“‘New language’, my arse!”

At his Broken Elbow blog Ed Moloney has some fun with the same Detail report that Brian noted in his recent post – “another important waypoint in SF’s bewildering, extraordinary journey“.

I have read this piece several times. It is based on a speech given by SF MEP Matt Carthy and no matter how I hold it – up to the light, sideways, upside down or at various angles – it seems to be saying the same thing: the Good Friday Agreement is as good as it gets, folks!

So, no more pretence that the 1998 deal was a stepping stone to the all-Ireland paradise envisaged by the men of 1916 – a goal, incidentally, that I seem to remember both Messrs Adams & McGuinness a decade or so ago hinting, if not actually predicting, would be reached by the centenary.

And since that anniversary has come and gone and not only is the Border still intact but swathes of the Republic now seem to be on the British royalty’s routine visiting itinerary – rather like Stevenage or Birmingham – it is maybe time to come clean and admit the obvious about the state of the Union between Britain and Northern Ireland.

The only twist to the story is that the failure of the project is now being laid, or rather credited, at the door of the bankers. And we thought they were all evil,  selfish bastards!

Heh!  The associated Sinn Féin press release also noted

Recognising that the agreement of a significant section of Unionists would be required for the building of a United Ireland [Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy] said any referendum on unity “should not be seen nor portrayed as threat to any section of the community”.

Except that his party policy is, and they campaigned in the last two elections on the basis that, Sinn Féin would

Continue to campaign for an island-wide referendum on Irish unity

Which, as I’ve argued, would first require separate referendums, in Ireland and in Northern Ireland, to overturn the Principle of Consent – the right of self-determination of the people of Northern Ireland to decide the constitutional status of Northern Ireland – that is the fundamental building block on which the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and all that followed, is based.

[But that was for a different audience! – Ed]  Indeed.

Adds

For example, the Principle of Consent is now enshrined in the Irish Constitution – via the amended article 3.1.

It is the firm will of the Irish nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island.

As I pointed out, to hold a valid island-wide referendum on Irish Unity, as Sinn Féin have repeatedly called for, the Irish Constitution would need to be amended first. Which would require a referendum of its own – in Ireland.

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  • chrisjones2

    When we Brexit as Ireland’s biggest single customer and the employer of so many Irish people might they like to do the same?

  • Angry Mob

    I think it will eventually, but not for a few years after Brexit. Pro-EU sentiment is very high in Ireland as it is, probably the highest in Europe. When they see that it can be done and is financially beneficial to them that might change.

    Without the UK’s large net contribution I’d expect that the EU’s books would have to be rebalanced and thus Ireland would no longer be a net beneficiary of EU funding, removing its biggest benefit.

    Not just Ireland though either, other EU countries such as Sweden have already indicated in opinion polls that if brexit happened that they would be likely to follow.

    Then serious reform of the EU can actually begin.

  • Just don’t understand why a ‘left’ wing party is campaigning for remain. A UK departure from the EU would necessitate the Irish leaving, in which case they government could give two fingers to the Berlin bankers to whom they are immensely indebted.

  • Declan Doyle

    Ed Moloney’s piece is so wildly innacurate it is actaulla quite funny and very very shoddy ‘journalism’ not really worth referring to in what is a typical No Surrender Unionist Rant against Nationlisms move to reason and compromise, or is the above piece actually penned by an ardent dissident? it is hard to tell the difference sometimes.. That section of Unionism (NSU), really has learnt nothing from the circumstances which led to their forced acceptance of the GFA.

    So too is it difficult for the traditional establishmment to cope with reason and compromise when it comes from Sinn fein. It completely upsets their agenda to portray Repulicanism as unyielding scary baby eating monsters. Nationalism has learnt it can deliver results by occupying fair and considered ground in comparison to NSU’s Never Never Never land stuck in the corner of 1690. The GFA and St Andrews are fine examples of same.

    Sinn Fein’s shift away from socialism towards Social democracy, It’s willingness to accept and reach out to the ‘other’ and the success of its reps to hold their ground in debates has been well rewarded as it grows in popularity. This latest offering in the context of Unity is a further indication of maturity and progressive evolution and one which will find favour amongst those North and South who are soft on the issue one way or another.

  • ted hagan

    I’m not quite sure what the point of this piece is, except for being inflammatory.

  • Ernekid

    It’s a coping mechanism for Pete so he can vent his irrational hatred of Sinn Fein.

  • Nevin

    Declan, here’s part of the Stepping Stones document. The stones must have been wet as I can see a reference to the principle of consent aka the unionist veto. Its compilers were well out of touch as unionism represents a desire for NI to remain part of the UK and only a few percent of unionists identify with the Irish brand. Were unionist politicians asked if they wished to participate in said Constitutional Conference?

  • ted hagan

    If I were Ed Moloney I wouldn’t be saying too much at the moment, what with the Boston tapes fiasco.

  • Nevin

    “the Principle of Consent .. – that is the fundamental building block on which the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and all that followed, is based.”

    This represents a touching faith that governments will abide by agreements. The Anglo-Irish Agreement, funnily enough, wasn’t based on such a principle so there’s nothing to stop governments making new deals based on very different principles.

    The Irish government may, in good faith, have accepted the British government’s promise of an Irish Language Act when it signed the St Andrew’s Agreement but was apparently able to do diddly squat when the 2006 Act merely contained a watered-down devolved version of what could reasonably have been expected. The Irish government provides useful cover but that’s about it.

  • chrisjones2

    What fiasco. Valuable evidence has been recovered. Alleged murderers are being interviewed and sometimes charged. It was a valuable and positive public service

  • chrisjones2

    Because they think there are votes and career advantages in it

  • chrisjones2

    I agree…but I fear that it may collapse before it gets to that point

  • chrisjones2

    That section of Republicanism really has learnt nothing from the circumstances which led to their forced acceptance of the GFA and surrender

  • chrisjones2

    “shift away from socialism towards Social democracy”

    LOL – its the way you tell ’em

    “accept and reach out to the ‘other'”

    – is that the weaponsied outreach or the other one

    “portray Republicanism as unyielding scary baby eating monsters”

    …. no they never ate them, just murdered a number

    “a further indication of maturity and progressive evolution” .

    … forced on them by an electorate in the North that see through the spin and are querying their effectiveness

  • chrisjones2

    Why is it ‘irrational’ ….. it may be well founded and valid

  • ted hagan

    I think there’s a certain betrayal involved.

  • ted hagan

    Come again?

  • Reader

    Fiasco or betrayal – make up your mind.

  • ted hagan

    Both. Maybe that’ll keep your pipe lit.

  • Nevin

    There is no “faith” required.

    For example, the Principle of Consent is now enshrined in the Irish Constitution – via the amended article 3.1.

    It is the firm will of the Irish nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island.

    As I pointed out, to hold a valid island-wide referendum on Irish Unity, as Sinn Féin have repeatedly called for, the Irish Constitution would need to be amended first. Which would require a referendum of its own – in Ireland.

  • ted

    You need to read it all the way to the end.

    You too, David.

  • For example, the Principle of Consent is now enshrined in the Irish Constitution – via the amended article 3.1.

    It is the firm will of the Irish nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island.

    As I pointed out, to hold a valid island-wide referendum on Irish Unity, as Sinn Féin have repeatedly called for, the Irish Constitution would need to be amended first. Which would require a referendum of its own – in Ireland.

  • mickfealty

    You might want to consider why you have been allowed back in ‘after the last time’?

  • mickfealty

    There are arguments you can conjure either way. Burning the social chapter (undoubtedly the first set of regulations to be put up against the SME wall), is surely a good enough reason in itself?

  • Ciaran O’Connor

    Another distracting soliloquy OP. Meanwhile in the real world Craigavon just got a Sinn Fein mayor. James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon, must be revolving in his grave today. I wonder if Gareth Keating will put up some nice green curtains?

  • mickfealty

    It’s all purely tactical Declan. In the wrap up to the NI Assembly elections in 2011 Gerry said he didn’t trust social democrats, now he wants to be one.

    Go figure?

  • Gingray

    Are you not just repeating something you have posted about before?

    Nothing has changed!

    Much like in 1998, a simultaneous referendum could be held in the South, if there was a desire for an All-Ireland vote, but thats about it.

  • Skibo

    Pete,
    with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island
    Does that mean the majority has to be over the two jurisdictions or does it mean the majority in each of the two jurisdictions?
    Can this be a get-out clause for SF and their requirement for an island wide referendum?
    I also note there are no criteria for the calling of a referendum.

  • Skibo

    CJ there was no forced acceptance of the GFA on the Nationalist side with over 90% voting for. Unionists had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the GFA with only 57%.

  • Declan Doyle

    Easy to figure. In the context of the financial crises, social democracy was failing it’s ideals badly. World-wide it had become dazzled and confused by neo liberal laissez fairers. In any event it’s clear from the Shifts SF have made over recent years that It is SFs younger brighter muscle who are now directing the party’s policy direction. Listen to Mary Lou Pearse Doherty, Peadar Toibin and Mat Carry. Adams provides a crucial bridge between the past and the future while remaining as the most identifiable politician in the world at present. Now that the party have a chunk of Dail seats, Gerry will further fall into the background. It’s strategy more than tactics.

  • Nevin

    Never mind SF, Pete, I was referring to the two governments, not to the Army Council pretend government. An Irish government constitution that was amended to sort of accommodate the 1998 Agreement could be amended again in a future inter-government agreement.

  • No it could not.

  • Skibo

    It means what it says. A majority is required in both jurisdictions. Not across both, in both.

    It’s the Principle of Consent as set out in the GFA.

    There is no get-out clause.

    And there is no criteria for calling a referendum because it’s dependent on the decision of the NI Secretary of State.

  • Skibo

    Pete,
    The great thing about language is its interpretation. “A majority on majorities” and “across both not across each”.
    Is this one for the lawyers?
    I take it, with your views you did not vote for the GFA?

  • Skibo

    There is nothing to interpret. The explanation, should you need one, is in the GFA. That’s where any lawyer will direct you.

  • doopa

    It may well be well founded and valid… however it’s hard to see that amongst all the pettiness and name calling.

  • doopa

    ‘There is nothing to interpret.’ Have you ever met a lawyer?

  • kensei

    You need to make shorter posts that actually get to the point before we die of old age and/or boredom.

  • NMS

    Probably revolving from laughing too much. Good Friday Agreement gives Northern Ireland more security than he could ever have believed possible. Even better, the Provos supported it.

  • Ciaran O’Connor

    See right there is the flaw in your logic I was pointing to. Preventing re-unification of Ireland is just one of the tenets of unionism. What will Unionists do about those rebel types taking over our wee country and metaphorically painting all the streets (sráideanna) green? Have more of those really effective fleg-protest/Twaddell type nappy-dirtying exercises?

    Nightmares come in all different shapes and scenarios.

  • NMS

    Preventing?? Let us have the vote, both sides of the Border. “Re-unification” will be massively rejected on both sides of the Border. I would welcome the Provos proposing a Bill in Dáil Éireann for a Border referendum.

    GFA put it away for ever. Carson has the last big belly laugh over Booby and the rest of the suicide gang of ten.

    Consider the words of another person who committed suicide, “Our Border is twofold, language and the sea” Failed on both counts. (Terence McSwiney, Principles of Freedom)

    Tá an teorainn ann agus beidh go deo agus líon na ndaoine le Gaeilge liofa ag titim.

  • Skibo

    The Irish Constitution is a stand-alone document and does not refer to the GFA in any place.
    A majority in both can legally be read as a majority overall. There is merit in what SF is saying.
    The GFA is defined in a more detailed way with the use of the word concurrently.
    The pledge to “in good faith, work to ensure the success of each and everyone of the arrangements to be established under this agreement” made by Unionism is in question in relation to the North-South bodies so it seems they can pick and chose what they want from within the document.

  • Reader

    If the article was boring at least half of the blame lies with Ed Moloney, Sinn Fein and the Irish Constitution, who provided half of the text.

  • Reader

    Declan Doyle: Adams provides a crucial bridge between the past and the future while remaining as the most identifiable politician in the world at present.
    Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are here. They would like a word with you.

  • Skibo

    I don’t see SF walking away from a border poll. DUP said they would call their bluff but didn’t follow it through. Problem is, it they have a poll then the question will get fully discussed and thrashed out.
    Carson is not belly laughing at anyone. He wanted a united Ireland inside the UK. The very setting up of the NI state was a failure for him.
    By the way, the Provos cannot propose a bill in the Dail as they are not in the Dail.
    The Irish language is only heading one way and that is up. Its support is enshrined in the GFA.

  • Reader

    Skibo, at the time of the GFA SF was the minority party of nationalism and only decided to publically support the GFA a couple of days before the referendum. There are still dissidents even now.
    There is a distinction between “the Nationalist side” and “that section of republicanism”.
    Would you care to speculate what would have happened to SF’s electoral prospects if they had not supported the GFA?

  • Reader

    Are you really saying that Ed Moloney knew what would happen to the tapes?

  • Ciaran O’Connor

    Again with the border. Park the border for a second. You have Irish nationalist “terrorists in government”. That’s from the mouths of Unionists. You have play parks “named after terrorists”. Republican ministers running finance, health, maybe Gerry Kelly running the justice ministry next time out? Why not? Your flegs are dragged down off public buildings. For goodness sake you can’t even stamp your feet and authority on the Queen’s highway anymore to reiterate to themmuns that they’re second class citizens in the state. SF mayors in Craigavon. SF MLAs in Antrim. Forsooth you’ve got a legal framework in place now where a Protestant can’t even discriminate to ensure himself of a job. What is happening is that nationalists are simply making the best of bad situation and rather than bringing Northern Ireland to the Irish state, are simply bringing an Irish state of affairs into the north.

    Unionism has insisted that there has to be a winner and a loser. So be it.

  • Is that what Sinn Féin are telling you, Skibo? Because it’s disingenuous nonsense.

    But good luck arguing that in an Irish Constitutional Court, which is where any attempt to hold an all-island referendum, without further amending the Irish Constitution, would end up.

    You might want to take a copy of the text of the Nineteenth Amendment with you…

  • ted hagan

    Don’t try to put words in my mouth. Of course he couldn’t have known, but the project is a huge embarrassment and people’s confidentiality has been breached on all sides of the political divide.

  • Ciaran O’Connor

    Look I have to agree with Pete its all fixed now just like the constitution of the Republic of Yugoslavia.

    See here it is.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1974_Yugoslav_Constitution

    Written in stone.

  • eamoncorbett

    2 questions on the one ballot paper would solve that .
    1. Do you wish to change the Constitution to allow for Irish unity .
    2. Do you want Irish unity .
    Chances are that an island wide referendum on unity would be carried by a small majority which would see Jerry make a mad dash for New York to lodge the result with the UN and declare to the whole world that the Irish people as a whole had decided to unite . Trouble is from an international perspective it would be difficult to disagree with him. I’m pretty sure a lot of African States would support such a motion even if it were hypothetical .

  • Kev Hughes

    This made my day

  • Reader

    Then who did the “betrayal” that you mentioned. Not Moloney, then who?

  • chrisjones2

    So what. Make up all the hypothetical models you want all logically agreed over a pint in the ballot Box an Armalite or the Felons Club. They arent worth a damn

    Self delusion

  • chrisjones2

    Even if you change it we just ignore it. So what.

  • chrisjones2

    It helps ardent Shinnerites believe there is still a glimmer of hope for a United Ireland as Gerry Promised

  • chrisjones2

    Even if it exists, why is it ‘irrational’?

  • chrisjones2

    Its arguable that acceptance was forced on some of the more militant by the reality of their military failure

  • ted hagan

    The people who signed up to the project were betrayed. The whole thing was seriously flawed. Confidentiality was breached and there was embarrassment all round.

  • Skibo

    I think you will find that the ones who did not accept it, still do not and still have a military disposition.
    There are others who supported the move to complete politics and now look at the way Unionism treats Republicans who are trying to work the political system and wonder was it the right decision. Their reaction will be down, not to SFs’ actions but Unionisms’ actions or rather the lack of them.
    Keep pushing this idea of a military failure. Your keyboard warrior views are not those of the British Army but then they had to face them.

  • Skibo

    SF were not telling me anything. As I have said before I am not a member of SF. I will support their actions when I think they are right but I will condemn them when I think they are wrong.
    I got my information from reading the Irish Constitution. I did not read the wording of the nineteenth amendment as I believed it was prior to the changes to the actual constitution to make sure the GFA was accepted and that the institutions were set up. Otherwise the changes to Articles two and three would have been for nothing.
    By the way I believe SF were wrong to hand back Welfare to Westminster, even if it was for a year. If there were hard decisions to be made, we should have done them ourselves.
    It has been a struggle to get powers devolved and they should not be so trivially returned.
    I assume by 26th Nov this year powers will be returned.

  • Skibo

    Unionism are renowned for ignoring what they don’t agree with but those days are nearly over.

  • Reader

    Who betrayed them?

  • Nevin

    I see no reason, Pete, why they could not – because there is no reason.

  • Nevin

    Pete, that self-evidently need not apply in the case of a new agreement between the two governments, alongside another amendment to the Irish constitution. It’s been done before, so it can be done again.

  • mickfealty

    Er, when? The 19th Amendment followed from a commitment made by that international treaty and was passed by a separate referendum, passed by 94.39%.

    The Irish Constitution has robust protections (via the Supreme Court for instance) from the kind of the sort of political chicanery you suggest has happened and could happen again.

    Whoever told you otherwise is just blowing smoke at you Nev.