Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

“Many of them only yearn for victory…”

Sat 12 January 2013, 12:54am

The Guardian’s Simon Hoggart has some interesting thoughts on the ongoing controversy over flags.

The tremendous fall in violence over the past decade or so has perhaps made us forget that for some people in Northern Ireland the Troubles are not a frightening inconvenience but part of the fabric of their lives and their community. As the rioting continued and the TV images went round the world, members of the Northern Ireland government were trying to drum up investment from China. But how could jobs and prosperity possibly be as important as their eternal, defining hatreds? I have often thought that the politicians’ mantra – “the people of Northern Ireland yearn for peace” – is nonsense. Many of them only yearn for victory.

That works both ways, btw…

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Comments (32)

  1. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Jobs and prosperity come second because of a belief that Britain will always be there to pick up the bill for everything.

    This belief will lose its power if enough of the rioters are punished requisitely. For more than five weeks now, although there has been a number of arrests, most of the rioters have been allowed to break the law with impunity.

    The Chief Constable has the power to change everything by making an operational decision. If he reveals to the media that he has been pressurized by unionist politicians to let crimes go unpunished, the said leaders will deserve any such punishment as they receive in the next election.

    Being British means keeping the law. Whether some people want victory or supremacy is worse than trivial. What matters is that the fascist thugs are utterly defeated.

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  2. Chrislynch (profile) says:

    “There’s none so blind as those who will not see”. Therefore, I doubt Gerry if the current Unionist leadership, let alone the largely ignorant, bigotted, rabble who, in their protests disrespect and dishonour “their fleg”, will listen to the facts that you quite brilliantly articulate.

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  3. MrPMartin (profile) says:

    I spoke to a young constable last night and he told me the top brass directive was not to arrest illegal roadblockers.

    So there you have it. If nationalists acted like this there would be army JCBs scooping them up.

    NI is a failed state ruled by loyalists who unlike the true British in GB, remain stuck, fossilised and ossified in a supremacist medievalist mindset that GB doesn’t know or bother addressing.

    I’m glad SF are doing well in RoI as they are the only party that is concerned with all parts of Ireland and brings northern attention to a disinterested Dail.

    Perhaps SF should take their seats in Westminster to educate the English masters a little more as the dramatis personae of the GFA have long since retired and now replaced with politicians who don’t even know where NI is on a map

    PeterRobinson threatened to bring Stormont down over emblems. Perhaps Martin McGuinness should threaten the same unless a referendum on the border is held.

    Recent days have reminded nationalists that loyalists still win ok

    Ergo NI is a failed state and a new Ireland agreed and force unionists to grow up. Canadians and Australians are largely descended from GB but they went their own way. Loyalism’s only philosophy is a visceral hatred of all things Irish. This is not a mindset to compromise with any more than racism.

    Did the ANC say to Terreblanche “it’s ok, we’ll let you express public expressions of racism two days a week as a compromise”

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  4. NOT NOW JOHN (profile) says:

    I wonder when the people of Northern Ireland are going to receive an explanation from those in government in Northern Ireland why this situation has been allowed to continue for so long. Is the Executive in office but not in power? Has the Executive lost control? Is the Exectuive fit to govern any longer? Should certain Ministers be called on to resign? Who is holding the Executive to account on this matter? One could be forgiven for thinking devolution hadn’t happened and this was solely a matter for the Secretary of State.

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  5. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    I think he’s nailed THE fundamental block to meaningful political progress. Anyone wanting to move forward will have to get past this yearning for victory.

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  6. Professor Yattle (profile) says:

    That ‘yearning for victory’ is unwittingly demonstrated by MrPMartin, who’s infantile answer appears to be: “Exactly what I want.” Nobody gets exactly what they want, and some realisation of that all round would be useful.

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  7. Neil (profile) says:

    I know, I know the real problem is Nationalism’s insistence on remaining Nationalists in spite of Unionism magnanimously agreeing to cease discriminating against us and allow us to vote for who we want and have them represent us. We should really have all become happy citizens of the UK by now.

    Get real. We’ve come through what we’ve come through, had the principle of consent for a little under a couple of decades and you want us to pack up and head off the field without having our say on the border (which is the cup final of our little contest in these parts, and represent ‘victory’ for everyone here on both sides).

    It’s arguable now (in Villiers direction, or better yet her replacement in the Labour Party) that if we discount cross community parties from our calculations that Unionists and Nationalists have been polling very similar numbers over the past elections. Should 2015 deliver a majority for SF & SDLP vs. UUP/DUP it will not be so easy to dismiss this ‘bold move’.

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  8. MrPMartin (profile) says:

    Self appointee Professor

    Did racists get what they wanted in the new South Africa?

    If you read my other posts you will see that I am a huge fan of Britishness and a complete Anglophile. I don’t see positive British traits in loyalism. The new Ireland I envisage would be a peaceful democracy just like New Zealand. Is that so terrible?

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  9. MrPMartin (profile) says:

    Republicanism is an ideology non sectarian & democratic. It is often confused with anti monarchism but republicanism per se grew as a reaction to ABSOLUTE monarchism. Constitutional monarchies like GB are actually republics too.

    Loyalism however is demonstrably non inclusive, racist and sectarian. Hardly an analogue to republicanism.

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  10. MrPMartin (profile) says:

    And before I’m accused of not wanting Britishness in Ireland nothing could be further from the truth. Full the new Ireland with Shakespeare plays, the music of Elgar and Britten, the poetry of Donne and Byron, the sounds of Welsh choirs and trilingual signs that include Ullans.

    As well as British culture, we could also ask unionists to try to emulate GB by trying eschew racism, sectarianism and homophobia too. The British in GB have been forceful in addressing these scourges in recents times. Perhaps the British in Ulster could emulate as I’m sure they want be as British as possible

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  11. Nevin (profile) says:

    “I think he’s nailed THE fundamental block to meaningful political progress. Anyone wanting to move forward will have to get past this yearning for victory.”

    That’s just a symptom, Mick, the constitutional question is the road-block; my tug-of-war metaphor is apt as is your see-saw one.

    Shared sovereignty at all levels as distinct from joint sovereignty/direct rule exercised by London and Dublin might provide an opening for political progress.

    The quality of life in Coleraine has certainly deteriorated since the departure of the JCSS Corrymeela related inter-schools project though there also have been a knock-on effect from the Athboy conspiracy.

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  12. Nevin (profile) says:

    “The Chief Constable has the power to change everything by making an operational decision.”

    David, you may not have read the Dick Spring briefing, a briefing which the BBC and CAIN have refused to publish on their websites. The Chief Constable is not an independent operator, despite any protestations made to the contrary.

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  13. streetlegal (profile) says:

    Nobody has mentioned the role that British Intelligence is playing in the flag protests. British Intelligence has always had a key oversight role in the management of the activities of the loyalist paramilitaries. Importantly this means that the PSNI is subject to direction from British Intelligence in their handling of such loyalist activity. British Intelligence do not wish to see the PSNI taking on the protestors – and that is why we have seen Matt Baggot taking a ‘softly softly’ approach to the illegal road blocks set up by loyalists around Belfast. There have been few arrests – and we will see that those who have been arrested will be leniently dealt with – as like the PSNI, the Public Prosecution Service and the Courts Service are subject to the direction of British Intelligence.

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  14. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, Nevin, I have seen that briefing.

    If things reach a certain pitch, the CC will have to ignore the politicians and make an operational decision. He is obliged to act in support of public safety.

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  15. Nevin (profile) says:

    “He is obliged to act in support of public safety”

    As you can see from the briefing, David, the Chief Constable will do what he’s told by government; in the past his predecessor carried the can for a decision he may have offered advice on but didn’t take. The downside of this is bad not only for policing but also for democracy. I’d rather hear the unvarnished truth and be left to make up my own mind.

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  16. Professor Yattle (profile) says:

    MrPMartin – what you are saying, in essence, is that your philosophy is so wonderful and progressive that you can get all you want and no reasonable person could possibly be disappointed with the outcome.
    That is absurdly blinkered absolutism. You are, in your on way, as unyielding as the loyalists – and if anything a little less self-aware.

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  17. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Right, Nevin, imagine the worst: a descent into murderous rampage at half one in the morning. Who tells the CC what to do, and how long does he wait for that person to get in touch?

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  18. sherdy (profile) says:

    David, you’re expecting an operational decision from Baggott.
    But he has already been told by the UVF: ‘We know where you live’.
    There is no way the PSNI will be any more aggressive against the protesters in the face of that implied threat. You heard Jim Wilson’s joyous statement of the improvement in PSNI ‘behaviour’ after meeting them.

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  19. Red Lion (profile) says:

    MrPMartin,

    there are plenty of unionists in NI whose main traits are likely to be significantly influenced by a liberal and cultural British view, in an ever globalising context. Just a shame they aren’t very politicised.

    Plenty of us are anti racsist and anti homophobic.

    You are coming up with a very disproprtionate and skewed definition of NI Britishness

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  20. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, Sherdy. Looks as if you’re right, given the last lot of weeks.

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  21. MrPMartin (profile) says:

    Red Lion

    Perhaps you are right but like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket. How can we have round table talks with such liberal unionists if they don’t elect likeminded representatives to invite , Basil McCreas of this world excepted.

    Professor
    I may be naive but I don’t espouse sectarianism or racism. The society I aspire to is an honourable one. If you disagree, please let me know how its not. I often reflect upon and examine my opinions in light of new evidence as I see it.

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  22. MrPMartin (profile) says:

    Empty vessels make the loudest noise and get the most attention. Decent unionists/nationalists have been marginalised by the refusal to face head on the extremists.

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  23. Nevin (profile) says:

    “Who tells the CC what to do, and how long does he wait for that person to get in touch?”

    David, presumably there are protocols in place as to when issues are referred upwards.

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  24. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, Nevin, and yes. But I have in mind a sudden crisis which has to be dealt with immediately, on the ground.

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  25. Nevin (profile) says:

    It would just have to wait, David, but modern communications mean the wait is short.

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  26. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Right. I shouldn’t be shooting off my gub here anyway, because I’m too old to use a mobile phone or a raspberry or any of them things.

    I wonder if the police are waiting to see who tires first.

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  27. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Don’t feed the trolls…

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  28. aquifer (profile) says:

    Is this just a conspiracy to destroy the parades commission?

    Multiple illegal demonstrations, direction by paramilitary members of the Orange Order, stretching police resources.

    Is Peter getting a nod and a wink from Tory backbenchers that they would rather unravel the Good Friday settlement? Is the ConDem coalition really behind it, with their spooks and troops if required?

    The CC can try to keep a political space open, but he is being subverted by politicians behaving as estate agents, playing with the last few percent instead of building anything.

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  29. Nevin (profile) says:

    “their eternal, defining hatreds .. Many of them only yearn for victory”

    From my experience, this is way over the top. There is a desire in varying degrees to belong to either the UK or a UI. Some on both sides only yearn for victory, even if it’s only a minor victory as we’re seeing at present. Presumably not much thought is given to risk assessment.

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  30. David Crookes[1.48] Just heard on r Ulster Inside Politics that Peter Robinson in his interview on Marr’s A.M. claimed that the loyalists were sore about the loss of culture was explained by the fact that ‘N Ireland was on the window ledge of the UK’. This claim directly contradicts his gloating speech back in November in which he told his party conference that nationalism was in crisis as the Union was, for N Ireland and unionism, never so secure as now’
    Perhaps our, now greatly reduced figure as FM could explain this discrepancy in his reading of NI ‘s place in the UK.

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  31. Nevin (profile) says:

    “this discrepancy”

    Daniel, I’m a bit surprised that folks here should be taken in by the ‘reaching out’ lingo emanating from the Peter and Martin Show. It’s all part of the tussle for the position of First Minister and it’s all about fishing for votes in the UUP and SDLP pools respectively. As you can see from the violence emanating from the unionist and nationalist extremes, it doesn’t cut much ice in those quarters.

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  32. David Crookes (profile) says:

    THANKS, danielsmoran, I didn’t hear the programme. As Homer would say, inextinguishable laughter fills the heavens. The ‘discrepancy’ that you identify defies explanation. (Apart from that, how can you lose culture if you never had any culture in the first place?)

    The House of Usher is on its last #legs.

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