McGuinness trying to assure ordinary unionists that he recognises their Britishness?

5 views

Can’t have been easy for Martin to that Royal Banquet. He’s never struck me as the Black Tie type. But clearly there was method in his constituional madness. One, not going would have been a step back from the last time. Doing it, as Tom Kelly points out allows them to project a statesman like image:

The debacle over the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall hurt many rank and file unionists and whilst Alliance got most of the blame for letting it happen, Sinn Fein who like to engage in gesture politics has been looking for opportunities ever since to assuage ordinary unionists that they recognise their Britishness. So the first ever-official state visit by an Irish President to Britain is just the type of opportunity they have been looking for. The current tetchiness of the strained relationship between Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness also gave Sinn Fein an opportunity to present their leadership as statesman like.

Sinn Fein is also likely to have electorally calculated that whilst they will remain the largest nationalist player in the North- that their support levels may have actually plateaued. So the real game changer for Sinn Fein is in the Republic of Ireland where the party is eradicating the working class base of the Irish Labour Party. Current polls suggest that the next Irish election may see a proper left-right re-alignment and the goal of Sinn Fein is to at least make them seem like a suitable partner in a coalition government.

  • Morpheus

    Time for some reciprocation from the unionist leaders.

    I’ll be right here on the edge of my seat waiting for that one :)

  • Reader

    Morpheus: Time for some reciprocation from the unionist leaders.
    I.e. Attending an official state visit hosted by Higgins. But you know what FM Robinson is like – he’ll probably want a party bag.

  • Morpheus
  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “a statesman like image”

    I suppose that it’s hardly surprising that governments should put the protection of state institutions ahead of the protection of the people or that they should use their heads of state in these political games. Those ‘good’ paramilitaries who make a token effort at playing the game can expect an invitation to play golf or to dine with a head of state or their spouse; they can also expect inclusion in our local police and community safety partnerships as well as a large measure of immunity from prosecution. This is all bad news for democracy as well as an insult to victims.

  • zep

    Why don’t they have a shindig for the Twelfth down at the Boyne and invite Peter along? Didn’t they do this for Paisley a few years ago? I’m sure he would be happy to attend.

  • cynic2

    “Sinn Fein …….. has been looking for opportunities ever since to assuage ordinary unionists”

    Like climbing on Landrover bonnets

  • zep

    …or putting up a plaque to Thomas Begley…

  • Gopher

    In 1916 an anonymous paper was presented to the German General Staff entitled “The next war”. The premise of the paper was the present war was lost so Germany should start to prepare for the next. The author of the treatise was widely believed to be Hans von Seeckt future commander of the Reichwehr architect of the “State within a state” concept and the subversion of the terms of Versailles.

    Whilst I’m sure sure few people are aware of Von Seeckt many have seen the photograph of Hitler in a suit beside Paul von Hindenburg president of the Republic he would later subvert. The embodiment of the “state within a state” in action. A suit nor meeting a figurehead has rarely changed me and I think due diligence will ensure that a certain time will pass before before anyone with sense believes it can change that of a 19th century nationalist movement. Whilst we in the “North” are held in political and social limbo indefinitely by that movement and a host of other regressive forces that have an inability to govern, it seems we will not have long for a practical demonstration in “the South” of how a “state within a state” operates unfettered in government. I hope the photograph works out better for President Higgins than it did for the reputation of the hero of Tannenburg.

  • tacapall

    “Whilst we in the “North” are held in political and social limbo indefinitely by that movement and a host of other regressive forces that have an inability to govern”

    Sounds very Pavlovian and predetermined maybe its just cause and effect like night follows day or lack of wisdom leads to ignorance. Just because we are stupid once in our lives doesn’t mean we must always be stupid we can and should learn from our mistakes. This Limbo is not being forced upon us, we are not conditioned to accept our political fate we are seduced and manipulated by the media they can show us nightmares or utopias but we do have a choice, we can register to vote or not, it is we who elect or decide which forces or movements determine our political future. You have to give respect where respect is due and I’ll tip my hat to any person be they Irish or British who takes up the challenge of uniting the people of Ireland and Britain under a common cause in a peaceful and political manner.

  • Gopher

    I would prefer the term Tolstoyan as it would be more accurate assessment of the forces of history on our Limbo.

    People are reading this one all wrong it aint a Unionism problem it aint a UK problem, It is only a Northern Irish problem cause we suffer the collateral damage of the SF campaign in the South. This state visit and Martins participation is a Republic of Ireland problem.

  • Morpheus

    Why is it a problem at all?

  • BarneyT

    Test… Please delete if this works. Submit button disappears on android with extended comments it seems

  • BarneyT

    Interesting move by sinn fein. He attended as a representative of a northern Ireland government, toasted the queen and stood for the British anthem. Put in those words many dissers will be seething but perhaps expectant at the same time. Martin mischievously said by attending it would offer an all Ireland dimension to the visit, implying his inclusion was key to that.

  • BarneyT

    Ok… they’ve had a rethink but surely their presence in Dublin would have allowed them to stake a true all Ireland claim, hasten statesmanship and clothe themselves as would be governors.

    That will happen but it’s further away than it ought to be. It was a missed opportunity in 2011. The recent visit elevated martin who must now been seen as the true leader in the north. Perceptions go a long way on both sides of the border and on the international stage.

    Brave move. Hurrah.

  • tacapall

    Well you could forgive unionism for feeling a little unimportant and alone with recent events and the closer ties forming between Ireland and Britain a situation that unionists from this part of Ireland obviously feel uncomfortable with. Sinn Fein has once again made unionism look the political dinosaurs that they are, hence the reluctance to accept the hand of friendship thats being offered by their fellow Irish citizens.

  • Kevsterino

    The more normal Sinn Fein acts, the more discombobulated Unionism becomes. On this side of the pond, McGuinness appears forward-looking and responsible by attending this state occasion.

    So it goes…

  • Greenflag

    @ Gopher ,

    “This state visit and Martins participation is a Republic of Ireland problem.”

    What problem ? All perfectly normal .

    ” Whilst we in the “North” are held in political and social limbo indefinitely ‘

    A limbo of your own i.e ‘Unionist ” making . It could have been different but it was’nt . Political unionism could have had voluntarily coalition with the SDLP but chose not to — Sunningdale deja vu .

    Your historical references are ridiculous . It’s not the 1930′s or the 1690′s or the 1920′s .

    Political unionism is seen as narrow -exclusive – intolerant – aging and out of step with young Ireland and Britain .

    The fact that McGuinness can appear the ‘statesman ‘ while ‘unionism ‘ sups cold soup at the back of the hall should tell you all you need to know about the future .

    SF of course have much tougher political opponents in the Republic which McGuinness appreciates and understands given his candidacy in the Presidential election .

  • Charles_Gould

    Mark Durkan met the Queen in 2002 when she visited Stormont.

    It really is a bit too easy to sell yourself as a statesman for turning up to a banquet in White Tie.

  • Gopher

    @Greenflag HIggins looked more worried than any unionist, must be tough electioneering for a rival party. One of the disadvantages of having an elected head of state I think.

  • Charles_Gould

    “Can’t have been easy for Martin to that Royal Banquet. He’s never struck me as the Black Tie type.”

    No problems – it was White Tie.

  • Charles_Gould

    Its not really an act of self sacrifice if it is a vote winner, is it?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kevsterino,

    A lot of people here see it that way too.

    This is about electioneering and it is more about how badly it would have gone had SF boycotted the event. The Irish electorate want to see friendly relations with the UK and in order to be electable in Ireland you need to be playing to this gallery.

    But while this is the principal motivation I think for McGuinness it goes beyond this. As I’ve said before I don’t think Sinn Féin are bending over backwards to try to reach out to SF, but people like Marty know that they need to be seen to be doing something, and they’d see this as a chance to kill two birds with one stone.

  • Politico68

    Marty and SF did the right thing here for sure, even though I am in California, my friends at home in Dublin are telling me that it has gone down very well in Ireland and despite the feelings of some I think Tom Kelly sums it up perfectly here –

    “Dissident republicans, hard line loyalists and some victims groups will for different reasons be angry at the Royal invitation but this is the type of generosity that political leadership is all about and Martin McGuinness deserves praise not pilloried for quite literally stepping up to the plate.”

    I think it would be wrong to assume that the main reasons for Marty’s attendance was to portray a sense acceptance of Unionists Britishness and to project an image in the Republic that would be voter friendly. For sure they play their part but in my view the main reason for going simply reflects an acceptance on the part of SF that Britain no longer stands in the way of Irish Unity.

    In fact, one could argue that London’s indifference to the North as a “full and equal part of the UK ” when compared to its fierce battle to hold on to Scotland, is symptomatic of a political acceptance that its pretty much all over bar the talking. Unionism has no political influence in London, No friends abroad, a falling electorate, a fragmented political family, a paranoid obsession with the past and a community that feels isolated and ignored by the very leaders who purport to represent them.

    Sinn Fein, like the rest of the world, can see the irreversible but slow demise of traditional Unionism and is now rightly focusing on the diplomacy of contemporary state politics in preparation for the final act. Moreover, SF are no longer concerned about how long the final act will last because they have the momentum politically and socially with the economics slowly falling into place too.

    Loyalists are wrecking the streets while Unionists fight among themselves, a bit like the two parts of the Titanic; broken but bobbing on the Ocean until finally one part drags the other beneath the waves.

    Elsewhere, SF are gaining support, Ireland and Britain are well over their troubled history, if recent reports are to be believed Nationalist are more likely to be at work providing for their families, or at school preparing for a stint at University. They are rarely on the ‘queens highway’ causing havoc and their absence from the streets reflects a quiet confidence about the future.

    Sinn Fein have at last reached the point where they can be certain of one thing. The game in now theirs to lose.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “Time for some reciprocation from the unionist leaders.

    I’ll be right here on the edge of my seat waiting for that one :)”

    @Morpheus,

    You may be too young to remember this, but Prime Minister O’Neill and Taoiseach Sean Lemass exchanged visits way back in the mid-1960s. One of the first things that David Trimble did after he was elected leader of the UUP was meet with the leader of the Democratic Left party in Dublin.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Can someone please explain to me/us what an “ordinary” unionist is?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    And while we’re at it Mr J, could someone explain ‘Britishness’ too?

    If I had a twin whom I was separated from at birth who was raised in a nationalist environment but was similar to me in almost every other way then is he ‘more’ Irish than me or indeed less British just because he may not like the Queen or such like?

    Even though we might share the same interests in every other regard?

  • zep

    “In fact, one could argue that London’s indifference to the North as a “full and equal part of the UK ” when compared to its fierce battle to hold on to Scotland, is symptomatic of a political acceptance that its pretty much all over bar the talking. Unionism has no political influence in London, No friends abroad, a falling electorate, a fragmented political family, a paranoid obsession with the past and a community that feels isolated and ignored by the very leaders who purport to represent them.” – Good stuff, we’ll probably see an all-Ireland entity any day now. Just as soon as we all vote for it. That’s the kicker, isn’t it? It’s a democratic decision for the people of Northern Ireland to take. You know, like in Scotland where we have an actual debate ahead of an actual vote. If the day comes and we (i.e. those of us living here who are eligible to vote) decide it, then NI will leave the UK. If we don’t, then it wont’t. That’s what the IRA gave up their war for. That’s why Sinn Fein are now British public servants. On the promise of a democratic decision. I look forward to the campaign, if it ever comes.

    “if recent reports are to be believed Nationalist are more likely to be at work providing for their families, or at school preparing for a stint at University.”

    Ooh, great, can’t wait for a United ireland where all these uneducated, unemployed Protestants will just fade away into the ether.

    McGuinness is behaving exactly as the leader of a party of government is expected to behave. Whether he believes himself to be making a bold move as part of a strategy to further his goal of a United Ireland remains to be seen; personally I think he is a tired old dog of war with one eye on the history books – just like Paisley.

  • ayeYerMa

    You have ask what planet are most of these commentators living on? Very few people are impressed by this endless, meaningless, tedious show any more (not that many other than media types were particularly impressed in the first place), rolling their eyes and changing channel whenever Theresa Villiers and the like come on TV and says nothing original, truthful or honest other than reading off the same old prepared script.

    Yes, how “generous” for the Bogside Butcher to agree to the only choice given to him. “Here Marty, either we put this bullet in you and all fellow “volunteers” heads or you do as we say. We’ll make sure you are well wined and dined and can gorge yourself in gluttonous abandon on the Queen’s Shilling and the life of comfort, just as long as you get your mentally fragile drones to worship it too and talk up how wonderful your surrender is.” It just goes to show just how utterly gullible Republicans are to be so susceptible to having their fragile little egos (shaped by playing the pathetic “800 years” eternal victim) stroked by their big bad British masters!

  • 241934 john brennan

    ‘No problems – it was White Tie’. More white flag than white tie!
    We’re still a long way from the force tradition saying it has decommissioned its black berets, and will never ever again use the gun, bomb and bullet, in an attempt to expel the Brits

  • Niall Noigiallach

    “It just goes to show just how utterly gullible Republicans are to be so susceptible to having their fragile little egos (shaped by playing the pathetic “800 years” eternal victim) stroked by their big bad British masters!”

    Jesus wept

  • Charles_Gould

    reality check: McGuinness is only doing what Durkan did 12 years ago.

  • Charles_Gould

    Its amazing how unreal some of the comments above are. McGuinness shaking hands with the Queen (a U turn) is dressed up as a sign of great victory. Catch yourselves on! Mark Durkan met her in 2002, the first Irish nationalist elected politician to do so: if there was any leadership it was his.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Mark Durkan was following in the political steps of Hume, Parnell and Daniel O’Connell.

    McGuiness claimed to be following in footsteps of Patrick Pearse and Michael Collins. Are Adams and McGuinness now the very last in the generational list of physical force republicans – now all converted to the Hume/Durkan approach.

    Will we ever again hear the lament about the fourth green field and the old woman’s unmotherly threat:

    “But my sons have sons, as brave as were their fathers; My fourth green field will bloom once again,”
    the fine old woman said

  • Mike the First

    Morpheus

    Your memory seems to be letting you down.

    Peter Robinson attended the State Banquet when President McAleese hosted the Queen.

    Kind of got his “reciprocation” in first, no?

  • Alan N/Ards

    Morpheus
    Unionist’s have been meeting the Irish President for years. Mary McAleese was welcomed in unionist areas during her time as President. She visted Newtownards a number of years ago and nobody batted an eyelid. McGuinness and SF are playing catch up.

  • Barnshee

    “McGuinness trying to assure ordinary unionists that he recognises their Britishness”

    Pissing into the wind springs to mind

  • Morpheus

    Alan, by reciprocation I mean unionist politicians recognizing Irishness on an equal footing

  • Mike the First

    It’s hard to see what you mean by this.

    What has McGuinness done here that you think should be reciprocated?

    Robinson did exactly the same in reverse 3 years ago while SF stayed away.

  • Greenflag

    Zep ,

    “Ooh, great, can’t wait for a United ireland where all these uneducated, unemployed Protestants will just fade away into the ether.”

    Not possible Zep -The ether ceased to exist since about 1887 so theres no respite there for the folks you refer to above or anyone else either

    The Michelson–Morley experiment was performed in 1887 by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley at what is now Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. It attempted to detect the relative motion of matter through the stationary luminiferous ether (“aether wind”). The negative results are generally considered to be the first strong evidence against the then prevalent aether theory, and initiated a line of research that eventually led to special relativity, in which the stationary aether concept has no role.

    I think those uneducated and unemployed Protestants and Catholics will have greater role to play in a UI than either will ever have in a non existent ether ;)

    BTW the proven non existence of the ether gave rise to the possibility of Einstein’s relativity theory and when one considers that the entire mass of our universe is the left over one particle in a billion that was’nt destroyed when matter and anti matter collided shortly after the big bang then either we are all very lucky to be here at all at all or theres something rotten in the state of the universe ;)?

  • Greenflag

    For those pre 1887 believers in the ether heres the story of how what never was was proven not to exist . We can only imagine that being applied to Northern Ireland’s political black hole ;) ?

    Now you can apply that thought to many another modern day problem in the political , religious or sociological fields if you may .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelson%E2%80%93Morley_experiment

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    That experiment did not disprove the existence of an aether. It is misunderstood. There is an aether and perhaps it has something to do with the notion that there is something called “dark matter” or “dark energy”.

  • Mick Fealty

    Joe,

    “Can someone please explain to me/us what an “ordinary” unionist is?”

    Has anyone figured yet what an ‘ordinary’ family is? In the meantime, I’d say ‘ordinary unionists’ are almost all of them, ie those who don’t conform to the egregious stereotypes propagated here in the comment zone on Slugger.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Mick for defining “ordinary” as non-homogenious. I know that to talk about social or political concepts at all we have to use stereotypical portmanteau terms such as “Unionist” and “Nationalist” for but for anyone to use these reified terms as if they actually describe something with any degree of accuracy avoids the real complexity we are suffering from and just stokes up the confusion.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Morpheus
    l’m not sure what you mean by Irishness. How do you define Irishness? Are you just talking about people who would say that they are Irish nationalist’s? Would you include those Irish people (like me) who wish to remain part of the UK as really Irish? I watched President Higgins visit last week. I thought it was fantastic. The concert at The Albert Hall was outstanding. To see the Irish Guards, Royal Irish Regiment and the Irish Army playing together was the highlight for me. I hope that more and more unionist’s start to embrace their Irishness and are not put if it by militant nationalist’s and stupid unionist politicians.

  • Greenflag

    Joe ,

    Back in the 1880′s there was no conception of dark matter or dark energy . But the ‘ether ‘ or ‘aether ‘ either or were held as then conventional wisdom by most scientists .

    Whether the then non existent ether or aether was correspondent to the relatively new concepts of dark matter or dark energy I can’t say . Some say our present knowledge of the universe covers but a small percentage of the whole universe with most of it remaining unobservable because of the limitations of our human three dimensional condition .

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Unionist reciprocation, here it is below in all its youtube glory.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLMeGZK1AUU

    The shinners/provos can meet whomever they like, whenever they like, it changes nothing. They will be judged by their actions on the ground and how they act towards their victims. As for the republican hand ringers who are saying that there is no reciprocation by Unionists. It may come as a shock to the shinners/provos, due to their blindness of shinner/provo propaganda, but Unionists leaders have been to Dublin and have met the Irish republics president. It seems that the shinners/provos are the ones doing the catching up and belated reciprocation. If I was being cynical, I would suggest that the decision of McGuinness and the phalanx of other shinners/provos that visited the Queen. Had of course nothing to do with them misjudging the mood when the Queen visited the republic of Ireland several years ago. However the one thing you can’t accuse the shinners/provos of, and that is missing a good propaganda event twice.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Unionist reciprocation, here it is below in all its youtube glory.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0910/93326-northpolitics/

  • Morpheus

    Again AU, as per my post yesterday that you may have missed, reciprocation has nothing to do with functions or handshakes, those are protocol and the very ;least that is expected for people in those positions.

    The thread is about “McGuinness trying to assure ordinary unionists that he recognises their Britishness” and I was wondering when we can expect unionist reciprocation by assuring ordinary nationalists that they recognizes their Irishness.

    Any links for that?

  • Charles_Gould

    Morph

    To be honest I think AU has by far the stronger point. If meeting a head of state is to be taken as assuring ordinary people of that state, then unionists met the Irish head of state long before SF met the british equivalent.

    SDLP moreover met the British head of state long before SF did.

  • Reader

    Morpheus: Again AU, as per my post yesterday that you may have missed, reciprocation has nothing to do with functions or handshakes, those are protocol and the very ;least that is expected for people in those positions. The thread is about “McGuinness trying to assure ordinary unionists that he recognises their Britishness” and I was wondering when we can expect unionist reciprocation by assuring ordinary nationalists that they recognizes their Irishness.
    If McGuinness did “the very least that is expected”, as you put it; and exacly the same as he would surely have done in France or the USA, then in what sense has he *actually* assured ordinary unionists of anything?
    You can’t have it both ways. Either there are bonus points for UK/Ireland gestures or there aren’t.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Politico68,
    The crisis within unionism is real and you describe it well but you miss that there is also a crisis within traditional Irish nationalism, which is less visible but is apparent every time there is a survey or poll on a putative future secession of NI from the UK – people simply don’t want it. The 2012 Life and Times Survey has it at 16 per cent. http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2012/Political_Attitudes/NIRELND2.html. The numbers do fluctuate but rarely get near even 30 per cent.

    So maybe unionist disarray really doesn’t matter that much. It pleases some nationalists who enjoy sectarian sneering – but they are welcome to it, it doesn’t get them anywhere. The truth from all the polls is, the bulk of the people of NI are as solidly pro-Union as they ever were. It is no longer manifested in terms of strong adherence to political parties, but that reflects the wider disenchantment with politics in the wider UK and the West in general. Those predicting an imminent end to Northern Ireland as a UK unit have to reflect on the fact that not only does their campaign start from a low base, but its chief champions have zero credibility among most of the population, Protestant and Catholic.

    They once said Bloody Sunday was the best recruiting sergeant for the IRA. But now, SF-IRA’s “Armed Struggle” has effectively guaranteed that the British flag will fly over Northern Ireland for generations to come. SF’s continued prominence is a gift to the Union, every bit as much as Paisley was a gift to Irish nationalism.