Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Community Relations in Northern Ireland after the Flags Protest – Roundtable at the Royal Irish Academy

Fri 28 February 2014, 1:51pm

ibis2Last night the Institute for British Irish Studies at University College Dublin hosted a roundtable on ‘Community Relations in Northern Ireland after the Flags Protest,’ at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

The discussion was focused around the findings of a report commissioned by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, ‘The Long View of Community Relations in Northern Ireland: 1989-2012,’ written by Duncan Morrow, Gillian Robinson and Lizanne Dowds.

The report charts changes and trends in attitudes to equality issues and community relations based on the Northern Ireland Social Attitudes Survey (NISA) 1989-1996 and the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey (NILT) 1998-2012. A summary ‘Research Update’ is available here, and the full report is available here.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Perceptions and fears around community relations remain vulnerable to political and social turmoil
  • Attitudes to mixing have softened since 1990 and have remained consistent. Attitudes do not of themselves enable change in behaviour and require a change in policy.
  • Young people are particularly vulnerable to a rise in fear and antagonism.
  • Perceptions of an improvement in community relations have been less marked in urban areas than in rural communities.
  • Prejudice against ethnic minorities is extensive and runs at an unacceptably high level across Northern Ireland. Attitudes among Protestants in urban areas are particularly hostile.
  • Questions of identity and constitutional preferences are partially malleable, with new and complex results.
  • The driving force of separation is political, cultural and national rather than economic. However the fear generated by poor relations reinforces the suspicion of sharing.

In his presentation of the results, Morrow emphasised that the data show that over time, perceptions and expectations of community relations change when there is cooperation in politics (or not); or when violence or the threat of violence seems imminent. Most recently there has been a drop in optimism about community relations among both Catholics and Protestants since the 2012 flags protests, as well as a drop in people willing to identify as ‘Northern Irish’ (especially among those with a Catholic background).

Morrow also pointed out that people’s attitudes towards ‘mixing’ (in the workplace, education, schools, marriage) are relatively moderate, with a steady and incremental increase in preferences for mixing over time. However, these moderate attitudes do not translate into changed behaviours unless there are direct policy initiatives, as in the case of fair employment or integrated/shared education, to back them up.

For Morrow, that puts the ball firmly in the court of policy makers to ‘translate values into progress’ through policy initiatives around community relations and mechanisms to manage flashpoint or trigger events.

The roundtable discussants were Morrow and Robinson, Prof Jennifer Todd (Politics, UCD), Dr James Wilson (Garvagh), David Hoey (Sandelford) and me, in my capacity as lecturer at the Irish School of Ecumenics, TCD at Belfast.

Todd noted the mixed nature of the survey results, including the evidence of a ‘healing process’ in the slowly moderating attitudes towards mixing. But she added that from a historical perspective the results were not particularly reassuring, noting that volatility around events indicates that significant sections of the community are ‘disturbingly mobilisable and polarisable.’ She urged further research on the cultural processes whereby moderation reverses.

Wilson spoke from his recent experience of research around the flags protests in Garvagh, which has resulted in a report for the Community Relations Council (co-authored with Will Glendinning), ‘Flagging it Up.’ He said that there is a sense that ‘loyalist paramilitarism is now institutionalised’ in communities across Northern Ireland, and that the flags protests have mobilised a new generation of ‘cease fire soldiers.’ He also reported a sense that loyalists feel Sinn Féin is controlling the political process, and perceive ‘encroachment onto our territory.’

Hoey spoke from his experience in business and economics, and noted failures in public policy around a range of issues – not just those focused directly on community relations. He said that ‘Government is failing in the basic role of government,’ unable to make decisions that inspire confidence in health or education, while at the same time ‘abandoning working class areas’ to be dominated by people who exert their control using violence and intimidation.

You can read a version of my own remarks here. I spoke about what – in an apparent policy vacuum – civil society activists might do in an effort to move community relations forward. I drew examples from my own work with Christian peace activists, including the recent 4 Corners Festival. I suggested activists can make some progress through creative, intentional efforts to cross boundaries, and that given that the ‘past’ was the area that seemed to generate the most agreement at the Haass-O’Sullivan Talks, urging policy makers to implement policies on the past might be a productive place to start.

Press the play button below to view a slideshow of photos from the event:

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Comments (33)

  1. Naughton (profile) says:

    Depressingly familiar on Slugger these days that a post on better community relations and how we can ‘get along’ gets no comments in 7 hours.

    It seems if the keyboard warriors can have a good old barney about them’uns they will rise to the bait, but trying to work out how we can make this place better for our kids to share isn’t worth a comment.

    What do you think?
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  2. Naughton (profile) says:

    ok 5 hours (misread), but still….

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  3. sherdy (profile) says:

    Its depressing enough knowing about it and reading about it without actually sitting down and writing about it.

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  4. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Naughton ,

    A nice post but nothing that is’nt already known e.g

    “Prejudice against ethnic minorities is extensive and runs at an unacceptably high level across Northern Ireland. Attitudes among Protestants in urban areas are particularly hostile.”

    It’s just hatred /bigotry transferred from those who retaliated against ‘bigotry ‘ 1968 -2008 i.e the Fenians – to new immigrants who are defenceless and weak . This itself tells any neutral all they need to know about the fascist bully nature of so called ‘loyalism’.

    ‘as well as a drop in people willing to identify as ‘Northern Irish’ (especially among those with a Catholic background)’

    Theres nothing significant in that finding -it’s just they’ve rediscovered that they’re Irish just like everybody else on this island apart of course from the minority who see themselves as offshore British .

    “and that given that the ‘past’ was the area that seemed to generate the most agreement at the Haass-O’Sullivan talks, urging policy makers to implement policies on the past might be a productive place to start.’

    With all due respect to the Community Relations Council when I read that policy makers were being urged to implement policies on the past I gave up .

    It’s the present and the future that policy makers need to address .The past is over and digging it up for forever reburial is a waste of time and effort Necrophilitis writ large :(

    ‘but trying to work out how we can make this place better for our kids to share isn’t worth a comment.’

    Whats with the trying ? . The answer is staring you in the face. Say goodbye to the NI State and it’s ancient hatreds and narrow minds . It can never be a proper democracy (they’ve been trying for a century almost ) .

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  5. Naughton (profile) says:

    Greenflag

    I guess I look at my working class catholic roots and my wife’s border protestant background with all the baggage we bring and think if we are able to bring our kids up without hatred then it is something worth fighting for.

    I have worked in areas of deep deprivation and bigotry, but always found that if patient I have been able to build friendships and maybe gently challenge stereotypes.

    I am not naive enough to think that this place isn’t terribly damaged, but I guess my complaint is that to give up and leave may be rational, but it will only condemn many others to repeat the horrors of the past.

    I am reading John Keegan’s history of the American Civil War at the moment and so many of the distrusts and prejudices rooted in fear are all too familiar. Perhaps you are right we should just write off this place (or at least whole) communities, but I haven’t given up hope quite yet.

    An old friend who long since left these shores often comments we are obsessed about the Troubles and the Border, but can’t talk about the real world of education, economics and health. Mick does try to get discussions going on these but perhaps if Slugger’s clickerati commented a little more about ‘real-life issues’ and less about them’uns it would be a good start?

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  6. DC (profile) says:

    Hi Gladys

    Perceptions and fears around community relations remain vulnerable to political and social turmoil – such as?

    Attitudes to mixing have softened since 1990 and have remained consistent. Attitudes do not of themselves enable change in behaviour and require a change in policy. – such as?

    Young people are particularly vulnerable to a rise in fear and antagonism. – please explain?

    Questions of identity and constitutional preferences are partially malleable, with new and complex results. – such as?

    What do you think?
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  7. The work of any organization that attempts to understand communal relations is worthwhile, even if their current contribution is not innovative. The work of the Institute for British Irish Studies, Dr. Ganiel and the Irish School of Ecumenics and the roundtable on ‘Community Relations in Northern Ireland after the Flags Protest’ should be applauded.

    Yes, the Morrow, Robinson and Dowds report does not break much new ground. However, until any society reaches the point where such discussions are unnecessary, reconciliation is often a process that requires constant re-examination of the obvious.

    The findings within the ‘Long View’ should surprise no one. Northern Ireland contains an unacceptable level of ethnic prejudice and separation that is driven by politics, culture and history is obvious. So is the fact that attitudes towards mixing has softened in twenty years. Segregated neighborhoods perpetuate prejudice, while the integrated areas of Northern Irish society – nightlife, most employment and secondary education, for example – can create cross-cultural friendships.

    Few societies that contain a mixture of culture and race are ever totally free of underlying tension. But the disturbing aspect of the debate is the disclosure that “young people are vulnerable..” The unfortunate problem for Northern Ireland is that there will never be true communal peace while it has a segregated school system, and there seems to be little resolve to change things.

    As a historian who studies Northern Ireland and North America in the 1960s, I can use the American South as a historical template. There was a reason that the white segregationists fought so hard against integrated schools. They argued that if blacks and whites sat in the same classroom they would be “duped” into becoming friends. More frightening, some black boys and whites girls would even practice miscegenation. Although that was a crude and racist way of stating it, their fears have proven true. Today, visitors to the South can not possibly conceive what southern life was like in the 1960s. Take Mississippi (where I have lived for much of the last twenty years). You would never guess that segregation ever existed there. Public life is about as integrated as it could possibly be and interracial couples are as common as anywhere else. (In the 1960s it was a felony to have sex outside your race). As a consequence, younger Mississippians generally have a more positive attitude on race than their parents.

    The problem that faces Northern Ireland in changing its school system is that Catholic schools and publicly-run schools are basically equal in the quality provided. In the segregated south, the schools provided black students were vastly underfunded and inferior and black school teachers (paid by a white-run system) would lose their job if they questioned southern mores.

    Maybe the debate should not be on how to integrate the two school systems, but how to get them to cooperate, to teach a common history and to create opportunities for cross-cultural exchange.

    And Mr. Greenflag: whats with the trying? – That is what responsible people do. And saying goodbye to the NI state will not better the proper democracy that Northern Ireland already has. It will please some people and upset others.

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  8. Expat (profile) says:

    richardjordan

    If the nature of the state and the imperative to perpetuate its existence indefinitely in something like its current form represent the main impetus for maintaining bigotry and division, then you are not right in suggesting that ‘saying goodbye to the NI state will not better the proper democracy that NI already has’. It is a very imperfect democracy and one that is hardly viable, as we witness from Peter Robinson’s and his mates’ recent antics which could threaten to bring down the devolved institutions.

    It is surely for you to say why we should continue to struggle as at present when we know this will never yield a satisfactory result. It has inevitably become a matter of biding our time until demographic developments force the issue. The PUL community have it in their hands to affect the course of events to their advantage now and for the future but even this is insufficient incentive to inspire their leadership to make a leap of the imagination.

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  9. Expat: say what? do you no longer live in Northern Ireland or are no longer named Pat? The DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein and SDLP etc are all complicit in perpetuating a politically divided system. Political parties have manifestos, but that does not mean they are bigoted.ar

    I have no vote in Northern Ireland nor do I want one. I research and analyze history and can only offer suggestions from that perspective. I assume your demographic developments and satisfactory results means a nationalist/republican majority and/or unification. If that is the only true democracy, than any Unionist/Loyalist political agenda can be seen as disruptive. Northern Ireland is a representative democracy where each voter elects a representative who act like – politicians! The DUP et al look out for those who vote for them. Every country that has a parliament or a House of Representatives have members whose antics are annoying to the opposition and who look at their opponents as uninspired.

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  10. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @Naughton ,

    I was not suggesting that you and your good wife /family should emigrate from NI .What I meant in saying goodbye to the NI State was in reference to the State itself in it’s present format being consigned to history and was not meant to be taken literally as in emigrating elsewhere .. I can see from a re read of my comment above that my wording could be interpreted in the way you have -and my sincere apologies for being less than precise in my comment .

    As to your points

    ‘I guess I look at my working class catholic roots and my wife’s border protestant background with all the baggage we bring and think if we are able to bring our kids up without hatred then it is something worth fighting for.’

    It is without question and I wish you both good luck and perseverance . You’ve probably both got a lot more patience than I would have in your situation .

    ‘I have worked in areas of deep deprivation and bigotry, but always found that if patient I have been able to build friendships and maybe gently challenge stereotypes.’

    I’ve worked with people from both sides of the NI community divide in different countries across the world and in the Republic .My personal experience has been that once people from NI leave the political cage that is their State they become “free” from the baggage . My answer to this conundrum is that

    a) Not everybody can leave or would even want to and as you say above -whole communities can’t /should not be written off from any moral, economic or political perspective .

    b) Following from the above I deduce that the ‘political cage ‘ is the log jam and until it’s gone the struggle that families like yours have to undergo will always be more difficult than it need be . That’s just my political personal opinion .You may disagree but thats how I see it .

    “An old friend who long since left these shores often comments we are obsessed about the Troubles and the Border, but can’t talk about the real world of education, economics and health. ”

    And your old friend is largely correct .For almost every issue be it in education , economy or health -has to go through the sectarian political prism before it can be decided . This is in itself ensures that necessary policies for the good of both communities are postponed , voted down or seen as favourable to themuns rather than usuns .
    This is part of the reason for the ‘malaise’ surrounding the work of the NI Assembly and it’s seeming powerlessness to do anything bar rubber stamping and being consumed with symbolic issues rather than ‘real ‘ issues that affect the lives of ordinary people. .

    ‘Mick does try to get discussions going on these but perhaps if Slugger’s clickerati commented a little more about ‘real-life issues’ and less about them’uns it would be a good start?’

    I hear you and my sympathies are with Mick in his and others efforts in that regard .

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  11. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ richard jordan ,

    Thanks for your post above . Bear in mind I’m non religious so my view on ecumenics would be that such folks mean well and their efforts can be applauded but they cannot do much in the way of resolving the political and economic ‘real ‘ issues of Northern Ireland or for that matter Mississippi . That said I agree that working for improving community relations and communal understanding can be productive . My qualification to that would be that that ‘productivity ‘ will be profoundly affected by the political environment in which such organizations operate .

    ‘ reconciliation is often a process that requires constant re-examination of the obvious.’

    And there’s nothing more obvious than re–examining the sustainability of the current NI state in it’s role of attempting to forge a ‘communal ‘ future .

    The USA is to be lauded for the very real progress in ‘racial ‘ relations in the American South since the 1960′s -yet Mississippi remains at the bottom or close to the bottom of the USA states in terms of educational standards and economic performance . I don’t know what the majority religion of folks in Owsley County , Kentucky are but they are 99.2% white 0.1% African American ( 1 in a 1000) and 0.7 % Hispanic, yet somehow manage to remain the poorest USA county or among the poorest for decades -which tells us that economic performance and growth and productivity are tougher obstacles to overcome than ‘race ‘ or ‘religion ‘ a fact which should be of note to those who would wish to be pre occupied with the ‘real ‘ issues facing Northern Ireland , and the Republic and Britain. .

    http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/01/11/in-the-nations-poorest-county/

    ‘And Mr. Greenflag: whats with the trying? – That is what responsible people do. ‘

    I was’nt suggesting you stop trying .I suggested that the obvious answer is staring folks in the face though I can understand why many have reservations .

    ‘And saying goodbye to the NI state will not better the proper democracy that Northern Ireland already has.’

    Here I have to disagree with you . Northern Ireland is hardly a proper democracy . Where is the ‘political ‘ opposition in the NI Assembly ? Why is power sharing mandatory ?

    It never was a democracy from it’s inception . 35% of it’s inhabitants (1920 did’nt want it ) and 75% of the population of Ireland (32 counties ) did’nt want it either. . Four of 32 counties had a majority unionist vote . As an historian you must be aware of the facts . Granted that reforms and the GFA and the reintroduction of proportional representation have helped bring about peace and the hope for further progress, but as we can see from recent and not so recent events, that NI is still a long way from a normal democracy . Can you imagine the House of Representatives in the USA or Westminster or the Dail having ‘mandatory ‘ power sharing ?

    ‘ It will please some people and upset others”

    True . That’s exactlly what happened in 1920 .The establishment of the NI State pleased some (4 counties ) but upset more ( 28 counties) . Which might have worked out for NI had it been left at that . Instead Unionists grabbed another two counties Fermanagh and Tyrone because a) they could and b) even if a majority in those counties were ‘nationalist ‘ it did’nt matter because the ‘atmosphere ‘ was unionist – as per Lord Brookeborough if I’m not mistaken .

    Fast forward to 2014 where the demographers tell us that both major cities in Northern Ireland Belfast and Derry have ‘nationalist ‘ majorities and that 4 of the 6 counties have nationalist majorities and that strong unionist majorities remain only in East Belfast , North County Down and South County Antrim .

    Even or especially from an historian’s perspective you can see that such a State as NI in it’s present format is a constitutional sandcastle awaiting the next tide .

    Which is why I made the point above of saying goodbye to what doesn’t /can’t work and instead face directly a future which can . I’m not saying it will be easy but then nothing worth achieving ever is .

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  12. Expat (profile) says:

    richardjordan

    The essence of the state from its inception has been the triumph and domination of one community over the other. Devolved power should never have been placed in the hands of those who inherited it, not simply because they were unfit for this (as they were) but the state itself was never going to amount to a viable democracy which fairly took account account of the minority interest. By its calculated abuses the state was an abomination, only belatedly dissolved by the British government, and to the horror of local unionists who evidently believed they had a right to continue indefinitely regardless of their activities.

    From what we see of unionist politicians today they are little dissimilar to the ones we knew 40 years ago. In spite of all the social progress that has occurred in Western society in respect of minority rights and equal opportunities, many of the unionist politicians today are hardly distinguishable for the rabble we see on the streets with their flags and parades. They evidently are living in times and fighting battles only appropriate to the long past, but unfortunately they see this as necessary to the maintenance of their identity and their continued exercise of power.

    I do not see that there is a possibility of an outcome acceptable to both sides in such circumstances.

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  13. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    When a community is constantly under attack from a terrorist insurrection or “struggle” for decades, their darling neighbours who vote for terrorists en masse (with those who don’t vote for terrorists more interested in sticking the boot in to those having to deal with it than joining in solidarity), when a media rarely present the views of the majority proportionally out of being PC, when your own central government take part in a wholly unnecessary appeasement process for 30 years resulting in the inability for a majority to democratically govern in its home territory, and when international interference has mainly been of the NORAID type steeped in ignorance of the very basic facts, then the only survival mechanism that makes sense is in-group solidarity and TRUSTING NO ONE from outside.

    Republicans and do-gooding “liberal progressive” pansies can shout words like “bigotry” all they like, but by doing so they are ignoring the entirely logical survival mechanism at play here within the Protestant community and not looking at these legitimate concerns. The only way to do that is to remove lack of trust and sense of real threat, and that simply isn’t going to happen if one-way appeasement policies after appeasement policies keep getting implemented and the gloating from appeased unrepentant Republican terrorists and their supporters never ends.

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  14. between the bridges (profile) says:

    Great idea to hold a community relations round table in Dublin, sure what odd’s if some section’s of the community don’t view Dublin in the same light as others do, no need to consider such people while your preaching to them to consider others point of view. I wonder if any of these so called lateral thinkers even thunked about that… DUH

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  15. Greenflag (profile) says:

    Aye yer ma ,

    “When a community is constantly under attack from a terrorist insurrection or “struggle” for decades,’

    You probably did’nt intend it but your quote above is an accurate description of the Northern Ireland nationalist community under the governance of a Unionist one party state 1920 – 1974 until HMG finally had to abolish the Stormont sectarian regime as unfit for democratic governance . Stormont could only be re-established with mandatory power sharing as Unionist politicians simply could not be trusted by either the British , Irish or American governments to govern NI in a non sectarian manner. Much less could they be trusted by the vast majority of the Irish nationalist/republican population of Northern Ireland.And quite frankly leading Unionist politicians from both main unionist parties haven’t exactly gone out of their way since Paisley was forced into resignation to -to win the trust of nationalist/republican voters .

    ‘then the only survival mechanism that makes sense is in-group solidarity and TRUSTING NO ONE from outside.’

    Survivl mechanism no doubt – but at what price and has it been successful ? .Look around you. . When you trust NO ONE from outside then you can hardly expect anyone from outside to trust you . This mechanism you refer to is the end result of a couple of generations or looking through a rear view mirror to see the road ahead . You could call it a kind of mIld paranoia at best and outright xenophobia at worst among some of the bottom feeders in the loyalist community .:(

    In any event it’s not a way to win friends and influence people around the world much less that half of the population of Northern Ireland that sees itself as predominantly Irish and not British .

    The legitimate concerns that Protestants have are exactly what ? Freedom to practice religion ? they have it – Jobs ? The playing field has been levelled for both communities . Economic growth -Both are held captive by Westminster economic and taxation policy .
    Right to vote ? Everybody can vote but almost half bother not to . Right to fly the Union Jack ? They have the same right as the English Scots or Welsh who fly it on designated days .

    To put it bluntly aye yer ma – it’s 2014 NOT 1960 . Unionist hegemony is not coming back to Northern Ireland -demographics is seeing to that and both HMG and the Irish Government and every Government in the EU as well as the USA will ensure that that period of NI’s history is over . It’s a done deal for anyone with their eyes open and their minds not shut .

    How to adapt to the future is the most important task facing Unionist and Loyalist politicians . But it seems as if they are not much interested in anything more than short term political survival which given the closing demographics will be beyond some of them .

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  16. Greenflag + Expat:

    Yes, Mississippi and Owsley County Kentucky have tough economic realities that are not based on religion, but are vestiges of longstanding economic systems. Mississippi is at the bottom in terms of educational standards and economic performance because it has few large cities, little industry and it contains the Delta region. The Delta is the one region of the state where race still matters. It also resembles Rhodesia in the sense that it has little industry, contains a minority of wealthy white plantation owners, their supervisors and other businessmen and a majority of unemployed/underemployed African Americans. After cotton farming was mechanized, black employment plummeted and has never recovered. The Delta also resembles Zimbabwe in the sense that blacks have the franchise, but political power has not improved their economic situation. Unless the area receives a massive influx of government aid or is socialized, the Delta’s problems are hard to fix. Take away the Delta and Mississippi’s numbers improve dramatically.

    Owsley County Kentucky also has an economic system that is hard to change. The only real sources of income are coal mining and welfare. Most inhabitants have roots going back generations and to most of them their only options are to live in poverty or move. There are few initiatives to establish any other economic activity. The industrialized areas of the Mid-West (Detroit and Cleveland, for example) all have substantial communities with Appalachian roots.

    Yes, I understand Northern Irish history. The statelet was established in 1920, which the minority community vehemently opposed. Under the circumstances of the 1920s and with Unionists threatening violence, and with no will power to do otherwise, the British government and the Free State agreed to partition. Unionists chose the option that in the long run has created the most communal tension. 4 counties would have established a stronger and longer-lasting protestant state and a 9 county state would never have lasted. But six counties – a compromise – created a province that Unionists could continue to control, but gave nationalists and republicans a large enough base to contest Unionist power. But it was assumed by both London and Dublin that Northern Ireland was not viable economically and partition would only be temporary.

    From an objective viewpoint, the policies of the British and the Free State in the 1920s is understandable. However, I am not arguing that the minority community should have accepted it. Where British policy is difficult to defend is in its lack of interest in Northern Ireland’s affairs until 1964. At that time, Paisleyism and Loyalist/hardline Unionist allies began to confront Terence O’Neill and the Northern Ireland civil rights movement. Westminster should have intervened in Northern Ireland’s affairs long before the mid-1960s, and/or taken a stronger stance in the late 1960s.

    I agree that in 2014 the Unionist majority has largely disappeared in most areas and that the Northern Ireland state is a “constitutional sandcastle awaiting the next tide.” The trouble is – and I am not saying anything that is not already understood – what will the next tide be? Just because Unionists dominated until 1972 is no reason to disregard their ‘identity’ as only something living in the past and assume that unification is the only answer. It might be, but looking at it as the only option perpetuates the sectarian divide. The next tide has to involve all opinions. Protestant identity is not the Rebel flag -something to boycott just to make a political point.

    I disagree with the contention that Northern Ireland’s political system cannot work or is not a democracy just because it involves mandatory power sharing. There is mandatory power sharing in Northern Ireland because its civil rights movement was too contentious and because loyalist and republican paramilitaries murdered each other for three decades. The American civil rights movement won because it was non-violent, white violence worked against segregation, and because in the long run (but not at first) the federal government intervened to defend federal law.

    Few countries can claim a ‘normal’ democracy in the sense that you both argue and which involves no power sharing of any kind. The American political system, for instance, does have power sharing. Laws are enacted with the approval of the Executive branch (president), Congress (House of Representatives + Senate) and the judiciary (Supreme Court). Any major legislation has to be approved by the president, the House and the Senate. This is power sharing and does not always work smoothly (i.e. Obama and the current Republican-controlled House).

    The disproportional vote that each state has is also a form of power sharing. The president is elected not by the direct vote of each American voter, but by the Electoral College. Each state votes for electors (their number equaling the total of House + Senate members) and to be president you need a majority. There have been 17 presidential elections where the winner had less than 50% of the popular vote: Clinton in 1992 + 1996, Lincoln only won 40% in 1860 + Kennedy had only 49.7% (Nixon had 49.6% and lost due to voting fraud in Chicago). Lincoln’s lack of a plurality scared southerners and helped lead to secession (but of course, was not the only reason).

    The Senate has 100 members, 2 from each state. Wyoming with 582,00 citizens has the same power in the Senate as does California with 38 million. The Senate can block any legislation. So there is mandatory power sharing. The system was set up to stifle the power of larger states. The D’Hondt method and the Good Friday Agreement also use the same principle – to prevent one group from dominating.

    I apologize for the history + political science lessons, but as a frequent visitor to Ulster, I wish everyone there the best.

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  17. Red Lion (profile) says:

    Community relations will only improve when societal change occurs that is away from the tribal/confrontational and toward the pluralist/progressive.

    What chance have the most susceptible communities got when the examples they are set at a assembly/societal level, are diabolical.

    When Paisley eventually stopped rabble rousing and went into a semblance of responsible government, communities began to settle..It can be done.

    Which is where NI21 come in – a positive vigorous reaction of trying to effect an alternative societal level way of doing things.

    Only when the DUP – SF carve up is exposed and reduced will the mainstream political atmosphere in NI take a leap forward, with improving community relations in its wake

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  18. Red Lion (profile) says:

    1st sentence; that should be ‘societal-level change’ as in governmental change. And so to bed

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  19. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Richard Jordan ,

    Thanks for your informative comment btw -no need to apologize for the history /political science lesson -almost everybody does it on slugger ;) I’m well acquainted with the Appalachian region/ the South/and the USA generally and it’s politics.

    Just a few points re your post .

    Northern Ireland also has tough economic realities that were historically based on religion – some might say still are to an extent . More importantly in 2014 some 70% of expenditure in NI is based on the public sector which of course means dependency on the state and impinges on economic growth in the private sector. Like the Mississsippi Delta /Ownsley County example NI’s economic problem is hard to fix . This doesn’t make the GFA political fix any easier .

    The local NI Assembly is bound by Westminster’s economic and financial policies which are in the main tailored to suit the interests of the City of London’s financial services sector. The rest of regional Britain takes second , third , fourth etc place in the pyramid of interests . Northern Ireland takes bottom place and is in itself powerless to effect any change in that hierarchy .

    The early Free State was also powerless to effect any change to the 1920 unilateral establishment of the NI State .For most of the 1920′s the Free State was preoccupied with it’s Civil War and it’s perilous economy . Indeed until the late 1950′s there was a concern not voiced too loudly in the public political forum as to whether even the Irish Free State /Republic was longer term viable .

    I can agree largely with your short ‘history’ of NI as described above including your point,

    ‘ Unionists chose the option that in the long run has created the most communal tension.’

    which begs the question re the GFA and it’s role in raising /lowering communal tension in 2014 ?

    “Just because Unionists dominated until 1972 is no reason to disregard their ‘identity’ as only something living in the past and assume that unification is the only answer.

    True but then I’ve never had a problem with recognising the British minority in Ireland /Northern Ireland or in any prospective UI . Some years ago I had thought that a fair ‘repartition ‘ of Northern Ireland would be the most rational solution but Ian Livingstone detailed demographics in his ‘Ulster’s Doomed ‘ blog convinced me that such a solution was no longer possible . HMG (both main parties ) have rejected ‘full integration ‘ of NI within the UK on the Finchley model .
    Ergo the only othe practicable solution out there is a UI. The GFA imo is not a permanent solution but it’s all that’s practically possible at this time.

    Your argument re the USA /power sharing and other democracies having a form of power sharing misses the fundamental fact that in these other states including the USA the very existence of the State and it’s current constitution is not in question and will not be decided by a referendum of it’s citizens such as is the case for Northern Ireland .

    “looking at it (UI ) as the only option perpetuates the sectarian divide. ‘

    Why ? You could have just as easily said that looking at the GFA as the only option perpetuates the sectarian divide ? or looking at full integration within the UK would /could create even more division ?
    I’m not and I repeat not stating that a UI is inevitable but it seems to me to be the only practical solution that would put an end in time to the ‘prisming of politics ‘ in NI via the sectarian looking glass .

    Lest I forget .Your earlier post re education in NI schools . Personally I believe that all state schools ( those getting any State financial support ) in NI and the Republic should be ‘religion free ‘ . Given that many people both Protestant and Catholic still prefer their children to have some religious education during school hours -I don’t see why this could not be organised on a per school /parish basis . Schools that are majority Protestant or Catholic or mixed would have to cater for the religious teaching via local ministers or priests or designated lay teachers authorised by their respective denominations .

    This could be introduced into any school schedule without too much interruption . The benefit would be the children would get to study the rest of the curriculum together and perhaps even avail of the opportunity to compare notes from their religion classes as to what they had learned from their respective ‘heaven ‘ magicians .

    Speed the day imo.

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  20. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ RJ -

    ‘The Delta also resembles Zimbabwe in the sense that blacks have the franchise, but political power has not improved their economic situation.’

    You are referring to the average black/African American or white in the Delta I assume . In Zimbabwe some chiefly those in political power have vastly improved their financial situation . President Mugabe reputedly has stashed $11 billion off shore . Just like Mubarak of Egypt , Yankuvich of the Ukraine , Abacha of NIgeria and many others- these political Madoff imitators loot their national treasuries and then via Swiss Banks and the professional services of the City of London and elsewhere manage to off shore their loot to the 100 plus tax havens mostly under the aegis of ‘Crown Colony ‘

    I’m going to assume that the political leaders in the Delta region are as abstemious in their public finance looting tendencies as the politicians of NI ?

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  21. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ red lion,

    ‘What chance have the most susceptible communities got when the examples they are set at a assembly/societal level, are diabolical.’

    Diabolical seems harsh . Self political preservation , power and money is what keeps them going . Not much different from elsewhere btw .

    ‘Community relations will only improve when societal change occurs that is away from the tribal/confrontational and toward the pluralist/progressive.’

    The current GFA has a vested interest in maintaining the tribal /confrontational model .Only when both the DUP and SF are much reduced in political power (think both as minority parties ) in the Dail will there be an incentive to seek coalition with more pluralist /progressive partners .

    But good luck with N121 .They’ll need it .

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  22. Mr Greenflag:

    Yes, the South/Appalachia is an interesting place – culturally, economically + politically.

    I agree to your comments and they all make sense. The economic and political situation in Northern Ireland will be difficult to fix. Having an economy that is 70% funded through government spending gives political parties – British and Northern Irish – too much say over how the money is spent. Yes, Westminster’s money comes with strings attached (and helps British financial interests when it can).

    So does the federal money that is doled out to American states. Local school systems must adhere to federal statues and directives in order to receive federal education money (just as states must impose the 21 year old drinking age to get federal highway funds). One of the problems with eventual unification is – who would pay for the public funding? The British government, Dublin? I am not saying that an agreement cannot be worked out, but it creates another problem.

    I do not advocate any specific system for Northern Ireland. Whether it remains a British province, is integrated into the United Kingdom, or becomes part of a unified Ireland it is not for me, an American, to say. I can only offer historical observations. However, I do believe that any one of these three systems inherently creates its own division.

    It seems that there is more than just Unionist/Loyalist resistance to unification. As long as some members of the minority community accept the status quo the Union is safe and the DUP + Sinn Fein can go on with their politics as usual.

    Personally, I believe that the Unionist/Loyalist community would be better off under unification, but it seems that the only way it would happen is if protestant parties get some sort of veto power over local + national politics. But this would create the same political divisiveness.

    As for the school system issue: I do not see how Northern Ireland can ever get rid of Catholic-run schools or get many catholics to attend protestant-dominated public schools. The solution could be (and you said much of this yourself): if a school wants government money it should teach a standard curriculum, minimize religious teaching (your idea made sense) and most importantly, be required to have mandatory contacts with the “other” schools – i.e. monthly seminars and sports etc.

    As for the Delta – “The Most Southern Place on Earth,” James C. Cobb – white folks do just fine. They do not need political power to control the Delta’s economy or did they have to loot the public good. Farming in the Delta is very profitable – Delta farm land is some of the most expensive and because of the Mississippi Rives it has very deep soil and its nutrients are depleted. Moreover, federal farm subsidies are – how should I put it politely – a generous gift. Blacks/African Americans are the ones that suffer. Drive through any town that is overwhelmingly black and you will find a run-down city with high unemployment, but a very nice white-owned home (not homes) on the outskirts. Even the juke joints that helped to develop the Delta Blues are full of crack (not craic). The answer – there is none under capitalism. The one bright spot in the Delta is Tunica (once the poorest county in the U.S.). The dozen or so casinos have created many jobs for black + white alike, and do not discriminate in hiring. They also provide the county substantial revenues, which is seems to spend on community development.

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  23. should never post comments when in a rush:

    my point on the potential of Unionist/Loyalist parties agreeing to to unification: the only way that protestant parties would agree to it happening is if protestant parties get some sort of veto power etc.

    the comment on Delta farm land should state: because of the Mississippi
    River it has very deep soil and its nutrients never deplete.

    casinos also provide the county substantial revenues, which is seemingly spent on community development.

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  24. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ richardjordan,

    ‘should never post comments when in a rush:’

    Almost standard operating procedure for me :( which leads sometimes to misunderstandings .

    ‘One of the problems with eventual unification is – who would pay for the public funding? ‘

    Economic growth of the private sector in NI and a gradual reduction of the way too high 70% state dependency figure . It would probably take a generation or so to get it down to 35% . The Republic got it down to 29% in the 1998-2003 period iirc and the UK averages close to 40% with Scotland around 50% and Wales similar . The South East London area is the lowest with other English regions in the North East and North West also above 40% . In the short term both British and Irish governments and the EU would have to assist in the adjustment .

    ‘I do believe that any one of these three systems inherently creates its own division.’

    These ‘divisions ‘ predate the political systems so the only hope to moderate , reduce , tame these ancient divisions is to create a polity where there is no ‘mother ‘ to run to and where politicians of all creeds and none and of all communities and none are judged and elected based on their achievements and contributions to the common good and where ‘sectarianism ‘doesn’t pay .

    Realistically I don’t see ‘unionists ‘ ever agreeing to a UI until such time as they are clearly in a voting minority in NI .Why would they ? Most people resist status quo change until they have to catch up with the change .

    “Personally, I believe that the Unionist/Loyalist community would be better off under unification’

    Ditto .

    ‘ but it seems that the only way it would happen is if protestant parties get some sort of veto power over local + national politics.’

    Although ‘protestant parties ‘ will probably continue to exist in a UI there would be pressure simply due to numbers to form working coalitions /preferred coalitions with parties in the Republic based on traditional left/right /centre principles . The term ‘unionist ‘ would thus be politically redundant . Given the increasingly regional distribution of the unionist vote within Northern Ireland then an arrangement similar to that which the German CDU has with it’s Bavarian Free State CSU party might work for working coalitions at the national level between NI parties and those in the Republic ?

    As to religious sensibilities the Republic’s Constitution guarantees freedom to practice ones religion and Protestantism and Judaism are specifically recognised .

    I think a case could be made for ‘institutional Senators to be appointed from the religious/cultural interests be they Protestant/Catholic or other major faiths with large numbers of members as guardians /protectors of religious/cultural minority interests in Ireland .

    But I’d personally not favour veto power in the Dail /Commons as I believe that would be detrimental to the longer term interests of Protestants and Protestantism in Ireland and ditto for the other faiths .

    tbc

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  25. Well, Greenflag, dude:

    I cannot find much to disagree with. Anyway, I am more comfortable analyzing history, which I understand more intimately, than the current state of affairs in Ireland, which I am unable to follow closely.

    Whatever happens, the Irish and the Ulsterman are guaranteed an interesting future. No future settlement will come without some dissension, and you are right, the EU and the British government will have to foot a lot of the bill.

    And yes, the current Unionist/Loyalist will have a veto, if they use their votes correctly and agree to the right coalition. If they play politics shrewdly enough, they might become a bigger pain in the ass (to nationalists) than they currently are. I do not mean this in the sense that they are inherently wrong in their current positions, just playing devil’s advocate and looking at the picture from the unifier’s viewpoint.

    Someday the voters in the North will vote themselves out of the United Kingdom and yes, the Republic’s Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Practicing a faith/culture and influencing public policy are two different matters. I understand that things have changed in the Republic, but there was a time, not too long ago when the social policies of the Catholic Church had an immense influence over Dublin legislation.

    Although it was a crude way of putting it, in many ways “Home Rule was Rome Rule.” Those of Irish protestant culture have memories of this, just as Nationalists rightly remember the discrimination of the Unionist administration before direct rule in 1972.

    I think it is interesting that of all the pro-Union political ideas presented since the Troubles broke out, in many ways it has been the Loyalist parties (PUP more precisely) that have been more innovative (read Tony Novosel).

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  26. Chris Donnelly (profile) says:

    Richard Jordan
    Enjoying reading your opinions and insights into our local politics. Always good to see new contributors willing to air their views.

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  27. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ richardjordan,

    ‘Practicing a faith/culture and influencing public policy are two different matters. ‘

    Indeed . I usually refer to this situation as the difference between theory and practice in the effect on people’s daily lives .

    “I understand that things have changed in the Republic,’

    They have and as always change begets further change .

    ‘ but there was a time, not too long ago when the social policies of the Catholic Church had an immense influence over Dublin legislation.’

    True . I can only think of two Government Ministers who confronted Church power in matters of social/health/education policy . One was Dr Noel Browne in the 1950′s a man much ahead of his time whose health reforms were scrapped due to RC hierarchical pressure . The other was Donough O’Malley the Education Minister in the 1960′s who legislated for free /non fee paying secondary and technical ( high school ) education in the teeth of opposition from the RC Church . He got his legislation through the Dail and Senate .

    ‘Although it was a crude way of putting it, in many ways “Home Rule was Rome Rule.” ‘

    Home Rule never came to pass so whether it would have become Rome rule in the same manner in which it did under the Irish Free State and later the Irish Republic is a moot point . Given that in 1912 probably 25 % of the population of all Ireland was non Catholic who can tell in retrospect ?

    The other factor to bear in mind is that at the time 1912 the RC Church was very much in the ascendancy and had been increasing in power and finance and influence since the early 19th century . The RC Hierarchy was very much part and parcel of then British establishment and had extended it’s reach-missionary activity -education etc across the Empire . The RC Church in the 19th century and later was no friend to Irish Republicanism .

    I’ve made the point before on slugger that had I been around in 1912 and had been a Protestant in Belfast I too would have seen Home Rule as more likely to be Rome rule than not . Back then it was a common British and indeed other outside view with much truth to it -that the Irish were a priest ridden people and totally under the control and political influence of their clergy . To a lesser though similar extent the same could be said for some of the Protestant denominations but as they were many and divided among themselves their overall political impact in a Home Rule Ireland would have been less than that of the RC Church .

    However my main objection to then Home Rule might have been more ‘economic ‘ than ‘religious /political ‘ . The then Great Britain was the world’s super power and some one quarter of the planet’s surface area was ‘red’ . I would also hazard a guess that if one looked at Ireland’s total GDP back in 1912 probably 50% plus was concentrated in the North East (Belfast region ) with less than one third of the population .’Unionists ‘ could have feared that if a HR government led to later independence then the North East’s then living standard would have been at risk ?

    The above is now history and as things have transpired the GDP facts/numbers etc have now reversed over the past few decades and Ireland (North and South ) are now facing into a more competitive globalised world economy as members of the EU .

    I just read this morning on the BBC that there are 6,000 German companies in Russia . There are 300 in the Republic – How many in Northern Ireland ? I’m sure if one does the same for American companies it’ll be a similar finding .

    I guess this thread is coming close to an end so I’ll second Chris Donnelly’s comment above and thank you for your contributions and informed comment re Northern Ireland and the Delta region of Misissippi etc and I trust you continue to visit Ulster as part of your history program .

    I’m aware btw of Tony Novosel’s work but have yet to read it – It’s on my list though . In that regard I’d recommend a read of Marcus Tanner’s ‘Ireland’s Holy Wars ‘ . Tanner who’s English has also written on the former Yugoslavia . The latter half of his book covering the period from 1798 on I found of most interest and in one of his later chapters he writes on the difficulties faced by Dublin and rural Ireland’s lower middle class and working class Protestants during the political upheaval of the 1900-1930′s period which is an area of our history that is not well known.

    The late Robert Kee’s ‘Greenflag’ history is also worth a read if you haven’t read it already.

    One other factor to note is that regardless of political outcomes UI or no UI or something else -Britain and Ireland are very close neighbours with much in common in terms of values , popular culture and familial relationships . These will continue into the future regardless of the politics of NI or it’s future .

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  28. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ richardjordan ,

    Your comment above hereunder quoted intrigued me somewhat . It’s something I might have stated myself albeit in another geographical context

    ‘Even the juke joints that helped to develop the Delta Blues are full of crack (not craic).

    The answer – there is none under capitalism.’

    In a later or another thread you might expand on your
    thought/comment above as it probably would have resonance in regions far beyond the Delta ?

    I’d have said there is none (answer ) under financial sector led capitalism which is the current American format as opposed to the Chinese ‘authoritarian capitalism ‘

    Whether it’s the Delta or the North East of England or Northern Ireland or in other regions of the developed world it seems as if the combined effects of financial sector led capitalism , globalisation , robotics , the internet , etc etc have all led to increased productivity over the past couple of decades with little of that extra productivity trickling down to average workers . Most has remained in the hands of the 1% :(

    Anyway thats my lot for now . however will read all other posts on this thread .

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  29. Chris Donnelly + Greenflag:

    Thank you for your comments. I hope to make it back to Northern Ireland by next January in order to finish a second book. It is on Paisley + his North American Calvinist political allies and their opposition to civil rights.

    There seems to be a good understanding of the formation of civil rights groups in NI such as the Campaign for Social Justice and NICRA, although the roots of the NI civil rights movement extends much further back and research must be done on it.

    Dating the formation of the American civil rights movement is also problematic – did it start because of the Brown decision, the Montgomery Busy Boycott or was it earlier? – say, the formation of the NAACP in 1909, the Emancipation Proclamation/Reconstruction of the South or when the first African slave disembarked onto the North American shores?

    Greenflag: your comments on Home Rule are well argued and I agree with the general context. The history of Ireland + the Northern Ireland Troubles have been a battle over political identity and determination. But they have also been religious struggle as well (at least to some). Paisleyism + the policies of the Catholic hierarchy, for example, were not necessarily about converting others to their views on worship + salvation but asserting their religiosity into Northern Irish social mores. However, it seems that the current division between protestant/catholic – unionist/nationalist in the north has hardened into purely cultural and political stances. One reason (among many) that Paisley went into government with Sinn Fein, when he knew it would make him unpopular with Free Presbyterians, is that he knew he could no longer wave the KJV Bible at his political/Christian + cultural opponents.

    I am well aware of Browne’s Mother + Child Scheme, although I am not sure who Donough O’Malley was (but will find out).

    Your comments on Home Rule make sense. Opposition to Home Rule was just as much economic as political. The British government had no answer to the Ulster Volunteers + their threat of violence, and the Catholic Church wanted to maintain its position in Ireland and throughout the Empire. Moreover, the unionists had too much support from the British establishment + Army as Home Rule looked like the first step towards the break-up of the British Empire. And the Empire was in many ways all about exploiting colonial resources and creating markets for British capital.

    As for the Delta: my point is that because there are few economic possibilities for African Americans, the option to most is to either leave, struggle financially and/or do drugs. The juke joints are just a sad reflection of this. Usually small music halls, juke joints could have been exploited to attract tourists. Not too many years ago, whites would go to them. Hell, before country + western became the crap it is today, black guys would go listen to country. Some of the older country songs can be described as country + western, but some, like Hank Williams is more accurately country + blues. However, blues musicians will no longer play juke joints as they are too dangerous. The ones that still exist are nothing but gang and drug hangouts. Beale Street in Memphis and blues clubs in Chicago are very popular, but the Delta cannot exploit its own legacy.

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  30. Greenflag (profile) says:

    RJ . You may have seen this report if not it gives a summary . Sorry to hear of the crack/drugs and yes wherever theres poverty -predators take advantage -the Delta is not alone in that regard .

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/travel/driving-the-juke-joint-trail.html?_r=0

    I like Old time Appalachian music – Alison Krauss & Union station -Boogertown gap and been to Nashville and New Orleans .

    I hear you re the lost potential but perhaps it’s not all gone yet and theres always hope for revival . Irish traditional music was in the doldrums in the 1950′s but there was a revival in the 1960′s which led to various new strands developing and widening the appeal . The Dubliners , Chieftains among the more famous .

    For one Dubliner the infamous Luke Kelly his entry into the folk music of his native town and country ironically began in Newcastle in the NE of England to which he had emigrated in the mid 1950′s . He used to frequent a particular jazz club with some friends and one of them recommended that for a change they should go to an English folk club which they did . One of the artists sang ‘The Ould Triangle ‘ which has Dublin /Brendan Behan refs – a prison dirge if ever there was one and Kelly became hooked on the genre. He returned to Dublin and the rest is I guess music /folk history .

    BTW -Garth Brooks has sold 400,000 tickets here for his comeback series in Dublin’s Croke Park . Amazing .

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26463114

    From one extreme to the other ?

    Good luck with your research and book . Which Paisley ? They say there were 8 of them ;) ? over the course of his long political career .

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  31. GF:

    Thanks for the link. Good article, although somewhat limited. The Delta Blues will probably never make a revival like Irish traditional music did – not enough young people into it. Rhythm + Blues maybe. I have a friend in Clemson SC who plays in a bluegrass band, and students there will listen to hillbilly music. Different style, but same struggle.

    Which Paisley – pretty much all of him, but more specifically during the 1950s/1960s.

    Well, on to another conversation. Hope to talk again.

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  32. Greenflag (profile) says:

    I look forward to your future contributions as I’m sure will many others on slugger – And thats an intriguing thought btw

    ‘The answer – there is none under capitalism.’’

    If not then what ?

    And not just for the Delta .

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  33. Well, Greenflag + y’all:

    I look forward to more Slugger discussions.

    There is no universal economic answer. Different societies require different solutions, and no system works the same everywhere. This is true today and has been true throughout history. Social Democracy seems to work well for Europe, while the Federal Reserve Bank/Treasury Department/federal government-controlled capitalism fits much of the United States. But the system can fail: people in Appalachia and many urban ghettos (i.e. Detroit) would not survive without massive federal welfare. But because the coal regions of Kentucky are poor, does not mean Louisville or Lexington is impoverished. Kentucky’s Appalachia and the inner city north cannot be socialized while state around it and the rest of the country remains quasi-capitalist.

    This is true of the Delta. The region cannot turn its back on a feudal-based capitalism and white economic power can not be forced to share its wealth unless it becomes national policy.

    It is also ironic that the success of the civil rights movement helps to keep the blacks of the Delta poor.

    African Americans won their civil rights because they chose non-violence and they demanded to be equal consideration as Americans. Segregationists never questioned this. They expected their ‘coloreds” to be patriotic,although second class citizens. Whites actually believed that segregation was what blacks wanted and made for a God-ordained orderly society.

    A majority of white people outside the South felt the same way. Many areas of the north had economic segregation. Only areas that had few African Americans were truly integrated and where blacks had substantial rights.

    The civil rights movement proved that blacks did not support segregation. Moreover, it was white violence – shown on TV – that changed white opinion, and which forced the federal government to act. When Washington did react (Civil Rights Act 1964, Voting Rights Act 1965) it did so forcefully, and segregation was finished.

    The Northern Ireland civil rights movement was not so lucky. Although the Unionist – civil rights confrontations forced Westminster to insist on reforms, Republican and Loyalist violence, Paisleyite agitation and a pathetic response from the British government (and way too late in coming) ensured that Northern Ireland would transgress into thirty years of sectarian conflict.

    So while the Mississippi of Emmit Till (1955), James Meredith/Ole Miss (1962), the Philadelphia murders (1964) and Vernon Dahmer (1967) no longer exists, the blacks in the Delta languish. This is not only because the state does not have the resources or the will power to do anything about it.

    After the Civil/Voting Rights Acts were passed, the movement split and white activists turned to women’s + gays rights and against Vietnam. Many black activists turned to black power, and in the case of MLK, towards the North. Because America “settled its civil rights issue” and because there is no longer violence in the region, the Delta it is no longer a civil rights, but an economic development issue. This is the responsibility of local and state officials and in the rest of America, progressives have moved onto other things. Hey, the U. S. is the country that elected a black president and hell, Mississippi is Mississippi and will always lag behind the rest of the country. So on with climate change, the Affordable Health Care Act etc.

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