Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

In praise of dissidents – non-violent dissenters with ideas

Fri 20 December 2013, 10:14pm

Lisa McElherron gave – for me – the most heartfelt and memorable talk at this year’s TEDxBelfast event.

Belfast has a long history of dissent, and at times their challenge has been used for positive outcomes. Lisa spoke passionately about her life-long admiration for …

… those who speak out, who challenge consensus, who speak for those who can’t, and who go against the grain.

She finished:

Dissent. It’s our word and we want it back.

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Comments (27)

  1. between the bridges (profile) says:

    Sheep swiping against the flow are merely sheep who haven’t been fleeced yet…

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  2. between the bridges (profile) says:

    ophs, in the words of the immortal Benny Hill, moi means swimming not wemen…

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  3. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    Enjoyed that – esp the bigging up of Isabella Tod, a real heroine of Ulster history – and agree with her basic point (though as a descendant of Methodists, “dissenter” has more resonance than dissident for me).

    My one criticism would be in the Irish examples not to just reference the broad ‘civil rights movement’ type of dissent. It would have made her argument more persuasive if she’d taken pride too in pro-Union forms of dissent – the City Hall demonstration of 1985 being a great example of people (nearly everyone at least) kicking peacefully against arbitrary power and deals done over the heads of the people.

    Both communities have genuine cause for pride in their peaceful protests against the wrongs done to us. We need to trumpet this more and the TED talk was a great blast in that direction.

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  4. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    A very sweet young woman who comes across, I’m afraid, as rather more fluffy than radical dissenter. Like so many sweet young things she trots out the usual litany of her heroes – Gandhi (of course), Mandela ( goes without saying) and that clever woman, Aung San Suu Kyi whose sense of entitlement to power has so wowed the naif of the West, who collapse into multi-orgasm every time they hear the word “democracy”, forgetting that the leading democracy of our time imprisons more of its citizenry than any other, including China – and that chiefly to feed the demand for income from the investors in their For-Profit Prisons.

    Having been released from the confinement of her comfortable home and heading up the leading party in the lower assembly in Myanmar (or Burma if you prefer), Aung San Suu Kyi now waits expectantly for the election which will secure her the presidency, which, like Benazir Bhutto before, she believes to be her birthright, perhaps with some justification – her father was, after all, the founder of modern, emancipated Burma. In order to ensure that she retain the Buddhist vote, Daw Suu (or Aunt Suu in English) as she is known to her followers must not alienate them by being seen to defend the human rights of the minority Rohingya Muslim population who have, yet again, been subject to an appalling pogrom by the Buddhist majority. So, much like the Brits like to put the conflict in Ireland down to religious rivalry, so Suu Kyi has attempted to explain away the horrors visited upon the Rohingya as equivalent somehow to the fear of retaliation among the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists who are responsible for the pogroms.

    A word to the wise to Ms McIlherron – a good rule of thumb one might use to determine the real dissidents (which she so badly wants to be among) is to examine the credentials of their friends. So far Aun San Suu Kyi has received, among others, the following gongs and awards: the Nobel Peace Prize; the Sakharov Prize and the Congressional Gold Medal. One doesn’t get these unless one has proven their ability to co-operate with the powers that be and promote the cause of corporate power above any human rights whatever. Which is why, Obama got his Nobel Prize before he had done anything – they knew the guy was onside already.

    But what really puzzles me about Ms McIlherron is why, if she were seeking examples of self-sarificing, peaceful protestors against perceived injustice, she did not turn her attention somewhere more local, to the Maze prison where prisoners endured the most horrendous conditions in order to secure their human rights and where eventually ten men died on hunger strike for their demands. For however Ms McIlherron may judge the actions which led to their imprisonment, there can be no doubt that their protest was both peaceful and heroic as all the world but cruel Britannia recognised.

    Can it be an offspin of the prophet having no voice in his own country ? Perhaps, Ms McIlherron, if she happens to read this site, might let us know.

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  5. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    Whilst of course I am aware that some dog owners allow their mutts to defecate on public pavements I am however also a little surprised when I actually come across a steaming pile; thinking how anyone could think that such behaviour was acceptable?

    In much the same way when I read or hear Irish nationalists plop out their nonsense, such as nationalist terrorist criminals enduring “the most horrendous conditions” whilst in prison, I also register a mild world weary shock.

    But in so much as the little brown pavement drumlins do really exist in places I have to accept that some nationalists must in reality somehow believe in the claptrap they on occasion churn out.

    There were indeed “horrendous” conditions inside some prisons. However those conditions were the product of the convicted criminals’ own actions.

    It takes a particularly warped mind to decide to cover walls with excrement (although given that we are talking about murderers, gunmen and bombers the warping process was already well established).

    It must indeed have been horrendous for the prison officers charged with regularly moving the prisoners involved to new cells (where they then recommenced decorating the room to their unique take on interior design) to allow for the vacated cells to be cleaned.

    A movement (no pun intended) can be partially defined by the those it chooses to elevate to hero status. The iconic position within militant nationalism of sh*t painters and suicides speaks volumes.

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  6. SK (profile) says:

    “It would have made her argument more persuasive if she’d taken pride too in pro-Union forms of dissent – the City Hall demonstration of 1985 being a great example ”

    ____

    Yeah Ian Paisley screaming “NEVER!” would have fit perfectly between The Enlightenment and Tiananmen Square there.

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  7. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    SK,
    Not Paisley, whom few actually listened to, but the 200,000 ordinary people who turned out to say, “We exist and this is wrong.” Dissent if ever it existed.

    And our outrage being essentially about a major change made by elites to the way people are governed without their consent, I think the Enlightenment was certainly a background glow. Contrast that with the self-righteous stuff about “social democracy” coming out of the SDLP during that period, presumably claiming some kind of Enlightenment inheritance, at the same time as denying the NI electorate any democratic input into their own form of government.

    I don’t think the SDLP ever grasped that unionists, too, are outsiders, fuelled by a culture of dissent – to paint us as a lumpen block was to depart from reality, as well as being shamefully unfair – and it didn’t work. Happily the GFA, this time with our input, completely eclipsed the dark chicanery and cynicism of the AIA. Real, well argued dissent can achieve things.

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  8. Delphin (profile) says:

    You know SK its not often one sees Paisley and enlightenment in the same sentence. The reason for this escapes me at present. Any how, to brighten up these dark mid-winter days I have attached a little article on N. Ireland dissenters.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2007/04/these_men_are_peacemakers.html

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  9. Reader (profile) says:

    Rory Carr: she did not turn her attention somewhere more local, to the Maze prison where prisoners endured the most horrendous conditions in order to secure their human rights and where eventually ten men died on hunger strike for their demands.
    Since they were demanding a return of ‘Special Category Status’ – i.e. demanding not to be treated as ordinary criminals – it’s a bit late to be claiming they were protesting about human rights. Unless they thought ordinary criminals shouldn’t have the same human rights?

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  10. SK (profile) says:

    “Never, Never, Never, Never!”.

    I suggest you have another listen to the talk, MU, if you feel that (yet another) display of Ulster Protestant intransigence ties in with the theme she was going for.

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  11. SK (profile) says:

    “You know SK its not often one sees Paisley and enlightenment in the same sentence. The reason for this escapes me at present

    ___

    Yeah it’s a real mystery isnt it?

    The big man soaking a microphone in spittle in 1985 is not TED Talk material I’m afraid.

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  12. babyface finlayson (profile) says:

    Rory Carr
    I think you make a good point about the danger of making heroes. Invariably they have feet of clay.
    Are there any examples you yourself think could be held up to the light and escape criticism?
    The hunger strikers do not fit the role of ‘real dissidents’ very well either.
    For one thing you could judge them by, as you suggest, examining the credentials of their friend.
    For example Muammar Gaddafi, a man well acquainted with power but less so with human rights. Or their very own comrades outside the prison, well used to taking away peoples human rights with their own brand of power.
    Is that the type of friends you recommend?
    But of course the whole world, yes the whole wide world apart from the Brits, recognised them as heroic.
    A verifiable fact no doubt.

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  13. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, Mainland Ulsterman. The AIA ended the union. Thatcher’s supreme act of treachery was committed merely in order to please her American masters, but the enactment of the AIA represented GB telling NI that the union was an endurance test which GB would like to stop enduring, soon.

    Some forms of dissent are counted OK if you can invoke sanctified figures before whom nearly everyone feels obliged to bow down. Others are not. Thus completely unpercussive people who believe the Bible are stupidly apostrophized as bashers or thumpers, and excoriated by the liberal media.

    Beware of media saints who win things. Here is an interesting exercise for Boxing Day. LIst all the temporally eligible great writers who won the Nobel prize for literature. Then list all the temporally eligible great writers who did not.

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  14. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ MU ,

    You have to stop kidding yourself on this one- and I say that with due respect for some of your more thoughtful posts .

    ‘I don’t think the SDLP ever grasped that unionists, too, are outsiders, fuelled by a culture of dissent”

    Everybody then and now (outside of NI that is grasped the message that Unionists were/are outsiders in one form or another both in Northern Ireland , Ireland and even within the UK , –

    ‘ to paint us as a lumpen block was to depart from reality, as well as being shamefully unfair’

    True but the quiet ‘dissenters ‘ got lost amidst the ‘ what was and continues to be perceived as ‘reactionary’

    ‘and it didn’t work’

    Afraid it did and continues to do so . You admitted as much yourself a couple of weeks back when you commented on Ulster Unionists being forever the ‘baddies ‘ in the media , cinema ,literature etc .

    ” Happily the GFA, this time with our input, completely eclipsed the dark chicanery and cynicism of the AIA’

    The political reality is that the main Unionist party the DUP left the GFA talks in July 1997 and Paisley denounced the initial Downing St Declaration . I suppose you could call the remaining Unionists who stayed with the talks as ‘dissenters ‘ . But if so they were ‘dissenting ‘ from Paisley’s DUP more than anything else .

    There is a culture of Ulster protestant dissent -but it’s heyday was in the late 18th century .With the Act of Union enforced that ‘dissent ‘ turned to ‘reaction ‘ and it has remained so ever since for the most part . The only differences now between the main unionist parties is that some are less reactionary than others .

    As for being dissenters with ideas -give me a break – the last time any of this lot had a progressive political idea was back in the late 18th century :(

    Now this new Pope Francis may be a dissenter . Given that the Wall St Journal has already accused him of being a Marxist can be taken as a positive sign that the Pontiff may be horrors of horrors an actual Christian who is unhappy that the high priests of the Church of Mammon in Wall St & the City are content to grow ever richer while hundreds of millions in their countries will grow steadily poorer .

    The Pontiff may understand intuitively that such a state of affairs will only end in the guillotine or worse .

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  15. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “It would have made her argument more persuasive if she’d taken pride too in pro-Union forms of dissent – the City Hall demonstration of 1985 being a great example of people (nearly everyone at least) kicking peacefully against arbitrary power and deals done over the heads of the people.”

    @Mainland Ulsterman,

    Unionists like to claim that they arhae British until it is inconvenient. Thatcher was the British PM, the head of government of the UK–Ni is part of the UK. If ulstermen choose to vote for unionist parties rather than the parties that actually run the UK, that is their right. Just don’t bleat to us afterwards about being abused.

    “Both communities have genuine cause for pride in their peaceful protests against the wrongs done to us.”

    I’m going to assume that the reference here is to the AIA for the unionists. The “wrong” was to create a mechanism for input or advise for the government that 40% of the population of NI felt represented them to be able to act as their voice. There was no guarantee that that input would be acted upon or even listened to.

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  16. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    @tmitch57
    “Unionists like to claim that they arhae (sic) British until it is inconvenient.”
    No, they are British and under the GFA you are obliged to accept them as such.
    And still not seeing anything wrong democratically with the AIA? I didn’t think there was anyone left still defending that turkey.

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  17. Greenflag (profile) says:

    Nice TED talk by Lisa on dissenters in Belfast’s history. A history that is not well enough known .In the main I suspect because many modern Unionists are not too ecstatic about their ancestors more enlightened reputations .

    .
    How sad though that 200 years ago there was more ‘enlightenment ‘ in Ulster’s north east than there is today . Forgotten too largely is Donegal’s John Toland one of Ireland’s earliest dissenters

    http://www.leonardobrian.com/writing/journeys-of-janus/john-toland.html

    So where then are the real practical dissenting alternatives to the GFA @#%&*^%$ peace process ?

    There aren’t any . The GFA or a UI is as good as it can get .

    That’s your/our lot .

    Unless of course some Black Swan event like World War 3 or another Wall St /City meltdown or economic recession intervenes to save the day or more likely end our days .

    He who has a right to criticise (society ) has (should have ) a mind to help .

    Which is I think the true dissenter’s watchword .

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  18. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ MU ,

    ‘I didn’t think there was anyone left still defending that turkey.’

    It doesn’t need defending . The AIA ‘turkey’ evolved to become the GFA – otherwise known in scientific circles as

    ‘Meleagris gallopavo ‘ (Wild Turkey ).

    By now it’s more domesticated than wild . Although regression to ‘wild ‘ status cannot be entirely ruled out .

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  19. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    @greenflag,
    “As for being dissenters with ideas – give me a break – the last time any of this lot had a progressive political idea was back in the late 18th century”
    I’d agree not too much progressive has come from the main unionist parties. But against that, parts of the UUP for one have been progressive enough to get involved in Sunningdale, in the NI Assembly which nationalists boycotted, in the Mayhew talks and of course they were instrumental in the GFA, while so-called “radicals” found themselves outmanoeuvred and wearing the dunce’s cap in the corner. Unionists with a small ‘u’ were instrumental too in the formation of the Alliance Party, which I’d have said was a progressive step forward. And small ‘u’ unionists have been active in trade unionism and in the NILP.

    But unionists are surely dissenters if they are anything – dissenting against the dominant political movement on the island, dissenting against our own national leaders where they treat Northern Irish people unfairly. The thrust of the TEDx talk was that the habit of dissent itself was healthy – and I agree – the willingness to go against the flow. We are forever hearing we are on the wrong side of history, a united Ireland is inevitable etc. The very existence of unionism is an act of dissent against that bogus orthodoxy.

    The fact that the UUP for so long was the established party of government masked this vein. And there was of course much that was and is reactionary in unionist politics. But remember unionism is not a political programme – it is not the mirror image of nationalism. It has quite a different function – its role is the job of opposing the Irish nationalist attempts to impose its system – in which it has been successful. Beyond that, it doesn’t need to have a single programme particularly. So looking at it and saying it hasn’t been progressive is missing the point – it’s like having a go at Bobby Moore for not being a striker.

    It is unfortunate that so much time has been wasted in NI politics by the border non-issue, but that has not been primarily unionists’ fault. Irish nationalism has to take the blame for this huge pointless waste of time for politicians on both sides since partition. Stupid arguments we should never have had to spend so much time dealing with.

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  20. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    @greenflag
    I think ‘evolution’ isn’t the first word that comes to mind …

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  21. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ MU

    I don’t disagree with the need for dissent even more so in todays society where the consumer mass market and it’s political appendage -neo con ideology – have been dominant over the past decade or more . I’d suggest that never has the need for dissent been greater . I mean that in the sense of a dissent of ideas which would challenge the current economic & political orthodoxy . Both the left and centre seem bereft of ideas that would counteract the current trend which is leading to ‘Market Rule ‘ uber alles regardless of the impact on democratic societies .and the broad mass of people living in those societies

    We can’t all be dissenters . We can’t all go against the flow . Human nature or more properly human society could’nt function if that were the case .

    But there are times when ‘dissent ‘ to any orthodoxy -political , economic or religious becomes necessary if society is not to regress into ignorance , stagnation and poverty .

    If dissenting is based on fact -i.e scientific , economic , social or political then it will sooner or later become the new orthodoxy until such time as that ‘orthdoxy ‘ also sows the seeds of it’s own ‘dissent ‘ and also passes out of history .

    In that context I tend to view the late 18th early 19th century In Belfast and throughout Britain and parts of Europe as an Age of Dissenters . Dissent produced the USA and the French Republic and the Enlightenment . It produced United Irishmen , and although we don’t hear too much about them United Scotsmen and United Englishmen too .

    Your point re the ‘role of unionism’ and it not being just the mirror image of ‘nationalism ‘ would be fair enough if for many unionists ‘unionism ‘ itself was not a form of nationalism which it is , albeit British nationalism and not Irish nationalism .

    Certainly a UI is not guaranteed but neither is it a bogus orthodoxy . It’s been part of the Irish national political re awakening which began in the 1780′s in Belfast and which has continued since then in one form or another .

    How Irish ‘nationalism ‘ will cope with the political existence of a British national minority of 12% or so on this island is not one I unduly worry about . The Irish Republic in 2013 is not the same state it was in 1922 or 1969 .

    But I do eventually see Irish ‘ unionism ‘ passing out of history as a political force not simply due to demographics , economics and geography but mostly due to the past and present inability of the unionist political class to convince the rising nationalist majority in NI that their aspirations for a UI are somehow not in their interest.

    Irish ‘nationalism ‘ is a big church and it’s too amorphous a target for ‘unionism ‘ to oppose without coming across as ‘reactionary ‘ and usually at times when it’s the last thing they need .

    It’s a bit like the opposing team attacking just Geoff Hurst and ignoring his team mates as they continue to
    score goals .

    This is not going against the flow -It’s going over Niagara in a rain barrel ; }

    Being an atheist will not stop me from enjoying the festive season so I trust that being a ‘dissenter ‘ will not hinder your enjoyment of the next several days .

    BTW

    “I think ‘evolution’ isn’t the first word that comes to mind’

    Unless it’s unprintable -what was it ? Others may be intrigued ?

    .

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  22. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    @greenflag
    On ‘evolution’: it didn’t so much evolve into the GFA as get totally supplanted by it. Its main contribution has been to provide an object lesson in what not to do.

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  23. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    @greenflag
    “We can’t all be dissenters . We can’t all go against the flow”
    A great point – there is a logical, or perhaps semantic limit to Ms McElherron’s injunction for us all to become dissidents or dissenters. It relies on there being a ‘mainstream’ to kick against. The act of identifying the mainstream is actually where the central piece of dissident / dissenting analysis happens. My point about including unionist dissent wasn’t a purely facetious one – we see the nationalist orthodoxy as every bit worth kicking against intellectually as the old unionist hegemony used to be for nationalists.

    “But I do eventually see Irish ‘ unionism ‘ passing out of history as a political force not simply due to demographics , economics and geography but mostly due to the past and present inability of the unionist political class to convince the rising nationalist majority in NI that their aspirations for a UI are somehow not in their interest.”
    I don’t think unionist politicians are doing a great job of persuasion, but the polling statistics suggest that nevertheless, many people assumed to be ‘nationalists’ are not actually not that keen on a united Ireland. I think the figure for a UK vs a Rep of I future stood at 65 per cent vs 17 per cent in the last Spotlight poll on that:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-21345997
    Clearly many nationalists DO think a UI is not in their interest – and it doesn’t take many such voters to make switch of sovereignty a very distant dream indeed.

    Irish nationalism is predicated on the idea that there is a single “Irish people” which needs to be united. Yet it is now accepted (through the GFA) that this is not the case. So what is Irish unity really about? It seems to be about either (1) one group (broadly, the Irish) seeking to dominate and swallow up the other (broadly, the British) or (2) seeking to persuade British people to abandon their own country and embrace another (one which has been historically hostile to them.

    Even the 2nd more benign take on Irish nationalism is based on an ethnically chauvinist approach: that people out to be persuaded to change deeply-held and valid identities for the benefit of those who don’t fully accept them. It’s not only futile, as the last 100 years have shown, it is a profoundly aggressive ideological programme. This dynamic of Irish nationalist territorial claims, based upon mediaeval ideas of ‘rights’ to territory regardless of the wishes of people living there, has brought much fear, bitterness and mistrust to NI society. It is surely time now for Irish nationalism to start moving on and redrafting itself for the 21st Century.

    There is a better, more rational way forward for a more respectful, pluralist version of Irish nationalism, which is to seek unity of as much of the (self-identifying) Irish people as possible, while leaving alone those who identify with the UK. That is a decent cause, or would be if any nationalists espoused it. Unfortunately nationalism seems romantically fixated on the sea border, the “four green fields” like the Serbs with Kosovo. But like the Serbs, reality on the ground is a bucket of cold water to these reveries. Nationalism needs to to accept that “history” is not enough to justify occupying lands in which the people want something else.

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  24. tacapall (profile) says:

    “So what is Irish unity really about? It seems to be about either (1) one group (broadly, the Irish) seeking to dominate and swallow up the other (broadly, the British) or (2) seeking to persuade British people to abandon their own country and embrace another (one which has been historically hostile to them”

    What planet are you living on ? Abandon their own country ! I’ve never heard that being asked for, certainly I’ve heard Brits go home but Irish people have never asked the British people to abondon their own country and yes we have been hostile to the Britsh in the past but surely you can understand why.

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  25. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ MU,

    “we see the nationalist orthodoxy as every bit worth kicking against intellectually as the old unionist hegemony used to be for nationalists”

    Despite ‘unionism’s ‘ loss of hegemony the kicking continues although now via peaceful methods which I’m sure you and I would agree is to be preferred .

    But you don’t have to be a ‘unionist ‘ to kick against Irish nationalist orthodoxy -I would say that the most productive ‘kickers ‘ against that orthodoxy such that is have been nationalists themselves in all their variety .

    The ‘original ‘ SF orthodoxy in 1918 split post the Civil War and we’ve seen various factions across the republican spectrum -split and divide and recombine only to split again since the 1960′s.We’ve seen parties come and go (the Progressive Democrats ) and the former establishment party FF almost annihalated at the polls .

    Unionist politicians have largely stayed away from all of that ( not their business ) which left them to deal with just the 2 main ‘nationalist /republican ‘ tributaries in NI namely the SDLP and SF which though important in themselves are both just smaller subsets /branches off the main Irish nationalist/republican tree . This locally NI determined fact has of course skewed the ‘Unionist ‘ perspective on Irish nationalism generally.

    I would’nt place too much trust in those polls. I’d suggest that they are more indicative of a perception that the Republic’s government has been seen to be less than stellar in recent years in respect of the financial crisis etc – That and having achieved some political progress via the GFA have of course bought time for both communities .

    ‘There is a better, more rational way forward for a more respectful, pluralist version of Irish nationalism, which is to seek unity of as much of the (self-identifying) Irish people as possible, while leaving alone those who identify with the UK. ‘

    I agree or I should say used to agree several years ago when I favoured a fair repartition of Northern Ireland as the most rational solution . I recall being relentlessly attacked on slugger by all factions -republicans , unionists , nationalists and loyalists and others for being too ‘rational ‘ and not being ‘sensitive ‘ enough to local NI loyalties of town and country and parish .

    I was persuaded eventually of the impracticality of any such ‘repartition’ by Ian Livingstone the creator of the ‘Ulster is doomed ‘ website whose demographic detail in respect of every county , town and townland in NI showed that such a repartition was no longer possible and certainly not economically desirable for either community .

    So there it is .and stands for now .

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  26. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ MU,

    ” Unfortunately nationalism seems romantically fixated on the sea border, the “four green fields” like the Serbs with Kosovo. ”

    With respect MU you got that analogy the wrong way around . The Serbs in Kosovo are more comparable to Unionists in Ireland . Once upon a time Serbs ‘ruled ‘ all Kosovo but even earlier all Serbia and Kosovo was ruled by the Ottoman Empire . In any event once 20% of the Kosovo regions population, Serbs have been a declining demographic since 1900 and now represent perhaps 5% mostly concentrated in the North of Kosovo . Unionists now represent about 14% of the island’s population and are now even a minority in NI’s two main urban centres -Derry and Belfast .

    There is no romantic fixation on the sea border for the vast majority of Irish nationalists . It’s imo more a question of practical politics and economics and simple geography . Ireland is not the USA . There are no notions of manifest destiny as per the USA . The sea in any event only shines intermittently for a few weeks of the year . Irish nationalists overall are committed to the EU as their political and economic future at least until such time as when or if the EU is seen as ignoring the needs /requirements of it’s outer peripheral countries in terms of their overall economic development .

    It doesn’t bother me personally if in a UI that former unionists continue to cherish any links they have with the neighbouring via cultural , educational or other avenues . I don’t find the UK to be a ‘foreign ‘ country except in the most technical diplomatic sense which is an area which 95 % plus of people never engage with anyway .

    I don’t see any compelling reason why most ‘Unionists ‘ can’t in time settle down to life in a UI which has excellent relations with the UK . I accept of course that for a minority of Unionists that will always be unacceptable just as it remains unacceptable for some modern Serbs to accept that there is a legitimate Kosovar Republic and that it has a Serbia minority of 5 %.

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  27. Greenflag (profile) says:

    Lest I forget and given that it is that time of year -Jesus Christ too was a dissenter – albeit a peaceful one . Except of course on that occasion when he lost the run of himself and chased the money changing currency converters and lenders from the Temple .

    Anyway a happy Christmas etc to all peaceful dissenters and assenters everywhere . Meanwhile I must screw up my courage to the sticking point for the annual festive assault on the hapless Meleagris galopovo or turkey to all non Linnaens .

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