Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Ignoring the small issue of a border poll, what might a new united Ireland be like?

Mon 11 February 2013, 8:30pm

(This should have appeared early on Friday morning – until the gremlins got in the way.)

Last week, before the release of the BBC NI Spotlight poll, I talked to a local MLA about the concept of a new Ireland. Over the last few months there has been an increasing level of chatter analysing the mechanics of calling a border poll and interpreting census results.

Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to delve under the instinctive longing and loathing that is so often associated with the notion of a united Ireland to explore what the new state might look like if the conditions could ever be met to have a poll.

Much – though not all – of the commentary comes back to promoting a nationalist ideal of an El Dorado paradise or declaring the unionist nightmare of forcibly cutting ties to the British monarch.

Intellectually it’s a lot more interesting to get beyond the emotion and wonder … What if? What might be the shape of this potential state? How might the population in the north east corner relate to those in the south west? What governance arrangements might be put in place, or indeed left in place? What parts of Northern Ireland’s public sector and civil society would survive, or even thrive? How would the six counties integrate with the twenty six?

And while a poll may be a distant prospect, grasping the Presbyterian principle of ‘not refusing light from any quarter’ I wondered whether a Northern Ireland that is still settled in the Union had anything to learn from new Ireland thinking.

I’d heard Conall McDevitt, SDLP MLA for South Belfast, talking about the importance of region at an election event a couple of years ago, so I met up with him last week to pick his brains. We talked about identity, economy and his opinion of Sinn Féin’s “flag-waving” activity around the border poll. But first I asked about his vision of a united Ireland.

I think one of the great issues with the debate around the a border poll and in fact one of the great issues within both Irish unionism and Irish nationalism is that we have an awful habit of wanting to either remain in the union or to be in a united Ireland. But if we’re honest with ourselves we haven’t done a huge amount of work in trying to work through what that would look like (if you’re thinking about a united Ireland) or to consider the practical issues around it. How would you pay for it? What system of government might be best? Would it be a unitary state? Or would you have a federal Ireland?

If there was a united Ireland – or a new Ireland as Conall tends to refer to it – what might the state look like in twenty or so years time? That turned out to be a tricky question to tease out an answer. Conall’s vision isn’t wedded to a fixed end point. The journey towards the vision seems to hold the value. But he did offer up some clues:

Should it be a federal place? If it was a federal place, then Northern Ireland would remain. Now many people would argue that if you think properly about the Good Friday Agreement and about setting up institutions in Northern Ireland that support both sides of our community, that have the checks and balances that we have built in to our way of doing government; about the new beginning to policing and the ability to transform something that was seen as a huge part of the problem into something that is now accepted and supported by the vast majority of our people. If you think about all of that then really you’re ending up with a new Ireland that would probably be federal I nature. Now if that’s the presumption, then we all have a duty to turn that presumption into a proper proposition and we can’t delay that conversation.

So what are the things that we need to talk through within this island. We need to talk through what it would mean in terms of transfer of powers. Would we keep an NHS in Northern Ireland? I suspect we’d probably want to. I don’t know too many people – be they former republican prisoners or the most loyalist of loyal people I know – who would want to give up the NHS as we know it today. In fact they want to deepen the NHS. I always say that the NHS is a British gift to the people of this part of Ireland. But the people of this part of Ireland, the people of Northern Ireland, made it their own and have defended it and built it as their own. In fact, people in England and Wales look to our integrated health and social care model here and they say “that’s what we’d like”. And they say that the Northern Ireland NHS is what it’s really about. It’s the most pure in terms of living up to Ernest Bevin’s ambition for a health and social care system.

So my vision of a new Ireland isn’t proscriptive in that I don’t have an immediate solution that says “here it is lads”. But it’s a journey and the journey involves us thinking about questions like sovereignty, questions like federacy, questions like identity in a much more open and expensive way than we’ve ever been able to do so to date.


Would there be a resurgence in the four provinces of Ireland? Would Donegal become part of the “north”? Regional identity was key to Conall’s analysis.

Getting our head around the concept of region is critical to building a new Ireland. I say this for two reasons. First of all Northern Ireland was a contested state. Traditionally nationalists have said “Northern Ireland should not exist, the partition of Ireland was a mistake”. And that is true. But the fact is that post-1998, Northern Ireland has been legitimised in its existence and nationalism has to stop denying this. And there are some parts of nationalist thinking that still do deny it.

We have to embrace the concept of region. The trick to a new Ireland is to make Northern Ireland as it is today work. That is the key to building a new Ireland. To make Northern Ireland as it is today a success. And then the second question is if it is a success as it is today within the United Kingdom why couldn’t it be a success within an Irish jurisdiction.

What about the political organisation of a potential united Ireland? A few more TDs in the Dáil? Might the NI Assembly survive? Conall could foresee the PSNI continuing to police Northern Ireland while the Gardaí patrolled the rest of Ireland.

Éamon de Valera in debates in the Dáil at the time of the Republic of Ireland bill, whenever they were establishing the republic, talked openly and at length about the fact that a united Ireland would nearly certainly be a federal Ireland. O think federalism would be the way of us being able to capture the diversity of who we are. It would be the way we could use to acknowledge regional identities and regional levels of government at the same time as having a national sense of purpose. It would involve sending TDs to the Dáil rather than MPs to Westminster but Stormont would most likely remain. Stormont would most likely continue to run the health service here.

I suspect the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland would be happy to keep having an accountable police service – the PSNI is the most accountable police service in the European Union, more accountable than the Gardaí are. So they might like the idea of regional police service in Northern Ireland and the Gardaí still policing elsewhere in the island.

That’s quite ordinary in other parts of the world. Most European states, with the exception of the UK, are federal. Most Europeans – and we go there on our holidays – have really strong regional identities as well as strong national ones. I think there’s a great duty on us whether we’re nationalist or unionist to begin to respect people’s right to hold a regional identity. And to hold it without prejudice of also having a further level of identity which is there national one.

Would a devolved Northern Ireland cause, say, the West of Ireland, to seek devolved powers too?

Whenever you think about the new Ireland, it is based on the concept of self-determination. That means that Northern Ireland has the right to self-determination and the island as a whole has the right to self-determination. But it would undoubtedly begin a process of exploration about how the new Ireland would be governed. I certainly wouldn’t want to stand here as a northerner by choice and dictate terms to the West or to Munster or to other parts of Ireland.

Conall pointed to different parts of Great Britain having “different levels of ambition for regionalism”.

I’m sure the new Ireland would be no different. Parts of the island would want to enjoy the benefits of devolution, other parts may not. But the point of the debate is that this isn’t a debate about flags. It’s actually a debate about systems of government and public services, it’s a debate about economics, and it’s also a debate about identity not in a simply British or Irish sense but in a regional and then British or Irish sense, or possibly in a regional, British and Irish sense.

There’s no question that in the new Ireland people born and wishing to enjoy a British identity should have the right to that identity. That seems to me to be a fundamental tenet of the new Ireland.

There also no question that the new Ireland will not be a nationalist Ireland. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a new Ireland. The new Ireland will not be something – that as Mark Durkan used to say – either a nationalist pipedream or a unionist nightmare. It will be a place that we really haven’t really haven’t fully thought through yet. It will be a place where identity is probably multi-layered; where governance is probably quite devolved; where, yes, there may be different health systems in one part of the other; where there will be a British element and a British dimension to government whether we like it or not and where Europe will be an overriding context.

After a discussion around Carson’s Irish unionism and Ireland’s place in Europe, Conall summed up saying:

Those of us who espouse a new Ireland need to be expansive and ambitious about how that will be articulated and we need to be very open-minded about the identities that will emerge. And Irish unionism will be a central political tradition and culture. Northern Irish unionism will remain because Northern Ireland would remain.


I asked Conall to list positive economic reasons why Ireland would be stronger united.

He felt that “the structure and nature of the economy on the island of Ireland” was set apart from the “big island next door” in that “the bellwether of our economy is agri-food”. Secondly we’re a relatively young population. There’s a perception that we’re better educated than ”cousins” in Great Britain. And “we’ve developed a reputation and a niche for what’s known in economic terms as innovation – making the connection between a big idea and turning it into an economic opportunity”.

As an island, the biggest cost factor (for manufacturing) after labour is energy. Conall argued that energy is already operating on an all island basis “not for political reasons but because it makes economic sense to do so”. And there was room for further efficiencies and integration, not only in energy, but specialist healthcare and in developing more sustainable economic and environmental policies.

Is there an economic argument? Yes. Has it been proven? No.

Any economic downsides? Might some GB-focussed businesses not withdraw causing churn in the Northern Ireland economy?

Conall evoked the debates around Home Rule when “certain economic interests [in what would become Northern Ireland] threatened to leave and relocate, most notably the ship-building enterprises”. However, no one (speculatively or unnecessarily) left.

You’ll find that a lot of our call centres have operations here and have operations in the Republic and both are serving the British market. The service industry sector – be it professional services, legal services, accountancy services, public relation services, marketing services or more techie [companies] – is highly mobile. What the island of Ireland needs to do, and Northern Ireland needs to do, is to ensure it attracts the type of service industry to locate here which will be incentivised and want to stay for a long period of time. I don’t think the changing constitutional status will be the overriding issue in terms of them staying. It will be cost. If costs go up, they’ll leave. If costs stay stable and it’s a favourable tax environment and they’ve got a good throughput of whatever skills they need, they’ll stay. We need to decouple the politics of this from the economics of this …

Where there is a significant debate to be had, and where we’ve not been honest about it with each other at all, is around the public financing of a new Ireland. What would Britain’s relationship be with Northern Ireland during the first ten or fifteen years of transition? Would it be on the 31 December year X that they just turn the tap off and walk away? Or would it be that they engaged in a gradual decoupling? … Those are the debates that we’re not getting into because people are afraid to go there because they might get an answer they don’t like. But they’re not just political debates, they’re actually public finance debates and solid debates about crunching the numbers and looking at your options.


We talked about the manner of the debate about the possible shape and workings of a new Ireland? Conall was keen to stress that the debate should be elevated above being a party political football.

The last time nationalism sat down as nationalism to talk about what a new Ireland would look like was the New Ireland Forum. Its report is still out there. It says you could have a federal model, you could have a confederal model, you could have a unitary state. That was nearly thirty years ago. That’s the last time there’s been a serious debate about this. I think nationalism is doing itself a great disservice by not sitting down and openly and honestly discussing what it’s vision of a new Ireland would be.

And I’d go a step further: I believe nationalism has a duty to do this. And it has a duty to take it out of party politics. In other words, to find common ground around the vision for a new Ireland [and] the model and the elevate that above party politics so whenever unionism and other political traditions on this island want to engage in a serious contribution they know what they’re talking about. At the moment this is more of an emotional debate than it is a serious political one. Those of us who espouse a new Ireland have to have the courage to be more than just emotional about that espousal. We have to have the courage to say we have nothing to fear from engaging in a serious conversation about what that would look like. In fact we have a duty to engage each other in the first instance, but also to engage unionism if they’re willing to engage in what the options might look like.

Conall described Sinn Féin’s activity around the border poll as “a lot of flag-waving”.

What Sinn Féin are doing is using the question of a united Ireland for selfish partisan gain. The SDLP has been invited to one Sinn Féin event. And I know because I spoke at it and it was in London … I’m not aware that any Southern party – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour – have ever been invited to a single event organised by Sinn Féin to talk about a united Ireland. This is not about having a conversation about a united Ireland. This is about Sinn Féin trying to out-green everyone else. And that’s a mistake.

He added:

The new Ireland is too important to reduce to being a party political football. If you really love Ireland, if you are really interested in reconciliation, if you really care about building a new Ireland, as against just trying to be a big flag-waver, you need to step away from your selfish party interest and you need to be willing to come to the table and sit down who share your national identity but disagree fundamentally with your politics.

The SDLP made proposals for all nationalist parties to sit down and work through the issues around unification four years ago. They raise it each time they sit down with the other parties, but to date there has been no uptake.

Maybe Sinn Féin going off and running their campaign is just their way of being able to let some frustration out. But it’s not responsible. Because what it does is give the impression that this is a party political issue … This is about the shape of our nation, and our nation is not just nationalist. The new Ireland cannot be a nationalist Ireland, it must be something much bigger than that. Therefore it must be done in a more sober, more settled, more thought through, more inclusive way than any single party could ever lead.


Finally, for a new Ireland to be a real possibility, non-nationalists – ie, a lot of unionists – would need to be convinced to vote in favour. Isn’t that an impossible task for the foreseeable future?

I’ve never seen a new Ireland in any other way. Northern Ireland holds the keys to the new Ireland. Northern Ireland has to work for the new Ireland to be possible. If people think that by destroying Northern Ireland they’ll create a new Ireland they’re not thinking through the issue at all. The way you build a new Ireland is to build reconciliation, to build stability, to build prosperity in Northern Ireland and for that jurisdiction to feel comfortable in making its transition from being part of the United Kingdom to being part of a new Ireland.

And that means people of a unionist identity of tradition feeling comfortable with the idea that they may part of a new Ireland in the fullness of time. That Northern Ireland would remain – as I have said – is most likely the best way to move this debate on … would surely be the first step in indicating to those of a unionist identity that we do not want to destroy anything. We do not want to take anything away. This is not about diluting anyone’s sense of identity. It is not about undermining any institutions of government that people hold dear at a regional level. It is not even about altering too fundamentally the political power bases at a regional level. It is simply about understanding that the region is now successful, it is capable of its own self-determination, and it is able to make a peaceful and sober decision to – in its own interests – shift its sovereign status from being that is part of the UK to being that is part of a new Ireland …

The debate about the new Ireland will start with what some people might consider to be preposterous suggestions, like that it won’t be a unitary state, like that it won’t be a nationalist place, but it will end with those suggests – in my opinion – being the reality.

We talked about potential pain in any actual transition.

The biggest barrier most likely will be a question around public finances, around how we protect the public services in Northern Ireland (as we have them today) in a new Ireland, because there are quite big differences. Would it mean we pay a little more here at a regional level? Those are likely to be much bigger debates, I think if I’m honest with you, than debates around something really practical like a phone number.

I’m quite confident that if we take this debate away from being a party political football and we take it on to being a national conversation about the what if, that we will find very imaginative answers emerging from very interesting corners. What is really regrettable is that some people in the political class will just refuse to engage in the conversation. As if they’re scared of the prospect. But sure no one should be scared of a prospect that is rooted in human interest, in democratic validation through referenda, in properly considered processes.

I suggested that if a united Ireland was ever to succeed it would require good community relations on a scale beyond where we are today. The new racism would potentially be north and south. Without solving the problems in Northern Ireland first, is it even worth starting discussions in the public space about models of a new Ireland?

It’s the same debate. You don’t get a new Ireland without reconciliation. You don’t get reconciliation without the truth about our past. So everything is connected. Everything is joined up. The steps are [counting on his fingers] reconciliation, truth, and a new Ireland. That’s quite clear in my mind … For anyone to say we can have a new Ireland and we won’t have dealt with our recent past, we can have a new Ireland and we won’t have engaged in a meaningful process of reconciliation in Northern Ireland – and for that matter a meaningful process of reconciliation across Ireland – they are deluding themselves. You will not build a new Ireland from an un-reconciled people.

Does Conall think he’ll see the new Ireland in his lifetime?

I think I will, because the die is cast in terms of our society moving on. In our journey onwards we are reaching junctions which require us to sometimes look back and deal with the past, sometimes to look sideways and deal with each other, but they invite us to take the next step forward.

I’m not going to sit here and be a prophet in terms of telling you where it will end, but will I see a new Ireland? Absolutely. Will it be in the vision of Pádraig Pearse in 1916? I just don’t know. And I don’t think it’s my duty to look back a hundred years for my guidance. I think it’s my duty to look forward and to be open-minded and imaginative about it. But I don’t want to have to do so in a climate or culture of prejudice against me just because I hold that view.

Thanks to Conall for agreeing to the interview.

If you’re commenting, try to keep within the spirit of the exercise. Imagining and exploring what it might be like, rather than dwelling on the likelihood or your personal preference on whether it happens!

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Comments (119)

  1. anne warren (profile) says:

    That was a very interesting interview.
    Well done Alan and Conall.
    Personally speaking I would like to see a series of essays on the net or in newspapers and on TV by reputable national and international authors setting out the pros and the cons of various aspects.
    Ordinary people would be able get a handle on the argument beyond the usual clichés on both sides.
    They would help people move outside their respective boxes by stimulating thought and discussions, thus laying fears to rest on both sides.
    They might also help show us all how best to move forward in a “shared future” even if they do nothing about progressing a UI.
    This is worth doing in and of itself without any pre-conditions of reconciliation and truth about the past Discussions and debate over the various viewpoints may show how to achieve these aims and indeed even facilitate them.

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  2. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    The only way to avert an all-out civil war (even though I doubt that would be possible) would be something like the Quebec model.

    The border of Northern Ireland would be re-drawn to suit the demographics on the ground and the slightly smaller Unionist-majority area would have to be free to virtually run it’s own affairs. It’s own devolved government, police force, law making powers, media, education system, etc. Irish/catholic/whatever in places like Strabane, Bogside, Newry, South Armagh, etc would be free to join their fellow countrymen from the South in setting up their own devolved assembly, etc. Only the most important areas would be governed by an all-island government – with heavy Westminster influence on issues of concern to the Ulster British.

    Have a look here: http://alturl.com/n7qbp

    Unfortunately, anything less than would probably result in Cork, Galway and Waterford’s sons being sent to the Shankill, Larne and Coleraine to impose Dublin rule and would probably see many of them return in body bags.

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  3. anne warren (profile) says:

    So this is your wish-list UPC, delivered under threat of an all-out civil war, complete with returning in body bags.

    Why don’t you just set out the list without the threats?
    When other lists appear they can be collated to provide a collective wish-list of all the people of NI.

    I see you display no interest in discussing issues with national and international experts.

    Not up to it?

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  4. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    It’s certainly not my wish-list. I want no part of an all-island state.

    Anyone who has briefly studied Ireland’s history over the past 100/120 years would know widespread violence and thousands of deaths would be inevitable.

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  5. ThomasPaine (profile) says:

    Yep, unfortunately UPC is spot on.

    Anyone who thinks a united Ireland will be brought about without a civil war is living in cloud cuckoo land.

    In fact, anyone who thinks a united Ireland will be brought about at all (in the next 100-200 years) is living in cloud cuckoo land.

    A very interesting piece Alan. Conall is one of the good guys I’m sure and he no doubt believes in what he says, even though it looks like a nationalist’s sales pitch to a Shankill resident. But the fact remains that no matter how fair or prosperous or federal a united Ireland is presented to unionists, unionists will still want nothing to do with it.

    Unionists could be offered full control of a united Ireland for 20 years to make sure their people and culture are protected fully (from what I don’t know, but this is what they always want) as long as the broke from the UK and they would still want nothing to do with it.

    I suppose this is a kind way of saying this was a waste of time Alan. Interesting, no doubt, but futile all the same.

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  6. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    So my vision of a new Ireland isn’t proscriptive in that I don’t have an immediate solution that says “here it is lads”.

    Conall’s party is going around telling everyone that there needs to be a united Ireland and it’ll be so much better. But the man himself admits that he hasn’t a clue what it would actually look like and spends a long (rambling) interview asking questions that you’d think he’d already have the bloody answers for.

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  7. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Unfortunately, anything less than would probably result in Cork, Galway and Waterford’s sons being sent to the Shankill, Larne and Coleraine to impose Dublin rule and would probably see many of them return in body bags.

    That’ll be the unionist commitment to democracy for you.

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  8. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Reality, my friend.

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  9. If Scotland does indeed leave the UK then I can’t see the 6 county statelet continuing for many years after that event.

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  10. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    What’s a ‘statelet’?

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  11. Banjaxed (profile) says:

    OK, UPC. So you get a repartitioned North but what then do you do about Belfast which is now almost a Nat/Rep city? Will the flegs go away then? Or would you have some sort of a ‘Marshall Plan’ corridor to fly in horsemeat from Monaghan!

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  12. Alias (profile) says:

    Instead of trying to sell a pig in a poke to vegetarians, McDevitt and ilk would be better served throwing their lot in with the Shinners and the rest of the Catholic unionists.

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  13. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Banjaxed: OK, UPC. So you get a repartitioned North but what then do you do about Belfast which is now almost a Nat/Rep city?

    But it’s clearly not. The gerrymandered boundaries of Belfast City Council are roughly 50/50 religious mix but this image clearly shows Belfast (and the vast majority of it’s residents) are protestant (and therefore pro-UK).

    http://alturl.com/f7cq6

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  14. derrydave (profile) says:

    Very thought-provoking interview – thanks Alan & Conall. For all Sinn Feins bluster on the subject, I’m not sure I’ve ever noted as open and honest an interview on the subject from one of it’s reps – time to start !

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  15. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    Ulster Press Centre (profile) says:
    12 February 2013 at 12:58 am

    What’s a ‘statelet’?

    ——————————

    It is like a ‘chiclet’ with less ‘chic’ but is in more of a state than a ‘state’.

    In our case it represents an economic area which is not able to support itself and is wholly reliant on extending a begging bowl to Essex builders to put food on the table.

    It represents an artificial structure that has very little legitimacy and has a torrid history of sectarianism, oppression, anti-democratic practices [like gerry-mandering] and not least government franchised murder of a particular part of the community.

    These are just some of the reasons that the right to self-administration and self-governance was removed by the Essex builders from the old PUL “majority” community.

    And we are where we are in this basket-case structure and a plague on both our houses…

    However all of that might be considered STATing the obvious.

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  16. Gopher (profile) says:

    More nonsense that does unrepairable damage to our lives today and tomorrow. Can’t get it, cant fund it but will continue to strop about it from now to kingdom come. Meanwhile no investment no extra money from HMG. Mono cognitive public purse nationalism needs to wise up and start improving peoples lives.

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  17. Droch_Bhuachaill (profile) says:

    Are Unionists that insecure that they feel that they would be any less British should a new Ireland come about? If they moved to France, would they be less British? Surely they would have more scope to express their Britishness as a million strong voice in a country of 5.5m, especially if they had a provincial government?

    Also, should a federal Ireland come about based on provincial boundaries, wouldn’t that re-unite them with their brethren in the border counties who they say were so harshly treated after independence?

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  18. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    UPC, if there’s one thing that would eliminate my tendancy to vote for the union it would be the thought that by doing so I would give the impression that I was acting under duress.

    Unlike a couple of decades ago, Ulster prods mostly own property and have jobs like everyone else. The idea that they’re going to destroy all of that by launching a civil war is a bit far fetched. On top of that you have strategic issues. How do you supply the loyalists when the British are almost certainly going to be operating a blockade the Irish sea (in line with what would be their obligations) and in any case where there are no international sympathizers to supply weapons or supplies ? It’s a loser.

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  19. Canny See It Sur (profile) says:

    UPC has hit on something which lots of people tend to ignore. The fact is that whilst Northern Ireland exists, it was only ever designed as an enormous Gerrymandering exercise against the basics of democracy and majority rule.

    His/Her/It’s suggestion that we repartition is again undemocratic in the extreme. What happens when the majority of the new partition want a united Ireland? Re-Partition again?

    We have to look at basic democracy and ensure that it takes place free from outside intrusion and the threat of violence.

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  20. Otto (profile) says:

    It’s funny how the same people who want to win their argument by sectarian headcount then object to the idea of borders based on community distribution.

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  21. Otto (profile) says:

    “Are Unionists that insecure that they feel that they would be any less British should a new Ireland come about? If they moved to France, would they be less British? Surely they would have more scope to express their Britishness as a million strong voice in a country of 5.5m, especially if they had a provincial government?

    There are 6.3M people living on this island. Who are the 800,000 you’re expelling?

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  22. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    I cannot see why people like McDevitt and others expect Unionists to engage with them on any level on the matter of a future “Ireland” outside of the UK. I will never engage on that basis, as leaving the UK is anathema to me.

    Droch_Bhuachaill asks will we be any less British outside the UK? As individuals we might not, but surely he/she must agree that our country would no longer be British? That bald fact means that potential future arrangements for governing the entire island outside the UK is something that I would never open negotiations, or even exploratory discussions over.

    In summary, nationalists can sit around for eternity and discuss the shape and form of their proposed UI dream. But they should do so safe in the knowledge that even if they agree Orange parades up O’Connell St every 12th, wholesale recognition of British symbolism and protections for former British citizens in their new state, and even free money for all, UNIONISTS DON’T WANT ANY PART OF IT and so would have nothing to bring to any discussions about it.

    Is it REALLY that hard to grasp?

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  23. Otto (profile) says:

    It’s also funny how many unionists NEED Northern Ireland to be part of the UK to be happy and want northing to do with a reunified Ireland yet are just as happy to live in Canada, New Zealand or Australia.

    What if we change the name of the new Ireland to New New Zealand?

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  24. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    Interestingly no-one has spent centuries trying to bomb shoot and otherwise harass us into accepting ourselves as part of Canada, New Zealand or Australia against our expressed will.

    What if we change the name of the UK to the Re-United Kingdom and let RoI back in?

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  25. Droch_Bhuachaill (profile) says:

    There are 6.3M people living on this island. Who are the 800,000 you’re expelling?

    Apologies, me calculator’s broke.

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  26. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    Blue Hammer wheels out the ostrich defence again.

    “UNIONISTS DON’T WANT ANY PART OF IT and so would have nothing to bring to any discussions about it.”

    Or read that NEVER, NEVER, NEVER…

    Yawns.

    I would get used to feeling blue Blue if thats your approach. What if the CNR community don’t give a monkeys what you think and don’t even bother discussing the issues with you any more?

    What is to prevent them using an in-built majority position in the councils and in Stormont [in current or remoulded form] to change this little region into my green heaven?

    Did you object to the flag coming down from the Belfast City Hall? Did your objection make any difference? Do you see?

    Beware of what you hope for, you might just get it. I would think a more benign existence in a re-envisioned all-island solution might be a might more palatable than having MMcG outlining your existence for you.

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  27. Droch_Bhuachaill (profile) says:

    Blue Hammer, I understand that you don’t want a part of it, but what happens if the majority of the citizens of the north wish it so? Do you expect minority rule to dictate the political status? Would it not be better to engage in discussions regarding such an eventually rather than being presented with a fait accompli without any unionist input whatsover?

    (for the sake of discussion I’d appreciate any answer which doesn’t involve ‘that will never never ever ever happen or some such Taylor Swift-esque response)

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  28. Otto (profile) says:

    “Interestingly no-one has spent centuries trying to bomb shoot and otherwise harass us into accepting ourselves as part of Canada, New Zealand or Australia against our expressed will.”

    So was Alex Attwood on the right track when he said the only way to build consent for a UI is reconciliation within NI and worthwhile all-Ireland institutions?

    And a new generation of political leaders and voters perhaps.

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  29. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    FDM

    I don’t give a monkey’s what CNRs think. I have no issues to discuss with them. They have to accept the constitutional position and get on with it, rather than continuing to agitate for more cocessions to their psuedo-Oirishness.

    As for their “in-built majority”, I look forward to your explanation of how a minority has such a thing. How very Orwellian of you.

    I do not live in Belfast, so don’t really care about the flag issue at City Hall. I don’t need a flag to fly to define my nationality. I am perfectly content in the security of my Britishness in this part of the UK.

    What I hope for is the collapse of Stormont and a return to Direct Rule by our Government. CNRs have proved their mettle in who they have elected to represent them. Decent people should not have to suffer governance by terrorists.

    Maybe when the projected collapse in support for UUP/DUPes leads to the vomit-inducing spectacle of Machine Gun Marty as FM the truth will then hit home and PULs will withdraw from the farce on the hill.

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  30. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    Otto

    Alex Attwood was a very short distance along the right track. The only way to build consent for a UI is reconciliation within NI and worthwhile all-Ireland institutions within the UK. Leaving the UK is not an option which will ever fly, and maybe Alex, Conall and others like them need to realise that.

    I’d welcome RoI back into the UK fold in a heartbeat.

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  31. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    Droch_Bhuachaill

    Thanks for your reasoned response.

    I would have to say that, should demographics and other factors combine to indicate that a majority in NI wished to join with RoI to create a new state, the only solution would be repartition. I would reluctantly agree to talks around that redrawing of the boundary of NI.

    If you think that a 50%+1 vote will lead to a peaceful transition to a new UI, I fear you will be disappointed.

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  32. Otto (profile) says:

    “Alex Attwood was a very short distance along the right track. The only way to build consent for a UI is reconciliation within NI and worthwhile all-Ireland institutions within the UK.”

    Well there’s some common ground.

    Worthwhile all-Island institutions, Internal Reconciliation & East-West Relations (and Institutions?).

    You’d think those would be nationalism’s priorities.

    Easier to count heads though.

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  33. Droch_Bhuachaill (profile) says:

    Blue Hammer,

    how would urban areas fare in a re-partitioned state? Would we end up with a new Jerusalem situation?

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  34. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    Blue Hammer (profile) says: 12 February 2013 at 2:52 pm FDM

    “I don’t give a monkey’s what CNRs think. I have no issues to discuss with them. They have to accept the constitutional position and get on with it, rather than continuing to agitate for more cocessions to their psuedo-Oirishness.”

    Read: Cheap shot at plastic paddies. You aren’t really Irish anyway except for wearing “Kiss me I’m Oirish” hats, kissing the Blarney stone, wearing tight-fitting green clothes and running around with a pig under your arm saying “begorrah” to all who pass by on St.Pats. Spare me. To be frank the days of the PUL community telling us what we can and can’t be are over.

    “As for their “in-built majority”, I look forward to your explanation of how a minority has such a thing. How very Orwellian of you.2

    Read: The PUL community are no longer in the majority but we will pretend that it is. Additionally we will ignore the very close parity with the numbers in the CNR group. We will also ignore the higher mortality rate of the older PUL population and the current Catholic majority in the Schools system at the present time[51% I believe]. Please see any of the many “green” councils for the increasing impact on the increasing CNR representation in local politics.

    “I do not live in Belfast, so don’t really care about the flag issue at City Hall. I don’t need a flag to fly to define my nationality. I am perfectly content in the security of my Britishness in this part of the UK.”

    Read: Myopic contrivance. You know yourself that your view of Britishness goes far beyond the constitutional question. The fact of the matter is that the CNR community have significant numbers in many, many constituencies and are CHANGE-MINDED. In short this place is going to become evergreen in many, many things. Even if the constitutional issue remains contested in the forseeable, change is not just coming, it is here now. See atop city hall in Belfast hall for evidence. Even if the CNRs don’t poll for a UI today, ALL of the surveys have showed said groupings as dead against many of those “British” things you hold dear, i.e. flags, home comings, Orange Order parades etc… Change is the only constant for the PUL community over the coming years.

    “What I hope for is the collapse of Stormont and a return to Direct Rule by our Government. CNRs have proved their mettle in who they have elected to represent them. Decent people should not have to suffer governance by terrorists.”

    Read: A great point of view which worked out great for all those AWP Boers. Come on sing along “Nelson [Mandela] is our leader, Nelson is our leader, Nah, nah, nah, nah…”

    “Maybe when the projected collapse in support for UUP/DUPes leads to the vomit-inducing spectacle of Machine Gun Marty as FM the truth will then hit home and PULs will withdraw from the farce on the hill.”

    Read: Democracy doesn’t work, hold up “Democracy doesn’t work signs” and intimidate the population until the clock turns back to 1974..

    “the only solution would be repartition”

    Read: We can’t get away with the “final solution” so we will plumb for a new PUL ascendancy statelet. Wall them in, herd them and we can make the same success of this place as the Israelis have made of Jerusalem.

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  35. Alias (profile) says:

    A core problem for the Catholic parties in NI is that they still have to pretend to a large number of their voters that they haven’t been converted by the British state into post-nationalist parties.

    To this end, they are told (every now and then) to talk about a united Ireland as if this was still a nationalist agenda post-conversion and that actually have a viable strategy to achieve it.

    In reality, the Catholics in Northern Ireland gave up their former right to national self-determination in its entirety. They no longer claim to have this right as a nation and they no longer assert it by political means.

    Prior to the British state changing the agenda, the concept of a united Ireland was to extend the right to Irish national self-determination to those who were denied it by partition. The revised concept is to remove the right to Irish national self-determination from those who weren’t denied it by partition.

    In other words, the Irish nation in Ireland is supposed to follow the pitiful example of the Irish nation in Northern Ireland (now reduced to a mere 25% of the NI’s total population) and to give up its own right to national self-determination by rendering it constitutionally subject to the operational veto of a foreign nation. It must also dismantle its nation-state and replace it with a de facto replica of Northern Ireland.

    Why exactly the Irish nation should agree to do this has yet to be explained. It may well be appropriate that the British nation in NI is circumscribed by a population that is also 25% and 21% Northern Irish, but what is the British population of Ireland such that it should merit ‘parity of esteem’ and an equal claim to the state as the Irish nation?

    There is no reason at all for a Corkman or a Dublinman to vote to award equality of nationality to a British person. A bunch of post-nationalist muppets in Northern Ireland have yet to produce a single good reason why this should occur but they seem to think it should occur because Northern Ireland is the model for a state of Nirvana and that, consequently, if we vote to dismantle our nation-state and replace with it a replica of Northern Ireland then we’ll be as happy as the Catholic post-nationalists.

    And indeed the Catholic post-nationalists are happy with the status quo since poll and after poll confirms they wouldn’t vote to change it. While it is nice, I’m sure, of the Catholic post-nationalists to want to share, out of the kindness of their wee hearts, their British state authored formula for happiness, most folks in Ireland are also quite happy with their state and don’t see any need to replaced it with the British state authored formula.

    So good luck with that…

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  36. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    I agree with the logical deliverable of what alias has just said.

    Step forward First Minister Martin McGuinness.

    Take a bow son.

    Can we have every wednesday afternoon off to play GAA sports?

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  37. Reader (profile) says:

    Although the whole topic is based on a hypothetical situation, let’s be realistic here. There isn’t going to be a civil war (everyone has too much to lose); there isn’t going to be re-partition (because that’s just *asking* for trouble); and the CNR/PUL split is well past its sell by date.
    The remaining true Nats may be hoping that over the next 10 20 years the Celtic Tiger will recover, but at the same time the status quo will become warmer and more comfortable all round.
    The change-minded nationalist councils hinted at above are part of the problem for anti-partitionists. They either make the place more comfortable (Belfast), or their actions are an embarrassment (Newry). Win/win for the status quo.

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  38. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    Reader (profile)

    “There isn’t going to be a civil war (everyone has too much to lose); there isn’t going to be re-partition (because that’s just *asking* for trouble);”

    Those are true.

    “the CNR/PUL split is well past its sell by date.”

    So past its sell by date that a matter of weeks ago the PUL community leadership as a collective all toddled up to Stormont for their latest bash at sustaining an ascendant position with their grand Unionist Forum. [Which really was just a protestant nationalist forum, but nevermind eh]

    Additionally one of the stand out stats that wasn’t tainted in the BBC poll was not a single C,N or R had or would vote for the UUP. Protestant nationalism really isn’t that appealing with the not so cohesive CNR grouping.

    “The remaining true Nats may be hoping that over the next 10 20 years the Celtic Tiger will recover, but at the same time the status quo will become warmer and more comfortable all round”

    You are pre-supposing that the UK will exist and indeed if it does is going to be in a strong economic position to make people warm and comfortable. The UK is predicted to pass Ireland in gross government debt as a percentage of GDP in 2016. There may be trouble ahead for team GB…

    “The change-minded nationalist councils hinted at above are part of the problem for anti-partitionists. They either make the place more comfortable (Belfast), or their actions are an embarrassment (Newry). Win/win for the status quo.”

    If making Belfast comfortable means clearing the flagpole at the city hall to make way, after a reasonable period of time, for the flag of the overhelming majority of the people on the Island of Ireland, then long may it continue. I’ll get my carpet slippers. It is terrible to laugh at the uncomfortable situation that people get themselves into. HOWEVER you know I just think of that poor deranged lady at the city hall or the cannon-fodder trying to think up excuses for wrecking the place in East Belfast and you have to have a chuckle. All whilst the laughter of our children echoes in McCreesh Park.

    Status Quo are a terrible 70s rock band.

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  39. Alan N/Ards (profile) says:

    Conall appears to be the only nationalist/republican in Northern Ireland who is speaking any sense these days. This a debate that nationalists on the island need to have. The problem for him and people like him is that the parties who will have to sell a UI to unionists (FF andFG) don’t seem to want to engage in tbe debate. There’s no need to worry about SF trying to sell it to us as they have to much blood on their hands.

    A little of topic here but I have to mention the despicable treatment of rugby fans in NI by the IRFU. The only genuinely cross border, cross community sport inwhich unionists engage in, in any kind of numbers. Rugger fans in the ROI can watch the Autumn internationals free but in NI we will have to pay to watch it on Sky. What about parity of esteem. I would love to see nationalist politicians kicking up a fuss about the IRFU turning us into second class “irishmen/women” onthis part of the island. Should I hold my breath?

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  40. Nevin (profile) says:

    I’m a little surprised to see Irish nationalists use the term ‘statelet’:

    statelet: a small state, especially one that is closely affiliated to or has emerged from the break-up of a larger state.

    Ireland aka Republic of Ireland aka Irish Free State which left the UK?

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  41. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    Alan N/Ards

    “There’s no need to worry about SF trying to sell it to us as they have to much blood on their hands.”

    Could I ask a question about this comment. If someone joins Sinn Fein now, who was too young or indeed was never involved in the conflict do they “have blood on their hands?”

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  42. Reader (profile) says:

    FDM: All whilst the laughter of our children echoes in McCreesh Park.
    Oh yes, triumphalism – that’s going to win everyone over, isn’t it?
    With respect to your other points, indeed – unionism has terrible leadership at the moment, and yet the union looks secure for some time. Baffling, isn’t it?
    So laugh over the institutional equivalent of painted kerbstones, by all means – but you and the Newry councillors haven’t set yourselves apart from the deranged lady and the cannon fodder. Neither have you won anyone over to a united Ireland, and you really, really need to do that. You don’t actually know how, do you?

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  43. Nevin

    For years the 6 counties have been referred to by many Republicans as the “illegal Northern Statelet”, “Protestant Statelet” etc

    The most common terms for Republicans however would be the six counties, occupied six or simply “the North”

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  44. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    Reader.

    I think protestant nationalism (PN) is pure folly.

    The consitutional and economic link to a United Kingdom (UK) I can actually understand as an argument.

    However what the DUP/UUP/TUV/UPF etc… are selling is PN. The Venn diagram overlap between PN and what for brevity I have termed UK outlook is actually very limited indeed.

    What we call the PUL “community” here are nearly entirely in the PN block described above. This has no open appeal to the C/N/R grouping. In fact it actually goes out of its way not to be attractive to that block. They just can’t help themselves.

    Where do you start with people who hold up banners saying “Democracy Doesn’t Work”?

    The bottom line is that the PN community is lost in its own negative spiral of denial, self-pity and self-indulgence.

    Like any spoiled child, until they decide to behave like rational beings they can sit on the naughty step as far as I am concerned.

    You can’t force people to be happy, they have to be receptive to it.

    More introspection is required from the PUL community before we can move forward. They need to process and rationalise where they are.

    I never knew children laughing on publically supplied swings to cause anybody offence, except when of course it was PUL policy to padlock them on Sundays.

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  45. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    A final food for thought question.

    If Martin McGuinness stays healthy he will be the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

    You will have a political line stretching all the way into the past from Viscount Craigavon to MMcG.

    Think of the seismic shift that has occurred in our so very little part of the world for this probable future to emerge.

    Oh protestant nationalist unity may DELAY this coronation for a while, but if Marty lasts, even a decade, it is going to happen.

    Isn’t it intriguing that the only thing [barring Gods intervention] that can stop Marty being the effective Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and all the symbolism that this entails, is a United Ireland?

    Which will you vote for?

    Good night.

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  46. theelk11 (profile) says:

    As William Jefferson Clinton said, its the economy stupid.
    Little evidence that nationalists would vote for a unionist party but a significant number want to stay in the UK for economic reasons. Give it 10 or 20 years and if the republic gets back its standard of living we will see.
    UPC, chat of civil war is laughable, I can’t see too many fund raisers in NYC for ” the lads”
    That sort of chat can be so horribly expensive in many ways.

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  47. weidm7 (profile) says:

    In Ireland, neither tribe are actually that interested in the politics of the situation, what they’re really interested in is lording it over the other tribe. Nationalists (both politicians and ordinary citizens) have not taken any practical step towards unification in 90-odd years, all they do is throw a strop or else give out about the other tribe. It might be all the catholic suppression but I’d love it if they could all grow up and actually see things with clear eyes.

    First off: The unionists are not just pretending, they are British, they’re not just scared of a UI, they don’t want anything to do with it at all, on principle. For as long as you emphasise your Irishness, you will alienate them because they will react to it by emphasising their Britishness. You should emphasise their Ulsterness, and this as part of Irishness.

    How many all-nationalist meetings have their been? Conall points this out above. If any of the nationalist parties (especially the southern ones) actually cared about unification, they would have regular meetings and all sing from the same hymn sheet (especially now that the war is over). We need positive initiatives, especially in the south of an all-island nature, to re-incorporate the north emotionally, the politics will come after that.

    Alan N/Ards makes a point that all nationalists should grasp on to and protest about if they were true nationalists, treating northerners the same as southerners, getting free rugby coverage for them as well. Every time you ignore northerners, you are telling them they’re not Irish, every time you say ‘Ireland’ meaning the south, you are telling northerners that they are not Irish, this is why so many of the catholic population say they are not Irish. This is the no. 1 stumbling block to a UI. We might stumble into one through demographics before the Irish population in the north disappears, but it’s not guaranteed and should be worked against regardless.

    Basically, nationalists need to cop on, stop moaning about flags and take real steps towards uniting the people, then the politics will sort itself out.

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  48. Gopher (profile) says:

    @FDM

    How is Marty going to be first minister? Which seats are SF going to win?

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  49. antamadan (profile) says:

    Alan, In the 80s a southern Govt. Minister Máire Geoghan Quinn got British agreement to get RTÉ into the north, and yet some mystery civil servants stopped it.(She wrote a letter to the Irish Times a few years ago detailing the inter-govt meetings and agreement). Nonetheless by either going to a UK sat box even a free one, no. five thousand and something (( I overstate), you should get RTÉ now per agreement.

    In addition a southern free sat (Saorsat) sat box costs £50 and gives you about 7 southern stations without any hassle except 2 remotes, or a UK+ Irish sat box costs about €150 in the south/web delivery/border towns and the one remote does all the free channels RTÉ TV3 TG4 BBC1-4 UTV-ITV4 sky news etc. Why aren’t Belfast stores stocking them?

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  50. antamadan (profile) says:

    Just realised the second para stuff maybe only works for those that had a southern TV ariel i.e. got RTÉ before the digital age, and then if they get a box everything works digital so got the stations they had before plus the new southern stations +1 etc.

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  51. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    theelk11:

    UPC, chat of civil war is laughable, I can’t see too many fund raisers in NYC for ” the lads”

    I don’t recall them being needed in 1912 – 1914.

    They didn’t do much for the Provies 1969-1998 either.

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  52. Nevin (profile) says:

    “The most common terms for Republicans however would be the six counties”

    Chris, I’m familiar with the terminology; it’s just that the definition for ‘statelet’ is applicable to the 26 county entity, not to the 6.

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  53. Otto (profile) says:

    I don’t really get the ‘statelet’ crack either. If we were in the US we’d be 38th in population.

    Are Idaho and Hawaii ‘statelets’?

    Or maybe it’s a size thing?

    Are Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island ‘statelets’?

    Or is it to do with segregated communities? I think the US has some of those that make us look like the Brady Bunch.

    The only reason the south isn’t as segregated as us is because we’re up here! If dysfunction is the measure and we joined the south and screwed it up would we then turn it into a statelet?

    And anyway – hasn’t Sinn Fein had killed the Orange State and we were living an a post-conflict but improving society. Is that not the story any more?

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  54. Alan N/Ards (profile) says:

    FDM

    While the present leadership of SF remains in place SF are wasting their time trying to persuade unionists of the merits of a UI. These people are one of the reasons why unionists will always resist a UI. When I hear a SF rep saying that the campaign of violence was wrong then and only then will I give anything they say about an UI any thought. Maybe some of the newer members who hands are not dripping with blood could try and reach out to unionists as the old guard have had their chance and failed miserably.

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  55. SK (profile) says:

    “The border of Northern Ireland would be re-drawn to suit the demographics on the ground and the slightly smaller Unionist-majority area would have to be free to virtually run it’s own affairs.”

    _________

    Don’t Drink Bleach/Ulster Press Centre

    In other words, the system must always be geared in such a way as to ensure a perpetual unionist majority.

    I sometimes wonder if unionists of your hue are missing whatever part of the brain it is that’s necessary to grasp the concept of democracy. Generations of unionists have passed, each of them insisting that democracy is whatever happens to suit them at the time. Maybe it’s a chromosomal thing.

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  56. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    SK,
    Drawing a more accurate border between the two peoples, so that as few people as possible have to live in a jurisdiction to which they lack allegiance, is hardly undemocratic. It would be more democratic than the current situation surely? And certainly more democratic than a 32 county state, which would create a bigger dissatisfied national minority than we have now. The ‘argument’ that the border current or future is some kind of ‘gerrymander’ or undemocratic has no value.

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  57. Red Lion (profile) says:

    Difficult to see a time when NI isn’t at least in the Commonwealth with HM Queen as head of state.

    Dogmatic republicans won’t accept this, pragmatic nationalists will, and may openly embrace it.

    The republican ideal doesn’t exist in reality.

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  58. Reader (profile) says:

    FDM: I never knew children laughing on publically supplied swings to cause anybody offence, except when of course it was PUL policy to padlock them on Sundays.
    You were recycling a well known Bobby Sands quote to refer to a playground named after a hunger striker. There’s no point in being disingenuous.
    It’s handy though, as you have provoked a thought. There are a number of Provo slogans that are essentially unusable these days. “Brits Out”, “Armalite and ballot box”, “Ireland unfree…” etc. Might it be that the Shinners in Newry were taking rather too literally the only slogan they have left?

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  59. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    Quite a few people here don’t seem to understand (or more likely do understand but are being disingenuous) that the right to self-determination of the pro-British population of Ulster, for which the democratic unit Northern Ireland exists in the first place, isn’t simply going to be eradicated, nor are people going to idly stand by and let others attempt to do so.

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  60. SK (profile) says:

    Mainland Ulsterman wants to disregard December’s Belfast City Council vote on the grounds that it didn’t represent “Greater” (read: “Protestant”) Belfast.

    Mike Nesbitt wants to re-write the assembly rules lest a fenian party becomes entitled to hold the office of First Minister some day.

    AyeYerMa is ready to invade Tallaght the minute some far-off, hypothetical referendum goes against him.

    Heritability in action, I reckon. Gives new meaning to the term “selfish gene”.

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  61. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    SK, being a stalwart supporter of the type of democracy recently on display at Belfast City Council, I presume you would support a return to Stormont as it was pre-1972? Instead of the undemocratic farce we have at present?

    Or do you only support ‘democracy’ when it puts your tribe in the ascendancy?

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  62. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    AyeYerMa,

    The right to democratic self determination is not solely the right of the pro-British people of Ulster, or Northern Ireland or what-have-you.

    It is the right of all the people living in Northern Ireland, be they pro-British, pro-Irish or pro-Northern Irish. ie Everybody’s vote is counted and matters equally.

    UPC,
    There are important differences between Stormont pre-1972 and today’s Belfast City Council. You keep making a sterile false comparison. I’d list them here, but I have a feeling you already know them.

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  63. PaddyReilly (profile) says:

    you would support a return to Stormont as it was pre-1972?

    This may be possible after the next election, because it will no longer be possible to assemble an anti-power sharing majority. As with Belfast today, there will be a Nationalist block, a Unionist block, and a Centralist (Alliance + Green) block which holds the balance of power.

    But of course the pre-1972 Stormont situation was undemocratic because the borders of the entity it ruled were created by one side without the consent of the other.

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  64. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Kevsterino: There are important differences between Stormont pre-1972 and today’s Belfast City Council. You keep making a sterile false comparison. I’d list them here, but I have a feeling you already know them.

    No, go ahead.

    I’d love to hear about these ‘important differences’.

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  65. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    Ok, UPC, here’s a hint. The old Stormont regime was a unionist one-party show for 50 years. Belfast City Council has no party with a majority and neither unionists or nationalists can summon a majority.

    That’s one of them.

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  66. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Kevsterino: Ok, UPC, here’s a hint. The old Stormont regime was a unionist one-party show for 50 years. Belfast City Council has no party with a majority and neither unionists or nationalists can summon a majority.

    Oh dear, another ignoramus who gets his history lessons from old SDLP pamphlets…

    Please point me to a single election which returned only Unionist Party members:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament_of_Northern_Ireland#General_elections

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  67. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    You’re going to have to be more careful how you read what you want to see, UPC. Pre-1972 Stormont had a permanent majority. I never said unanimity, but there you go.

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  68. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Kevsterino:

    You’re going to have to be more careful how you read what you want to see, UPC. Pre-1972 Stormont had a permanent majority. I never said unanimity, but there you go.

    That’s democracy.

    You can’t pick and choose when to accept it.

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  69. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    You’re putting me on, aren’t you, UPC? You can’t see the difference between pre-1972 Stormont and the 2012 Belfast City Council. Gotcha

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  70. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    There is no difference. You clearly accept this too as you haven’t made a single point to back up your position.

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  71. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    UPC,

    Stormont was a one-party government with wide-ranging powers. Belfast City Council has no overall majority and it has hardly any powers. Significant enough differences for anyone with a clue of what they are talking about.

    I would remind you once again that Belfast City Council implemented a flag decision which was popular with unionists, given that unionists happily supported it and raised no opposition, held no rallies, and delivered no leaflets when the same decision was taken in Lisburn and Craigavon. I still haven’t had a straight answer to the question of how a unionist decision in Lisburn can count as an anti-British decision in Belfast. I suspect that’s because there isn’t one.

    And actually no, there is no acceptance anywhere of the right of the “pro-British” people (whoever they are supposed to be) to draw a border around themselves. International law in the form of the British-Irish Agreement 1998, and British legislation in the form of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 mean that Britain’s presence in Ireland will come to an end.

    Ulster Unionism as it became in the early part of the 20th century was substantially a creation of Bonar Law’s Conservative Party, aided and supported purely as a means to an end for that party to help them with the political dynamic prevailing in Westminster at that time. No such dynamic now exists and the time when the Conservatives would involve themselves in NI’s politics for their own ends passed a long time ago. Should a referendum go the “wrong” way there will be no one from the outside, apart from a few BNP supporters and other far-right types, who will take up arms or supply them; and the United Kingdom will be obliged under international law to implement the terms of the international agreements it has signed, especially if the USA takes an interest. There’s no doubt that loyalists will be able to raise a skirmish and kill quite a few people, but they won’t be able to assemble any kind of sustained armed resistance.

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  72. belfastboyo (profile) says:

    Nationalists are not ideologically opposed to a UI but will not simply vote for one blind.
    Many Catholics work in the public sector, health etc. They will want meat on the bone, i.e what it would mean for the NHS, Europe, economy etc.
    They would ideally like a UI but the nationalist parties will have to provide a blueprint, make it add up and sell it.
    They cannot take their electorate for granted.
    If they are sucessful in this then a UI within the next decade is a real possiblity as the economy down south recovers and demographic change continues.

    For the time being many are just content that unionist/orange state has gone. No rush then.

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  73. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Comrade Stalin: …Stormont was a one-party government with wide-ranging powers.

    Democratically elected. In the same way Belfast City Council is.

    Now, if Nationalists and IRA supporters are happy with democracy a la Belfast CC, then let’s have it returned to Stormont ASAP and make everyone happy.

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  74. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    I think we are many decades away from a majority in favour of a UI. If I could place a bet I’d say a majority of 60-65% in favour of retaining the union.

    In the meantime, it’s a union that’s likely to take on a slightly more green tinge.

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  75. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Comrade Stalin says, “Ulster Unionism as it became in the early part of the 20th century was substantially a creation of Bonar Law’s Conservative Party, aided and supported purely as a means to an end for that party to help them with the political dynamic prevailing in Westminster at that time. No such dynamic now exists and the time when the Conservatives would involve themselves in NI’s politics for their own ends passed a long time ago. Should a referendum go the “wrong” way there will be no one from the outside, apart from a few BNP supporters and other far-right types, who will take up arms or supply them; and the United Kingdom will be obliged under international law to implement the terms of the international agreements it has signed, especially if the USA takes an interest.”

    That is the best bit of political analysis that I’ve read for a long time.

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  76. Anton von Padua Alfred Emil Hubert Georg Graf von Arco auf Valley (profile) says:

    There’s no chance of a federal new ireland, too expensive to run.

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  77. carl marks (profile) says:

    Over the last few months we have seen how deeply unionists believe in democracy (when it suits), UPC call for a return to a pre 1972 Stormont is typical, we all know that he is only making the call because at the moment (but not for long) there is a unionist majority.
    When his old style Stormont looks like it’s going to elect a Nationalist majority then we will revert to the old unionist trick of changing the rules, a smaller NI consisting of those places that have a unionist majority, of course who is going to pay for this new statelet.
    We hear plenty of talk about the republic not being able to afford a united Ireland but the NI that we have is kept afloat by other people’s money and does he really think that Britain, Europe or America will help out the nasty sectarian unit that he dreams off, and what are the plans for the Catholics who live in the areas he is talking about will we see them driven out of their homes circa 1969 (after all they might breed and next thing you know they might want to vote) and does he think the rest of the population would let that happen.
    Of course as soon as it was formed there is every chance that it would be seen by the rest of the world as comparable to Ian Smiths Rhodesia or the obscenity that was the old South Africa and no civilised country would trade with it and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what resolutions the UN would come up with, however none of these things matter, no jobs ,no fuel, no future who would care as long as they can fly as many flags as they want and have as many parades they want.

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  78. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    @Reader

    “You were recycling a well known Bobby Sands quote to refer to a playground named after a hunger striker. There’s no point in being disingenuous. It’s handy though, as you have provoked a thought. There are a number of Provo slogans that are essentially unusable these days. “Brits Out”, “Armalite and ballot box”, “Ireland unfree…” etc.”

    Time marches on. I agree that some of those slogans seem very dated now. However if you watch the infamous “East Belfast” edition of the Nolan TV show, you will see that the old PUL “Never” and “Never and “Never”, well NEVER [haha] loses its appeal… I must have heard it 20 to 30 times in the space of an hour.

    On the same subject though its strange how a suggestion does initiate a thought and the same logic found me looking again at the famous Terence O’Neill quotation…

    “It is frightfully hard to explain to Protestants that if you give Roman Catholics a good job and a good house they will live like Protestants because they will see neighbours with cars and television sets; they will refuse to have eighteen children. But if a Roman Catholic is jobless, and lives in the most ghastly hovel he will rear eighteen children on National Assistance. If you treat Roman Catholics with due consideration and kindness they will live like Protestants in spite of the authoritative nature of their Church…”

    Even in the latter parts of the 20th century “it was frightfully” difficult to explain to Protestants that Catholics could be turned from mysticism loving savages into homo sapiens who live in houses [read: protestants].

    Given that “RoryMcIlroysation” is the new policy and [last hope] of Keeping-Norn-Iron-Safe [see Peter Robo's reach-out speech at the DUP party conference]
    in the bosom of the empire you can see that this viewpoint is still held by a large section of the PUL community.
    Oh they might have toned the langauge down a bit but the sentiment is the same.
    “Never.Never.Never.” AND “Inside every Cathlolic there is a [decent] Protestant trying to get out”.
    Groundhog days for protestant nationalism and a plague on both our houses because of it.

    @Gopher (profile)
    “How is Marty going to be first minister? Which seats are SF going to win?”

    I think the latest tranche of releases of demographics from the 2011 census raised the issue of significant changes in some of the constituencies.

    If you trawl back to find the slugger articles posters did a fair bit of number crunching on some of the datasets.

    North Belfast for instance has seen quite siginficant changes, which puts for instance Nigel Dodds Westminster seat under significant pressure now.

    Interestingly we can see the DUP trying to rescue this particular area by tapping-up Cobain from the UUP in reaction.

    Additionally you are of course ignoring the wider demographic changes the census as a whole revealed and the actuality of a majority Catholic population CURRENTLY in the school system, as well as the aging profile of the PUL group.

    @Alan N/Ards

    “While the present leadership of SF remains in place SF are wasting their time trying to persuade unionists of the merits of a UI.
    These people are one of the reasons why unionists will always resist a UI.
    When I hear a SF rep saying that the campaign of violence was wrong then and only then will I give anything they say about an UI any thought. Maybe some of the newer members who hands are not dripping with blood could try and reach out to unionists as the old guard have had their chance and failed miserably.”

    A rather slippery response so say “not dripping with blood”. So slightly stained is OK? Splashed? Or does the mere fact of joining Sinn Fein make you immediately stained.
    Alan you can only marvel at the people that the PUL community vote for as “clean”, that we should find them acceptable.
    Who out of the below list [as examples] has not shared a platform with loyalist terrorists?
    Ian Paisley
    William McCrea Snr
    Peter Robinson
    William McCrea Snr for instance used parliametary privilege to name a man who was subsequently murdered by loyalist paramilitaries.
    The same shared a platform with the notorious sectarian serial killer Billy Wright.
    You need to ditch the hypocrisy. If they [anyone] are elected, they have a mandate and you need to deal with those facts.
    Many of the PUL politicians absolutely disgust me, literally stomach churning. However democracy is the only game in town.

    @Comrade Stalin & anyone with sense
    “And actually no, there is no acceptance anywhere of the right of the “pro-British” people (whoever they are supposed to be) to draw a border around themselves.”

    Nail and head.

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  79. Totally ignoring everything except the headline here (and — phew! — that’s a relief), I’d make a suggestion based on this:

    Ireland’s Defence Minister Alan Shatter confirmed eight Irish soldiers and 18 from the UK will travel to the troubled African country with the Royal Irish Regiment…

    The joint operation will be led by the British and will be part of an overall European Union military training mission (EUTM). Around 200 soldiers from across the EU will be deployed next month.

    French and Malian troops are battling to regain control of the north of the country from Islamist rebels.

    Training is expected to begin in April and will provide the Malian armed forces with military training and advice on improving and maintaining security in the country and restoring the authority of its government.

    Mr Shatter said: “This will be the first occasion there has been a formal joint deployment under the UN mandate of mission involving our defence forces and the UK.”

    Not quite half The Gallant Forty-Twa (it’s better, tenser than the Clancy version), but a symbol … of something.

    What I’d hope it recognises is that here are two (by world standards) small nations — even by European standards not quite the Big Two — recognising they have more in common and co-operation than in mindless antagonisms and dead history.

    Meanwhile, over on politics.ie, they are debating whether Alan Shatter is actually “Irish”. And you thought all insanity was found here.

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  80. carl marks (profile) says:

    FDM
    Who out of the below list [as examples] has not shared a platform with loyalist terrorists?

    Of course you will have to get many of our unionist posters to even admit there is such a thing as loyalists terrorists,
    You don’t have to trawl very far into the Slugger Archives to see the attitude to loyalism and violence from our unionist posters.
    How many posters have ignored the illegally blocked roads (so much for the right of people to walk the Queen’s highway) riots, death threats, arson, attempted murder of police officers etc and referred to the recent violence as legitimate protests,
    DDB for example refers to the murder squads of the UVF,UDA etc as counter terrorists, so I’m sorry FDM if you are trying to show the unionists on this site that they share the blame for what happened here and the past of unionism is at least as bloody as that of nationalism then could I ask you to look up Matthew 7;3, that’s what you’re dealing with.

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  81. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    FDM

    Please list all those murders that Billy Wright was convicted of. There must be some, given that you class him as a “notorious sectarian serial killer”.

    Oh, wait . . . . .

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  82. carl marks (profile) says:

    Blue Hammer

    Did the LVF not carry out many, many vile murders and did not the LVF give Wright a “military “funeral and did they not call him their leader “brigadier” (pretentious crap giving a drug dealing murderous thug a high military rank)
    So if he was the leader it stands to reason (to anybody but the most blinkered propagandist) that if he didn’t actually pull the trigger having mugs(volunteers) to do the dirty work , he give the orders. I believe in law that makes him a murderer.

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  83. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    Well that begs the question of how Messrs Adams and McGuinness maintain their relatively “murderer-free” status then, doesn’t it.

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  84. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    @Blue Hammer

    Please list all those murders that Billy Wright was convicted of. There must be some, given that you class him as a “notorious sectarian serial killer”.

    ————————————-

    I can’t link Hitler directly to in the individual murder of six million european jews some time between 1933 and 1945.

    I can’t prove that he carried out any of the individual murders himself.

    Nevertheless I do not think I am alone in levelling a post-mortem charge of genocide against him.

    Worse than Hitler the dogs in the streets knew that Billy Wright carried out many of his own killings.

    Is it a surprise to me that the British authorities did not attempt to apprehend him in his serial killing of Catholics? Not at all. The government and security forces did not collude with loyalist terrorists. Loyalist terrorists were an agency of the state. Verfiably armed by the state and provided with 85% [as stated] of their intelligence by the same.

    Billy Wright was a sectarian serial killer.

    Note the period.

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  85. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    It’s ok lads, FDM has spoken.

    Anyone else you’d care to convict courtesy of your urban canines?

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  86. carl marks (profile) says:

    Blue Hammer (profile)
    14 February 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Well that begs the question of how Messrs Adams and McGuinness maintain their relatively “murderer-free” status then, doesn’t it.

    I have never claimed they did, but i suppose you will want the same proof for them as you are demanding for Wright!

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  87. carl marks (profile) says:

    Blue Hammer
    Really if you are trying to claim that Billy Wright was anything else but a drug dealing leader of a vicious sectarian murder gang, then you better get up to his grave and remove his Headstone, because it tells us what he was.
    Unless of course you believe it was put there by a unholy alliance of republicans and the media to destroy the memory a gentle good loyalist god fearing man.

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  88. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    I am demanding nothing for anyone, except some degree of consistency from posters.

    To be clear, I utterly condemn all illegal paramilitaries and all their activities. From what I have read, Billy Wright was a murderous psychopath. That his murder by other psychopaths ended any chance of convictions for his endeavours doesn’t change that fact.

    Many on this site nearly hyperventilate when I and others accuse the current co-First Minister of being an unreconstructed terrorist and throw up the old “where’s your proof – he has no convictions bar some wee membership thing in RoI” bullshit. Yet when peddling their “it’s all a big Brit collusion conspiracy” theories, whatever the dogs in the street purport to “know” constitutes enough evidence to convict.

    I do not support the GFA. I voted No in 1998, in large part due to the prisoner issue, but also due to the ridiculous system of non-government it was designed to produce. I am content in the knowledge that Kelly should not have been able to be in any way involved in the recent Ardoyne teen-abuse, as his conviction for 9, yes 9 murders less than 20 years ago should have him safely loked up in gaol.

    You all voted for him and his loyalist counterparts to be freed, and going by CCMS recruiting policy, exhonerated. Now many of them are in Goverment. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

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  89. William Stephen Wright went to his eternal rest/arrest at Seagoe Cemetery at New Year 1997/8. There was quite a good turn-out to see him off.

    There was the famous exchange:

    “Surprised to see you here! I thought you hated the man!”

    “So I did. So I do. Just wanted to make sure the wee sh*t’s dead and gone.”

    Pity we can’t move on from the past. Perhaps that’s the eternal curse of this island.

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  90. tacapall (profile) says:

    I believe Billy Wright was the commanding officer on a wing in the H Blocks where another loyalist prisoner was tortured for days before being murdered, the extent of the victims injuries would suggest extreme pain, did he not know it was going on. Is the Queen ultimately responsible for Bloody Sunday or indeed for all the murders committed by people who believed they were doing it in her name. Does anyone believe for a second that Gerry Adams knew about everything that went on within the IRA, if supporting using violence is the yardstick for measuring Gerry Adams connections to all the past murders committed by the IRA then what does that make Obama or Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron or even the Queen.

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  91. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    Tacapall

    Without heading off on yet another tangent, I suspect Adams’ connection to past IRA murders goes beyond “supporting using violence”. His contemporaries have at various times and under various circumstances put him at the operational helm of WB PIRA, suggesting that he actually ordered some of the most heinous actions that brigade undertook.

    Even the most rabid republican fantasist doesn’t suspect that Thatcher, Blair or Windsor sat in darkened rooms ordering the equivalent of La Mon, Abercorn, Bloody Friday or various “disappeared”, do they?

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  92. tacapall (profile) says:

    Blue Hammer hearsay is not evidence at least not yet but maybe someday.

    Was the attack on the Belgrano any different than La Mon or the indiscriminate bombing of Iraqi or Libyan cities any different than bloody Friday, is the Queen commander in chief of the British armed forces are all actions carried out by those armed forces carried out in her name.

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  93. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    @Blue Hammer

    “Anyone else you’d care to convict courtesy of your urban canines?”

    I think if you look at how the fabled “British Justice System” actually performs in relation to Irish defendants the proposal to use ‘urban canines’ as judges in criminal cases might have provided more balanced decisions.

    Billy never saw the inside of court for murder because the authorities wanted him out planting “croppies”. They only put him away because he was threatening other loyalists, who were probably higher pay grade British agents than he was.

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  94. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    Tacapall

    In a word, yes. A huge difference.

    The warship General Belgrano was an enemy vessel attacked and sunk by the Royal Navy during a war between two countries. Where it was or was not sailing is irrelevant – in 1940s the Bismark was sailing round in circles, but she was blown out of the water as she had future potential to damage our shipping, notwithstanding the propaganda victory of sinking her. The deaths of so many sailors is horrific, but that happens in war.

    Slightly different than incinerating the Irish Collie Club as they have their Christmas dinner in a local hotel, no?

    As for bombing of cities, the evidence I have seen points to closely defined targets being attacked by hi-tech warplanes and/or missiles. While I accept that some innocent civilians were killed in such attacks, I refute totally the notion that they were indiscriminately targeted by Allied Forces.

    Again,slightly different to setting off almost 30 bombs across a major city over a 90 minute period on a busy Friday afternoon, with the specific aim of killing as many shoppers, be they men, women or children, as possible.

    Comparing HMQ to Adams is also incorrect. She is the head of state. He is/was the leader of a guerrilla movement attempting to overthrow her authority in this part of her country. You cannot possibly confer such legitimacy to the putative leader of an illegal, undemocratic insurgency. Can you?

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  95. JH (profile) says:

    Blue Hammer

    The British Govt removed the right to vote from people here and murdered citizens who disagreed with them or got in the way of their agenda.

    Objectively speaking you’d have to say neither side had true legitimacy.

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  96. Blue Hammer (profile) says:

    FDM

    Any evidence that the authorities wanted Wright out murdering? Or just more woof woofing?

    JH

    Who, exactly, ever had the right to vote taken off them?

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  97. tacapall (profile) says:

    Comparing HMQ to Adams is also incorrect. She is the head of state. He is/was the leader of a guerrilla movement attempting to overthrow her authority in this part of her country. You cannot possibly confer such legitimacy to the putative leader of an illegal, undemocratic insurgency. Can you?

    She is the head of her religion, Queen of the country and commander in chief of the army, she also enacts all laws.

    I really dont see any difference in people using violence to get them what they want. Britain has for centuries murdered all before her for money it was all done in the Queens name.

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  98. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    Wasn’t the Queen mixed up in some opium business in the old days?

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  99. Reader (profile) says:

    JH: The British Govt removed the right to vote from people here…
    What? When?

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  100. Alan N/Ards (profile) says:

    FDM

    Do you really believe that a group of people, who have tried to unite the island by killing their unionists neighbours, are the right people to be trying to pesuade unionists of the benefits of a UI. I think not. At least the SDLP (for all their faults) have never advocated uniting the island by trying to murder their fellow islanders. You accuse me of not accepting Sinn Feins mandate. Rubbish. I voted for the GFA knowing that SF would probably be in government. Anybody who believes that SF can ever encourage unionists to vote for a UI is a fool.

    The people I want to sell me the merits of a UI are the people that have the power to do a deal with unionists? At the moment that is Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin. The silence from them is deafening while the hot air from SF is causing the Ozone layer serious harm.

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