Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Haass, our future and a plea form a frustrated politico

Sat 28 December 2013, 2:25pm

Dr.Richard Haass begins his final session of talks today to get an agreement from all of main political parties in Northern Ireland on flags, parades and dealing with the past. While his earlier efforts have failed to produce anything, he will be banking on the need for our politicians to demonstrate once again what great peacemakers they all are and not become an international laughing stock.

When we look back on this weekend in a few years’ time, we could view this weekend as the moment when politicians got their act together or when they once again dropped the ball. Our political leaders seem to forget the old adage ‘politics is the art of compromise’ and yet for such seasoned operators they seem adverse to make any real concessions at all. After nearly 7 years in government together the fact that Dr. Haass or Prof. O’Sullivan had to be called in to sort this out at all shows how toxic relations between the main parties at Stormont have become.

When the Executive was formed in 2007, I was genuinely happy that the DUP and Sinn Fein had won clearly, as I felt that had it been close like 1998 it would have just created instability. After years of false dawns and direct rule, I really just wanted politicians that I had elected to take ownership of the place I call my home. Nearly 7 years on, my sense of optimism has gone, and I feel like we are just drifting as our government lurches from crisis to crisis.

For me it is a sad spectacle to watch as even though I am not a fan of the DUP or Sinn Fein, I love the political process and what it can do. Watching declining turnouts, paralysis in government and teaching an increasing number of students who just don’t care about politics is something that really bothers me. I am not one of those who have opted out of voting or political activism as I just cannot bring myself to give up.

All I am asking for from those taking part in these talks is to throw people like me a bone. Give me something to hang on to and hold up as an example against those who say politics doesn’t work. Put these issues to bed and get on with governing the country for everyone. I’m not arguing that we should all be happy clappy and ignore the realities of life in Northern Ireland, but there has to be a better way for us to share this place going forward.

Like Terence O’Neill in 1968, this could be Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness’ crossroads moment when their success or failure could decide our future. I just hope this does not end up with history repeating itself.

Whatever comes of these talks, I think the fact that two people would place so much effort in helping us make this part of the world a better place is something that we should all be grateful for. Ultimately it is up to us and those whom we elected to finish the job and not pass up opportunities when they are presented to us.

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Comments (91)

  1. streetlegal (profile) says:

    This analysis is more than a little naive. Robinson and McGuinness each have a single priority which over rides all other considerations – simply the electoral prospects of their own political parties. That’s why they have found it so comfortable to share out the trappings of political power between them.

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  2. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Don’t hold your breath David. If there could have been a deal done it would have been done months ago.

    I think the important thing is that everyone is clear that if/when there is no deal, the blame is placed squarely where it lies.

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  3. David McCann (profile) says:

    That’s the problem-shouldn’t governing the province come before that?

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  4. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    It might do if we voted for politicians to govern rather than to declare what tribe we’re in.

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  5. Naive.
    In 1998, we voted for a stalemate. And thats what we have.
    If UUP-SDLP could not deliver or would not deliver (or as they would put undermined) on the follow ups….victims, Bill of rights, Cohesive Society….then its bizarre to think that a DUP-Sinn Fein led coalition will do any better.
    Even if they wanted to do it.
    As noted above, nobody is actually going to agree to anything that will cost votes. Any agreement will be seized on as a victory-defeat.To paraphrase from another context “we claim the victory …so we do”.
    We have a one-party state with a green and orange wing (as I think Mark Durkan put it).
    No point bemoaning falling turnouts because DUP-SF will only increase their percentages.
    Perhaps UUP, NI21, SDLP calling for a boycott of election as would resonate but necessarily this would be career suicides for honest decent people ….not to mention staffers etc.
    The Alliance Party seem too wedded to the Executive to join any such boycott.
    Is there a point where the Assembly loses legitimacy if turnout falls below 50% 40% 30%.
    With perhaps 40% of people already in the “none of the above” category….it would not require much effort to organise a boycott….if UUP, NI21, SDLP are willing.
    The flies in the ointment are Alliance.
    And a dilemna for the wider LetsGetAlongerist academics…..who pontificate about disenfranchisement. A suspended Assembly would open the door for hand-picked academics, clergy, trade unionists and women…..but only the right kind of course. ….”on message”.
    It would of course be ironic…even hypocritical if people bemoaning disenfranchisement advocated boycott of elections…..especially if they had an eye to the main chance of serving (lucratively) on a Government appointed Commission.
    Indeed we could all name some likely appointees.
    The Conflict Resolutionists say we have the wrong kind of politician.
    Actually we have the wrong kind of voter. People like….me.
    I happily embrace Peace.
    But my life is not in any way inhibited by The Past. Its important…but not THAT important. If Haass produces no Agreement on the Past, how will anybody’s life be adversely affected. Mine wont. Its just academic curiousity.
    Likewise my life wont be affected by agreement on Parades. Id have to live within half a mile of Twaddell Avenue to actually care.
    As to Flags…..I DO care. I care that the current arrangement at Belfast City Hall and elsewhere is ok as it is.
    Comparisons with the Good Friday Agreement are bogus.
    It brought Peace or Passivity.
    Theres no pressing imperative for Haass.
    We voted for a stalemate. Nobody won Nobody lost. That was the mantra that convinced or conned us.
    Go for a “settlement” and we cant claim that anymore.
    A Settlement imposes Victory or Defeat.

    As I have said before. The Decade of Half Centenaries was in the 1960s. The hoopla about a Decade of Centenaries has turned to dust. We are incapable of dealing with the 21st Century ….we certainly cant deal with the 20th Century.
    But talk of Terence O’Neill merely confirms that we have wasted the Post Conflict years.
    We are now in the next stage of the cycle….Pre-Conflict.

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  6. tacapall (profile) says:

    We are going forward David slowly but surely to the inevitable – Joint authority and ironically unionism is by its refusal to acknowledge the Irish identity bringing that very situation about. The Crown would feel more secure in the long term future with joint authority in place before any border poll, although it opens the door to Irish unity it also opens the door to the possibility of a large number of British citizens having the opportunity to encourage and promote Ireland rejoining the commonwealth or even the union. Nationalism is pushing for change while unionism is trying to hold back the tide. This charade my very well go on for years but eventually the penny will drop and unionists will be forced to accept the reality of their position in Ireland.

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  7. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “In 1998, we voted for a stalemate. And thats what we have.
    If UUP-SDLP could not deliver or would not deliver (or as they would put undermined) on the follow ups….victims, Bill of rights, Cohesive Society….then its bizarre to think that a DUP-Sinn Fein led coalition will do any better.”

    @fjh,

    The logic of The Troubles was that in both tribes there was ethnic mobilization led by the most radical elements. This ethnic outflanking of the moderates did not end with the deal in 1998 but continued. Now that the outflankers have obtained power they seem content to operate a sectarian partition and periodically rev up their tribes about the danger from the other side just so no one will think about going moderate.

    The science of conflict resolution is rather young and primitive. Consociationalism or power sharing worked in Western Europe in ideological conflicts that were not violent. It failed in the Third World in violent conflicts. Now it has been tried in two violent conflicts in Europe–Bosnia and NI–and been demonstrated to work if the bar is set very low. There is an alternative: the vote-pooling approach of Donald Horowitz in which voters are given incentives to vote for moderate parties by requiring a certain minimum level of support from both ethnic groups (or from areas inhabited by each of the ethnic groups). Unfortunately, it has not been tried very much. Thanks to NI and Bosnia it might get a trial in some future war zone. But NI is stuck with the parties and pols that it has.

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  8. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “We are going forward David slowly but surely to the inevitable – Joint authority and ironically unionism is by its refusal to acknowledge the Irish identity bringing that very situation about.”

    @tacapail,

    The main unionist parties have signed agreements that recognize an Irish identity, they just have not signed up for joint rule. They realize that trying to appease people who don’t believe in the legitimacy of a non-Irish entity on the island is futile. And joint rule will not work either if it is seen merely as the entry way for a 32-county Ireland without the votes. If the nationalists are patient and Dublin can run a competent economy than eventually a united Ireland will come. But trying to rush it –to act as the vanguard of history as Lenin would have it–will merely lead to conflict and delay the process.

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  9. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    Indeed, fjh, the people who moan most about our politicians are the same ones who most enthusiastically supported the absurd system which is in place and prevents decision making from taking place. In no part of the world would it be expected for politicians to be capable of agreeing on everything because there is a system in place called democracy for making decisions.

    If some threaten violent insurgency you do not appease them, you send the military to deal with them. Northern Ireland’s problem has been the control of security being dictated by Englishmen who care only about their own security, but indifferent to that of fellow citizens in Ulster.

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  10. Actually Doctor McCann I overlooked your reference to a “frustrated politico” . Are you referring to yourself here? Like myself , are you contemplating a career in politics?

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  11. tacapall (profile) says:

    “The main unionist parties have signed agreements that recognize an Irish identity, they just have not signed up for joint rule”

    Have they, when was this although they did not sign up for joint rule could you show me some evidence of Unionism recognizing my Irish identity.

    We have the unique situation where citizens of another country, those Irish passport holders born in the British governed six counties of Ireland, being recognised as, although not being citizens of the British state, nevertheless being allowed to be part of the government of the British state, we are just not allowed to express that Irish citizenship in public anywhere in the six British controlled counties of Ireland nor is that Irish citizenship to be allowed to be expressed or recognised in government buildings or departments in which Irish citizens have a full role in building the future of our country.

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  12. The science of conflict resolution is rather young and primitive.

    Yes, and it usually requires someone with a big stick to enforce a resolution, such as the US in Bosnia or Nato in Libya. Now the UK government doers have a very big stick but seems unwilling to use it despite a veiled threat earlier in the year that there would/could be consequences if the two main parties in Stormont didn’t move things forward.

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  13. There is no such thing as a “science” of Conflict Resolution.
    It is the adoption of a political stance disguised as Academic or (worse) a Moral exercise.

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  14. Alias (profile) says:

    The political system has (probably) failed to deliver progress but there is always the democratic system to fall back on. The core of a democratic system is that it is the right of the public in the final appeal to decide all matters of public policy in the common good. Therefore, if the political hacks cannot determine the contentious issues, those contentious issues should be determined by the public via a referendum.

    Apart from the politicians (likely) failure to reach agreement, some issues are too important to be left to the politicians anyway. That principle is already recognised in NI by the agreement that nationality and sovereignty should be determined by the public alone. It is not a huge shock to the system to extend the principle to other issues (even if it is just on a once-off basis) as other countries do (e.g., abortion, divorce, capital punishment, etc are issues deemed to be too important to the common good to be left to politicians).

    Referendum will also circumvent the impediment to political progress held by vested interests (e.g., various pro and anti-marching factions) and the clientelism of politicians by ensuring that contentious issues were not determined unfairly by undue interference or pressure from various factions but were determined by all voters in their collective interest.

    That way, at least, any objection to what has been duly determined by the public will be outweighed by the legitimacy of the democratic majority.

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  15. Greenflag (profile) says:

    ‘That’s the problem-shouldn’t governing the province come before that?’

    It should but it doesn’t . Never has you see. Even less pre 1969 or pre 1998 . This is as good /bad as it gets .

    @ FitzzJH ,

    ‘We are now in the next stage of the cycle….Pre-Conflict.’

    Pre conflict -conflict ‘d have said but at a lower level than pre 1998 and that only because most people from both traditions can’t imagine a re run – Not that that in itself makes such a scenario impossible-but it’s most unlikely .

    @ tacapall ,

    ” This charade my very well go on for years but eventually the penny will drop and unionists will be forced to accept the reality of their position in Ireland.”

    Years ? I’d have said another generation by which time there’ll be no more pennies to drop and demographic reality will send political unionism in Ireland into it’s final tailspin .

    @ Ayeyerma,

    “Northern Ireland’s problem has been the control of security being dictated by Englishmen ”

    We all remember when security was under the control of the Old Unionist Party . The B specials and old RUC are no longer for reasons we don’t need to dig up again. From my recollection Unionist control of security was the shambles that brought the “Englishmen and the Americans and the Irish ‘back in to the NI mess..

    ‘but indifferent to that of fellow citizens in Ulster.’

    In Northern Ireland you should say . But again you are a mile wide trying to blame the English .You should instead as a loyalist /unionist be extremely grateful for their patience and their subvention for NI and their intervention in 1969/1974 for without that the death toll would have been in the tens of thousands and Northern Ireland would have ceased to exist 30 years go . Look at the situation positively .HMG wanted rid of the province as long ago as the early 20th century . They still want rid of it . Can you honestly blame them ? Their efforts have bought the ‘Unionists ‘ 30 years to get their politics right . Looks like they might need 300 from this point but that as we all know ain’t goin to happen.

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  16. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ ayeyerma,

    “the people who moan most about our politicians are the same ones who most enthusiastically supported the absurd system which is in place and prevents decision making from taking place”

    Yes it is absurd but that fact alone should tell you what you already suspect but can’t admit -i.e that NI is an ‘absurd ‘ State . Not as absurd as North Korea or Somalia but absurd in the context of modern democracies in Europe bar perhaps some of the Balkan states .

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  17. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ tmitch57,

    “They realize that trying to appease people who don’t believe in the legitimacy of a non-Irish entity on the island is futile.”

    If that’s the case then why did they sign up for the GFA ( 51% of unionist s did )

    All the more reason to politic for the legitimacy of the future British minority of 12% or so in a UI -I’d have thought . Once again Unionist politicians get an F grade in political imagination /innovation .

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  18. Greenflag,
    Back in 1966, few would have predicted the next 30 years.
    We would have considered ourselves much too sophisticated. The he 1920s and 1930s Murder gangs would never return.
    Obviously I hope that Im wrong….but there is an annoying Conflict Resolutionist mantra …that we must not be “negative”.
    Time we woke up.

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  19. sectarianheadcount (profile) says:

    I’m sure there will be a deal. Sinn Fein showed in 1998 that its political principles were entirely expendable. Having moved from a united Ireland to a 2013 deal which won’t even allow the flying of a tricolour on any public building should just about complete the party’s transition.

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  20. Bangordub (profile) says:

    As always, Qui Bono?

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  21. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    sectarianheadcount,

    Why do you think it is preferable for republicans to fall back to promising things which are completely impossible ?

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  22. sherdy (profile) says:

    BDub – I hope you’re not advocating that Bono comes to ‘help us out’.
    He could talk non-stop for the next 20 years without taking a breath – or maybe he would bore us into agreeing to anything.

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  23. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    AYM:

    “Northern Ireland’s problem has been the control of security being dictated by Englishmen who care only about their own security, but indifferent to that of fellow citizens in Ulster.”

    The penny has dropped, has it? Northern Ireland is controlled by Englishmen, full stop. And that’s what unionists vote for, in exchange for the Englishman’s money.

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  24. David McCann (profile) says:

    Fitz,

    Nope I am not looking for a career in politics. I was referring more to somebody who comments on political matters.

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  25. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “They realize that trying to appease people who don’t believe in the legitimacy of a non-Irish entity on the island is futile.”

    If that’s the case then why did they sign up for the GFA ( 51% of unionist s did ).

    @Greenflag,

    You obviously haven’t seen opinion polls lately. Most nationalists have a more flexible attitude than yours. They realize that they are not voting (or won’t in the next referendum) merely for a flag, but for an economy, a political system, and the financial aid from London–or lack of it–as well. While nationalists might have a natural sectarian preference for a united Ireland (as unionists do for the UK) it is not an automatic given.

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  26. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “Have they, when was this although they did not sign up for joint rule could you show me some evidence of Unionism recognizing my Irish identity.”

    @tacapail,

    I can show you several ways.
    1) The parity of esteem concept allows for Irish to aspire and organize to become part of a united Ireland, as long as they do it in a legal manner. This is recognized as being on par with the unionist desire to remain within the UK.
    2) Symbols of new state institutions in the Six Counties either employ neutral symbols or symbols from both communities as in the PSNI badge.
    3) Irish are allowed to fly tricolors on their own property.
    4) Irish are allowed to have citizenship in a state that they do not live in. Failure to alienate the territory is not proof that the Irish identity is not recognized. If Mexicans come into the U.S. and refuse to recognize Arizona or Texas or California as American territory this does not mean that they are not recognized as Mexicans by the government. Those with a legal right to stay are allowed to stay. The same with Irish in NI.

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  27. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ tmitch57,

    ‘Most nationalists have a more flexible attitude than yours’

    That has’nt been my experience on slugger over several years .In fact I recall being accused of being ‘soft ‘ on unionism and unionists more often than not. As you’ve been on slugger just a short time you probably haven’t picked up on that .

    BTW the nationalist/republican aspiration for a United Ireland is not sectarian . It has nothing to do with religion .It has everything to do with practical politics and creating a practical working democracy on the island which would include the currently politically dysfunctional Northern Ireland at some point n the future . . I did’nt say a UI was an automatic given- nothing is -see Fitzjameshorse’s above remark re 1966 and a 30 year prediction .

    “If Mexicans come into the U.S. and refuse to recognize Arizona or Texas or California as American territory this does not mean that they are not recognized as Mexicans by the government. Those with a legal right to stay are allowed to stay.”

    ‘ Those with a legal right to stay are allowed to stay. The same with Irish in NI”

    When you make comments like the above you seriously deplete any reputation you may have as regards any in depth real knowledge or understanding of the politics of this island . The Irish in Northern Ireland are not ‘immigrants’ . They’ve been there since shortly after the last ice age i.e 7,000 BC .

    As you are into comparative international politics you could make a case for the NI British near minority as being ‘immigrants ‘ and compare them with your present day Mexicans in Arizona etc -absent 400 years plus or minus 50 for the more recent immigrants from across the channel.

    You’ll find I’m sure that the vast majority of Irish nationalists and republicans believe that these ‘Unionist ‘ immigrants have every legal right to stay in Ireland be it in Northern Ireland and /or the Republic .
    It’s even enshrined in our Constitution .

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  28. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Fitzjameshorse,

    ‘Back in 1966, few would have predicted the next 30 years.
    We would have considered ourselves much too sophisticated’

    Indeed and excellent point btw . Not just an NI phenomenon . Who in 1988 was predicting an imminent political demise of the USSR or the Berlin Wall coming down ? Closer to today who in 2007 was predicting the collapse of Wall St and the bursting of the property bubble . Not so called genius economist and Ayn Rand devotee Alan Greenspan anyway .

    As to the post conflict years being wasted -you got that right ,

    Look to the past and thank the DUP/SF/SDLP/UUP/AP for bringing NI as far as they have since 1998 .

    And look forward to a repeat performance for the next decade or so -is about as much as is realistically possible on the ‘good ‘ side .

    On the ‘bad ‘side of course that’s the part that nobody sane wants to even think about . Alas there are a small number who would look forward to another generation of senseless slaughter and destruction without batting an eyelid :( But again that’s not just an NI trait -Alas it’s part of the human condition and is why ‘politics ‘ even ‘dysfunctional politics ‘ is to be preferred to the alternative of conflict and war .

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  29. tacapall (profile) says:

    “If Mexicans come into the U.S. and refuse to recognize Arizona or Texas or California as American territory this does not mean that they are not recognized as Mexicans by the government. Those with a legal right to stay are allowed to stay. The same with Irish in NI”

    Tmitch thats a arrogant planter mindset you have. If thats your attitude to the Irish question then your part of the problem its your kind that encourages division. Do you have any inkling about Irish history or politics.

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  30. Greenflag….I am of course an elderly man.
    But back in 1966 we considered ourselves sophisticated. Back then I was travelling with boys from a “mixed” street in West Belfast to play football and even cricket….in Woodvale, Ormeau, Grove, lady Dixon, Botanic parks….much to the chagrin of my parents who remembered the 1930s.
    You could of course have added South Africa to the unforeseen.

    There are parallels with the 1960s. basically Nationalism pushing and unionism pushing back. Theres not much difference between the New Ulster Movement (then) and Platform for Change (now) and the inevitable divergence between liberal unionism and LetsGetAlongerism.
    back then….nobody within unionism wanted Reform “enough”
    And back then nobody within nationalism was satisfied “enough”
    I dont see any reason to believe that people are any different in 2013. Even the notion that the population are more advanced than the politicians is an old idea.
    When Push comes to Shove people will revert to type.

    The uncomfortable truth is that there is no mandate for “reform” . And no pressing need for DUP or SF to agree …the issues simply are not important enough. Thank God, the Past, Parades and Flags are not matters of life and death. So there is no higher Common Good that can motivate people.

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  31. DC (profile) says:

    Dear Haass

    For the purpose of the clip below Irish Republicans = Mexicans and UK Unionists = Americans just wanting quite naturally the USA flag up in line with national sovereignty.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yDmEn-H1mc&feature=youtu.be

    Like Americans, Unionists are all about unity, prosperity and freedom.

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  32. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “That has’nt been my experience on slugger over several years .In fact I recall being accused of being ‘soft ‘ on unionism and unionists more often than not.”

    @Greenflag,

    You may not appreciate this put most public opinion polls are considered to be more accurate indicators of mass opinion than the writings of self-selected individuals on a blog.

    “When you make comments like the above you seriously deplete any reputation you may have as regards any in depth real knowledge or understanding of the politics of this island . The Irish in Northern Ireland are not ‘immigrants’ . They’ve been there since shortly after the last ice age i.e 7,000 BC .”

    I don’t mean to imply that the nationalist residents of NI are immigrants. But some Mexicans seem to think that they have the right to immigrate without papers or permission because California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas were once part of Mexico (for about two decades under independent Mexican rule for than 150 years ago). If you and tacapail are consistent in feeling that NI is simply part of Ireland than residents of the Republic should simply be able to move from the South to the North without any visas.

    “Tmitch thats a arrogant planter mindset you have.”
    @tacapail,

    In America the planters were the plantation owners in the South. I’ve never had much sympathy for them.

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  33. WindsorRocker (profile) says:

    “we are just not allowed to express that Irish citizenship in public anywhere in the six British controlled counties of Ireland nor is that Irish citizenship to be allowed to be expressed or recognised in government buildings or departments in which Irish citizens have a full role in building the future of our country.”

    @tapacall

    Whilst individual citizenship and identity is recognised, the reality is that the state is defined by the majority viewpoint ie part of the UK. To argue for Irish citizenship to be reflected in government buildings with symbols of the Irish state runs contrary to the principle of consent that everyone signed up to in 1998.

    If one was thinking of designing a new NI flag then there would be a case for that to incorporate symbols of the Irish state such as the harp.

    There is a difference between flying the flag of the Irish state and designing an NI flag to fly that reflects the fusion of individual identities.

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  34. tacapall (profile) says:

    Tmitch now your just making yourself look more ignorant than you already are. You dont seem to know much about Ireland do you. Who mentioned anyone from the 26 counties coming to the British controlled six counties of Ireland demanding change. I was born in the six British governed counties of Ireland and by birthright I am an Irish citizen, I have an Irish passport therefore I am an Irish citizen not a British subject but I do like thousands of other Irish citizens in the same boat as myself whether we like it or not contribute through taxes and rates etc to the up keep of this state therefore we have every right to demand symbols of our identity be given the same recognition and the same legitimacy as those Irish folk who identify themselves as British subjects.

    Windsor when has this state been defined by majority viewpoint as being part of the UK, the GFA was an acknowledgement that each side was entitled to pursue their respective goals and aspirations by purely peaceful means but no-where does it say Irish citizens born in this British controlled part of Ireland must recognise the legitimacy of British rule until such times as the British secretary of State decides to allow us to test that majority viewpoint you seem to believe we already give. Why should we Irish citizens be forced to contribute through our taxes and rates towards the promotion of the minority British identity only.

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  35. WindsorRocker (profile) says:

    Tapacall,

    The reason the SoS hasn’t called a border poll is because everyone knows what the result would be and it would be one large waste of money. To suggest otherwise is fanciful.

    If participation in the Assembly and administration of the block grant isn’t a recognition of the legitimacy of British rule in Northern Ireland then I don’t know what is.

    This is half the problem. People need to stop deluding themselves and their constituents that they haven’t signed up to being part of the UK for the foreseeable future. If they were honest with themselves and their constituents then maybe we could get on with improving people’s lives. It might also make unionism more amenable to concessions such as a new NI flag rather than pretending we are part of some pie in the sky 32 county polity.

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  36. DC (profile) says:

    I actually think it makes much more sense to maintain two political systems north and south because it offers different ways of life here in Ireland.

    One Euro Land controlled from Germany and the other one Sterling from England.

    What’s wrong with a bit of diversity in Ireland? Who wants to be sucked into a 32 county polity joining up and falling into line with the powers that be on the continent?

    Is it not nice to have options?

    Is it not nice to have diversity, you have the tricolour in Ireland the RoI – then a nice British Union flag when in Northern Ireland?

    Lovely stuff.

    I just don’t know why anyone would want to put an end to that kind of arrangement.

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  37. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ tmitch57,

    “You may not appreciate this put most public opinion polls are considered to be more accurate indicators of mass opinion than the writings of self-selected individuals on a blog.”

    I’m aware of that . If you are referring to opinion polls in the USA, Britain or the Irish Republic . In Northern Ireland in particular as regards the constitutional issue I’d take the results with more than a grain of salt -certainly at a time when any such referendum is not imminent or seen as happening within the next decade at least. If a referendum on the issue were being held in 3 months time in NI then certainly an opinion poll or polls would be worth heeding or commenting on or even believing to some degree . The only poll that will matter will be of course the one on polling day whenever that is.

    As to

    “If you and tacapail are consistent in feeling that NI is simply part of Ireland than residents of the Republic should simply be able to move from the South to the North without any visas”

    I’ve been to NI several times and was never asked to show a passport never mind a visa .As to moving there -there are a number who have I’m sure just as there are those from NI who have moved south .

    It’s somewhat different from the Mexican /USA position as you may now realise . Both the UK and the Irish Republic are members of the EU so NI nationalists /unionists are free to move anywhere including not just the Irish Republic or Britain but indeed any other of the 27 countries of the European union .

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  38. Greenflag (profile) says:

    2 WindsorRocker,

    “People need to stop deluding themselves and their constituents that they haven’t signed up to being part of the UK for the foreseeable future. If they were honest with themselves and their constituents then maybe we could get on with improving people’s lives.”

    The only delusionals on this thread are those who believe that one half the population of Northern Ireland- the non unionist half i.e don’t accept that they are politically part of the UK . Northern Ireland’s republicans /nationalists are very well aware of what they signed up for .Some 90% of their voters voted Yes to the GFA . Unionist voters gave the GFA a 51% approval whereas a significant 49% voted against the GFA . Perhaps that’s where the ‘delusion’ re the GFA originates or the disillusion as it were .

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  39. tacapall (profile) says:

    Windsor now your taking the piss, a unionist lecturing others about whats a waste of money its a pity you dont use the same logic during the 12th when the majority population have to contribute to the clean up and repair costs to public and private property never mind the environment during that expression of your Britishness called loyalist bonfires. Why should we the majority contribute financially to cover the massive policing costs involved during thousands of parades expressing your Britishness while you go out of your way to be offended by any symbol of Irishness being displayed in this part of Ireland.

    Participation in the assembly and administrating whatever resourses allocated to us from the public kitty we Irish citizens contributed to via our taxes and rates etc is not an acceptence of the legitimacy of British rule. Its more an acceptance that you cant change nothing sitting outside the door. Republicans were begged to pursue their aspirations politically doing just that doesn’t mean they accept the legitimacy of British rule.

    “It might also make unionism more amenable to concessions such as a new NI flag rather than pretending we are part of some pie in the sky 32 county polity”

    Now thats the attitude that stokes the flames of division, you believing unionism has a god given right to be the only identity who has a right to decide whats best for all of us. What concessions has unionism give or could give that they didn’t or dont already have themselves. We’re not asking for concessions we’re asking for equal rights to express our identity as Irish citizens who contribute just as much to our society through public bodies and government and the public kitty as you do.

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  40. WindsorRocker (profile) says:

    Greenflag,

    If nationalists are perfectly aware of what they signed up to then why do they persist with absurdities like flying the flags of two states.

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  41. Greenflag (profile) says:

    At this point it may be useful to return to 1904 in particular to the preface of George Bernard Shaw’s play ‘John Bull’s Other Island.

    ‘A healthy nation is as unconscious of it’s nationality as a healthy man of his bones . But if you break a nation’s nationality it will think of nothing else but getting it set again .It will listen to no reformer , to no philosopher , to no preacher , until the demand of the Nationalist is granted .It will attend to no business , however vital , except the business of unification and liberation’

    This was written 17 years before 1921.

    And while less true of the Irish Republic today -it’s still very much true for Northern Ireland where as the world can see both ‘nations ‘ are not in good political or communal health and are not really interested in fixing their local social and economic problems but prefer to discuss the past and flags ad infinitum eternally .

    GBS were he around today could be congratulated on his accurate prediction.

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  42. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ WindsorRocker,

    ‘If nationalists are perfectly aware of what they signed up to then why do they persist with absurdities like flying the flags of two states.’

    They don’t see anything absurd in flying two flags why would they .What they see as absurd is flying the Union Jack 365 days a year . Most nationalists myself included don’t see anything wrong with the designated days temporary solution .

    Some may believe as I do that a two flag solution is a better temporary solution as it reflects the demographic and cultural reality of Northern Ireland in 2013 and it’s future .

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  43. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ DC ,

    “I just don’t know why anyone would want to put an end to that kind of arrangement.’

    Could be that many thinking folk don’t want to see or experience a repeat of 1969-1998 or the 4,000 deaths and the destruction and the waste of time and money that has been expended in keeping the NI State on life support .

    I’m surprised you haven’t sobered up yet to figure out the answer to your own question ;)?

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  44. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “They don’t see anything absurd in flying two flags why would they.” [sic]

    @Greenflag,

    Well for starters a flag reflects the sovereign status of a piece of territory. If NI were under joint rule then it would be natural to fly two flags. It is not. The GFA is a power-sharing agreement, not joint rule. If NI were under joint rule Dublin would be paying 50% of the expenses–it isn’t.

    To risk another analogy (since you used someone else’s) NI is like two children in foster care. They spend their time fighting with each other and telling each other how grand their real parents are in order to make up for the fact that they feel like orphans, unwanted and unloved.

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  45. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ tmtch57 ,

    I understand your background is academic /political science / comparative politics /ethnic conflicts etc and as per that viewpoint what you state above re sovereign status is academically and judicially correct.

    The real dynamic changing political world is a horse of a different colour and thats where the compromises and the practical give and take of politics is found . Once a solution is found by the politicians and/or the people the legal /academic community can then dress up the solution in suitably arcane language .

    As to Joint Rule (I’m not a fan of this cop out ) there are many on the Unionist side who are already convinced NI has joint rule minus the Republic’s 50 % contribution .That I believe one of Nevin’s main concerns re the GFA .

    Sovereignty is not what it used to be neither is ‘independence ‘ as many smaller States around the world are discovering in the face of relentless globalisation.

    As to

    “NI is like two children in foster care. They spend their time fighting with each other and telling each other how grand their real parents are in order to make up for the fact that they feel like orphans, unwanted and unloved.”

    You’ll have us in tears next -though whether tears of laughter or grief I can’t say -possibly both simulataneously .

    If the NI Assembly had to govern the Sahara Desert they’d have been complaining a couple of years back that they’ve run out of sand and need more .

    Orphans- my nether parts -Spoiled brats more likely

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  46. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “The real dynamic changing political world is a horse of a different colour and thats where the compromises and the practical give and take of politics is found . Once a solution is found by the politicians and/or the people the legal /academic community can then dress up the solution in suitably arcane language .”

    @Greenflag,

    In other words, you don’t feel obligated to abide by the terms of the existing settlement before you seek the next one by stealth and then claim that NI is ungovernable. The give and take was already in the 1998 settlement. Decommissioning and prisoner releases were supposed to occur simultaneously over a two-year period.. The IRA finally decommissioned in September 2005. The loyalists see Republican tactics as successful and therefore imitate them (a change from the 1912-14 period). If you want pro-union Protestants to defect and vote for a united Ireland in the next referendum you should start by keeping existing agreements. If you don’t keep agreements when you are not in the majority it is hard to convince others that you will keep them when you are are.

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  47. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    @Greenflag, I find it surprising that after all these years since the GFA and St. Andrews events, people still look at the same text and see different things. People like TMitch still fail to realize the IRA never signed the GFA, that was Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein promised to use their best efforts to secure decommissioning. That is what is in the Agreement. Now, either they did so or they didn’t, but that was what they were responsible for doing according to the text.

    As for the Mexican-American border holding any lessons for Ireland’s division, there are no parallels that I can see.

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  48. tacapall (profile) says:

    “In other words, you don’t feel obligated to abide by the terms of the existing settlement before you seek the next one by stealth and then claim that NI is ungovernable”

    Would demanding the Union jack be flown 365 days a year be considered as not abiding to the existing settlement.

    “All participants acknowledge the sensitivity of the use of symbols and emblems for public purposes, and the need in particular in creating the new institutions to ensure that such symbols and emblems are used in a manner which promotes mutual respect rather than division. Arrangements will be made to monitor this issue and consider what action might be required”

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  49. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ tmitch57,

    “In other words, you don’t feel obligated to abide by the terms of the existing settlement before you seek the next one by stealth and then claim that NI is ungovernable.”

    A false interpretation of my position . The terms of the present agreement are fine by me but they are not cast in stone . I happen to believe a two flag solution would suit NI better in the longer term and might lead to greater tolerance and acceptance by both communities of the ‘other ‘ . The GFA is an agreement not a strait jacket and if it can be improved on then why not .

    As to stealth ? No idea what you are on about here- where’s the stealth ? I think I made my preference very clear and openly . Two flags or designated days .Those who are protesting for 365 days flying the Union Jack are in breach of the GFA Agreement and out of line with flag protocol in the rest of the UK .

    “If you want pro-union Protestants to defect and vote for a united Ireland in the next referendum you should start by keeping existing agreements.”

    How individual protestants or catholics or atheists vote in any future referendum will be up to all the voters within NI . I won’t have a vote . I’ve stated on slugger many times that trying to persuade unionists of the benefits of a normal democracy and normal non sectarian politics in a new Republic would be about as useful and productive as trying to persuade our dog to learn Japanese so that it can converse with our neighbour’s Akita .

    A UI will only come about when ‘Unionists ‘ are outvoted in a referendum by a combination of Nationalists , Republicans and those ‘Unionists ‘ who choose to stay at home .

    IN the meantime the GFA is the only game in town -apart from Mr Haas & Professor O’Sullivan . I believe tomorrow is the deadline for agreement . After 6 months of bollixology from all the parties I imagine Messrs Haas and O’Sullivan will be delighted to put NI behind them as so many other interlocutors have done over the past 45 years ?

    As to NI being ungovernable ? If the governing parties have to bring in outsiders everytime they run into a problem then is that not an indication in itself that there’s something rotten with the State of Northern Ireland ?

    45 years is kind of a long time for a small province like Northern Ireland to be farting around looking for a permanent solution to it’s ‘governance ‘ issues . The Germans , French , Japanese , Americans and Russians sorted out their conflicts in 10% of the time it has taken Northern Ireland’s politicians NOT to sort out theirs .

    Now why is that . If you can answer that you know more about this island and it’s neighbour than I do

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  50. Morpheus (profile) says:

    So Haass has set a deadline of tomorrow for talks to finish and it turns out that the DUP don’t negotiate on Sundays! How is that for respect for the man who came here at their request to help us get our house in order because we couldn’t do it on our own:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-25541269

    Luckily the rest have manged to get it 80-90% over the line.

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  51. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Kevsterino.

    ‘I find it surprising that after all these years since the GFA and St. Andrews events, people still look at the same text and see different things.’

    I’m surprised that you find that surprising ;) That’s the ‘genius ‘ of the GFA .It is all things to all sides . Not quite Biblical in it’s facility for misinterpretation but up there with the best of them in it’s own right .

    In retro -it had to be -Otherwise the local NI dunderheads -politicians and paramilitaries would in the case of the former still be talking about talks i.e no politics and the latter would still be shooting and bombing each other to hell and back . Sad I know -but there you have it .

    “As for the Mexican-American border holding any lessons for Ireland’s division, there are no parallels that I can see.”

    I suspect our tmitch57 hunts east and west and north and south around the globe for parallels with Northern Ireland . While there are always some common themes to all conflicts they are all also unique in their own way .From my personal experiences around the globe I have to admit that NI is more unique than most.

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  52. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “As for the Mexican-American border holding any lessons for Ireland’s division, there are no parallels that I can see.”

    “People like TMitch still fail to realize the IRA never signed the GFA, that was Sinn Fein.”

    @Kevsterino,

    Someone who cannot see any connections between the two halves of the Republican Movement, between “the armalite and the ballot box” probably can’t see many parallels at all. Even Dublin wasn’t really convinced by the non-participant argument. During the negotiations leading up to the GFA

    The American Southwest and Northern Ireland are both cases of irredentism. In the case of Mexico this is a very subdued irredentism because Mexico is a poorer country with a corrupt ruling class that wants to export its poor class to America rather than solve its problems of underdevelopment. I should have said if groups like La Raza wave Mexican flags and declare themselves to be Mexicans. Than it would be a case of one ethnic group making a claim against another ethnic group that arrived later.

    As Greenflag noted, no two situations are alike in all respects, but analogies are made on the basis of a key point. In these two cases it is irredentism.

    “Would demanding the Union jack be flown 365 days a year be considered as not abiding to the existing settlement.”

    @tacapail,

    I don’t think it would be very smart or necessary, which is why I support Alliance’s compromise proposal. But since this is a nationalist blog, I’m primarily dealing with problems coming from that side. But if you go back and look at the threads on this topic you’ll see that I’ve been opposed to the flag protests and their demands.

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  53. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    @Kevsterino,

    I realize I never finished my sentence. During the talks leading up to the GFA Sinn Fein was suspended for about a week after an IRA cover group committed a murder. Dublin didn’t have a problem with this.

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  54. tacapall (profile) says:

    “I’m primarily dealing with problems coming from that side. But if you go back and look at the threads on this topic you’ll see that I’ve been opposed to the flag protests and their demands”

    Obviously you dealing with all those problems coming from the nationalist side with your colonial mindset I dare say you dont have much success. Big deal you dont support flag protestors and their demands but you do seem to believe Irish citizens living in this British controlled part of Ireland are foreigners.

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  55. Dixie Elliott (profile) says:

    Getting an American to head the agreement means the shinners can sell it to those who’d buy anything anyway, as not so much compromising any little they had left in the balls department, but as the saving of the peace process.

    We’ll be hearing, ‘this’ll allow us to move forward and our thanks must go to Mr Haass’ but in the background we’ll also be hearing flutes and lambegs being readied for the off….

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  56. DC (profile) says:

    Tmitch57, you’re right about it being a nationalist blog.

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  57. I’ve been around Slugger since close to the start and I’ve heard it described as both a Unionist and a Nationalist blog, many times. I have had myself described variously as either a unionist or a nationalist.

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  58. Nevin (profile) says:

    Some waffle from US National Security Council staffer:

    Initiating these talks demonstrated the commitment of the parties and people of Northern Ireland to move forward on tough issues. We are confident that a solution can be reached if there is political will on all sides.

    I don’t see a ‘move forward’ where the chief protagonists move in opposite directions.

    Richard N. Haass ‏@RichardHaass 2h

    have long said the only day of a negotiation that counts is the last day. today is the last day here in Belfast. Hope NI leaders seize it.

    Have panel members been largely sidelined during the course of the negotiations? Did they get much of an opportunity to engage with the various individuals and organisations who made submissions or was that role limited to the Haass team?

    Clarifying Goals

    From the discussion, the goals, interests and viewpoints of both sides of the disagreement need to be clarified. It is helpful to list these in order of priority. Through this clarification it is often possible to identify or establish common ground. .. source

    It would be interesting to see such a list from each of the five parties.

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  59. Nevin (profile) says:

    Joe, I think tmitch is just referring to this blog. Slugger has a range of bloggers who will each reflect their own particular interests/prejudices. I’d like to see less reliance placed on often mediocre material lifted from media sources. My chief interest is the quality of governance and ministers, politicians and parties aren’t the only players in this realm; we also need to pay greater attention to the activities of senior civil servants and quangos.

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  60. Seamuscamp (profile) says:

    David McCann

    You seem a little confused.

    “After years of false dawns and direct rule, I really just wanted politicians that I had elected to take ownership of the place I call my home.”

    Yet you say you are “not a fan of the DUP or Sinn Fein”. So who did you vote for? Did you muliple-vote in different constituencies? Or perhaps you don’t understand that in a parliamentary democracy you don’t vote for a government – just a candidate who may or may not succeed and whose party may or may notachieve power.

    Someone above uses the word “naive” but I think it is more like wilful blindness to the realities of an area which centuries of distrust, violence and murder have taught deep mistrust. To expect the current generation of politicians to achieve anything more than mutually reluctant tolerance flies in the face of experience. The next generation may be able to find real compromise.

    Oh, and I should point out that NI is not a province; the province is Ulster.

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  61. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    As so often on Slugger, the article by David is very good, and the comments by commenters very boring and pedantic.

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  62. With the exception of your comments, Charles, which are always so insightful, frequently witty and always a pleasure to read.

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  63. Morpheus (profile) says:

    And rarely over a sentence long :)

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  64. DC (profile) says:

    Well he added F all to the conversation this time round with his own boring one liner.

    The article by David is very good.

    Wow.

    Then next up, slag off the commenters.

    Brilliant work Charles. Come again.

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  65. sherdy (profile) says:

    We’re in the Haass-chance saloon and the barman has called ‘last orders’.
    Charles – boring and pedantic – you must have been reading some of your own work.

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  66. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ sherdy ,

    First taking the michael out of Bono and now poor Haas- if you display any more wit – you’re for the Apollo where I guess you’ll bring the house down if not the roof -oops ;) .

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  67. sherdy (profile) says:

    Greenflag, – When confronted by pompous (Ha)asses what else can you do ? As long as Michael doesn’t mind, of course.
    By the way, last time I was in the Apollo (and only time) I saw a brilliant production of Carmen Jones.

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  68. Greenflag (profile) says:

    As the name Haas means Big Rabbit /Hare in Dutch then perhaps the kindest thing to say might be to ‘let the hare sit ‘

    They might yet pull a rabbit out of the hat- It ain’t over till the fat lady sings and her appearance on stage may be imminent .;?.

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  69. Alias (profile) says:

    “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings and her appearance on stage may be imminent ”

    She’s squealing like a pig and you can’t hear her.

    Incidentally, there seems to be a gimmick of naming agreements after Christian holidays (The Good Friday Agreement), so if Haass aimed for (and missed) the Christmas Eve Agreement then he might still get the ecumenical New Year’s Eve Agreement. It does seem a waste to give up your holiday season for a gimmick but there you go…

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  70. sherdy (profile) says:

    Greenflag, – Does that mean he may be hare-brained?
    Hopefully we won’t see him back here in March for the title Mad March Hare!

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  71. drmisery (profile) says:

    Leave poor Charles alone. I must admit I was surprised at just how negative his one liner was and how a positive comment regarding the sdlp was not mentioned but Charles adds at least some short positive comments to the blog unlike the rancour soaked sour unionists who fail to contribute anything barr narrow minded bemoaning to this “nationalist” blog. Oh right my whole last sentence was indeed shite? Positive unionism, compromising unionist , pluralist unionism, pragmatic unionist, accommodating unionist…oxymorons or indeed possible. Charles, any one liners?

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  72. drmisery (profile) says:

    As a Catholic, I will happily inform those lucky reformers out there it is the feast of St. Offa on 31ST December.

    The Offa agreement perhaps?
    True bill.

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  73. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “Obviously you dealing with all those problems coming from the nationalist side with your colonial mindset I dare say you dont have much success.”

    tacapail,

    To fjh, CS is a “getalongerist.” To you I’m a colonialist. I just happen to believe in majority rule with democratic rights for all–which is why I support the GFA.

    “but you do seem to believe Irish citizens living in this British controlled part of Ireland are foreigners.”

    I never said this. The comparison with Mexicans crossing into the U.S. was unfortunate–I should have said Mexican-Americans. But the point was the same–as with La Raza in California and nationalists in NI both the ethnic definition is recognized and the rights as citizens.

    The basic argument I have with the Irish republicans is over the belief that the island of Ireland must be seen as a single political unit. In Central Europe when the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the German Empire collapsed at the end of WWI there were referendums in a couple of places in order to determine which successor state the population and territory in a localized should go to. Ideally this should have been done in at least the two counties with a nationalist majority that went into Northern Ireland and thus remained part of the UK. But under the unionist partition the settlement reflected majority will in 34 out of the 36 counties. Under the nationalist conception the united Ireland would only have reflected majority opinion in 32 out of the 34 counties.

    I do note positively that with the increasing openness in the Republic over the last 20 years that by the time a united Ireland is achieved it is likely to be in reality a non-sectarian country in its general culture.

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  74. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @drmisery ,

    ‘The Offa agreement perhaps?’

    An Offal suggestion ? Offa had a Dyke named after him not sure how he felt about that . St Offa was an Italian Abbess I read and then theres the OFFA messe in St Gallen n Switzerland

    Any further offas on Offa ;? I’m Offa now to hit the sack ;)

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  75. sherdy (profile) says:

    Greenflag, – I didn’t realise it was public knowledge that Offa was having a relationship with his dyke, but whether they were or not we should not be too judgmental. They were two consenting adults.

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  76. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Sherdy .

    He’d better watch himself . If he manages to pull a quickie fix stunt with this lot of shysters then it’ll be off to Israel.Palestine for his next high wire diplomatic act , After dealing with the NI lot Israel/Palestine will be a holiday of rationality ;) ?

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  77. Greenflag (profile) says:

    Sherdy ,

    Offa is deceased alas and the remains of his Dyke can be found here . :) Malcolm Redfellow is iirc the Slugger expert on matters re Offa King of Mercia .

    http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/offas-dyke-path

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  78. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Alias,

    “Incidentally, there seems to be a gimmick of naming agreements after Christian holidays (The Good Friday Agreement), ”

    Not just agreements also Rebellions – as in the Easter Rising ;)

    Still you have a point -I’d never thought of that aspect. They could have named it the “Crucifixion Agreement” which in retro might have been a more accurate moniker given the hassles it has given rise to since then -but no doubt the ‘Christians ‘ involved would have found the term disrespectful . Crucifying each other is okay though and any passing diplomats or British Secretaries of State .

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  79. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @tmitch57,

    ‘But under the unionist partition the settlement reflected majority will in 34 out of the 36 counties. Under the nationalist conception the united Ireland would only have reflected majority opinion in 32 out of the 34 counties’

    Has anyone ever told you that there are 32 counties in Ireland -not 34 and certainly not 36

    ‘I do note positively that with the increasing openness in the Republic over the last 20 years that by the time a united Ireland is achieved it is likely to be in reality a non-sectarian country in its general culture.’

    ??? I’d hazard a guess that the Republic today is less sectarian and more tolerant of religious differences than the USA at least in certain regions and areas . Name me any senior politician in power or in the opposition in the USA who has openly declared his/her atheism ?

    In the Republic several Goverment Ministers and a whole slew of politicians are and openly admit it without fear or favour . Our Tanaiste and Leader of the Labour Party did so before the last election .

    And in case you forget the UK is the only major European nation that still maintains that it’s Head of State must be a member of a particular Church (Anglican ) despite the fact that they now make up about 5% of the British population .

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  80. tacapall (profile) says:

    “The basic argument I have with the Irish republicans is over the belief that the island of Ireland must be seen as a single political unit”

    Thats where your wrong Tmitch, you have that beef with the Irish people. Its the Irish people throughout the ages who have either politically or militarily in one way or the other conveyed to the Crown that Ireland is one single political unit that is not the realm of the Queen of England. I mean why doesn’t the Crown take the hint, the Irish people are not British Irish nor are we Irish British we’re just Irish and only the Irish people own Ireland and we alone should decide our own destiny without inteference from the Crown nor its government.

    Are you trying to bluff through sarcasm that the Crown, the heartbeat of corporate UK is a non sectarian entity ? The same unelected entity that claims a right to have the last say on any legislation that the elected government wishes to make legally binding.

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  81. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ tmitch57 ,

    I’m correcting your gobbledegook above at 30 December 2013 at 10:32 pm as a seasonal favour just this once so don’t make a habit of it ;)

    under the unionist partition the settlement reflected majority will in 30 out of the 32 counties. Under the nationalist conception the united Ireland would only have reflected majority opinion in 28 out of the 32 counties.

    Fast forward to 2013 demographics with a retro fit to 1920

    From a unionist perspective a UI settlement would reflect majority will in 30 of 32 counties. From a nationalist perspective a UI would reflect majority opinion in 30 out of 32 counties.

    FF 2025

    31 out of 32

    IIRC Ian Livingstone predicted that within 15 years (and thats several years ago ) only 1 county (Antrim ) would have a majority Unionist population and even that would be of the 55/45 ratio .

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  82. TMitch57….to be clear I dont necessarily regard Comrade Stalin as a “letsgetalongerist”.

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  83. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    @Greenflag, I don’t expect anyone to learn much about the situation in Northern Ireland by studying the politics and demographics of the American Southwest. Shoot, you can’t even learn much about Arizona by studying California, let alone Texas. Texas might be as unique as Northern Ireland, or at least close. But so it goes…

    I remember the days when politicians and diplomats spoke of the need for constructive ambiguity. I still think it amounts to lying to people. The reason the GFA means different things to different people is because people were lying about it, constantly. Sorry, but I’m from Missouri and we try to speak plainly around here.

    At any rate, a Happy New Year to Sluggerites in every constituency on the globe. I hope 2014 goes down as the year in which we find peace without end, every neighbor a friend and every man a king. ;o)

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  84. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    @Greenflag

    Thanks. If that’s the case you just have to come that the Republic’s economy is healthy by then and you’ll have a majority.

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  85. sherdy (profile) says:

    Greenflag, -’Offa is deceased’, and I didn’t even get to the funeral.
    My only education on Offa, his Dyke and Mercia was picked up accidentally some years ago while reading a car magazine, one of whose road testers lived in that area and from time to time added to the atmosphere of his writing by inserting some snippets of that history.
    Isn’t it wonderful what you can learn by mistake, and yet if you study a subject it seems more likely to leak from your brain.

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  86. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Offa’s Dyke is a very good walk, I have done parts.

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  87. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Kevsterino.

    “I don’t expect anyone to learn much about the situation in Northern Ireland by studying the politics and demographics of the American Southwest. ‘

    True other than in the former it rains much more than in the latter and what the former call a UFO is known by the latter as the Sun or Sol.

    “I remember the days when politicians and diplomats spoke of the need for constructive ambiguity.”

    Constructive ambiguity = Fudge

    I still think it amounts to lying to people.

    Well yes and no . It’s got to the stage in NI where people sort of expect it . They know that plain truth doesn’t work or just increases the death toll and makes any kind of political agreement impossible .
    I don’t want to bore anybody with the history of constructive ambiguity in Britain or Ireland or between both but it’s been around a long time . The British Empire was built on constructive ambiguity as well as coal , iron and territorial acquisition , capitalism etc . As long as most Irish people spoke Irish the ‘truth ‘ did’nt pay . If Irish speakers spoke the truth (their perception of it -religious or political) they ended up being hanged or exiled . Eventually when the majority got around to speaking mostly English then HMG started to listen . However the Irish picked up very quickly on this ‘constructive ambiguity ‘ tool for resolving political /religious problems and very soon the pupil exceeded the teacher in the skill . So much so that 100 years of British political history was exercised with the Irish Question . It was often quipped (ambiguously of course) that no sooner had the answer been provided by HMG than the ‘damned ‘Irish ‘changed the question .

    The relevance of the above for the current Northern Ireland fudge is that the plain speaking Mr Gladstone was eventually succeeded by the constructively ambiguous Lloyd George who promised both Irish Nationalists and Unionists that each would have what they wanted -and he did this with a straight face .

    There are those who condemn LG as a liar but he was merely responding from his perspective in a constructively ambiguous manner to those who were prepared to become destructively unambiguous at a time when German industrial and economic power was outgrowing Britain’s .

    “The reason the GFA means different things to different people is because people were lying about it, constantly.”

    They had to – The spirit of the fudge is everpresent in the GFA and if there is a UI someday it too will have to contain some fudge

    ‘ Sorry, but I’m from Missouri and we try to speak plainly around here.’

    I know but I would’nt apologise for this geographical accident of birth . Now if Missouri had been located between say Germany and Russia (think Poland /Lithuania etc) or between Germany and France (think Belgium ) then the Show me staters would have learned that speaking plainly has it’s downsides ;)

    I’ll second your wishes for a happier 2014 to all sluggerites everywhere but count me out from that every man a king bit – ;)

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  88. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    I actually don’t think David Trimble or John Hume lied about the gfa in the referendum. I understood what it meant. I didn’t like parts of it but I cannot claim to have been misled.

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  89. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ tmitch57,

    ‘If that’s the case ‘

    No if’s thats just factually unambiguous .

    “you just have to come that the Republic’s economy is healthy by then and you’ll have a majority.’

    I think you meant hope instead of come ?

    I’m not worried about the Irish economy -I’m actually more worried about the British economy and it’s iffy future within the EU . I’m also more worried about the demise of democracy in the USA .

    As for being a ‘majority’. Never knew what it was to be a majority .I’ve always been a minority no matter where I’ve lived . It suits me just fine .As to a UI if it happens then fine – as long as nobody loses their life stupidly trying to win/prevent it.

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  90. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    @Greenflag, I find it strangely appropriate that these ‘resolutions’ are published on New Year’s Day. Reminds me of a quote from Twain (I know you’re a fan of his): “”New Year’s Day–Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” – Letter to Virginia City Territorial Enterprise

    Sounds about right for the document under discussion, does it not?

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  91. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    @Charles, I’m curious about your opinion of the personal note David Trimble revealed from Tony Blair. Did you believe it had the force of the text in the GFA/Belfast Agreement?

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