A Bus Without Wheels

Northern Ireland is a great place for political clichés. “If only they could get around a table and talk,” is up there as number one.

But the most bizarre of the local political clichés is that only our local political parties can resolve our local problems. This concept – hard-wired into the idea of devolution – is clearly nonsensical.

We have an elected national parliament and Northern Ireland is supposedly represented at that parliament. But our political representatives do not participate in either government or opposition because they represent two “communities” that have no national relevance or involvement (in Britain or Ireland). Our political “parties” sit outside the national political discourse. Ours is the politics of parochial irrelevance.

When nationally important votes are taken our local MPs might be bothered to vote. Some might show up. Our supposed “Unionist” MPs mostly show indifference to any significant national political discussions. As a result they are ignored by the national media unless they might be able to shine some light on the latest crisis at Stormont.  They do not aspire to real power because they choose not to take the whip of governing or opposition parties.

Westminster is the only centre of power that matters, of course. It holds the purse-strings. It provides our block grant. It decides on issues like welfare reform and taxation policy. And yet, our local politicians are fixated by the groundhog-day, brain-dulling crap that passes for politics “on the hill” – a place that is bereft of any ability to decide, legislate or set example.

I remember Bob McCartney, when he was at the Assembly, suggesting that it was (I paraphrase) like a bus that had lost its wheels and was going nowhere. Inside the motley passengers were convinced it was still going somewhere and argued incessantly about the ultimate destination.

Nothing really has changed. The destination is still unknown and the passengers are getting very old.

The solution, of course, is to retire the bus and send it to the scrap-yard. We clearly have no need for it. Local politicians, if they want local power, can aspire to our new so-called super-councils. They can pretend to be important by deciding on bin collection rotas or swimming pool opening hours.

But there is no need for a Northern Ireland “legislative assembly” because it is unable to legislate.  Indeed we don’t even need departments of government. Most of the functionality that might be needed could be allocated to existing departments in England. Civil servants could be reallocated to those departments and be answerable to senior civil servants in Whitehall. Our civil service could be massively down-sized and most of our local quangos closed. At a stroke we would be better governed and more efficient.

But such a decision will not be taken, of course. Instead we’ll continue with the sham of pointless devolution because of veiled threats from the Shinners and a supine NIO.  Such is Northern Ireland.

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  • chrisjones2

  • Pasty2012

    The Only thing Mr Peel is this isn’t little England and after 800 years of English Rule the Natives still don’t want the English telling them what to do. You could well take all the functions of Government back and make all those savings you talk about, but as sure as night follows day you would lose all those savings when the Natives respond.
    Whilst looking at the benefits and savings from having England Rules us you have clearly not taken in the costs in Lives and money that would be needed ? Do you honestly think that Irish Republicans and Nationalists would simply say “oh Mr Peel is right, lets do what our English Masters tell us”?
    Have you learnt nothing from history.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    English Socialists don’t like being told what to do by English Tories. English Liberals don’t like being told what to do by Labour controlled councils. You may be an anti-English racist but I for one would prefer to be governed by a Conservative government than a useless stalemate coalition between DUP flat-earth creationists and Irish Republican Trotskyites.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Unemployment 1984 under Direct Rule – 19% … Unemployment under “sham” local government 7% … by all means sing the praises of direct rule.

    Even if you’re one of the people who loses their job Jeff.

  • Brian Walker

    Jeff, Many -usually the politically agnostic on the unionist side – see the attractions of direct rule. In the short term it has its attractions to be sure. Longer term there are three political problems with it. One, the national governments don’t share the enthusiasm. Two, it effectively disenfranchises Northern Ireland whose parties do not belong to the British party system and whose numbers – even if SF were to take their seats -are too small to have more than occasional, marginal effect on policy decisions.Westminster is by no means the only place that matters. The UK is going through the agonies of expanded devolution and the NI crisis is counter to the trend. Integrationists will now revive the case for UK party organisations in NI organising in earnest but this is likely to be no more successful than it was in the Molyneaux era which in any case, divided ulster unionists.

    But there is a bigger problem than those.. It is surely obvious that a long suspension of the Assembly will encourage street gangsterism and paramilitarism, the very outcome all parties claim they want to prevent and which so many people inside and beyond politics have been working so hard for so long to reduce.

  • Jim M

    Okay, serious question, sorry if I sound stupid: the Assembly was suspended between 2002 and 2007, the world didn’t end, there wasn’t a real upsurge in ‘street gangsterism and paramilitarism’ (indeed it wasn’t until the late 2000s that there seemed to be an upsurge in dissident activity)…so why would it be different now?

  • Kevin Breslin

    The only problem you have with Northern Ireland are the people living there. If Direct Rule is introduced you’ll have two problems … the people living here and the Northern Ireland Office who won’t do what you want them to do either.

    There was a great documentary on the Duke of Wellington last night, how a stanch Irish born Conservative was forced to admit defeat that he could no longer deny rights to lower class people and after Peterloo massacre and other attempts to consolidate power.

    The man who said “You must build your House of Parliament on the river: so… that the populace cannot exact their demands by sitting down round you.” conceded to allow the populace to have their say and voted for extended suffrage for a greater number of the English, the Scots and the Welsh and the Irish.

    Are you descended from landed gentry Jeff, or did you get rights because the nasty state was democratized.

  • Colmán

    Let me guess, you are either English or a member of the conservative party. Why should England rule Ireland and not France, Germany, or here’s one for you – Ireland?

  • Colmán

    Oh I forgot to mention. None of what you have said above are ‘cliches’ used in politics in the north of Ireland or even fit the definition of ‘cliche’. For example I have never heard anyone saying “If only they could get around a table and talk”. I for one would take 1000 DUP and UUP ‘local’ politicians over one more conservative government. Ireland has different customs which are not readily understood in southern England this means we require different laws and political policies.

  • kalista63

    The Tories stood in May, Cameron even parachuting some Brits in and they were rejected here. Now, we made ourselves clear and yet we are still to live under the Kosh of a party that can’t even get a seat here? Is that democracy?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Actually, if you go back far enough you’ll find out why. English did rule parts of France (Normandy), they did rule parts of what would now be modern Germany (Kingdom of Hanover) too … the Germans (Anglo-Saxons) and the French (Normans) ruled part of England, they effectively MADE England from Celtic/Roman Britain.

    The simple answer is that the forces of over a millenium of European Imperialism and Two World Wars hit a stalemate

  • chrisjones2

    The genetics show we are all mixed ‘race’ The differences are all largely meaningless and manufactured by lunatics and politicians on the make

  • chrisjones2

    “still don’t want the English telling them what to do”

    They they should elect politicians capable of co-operating with their fellow citizens and whose associates dont murder opponents

    And for the record, vice versa

    “you would lose all those savings when the Natives respond.”

    So you threaten war because DLA is cut? Some mistake surely. Surely they are all too disabled to work never mind organise a war?

  • chrisjones2

    Yes it is because we have MPs in Parliament. We are just the same position (indeed a better position) as UKIP voters

  • chrisjones2

    ” it effectively disenfranchises Northern Ireland whose parties do not belong to the British party system and whose numbers – even if SF were to take their seats -are too small to have more than occasional, marginal effect on policy decisions”

    Well the only party that applies to isThe Greens. The UUP have seats in the Lords. Under devolution they all also had marginal influence as they couldn’t agree on much . So what is the difference?

  • Biftergreenthumb

    I’m no fan of the idea of returning to direct rule but the idea that this would cause “the Troubles” to start up again is nonsense. The Troubles weren’t caused by Irish people getting sick of being told what to do by English people. It was caused by a vicious and brutal response to legitimate calls for civil rights. We’re all equals now. While a few looper dissidents will continue doing their thing there would be absolutely nothing to motivate a rational human being to take up arms and start murdering people just because we are directly ruled from Westminster. As long as we’ve got jobs, flat screen TVs and are treated equally you’re not going to get a revolution.

  • chrisjones2

    Yeah but in 1984 PIRA were blowing up businesses and murdering investors. That may have had an impact

  • Colmán

    I think it was the other way around Kevin. William the Conquerer from Normandy invaded England and defeated King Harold in 1066. It took over a century before the same Normans invaded Ireland and set into motion the ‘800 years’ Patsy refers to above. Regarding the Germans ruling England – there was no such place as Germany when the Angles and Saxons arrived in Britain. They arrived in a largley Welsh (or British Celtic speaking country) and hacked a home for themselves beyond the cliffs of Dover (meaning ‘water’ in the Celtic languages). But this is ancient history and bears little relevance to our current situation. To want England to continue ruling us strikes me as absolutley insane.

  • chrisjones2

    That take 1000 of each is your right but you libe in the UK and the Conservatives form our Government so tough ….that’s life. If you don’t like Tory Governments and Corbyn is elected tomorrow I suggest you seriously consider emigration

    As for “Ireland has different customs” I agree. But collectively history has shown that they often include:

    myopia
    regionalism
    cronyism
    nimbyism
    welfare addiction
    racism
    homophobia
    an unhealthy level of respect for churches and religion

    and much higher levels of overall graft and corruption

    There are more positive ones too but sadly, for me, they tend to be overwhelmed by the above. So unless we can agree on a rational and fair Government in De Nurth its better that we subcontract it to others to do their best for us.

  • Colmán

    Well I’m sorry you feel that way about Ireland Chris. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else and while I am living here I would rather not be ruled by people that I will never meet.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Did I not explicitly say that the English, French and Germans were invading each other’s lands?

    Did I not explain that the very name England comes from “Anglo”-Saxon origin? The fact it’s called Angleterre in French, Sassana in Gaelic confirms this.

    Yes the then future Kingdom of England was invaded by the Continental Europeans, but it then The Kingdom of England and the UK went on to invade continental Europe itself.

    The Kingdom of Hannover was taken by the English/British and was actually even part of the UK for a while. The Germanic state joined the Prussians, Saxons etc. in a new unified Germany a few decades later.

    There were English dominions in France.

    I wasn’t arguing against anything you said.

  • Colmán

    You did Kevin. I like you am interested in the history of ancient Britain and Ireland. But I don’t think past conquests have much relevance to the current situation in Ireland.

  • Pasty2012

    I am not an Anti English racist that you have decided to call me, indeed I have family who are English. However I am Irish and this is Ireland and we have a right to Self Determination. You provide a lot of slurs on people for not wanting you and your English friends to Govern Us.
    The overall issues here are due to the Unionist Parties refusal to treat Nationalists as Equal and much of that if down to the English Governments through the years passing Laws against Irish Catholics and then providing cover for the Unionist Government in the North to continue down the same road.
    At the end of the day the Assembly may be hard to work but if the English Government change their approach to Unionists and force them to accept people as Equals then it is likely to change, but either way we can govern ourselves without the English telling us what to do.
    Just to end this, Not wanting the English to tell me how to live doesn’t mean I am a racist. There has to be mutual respect between Nations and their people Not Dominance by one over the other, this is 21st Century. I would like to hear your opinion on the peoples of the Crimea and Palestine and other places in the World who express a view against those from other countries passing Laws and Ruling them ?

  • Colmán

    Sorry Kevin, I misread your post as often happens on these forums.

  • Pasty2012

    Yes the English Queen is actually German and their name Saxo-Coberg not Windsor.

  • Colmán

    It would be interesting to see the same figures for England, Scotland and the south of Ireland.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Pre war dividend and post war dividend Ulster wasn’t a bastion of enterprise either. Seems blowing up and murdering Germans was the last bit of economic stimulus some areas had got.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I wasn’t talking about race, I was talking about cultures, particularly linguistic ones.

  • Kevin Breslin

    She’s a forth generation Kildare woman too.

  • barnshee

    And where will the “natives” get the money if Mr Peel had his way/

    And how would the “natives ” like it if he withdrew even more money to pay for the damage when ” when the Natives respond.” or indeed if Mr Peel says raise your own funds? (as Mr Peel should have done decades ago)

  • barnshee

    Then don`taske their money- stand on your principles– and pay back your share of the subvention

  • barnshee

    Don`t want the “Irish” telling the ulster prods what to do

    “Not wanting the” Irish “to tell me how to live doesn’t mean I am a racist.”

  • Colmán

    I’m not sure what you mean by subvention barnshee. But I think that we could manage fine on our own and even thrive if given the chance to raise our own taxes. I see no potential for growth under direct rule or even limited devolution.

  • Zeno

    “Do you honestly think that Irish Republicans and Nationalists would simply say “oh Mr Peel is right, lets do what our English Masters tell us”?”

    What will they do then?

  • Zeno

    We have deficit of at least £10 billion which is covered by Subvention or the Block Grant as it’s known. The deficit is the difference between what we raise in tax etc and what we spend.

  • Colmán

    Thanks Zeno.

  • Pasty2012

    I don’t who you are reply to. I never made any of the remarks you have highlighted.
    However the “Ulster Prods” are already told what to do by the Irish.
    1, the Ulster “Prods” who live in the Republic – 3 counties of them.
    2, the Irish Government who put forward and agree what is happening on cross border issues like Hospitals and child heart surgery etc.
    3 Those Irish in Government in the Assembly.
    All that aside you have to get used to the fact that people of different religious beliefs will hold posts in Government, the days of single Religious Domination are over and the Ulster Unionist Orange Order members who ruled have to get used to that more than anyone.

  • submariner

    Most of the rest of us prefer to be governed by people we actually vote for ,its known as democracy you should try it sometime.

  • barnshee

    The undead on teh hill have the ability to raise some taxes Rates? water charges anyone? Given their inability to do anything other than drink free tea and coffee I am not confident in their ability to “manage fine on our own and even thrive if given the chance to raise our own taxes”

  • barnshee

    1, the Ulster “Prods” who live in the Republic – 3 counties of them.

    er successfuilly hounded down to 3% of the population keeping their trap shut

    2, the Irish Government who put forward and agree what is happening on cross border issues like Hospitals and child heart surgery etc.

    Who are paying for and being charged for services provided – a good commercial system -provided teh charges are met

  • Colmán

    Do you agree with Jeff that we should just accept direct rule from Westminister barnshee or do you think we should have devolution? If so what should we be able to decide?

    The problem with direct rule as far as I can see is there is no recourse, public consultation ect. once a decision is made it is final.

  • chrisjones2

    Are Lingus and Ryanair offer great cheap flights to London. Its a wonderful city. You should get out more. As an Irishman I bet half your extended family lives there …I know mine does

  • John Collins

    Chris
    ‘Regionalism’ – Well there is plenty of that in the mainland, after two and a half centuries ++, Scotland and Wales insist on having Parliaments of their own.
    ‘an unhealthy level of respect for churches and religion’ – well neither the First Minister in Stormont or the Taoiseach in Leinster house considers themselves to be head of a particular religion or is their a law banning somebody from holding either position because they subscribe to one particular religious denomination. It should be also noted than a number of Protestant Bishops have an automatic right to seats in the House of Lords.
    I think it could be said that small regional administrations are not the only ones with ‘an unhealthy respect for churches and religion’.
    I am also sure there are parts of mainland GB every bit as addicted to Welfare Benefits as people are in the North of Ireland.

  • Colmán

    Do you think David Cameron would consider meeting a private citizen to discuss a grievance, a project or a business venture? I know Peter Robinson or Martin McGuinness or one of the other government ministers here would. I think that the Tory cabinet might be too busy however. And no half my family do not live in London. Besides big cities don’t impress me If I was going to go to England I would rather go to Somerset or Northumberland. Maybe you should try some fresh country air it gives you a sense of freedom you know.

  • Ernekid

    It’s a fantasy to try to impose the political culture of England to Northern Ireland.

    Northern Irish MPs have always been irrelevant in Westminster. If direct rule is imposed then there’ll be a serious democratic deficit. The Tories have zero mandate in Northern Ireland.

  • Colmán

    How do you know when we havn’t tried it? Are you afraid of failure?

  • John Collins

    Well there were never targeted ‘clearances’ of COI people in the ROI like there was of RCs out of the shipyards in Belfast. The big difference may have been that Catholics seem to have refused to be ‘successfully hounded’ out of the North.

  • Steve Larson

    Why can’t things go back to like they were.

    The redux article.

  • Steve Larson

    Does anyone actually want to go back to that past, apart from yourself and a few hard line Unionists.

    Looking at what if options can be fun but we both know that London or Dublin, never mind SF or the DUP will agree to it.

  • chrisjones2

    “Natives still don’t want the English telling them what to do ” …they just want them to pay for it

  • chrisjones2

    Why do we have to have English people. SOS NI could appoint two Ministers who could be local. One male and one female perhaps and from different traditions. Sylvia, for example, would be brilliant but she s probably too left wing. They could even be made members of the Lords and tasked in getting on with it working together to represent everyone

    Accountability would be through SOSNI in the Commons

    Simples.

  • chrisjones2

    ” I know Peter Robinson or Martin McGuinness or one of the other government ministers here would. ”

    ……. but that is half the problem innit

  • chrisjones2

    that’s at least £11000 a year each in extra tax. Good luck

  • chrisjones2

    I didn’t say we had a monopoly on them!!!

    “neither the First Minister in Stormont or the Taoiseach in Leinster house considers themselves to be head of a particular religion” but they do profess deep adherence

    “or is their a law banning somebody from holding either position”

    I agree totally. Disestablish the CoE

    “parts of mainland GB every bit as addicted to Welfare Benefits as people are in the North of Ireland.”

    Possibly …but the political class don’t make a fetish of it

  • chrisjones2

    Ok …but the same applies. How much Latin underpins French and English ?

  • chrisjones2

    “indeed I have family who are English”

    told you!!! We all do. And so do they have family who are Irish

  • chrisjones2

    “Well there were never targeted ‘clearances’ of COI people in the ROI like there was of RCs out of the shipyards in Belfast. ”

    Yeah …that’s why they all left in 2 generations. Another hidden shame of Ireland

  • Colmán

    It is amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it Chris. But the “can’t, won’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t” people are stunted by their own lack of confidence.

  • chrisjones2

    No worse deficit than in Cornwall or Manchester

  • chrisjones2

    I agree. The UP was dreadful on economic development – unless senior members were making a buck out of it

  • Zeno

    Robbo plays his Hokey Cokey card ……………. haven’t seen that one for a while.

  • Colmán

    “innit” (isn’t it?) I don’t see any problem there at all Chris. Do you even live in Ireland?

  • Pasty2012

    barnshee – “er successfuilly hounded down to 3% of the population keeping their trap shut” is ill founded.
    There is 2 very good reasons why the % rate of Protestants in the South reduced, the first being that they were encouraged by Carson and the Northern Parliament to go North. Secondly the Catholic Populations higher birth rate would always reduce the % Protestant population over time, just as the Protestant population in the North has also reduced in % terms due to the higher Catholic birth rate which has seen their overall % rate rise over the years.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Most people are indeed afraid of failure particularly when important things are at stake. What you seem to be overlooking, Colmán, is that Stormont MLAs have achieved next to nothing when they were given the opportunity. Instead you seem to blame it on their lack of tax & spend powers. Peel’s analogy was incorrect: there were 2 clapped out buses trying to run a bus service and each went out of their way to ensure that neither bus never actually ran at all. They can be judged by their performance not by your deathless optimism.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Saxe-Coburg and Gotha actually and the present British monarch’s mother was Scottish and her great grandmother was Danish. The Spanish king is a Borbon (corrupted French surname). The King of the Belgians is half Swedish. Tha last King of the Belgians married a Spaniard but luckily for the Belgians she didn’t produce offspring cos that would have been miscegenation of the most outrageous sort. I could go on but what does it prove to you? You should be less fixated on the Anglo-Saxon world It’s not the be all and end all. And who cares that QEII has some Kraut ancestry?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Not much when it comes to English. English is teutonic

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Hanover wasn’t taken at all but was already inherited by the yet to be George I. The English throne was then bestowed on him by the British parliament. It stopped being part of the realm when Salic Law prohibited the female Victoria from inheriting it. Bismarck came alone some time later.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Those statistics should be put into a wider historical UK & Ireland context. It’s not direct rule that caused those higher figures.

  • submariner

    difference is England doesn t have a devolved assembly

  • submariner

    What a great idea lets have unelected people appointed by a person who got absolutely no votes here rule over us.Democracy in action.

  • John Collins

    Well Chris. I think there are many reasons for the decline of the Protestant population in the South. No doubt Ne Temere played its part but there were other reasons. There was violent attacks in West Cork after the War of Independence but many respected historians claim that apart from this and a few other isolated incidents Protestants were certainly not threathened or intimated like RCs were from 1795, with the second ‘To Hell or to Connacht’ campaign up to the late seventies when RCs in areas of good employment n Belfast were told by Union Reps it would better not to turn up for work for ‘their own safety’. And yes I do appreciate RCs intimidated Protestants in the North, but I do not think the RIC would stand idly by, if they were present when it was happening, like they did in Bombay Street in the early seventies.
    But to get back to the South and other reasons for the decline in the Protestant there
    (1) Small families. Look at Germany today- crying out for inward immigration because of this
    (2) Huge losses of young males from Protestant population in both World Wars, especially WW1
    (3) Emigration and long connection with the British Colonial project and general attraction to the British way of life
    (4) End of the Big House and Landlordism, where the best jobs were always more readily available to Protestant employees,
    Finally the Protestant percentage of the population in the South is now 3.8% and is rising slowly but surely.

  • barnshee

    Great settle for the tax raised in NI now where will you
    1 begin your tax rises or/and
    2 decide on where to cut pensions, child benefits ,public sector wages?
    Do tell

  • barnshee

    All funded by the UK tax payer–Remove the subvention and the population will over time fall to the appropriate level and similar for employment

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Republic of Ireland’s level of unemployment preferable?

  • Kevin Breslin

    What competitive advantages did Northern Ireland gain under direct rule, even if it was difficult times?
    All I recall were failed enterprise zone schemes.

  • Gingray

    It needs to go, but English rule has had many chances in Ireland and ultimately always failed. Time for an all Ireland government, the English would prefer it

  • Gingray

    Nope! I want them to clearly state their intentions because your preferred system would see a return of England taking Irelands best produce – in this case young white educated English speaking, Northern Ireland costs a pittance and it’s bipolar education system produces some great people to go work in England

  • Colmán

    Brilliant banshee. These are exactly the type of questions we need to be asking. First of all let’s work out how much revenue is actually raised in NI. Cross border shopping, tourism, inward investment. Can any of these areas be improved on?

  • Colmán

    I’m not too sure what deathless optimism means Ben de Hellenbacque. However I can see clearly the difference between where we are now and where we were in 1992 If you can’t I’m sorry for that. We have opportunities now that we never had back then. And let us not forget that the GFA is an internationally recognised treaty voted in by referendum. The majority of the people voted for the system we have now and we are the better off for it!

  • Colmán

    Surely the politicians need to have an aim to measure their worth. What better aim for any country than full fiscal autonomy?

  • Gallowglass_rn

    We were double taxed for centuries by the English. While being part of their “country” they taxed the “imports” from Ireland while forbidding us to tax their exports to us. Read up on the Navigation Acts too. Irish industries were destroyed deliberately and Ireland did not develop under their rule because they wanted us to stay poor. Too bad we are richer than them (per capita) now.

  • Gallowglass_rn

    The genetics show the Irish are not mixed race. Genocidists like to obliterate native people`s identity to excuse their colonialism. If you don`t like Ireland or the Irish go home white settler.

  • Gallowglass_rn

    They left because their white settler identity no longer gave them priority in good jobs, government and careers-a lot of white settlers left South Africa in the 1990s after removal of their privilege too.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I say outsource the running of NI to the Swiss for 8 years;

    If they say that there’s too many schools and that money could be saved by merging a few (whilst still offering ‘choice’) then let us listen to them and not harp on about it being ‘an exercise in social engineering’.

    If they feel that 3000+ parades is detrimental to the economy then let us listen to them and reel the parades in a bit instead of accusing them of religious genocide against Protestants (the Swiss Cantons were instrumental in the Reformation).

    If they say it’s better to connect L’Derry to Belfast via Antrim, Ballymena and Coleraine by motorway then let us bow to their better judgement of all things transporty.

    Whinging that ‘well they’re all Protestant towns so you can’t do that’ won’t cut any ice as the Swiss are not about putting Irish Catholics under the boot…

    If they say NI needs a flag then organise a ruddy flag…

    If they have neutral, non-politically tarnished ideas regarding the handling of languages like Irish then so be it, they are a tri (or quad?)-lingual country and know what they’re talking about.

    If they say we don’t need TWO teacher training colleges (in a land with a surplus of teachers) then they might have a point.

    They might even suggest something whacky like using these savings to expand Magee College.

    Again, no one could accuse them of political or religious bias.
    Well, actually, we probably would…

    After that when the books have been sort of balanced we can then release the clowns back into Stormont and if they wish to blow millions on wrecking the place, then so be it. It’s what we want. It’s what we deserve.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Patsy

    You’re spot on with the percentage argument and birth rate.
    Many Protestants tell each other that there was a nationwide night of the long knives that resulted in an overnight reduction in numbers.

    Yes, there were things like Clifden Orphanage and dubious things in Cork county but nothing to the extent that we are led to believe.

    Add onto that the withdrawal of the British civil administration, the Civil War (and hounding of the Anglo-Irish) it’s no wonder it fell.

    And as you said there was an element of ‘go north young man’.

    Like the potato famine and the 1640’s it’s seldom a rationally discussed topic.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Those exercising the power, submariner, seldom think of their position as other than the most common seise of positions……..

    Devolution is for the subservient, although the thought of the boys and girls on the hill having any real power finds me waking in a sweat at four in the morning. That is unless the “entire” community here could exercise a possible vote of veto……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The targeted actions in Cork and other parts of the south, john, developed in a situation where similar targeting was being carried out by some nominally within law agencies here in the north. If you call up “the McMahon killings” on Wikipedia you’ll come on one such instance.

    The late Peter Hart, John, might have perhaps challenged the absence of targeted “clearances” in west Cork, to take one case:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-IRA-Its-Enemies-Community/dp/0198205376

    I feel his scholarship is sound in describing something that while not simply confessional in its targeting, was clearly a form of political cleansing.

    The problem is that both “sides” were acting outside the proper rule of law during the War of Independence to target and intimidate those they believed to threaten them, something that must be recognised properly if we are to evaluate the legacy of these things historically. I wrote something about the long term fall out of one of these events on Slugger about eight months back:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2015/01/17/of-speakers-yoghurt-murdering-pensioners-and-hypocrisy/#comment-1799367169

    But regarding your point, it simply seems to have come down to numbers whether violence permitted either camp to effectively displace their fellow citizens. The large communities of Catholics in Belfast “absorbed” the violence rather more successfully than the small groups of dispersed protestants in west Cork. Similarly, sizeable protestant communities in Dublin and other urban centres in the south continued to function well into the life of the Free State, often still do, certainly with much less onerous political “targeting” than the nationalist communities of the north continued to experience right up to the advent of NICRA. But there were still those who were just a s prepared to drive the perceived enemy out, as the very targeted burning of great houses during the Civil War showed. In the course of my life I’ve met many of those violently driven out of land holdings to England or the Empire at this time, including some with historical names that even adorn Hibernian banners! And to this day when you attempt to buy property in Munster, sometimes the ownership search fizzles out as the title to the land is still with the descendants of those hounded out long ago, rather than those now occupying the land who are attempting to sell it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John, “many respected historians claim that apart from this and a few other isolated incidents Protestants were certainly not threathened or intimated like RCs were from 1795, with the second ‘To Hell or to Connacht’ campaign”….

    But others do, and I’ve come across (anecdotal I know….) quite a few descendants of, or occasionally the actual people, who clearly felt that they were intimidated because of association with Crown forces, or even simply the “ancien regime”. All four factors you mention applied, but also ten fifth of simmering intimidation. Before my late mother in law, then living in west Cork, bought a local car, her English reg Mercedes was regularly damaged when she parked in the local villages.

    This is not to say that the brutal activities of Catholic targeting and cultural repression that marked the north after partition can in any way be explained or excused, but protestants across the rural south were easy, soft targets, despite what I hold to be the sincerely declared ethos of the Free State, that Ireland valued all its citizens. And there was much private land grabbing thinly disguised as “patriotism”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Interlopers, usurpers, “the English King is actually German” and his current family name is Wittlesbach……

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz,_Duke_of_Bavaria

    Importantly, the grandson of Francis II is the first descendant in the direct line of the Stuarts to have been born in London since James III.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d add to that that I’d rather not be ruled by the quality (or its lack) of those my fellow citizens tend to elect here, but then I’m a “direct democracy” man……

  • John Collins

    Well Sean for whatever reason(s) West Cork seems to have been very bad when it comes to toleration of Protestants but I feel having relations around Bandon who were involved in farming and having myself lived in Rathcormac and being married to a person from North Wexford I feel, at least over the past fifty years, COI and RC people in all those three areas seem to have got on quite well.
    Sean I take your point about private land grabbing but both my paternal grandparents came from families who had their small farms grabbed by other Catholics, with the connivance of Protestant agents. The latter were employed by Landlords and were often, and with good reason, heartily detested.

  • John Collins

    Sean the burning houses might never have taken place but for the burning of co operative creameries which was done by the British during the Tan War. This was a direct attack on small farming communities to break support for the IRA of the day. Michael Collins was the man who ordered the burning of the Big Houses.

  • John Collins

    Did Billy Wright ever murder anybody?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John, as an historian I certainly know about the creameries, something that hit across the entire farming community of whatever confession, but the destruction of the big houses was a simplistic response driven by the bitterness of the Tan war. Families who had contributed greatly to Irish history and culture were driven out, amongst some I personally know are the descendants of one branch of the Sarsfields, just one ugly example amongst many.

    Personally I believe that the earlier non co-operation policies that many proposing an “Irish Ireland” recommended before 1911 would have been more dramatically successful in creating all-Ireland independence. Gandhi, influenced by what was originally Irish Ireland thinking on non-resistance through Margret Cousins quite clearly showed how very effective this approach could be.

    The reality is that violence polarises communities, whereas something that clearly shows suffering under oppression unites. I am not with those attempting to “tit-for-tat” justify what horrors went on in the north! Far, far from the justification of any violence as I hope I’ve made clear, but there was a great deal of reactive violence and intimidation everywhere from all sides that cannot simply be dismissed or in any way justified. Asked to differentiate between good and bad sides in the political polarities of the 1930s in Europe W.B. Yeats stated that the real issue was between the victims of all sides and those perpetrating violence on them. That would be my understanding of the War of Independence and the Civil War that followed, and especially the terrible erosion of culture and of the quality of everyday life of communities in the north, the death of kindness, that Partition ensured.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I know what you mean about Bandon from my experience of many friends in the area. Similarly my own C of I relatives in the Crossmaglen/Creggan area have excellent relations also with their neighbours, just to qualify the more simplistic badlands perception of the area.

    And yes, either political camp, with violence favouring them, have (and still do) used their ascendency to oppress the weak. There has been protestant land-grabbing in areas of the north even in the recent troubles to equal anything that is put down to Republican intimidation.

    The reality is that much that is criminal and self-interested has always gone on under the cloak of politics across the whole of Ireland. This is not to in any way smear the aspirations of “Irish Ireland” and the men of 1916, something of an entirely other order of morality, but it does go on and ignoring it either historically or at the current time permits it to acquire a spurious legitimacy as an aspect of political action.

  • John Collins

    Thanks Seaan for a very reasoned and intelligent response. I agree one hundred per cent that violence and even lower grades on intimidation achieves little or nothing in the long term.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John, thank you for your comment. And just to flesh out my position a little, I’m not unaware that the problem still remains as to just how anyone reacts when faced with something like the Black and Tans. I’m a life-long pacifist (from a family of soldiers) but a destructive intimidatory campaign of promiscuous violence can cause a lot of damage even when faced with an entire community practicing non-engagement. Its a very difficult act (although not an entirely impossible one) to simply hold to the moral high ground against such evil.