After the Visit, the greater epiphany?

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What we saw in Windsor Castle this week was a delayed act of official reconciliation that should have taken place fifty years ago but was held up by the Troubles. It was in reality the unfinished business of closing a sequence of turmoil that began over a century ago, whose shadow is finally lifting only now.   Carping like that below fails to recognise that such formalities can only be afforded when the reconciliation they celebrate is safely secured. So what now?  Let’s rewind a sec.

 “The centenary commemorations for the outbreak of the Great War have overshadowed the events which preceded it, and which go a long way to explaining how we got where we are now. It is the reason why the Irish question wasn’t resolved a hundred years ago by parliamentary means .It’s the centenary of the passing of the Third Home Rule bill, which was nullified from the outset by the political classes’ capitulation to militant Unionism.”

Melanie McDonagh in the Spectator reminds readers of 1912 -14, the period of the Home Rule crisis when it seemed Britain was on the brink of civil war over Ulster. In his new book Fatal Path from which she quotes, the historian Ronan Fanning is still cross about this. Plenty of people were at the time and since. But  however widely held, this orthodox view doesn’t seem to me to give fair weight to the Unionist case or to recognise the substantial differences which set them apart from the island majority – differences a good deal greater than they are today.  In 1910 -14 it wasn’t all about British Conservatives cynically playing the Orange Card.  In a polity which was not quite yet a full democracy, Conservative diehards deeply felt that the Liberals had violated the basic tenets of the unwritten British constitution by whittling down the power of the House of Lords and then assenting to an internal break-up of the Union.

I’m puzzled when Irish historians harrumph about the Ulster rebellion while politely defending their own. Why shouldn’t the Ulster Unionists have had the same rights to fight to remain within the UK as the nationalists had to leave it? What act of primordial nature made Ireland an indivisible political entity and one naturally separate from Britain? It took a further 84 years for that point to win acceptance, in what is easily the most important political outcome of the Troubles, far surpassing the politicisation of Sinn Fein.

Of course had the miracle happened and some sort of deal had been done over Home Rule, it would have been wonderful in the eyes of posterity. But this would have meant the Nationalists accepting what they were still in denial about in June 1914,that partition on some basis was inevitable. The War intervened and that game was never played out.  The Nationalist party leader John Redmond   can today safely be regarded  as too trusting and honourable a figure. But to republicans he became and remains the very archetype of constitutional nationalism – a loser with  great contacts.

People still argue the toss over whether it took force to achieve independence. Fanning believes force was necessary. But the contrary is appealing,  just as it can be argued that the armed struggle massively held back  reform rather than won it.  But revolutions are not made in text books. The violence factor is seldom absent in human affairs. The desire to fight for freedom rather than wait on someone to grant it is not completely rational even when it is  calculated, as it was  in 1916.

The value of the counterfactual is not  to commit the futility of denying  what happened  but to explore the alternatives which were real and  present  before the events  took a different turning. The aim of pursuing them  is to try to forestall the undesirable  repetition. In the words of the splendid old  cliché : “s/he who does not know history  is condemned to repeat it.”

So there’s lots to chew over about this formative period just before the whole world  darkened.  Three issues in particular fascinate me. Why did nationalists make so little effort to try to persuade unionists into Home Rule over the decades, relying instead  on negotiating over their heads with the  British? This error was to be repeated in harsher conditions by the Provos’ failed strategy of bombing the Brits out of Ireland.

Secondly isn’t it odd that Home Rule (which still provided for Irish MPs at Westminster although many fewer) was taken for granted as bringing the Union to an end , whereas today, devolution is regarded as  the Union is new form. And to be really counterfactual,  would the State and the Unionists have  really come to blows in the North in 1914 any more than they did in the South that year (the minor bungled  incident at Batchelors’ Walk notwithstanding)?   It took a very determined act of aggression at the height of the war  by the IRB cell of the  Volunteers to achieve it in 1916, not any act of the  distracted government.

What has all this to do with today? The historical theme still has great resonance, as the Republic honourably wrestles with how to incorporate Unionism into its story of Ireland without damaging its own creation myth.   The answer lies  in its recognition  of the colonial transplant as an intrinsic  part of the body of Ireland, a transformation that suits post-revolutionary republicanism as nicely as everybody else, allowing for  a twinge or two of unease from perennially  suspicious unionists.

It’s intriguing  to see how the Irish government are tasking their Advisory Group on the Decade of Commemoration – to treat Unionism   fairly and indeed generously  but not going so far as to be neutral.

The commemoration will be measured and reflective, and will be informed by a full acknowledgement of the complexity of historical events and their legacy, of the multiple readings of history, and of the multiple identities and traditions which are part of the Irish historical experience. There must be full acknowledgement of the multiple identities and traditions which are part of the overall story and of the different ideals and sacrifices associated with them. Official events must within reason be inclusive and non-partisan, but the State should not be expected to be neutral about its own existence. The aim should be to broaden sympathies, without having to abandon loyalties, and in particular recognising the value of ideals and sacrifices, including their cost.

It would be great to see unionism displaying this sort of confidence in return. The missing players of course, are the new best friends, the British.  After the state visit what sort of walk-on parts are contemplated for them in the Irish commemorations? There’s been talk of it but have I missed the detail?  The welcoming approach of the Dublin establishment  deserves serious consideration and is an ideal peg  for launching a new exploration along the path  of our history to discover where it might take us.

 

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  • Mick Fealty

    Last para is spot on Brian. It needs careful consideration from right now…

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    The following is the enduring problem for Irish nationalism:

    the multiple identities and traditions which are part of the Irish historical experience.

    The Irish state continues to think and act within the context of the island of Ireland; we saw it in the President’s use of the Tom Kettle quote in Parliament. John Hume adopted the same style. Unionists, on the other hand, operate within a UK context. Why would they have any interest in a commemoration where they have been reduced to a tradition on the island and where their constitutional aspiration has been air-brushed out?

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, from what I hear QEII takes a much broader view of the matter than that Nev.. And so, I suspect do most people in the south… Some thoughtful and symbolic British role in the celebration of Irish independence could be transformative…

    But we could all do with putting cards on the table about where exactly we think Ireland is these days… “The unnameable constellation of islands on the Eastern Atlantic coast

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    A cartoon I saw today:

    Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Mick, I was commenting on the wider context, not just the celebration of Irish independence. IIRC those unionists who remained in the then Free State wished the new government a fair wind. I use the ‘Ireland’ label for that state and ‘island of Ireland’ for the island. If Ireland were to invite the UK to be part of its celebrations in 1922 then I’d imagine that unionists here would be part of the UK team, in a manner of speaking.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Brian Walker:

    “I’m puzzled when Irish historians harrumph about the Ulster rebellion while politely defending their own. Why shouldn’t the Ulster Unionists have had the same rights to fight to remain within the UK as the nationalists had to leave it?”

    I think you’re too bright a man not to see why Irish historians harrumph about it, Brian. You simply choose to ignore what you want to ignore.

    Four Ulster counties out of nine Ulster counties were majority Protestant. Fermanagh and Tyrone were majority Nationalist. Unionists were ripping up their own province, not just Ireland as a whole. They were willing to trample on democracy at any cost – as they proved by grabbing nationalist Fermanagh and Tyrone to prop up the new statelet.

    Four counties was all Unionism was entitled to back then if self determination was their genuine grievance – and it wasn’t feasible to partition the country for that small an area. Hence the trampling of the rights of nationalists in Fermanagh and Tyrone and the exposure of unionism’s disdain for genuine democracy if it impeded their interests.

    The only democracy in Ireland they wanted to respect was when they could fix it in their favour. Gerrymandering in Derry post-partition was just a continuation of the same unionist psychology.

  • Morpheus

    Bang on RoC

  • Mick Fealty

    Nev,

    “…unionists here would be part of the UK team, in a manner of speaking.”

    Quite so. As they And SF were in Windsor?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “You simply choose to ignore what you want to ignore.”

    What have you chosen to ignore, RoC? Do you imagine that historians are politically neutral?

    Would nationalists of whatever hue, orange or green, recognise democracy if it slapped them in the face?

    The green variety has been nurtured in a mainly Catholic ethos – not exactly God’s gift to the will of the people in the pew. The orange variety – and there are probably forty shades of orange – has been nurtured in a variety of ethoses with a rather greater democratic input as well as a greater propensity to hold wayward members, including leaders, to account.

    Brian used the term Ulster Unionist correctly but as this didn’t suit your position you ran off down the county line – hence all that anti-unionist dirge. As I understand it, unionists, in general, wished the island to remain within the UK whereas unionists in Ulster, despite their small majority, were prepared to resist nationalist hegemony. That Ulster Unionist convention in 1892 drew its inspiration from the earlier Ulster convention of 1793; I’m not aware of similar political conventions in the other provinces. There may be some parallels here with the GAA as delegates to the 1793 convention started off as parish delegates before moving up a level to county ones. Whereas the 1793 convention sought to trim Episcopalian wings, the 1892 one perceived a probable switch from Episcopalian to Catholic ones.

    Nationalists and unionists eventually signed up to a 6-county compromise under pressure from Westminster but for some nationalists, understandably, this was not enough. Hence the ongoing tussle, a tussle that no amount of smooching between London and Dublin or appeasement of loyalist and republican paramilitaries appears likely to resolve.

    The gerrymandering you refer to was a reaction not just to the playing of the green card but also the red (socialist) one and it seems to me that it was the post-50s red one that triggered the later 60s Troubles.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    RoC

    The grievances you raise are fair enough but it doesn’t answer Brian’s question does it, summarised thusly:

    “Irish people are right to fight/rebel to achieve their political goals – unless they are unionist….”

    Why?

    As for the land grab, well, yes. Simply not cricket.

    But if it’s any consolation I bet they’re regretting that one now.

    Seems to me Fermanagh was only grabbed as it was a series of massive estates for the Big House unionists.

    Was there not supposed to be some sort of boundary commission that would take care of that matter?

    What happened it?

    (genuinely interested)

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Quite so. As they And SF were in Windsor?”

    I’ve not read Martin’s words, Mick, but I’d have thought he would have been in-step with President Higgins ie a member of the Ireland team, not the UK one. Team differences will be more apparent in the Dáil and in Stormont than they were in Windsor and Westminster.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Just a thought or two. Do SF sent Martin out to test the waters much as the DUP use Jeffrey? Is President Adams playing the de Valera hand ie standing well back from the fan?

  • Mick Fealty

    You need separate substance from spin. The party’s TDs are part of the Irish state, the MPs and MLA’s part of the British. That is not a cheap shot, it’s fact.

    The aspiration matters. But the GFA is pretty clear on the matter.

  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    Why shouldn’t the Ulster Unionists have had the same rights to fight to remain within the UK as the nationalists had to leave it?

    The position is illogical. Its like being dumped by your partner and then punching them in the face until they take you back.
    Crucially though, the unionists never actually went to war, but their preparedness to start it was a well calculated bluff. If there had been a civil war, the end result would not have been their inclusion in the UK but a military defeat and a unitary Irish state which would have left them to the mercy of unfettered and unforgiving Irish nationalism which would have given them short shrift. The establishment of the British Empire was not prepared for this outworking in 1914 si close to the empires centre and so bastardised a solution. Up until then, all sides saw the island as unitary.
    The reason historians harrumph (?) is because unionists have proved to be on the wrong side of history ie democracy and this is not a once off error of judgement because they continue in this vein and support their past errors with frequent and mind boggling regularity.

    Curious to know if any region has actually engaged in armed conflict with a state with the express purpose of remaining part of that state

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “What act of primordial nature made Ireland an indivisible political entity and one naturally separate from Britain? It took a further 84 years for that point to win acceptance, in what is easily the most important political outcome of the Troubles”

    Brian, there would appear to be a flaw in your analysis. Nationalists signed up to a deal in 1998 just as they had done in 1925 but they’ve no intention of abiding by it. The itch remains.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Brian Walker,

    “I’m puzzled when Irish historians harrumph about the Ulster rebellion”

    Unionists put the gun into the democratic process!

  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    Nevin,

    Nationalists signed up to a deal in 1998 just as they had done in 1925 but they’ve no intention of abiding by it

    Agreed

    Home Rule Acts Payback. HMAP

  • Mick Fealty

    Yep. That’s true McS. Of 1912/13. For me a more usefully generative question for Nats is “how did we lose the national affection of the original Irish Republicans?”

    I don’t imagine the answer to that is simple or one dimensional. But it might help unlock the whataboutery cage and let us stretch our legs for a bit?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “But the GFA is pretty clear on the matter.”

    Mick, I’ve partly dealt with that in my 8:51 am comment ie that nationalists will no more feel bound by the 1998 deal than they were by the 1925 one; the ‘stepping stones’ philosophy is not likely to be undone. Not so long ago, I demonstrated how the UK city of culture morphed to the Derry-Londonderry city of culture and finally to an Ireland city of culture with the takeover by the nationalist city council followed soon after by the programme launch in the Irish embassy in London. That’s the expression of substance.

  • Mick Fealty

    I don’t go much on the blanket mind reading of Irish nationalists any more than the serial blood libelling of Ulster Protestants Nev. People like the Count may feel like that, but the means for the old subversion.

    Guns were good for more than just killing folk. You could sack people, get them to move house, break illicit contracts at a moments notice, or keep people working for you all with the implicit knowledge you had access to one.

    Once you engage in democratic governance the payoffs are greater but much harder to achieve. However many figures were crossed in 1998, the new circumstances are no longer in the control of men and women who have access to guns.

    And that’s I think, a good thing.

  • Charles_Gould

    I don’t think there is any problem in the relationship between Unionists and Dublin, it has been transformed already. It is the Intra-NI relationships that are in want of transformation. That is where there is room for improvement, and that is where NI is out of step with normality (peace walls, segregated teacher training, etc).

  • Mc Slaggart

    Nevin

    “Ireland city of culture”

    No it was “city of culture”

  • Morpheus

    “Would nationalists of whatever hue, orange or green, recognise democracy if it slapped them in the face? The green variety has been nurtured in a mainly Catholic ethos – not exactly God’s gift to the will of the people in the pew.”

    Nevin some of your comments about your fellow man are truly disgusting. Yet again the rules of Slugger seem to dictate that it’s cardworthy to play the man – depending on who the man is of course – but it is OK to run onto the pitch and boot the whole fecking team without recourse.

    The bottom line here is that Northern Ireland was formed down the barrel of 25,000 guns against the democratic wishes of the majority with Tyrone and Fermanagh taken despite a nationalist majority. Following partition unionists turned the screw by making Northern Ireland into a pressure cooker by gerrymandering, inequality, discrimination and electoral manipulation.

    Using Brian’s logic above anyone could quite easily justify the IRA’s campaign of violence by saying “Why shouldn’t nationalists have had the same rights to fight to reunite Ireland as the unionists have to stay in the UK.”

    With regards to the GFA then you will find that we overwhelmingly signed up to a peaceful, democratic resolution. If the majority decide that they want to remain in the United Kingdom then we will but equally if the majority decide to leave then we will leave, make no bones about it. In the last set of elections nationalist parties democratically took 40% of the seats at Stormont, unionists took just 5% more. Nationalist parties democratically took 40% of the seats in Councils, unionists took just 8% more. Nationalist parties democratically took 41% of the votes at the last European elections with the poll-topping SF candidate taking more than 40% more votes than the next 2 candidates. Nationalist parties democratically took 45% of NI’s seats at Westminster elections taking 42% of the votes and SF topping the poll.

    With the ‘demographic ‘war’ coupled with the fact that Catholics simply refuse to vote unionist in any significant numbers, SF doing well north and south of border, the unionist parties pushing Catholic voters further and further away and embarrassing themselves beyond measure in front of Kenny, Cameron, Obama etc. then I would say that momentum is with nationalist at the minute, wouldn’t you?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “the new circumstances are no longer in the control of men and women who have access to guns.”

    I wouldn’t put my shirt on that, Mick. It’s certainly a good thing that gun and bomb violence has dramatically reduced but the intimidation is still there and ordinary decent folks are naturally fearful of putting their heads above the parapets in many communities across Northern Ireland. What I find very disturbing is the inclusion of paramilitary folks in policing and community safety partnerships. Just because I don’t report incidents in graphic detail doesn’t mean that I’m not aware of what’s going on. London and Dublin would not tolerate such arrangements in the rest of these islands yet they facilitate and praise them here. It’s a funny old world.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    “how did we lose the national affection of the original Irish Republicans?”

    ?

    I never spotted any loss of affection of the original republicans.

    I honestly cannot say I even get t he attraction of Mr Adams. Mc Guinness on the other hand has always been a hard man to dislike. I know someone who had their car stolen in Derry and went complaining to the IRA (How you do that I wanted to ask but never did) . Martin was called to talk with the man and explained that the IRA did not steal 2 door cars (is this a fact?) but sorted him out so he could continue his business.

    To this day he still uses the word “Brit” when taking of his favorite fishing writer etc no matter who is in the company. I wonder if he said it to the British Queen :-) .

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Morpheus, I don’t find either orange or green expressions of nationalism in NI particularly edifying; they’re certainly not in any shape or form inclusive. In terms of nurture, Presbyterianism is the most democratic followed by Methodism, Episcopalianism and Catholicism. In some respects Presbyterianism is too democratic and therefore too prone to schism so I’m not surprised that the UUP gets into such difficulties. Having said all that the projects I involved myself in during the 70s and 80s had support from all quarters. When I came under attack from a prominent legal eagle not so long ago it was a SF politician who jumped to my defence, not politicians from other parties.

  • Morpheus

    Funny you weren’t so much with the equality earlier.

    You know all these religions that are ‘experts’ in democracy, where was their Christian spirit and sense of democracy since the inception of NI when votes/elections were manipulated and areas were gerrymandered to ensure dominance? Is a rock-bed of their unwavering adherence to democracy not the principle of ‘one man one vote’? Now tell me, why was plural voting kept in Northern Ireland 20 years after it was abolished in the rest of the UK? Not very Christian is it?

    So you’ll have to forgive nationalism if they don’t take any lessons in democracy from the 40 shades of Orange eh?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “No it was “city of culture””

    McS, the takeover by the nationalist city council and the launch in the Irish embassy in London sort of blows that out of the water ;)

  • Mc Slaggart

    Nevin

    “and the launch in the Irish embassy in London ”

    What better place? It was in London and it got plenty of free coverage in the Irish media. One major aspect of the event was to get more people to visit the city from all over the Island.

    Strabane ASDA (it is open 24 hours) is still reaping the rewards of the visitors from cork/Galway shopping on the way back from the city.

    BTW: why the wink?

  • Clanky

    Brian:

    “It would be great to see unionism displaying this sort of confidence in return. The missing players of course, are the new best friends, the British. After the state visit what sort of walk-on parts are contemplated for them in the Irish commemorations? There’s been talk of it but have I missed the detail? The welcoming approach of the Dublin establishment deserves serious consideration and is an ideal peg for launching a new exploration along the path of our history to discover where it might take us.

    It is easy for the Irish government to be confident and gracious, the Irish state is not under threat, it is easy for northern nationalists to be confident and gracious, the political process is moving society in the north away from the old status quo of unionist dominance and demographic changes mean that we have never been closer to a united Ireland.

    Unionists see nothing but their power being stripped and inevitable slide towards a united Ireland which they fear because they always have done rather than from any genuine analysis of what life would be like for them in a modern united Ireland.

    The irony of the whole thing is that the present intransigent, no surrender, brand of unionism is probably doing as much to hurry the very united Ireland they fear as the IRA’s armed struggle in the 70′s and 80′s did to delay it.

    The political process which has allowed nationalists a fair share of Northern Ireland society was, for a short time, mellowing many catholics attitudes towards the need for a united Ireland. Loyalists insisting on their right to bang their drums and play the sash as they walk through nationist areas and rioting over the fleg has hardened a lot of hearts in the nationalist community again.

    Sadly unionists can close the gates and shout no surrender all they want, but everyone will simply move on without them and no amount of threats of civil war will deter anyone, they would do far better by, as you say, displaying the confidence which nationalism has done, but when you are behind the barricades all you see is enemies looming over you and it’s hard to be confident.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Morpheus, democracy is about the will of the people as distinct from the will of one or a few.

    In Moyle, the Presbyterians left their little church in Laganaifrinn – ‘the hollow of the Mass’ – on top of the hill in Croaghmore in 1829 and built a new church on lower land. They would have had a number of ministers to chose from but it seems they could not reach unanimity – so half the congregation departed and built a second church half-a-mile away. Contrast that with the complaints I picked up from Catholic parents in Coleraine in the 70s when their priest, without consultation allegedly, repainted their church, then re-roofed it and then re-painted it a second time. Perhaps the Episcopalians have got a better balance!

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    McS, thanks for illustrating my point about the two-stage morph to Ireland city of culture. Well done, wee lad :)

  • Framer

    Brian asks “Why did nationalists make so little effort to try to persuade unionists into Home Rule over the decades?”
    Most Home Rulers believed the Unionists were bluffing.
    This delusion was derived from an ideology which cleverly included Unionists in the Irish nation. The Protestants were misguided but nationalists believed that their foolishness could be cured once the Home Rule deed was done.
    This all stems from the myth of the single Irish nation encompassing the island; a nation defined by God through the agency of seawater. This myth means you are allowed to ignore the wishes of unionists and if necessary force them to submit or get London to do the needful.
    Whereas in all national disputes, the question is not what God thinks or Nature dictates but who gets to decide the unit of national self determination.
    Think Crimea and an endless list of territorial disputes.
    Ultimately power trumps ideology.

  • Morpheus

    I know what democracy is Nevin, despite your preconceptions. I also know that we had a bastardized version in Northern Ireland from day 1 despite the fact we had a wealth of experts…apparently. We have Christians who advocate democracy but did nothing to ensure that their Christian spirit or one man one vote was extended to all. Maybe a critical self examination of conscience was in order?

    I have no idea how we moved so quickly from democracy – or the lack thereof – in Northern Ireland to painting and roofs but it appears to me that if these Episcopalians were as democratic as you make out they surely would have made a democratic decision which was the will of the congregation and stuck to it instead of a bunch not liking the outcome and going off their own.

    Then again, it smacks of the formation of NI when the democratic wishes of the people were not accepted by a few so they went off and did their own thing after importing 25,000 guns.

    So maybe your example is apt after all. Thanks for that.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Nevin

    ” Ireland city of culture”

    If that was the case why did the city have so much “British” culture in the city? Take a tour of the Guildhall in the city and you will see that they not only have keep the “British”symbols but are proud of them.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “these Episcopalians”

    Morpheus, is it too early in the day or is it the week-end? They were Presbyterians.

    Home Rule was a sort of side-deal between Westminster and Irish nationalists; unionist opinion wasn’t sought. The difference between the two new jurisdictions on the island was that unionists wished the new administration in Dublin a fair wind but nationalists opposed the new administration in Belfast.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    McS, I accompanied some US friends with Moyle roots to Derry on a Sunday about this time last year. The place was more or less shut.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Clarky

    “The irony of the whole thing is that the present intransigent, no surrender, brand of unionism is probably doing as much to hurry the very united Ireland they fear as the IRA’s armed struggle in the 70′s and 80′s did to delay it.”

    &

    “Loyalists insisting on their right to bang their drums and play the sash as they walk through nationist areas and rioting over the fleg has hardened a lot of hearts in the nationalist community again.”

    Absolutely spot on.

  • Morpheus

    If you meant Presbyterian then why didn’t you say Presbyterian. Forgive me if I am not up to speed on the multiple factions of that Church.

    The more I think about this the more it makes sense. Big Ian didn’t like it in one Church so he started his own with the bits he did like. He did the same in politics, didnt like the current one so went off to start another. Nothing wrong with either scenario but it shows a mindset of “we’re buggering off to start our own if we don’t get our way”

    Anyway, back to you and your castigations of nationalism and their lack of morals when it comes to democracy. ..

    :)

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “If you meant Presbyterian then why didn’t you say Presbyterian.”

    I did: “In Moyle, the Presbyterians left their little church in Laganaifrinn …” Specsavers?

    Ian’s roots IIRC were Brethern/Gospel Hall and, as you will probably know, Presbyterians change their moderator/chair once a year, unlike the church he established.

    The orange, green and red expressions of nationalism here probably differ fairly little when it comes to morals. They all have a majoritarian mean streak about them.

  • Morpheus

    Insults eh? Classy

    So when I said “Episcopalians” I was wrong was I?

    So Big Ian didn’t like a particular rule so went off to start his own. Just as n said, no?

  • Brian Walker

    I hardly expected my analysis to be welcomed with open arms but I’m pleasantly surprised to see how retrained and limited are the criticisms. The appeals to democracy which Unionists are held to have violated are no kind of clincher as there was no agreement over the territory to which democracy applied. I’ve gone only a little further here than orthodoxy in the Republic which amounts to a considerable victory for revisionism. This revisionism is of course about more than history, being more concerned to promote harmony between different traditions today. Whatever the flaws in revisionism for historians, I do think it’s broadly true that southern nationalism made a fundamental error in underestimating unionist power right up to the GFA – ironically at a point when that power can be seen to have considerably declined.

    We are now it seems to me in a state of some flux when the unionist majority has almost disappeared but political debate of an emerging new situation is suppressed for fear of reviving past horrors. If they chose to keep playing the zero sum game , unionism and nationalism are left with a choice, whether to stick to core identities in the hope of somehow toughing it out, or wooing the other side with concessions to win a new margin for victory. They could of course abandon the game but the contours of a new game are far from clear. For that they’ll need greater support from the metropolitan powers than warm words and an invitation to dinner.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “So when I said “Episcopalians” I was wrong was I?”

    Yes. I agree in part with the ‘starting his own’ but what he produced possibly owes more to his roots than to the Presbyterian Church in Ireland style.

    PS When the ‘specsavers’ tease become an insult?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “I’ve gone only a little further here than orthodoxy in the Republic which amounts to a considerable victory for revisionism. This revisionism is of course about more than history, being more concerned to promote harmony between different traditions today.”

    Brian, who is promoting harmony across these islands? I’ve read some of what President Higgins has had to say and he appears not even to have caught up with the sentiments expressed in the 1998 Agreement.

  • antamadan

    The whole of Ireland was treated as an entity while unionists ruled. The whole of Ireland was made to join the UK before democracy, not just pro-union areas. When democracy came, and nationalists won most of the seats, the unionists got the rules changed. (Democracy isn’t working, so..)

    Boundary Commission: The British agreed a team of three. A Free State representative, a NI (Unionist) representative, and an independent chairperson. Then they appointed an British Empire loyalis (White South African judge )to be the casting vote chairman. (Democracy isn’t working, so..)

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Here’s a little bit more from the Irish government introduction:

    “The programme will encompass the different traditions on the island of Ireland and aims to enhance understanding of and respect for events of importance among the population as a whole. The official programme will provide an opportunity to focus on the everyday experience of ordinary people living in extraordinary times, as well as on the leaders and key actors in these events. The programme will offer fresh insights and constructive dialogue, and aims to foster deeper mutual understanding among people from different traditions on the island of Ireland.”

    So, just another Strand 2 operation and, as I’ve noted previously, a repetition of the Hume blunder that made political progress so difficult. It seems there was little point in the Irish government signing up to the 1998 Agreement.

  • Reader

    antamadan: Boundary Commission: The British agreed a team of three. A Free State representative, a NI (Unionist) representative, and an independent chairperson. Then they appointed an British Empire loyalis (White South African judge )to be the casting vote chairman. (Democracy isn’t working, so..)
    Further details – the unionists didn’t send a representative, so the BG appointed someone for them. The Free State appointee was ineffectual, and in any case the Free State perceived no interest in a *better* border. In fact, even though the boundary commission was proposing a net transfer of land and people to the Free State, they refused the offer. They could have had Crossmaglen (no wonder they refused).

  • antamadan

    A net transfer of shag all given F & T had nationalist majorities.
    Also, I don’t buy the ‘inneffectual Free State appointee’ although it is often restated. Eoin MacNeill was a university professor from Antrim who had been MP for Derry city. He knew all the issues, but he just kept getting outvoded by the kangaroo jury.

  • antamadan

    outvoted/outvoded. Sorry

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

    “I have no idea how we moved so quickly from democracy – or the lack thereof – in Northern Ireland to painting and roofs but it appears to me that if these Episcopalians were as democratic as you make out they surely would have made a democratic decision which was the will of the congregation and stuck to it instead of a bunch not liking the outcome and going off their own.”

    @Morpheus,

    You could at least have picked a denomination that is present in NI. The Episcopalians is the American name for what was the Church of England during the colonial period. After the American Revolution they changed their name for obvious reasons.

    As far as democracy goes, what has democracy ever had to do with any Christian denomination?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    tmitch57, I introduced the Episcopalian term but Morpheus misread my comment. It just means a church that has bishops eg Episcopal Church of Scotland.

    New Light Ulster Presbyterian, Francis Hutcheson [youtube], has had more than a little to with democracy and enlightenment.

  • aquifer

    The Unionists want what they had, which was political control and materially better living standards. And religious freedom when their tendency to split would leave them vulnerable to a monolithic dominant church, whether Anglican or Roman Catholic.

    But the Unionists cannot spell out what they want as a prelude to negotiation, because they do not want to accept the starting point offered by the Irish state. i.e. Separation from Britain and a particular culture including a dominant position for a church with powerful global connections.

    There cannot be a negotiation (yet), so the Irish are obliged to make goodwill offerings. e.g. Northern Ireland members are offered seats on the Seanad.

    Which Unionists react against of course.

    The murderous PIRA campaign was also toxic.
    Republicans having ceremonial paramilitary funerals in and around Catholic Churches!

    As Ireland the state becomes richer and more secular, the former Unionist non voters become the swing vote who can turn out to stop integration and convergence if the Irish irredentists get their tanky hibernian head on.

    And what if the Prods just up and leave a cold house?

    No biologist would recommend inbreeding for stock, nor should any republican for politics or economics.

  • Reader

    antamadan: Also, I don’t buy the ‘inneffectual Free State appointee’ although it is often restated. Eoin MacNeill was a university professor from Antrim who had been MP for Derry city. He knew all the issues, but he just kept getting outvoded by the kangaroo jury.
    He was a part-timer, and as Jonathan Bardon put it: “Nevertheless, MacNeill was remarkably inept [examples]… and he indicated early on that even if he disagreed with his two colleagues he would sign the report in the interest of a peaceful settlement”

    antamadan: A net transfer of shag all given F & T had nationalist majorities.
    From Bardon again – 1.8% of the population and 3.7% of the land. That’s 27,000 people who could have lived out their lives in the Free State; and their descendants. Was it worth sacrificing them as an act of political self indulgence by the Dail?

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    RoC[12.48] I see Robinson is again spout lines in a DUP conference speech that knows nobody in the audience goes along with for a minute, and by his own actions, inactions and words afterwards demonstrates it’s all just for the optics, and he ‘s really with the ‘loyal’ [try telling that to George VI]rioters outside after the flag was restricted. Now he wants us to believe he thinks demograph changes can’t be wished away but he whipped up the mob in Dec a year ago to intimidate councillors out of effecting just those changes so we ‘re not fooled. The sole logic of the 1920 fix is that unionists only accept |NI as long as they have full power, therefore they sjhould own up that they want that demograph slippage refixed.

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

    ‘Four counties was all Unionism was entitled to back then if self determination was their genuine grievance – and it wasn’t feasible to partition the country for that small an area.’

    @RoC,

    When President Wilson proclaimed the right to self determination during WWI he unfortunately didn’t provide a rule book on how it was to be applied. Nationalists insisted that it applied only to the island as a whole, unionists insisted that it applied only to the areas in which nationalists were a majority. Had the nationalists been clever they would have allowed the unionists to have self determination but insisted that it applied on a county-by-county basis. But they didn’t. So they lost six counties instead of the four to which you feel they were entitled–now after a 25 year war in which the republicans tried to force people who considered themselves to be British to be Irish by shooting and bombing them. The brighter nationalists and republicans attempted to use the UK’s own traditions to advance the situation of nationalists, and had they not been foiled by the not so bright republicans they might have appealed to the British establishment to do something about those two counties. But, like the Palestinians, you now try to argue from an appeal to justice only after one to force has already failed.

  • Politico68

    tmitch – the not so bright Republicans seem to be doing pretty well these days

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

    @Politco68,

    And so are the not so bright unionists, but what about everyone else?

  • Politico68

    With respect, I don’t believe any serious commentator would agree with you there. Unionism at the moment is doing far from well, in fact its never been in worse shape.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Count EBvonG[8.48] Your last single line paragraph nails the ridiculous position of unionists here in 1912-21 ie; fighting the British to stay British. They were prepared then to indulge in slaughter every bit as costly in lives as the scale on which the Provos embarked to get their way, the blackmail which Britain gave into in 1921 but not the blackmail of the Provos from 1970 on. I checked to see what the news Letter editorial would have to say about the windsor feast and found they had a long piece about the merits of charging for plastic bags in supermarkets. Unionist parties have sulked throughout they state visit, which they must have found deeply embarassing to get through. I was surprised though at Robinsons line in his conference speech ‘London is neutral at best about NI’
    So he’s admitting to the accepting the contempt London holds unionists in as seen with the on the runs case. They told you to go away a century agho but you doidn’t take the hint. This is the result

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Politico68[5.21]And not a coincidence that since the fit of head staggers both unionist parties indulged in since December 2012, that the place of NI in the uk has seldom been seen as healthy. Political unionism needs NI’s place in the union to be constantly under threat so they can play the orange card to their electorate, and fewer and fewer of those voters see any need for their so called leaders. And both DUP are finding more and more that the cannon fodder aren’t so fooled any more.

  • Seamuscamp

    Please lay off the “democracy” bit when talking about the peri-WW1 period in the UK. The majority of the adult population were excluded from the electorate. Gender gerrymandering, to invent a phrase. And in the 19th Century, it was oligarchy.