How Sinn Fein only undermined themselves by turning on their own partners in Government…

In case you missed it, here’s my analysis of the debacle up to and following the resignation of Daithi McKay written for and published by the Irish Independent on Saturday.

The nine-year government coalition between Sinn Féin and the DUP has been an odd and largely unproductive affair. In spite of the popular Chuckle Brothers routine between Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, the positive fruits of that partnership have always been more apparent than evident.

And under the skin, relations have often been strained.

So last July, when Mick Wallace dropped a bombshell into the Dáil and suggested that a Northern Ireland politician was set to benefit from the cream of a Nama deal to the tune of £7m, the temptation to make hay with it was too much to resist.

With little hard evidence emerging, public speculation quickly settled on Peter Robinson as the chief suspect. A slow drip of fragmentary details about secret meetings filled the summer’s front pages.

Relations between Sinn Féin and the DUP have never been healthy. In spite of the Haass talks the government they led was in stasis over parading, flag disputes and dealing with the past.

Into this vacuum came an opportunity for Sinn Féin to pressurise the DUP leader and create havoc in the ranks of his party in the unlikely shape of Loyalist agitator and self-publicist Jamie Bryson.

Mr Bryson, who first came to prominence in the flag dispute of 2012, began using his blog to feed tasty titbits blended with a range of allegations against Mr Robinson and members of his family.

By September, Stormont’s Finance Committee had established its own inquiry into Mr Wallace’s allegations under the chairmanship of Sinn Féin’s North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay.

On foot of these internet postings, Mr Bryson was called as an expert witness. This largely comprised of reading from a prepared script, containing material not previously shared with the committee.

Last week it emerged that Mr McKay and a constituency staff member had coached Mr Bryson in private, advising him on how to talk about Mr Robinson without interventions from other members until the end.

In the context of Northern Ireland’s tense sectarian landscape, it was a risky form of collusion for the North Antrim MLA, not least given his profile in a controversial parade dispute in Rasharkin.

Within hours of the story breaking, Sinn Féin suspended him from the party. Mr McKay promptly stepped down from the Assembly, forcing the party to replace him with the man he had replaced back in 2007.

As the committee reconvened on Tuesday, under the chairmanship of the young newly elected DUP MLA Emma Little Pengelly, another possible reason for Mr McKay’s hasty departure emerged.

In the correspondence between Mr McKay’s office and Mr Bryson, the now Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was named as someone who could make an intervention in support of Mr Bryson’s testimony.

Now, whilst Mr McKay’s rash and amateurish manoeuvre looks like a lone wolf operation, most of Sinn Féin’s subsequent assault on Mr Robinson appears to be based on the fruits of that illicit operation.

New SDLP leader Colum Eastwood was quick to spot the chink in Sinn Féin’s armour when he asked if Mr Ó Muilleoir had been “prepped in advance of Jamie Bryson’s choreographed appearance”.

The Finance Minster now must answer questions from his own oversight committee as to whether he had seen the Bryson-McKay correspondence in advance of the young Loyalist’s appearance.

Outside the deputy First Minister, Mr Ó Muilleoir is one of Sinn Féin’s most popular figures in Northern Ireland. At 57, he is one of its few senior public representatives without a military background.

He is certainly not someone Sinn Féin will give up to opponents at Stormont without a serious fight, not least because his background in entrepreneurial business is so crucial to the party’s late, if derisory, play for the Catholic middle-class vote.

A year on and it is strange that the legacy of last year’s story is that Sinn Féin is facing complicating problems just as the DUP has successfully opened a new political slate for itself.

The allegations against Mr Robinson remain unproven, but through a combination of ill-health, and the damage from this and previous controversies, by last Christmas he was gone.

His last big public act was that bizarre in-out Executive protest, initiated after Mike Nesbitt left the Executive over alleged Provisional IRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan last August.

Humiliating though it undoubtedly was at the time, it bought time to negotiate the cannily named Fresh Start Agreement and ensure that the power-sharing Executive survived intact.

It also gave the DUP a chance to rally around a new political leader, in the shape of Fermanagh MLA Arlene Foster. And in doing so Mr Robinson has taken the media’s most intense interest with him.

Even as the brains behind the modernisation of the DUP and its entry into the mainstream of Northern Ireland politics, Mr Robinson was always viewed by the media as an outdated relic of an older Paisleyite era.

Despite her own and her family’s suffering at the hands of the IRA, Ms Foster as a politician hails from a newer era. And, unlike some older generation Unionists, she no longer publicly wears that pain on her sleeve.

As the only mainstream UK party to back Brexit, success at the Assembly elections was followed in short order with a better than expected showing for the Leave campaign in Northern Ireland.

Stormont’s power-sharing arrangements ask a lot from all of those who take part. The battle-a-day the DUP and Sinn Féin promised nine years ago often looks like low level, passive-aggressive war.

Sinn Féin has scored at its highest from being anti-DUP, and exploiting the sectarian base of that distinction, and shied away from developing its own constructive and implementable programmes.

No coalition will ever deliver if the two main parties at the core of Stormont’s institutions only seek to undermine each other, rather than looking for a strong mutual basis on which to run Northern Ireland’s affairs.

Far from benefiting Sinn Féin, the decision to turn on Mr Robinson has played into the hands of the DUP, and in the process, poisoned the atmosphere inside an administration that now faces an official opposition.

Losing one MLA and having to launch a root-and-branch defence of another is a poor start to the political season. It’s hard to see what’s capable of changing that grudging old sectarian reflex.

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  • Declan Doyle

    The only obvious sectarian reflex alive at Stormont come straight from the DUP, against political opponents in its refusal to countenance nationalist equality and against its citizens in its refusal to support funding for anything that doesn’t involve a sash and a bowler hat. McKay’s unwise dance with Jamie Bryson has cost him his job while the deep and meaningful praying amongst the INM glitterati that it was a full on SF attack on Robbo has been proven to be a waste a prayer.

  • Chris Spratt

    Emma Little Pengelly is an interesting choice to head up that commitee.

  • Brendan Heading

    The DUP are in power only because SF are keeping them there, Declan. Which is the really fascinating contradiction here.

  • Skibo

    And in return, SF are only there because of the support of DUP, would that be a greater contradiction?

  • Brendan Heading

    No. For their various faults, I haven’t seen the DUP side with dissident republicans to try to undermine Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness. On the other hand, SF never seem to stop complaining, as Declan just did, about their partners.

    Devolution works very well for the DUP. It allows them the prestige of having their name first on the letterhead at the Executive Office, lets them block pretty much everything SF want to do, and seems to allow them to retain critical influence with their support base and their financial and business donors. In what way is it working for SF ?

  • Brian Walker

    Mick,
    I’m prepared to risk being suckered by Sinn Fein more than you and most commentators. I’m less informed than most for sure, and I may be seeing over the tops of the trees than the wood. But I prefer to stress tacit agreement more than continuing mutual suspicion and grudge match. I think this is the side of coin that will stay upright. I note that they’ve done what all good spin doctors recommend, which is to draw a line. They never managed that over the peace and reconciliation centre. Fresh Start does matter. It may not be the blinding light of conversion on the Damascus Road but it’s what they can be judged against.

    I’m closer to Newton, a truffler in complexity and no lover of Sinn Fein focusing more on Arlene and the DUP in the Sunday Times
    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/past-six-days/2016-08-28/ireland/witness-row-highlights-that-sinn-fein-and-dup-are-the-best-of-frenemies-0mcqnp06f

    and concluding:

    “Given the conflicting pressures Sinn Fein and the DUP are under to fight yet still be friends, the finance minister makes a good punchbag…..
    Meanwhile, at the top of the DUP, Foster’s Twitter account gives the real game away. The BBC report she retweeted on August 18 referred to one of her trusted lieutenants, Peter Weir, telling a morning radio programme that McKay’s position was untenable. By that afternoon, McKay had gone, after being stood down and suspended by Sinn Fein.
    That was the resolution both parties reached on day one of the story, and they have been content with it ever since. All else in the north is noise.”

    And Alex Kane..http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/were-sinn-fein-orchestrating-a-conspiracy-to-oust-peter-robinson-1-7536285

    “But don’t expect a witch hunt. That is not going to happen. Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness do not want to return to the bitterness and instability that dominated politics here for most of 2015. They have bigger fish to fry, particularly in terms of Brexit and a difficult economic climate and I think they both accept that Theresa May will not be providing a reassuring shoulder or extended loans.”

    Commentators’ greatest fear is being exposed or even thought to be exposed as naive, particularly over undoubted conspiracies like this one.

    But given the above reservations, the charge against Robinson just wasn’t believed for all the- nudge- nudge wink – wink over Swish Family Robinson – and I might add his very foolish personal intervention over the Red Sky contract. The smoking gun just isn’t there.
    I wonder too – perhaps scoring against the DUP is starting to produce diminishing returns judging for instance form last year’s vote ?

    It’s an odd atmosphere ” Frienemies” Emerson calls them. Progress of a kind. And I see we have to thank Mairtin from now on as the new owner of that priceless aggregator Irish Central which carries Newshound.

    I’m off to Notting Hill….

  • Skibo

    Brendan, without SF the executive falls. DUP realise that as does the rest of Unionism. The UUP can use the fact that DUP and SF are partners in the Executive to give the impression of collusion and less than Unionist of the DUP in a hope to roll back support to themselves.
    Problem is the only ones who will baulk now at a Unionist party doing business with SF is the hard line who will be more susceptible to the lure of Jim Allister.
    There are those within Republicanism (I had Nationalism in there also but removed) who do not agree with Irishmen operating British rule in Ireland but I believe the majority of us are pragmatic in our belief that, like Belfast, the political map of NI is changing and we have to change with it and be ready when Unionism falls from grace as the majority.

  • Skibo

    Brendan another issue of DUP not being a full partner in this arrangement is how they have blocked a number of issues agreed to in previous negotiations, all showing how they view Nationalism and Republicanism as second to Unionism, fuelling the growth of Dissident republicanism

  • chrisjones2

    “only obvious sectarian reflex alive at Stormont come straight from the DUP”

    Of course ‘ourselves alone’ are never sectarian!!!

  • chrisjones2

    ..and vice versa…that’s the system ….and if SF want to collapse the system and revert to British rule they can easily do it …or see the SDLP pick up the seats if SF are finding it all too difficult for them

  • chrisjones2

    Oh yes ..can you imagine them sitting in houses in Kilwilkee fulminating

    “Ballymoney Council has blocked Irish Language Signs on a couple of streets in Rasharkin boys …time for war”

  • chrisjones2

    Your problem is that Unionism isn’t just composed of Prods …and there is no sign of the fall from grace you hope for – perhaps quite the reverse and a process that Brexit may accelerate.

    So the position Republicans / Nationalists take needs to be pragmatic in realising that or they will end up blighting their children’s futures in the hope if a United Ireland in say 100 years!

  • chrisjones2

    Profiling? Clearly shes competent well got with the leadership and less so with one faction in the Party who will be offended by her intelligence, political links and gender.

    I suspect she will be a Minister at the first suitable chance

  • Chris Spratt

    Oh no, I was just remarking that as Robbo’s SPAD and her husband’s ties to the whole thing, she’s an interesting choice.

  • The Irishman

    You do know that Sinn Féin means ‘ ourselves ‘ or ‘we ourselves’.
    Ourselves alone is ‘Sinn Féin Amháin’.

  • Chris Spratt

    Somehow I doubt the Leave vote will result in many being further endeared with the Union, the opposite will likely be the case though.

  • Nevin

    “I’m off to Notting Hill….”

    You’re a brave man, Brian.

  • mickfealty

    Like I say Brian, it’s a tougher arrangement politically than it looks. Like patting your own head and rubbing your belly. But it’s the absence of an implementable programme that’s the most striking absence.

  • NotNowJohnny

    This is clearly and verifiably nonsense. A 30 second Google reveals the DUPs minister for communities awarding over half a million pounds to two GAA clubs in Coalisland only last month. How did you come to the conclusion that the DUP refuses “to support funding for anything that doesn’t involve a sash and a bowler hat.” Did you just make that up?

    https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/news/coalisland-sporting-facilities-boosted-by-ps686000-investment-givan

  • mickfealty

    That’s the common line, but I’m afraid I just don’t believe it. There’s zero evidence this is a one way street, and plenty that it’s a mutual affliction.

  • Declan Doyle

    At council level the DUP do everything they can to put a stop to funding initiatives that have an Irish streak in them. For gods sake man they spent thousands just to grind the irish word for water off a few pot hole covers !!

  • Declan Doyle

    ‘Blinkers’ is the word. The DUP’S attitude to 1916 in contrast to SF effort for the Some commemorations spring to mind. The gaelicisation of St Patrick day was another classic demo of DUPs sectarian spirit, compare that to the west belfast festival efforts to foster inclusion. Look at tge DUP’S attitude to having President Higgins at city hall and compare that to SF’S attitude to the English Monarch. Even a cup of tea for the free state football team triggered the DUP’S sectarian nerve endings. Possible visit by the Pope in 2018 had Robinson in a dither. Take off them pesky blinkers.

  • Redstar

    With all due respect Mick this tired old rhetoric re Arlenes families pain due to Republicans somehow making her saintly for even dealing with them, get over yourself.

    Her party has never had any probs hob nobbing with unionist murder gangs with many members/ ex members leading lights amongst the current DUP ranks

    Should Nationslist parties be given brownie points for consenting to deal with the DUP despite this history?

  • Redstar

    Brian you’ve never seen the DUP side with unionist murder gangs???

    Why then have they so many ” ex” UDA/UVF members amongst their party ranks????

  • Redstar

    Think you’re all over the place again here Chris

    Unionism isn’t just comprised of Prods?

    Not these mythical hordes of Catholic unionists again, who never vote!! Get real

  • NotNowJohnny

    Yes. Im fully aware of that. But that’s not what you posted. You posted something which was so obviously untrue that it makes one wonder how can anyone one can post such a thing. I see this all the time here. People post claims which are completely contrary to the evidence. I’m curious as to why. Were you aware when you posted your claim that it was untrue, or did you actually believe that it was true in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary or did you not care whether it was true or not but you thought you’d post it anyway because it supports what you believe about the DUP?

  • Declan Doyle

    What I posted is accurate. The DUP trip over themselves to either refuse funding for nationalist initiatives or develop sudden faux outrage when they do not have the numbers to obstruct such funding. Or are the croppies now expected to thank them when they are forced to play fair. Next you will be telling us that they do not have homophobic tendencies either.

  • Declan Doyle

    It’s been conjugated for him dozens of times. Wasting your time.

  • NotNowJohnny

    What you posted is completely inaccurate. I’ve already provided the evidence to demonstrate that the DUP do provide funding for things which don’t involve a sash and a bowler hat – over half a million pounds to the GAA. Of course you are now suggesting that you said something different. For the record here is what you said.

    “The only obvious sectarian reflex alive at Stormont come straight from the DUP, against political opponents in its refusal to countenance nationalist equality and against its citizens in its refusal to support funding for anything that doesn’t involve a sash and a bowler hat.”

    As for your last, comment I have no idea what prompted that. Your response is a cocktail of inaccuracy and the absurd.

  • Declan Doyle

    Grand so

  • Brendan Heading

    Brian

    It’s Brendan.

    you’ve never seen the DUP side with unionist murder gangs???

    Yes I have. That’s not the same with siding with anti-agreement elements on the opposite side of the fence which is what SF just did.

    Why then have they so many ” ex” UDA/UVF members amongst their party ranks????

    Because they have common cause, to some extent, with loyalist paramilitaries, would be my best guess. But you’re probably better asking them.

  • Brendan Heading

    If you’re trying to sell Sinn Féin’s ongoing participation in this arrangement you’re not doing a great job of it.

  • Brendan Heading

    Brendan, without SF the executive falls.

    Only because that is what SF want. What I think SF need is a period in opposition.

    the political map of NI is changing and we have to change with it and be ready when Unionism falls from grace as the majority.

    What sort of things do you think are going to change when there’s a nationalist majority ? What makes you think the mutual veto will end when the shoe is on the other foot ?

  • Brendan Heading

    Northern Ireland is 48% Catholic (2011 census), but nationalist designated political parties have 37% of the vote ..

  • Brian Walker

    The implementable programme? They have an outline programne and a timetable to be monitored half yearly by the two governments and a fiscal policy supervised by the Treasury. This reduces the scope for political gaming quite a bit like prisoners on remand. . Early days. Give them a chance. Actually I can manage the belly rubbing and head patting. Can’t you? I thought everybody could…

  • Brendan Heading

    Clearly shes competent well got with the leadership

    The current DUP leader sacked her from the Executive after a handful of months at post. Are we talking about the same person ?

  • mickfealty

    Haven’t actually tried it again since my deep diappointment in Third Year. 😉

  • eamoncorbett

    This scandal is just the latest in the longest running political experiment Europe has seen in modern times . Its been almost 100 years in existence , nothing has worked , everything has been tried , well almost everything . Isn’t about time the very structures that underpin the state are looked at and changed . The GFA isnt the only game in town , yes it brought peace , it was meant to bring politics but the structures already in place meant that the participants could take licence with that privilege. The constitutional position of NI , the mutual veto, the legacy issues, flags and emblems , the talking shops that are part and parcel of the GFA , the nonchalant attitudes of both governments and most importantly the failure to recognise that it is eventually going to all cave in because at the end of the day no one is accountable or will take responsibility for the political mess that is Northern Ireland . If NI is truely British and Irish it is incumbent on those administrations to administer the place and recognise the reality that exists even if that means admitting that the GFA has been at least a political failure.

  • mickfealty

    Don’t laugh, but that’s not what I meant. Republicans will be left behind if they don’t wake up and smell the coffee.

    Best thing about the long war is that it tested the idea Ireland will be unified via killing people literally to destruction.

    Unionists bested wartime Republicans, and if Republicanism keeps up the same delusional peace strategy that will repeat.

    What screwed the Republican campaign is that they killed too many people relative to how many the British did.

    For all the high volume around horrendous cases of British brutality, many more died at the hands of the revolutionaries.

    So, for me, what Arlene has done, is resist an urge (and largely succeeded) to wear wounds with pride/contempt.

    It creates space for the DUP to grow, while SF re-focus on a failed campaign that neutrals will measure them poorly by.

    Not because they killed more, but because people like winners.

    Meantime Republicans underestimate how the DUP is slyly escaping under the wire of their old well earned mythology.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’d be interested by what criteria you deem the GFA to be a political failure. Strand 3 seems to be working extremely well, Strand 2 seems to be working well too while Strand 1 has, arguably, recently resulted in the most broadly accepted form of government in this part of Ireland since John de Courcey set foot here in 1177.

  • Declan Doyle

    Nationalism has an itch to scratch. Irish Unity is still the goal, however it is clear that nationalists and mainstream republicanism will settle finally on a third way. The problem is – as always – Unionist refusal to countenance anything other than a British Ulster; just hark at the response from Unionism to the revived discussion on a United Ireland. There is a small window of opportunity where both sides can consider a realistic and doable third way, I fear Unionism will squander the time in a vain attempt to protect the plantation. Big mistake.

  • eamoncorbett

    I’m a bit scant on the Norman invasion , but when it comes to the system and status of government in NI as part of the UK all I will say is look at the history of the place in political terms , you can’t force a system on people that clearly doesn’t work or that will end in deadlock . I’m not in favour of a UI but there has to be a joint approach to the governance of NI from both governments to gain stability and accountability otherwise the present protagonists will simply wreck the place for their own selfish ends.

  • NotNowJohnny

    While I accept your point about pre GFA Northern Ireland in political terms, one has to consider the post GFA world separately. Because pre 98 NI was a political failure, it doesn’t follow that it is now. Hence my asking you what your criteria were for determining that the GFA has been a political failure.

    Of course there already is a joint approach to the governance of NI. The GFA is an international treaty between the two governments. There is a British Irish dimension that seems to be working well. There is a north south element which is now working well which didn’t work at all in 1922 or 1974 and didn’t work particularly well pre 2007. When one talks of stability and one looks at these islands as a whole, over the past twelve months one could well draw the conclusion that the NI is actually more stable politically than anywhere else.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I understood that the GFA was a third way with a UI and unionist majority rule having been the rejected alternatives. The GFA of course was voted for by an overwhelming majority of the Irish people.

    If by ‘British Ulster’ you mean NI within the UK, then it’s hard to be too critical of unionism for that. That is afterall the raison d’être of unionism. However the law is clear and unionists have agreed the conditions on which the constitutional position can change and they do not have a veto over that.

    However if what you mean, is that the post GFA Northern Ireland has not turned out as you expected, then you do have a point. The question is how do you want it to change to make it a less British Ulster (perhaps you really mean more Irish)? I expect you’ll, quite rightly, raise the issue of an Irish language act here although whether the failure to obtain an Irish language act is just as much down to a failure of nationalism as it is down to the intransigence of unionism is a point worth considering.

  • Gopher

    It seems even SF members know the solo run story is a farce

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-37216380

  • Granni Trixie

    Her rapid race to high position was in Robinsons gift one of the last before he left politics. Whatever happened to merit?

  • mickfealty

    Sacked. That’s a tad harsh Brendan.

  • Declan Doyle

    The GFA is and was an alternative to the what preceeded it and, as a tool for ending the conflict and creating a new political landscape it has been pretty successful.

    A third way needs to remove the possibility of one side ever having defeated or out manoeuvred the other. It should in essence achieve both a maintenance of the six counties in the UK and the creation of a UI.

  • chrisjones2

    “Nationalism has an itch to scratch.”

    The problem is – as always – Nationalism’s refusal to countenance anything other than an Irish solution ; just hark at the response from Nationalism to the revived discussion on a Brexit. There is a small window of opportunity where both sides can consider a realistic and doable third way, I fear Nationalism will squander the time in a vain attempt to protect their failed wet dream of unity. Big mistake.

  • chrisjones2

    “I understood that the GFA was a third way with a UI”

    Silly boy!!! It was nball just another stage on the road to a United Ireland …….except it wasn’t and they are now starting to realise that

  • chrisjones2

    Yes….and are very happy to support Dathai but the point is this. SF signed up to behave like constitutional politicians. This was far from that. It broke house rules and was designed to try and destabilise their partners in the DUP by attacking their former leader using underhand tactics. McKay had to go …because of what he did and to protect others who were undoubtedly involved in the plot.

    The DUP are capable of just the same type of politics and if they get caught out the penalties should be the same

    I note too the bleating about the imposition of a replacement by the centre without local consultation. Great – but if you have been members of SF for as long as many of those shouting loudest have then you know the type of organisation you are in, how it operates and who really counts in the hierarchy – and frankly it aint you

    But externally the really interesting part is that it shows the increasing fragmentation of SF and the challenge they face to hold it together internally. North Antrim, Cork …..the list rolls on and on North and South. Good Lord at this rate it will soon be like a normal party

    The truth is that we have passed peak SF. The monolith is no longer fit for purpose and that poses challenges for everyone

  • Declan Doyle

    Nowhere does your link back up your claim

  • Nevin

    “with a better than expected showing for the Leave campaign in Northern Ireland.”

    I’d have thought the result more or less matched expectations. The Leave percentage is pretty well in step with the combined DUP, TUV, UKIP and half the UUP percentages achieved in the 2016 Assembly election.

    “His last big public act was that bizarre in-out Executive protest, initiated after Mike Nesbitt left the Executive over alleged Provisional IRA involvement”

    It’s also important to factor in the reluctance of Cameron and Kenny to provide any political cover.

  • chrisjones2

    Yes but the practical reality of that landscape is a shared NI within the UK. Nowadays even many Catholics in NI are very content with that.

    The problem is that the SF snake oil salesmen sold it to their hardline base as a mere stepping stone. Even the thickest are now starting to realise that

  • chrisjones2

    Well they increasingly dont vote for either SF or the Stoops

  • chrisjones2

    So why did they all resign?

    Whats the Connolly House line? Or rather the line today

  • NotNowJohnny

    Ive no idea what you are saying here. You seem to be disagreeing and at the same time agreeing. Perhaps you aren’t sure yourself? It was never a step on the road to a UI however it did make a UI inevitable if/when the conditions were met.

  • Skibo

    Brendan, the alternative to Stormont at the moment is British rule administered by Westminster with ROI possibly given an advisory role similar to the AIA.
    Do you suggest that as an alternative?
    At the moment what we have is British rule administered by the residents of Northern Ireland.
    What I see happening with a Unionism minority is similar to what happens in Belfast. There will be more cooperation and I expect a greater respect for the Irish dimension of society. Belfast is still in a metamorphosis which I expect will accelerate over the next local election.
    By the way I am not a shinnerbot.

  • Skibo

    Keep on dreaming Chris. There is no statistics anywhere for Catholics voting in any significant percentage for Unionist parties.
    You will find them voting for Greens and Alliance but then both are supposed to be neutral on the National question.

    Nationalists and Republicans are pragmatic but your view of a change in 100 years is too far. Within one year Catholic and Protestant percentages will be equal if you follow through on statistics. The progression of that down 18 years will leave results at the polls very difficult reading for you.
    I expect the change to be faster due to the fact that the older generations are sitting at around one third to two thirds. If you look at over 70s, it is nearly 2 to 1.

  • Skibo

    Chris it shows how they view the Irish diaspora. Obviously not equal to that of British!

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