@davidmcw games one #Brexit outcome…

“Let’s go.”
“We can’t.”
“Why not?”
“We’re waiting for Godot.”
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Interesting piece from David McWilliams on an unintended consequence of the Brexit vote. The title – ‘A nation once again? Don’t write it off’ –  neatly encapsulates his argument and commits the obvious sin of deviating from a pro-unionist consensus. The line of reasoning he follows is:

The English lead the British out of Europe. The Scottish then go to the polls again, wanting to stay in Europe. They have to leave the UK to stay in the EU, and by a small margin they vote to stay in Europe but leave the English. Not unfeasible.

The rump UK becomes an entity involving a eurosceptic England, a modestly pro-European but compliant Wales and an ever-divided Northern Ireland. However it is a Northern Ireland shorn of its fraternal brothers, the Scots – in a union with the ambivalent English. There has never been the same cultural affinity between the English and the Northern Unionists.

He uses this a background to argue that a potential outcome of a #Brexit vote could be Irish re-unification. Unsurprisingly, unionists are leaping to his offence arguing that he has based his argument on assumptions that are incorrect. Ian Parsley has claimed McWilliams argument has reversed the economic strengths of north and south despite the fact that the north (unlike anywhere in the south) is consistently listed as one of Europe’s poorest regions. Unfortunately for Parsley, Eurostat data supports McWilliams arguments. Parsley does manage to conclude by extracting a no (to Brexit) argument from McWilliams article:

Indeed, it only serves to make a chain of events leading to Northern Ireland’s unmanaged and unplanned ejection from the EU and then potentially from a disintegrating UK even less palatable than Mr McWilliams suggests.

This is why no one in Northern Ireland should be taking the “leave” risk – Unionist or Nationalist, financially or economically.

Obviously a Brexit is potentially the most disruptive event that we will have seen in a long time. In the context of increasing Irish nationalist disengagement from politics in the north, an argument projecting possible Irish re-unification off the back of a ‘Yes to Brexit’ vote may simply erect yet another straw man for Irish nationalism (whether it also does so for unionism British nationalism is a different question). While the contours of the political landscape won’t be clear until after that Brexit vote, a clear lesson for [Irish] nationalism from recent elections is that it needs to be more abrasive and assertive. Awaiting another potential false dawn that appears to be on the horizon is no longer an option.

You can check out more here… or view my history blog here

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You seem to know my plans better than I do …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Impeccable logic sir

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and what about the free-standing nature of Ulster British identity? Does it not mean that the feelings of random Londoners about their identity is a bit irrelevant to all this?

  • Skibo

    Yes I do. Unfortunately it may happen the other way also where young Nationalists with no history of seventy years of Unionist domination may feel rather comfortable in Northern Ireland. As long as we have the occasional Gregory blethering or Orange Order demanding access where they are not wanted, we should be ok.

  • Gingray

    Naw, just you previously said you would be unlikely to return, and your comments have always put me in mind of Kate Hoey, lecturing us from afar on how to behave while remaining disconnected with what life here is like.

  • Skibo

    Look I am not a Unionist but I do converse on a regular basis with people of that persuasion. I get the impression they are much closer to their Scottish brethren and actually have little love of the south east of England, but I am prepared to be swayed by you.
    Tell me are you long out of Gods’ country?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The article you cite refers to “one expert” saying the IRA were not defeated militarily. But in a sense of course any terrorist group can always claim it wasn’t defeated because all it takes to start up again is one man with a gun. The point is though that ‘stalemate’ between security forces and the terrorists, leading the terrorists to end their campaign, IS effectively defeat for the terrorists.

    But don’t take my word for it, we have IRA members themselves putting it in their own words (from Rogelio Alonso’s “The IRA And The Armed Struggle”) …
    Marian Price: “Why didn’t they (the IRA) accept defeat with honour? … The shame comes when you are defeated and you refuse to tell your grassroots that you’re defeated, you try to sell defeat as some sort of victory … They pretend that walking into Stormont is some kind of achievement. Anybody could have gone out and electioneered and got voted into Stormont in the 1960s. There didn’t have to be a war for it.”
    Tommy Gorman didn’t use the word ‘defeat’ or ‘surrender’ but he’s clear the IRA failed: “… that’s not a surrender, it’s just saying that we have failed, that we are not going to carry on here with violence for violence’s sake …”
    Mickey McMullan: ” … at the end of the day you were running round and round in circles. It wasn’t breaking the will of the British, no matter what you were throwing at them, they were standing firm … continuing the war was futile.”
    Eamon McDermott: “They [the IRA] worked around the situation where they could call it off … if you think, OK, we can’t get anywhere, the armed struggle is going nowhere, now, what can we do? Do we just keep on going? No. That’s not an answer, that’s not an option. Do we just stop? That’s not an option either. OK let’s try and create conditions that enable us to stop and progress at the same time.”
    A former IRA man referred to as ‘Albert’ in the book (not his real name) put it best: “I don’t agree that we had reached a stalemate. The IRA had to win this war. The British government only had to prevent the IRA from winning the war. So in a sense there wasn’t a stalemate. The ceasefires can be viewed as a victory for the British government … It’s interesting that people lend credence to this stalemate theory and it’s interesting that it’s trotted out so often in the media. It’s as if your enemy is allowing you to save face. In a sense it wasn’t a military defeat because the IRA at the point of ceasefire was still intact, it was still armed, but effectively it didn’t seem to be going anywhere and it was sustaining very heavy losses.”

  • Karl

    70% of unionists would move out? Not a chance. Rhetoric and cheap rhetoric at that. Im not saying hes not representative of a section of unionism.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’ve read Colley and some of it’s great and perceptive of course. But I do think she doesn’t get N Ireland particularly well and rather skirts around us. For one looking for insight into our part of the world, I found ‘Britons’ a frustrating read – as apparently did James Laughlin in his Fortnight review of it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    my point was:
    “Many unionists feel a cultural closeness to Scots, but unionist attachment to the UK is about Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland again.” So I’m no different from most unionists on that, I feel like the Scots are our closest cousins; well maybe slightly different, I had two Liverpudlian grandparents which is unusual. But even I grew up spitting feathers about the perfidious English, as an awful lot of Ulster people do.

    I know it’s hard to get one’s head around at times but anti-English resentment is quite strong among my tribe, in my experience. Once you clock that and also clock that people’s sense of Britishness is undimmed by it, you’re approaching a better understanding of Ulster British identity. Getting that it’s rooted in NI, has a very Ulster flavour and exists autonomously of other forms of Britishness on the mainland is the key. It also helps to remember we’re not the only group of people in the country with our own take on Britishness. It is a big nation and people’s relationship with their national identity is a heterogenous thing, it exists in many forms in many regions and in many sub-cultures. There is no authoritative form of it, it’s of the people.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    not moving out, as he would, but being firmly against Irish unity.

    In Nov 1985, a while ago I know, but we managed to muster 200,000 approx for a demo in Belfast due to the Republic getting a consultative role. The sheer scale and universality of the popular unionist response to that situation lingered for years – ordinary unionist people were rock solid on it throughout, no ‘party discipline’ required, it was raw emotion.

    Most people are more relaxed now; but really, don’t underestimate how opposed to Irish unity unionist people generally are.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    just that I didn’t switch my brain off when I moved across the Irish Sea, nor did I stop being Northern Irish. And I have more or less kept up with events at home. Not to mention spending time in NI on a regular basis. I’ve met NI people over here who know more about NI than anyone I ever met at home, to be quite honest. And I understand it better now than when I lived there.

  • Anglo-Irish

    The link wasn’t to the PIRA claiming that they weren’t defeated though was it?

    It was to a BBC report on an Internal Army document that was never supposed to be seen by the public wasn’t it?

    The discussion document was ordered to be produced by the Army itself in 2007 nine years after the GFA and when a cold hard dispassionate review of events could take place.

    Now why do you suppose that anyone would include an opinion that PIRA wasn’t defeated if they didn’t genuinely believe it to be the truth?

    Note that there was no strenuous denial of the claim and that expert wasn’t the only one to admit as much was he?



    Taking it a lot further than allowing your enemy to save face, the General was talking whilst the conflict was still ongoing whilst Blair was speaking retrospectively.

    As for various ex IRA people saying that the British won that would be those romantic idiots who were under the ridiculous impression that the IRA could defeat the British Army militarily and force them to march down to the docks like 1922.

    Never going to be achieved, the fact is that neither side could win and so a compromise was reached.

    When you end up with former PIRA combatants free and taking part in politics with an expressed ambition of achieving a United Ireland in the future that is one massive compromise by the British state, as was laying down their arms and pursuing reunification by other means for the PIRA.

    But when you consider that one of the parties to the compromise was an elected government representing a State and the other party was a relatively small group of people fighting for an ideal it shows who came out with the best of the argument, doesn’t it?

    Incidentally, did you read the part of the link where the IRA was described as ” a professional, dedicated, highly skilled and resilient force ” whilst the ‘loyalist’ paramilitaries and other republican groups were described as ” little more than a collection of gangsters ” ?

    You may wish to continue with your rather wishful view of the situation but the simple fact is that the way forward to a UI has been put in place and accepted by the British state, who have no good reason to wish NI to remain and good reason to want rid of it.

  • Gingray

    Yes, yes, yes, I understand, the only people that don’t understand this place are the poor yokels living in it. As I said, your understanding of this place puts me in mind of Kate Hoey 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    perhaps you want to have that discussion with the PIRA members I quoted 🙂
    It’s alright, it doesn’t really matter what we call it anyway. They stopped without getting their united Ireland or anything like it. They got their ‘soft landing’ – the British government refrained from publicly humiliating them – and it is over, “the IRA has left the stage.” Bye bye, IRA. Northern Ireland is a better place without your and other paramilitaries’ violence.
    I find it quite funny how desperate some are to have the British Army’s respect for the IRA. Tells you something about the relative status of the two organisations, no? I don’t think the British Army gives a toss what the IRA thinks of them.

  • Anglo-Irish

    No problem talking to IRA members I’ve done so in the past and found them to be reasonable people. Mind you all but one were Old IRA : ).

    You do manage to twist things around to suit your particular bias don’t you MU?

    Who said anything about anyone being ‘desperate to have the British army’s respect?

    The links which I provided were of the British acceptance of their inability to defeat the IRA and were in response to your nonsense remark about them being defeated.

    People in a far better position to judge than you or I disagree with your opinion.

    Doubt that the IRA cared what members of the BA thought they simply wanted them out of their country.

    30 years is my estimate of how long it will take, less if Brexit happens, subsidising a bit of another country which is of little interest to Britain will become even more of a bad idea if the country needs to go it alone.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    not what I was saying at all – just standing up for those (and a few rather more prominent contributors to Slugger) who now live outside NI. There are people now outside NI who AS WELL AS (not instead of) current NI residents, have insight into the nuances of the place through long and deep personal experience.

  • Gingray

    There always has been MU, most lack the sneering better than tho attitude of some of the current crop, who think they know better having fled.

  • Skibo

    Could I suggest what you call your Northern Ireland Britishness is actually your Ulsterness if that makes sense.
    It is a thraanness as my oul granny would say. We have it too!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Like one of the IRA members said, it’s kind of semantic, though isn’t it? It was a defeat for them in pretty much every way you could hope for short of a formal proclamation.

    The British Army will readily concede they couldn’t ever force some kind of ‘military defeat’ on a terrorist group, it just doesn’t work that way. They will also concede of course, as I would, that the PIRA became a disciplined, dedicated terrorist group as the Troubles progressed – they were determined and in many cases fanatical about their cause. I’m not disagreeing with the Army there. But as one of the IRA people said, and many other people have also observed, ‘stalemate’ when you’re trying to contain a terrorist group, is effectively success. It’s all you can hope to do.

    But call it what you like, as I say it’s not important whether we are straight about what we call it, or soften the blow for the IRA if that helps. The main thing is they stopped. And as a unionist, the result was really beyond my wildest dreams – I honestly never thought the IRA would ever stop, let alone renounce violence. I still have to pinch myself – we did it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I wouldn’t say personally my Ulsterness is separable from my Britishness, they are part of the same soup. I have a British Ulsterness and an Ulster Britishness. Nation and locality are closely bound together, for me, as I think for a lot of people. They aren’t separate hats I can take on and off.

  • Skibo

    I could get to like you if it was not for your utter condemnation of Irish men to demand their independence for their country!
    Tell me, had Germany won the war, had an armistice with Britain where Britain accepted German control of over half of France, how long would the French be entitled to fight for the independence of all of France?
    Was Russia right to annex Crimea as it had a large population in indigenous Russian natives?

  • Anglo-Irish

    The people who were in – and those who supported – the IRA haven’t stopped, they are employing different methods.

    Those methods require patience, not a particular Irish virtue which is why every now and then dissidents raise their ugly head.

    The actions of dissidents is totally counterproductive to the long term objective and they are doing damage to that objective.

    Dissidents are the type of IRA members that you refer to as believing that they gave up the ‘armed struggle’ too soon and regard it as a defeat despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    They have no patience, no vision and precious little humanity.

    Not prepared to bide their time and avoid casualties on both sides they want instant results and care little who suffers.

    Until the GFA there was an argument that the PIRA campaign was legitimate, there was no such excuse afterward, a democratic vote had been taken island wide and should be adhered to by all parties.

    Anyone acting against it is a common criminal and ” little more than a collection of gangsters “.

    But make no mistake, it is endgame and a UI will happen, in time.

  • Anglo-Irish

    You are aware that ‘ British Ulsterness’ is unrecognized in Britain aren’t you?

    As far as the British ( for the avoidance of doubt that’s those people actually born in Great Britain ) are concerned you, and everyone else from NI and the rest of the country is a Paddy.

    Uniquely among people from the UK only those members of the PUL community from NI regard themselves as British in the first instance.

    Everyone else regards themselves as English, Scots or Welsh first and foremost and only British in a technical nationality way.

    Bit weird really isn’t it? Considering that they are the only ones not actually born in any part of Britain.

    The Ulster Unionists have, by their own choice, backed themselves into a corner from which there appears little way out.

    I cannot off the top of my head think of another group of people who have lived in a country for centuries, continue to pay allegiance to another country, described themselves by the name of the other country and refused to integrate with the inhabitants of the land they live in.

    Not only that, but they insist on broadcasting this rejection of the land they live in by high profile parades, bonfires and displays of hatred and contempt for the religion, culture and language of the people they share the land with.

    Also, they claim to belong to a country by behaving in a manner completely alien to the people in that country.

    To top it all off they are surprised that there is little sympathy for their ‘ culture ‘ and a general wish that they would go away and stop embarrassing everyone.

  • Brendan Heading

    Tsk Brendan, waffle without the facts to support it.

    Parties in the Assembly designating as Nationalist lost three seats. Parties in the assembly designating as Other gained three seats in the same constituencies where nationalists lost them. The overall nationalist vote fell to 37%, below the level it was at in the 1998 Assembly elections. The last election I can find when it was that low as the 1996 Forum election, a full 20 years ago.

    Which of these facts are you disputing ?

    I am not claiming that Alliance had a good election. I am pointing out that the nationalist vote is declining, which is an unambiguous statistical reality.

  • Gingray

    Jeepers Brendan, as a former parachute candidate I expected you to have a better knowledge of the political system.

    Nationalism lost votes but very very little of it went to Other candidates. The overwhelming majority stayed at home.

    And in the seats they did lose, all 3 went to all Ireland parties, quite telling.

    In South Belfast and Foyle btw I doubt McCann or Bailey picked up more than 1,000 nationalist votes, hardly earth shattering.

    No the real issue reflects the simple fact that former nationalist voters are not choosing Other or Unionist but not voting.

    It could be, as you seem to be suggesting, that they are no longer nationalist.

    Or, and this is my own view, they simply are unhappy with the choice of nationalist party.

    A cursory knowledge of Irish political history shows that Nationalism has always had peaks and troughs, as with any political system.

  • Brendan Heading

    Which of my facts are you actually disputing Gingray ? Please point out the parts that are factually wrong.

    No the real issue reflects the simple fact that former nationalist voters are not choosing Other or Unionist but not voting.

    Who are the 6000 extra people who voted for Gerry Carroll and who do you think they voted for five years ago ?

    A cursory knowledge of Irish political history shows that Nationalism has always had peaks and troughs, as with any political system.

    So when’s the next peak coming and how are you going to get there ?

  • Gingray


    You have claimed:

    “It is hard to draw from this the conclusion that this problem can be solved by becoming yet more nationalist.”

    From 2011 to 2016 over 40k voters stopped supporting the two nationalist parties. Roughly 10k may have switched to PBP and the Greens. That 30k goes into a pot with around 60k other former nationalist voters who no longer vote.

    So, and it needs to be noted you have an inbuilt bias here as a former Alliance candidate, you think that section of 100k people who no longer vote are having their needs met by the existing parties.

    I want these people to vote, and to be engaged. And when I talk with them the message is loud and clear – they are sick of SF and the SDLP, they want something different, and quite often not something tied to the past. There is no talk of voting Alliance or Unionist, you guys do not represent these people in any shape or form, which is fine.

    But ultimately, it just boils down to the fact that you do not have a clue as to why these people are not voting, which is fine.

  • Brendan Heading

    At this point you’re just kicking up dust to disguise the fact that you cannot dispute the point I started with – nationalists are losing elections to non-nationalists. I wish you the best of luck in getting all the abstaining nationalists out to the polling stations.

  • Gingray

    Brendan, thats OK, you have written all these voters off, they just do not compute within your system.

    I note your complete and utter failure (and I am not talking about Upper Bann here) to offer any suggestion as to how these voters could be reengaged.

    And therein is the reason why you make no sense, and show no understanding of nationalist voters, particularly I am sure, those west of the bann.

    Either you are suggesting that these voters will never vote again, or that if they do vote, it will not be for a nationalist party.

    Meanwhile, any analyst worth his salt could tell you what the issues are, and it has nothing to do with losing meaningless elections to non nationalists.

  • Brendan Heading

    Happy to discuss the issues; not happy to engage on the basis of personal criticisms. Goodbye.

  • kensei

    The SNP wasn’t winning an election any time soon until it was. The left could never win a Labour election until they did. A reality TV star could never win the nomination of a US primary until it happened. The future is hard to predict and can change fast.

    I’m happy if there are sufficient people that can be convinced. Nationalism only needs to win once.

  • kensei

    Where is the marginal Unionist. Even if every single Unionist voter would never, ever, vote for a UI even if they were personally to get a million quid (by the by, you can have my vote for the Union forever, for £1 million, right now), and all the people who voted Alliance, it still leaves a huge section of the populace that didn’t care enough to vote. Enough to tio the balance, even if the margin Unionist is halfway through that group. And the first scenario is unlikely.

    Unionism is definitely the more solid block. Unquestionable after the last election. But its not big enough or nasty enough anymore to guarantee the Union forever, on its own. There are enough people to tip the balance.right now, if the conditions were right.

    And that’s a damning indictment of Nationalism, by the by.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The Scottish nationalists though had the potential to persuade people with their arguments, because (1) people genuinely feel like Scots are one people, not two like we have; and (2) they hadn’t spent 30 years killing people they don’t like.
    I mean that as a serious point, really, that is in short why Irish nationalism in NI is in a different boat entirely to the SNP – and the success of the SNP means little for Irish nationalist hopes.

  • kensei

    That’s not the point. The point is a week is a long time in politics. Today it is true a UI is a long way off. Tomorrow it might not be. I think if it happens, there’ll be a tipping point. You won’t see it coming before.

    In any case, if Scotland leaves, it will change the terms of the debate. It’ll have a psychological impact on everyone here. Will it mean that we go very quickly for a UI? Doubt it. But I think it makes it more likely, and I think it opens up different debates. The firmament would have changed; if you don’t think that’s going to have an unpredictable effect you are lying yourself.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Your dislike of Ulster Protestants is on record – thanks. No doubt you think yourself liberal and enlightened, but when you’re pouring vitriol upon a whole ethnic group for their very identity, you’re neither.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So “the IRA haven’t stopped, they are employing different methods” …
    So you’re agreeing that IRA Army Council still has ultimate authority over SF, as last autumn’s security report attested? In which case, presumably you wouldn’t disagree with the need for a public inquiry into their influence on SF decision-making within government? With SF sitting out of government in the meantime. Might need the SDLP back in!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t condemn the wish of some Irish people in NI to ask for a change of sovereignty. What I think is more troublesome about mainstream Irish nationalism as it has tended to be thus far is the attitude that Irish sovereignty would have more moral worth than British sovereignty. That boils down to national chauvinism, I feel – and denigrates the nationality and identity of others. There is no need to denigrate people with British allegiances in order to make the case for Irish unity – and nationalism is fine in my book as long as it doesn’t do that. Unfortunately it does have a tendency to do exactly that, particularly under SF’s leadership but frankly it happened in the years of SDLP hegemony too, it was just couched in even more butter-wouldn’t-melt terms.

    On the France thing: struggling to follow that analogy. If you are militarily occupied by a foreign power, of course you have the right in international law to fight for your liberation, invite in overseas powers to assist etc, as Kuwait did in 1989-90 for example. Northern Ireland isn’t that though – it has UK sovereignty through the free choice of its people (as the GFA recognises – and even SF agreed to that). There is no question of it being under foreign occupation, though I am aware that this fantasy is of long standing within Irish nationalist discourse. Even the 26 counties were in the UK by choice up until the 1918 election; before that, most MPs in the 26 counties were IPP which was for Home Rule within the UK, and who supported the British war effort in WW1 – not Irish independence. So the idea of Ireland being held by “the British” against their will has long had a good dose of fantasy about it.

    Crimea is a different case. Russia did try to manipulate the situation there and the elections probably weren’t fully fair BUT it seems clear the people of Crimea, exercising their right to self-determination, are very clearly in favour of being part of Russia, not Ukraine. You have to respect the wishes of the people on sovereignty. 65 per cent are ethnic Russians and it’s no surprise they would favour union with Russia. And a population of 2 million is easily enough for Crimea to be a valid self-determinative unit.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    If it’s “a long way off” today though, as you accept, then it’s still a long way off tomorrow, or in a week’s time. Isn’t that what “a long way off” means?

    Perhaps you don’t really accept it’s a long way off at all; that there is some subterranean shifting of tectonic plates afoot that will deliver it up in a sudden eruption. Who knows – but I’m not hearing convincing evidence of the relevant plates genuinely shifting. I hear what you’re saying about Scotland, Brexit etc – my point though is public opinion in NI on UK sovereignty has not changed despite pretty major changes around us, including:
    – the South seceding and forming the Irish Free State, then a Republic
    – the South finding prosperity, modernising
    – various IRA campaigns to make staying in the UK as unpleasant as possible
    – various changes in government structures, democratic and otherwise, from direct rule to the AIA secretariat to the present structures
    – Belfast getting bombed to bits in WW2
    – both NI and the South joining the EU
    – former IRA leaders entering government
    – Paisley becoming first minister
    I could go on.
    Any one of these events could be seen as having the potential to change people’s views on whether the Union is best for us – but none of them has made much of a difference. Maybe the current changes are fundamental in a way that these other things weren’t … but I think they will be water off a duck’s back, to be honest. We under-estimate how much the view of Northern Ireland people about the future of Northern Ireland are about what’s happening in, you guessed it, Northern Ireland. We are a bit self-obsessed and it insulates us from elsewhere. It’s why fellow Britons on the mainland barely recognise my lot sometimes and fellow Irish in the Republic shake their heads at some of the antics of their northern cousins. As Churchill famously wrote in 1922:
    “Great Empires have been overturned. The whole map of Europe has been changed… But as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world.”

  • kensei

    I think you are missing my point. At the end of the 2014-15 season, Leicester were years from winning the league. It’d take huge amounts of money, new players, probably years even if they had that. That was true. Until it wasn’t. Opportunities arose and they took advantage of it. Predicting the future confidently is a mugs game, It’s more of a mugs game the longer you do it.

    Some of the things you list made a UI more or less likely. If the Republic’s economy continues to outperform NI’s over a long period, that will have an impact of people and make ma potential shift much more likely. You are projecting your deeply held views onto the rest of the populace. That is a dangerous thing, if you serious care about your position. it is, i suspect, what a lot of Nationalist politicians and supporters were doing prior to the Assembly election.

    Scotland leaving would be fundamental to the UK; there isn’t really a UK without one. The Union is at heart, a Union between Scotland and England, whether you like that or not. I’m not saying it will happen – I’d have it 50/50 over the next 20-30 years if there is no major change – but if it does happen, it’s going to have seismic effects across Europe, nevermind the UK&Ireland.

    That may not sway any Unionists. But again – there is less of them than there used to be.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Are you under the strange impression that I am privy to the IRA Army Councils views or even as to whether or not it still exists?

    Because just like you I have no idea, just opinions which count for nothing much, neither mine nor yours.

    All I can say is that if it were me involved I would continue the association for a number of reasons.

    Firstly on principle, my country my choice.

    Secondly, as a means of mutual protection, the British army’s assessment of the ‘loyalist’ paramilitaries was that they were ” Little more than a collection of gangsters ”
    They ‘haven’t gone away’ either have they?

    People who support SF have every right to express their concerns and wishes to the party in exactly the same way as members of the PUL community can to their parties. Unless you’d like to go back to one rule for one and a different one for ‘usuns’ like in the old days? Not going to happen.

    As for an inquiry, don’t you think that Northern Ireland has cost the British taxpayer enough already with its inability to accept truth the first time around ( Major Hubert O’ Neill’s original ruling ) so no.

    Providing that PIRA don’t start up another shooting war what’s the problem?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Government ministers who take orders from (unelected, illegal) paramilitary groups? Not an issue?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    we can’t predict the future of course. Let’s wait and see.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Oh I think I already have.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Good to know, enlightenment is a wonderful thing.

    So, not able to refute that my original comments were accurate as to the behaviour of many Ulster Unionists?

    Presumably you also accept that your claim that Ulster Protestants are an ‘ethnic group’ is incorrect?

    And finally you accept that whilst racism and sectarianism is wrong it is perfectly acceptable to hold a strong opposing view of political viewpoints and discriminatory actions?

    Yes, as it happens I do think of myself as a reasonably liberal and enlightened person who takes vehement exception to people who are prepared to use power to subdue others and who’s self image is predicated upon some imagined sectarian sense of superiority.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    still going on it? Dude, take a look in the mirror, or just read your own posts. You seriously expect a dignified response to:
    “… what exactly is it about the continued behaviour of Ulster Protestants down the years from their arrival as Planters up to and including the present day that would cause me or anyone else to like them?”

  • Anglo-Irish

    Are you really that naive?

    Who do you think gives instructions and influences government policy throughout the world? Up to and including involvement in warfare.


    As true today as when the Major General said it.

    We can all wish it wasn’t so but that’s the way the world works and as far as mayhem is concerned NI is small beer.

    Politicians are influenced by others, don’t you think something similar is going on within the Unionist parties with unelected people of dubious character and background sticking their four penn’orth in?

    As long as there’s no violence affecting innocent people it will have to do until time passes and some measure of normality sets in.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Yes ‘dude’ actually I do expect a response.

    The problem is that you would struggle to find one wouldn’t you?

    As pointed out on previous occasions there have been thousands of examples throughout history of people migrating to other lands.

    What’s different about the Ulster Plantation is the refusal to integrate, the ongoing hatred of ‘themuns’ the glorification of century old battles, the ritualistic marching, bonfires and burning of effigies of religious leaders, children with KAT painted on their faces.

    The allegiance to another country to the point of describing themselves by the name of that country despite not coming from it.

    All designed to keep ‘themuns’ in their place and gloat about Unionist hegemony.

    So why don’t you give it a go and explain to us that really it’s a misunderstood ‘culture’ and all that gerrymandering, discrimination and sectarianism was all a misunderstanding?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’ve shown many times over on this site I’m more than capable of responding at length to all that stuff. But there comes a point when responding actually encourages the sectarian abuser to continue. So, tempting though it is, I’m going to leave it this time. It gets us nowhere, You should do the same.

  • Tochais Siorai

    The Old IRA were a very different animal to the Provos and anyway most of them saw no real combat anyway.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Fine, as you are aware I only responded to you in the first place because of your incorrect statement about the mythical IRA defeat.

    Always happy to clear up misconceptions.

    Just one thing though, if your reference to ‘ sectarian abuser’ was aimed at me then you have no concept as to the meaning of the word.


    As I am an agnostic and tolerant of others religions providing that they don’t effect me personally it isn’t possible for me to be sectarian.

    Please take note.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think perhaps it’s that belief you could never be sectarian that makes you prone to it. Once again, your words:
    “… what exactly is it about the continued behaviour of Ulster Protestants down the years from their arrival as Planters up to and including the present day that would cause me or anyone else to like them?”
    Sorry if that isn’t sectarian, I’m a Dutchman.

  • Anglo-Irish

    I’m an old guy, the Old IRA that I’m talking about were War of Independence men.

    And at least one of them that I spoke with in Feakle back in the early 70’s definitely saw real combat.

    We didn’t speak about anything political but someone else explained to me later what his background was.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Or maybe you’re just waiting for a UI before you move…..

  • Tochais Siorai

    The term Old IRA always refers to W of I IRA to distinguish them from later (mis)users of the name.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well Johan, at least you’re still Orange.

    Sectarianism is almost always directly connected to religion as it is in NI. A sect being a group of religious people who have broken away from another – usually larger – religious grouping.

    As an agnostic I don’t adhere to any religion but neither do I denounce any religion.

    A = without Gnostic = knowledge, from the Greek.

    A simple acceptance that I don’t know and don’t believe that there is any point in worrying about it.

    At the same time I have no problem accepting other peoples evident comfort in their religion.

    As someone with a Protestant father a Congregational Minister for a great grandfather and a Protestant wife I am in no way against Protestants.

    As I tried – and obviously failed – to explain to you previously my objection to Ulster Protestants is neither religious or racist, it is a response to their political views and actions down through the years which I find abhorrent.

    Shame you guys didn’t qualify for the Euros this time. : )

  • MainlandUlsterman

    well, there would be quite a few properties going cheap I would imagine. But no, it would be heart-breaking to see Northern Ireland in that situation. Unthinkable really.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no sneering here, and sorry if it came across that way. I have nothing to sneer about and am very fond of NI.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Fair enough, I thought that you might have meant Official IRA as they were around before PIRA.

    The few W of I men that I have met all impressed me with their character, one was quite matey with my father (ex BA) when we lived in Clare back in the early 60’s.

  • Tochais Siorai

    The majority are only Russians because hundreds of thousands of them were resettled from Russia and many of the natives were dispossessed and deported.

    Erm, maybe we won’t go down that road………..

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “my objection to Ulster Protestants is neither religious or racist” – I didn’t say it was – the problem is that it’s an objection to Ulster Protestants, as a group. Can you not see the almost comedic self-contradiction? You just can’t say stuff like that!

    I’m sure many anti-semites feel that way for what they see as ‘political’ reasons – “I don’t hate them, I just happen to hate people who worship in synagogues, have a menorah in their house and might have a higher than average affinity for Israel”. It doesn’t make it any better – it’s hatred of a group of people for who they are, ultimately. Just saying you’re not sectarian or not anti-semitic means nothing if it’s accompanied by a statement of how you don’t like the group of people you’ve singled out.

    Oh and if you mean Northern Ireland as regards the Euros, you’re about as well-informed on football as you are on other aspects of Northern Ireland. What you get out of coming on a Northern Ireland site is beyond me.

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘…..Even the 26 counties were in the UK by choice up until the 1918 election; before that, most MPs in the 26 counties were IPP which was for Home Rule within the UK…’

    This would be after the universal land dispossession, cultural genocide, actual genocide in places, military subjugation, regular famine, mass deportations to the four corners of the earth, penal laws and forced religious conversion all under the watchful eye of an enormous British military garrison (and of course, the people were never asked did they want to be part of the UK although it may have been marginally preferable to the alternative – i.e. an Anglo-Irish Protestant only colonial parliament.)

    The vast bulk of the people were experiencing a form of universal collective trauma rather than any support for British rule.

  • Anglo-Irish

    ” You just can’t say stuff like that “.

    OK, then please provide me with an acceptable turn of phrase to employ when referring to those people in NI that were placed in power in 1922 by means of a gerrymandered boundary and proceeded to take full advantage by means of further gerrymandering.

    In order to hold a debate about them a description is required in order to identify who is being referred to isn’t it?

    So, what do you suggest I call them then?

    Oh, and the impression that most people have of those who are yet to be named is that they lack a sense of humour in comparison to ‘themuns’.

    You have just provided confirmation of that fact or at least that you are slow on the uptake.

    In the post that I replied to you ended by saying ” I’m a Dutchman “.

    I then referred to you as ‘Johan’ in the first sentence of my reply and commented that at least you were still Orange.

    My last sentence refferred to Holland not qualifying and I provided a : ) to give you a clue.

    What I get from coming on a NI site? Amusement MU. amusement quite often provide by you. : ) smiley.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I wish it were mutual.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Lighten up, you’ll give yourself an ulcer! : )

    Anyway, don’t forget that Politically Correct description of those people in or from NI that still believe in the ( religion that can’t be named ) Ascendancy.

    Without being provided with such a description how am I supposed to be able to continue abusing them for all their past and present transgressions?

  • Sharpie

    Whatever the rightitude or moral claim or ethical claims that unionist people have on Northern Ireland today – it cannot be denied the existence of that position is only as the result of invasion and settlement in the past. I know that you can go back to the vikings and celts before that if you wish, but I reckon they would have admitted and even been proud of the way they usurped the country back then.

    A certain type of Unionism in the eyes of many nationalists remains triumphalist about its past, about its holding out of siege, of battles won on river banks, of campaigns by Cromwellian puritans, of brotherhood organisations from the countryside. These contemporary manifestations of the violent origins of todays Ulster nation continually rip the bandage off the wound. For many nationalists (and others) unionism is synonymous with a righteous militarism. It is ubiquitous.

    It is not for today’s population to feel apologetic for that past, however it is really not a good idea to celebrate and use it as a source of energy and raison d’etre. It cannot be justified with any nostalgic look back to the way things were. It cannot for the simple fact that it is kept alive by sects, political parties, paramilitaries, academics and agitators. It creates an equal and opposing force.

    It is too easy for the world to find the straight-line connections from today to the past that is not glorious or eminent. It is easy to see hypocrisy in the way that republican actions are held up as evil while the then contemporary actions of a conquering military junta are held up as glorious and righteous.

    All of this is not to deny violent Republicanism from the days of Tone and even before – but that is a different conversation.

  • Gingray

    They campaigned for it last time around, and still support Scottish independence. They have a different view from the SNP as to how it would work (more focus on environmental projects and eco tourism) but are in favour.

    Scottish Greens are different from Greens (England and Wales) and the Greens (Ireland), but are linked at a European level, much like the SDLP, Irish Labour and UK Labour are.

  • Gingray

    Fond of? Interesting choice of words

  • John Collins

    ‘A dose of fantasy’
    When was there any form of election before 1918 where an independent Ireland was available. The fact is the HOL, a totally unelected body, would have overruled any decision for independence made by the Irish people, before their powers were curbed in 1911. At the next election in 1918, a full two and a half years after 1916, the Irish people, at least in what is now the Irish Republic, overwhelmingly voted for separation from GB. Despite themselves, and often generations of their antecedents, having a hefty tradition of parliamentary experience most of the IPP candidates were never elected in any subsequent Dail Elections, a sure indicator that there was no will among the electorate for a return to GB Rule.

  • John Collins

    Scots the one people; looking at the last Celtic/Rangers match it did not look like it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You’ll find Rangers fans pro and anti independence though; and the same with Celtic fans.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “When was there any form of election before 1918 where an independent Ireland was available.”
    At every election. There was nothing stopping people standing for parliament on republican separatist tickets. There just wasn’t a groundswell for that at the time. You have to remember how much the history of that period was re-written post-1916 to make 1916 seem inevitable. Only with the much reviled ‘revisionist’ historians have we been fully reminded it was nothing of the sort. People wanted home rule, not complete separation. It was starting to go sour before 1916; but 1916 was seminal in setting in train a series of events in which opinion changed rapidly. But the election results from 1910 and before are on the record and were what they were. They were not a big vote for the followers of the IRB and their ilk.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    A different conversation, but intimately linked with this one. Violent Republicanism is a big reason why some strains of unionism feel embattled and under siege. It seems to me it’s hard for people supporting the 32-county nationalist case to be critical of peaceful expressions of defiance to that. I no more support unionist aggression than you do, but you have to concede much of that unionist culture you dislike is essentially defensive in nature – it’s about asserting the right to continue to exist, in a hostile environment.

  • Sharpie

    Surely that is swings and roundabouts – one sides aggression is the other sides’ defensiveness and so on and on. Violent republicanism and violent unionism and their respective displays of identity are the same dynamic being played out. If you were looking at it from game theory there is a tit for tat strategy being played out. The logical position is not to trust the other, but that becomes pathological because at some stage through the playing of tit for tat, the optimum strategy for both is to cooperate. The two sides just need to find the common interest that serves their self interest – that means both shifting from the primary cause of existence to oppose the other. That way there is no escape – there can only be at best bad tempered surrender.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The flip side – the positive side – of that is that we can create a virtuous circle by quietly pulling back from confrontation and adopting a live and let live approach to culture and life. Enough of the parades protests already; and enough of the resisting Irish language development. We both flourish when we realise any attempt to control the other’s culture is counter-productive. More relaxed opening up and less taking offence has to be the way.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    i’m not sure you can go back and undo 100 years of population movements, let alone the 400 years some nationalists would like to see. Which would have a few interesting implications around the world 🙂

  • Sharpie

    ta da.

  • John Collins

    Have you ever taken the time to look at the percentage turnout in elections prior to 1918, even allowing for the fact that only males who were over 35 had the vote; hardly fertile ground for candidates who did not support the Status Quo. I had two cousins who were MPs, both elected in the 1890s. Daniel Ambrose was elected in Louth in ’92 and ’95, when 3400 votes were cast out of a total population of about 50,000 people. Robert Ambrose served from 1893 to 1910 and was always returned unopposed, again an indication of a total disenchantment with politics among the Irish people, at that time. (Incidentally if one read Robert’s ‘Plea for the Industrial Regeneration of Ireland’ 1907 then one might see why a full electorate turned on the GB establishment ten years later).
    When you say, as admittedly several others do, that the result of the 1918 election was directly the result of the 1916 rising, I am not so sure. It took place a full two years and eight months after the Rising and if you read the newspapers accounts of the 1918 Campaign it is clear that, as in the Scottish Referendum, the Status Quo parties hammered home the idea that a vote for SF was a vote for separation and that all sorts of baleful things would follow a vote for these guys.
    It took a massive leap of faith for so many of the Irish people to place their confidence, against all advice, on these young inexperienced politicians, and this I think confirms the suspicion that the reason the HR Party failed so dismally was that the people were heartily sick of GB Rule and that was the main reason for the failure of the old guard in 1918.

  • John Collins

    I am just so in agreement with that paragraph. I well recall visiting the Ulster Folk Museum many years ago and getting into conversation with a member of the facility’s staff. In the course of the chat he said he never spent a holiday in the South and only ever travelled to Dublin for rugby matches. Then in a relaxed, but generous way, he said ‘That is a pity because we have a lot more in common than divide us’. I thought it was a comment full of hope for the future of the island, whatever about constitutional arguments.

  • John Collins

    I always admire Thatcher for standing her ground, despite a demonstration of that magnitude, as she did against the worst excesses of the IRA. A pity she was not there in 73/74, instead of that weakling Wilson.

  • John Collins

    Population of the island of GB = 15 million
    Population of the island of Ireland =5 million
    Population of the island of GB = 41 million
    Population of the island of Ireland = 4 million
    There was no way Ireland was benefiting from the Act of Union, as the above figures emphatically show. Hence the vote for separation in 1918
    Standing for government on separatist tickets was futile as there mandate would have have been returned by the HOL and the mandate only consisted of males over 35 anyway.
    You forget that John Mitchell and O’Donovan Rossa were elected to Westminster, who were both IRB men, but because their faces did not fit, they were not allowed to take their seats. So much for British democracy. No wonder Ghandi said it would be ‘a good idea’.

  • Tochais Siorai

    No, of course you can’t undo population movements or even forced evictions and resettlements but simple headcounts don’t take into account the complexities of many situations.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Notwithstanding there was a collective trauma amongst (the remnants of) a people who had barely survived being conquered, dispossessed and starved, most of them hadn’t a vote throughout the 19th century. The young and more radical either emigrated or if they managed to stay, didn’t have a vote. The British essentially staved off mass revolution by the various land acts and by an alliance of sorts with the Catholic Church who needed a subservient people for their own ends.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    This is a “must watch” documentary on why we should leave the EU. We have absolutely no control over the laws that are made, and of course the theft of the UK fishing industry is well know already.
    “Brexit: The Movie”

  • MainlandUlsterman

    voting rights were the same in Ireland as the rest of the UK at that time. Ireland indeed actually sent more MPs to Westminster per head than the rest of the UK.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The Famine accounted for a lot of the depopulation of Ireland in that period, but also poor economic performance and lack of opportunity at home, something that dogged Ireland inside and outside the UK. Emigration remained high after independence.

    Going somewhere else has always been an option, North and South. It’s not over-egging it to call young people leaving Ireland as a part of the culture of Ireland (as it is for many regions of Europe). Ireland’s not alone in that.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Wilson was all over the place on Ireland. He didn’t help at all by giving mixed message to the IRA. His pragmatism was a big strength but it meant he did operated apparently without principle at times and that was one glaring example.

  • John Collins

    Good points, but Irisn and, indeed sometimes English MPs, made impassioned pleas for extra investment in Ireland, during the period of the Act of Union. Men like Lord Morpeth, in the late 1830s, George Benwitck in the mid 1840s, both of whom said hat the policy of Laissex Faire should not apply to Ireland, especially in relation to prompt development of a viable railway system. They both pointed out the Belgian, French and Swiss expierience, where the rail systems were quickly put in place by Government expenditure, with a view to stimulating econmic growth in remote parts of them countries. Ambrose and several other HR deputies made similiar cases for investment before and after 1900, but to no avail. Make no mistake about it, GB would still be in charge here if they had heeded those cries for help.
    I would also point that despite a poor start, the ROI population has grown at almost exactly the same rate as that of GB since 1911.