President Obama jumps the Sinn Féin shark…

One of the benefits of being a US President in your final year in office, as well as getting to decide who can and can’t come to your party, is the freedom to say what you really think – even if President Obama continues to appear to be mis-briefed on shared, as opposed to integrated, education here…  ANYhoo…

As the BBC report notes, US President Barack Obama was speaking in London to an audience of young people when he responded to a question on the Northern Ireland Peace Process© from Clíona McCarney, who was “honoured to have asked” the question.  From the BBC report

Mr Obama said: “You know better than I do, but one of the things you see in Northern Ireland that’s most important is the very simple act of recognising the humanity of those on the other side of the argument.

“Having empathy and a sense of connection to people who are not like you.

“That has taken time, but you are now seeing that among young people who are interacting more.

It requires forging a new identity that is about being from Northern Ireland as opposed to unionist or Sinn Féin, just deciding the country as a whole is more important than any particular faction or any particular flag. [added emphasis]

“This is a challenging time to do that because there is so much uncertainty in the world right now.”

Other sources, including the Belfast Telegraph, have further quotes.  From the Irish Times report

Mr Obama said integrated education is “one of the most encouraging” developments in Northern Ireland.

“One of the things that you’ve seen in Northern Ireland that’s most important is the very simple act of recognising the humanity of those on the other side of the argument.

“Having empathy and a sense of connection with people who are not like you.” He said it requires “forging a new identity that is about being from Northern Ireland as opposed to being Unionist or Sinn Féin”.

He said it is about deciding the country as a whole is more important than any particular faction. “This is a challenging time to do that because there is so much uncertainty in the world right now, because things are changing so fast, there’s a temptation to forge identities, tribal identities, that give you a sense of certainty, a buffer against change.

“And that’s something, our young people, they have to fight against, whether you’re talking about Africa, or the Middle East, or Northern Ireland, or Burma.

“The forces that lead to the most violence and the most injustice typically spring out of people saying ‘I want to feel important by dividing the world into us and them. And them threatens me, and so I’ve got to make sure that my tribe strikes out first’.

“And fighting that mentality and that impulse requires us to begin very young with our kids. [added emphasis again]

“One of the most encouraging things in Northern Ireland is children starting to go to school together and having a sense that we’re all in this together, as opposed to it’s us against them,” he said.

Mr Obama added it is “going to take some time” and will depend on the leaders of the future.

And, from the Belfast Telegraph report

On the second full day of his visit to the UK, Mr Obama addressed young people in Westminster and was asked about the role America has played in the peace process and how this will continue.

Mr Obama described it as a “story of perseverance” and said “folks are working these issues through”.

He added: “What’s interesting is the degree to which the example of peacemaking in Northern Ireland is now inspiring others.

“So in Colombia and Latin America right now they’re trying to undergo a peace process and they’ve actually brought people from Northern Ireland to come and describe how you overcome years of enmity and hatred and intolerance, and try to shape a country that is unified.”

Just to point out, he’s still talking about Northern Ireland there.

[Are you listening Martin!? – Ed]  It’s just another “malign foreign influence”…  [The Dark Side?! – Ed]  Possibly…

And for those who can’t, or won’t, remember, we have an archive for that.

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  • Zig70

    For a president of the US to decry nationalism, where 64% don’t own a passport and have never left the country, the most nationalist country I’ve been in is laughable. You can start a fight in seconds in the US by denouncing them, even in polite company.
    Also, integrated education is pretty rare in the true meaning. I’m for integrated education but only one that respects and embraces the Irish culture. Where do we see that? IE is used to attack Catholic education rather than create a society of mutual respect.

  • New Yorker

    When President Obama said: “The forces that lead to the most violence and the most injustice typically spring out of people saying ‘I want to feel
    important by dividing the world into us and them.” I wonder if he was thinking of NI politicians who often appear to “want to feel important by dividing.”

  • Croiteir

    Yes he did. We occupy his mind at every turn

  • Croiteir

    And we see the effect of continuous discrimination in its favour were schools are facing a budgetary crisis while integrated schools have half a bill to spend and are having to discuss what to do with it.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’m no fan of nationalism of any hue but America’s nationalism at least unites people (to an extent, when you go too far right it gets a bit nuts) but the nationalism (including British nationalism) in NI divides people e.g. that’s why we had a McGuinness and a Magennis both from West of the Bann talking to each other as if they were from different planets.

    As for integrated education I agree; many people in NI play pipes, fifes, gaelic games and learn Irish, I think the education system should reflect this, particularly the integrated sector, I can’t see the appeal of systematic ‘blandification’.

  • Ryan A

    Most Integrated schools do offer gaelic games … I’m aware of one in a staunchly unionist town in the East of NI which does.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Thankyou Ryan, that’s ‘fact of the day’.

    To be honest I’ve just lazily accepted the accusation that most integrated schools are not accommodating to Irish culture just because I’ve heard it so many times from nationalist commentators.

    I find this most heartening, cheers!

  • Ryan A

    It’s been a work in progress over the last number of years. A lot of integrated schools are ‘transformed’ from controlled so it does take a few years to see full integration come to fruition. As far as I’m aware it normally starts as an after school activity, then moves onto the curriculum as an option – they usually run PE with a larger group and split it into two to cater for preferences.

    One of the more interesting education trends I’ve noticed in recent years is the upwardly mobile nationalists of South Belfast sending their kids to the likes of Methody/Inst/Wellington/Victoria where their children will end up knowing little outside Rugby and Hockey!

  • So basically, Obama would prefer us all to be de-nationalised Alliance voters.

  • Zig70

    So where does Obama send his kids to school? It wouldn’t be a religious private school? Hmm. Like Liam Neeson, who feels fit to tell us how to educate our kids and has another rule for his own.

  • Redstar

    I don’t think there’s an interfering gun ho regime on this planet that goes about ” dividing the world into us and them” quite like his own

  • Ryan A

    Hmmm, let me think… maybe because both live in a country where Religion is Religion and not a reason to knock seven shades of sh1t out of another person like it was here for decades?

  • Dominic Hendron

    Blandification vs political and cultural pole dancing (with honourable exceptions)

  • ted hagan

    A lot of embarrassed foot-shuffling where integrated education is concerned.
    FINE. A GOOD THING. As long as our schools aren’t involved of course.

  • ted hagan

    Take religion out of schools.

  • Surveyor

    I think there’s been 23 mass shootings in the USA since Barack Obama was elected as President. I’m not sure how he can speak of empathy and having a sense of connection when his own country seems to be in such turmoil.

  • Cosmo

    surely, they’ve just got too many guns, which you can’t blame on Obama.

  • Teddybear

    There’s nothing wrong with religious education. There’s many such schools in England and all over the world. Shared education and shared leisure activities however is key.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Zig, that’s quite disingenuous; in the US you’re an American and just as likely to play certain sports regardless of your religion, in NI that’s not the case.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Nationalism (apart from perhaps federal nationalism) has been a violent plague in Europe since the mid nineteenth century, it would be nice to have some respite from its malignant influence.

  • Zig70

    Oh I don’t think it is disingenuous. Obama talking about kids going to school together when he chose a private Quaker school and Neeson sent his kids to a private Episcopalian school. It’s the whole, ‘the children are the future’ bollocks which plays to the media and gets the political class out of having to look at the actual issues. The bit that caught my attention is the use of Unionist and Sinn Fein. That’s a bit of a pat on the back to call SF nationalism.

  • jm

    It’s not just South Belfast. The majority of kids in my son’s P.7 class are heading to the local controlled, non-denominational co-ed grammar. I’ve seen the numbers increase year on year since my daughter was at primary. It’s a good school with good facilities and it’s handy for them to get to. Seems sensible to me. And our school is by no means a school of the middle classes.

  • Heather Richardson

    At the integrated secondary school my son attends, Irish is a compulsory subject in the first year, and pupils who continue with it have the annual stay in the Gaeltacht. Gaelic games are on offer too, for girls and boys. No rugby though – we mustn’t be posh enough for that!

  • Surveyor

    Who does the buck stop with then?

  • Neil

    I attended an ‘integrated’ school (90% Protestant) which had no Irish or GAA, but did sing GSTQ at the odd assembly, pushed the cadets, taught us of the evils of Nationalism and how those poor Israelis kept getting tortured by those awful Palestinian people.

    I suppose the lesson there is that not all ‘integrated schools’ are the same. That begs the question what does integrated schooling actually mean if it can be anything from a traditionally Protestant education system right through, presumably, to a Catholic school attended by a few Protestants.

  • Lionel Hutz

    To be fair…’s the constitution so the buck stops with the people of America.

  • aquifer

    Great if the state is favouring integrated schools. Why should any state subsidise sectarian instability?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    A very good question Neil. If we can establish which is ‘the norm’ then perhaps the discussions regarding IE wouldn’t be so polarised so quickly.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Thanks Heather, nice to hear of another insight.

  • Ryan A

    It is heavily individual depending on the school. Having attended one myself (heavily protestant also), we actually were taught Irish history from Brian Boru right up to 1921 – From first to third year with the guts of a term on it in each year. I have to admit I never once heard GSTQ, we did have a remembrance service on the 11/11 which you were
    required to wear a poppy to, but you were definitely not made to go to. And the one of the biggest annual charity drives we had was for Trocaire. Seemed to balance out alright in hindsight.

  • Heather Richardson

    My understanding is that an integrated school should be 40-40-20 (Protestant-Catholic-other/none). That is certainly the criteria for our local integrated primary and secondary school. The make up of the Board of Governors and the staff was also reflective of those proportions. Was your school actually officially designated as integrated, Neill?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, AG, the problem still remains that the “answer to nationalism”, Globalism (Inter-nationalism or super-state federal bodies) actually shares many of the characteristics of the smaller state nationalism which it despises, especially if one defines nationalism in Gellner’s sense as a modernising, centralising political methodology rather than as “identity politics”:

    I’d identify the “violent plague” with the homogenous centralisation of “an anonymous impersonal society, with mutually sustainable atomised individuals, held together above all by a shared culture” which has been well rounded off to avoid all those quirks of genuine local identity! This is a characteristic both of the nineteenth century nation states and perhaps even more so of the larger bodies which have displaced the old nation states.

  • Paddy Reilly

    So what Obama is saying is we need to abolish division (of Nationalists and Unionists) in order to secure division (of North and South). A rather stupid idea which obviously doesn’t work.

    This is the advantage that Unionism has: you draw an imaginary line through a lot of bogs and outsiders think it’s real. It isn’t, and the sooner we are rid of it the better.

  • Jollyraj

    “you draw an imaginary line through a lot of bogs and outsiders think it’s real. It isn’t”

    Ah, yes, the tiresome Nationalist failure to realise that you can ignore reality, but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality

  • Skibo

    Gobbledygook Jollyraj Gobbledygook.
    You cannot get over the fact that the border was drawn at the point of a gun. Terrorism, but in your eyes acceptable terrorism while terrorism to remove the same border dividing a country is not acceptable?

  • Skibo

    A pat on the back or an acceptance of the situation?

  • Jollyraj

    The border was drawn in acknowledgement of the reality on the ground, and to avoid a civil war between North and South.

    The campaign to remove the border was carried out in willful blindness to the realities on the ground.

  • Kevin Breslin

    We are all ourselves, are we not? Even the unionists!

  • Kevin Breslin

    So somehow Obama doesn’t turn his attent the US-Canadan border goes away because they share NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLS grounds… Give in!

    Look, I respect everyone’s right to self-determination … unionism and nationalism are dissent one way, consent the other as established by the Good Friday Agreement.

    I don’t think for a second getting rid of division has anything to do with conformity to aspiration, but mutual respect that grows practical partnerships between people, even if those have political differences.

    Respect for personal identity and personal constitutional aspiration are paramount.

    Scotland can have a debate about self-determination without trying to maintain exclusively nationalist and unionist regions without interactions between them, why can’t we at least try to fill some of our skill gaps by having some of our workers cross community lines ever so often?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I would argue globalization pretty much began before the existence of nation state or empire, in the loosest definitions of the word in an anthropological sense, it began with the wanderlust.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d imagine that Gellner’s thesis bears this out fully. The modernisation process with its demand for standardisation of education and skills for a global marketplace is political “nationalism’s” real all defining factor, rather than the more obvious and colourful characteristics that are popularly supposed to mark nationalism.

    By this definition, through, our Globalised world is simply a massive version of “nationalism”, and not in any way an escape from the problems posed by earlier more circumscribed nationalisms. It’s simply the substitution of an even more generalised and homogenised version of “acceptable” identity for that first draft of identity abstraction as found in the more familiar nation state.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’ve probably jusr read too many sci fi books

  • Paddy Reilly

    The border was drawn to accommodate the reality of Unionist leaning Lisburn and simultaneously assert the existence of a fictitious Unionist leaning Newry.

    The campaign to remove the border was carried out in full awareness of the realities on the ground. Each IRA Brigade covered an area whose majority population could be expected to support their aims, if not always their methods. There was no North Down or East Antrim Brigade.

  • Croiteir

    I do not know why Britain is subsidising the north since partition especially when they claimed no special interest. Perhaps they are confused.

  • New Yorker

    President Obama is speaking of Northern Ireland, not Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. His message is that Northern Ireland would be a better place if politics was not divided by community but based on what is best for all the people of Northern Ireland. In other words, drop the unionist vs republican basis and make the economy, education, healthcare and other like issues the basis of politics and there will be a better outcome. Moreover, the President said there are signs of that happening especially with the younger generation.

    President Obama is offering you some hopeful advice. If you opt to stay in your rut, that is your problem. It is not a stupid idea except to the closed-minded.

  • barnshee

    “subsidising the north”

    Since the big bills are dole social security health and education
    I invite you to establish where the major burdens are .


    West Belfast
    Newry and Armagh
    etc et

  • eamoncorbett

    I don’t think Obama realises how deep the mistrust and how ancient the quarrel , if he is promoting the Northern Irish identity which it would seem from this article , then he is saying there are no British or Irish people ,only Northern Irish , I think he doesn’t get the full picture.

  • eamoncorbett

    If the constitutional issue was solved on a shared basis, as independence is a non runner there would be a better chance of the bread and butter issues being sorted . As for the younger generation they say they want change , but when they become 18 those who vote do so in large numbers for established sectarian parties and look like doing the same next month . The next election will be fought on one main issue ie. the border , yes there will be discussions on policy issues but the underlying overwhelming issue will be the maintenance or destruction of the border .
    NIs main parties have always fought elections on one issue , and this one will be no different.

  • New Yorker

    President Obama believes the constitutional issue was settled in 1998 but I’m sure he knows some do not realize it. The younger generation he referred to were school children and hopefully there will be better political parties for them to vote for when they reach voting age.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Gasp. Splutter. What a good idea: why didn’t I think of that? (casts mind back to Corrymeela experiments in the 70s, when Catholic and Protestant Inner City children were induced to stay in a large dormitory together, in order to learn cohabitation. Result: they had a massive fight and ended up constructing a barricade between their two factions.) The amusing thing was that constructing barricades seemed to be instinctual to them, like building dams is to beavers.

    There is little scope for concentrating on the economy: all important decisions about it are made in Wall Street, Brussels or Westminster. Ruining the Health Service is solely the prerogative of Westminster, as far as I can tell. And discussing Education very rapidly leads back to sectarian recriminations. So no scope for development here.

  • Ryan A

    The difference between the 1970’s and now is 3,000 lives. People realised a long time ago what’s important. Namely not shooting each other because of where you went to school or church. But thanks for that insight as to where your mind set is at – Makes a lot of sense.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Perhaps Science Fiction is the best foundation reading list to understand the wee six. After all, one of our principal parties makes a covert claim on the genre with its own initials “SF”………

  • sabi88

    Anyone who was a schoolchild in 1998 is old enough to vote right now, and the parties are still exactly the same.

    Northern Ireland isn’t going to transform into a “normal” European democracy with a left/right split unless actual economic powers are transferred to Stormont, and even then it’s not guaranteed to happen given that the artificial nature of the state naturally results in, one one side, insecurity about the future of NI and a desire to “protect” it from the enemy within (ie almost half of its own citizens), and on the other side what can best be described as ambivalence towards the whole thing collapsing.

    Northern Ireland divides people along tribal lines by virtue of its design. That is not going to change just because people want a feel-good happy ending.

  • Croiteir

    And I would invite you to address the reasons for the above – economy out of its natural cycle, unionist misrule and starve them out policies, impact of border on the local economy etc etc.

  • barnshee

    Since the burdens on the above are created by the numbers involved
    I fail to see how “economy out of its natural cycle, unionist misrule and starve them out policies, impact of border on the local economy” applies since the “forces” would have surely have reduced numbers
    PS there has been no “unionist rule” for 47 years and the problem areas and their complaints remain intact why?

    .”100 years of catholic republican murder gangs”might also be cited

  • Paddy Reilly

    Do tell me, have the barricades I mean Peace Walls in Belfast come down since I last looked? And do Black people in America no longer live in ghettos I mean African American neighbourhoods so large and so segregated you might think you were in Lagos? (I haven’t been across the Atlantic for decades.)

    And if not, don’t you think you’re living in lahlahland?

  • Skibo

    The border was drawn up to give the Unionists a fabricated majority where there should have been none.
    The treaty signed by Collins was done so at the threat of continuing the war between the British and the Irish. Had it just been the Unionists, Collins may have held out for more. Only my thoughts on it.
    The Torys would have looked at Unionist politicians as natural allies and would have preferred to keep them in Westminster.

  • Barneyt

    The essense if what he says comes from a good place, but he was quite clumsy (nationalismrepublicanism = Sinn Fein) and could have taken more care….however I go along with the notion he was not briefed or perhaps he was taken by surpose.

    Regarding Northern Ireland as a country will stir the hornets nest….and it is right that he receives some sort of reprimand for this uncharacteristic mistake. We all know Northern Ireland is a region within the UK state. We also all know it is quite an ignorant thing to ask the people of Nothern Ireland (half loyal to the British Crown and the union and the other half loyal to the Idea of an united Irish State or an United Irish Republic) to form a common Northern Irish identity. More sensitivity is required.

    There is some irony in the fact that the president of a Republic (USA) that gained independence from the British, can now seemingly cement partition through his choice of words. If he can ask the Northern Irish to dispense with republicanism …will he then also ask us to dispense with monarchism?

    Like I say, he fell down a few pegs in my books, and I am not sure this was all down to surprise or lack of preparedness.

  • Ryan A

    More are coming down, and it’s disingenuous to think all of America/NI are ‘ghettoised’ – the problem is largely confined to working class districts – sad, but true.

  • Gingray

    Ha! Tho I do remember an episode of Star Trek being banned in the UK for referring to a United Ireland …

  • Gingray

    Ah barnshee, sure just take out hints and put Catholics – its what you mean 🙂

  • Gingray

    Heather – its more theoretical, with a minimum of 40% perceived Catholic and 40% perceived Protestant. Not always the case however as some areas, even taking all the C/P kids, can only reach 10 or 20% due to low numbers.

  • Jollyraj

    “Each IRA Brigade covered an area whose majority population could be expected to support their aims”?

    Indeed. And they massacred those of the civilian population that didn’t.

  • Jollyraj

    What do you think should have happened?

  • Cosmo

    ….but wasn’t Croiteir also referring to his preferred preserved type of schools which work with the ‘catholic ethos’ ?

  • submariner

    Nail on the head Sir.

  • doopa

    Is the author sure he knows the definition of jumping the shark?

  • Sharpie

    That’s a manifesto for war right there – or emigration, or at its most benign – apathy. You are right but too right for it to be acceptable. Stasis and economic destitution on one side versus fighting and destitution on the other. Wihoo. No wonder the tourist board can’t give away visits to Northern Ireland.

  • Croiteir

    Nope I wasn’t

  • Sharpie

    Catholic middle class kids are following the “academic” grammar route – the CCMS has all but abandoned selection as a precursor to entry into ordinary catholic grammars. The prod ones are more pure academic.

  • Sharpie

    I remember someone doing a showing of that in a student house in France – it was fairly funny – there was no reference to the Irish situation but there was a hero insurrection leader called Finn.

  • Croiteir

    They did reduce nationalist numbers, so much so that so that unionist leaders crowed about it when speaking to Nicholas Mansergh. But then there are none so blind etc.

    As for the idea that there has not been unionist misrue for 47 years and the problem areas are still intact.and why. It will take a lot of effort to rectify the damage systematically done and in the present constitutional arrangement it is well nigh impossible as the region is condemned to economic under performance.

  • kensei

    Give him the benefit of the doubt. He jumped the Sinn Fein shark about 10 years ago.

  • Sharpie

    The only viable system is one of human scale – many systems people point that out although argue as to what is the optimum number in the group (certainly no more than 150). Unfortunately we are pre-destined to join groups – its an emergent property of systems!

    People hook up for security and food, soon see the need to join bigger group for opportunity or face off a bigger threat. The distortion today is global, lots of differentiated groups bonded together to make common cause – often with only one or two things in common – like a flag or tax system.

    It is no longer human scale and I have a feeling that national nationalism is the same thing as supranationalism on the individual – fairly unhealthy. People need people. It seems stupid to sign up your fate to people you don’t know and can’t eyeball from time to time.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Was that the one where Lt Commander ‘Lundy’ Data tells of the IRA’s successful campaign to drive out the British?
    I think Picard should have keel-hauled him!

  • Gingray

    I think so – I could google it, but where is the fun in that. He was comparing successful terrorist/freedom fighter movements I believe.

    Anyway, picard was French, why would he care 🙂

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Seldom can I say this, but I completely agree with you on everything you say. Gellner uses a term “counter-entropic” for the human scale units that simply cannot be ground down to the “fine powder” of entropic sameness that the modern economies need and craft through their educational systems.

    Regarding the value of groups, I don’t think hooking up is of necessity an entropic activity. I’m with Kropotkin and his “Mutual Aid”, where the evolutionary value of helping others is stated against social Darwinism. In a world that valorises the “virtues” of the predator, groups operating on a human scale are our only protection, but I’m completely with you in the idea that abstracting the identity to where only a few things are actually held in common (and these mostly so general as to be meaningless in reality) is unhealthy. People customarily mix identity and nationalism up into a single entity, but for Gellner (and me) nationalism is the modernising dehumanising process that slyly and cynically uses simplified versions of genuine cultural identity to cover up what is really going on.

  • Neil

    Just seeing this now Heather, I’m not sure to be honest. This was 25 odd years ago now, they described the school as integrated in the literature, but I don’t know about official designation.

  • John Collins

    Just compare how Limerick and Derry have fared since partition and you might see why Foyle is so dependent on DLA etc.

  • John Collins

    Imperialist Russia, royal Belgium and Kaiser led Germany were no great shakes either

  • Reader

    Paddy, Brigades were at county or city level, so of course there weren’t sub-county divisions. (South-Armagh was a misnomer, the brigade covered the whole county).
    However, surely you don’t really believe that the “Belfast Brigade “covered an area whose majority population could be expected to support their aims”?

  • New Yorker

    I can assure you that President Obama is very well briefed on Northern Ireland. Besides the state department, CIA, NSA and other agencies, his VP is very knowledgeable on the subject.

    The President deals in the realities of the world, and the reality is that the 1998 Agreement holds that the six counties are part of the UK which is a separate country from the ROI. Sensitivity should not be used as an excuse for denying reality.

    The US gained independence from GB by winning the Revolutionary War. Republicans tried to win by violent means and failed. That is the reality, it is black and white.

  • New Yorker

    Much could be done on the economy but the only idea the main political parties have is FDI. NI needs more companies like First Derivatives of Newry, a young indigenous company that provides many high quality jobs as well as a tidy annual profit. The First Derivatives formula could be replicated, but have you heard anyone in government say so and then offer help to do so?

    It is clear that the political parties are not fit for purpose and one of causes is that their basis is dividing communities, not serious or competent on the main issues that would be a benefit to both communities and minorities.

  • Kevin Breslin

    And it failed specifically on the point of stopping civil wars, we effectively got two civil wars for the price of stopping one.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Well it’s a bit like a see-saw, with two men sitting on it who have agreed not to use their feet to propel it up or down. Consequently, the stouter of the pair is permanently on the ground and the thinner is up in the air. However, the man in the air is steadily putting on weight so that before long he will be permanently on the ground and the other in the air.

    The agreement of 1998 binds the electorate of 1998: it does not sign away the rights of their descendents and successors. The electorate of 2018 might want something quite different.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Ever think that many nationalist movements (including the Irish version) are simply a by product of colonialism?

    If the colonial power(s) had left them alone in the first place……

  • Barneyt

    Please read my posting again. I think your desire to react in defence of Mr Obama has caused some scriptal deafness and blindness. You are quite lacking in your understanding in many ways. Seriously. I dont normally retort like this, with the level of irritation I am now feeling.

    I said that Northern Ireland in itself is not a country. The UK is a mixed back of nations and jurisdictions, and quite often those that even govern the UK get confused by its makeup. Many citizens…sorry subjects do the same. You would fit in well.

    The UK is sometimes called a Nation. It is sometimes called a country. England, which is part of the UK union is also called a country…as is Scotland (both valid assertions). Wales is a principality and Northern ireland is a statestatelet wiithin the UK. Calling the UK a country is a bit like calling the European Union a country.

    Tell me this. You seem confused about the scope of Republicanism in Ireland. Did all republicans adopt revolutionaryguerillaviolent tactics to achieve their goals? Do you know what a Republican is?

    Do you attack the civil rights protesters, many of which arewere republicans but elected not to use paramilitary tactics. Would you write off the US civil rights protestors of the 60s has violent criminals? I suspect you might.

    Obama made clumsy mistakes. I accept he was briefed well. His aids are therefore responsible for these mistakes I presume.

  • New Yorker

    The UK is a country and Northern Ireland is a province of that country. Taxes are paid to the UK Treasury and most funding in NI comes from the UK Treasury. The EU is an association of countries and not a country.

    Peaceful protest by any group, including Republicans, is an important right in any good democracy. But we know there are Republicans who will resort to violence given the chance, not all but many did in the past and do not renounce its use in the future. The critical difference is the position on the use of violence, a society cannot tolerate those who might violently attack some of their fellow members.

    I contend that President Obama did not make any mistakes on this matter, but rather was offering friendly and wise advice.

  • New Yorker

    President Obama was referring to school children in 2016 not 1998. As he said, these things take time.

    You think it is a good idea to have finances controlled by the DUP and SF? Neither party has a reputation of rectitude regarding finance when you consider MLA expenses, NAMA, etc.

  • Barneyt

    The US and THEM in the US (historically the Whites and Blacks) and then US and THEM in Norther Ireland (British and Irish) have many parallels, such as both situations were architected by the British and maintained by the British. In the USA case, the system favoured the whites…for 100s of years. It perhaps still does (understatement).

    Northern Ireland was contrived to favour the British in Ireland. It perhaps no longer does.

    However the point I make here is that the camps were created by one side or a third party and those on the less favourable side (THEM), had little choice and certainly had no room for self importance.

    As they fought for rights (on different scales) they demanded it through this label they had been given. That label became an identity. Black power in the USA for example. We have an equivalent here. If you degrade a culture, race, religion….in fighting back, the cultue, race and religion take on more significance.

    The Irish in Northern Ireland formed a minority…they were written off. The voting system based on ratable value would only serve to intrench the regime i.e. British rule and ruled by the British. There was no democratic way out.

    Civil rights and disobedience was provoked, just as it was in the USA. The difference is, in Northern Ireland one branch of Republicanism chose voilencerevolutioninsurrection….call it what you will. The official republican movement elected to take a political approach, and pursued a Markist idealogy.

    The use of violence in my view allowed the grievance to be written off and it allowed the quest for freedom and civil rights (Remember, demoncracy as we know it today is only 45 years old in the UK) to be painted by the British as an unprovoked attack. Many believe the IRA compaign of violence got them to the table in the 90s and some IRA detractors support this.

    The pursuance of Markism by the official movement proved equally unsuccessful, as Ireland is not made for that. I am not sure it is capable of being socialist, unfortunately.

    So, its convenient to look into a problem and say, why have you divided yourselfs into US and THEM and why dont you just get along. You have to understand where these camps came from, just has you do the Black and White camps in the USA.

  • New Yorker

    The man in the air in regard to remaining in the UK is losing weight all the time according to surveys and studies. With the decline of discrimination and things like healthcare and education, it is understandable that many see the benefits of remaining in the UK. Keep in mind the political parties have not caught up with the public on this as it is the only drum they can beat due to their incompetence and dishonesty.

  • New Yorker

    There is no doubt that there was massive discrimination against Catholics in NI in the past, but most but not all of that is in the past. Even when voting was based on ratable value some Catholics were elected to Stormont, so there were voting Catholics who owned property. etc. I know that had almost no effective power, but they were at the opening chapter of an evolution that continues.

    As you know, both Protestants and Catholics from every area of Ireland emigrated to the US through the centuries. Up into the 19th century there was occasional fighting between the two sides, but by the middle of the last century that was nearly non-existent. So Protestants and Catholics from Ireland can get along well after time and I think that is one reason Americans have taken an interest in NI.

    BTW, the Black Power movement in the US devolved into murder and then virtually disappeared. Martin Luther King and integration won out, and thank God for that.

  • Ciarán Dúnbarrach

    Working on an English version but I do have some answers on the question of Gaelic games and languages in Integrated schools

  • Barneyt

    Generally I think you are missing a few subtlelities in what I am saying or indeed what Obama was reporting to have said. I believe he was accurrately quoted using the term Sinn Fein as the antithesis of Unionist and also referring to Northern Ireland as a country, rather than a province or region of the UK. This through the next pience into a quandry and caused the media to suggest he was clumsy (forstering a common NI identity). That on a smaller scale is asking black america to foster a white identify…it kinda grates with some.

    All said, you and I are in many areas on the same page. I understand revolution and how provocation and lack of hope can cause folks to resort to violent methods. It has been justified in the US, the Irish Rebellion (when the politicians can gain capital from it) and in many other areas, however you always run the risk of losing the argument with this approach.

  • New Yorker

    I agree that President Obama should have used the word province instead of country, but I would not read anything into his misstatement. I think he used SF and unionists in reference to two different communities divided by identity and do not think the word antithesis applies in this instance. I don’t see anything in his statement about black America and white identity. When you lose a revolution you fail to attain your goals. In the US when the Loyalists lost the revolution many lost their lives, property and scattered to Canada, the Caribbean, etc. That is over two hundred years ago but there are always consequences when you revolt and fail.

  • Skibo

    J I think Britain should have left the country complete, added access to the Foyle port and the Belfast port. Requested that the Dail accepted that they had to share power with Unionists in the north and let us get on with it. I think there would have been less deaths and Ireland would probably still be within the commonwealth.

  • Skibo

    J I think you will find there was much more massacring along sectarian grounds done by Unionist terrorists. Glennane gang and shankill butchers just to mention two groups.