#Onthisday 1964-The UK General Election

On this day 49 years ago, the United Kingdom went to the polls to choose a new government. The result was a narrow Labour win of just 4 seats making Harold Wilson the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the election of Wilson provoked fears among some Unionists in Northern Ireland that he would be much more interventionist in the affairs of the province than some of his predecessors. A letter he had written before the election to the Campaign for Social Justice expressing support for ending discrimination had raised some concerns among the political elites in Northern Ireland. I don’t think you need me to point out that Wilson would not act until late 1968.

Anyway, I must bring you back to the election campaign as it happened in Northern Ireland. The relatively new Unionist leader, Terence O’Neill, had begun 1964 by reaching out to Catholics in the province by visiting schools and visiting majority nationalist towns. O’Neill attempted to shift the focus of Northern politics away from constitutional issues towards ‘bread and butter’ issues. He did this largely to see off the NI Labour party who posed a serious threat to the UUP in Belfast.

The election would end up being about anything but economic issues as a flag (go figure!) in the seat of West Belfast would dominate the election campaign. This constituency was one of the party’s most marginal in the province and there were genuine fears that the Labour candidate, William Boyd, could split the Unionist vote, allowing the well known Republican Labour candidate, Harry Diamond to win the seat.

The local republican campaign office put in their main window a tricolour. Go up the Falls road today and you could not swing a cat without hitting this flag but these were very different times. When word got out that Ireland’s national flag was being openly displayed it provoked a huge backlash from loyalists. One person in particular who took exception to this was a little known preacher called Ian Paisley.

This started a chain of protests and counter-protests, with some reports estimating that around 4,000 people attended the protests, sparking rioting between Republicans and the RUC, who were asked to remove the flag. The coverage of the riots featured pictures of Ian Paisley being cheered on as a triumphant leader. Indeed, it is telling that in one event Paisley had received more extensive coverage than O’Neill had all year.

The result was all 12 Unionists being returned to the House of Commons, but it came at a heavy price. O’Neill would now have to contend with Ian Paisley and his policy of ‘bridge building’ was in tatters. A flag in a campaign office window gave Ian Paisley his first break in politics. One wonders when we look back at the last twelve months whether we will be saying the same thing about Jamie Bryson.


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  • jh25769

    Whatever you think of Paisley, he wasn’t stupid. I’m not sure that Bryson is anywhere near the same league.

  • “Republican Labour candidate”

    David, hardline unionists won’t just have been opposed to O’Neill’s limited ‘reaching out’ actions; they will also have been taking note of the actions of militant as well as arm-chair republican socialists. The Irish government, as you will probably know, were also monitoring developments and the possible growth of a Cuban-style tendency.

  • Drumlins Rock

    If anyone has ever met Paisley in his later years never mind his prime they would not include him in even the same article as Bryson, or any of our current politicians. He had a carisma and a confidence that would have come to the fore no matter what, and an ability to manipulate circumstances to his own ends, including creating those circumstances if necessary.

  • jh25769


    I think Paisley sometimes did things he thought to be wrong, but for what he believed to be the right reasons. I don’t think he was really like what he portrayed himself to be like. I’m a bit young young to remember much of his career. But from videos I’ve watched of him and things I’ve read about him and what people have told me about him, he certainly knew how to play to gallery to make a point. Bryson on the other hand. It’s just empty gestures, idiotic populism which don’t mean anything. He has no substance.

  • Barry the Blender

    1964 The last time unionists ever won Belfast West I believe, with James Kilfedder as its candidate.

    I seem to recall in Ed Moloney’s book that it had emerged that Kilfeddar had been in Fine Gael whilst at Trinity, and Big Ian sought to reveal that fact during his general election campaign.

  • David McCann

    It was the last time-Kilfedder lost to Gerry Fitt in March 66.

  • tacapall

    Theres a lot of similarities between Bryson and Paisley that unionists above seem as usual to stick their heads in the sands about. For instance Paisley was one of the founders and leaders of The Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, who like Bryson and the flaggers the also had a military wing who resorted to violence whenever the occasion arose called the Ulster Protestant Volunteers who launched a bombing campaign and engaged in street violence and who’s members also belonged to the UVF. Wee Jamie seems to be following a well worn Unionist path when it comes to carving out a well paid political nitche for themselves, unfortunately for Jamie others like Jim Allister are playing to the same gallery Jim like Paisley though can speak out of both sides of his mouth and has that ability to roll the snowballs for others to throw but then claims no responsibility, just like Paisley did for years. Wee Jamie to his credit does no such thing he just defends his behaviour.

  • Briso

    Yet people who benefit from all this now viciously defy Westminster, purporting to act as though they were an elected government; people who spend their lives sponging on Westminster and British democracy and then systematically assault democratic methods. Who do these people think they are?

  • SDLP supporter

    Ian Paisley has been a malign presence for the whole of my life time. My awareness of him goes back even before 1964 to the Maura Lyons case.

    He is a figure of unmitigated malevolence, manipulative, cowardly, bigoted, egotistical and I will shed no tears when he finally shuffles off this mortal coil and if I am still around myself.

    Ironically, in my view the most fitting epitaph would probably be borrowed from the verdict of the Pope of the time after hearing of the death of Cardinal Richelieu:

    “if there is a God, he has a lot to answer for; if there is no God, he has been a great success”.

  • BetsyGray

    Brisco –

    …….history repeats itself…!…not quite 1964 …but I get your point…..


  • David Crookes

    Strong words from Wilson were translated into nothing on the ground. It could hardly have been otherwise. A large enough section of the population believed that it was being trundled into a united Ireland. One of the SDLP ministers in the executive had said so in public. Could unionists be blamed for believing that minister?

    Any talk of the GFA being Sunningdale for slow learners is utterly stupid. There is no high-sounding Council of Ireland today. The realists of SF have accepted that UI is not coming soon. In 1974 some of the SDLP ministers, being little more than balloons filled with conceit, were indulging in fantastical triumphalism.

    One difference between 1974 and today is that there is pretty well zero support for unionism in Westminster.

    Although the recent flags-and-marches epidemic has never risen above the level of sordid absurdity, most of us have grown up a bit in the last forty years. Today you could never have William Craig arriving to address a rally in Ormeau Park, flanked by motorcycle outriders.

  • sherdy

    Brisco, – ‘Who do these people think they are?’
    They are the loyalist majority!

  • Any reference to NILP in the 1960s amuses me.
    I was 12 years old and living in West Belfast at the time.
    My parents were voters (for Harry Diamond since you ask) and I was a Second Year at a school close to the shop where the offending flag was situated and even closer to Hastings Street Barracks…the base for the police who removed it.
    The aftermath of rubble strewn streets was the most exciting thing that Id ever seen in my young life.
    It was the talk of every class. Mostly from the teachers.
    By the way my parents voted for Fitt in 1966.
    And Paddy Devlin NILP of sorts in 1969.
    And we all voted for Fitt in 1970….and the polling clerk challenged me. Didnt think I was 18.
    Happy days.

    Oh btw the 1966 Election was a straight fight. NILP nowhere to be seen.

  • BetsyGray


    They where the loyalist majority…

    They are now a loyalist minority….

    …and its a getting smaller.

  • Crow

    Some good constituency level detail over on the Ark site: http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fw64.htm

  • SDLP supporter

    Reference David Crookes, it wasn’t an SDLP Minister who made the ‘trundled into a united Ireland’ remark. It was Hugh Logue, a pretty lowly SDLP backbencher and it was a wrong and insensitive thing to say, that wasn’t even true.

    In terms of intellectual ability the SDLP ministers (Fitt, Hume, Currie, Cooper, McGrady) collectively compare more than favourably with the present Executive.

    And I don’t know why you think that Mallon’s ‘Sunningdale for slow learners’ remark is “utterly stupid”, David. The remark has gained resonance and traction precisely because it’s true. Lord Ken Magennis has had the honesty to admit that unionism blew it in 1974 and, as Hume remarked, every time unionism walked away from the table they returned to it in a worse negotiating position.

    As for the Council of Ireland being high-sounding fantastical triumphalism, from my perspective the proposals look pretty sensible compared to the present and anaemic cross-border bodies and, of course, all those thousands of death post-1974 would maybe have been avoided.

    The UWC strike in May 1974 brought down the Executive but throughout its less than five months’ existence ‘republican’ paramilitaries matched the killing rate of loyalist paramilitaries, just one less.

  • David Crookes

    Right, SDLP supporter, I’m sorry for the mistake. But at the time some of us thought that Hugh Logue was speaking for his party. We also saw the SDLP ministers as flushed with their success at getting Stormont prorogued. I can’t disagree with your second paragraph.

    Yes. It would have been good if the old Executive had worked. (The SDLP had one Protestant minister, and no paramilitary links.) What helped to cripple it was the fact that the RoI maintained its claim to the territory of NI. Since Sunningdale required everyone to engage in constitutional doublethink, it was doomed.

    In 1985 Thatcher entered into an AIA that was treacherous to the British constitution. In an act of supreme cowardice, she refused to confront the RoI’s constitutional claim, so the AIA required everyone to engage once again in constitutional doublethink.

    What we have now is far better. David Trimble achieved a lot with very few cards in his hand, while the DUP kept calling him a traitor.

    But the union was really ended by Thatcher in 1985. Some of us who appreciate that fact now think of ourselves as transmuting unionists. If we ever get up and running, we’ll be hoping to work with the SDLP.

    Thanks a lot for your posting.

  • Seamus was certainly right that The Good Friday Agreement was “Sunningdale for Slow Learners”.
    The problem with saying that is that the Good Friday Agreement…..is itself a failure. Surely thats increasingly obvious.
    Whether it was Creative Ambiguity (a lie), the fact that it was watered down by concessions to the extremes, the incompetence of the post 1998 Executive ministers, the fact that some of it was parked, undermined (Alliance having two ministries), the failure of the sovereign governments…..or a combination of all those factors.
    The point is that it is collapsing.

    Seamus Mallon WAS right.
    but so will someone else in 25 years when he/she declares that the Agreement of 2038 is “the Good Friday Agreement for Slow Learners”.

    We only ever have Pre-Conflict, Conflict and Post-Conflict.
    Its laughable that people say that we are living in a Post-Conflict time.
    We have moved to Pre-Conflict.

  • carl marks

    Brisco, – ‘Who do these people think they are?’
    They are the loyalist majority!

    Really, then why do they not have any MLAs or MPs, what you are actually saying is, We are the people. The phrase “Loyalist majority” would imply some sort of appeal to the principles of democracy but it’s obvious if we look at loyalist reaction to the decision of the majority at BCC to see that your average loyalist doesn’t give a dam about democracy.
    Ian Paisley used fear, tribal hatred, untruths and hate to steer this place into Hell.
    Used parliamentary privilege to blacken the names of innocent people,
    Set up private armies then washed his hands when they shot and bombed,
    And claimed he was doing God’s work.
    Ian was always about Ian, not pro protestant but anti Catholic (to very different things) he used the protestant people shamelessly both in his 16th century religious crusade and to further his own career.
    As you can see I’m not a fan.

  • Greenflag

    @ Fitzjameshorse1745

    Your PC / C / and PC eternal trinity reminds me of the old monarchical honours mock awards re the Cross of Micheal & George etc

    CMG – Call me God .
    KCMG -The King calls me God
    GCMG – God calls me God

    In like mockery perhaps your ‘trinity ” can be amended to grant honours to all of NI’s politicians past ,present and future

    PCCNIO – Pre Conflict Cross Northern Ireland Orange
    PCCNIG -Pre Conflict Cross Northern Ireland Green.

    CCCNIP-Conflict Cross for Crucified Norn Iron Protestants .
    CCCNIC- Conflict Cross for Crucified Norn Iron Catholics .

    PCCFCL -Post Conflict Cross for Conflict Losers.
    PCCFCL – Post Conflict Cross for Conflict Winners .

    Perhaps the latter should be instead

    GCPMCG – Grand Cross of PaisleyMCGuinness?

    PS .

    While I take your pre conflict scenario seriously and there is overwhelming evidence that man /woman are not always rational thinking animals I would maintain that what NI has as of now is as good as it can ever be -as long as the NI polity remains in it’s current format . So its the GFA or Hell on Earth /NI

    Thats just how it is and will be until one day it will end . How we don’t know and sadly for most care less . Until then passengers on the SSNI are probably safest amidships neither clinging to starboard or port rails for security .

  • Greenflag

    ” A flag in a campaign office window gave Ian Paisley his first break in politics.”

    So one flag started the ‘troubles ‘ Could it be that thousands of flags end the post conflict ‘good times ‘ for another wasted detour to the good old days when thinking was’nt necessary and any Taig would do 🙁 ?

    Be prepared as the boy scout motto has it .

  • Greenflag,
    it is indeed an irony that a key part of the Pre Conflict scenario fifty years ago was the removal of an Irish Flag from Divis Street and our current Pre Conflict features the removal of the British Flag from the City Hall less than half a mile away.
    A couple of years ago there was a lot of talk about a Decade of Centenaries. I posted here that it was just as relevant to think of it as a Decade of Half Centenaries…eg the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising.
    We had James Young back then telling us to “stop fighting”. Now we have the Blame Game and satirical websites on the Internet.
    We had unconvincing unionist outreach then.
    We have it now.
    We had the New Ulster Movement of liberal unionists departing to form Alliance.
    Now we have liberals launching NI21.

    Not enough people want to see a letsgetalongerist theme park. I certainly dont.
    The only policy I intend voting for is Demographics.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The only policy I intend voting for is Demographics.”

    The Rev William Marshall -Presbyterian Minister for Castlerock

    voted for the same policy back in the 1930’s and I haven’t seen any reason to doubt his conclusion, In the meantime carry on up the Khyber or Lagan or Foyle or whatever 😉

    Mr Shakespeare pronounced also on the subject with his remark

    ‘That which being but taught returneth to plague the teachers ‘

    Thanks Doc -pity about all the death and destruction all the same and all over one flag , So if one flag can cause /result in all that death and destruction how much of the latter can thousands of flags generate – not intentionally of course -but just as fall out or what is euphemistically called in today’s newspeak ‘collateral damage ‘

  • ThomasPaine

    “Not enough people want to see a letsgetalongerist theme park. I certainly dont.The only policy I intend voting for is Demographics.”

    Shame on you then.

  • SDLP supporter

    I must say, FJH, ‘demographics’ is a pretty shabby policy, or lack of it, and besides, it is such an unreliable mechanism.

    I presume that what you mean, crudely put, is “outbreed the Prods”, which is closely related to “send them all back on the boat to Scotland”, school of non-thought?

    As John Hume often pointed out, the Ulster Protestant has been here in this part of the world longer than the white man has been in the Americas. Put crudely, those who advocate a united Ireland, and their counterparts on the unionist side, have for decades, maybe centuries, made a very poor job of selling the merits of their cause to those who oppose them. In the case of Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA it was murderously disastrous, as well as completely immoral, of them to kill people because they were unionist due to an accident of birth. Unborn generations will pay the price for the legacy of bitterness which was replenished as a result of the Provos’ campaign, and the same goes for the other killing agencies, whether state forces or loyalist paramilitaries.

    Again, as Hume often said, getting a united Ireland is a matter of those who believe in it persuading those who don’t believe in it.

    I believe in the efficacy of the rational mechanism in the Good Friday Agreement (sovereignty changes when there is a majority in NI, and in the rest of Ireland, voting for it) but we have a hell of a lot of preparatory work to do before that point is reached and, as Parnell said in his last great speech in Belfast, conciliating the rational as well as the irrational fears of unionism.

    I don’t see things in the same light as David Crookes, but I hope I can have a dialogue with him. He sees the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement as the ultimate betrayal of unionism and the breaking of the Union. I see it as the removal of the unilateral veto of unionism which prevented any progress between the peoples of these islands.

  • Of course people who were unborn in 1949, 1952, 1960 also paid a high price in the 1970s and 1980s…thats just three examples of funerals I have attended.
    To be clear, I dont advocate violence. If I did I would hardly be a member of John Humes party, the one SDLP Supporter “supports”.

    My Demographics argument is attacked on the spurious basis that it is close to “the send them home” nihilism.
    Surely the Good Friday Agreement….that classic of Creative Ambiguity….in allowing for sovereignty to change when the majority wants it…..is a Demographic one.
    The ambiguity of preparatory work to be done is ….the fact that a sizeable majority in unionism does not want to be wooed and no real point in compromising with them again and again…..what possible compromise can Haas produce.
    And of course too often the preparatory work is thru think tanks, groups where people are actually working to copper fasten the Union with Britain …and make unionism more attractive to “nationalists”.
    It just doesn’t add up.

  • SDLP supporter, you’ve quoted John Hume twice so here are two more quotes from “Personal Views”:


    p29 … the problem can best be resolved if the framework of the solution is the framework of the problem

    p50 … within that framework it is my hope that we can build a more positive, stable and lasting relationship among the people of this island

    The problem is a unionist-nationalist one, a tussle between ongoing membership of the UK or a change to membership of a UI. John’s blunder is that he’s framing a solution within the confines of a nationalist context – the island of Ireland; he was hamstrung by his own bigotry/prejudices.

  • SDLP supporter

    FJH, I don’t see the 50%+1 mechanism in the GFA as a crude demographic one. The test for attaining a united Ireland cannot be any less than the one for maintaining the union with Britain. If that wasn’t the case, a nationalist vote would be of less value than a unionist one
    I do accept that the ‘Ulster-Scots’ mentality is a particularly thran one and one with which I have little personal sympathy. Hence, my absolute detestation of Paisley/ Paisleyism, which I have often put on record here and which is beyond reconciliation.
    Your point that “that a sizeable majority in unionism does not want to be wooed and no real point in compromising with them again and again” has some force but likewise I could argue that a sizeable majority of Northern nationalism now has no problem retrospectively endorsing the IRA murder campaign. It’s just that their stomachs , poor sensitive dears , were too delicate to do so during the time when body parts had to be scraped off the streets into body bags.
    The really depressing thing at present is that pandering to the extremes by DUP/Sinn Fein (Twaddell, flegs, Castlederg) goes on because it is politically profitable to do so and, somehow, that paradigm has to be changed.
    To change topic slightly, though I am not particularly gospel greedy and as I have family connections with the area, last night I attended a Mass to mark the 75th anniversary of the opening of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church on the Woodstock Road last. It was a crowded, unexpectedly joyous occasion with the chief celebrant, Bishop Noel Treanor, making the point that Christians were all the one religion but of different traditions.
    St. Anthony’s is in inner city East Belfast, serving a small Catholic minority, and the church has been under attack for decades. Numerically, it was almost snuffed out a few years ago but was unexpectedly revived due to the Poles and other nationalities moving into the area [hence, FJH, the unreliability of predictive demographics]. Recently, some thugs daubed the church with anti-Catholic graffiti and, yesterday, only yards away from the church, in Carlingford Street, some UVF-type low lives were sketching out a mural glorifying paramilitarism.
    I noted that some non-Catholic clergy, and presumably laity, were present, including Bishop Harold Millar, whom I don’t know, but who seems to me to be to be an exemplar of Christianity.
    I don’t want to over-stress the analogy with the political situation, but if last night’s event in St. Anthony’s, and after in the school hall, is an example of “let’s get alongerism”, particularly juxtaposed with the thugs painting the mural in Carlingford Street, then I’m voting for LGA.
    As for Nevin’s contribution, I can testify no man I ever knew was less bigoted nor prejudiced than John Hume. Surely he has heard of his concept of the three interlocking relationships or strands, within NI, North-South and between Britain and Ireland, which is now common currency accepted by everybody? Also, Hume was specific that the problem could not be solved within the confines of NI, or even the island of Ireland: that’s why he involved the US, particularly the Irish diaspora there (and extinguished financial support for Noraid), and the European Union?

  • There is a distinction between social letsgetalongerism and letsgetalongerism with a political agenda.
    A distinction I draw between the normal social inter-action which we enjoy thru clubs, societies, water cooler conversations….and the politically driven….academic, conflict resolution phoneyness that has rather too much influence for my tastes.
    looks great on a CV for a quango but no real meaning.

    the point about St Anthony’s is well made. I recall weekend trips to outlying parts of Belfast including Castlereagh around 1963 and my father pointing it out and the two or three streets in the immediate area. An unlikely enclave.
    On one of my bus pass tours yesterday, I journeyed to Newtownards and as often on that route I was struck by the activity around the Catholic Church at Ballyhackamore.
    (I seem to have developed an interest in visiting Catholic Churches in unlikely places and picking up some historical insight).
    Struck me that I had never actually been in Ballyhackamore but I have been in St Anthony’s.
    Of course a priest was shot and severely injured in Ballyhackamore.

    The context of these enclaves (and I dont know that an enclave exists in Ballyhackamore as it did/does in Willowfield….that small catholic communities are tolerated a long as they are non threatening.
    Of course the same can be said about other parts of Norn Iron where the roles are reversed.

  • SDLP supporter

    I think the point is that for some people in the Woodstock area, they are not prepared to tolerate St. Anthony’s congregation at all. As the Polish population (and other nationalities) take root there, the trouble is only likely to increase, unless the thugs are taken out of society.

    St. Anthony’s is the church where I have been told (don’t know if it’s true, hope it’s not) the parochial house was under such a fierce attack one night in the seventies that the two priests in residence gave each other the last rites.

    The mural at Carlingford/Ardenvohr Streets is a disgrace and in any decently-run society should be removed immediately. The story in tonight’s Telegraph illustrates the fear and ambivalence about it.

    It happens with small Protestant communities too, like the Presbyterian church incident in Derry. The perpetrators should be given no quarter and spurious special pleading by cynical defence lawyers (‘chaotic lifestyle…drug and drink dependency…home circumstances, blah, blah, blah, Your Honour”) should result in sentences being doubled and no remission.

  • I agree.
    The Last Rites story is one I have heard. Whether its actually true, I just dont know.
    The tolerance of graffiti as Art in this society is bad enough (and I feel the same about Banksy) but actually promoting graffiti as something that we are good at is a bigger disgrace.
    I have never believed that “my client was drunk and would like to apologise” should ever be tolerated as mitigation. It compounds the offence. And sentences should be doubled as soon as the Defence Solicitor says the words.
    No Defence Lawyer would ever say “my client apologises for killing the driver of the other car….but would like the fact that he was drunk taken into consideration”.

    Its a simple fact that when we tolerate killing…..and other abuses….on the scale of the 1970s….we can more easily assimilate the degeneration in our society.
    The moral compas was well and truly lost.

  • “Surely he has heard of his concept of the three interlocking relationships or strands, within NI, North-South and between Britain and Ireland, which is now common currency accepted by everybody?”

    SDLP supporter, that was John’s narrative, not mine and certainly not the one that can be found in the 1998 Agreement. Of course, it’s hardly surprising that he should ‘overlook’ the relationship between NI and the rest of the UK, the one that means a lot to unionists. Also bad-mouthing unionists I’d suggest runs counter to persuasion.

  • SDLP supporter

    Nevin. Are you for real, are you being wilfully obtuse and do you have normal reading comprehension skills?

    From the Preamble to the Agreement:

    “We pledge that we will, in good faith, work to ensure the success of each and every one of the arrangements to be established under this agreement. It is accepted that all of the institutional and constitutional arrangements – an Assembly in Northern Ireland, a North/South Ministerial Council, implementation bodies, a British-Irish Council and a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and any amendments to British Acts of Parliament and the Constitution of Ireland – are interlocking and interdependent and that in particular the functioning of the Assembly and the North/South Council are so closely inter-related that the success of each depends on that of the other.”

    and the Chapter headings from the Agreement:

    “Strand One: Democratic Institutions in Northern Ireland

    Strand Two: North/South Ministerial Council

    Strand Three: British-Irish Council”

    Comprenez-vous maintenant?

  • David Crookes

    SDLP supporter (glad you were there as well, by the way): “The test for attaining a united Ireland cannot be any less than the one for maintaining the union with Britain.”

    That is true both in law and in logic. And yet the trouble that we have seen on the streets over the last year has a deadly subtext. “As long as we have [50% + 1] youssuns have to play ball on our terms, but if youssuns ever get [50% + 1] we shall refuse to play ball on your terms.”

    The majority vote for the GFA was in fact a majority vote for UI in due time. You want to try telling that to some of my lot.

  • weidm7

    It’s a bit off topic now, but the issue that everyone always misses is sectarianism. The UI vs UK debate isn’t really what it’s about, or at least is less important, it’s about two tribes, them and us. We don’t want a UI cause then themuns win, we don’t want a UK cause themuns win.

    In terms of ‘convincing unionists to vote for a UI’, at best you’re only dealing with one part of the problem. The lads at the Twaddell interface won’t be convinced, I would go so far as saying, maybe 30-45% of those from a protestant background now won’t be convinced, the lines dividing us are too deep. In the future however, we’re already seeing it, people won’t be them and us, they’ll be ‘whatever’, catholic or protestant, they’re who we need to convince. They won’t be unionists or nationalists, they’ll just be people. It’s their hearts and minds which’ll have to be one over and the way things are going, they’ll all be ‘northern irish’ with no particular allegiance to either side, which I think leaves it all to play for. Currently we see no real efforts to win them over, which at the moment seems to be favouring the status quo, but it’s a major cause of concern for nationalism that they’re getting bogged down in bullshit debates about flags and parades when they need to be strengthening all-Ireland bodies and creating an all-Ireland culture and mentality, getting away from this ‘Northern Irish’ mentality.

    I think SDLP supporter mentioned that the GFA says the North/South bodies are as important as the Assembly, but the N/S Consultative Forum isn’t even up and running, 15 years on, the Inter-Parliamentary Body only got up and running last year. And these are very minor when it comes to effecting people’s lives and building all-Ireland links. But like I said above, sectarianism is the key issue so you won’t see too many moves from SF on the issue.

  • Greenflag

    @ SDLP supporter.

    ‘‘demographics’ is a pretty shabby policy, or lack of it, and besides, it is such an unreliable mechanism.’

    It’s the policy of least resistance and takes place behind closed doors normally and between consenting adults .It’s also fun and good for health both mind and body .Now what could be shabby about that ?

    As to being an unreliable mechanism this is true particularly in the instances of the individual but given the condition of large numbers of people it’s at least as reliable if not more than the likelihood of any NI political party’s agenda ever being implemented fully given the limitations of the GFA .

    “I presume that what you mean, crudely put, is “outbreed the Prods”, which is closely related to “send them all back on the boat to Scotland”, school of non-thought?”

    Nonsense .In any event many unionists ancestry hails from England and even some from Wales and even some from the Pre Treaty (1922) Ireland now the Irish Republic .

    As my mum used to say the ‘poor have children ” the rich have racehorses and castles and prefer dogs to children ”

    An exaggeration of course but it was true more so in the past than today but still true both in NI and the Irish Republic and the UK and the USA where 20 % of children live below the poverty line while many dinks ( double incomes no kids deliberately choose not to have any ) .

  • I dont see how Demographics is of itself an amoral standpoint.

    The Good Friday Agreement was sold as either stepping stones to a United Ireland or obstacles to the same.
    it might well be possible to say in 2013, it was neither but this did not stop Sinn Fein, SDLP nodding and winking in that direction.
    Nor did it stop many unionists from garnering votes on the same basis.
    nationalists certainly bought that option more enthusiastically.

    maybe it is a series of stepping stones.
    Maybe it is a series of obstacles.
    maybe it is neither.
    but is certainly not both.

    Doing the groundwork…I suppose groundwork basically means softening up the other side.
    But both sides are at it.. Doing the groundwork. liberal unionists softening up nationalists……hooray for integrated education.
    They want to undermine the Demographics. nothing more nothing less.
    and too many nationalists think that by compromising with unionists that all of a sudden unionists will become convinced about a United Ireland.
    Nationalists dont actually have to do anything.
    There is as yet….no Conflict.
    Why play the Outreach game when there is nothing to lose.
    If Nationalists need to do anything at all….it is to talk to fellow nationalists as Conall suggested at SDLP Youth conference and at Rostrevor and possibly other places.
    I think we should respect our political opponents enough to live with them and not want to change them. And we should respect ourselves enough not to allow our enemies to change us.

  • “Nevin. Are you for real, are you being wilfully obtuse and do you have normal reading comprehension skills?”

    SDLP supporter, man-playing isn’t a clever move 😉

    You’re quoting from the Agreement, not from the Hume 3 strand analysis. His strand 3 is the relationship between London and Dublin with Dublin speaking for the island and Belfast excluded. I’m sure you can probably figure out why John’s approach was dumped in favour of a more inclusive approach.

    This quote illustrates the partisan Hume mindset:

    [Peter Brook’s] initiative used John Hume’s three-stranded framework for analysis: relations between the two communities in Northern Ireland; relations North and South of the border in Ireland; and relations between Dublin and London. .. source