, only 25% of the population identify as Irish. That is an abject collapse of of Irish nationalism with NI with the former Irish nation now in ruin, and once again shows why the Shinners are ‘a protected species.’

    So I amend it to “That’s just the Irish tribe making the British state more comfortable for itself by implementing the provisions of the internal settlement (parity of esteem between all British citizens).”

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  50. Politico68 (profile) says:

    Alias,

    Your assuming I am confusing, which in fact I am not. Identification as NI is fine, makes sense giving the jurisdiction. I see Unionist seize on it too heavily for it to seem anything more than desperation. The flag came down because Nationalist parties in Belfast wanted it down.

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  51. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Latch,

    I think scans less well over here, but I agree with most of that…

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  52. [...] for the relevance of a “valence” vote is the emergence of what Mick has described elsewhere on Slugger as the “Ambivalenters” – people who don’t have a ready answer to the [...]

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