Reality says Arlene would be wise to stop sneering at the south. The Brits don’t like it

The FT (£) previews  Enda’s  all-island civil dialogue on Wednesday and is gloomy about the prospects for developing an all-Ireland position due to “ unionist truculence.”


The civic dialogue is unlikely to ease any Irish fears over the UK exit from the EU. The real question is whether Mr Kenny can ever develop an all-island position on Brexit, given the truculent unionist position. “It’s going to be very difficult to do this, because by definition it will involve two stakeholders with diametrically opposed views on Brexit,” says Aidan Regan, a political scientist at University College Dublin.


Early days. Even making allowances for party conference rhetoric, it was depressing to see Arlene scoffing at the south when their help will be welcome inside the councils of the EU. The DUP may well in practice prove less stand offish  as time wears on and they are given permission to do so by the UK government.     So little is clear yet about the UK position on access to the market and the future of the customs union, even after the Nissan deal.  And there’s a lot more than the North for the Republic and the UK to worry about  over Brexit.

Good luck to Simon Hamilton, going out and getting new business. Competition in business is not inconsistent with government cooperation as happens all over the EU.  e.g. NI Screen with the Republic’s equivalent.

Meanwhile unfortunately , from Frances   McDonnell in today’s Irish Times….

 In fact, according to a new industry survey, the number of potential foreign investors making investment enquiries has dipped sharply in the last quarter.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ latest commercial market survey shows enquiries specifically from foreign investors are continuing to fall. Feedback from local RICS members also reveals evidence that some firms currently located in Northern Ireland are looking to relocate away from the UK in response to the EU referendum vote….

Latest statistics from the HM Revenue & Customs show that, in the year up to June 2016, 52 per cent – roughly £2.1 billion – of Northern Ireland’s exports still went to the the EU.

“The Irish Republic continued to dominate Northern Ireland’s export market despite its share decreasing from 36 per cent to 32 per cent compared to the previous year,” Revenue says. “Northern Ireland has a higher proportion of export trade with the EU in comparison with the other UK countries.”


Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

  • billypilgrim1

    “…if you scratch beneath the surface all the ingrediants are still there 50 years later for the same circumstances to arise.

    I don’t think this is true at all. The sectarian hatred is still there, but the relative strength of the two sides is radically different.

    In 1969 unionism had a large demographic majority. They had a state they wholly controlled to defend. They had a one-party government and gerrymandered local authorities in their control. They had an armed police force and large-scale militias they controlled. They had a 100,000-strong Orange Order rooted in every community. They had a judiciary almost entirely appointed via Orange patronage. They had harshly repressive legislation on the books with which to keep nationalists down. They still had an apparent (though chimerical) advantage over the south in terms of standards of living. They still had a huge and formidable loyalist proletariat. The south was still strongly Catholic, making the whipping up of sectarianism against it very easy. They had a UK government that knew little about NI but could be relied upon to instinctively back unionism. They had a hard border with the south, and the benefit of 50 years worth of drift that had resulted. They had a high level of political unity, and were opposed by a nationalism that was not politically organised in any serious way, that had few links or experience with southern politics and even fewer with Westminster. And they had a history of getting their own way, going back 50 years.

    None of this is true today. In most cases, for unionism the advantages of 1969 are completely flipped and are disadvantages in 2016.

    Unionism has largely been defanged. The ability (and consequently appetite) of unionism to bring down the state and civil society in 2016 is much diminished.

  • billypilgrim1

    How would they pull down the house, though? When has unionism won any battle without the crucial support from within key institutions? (From the Curragh Mutiny to Bonar Law’s Tories to Orange RUC commanders to the workers at Kilroot power station to the army’s role as loyalism’s de facto intelligence and officer class.)

    Denied such institutional support, middle class unionists have a consistent history of not wanting to know. What you’re left with is Paisleyite gobshitery and Fleggerism.

  • billypilgrim1

    We did take down the flag. Loyalists did sit down in the street. It was annoying, but the place did not become ungovernable. All that happened was that loyalists made fools of themselves.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And, bp1, the last two mentioned are perfectly capable of making their own approximation of local chaos!

    Their threat is of course much, much less without their “contacts” with the big players but it is no less real in itself.

  • billypilgrim1

    It’s always 30 years, for some reason.

    I remember hearing people 20 years ago, talking about 30 years. Or ‘a generation,’ or some such malleable term as that.

    Why do we always assume that the present is the beginning of the process, or even before the process has begun? In reality, a united Ireland in the next decade is very possible, and if this happens, future historians will see it as the culmination of a process that began decades ago. I suspect 2016 will turn out to be quite late in the game.

  • billypilgrim1

    “What possible reason do they have to hang on to a place which has no benefits and is a drain on resources?”

    Having a physical presence on the island of Ireland is of enormous strategic importance to Britain. British (and English) planners have fought many wars and done every evil you can imagine in order to ensure they control their western approaches. It’s naive to assume the British see Ireland purely as a negative on the balance sheet.

  • billypilgrim1

    But in an NI context, that’s what a unionist is – British nationalism.

    However much there are decent people who wish otherwise, this is the ugly reality of what you’re buying into when you buy into unionism.

  • billypilgrim1

    I’m mystified by the second sentence. You acknowledge that the threat is ‘much less’ but then say it is ‘no less real in itself’.

    What does this mean?

  • congal claen

    Hi Sean,
    I was just quoting Wikipedia back at you.
    As for the the Cruthin never being called Pretani in any Irish context, it was my understanding that Cruthin was the q celtic form of the P celtic Pretani. No? So, that wouldn’t be a surprise would it?
    Also, the picts probably didn’t call themselves Picts either. It’s what others called them. In the same way, Gael and Gaelic was what outsiders called “the Gaels”. As it meant foreigner they probably wouldn’t like to have been called it. Same as Welsh being Anglo Saxon for foreigner. However, that doesn’t stop the Welsh wanting to be known as Welsh and Gaelic being cherished in Ireland.
    As for the naming of the isles, it was my understanding that GB was once known as Alba/Albion mainly because of the cliffs of Dover being white and that Ireland comes from the Errain – a British tribe. The isles as a whole were known as the Brittanias. Whether the inhabitants called them that or not is open to debate. But that’s where it comes from, in a whole Isles context, and so British can be applied to the Isles as a whole. It’s not as simple as “of the island of Britain” as you first said.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Partition, though, reflected pre-existing differences of people on the ground as to national identity and belonging, it did not start them. The Home Rule issue had already shone a light for 30 years on them by then. What’s more, partition was not imposed, it was agreed by treaty between the nascent leadership of the Free State and the UK. Collins et al accepted it because the reality was Ireland was already divided – he was in no position to force N Ireland out of its existing state and into a new state that its people so fundamentally didn’t want. I can’t see how it could have been otherwise.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    We could discuss this ad infinitum, CC, but take it from me, the scholarly balance of understanding is fully against what you are trying to say. This is not a matter which can be “proven” by a few things grabbed from te internet. You’d need to prepare a raeding list of current scholarship and read up on this fully to even begin to get a sense of things. I’m afraid that “Ireland” simply is not “Britain” in the understanding of really sane people. The loose manner in which you are deploying isolated instances grabbed from the internet does not add up to that black crow all the rest of us can see being really an albino.

    The “British Isles” is an English dsecription (like “mainland”) and has always suggested an implicit power discourse. “The earliest known use of the phrase “Brytish Iles” in the English language is dated 1577 in a work by John Dee” [Wikipedia]. This identifies the first usage in English with the self same person who invented the concept of “The British Empire”. To get the other side of this story for a more balanced approach I’d advise reading Brendan Bradshaw’s excellent book, “‘And so began the Irish Nation’: Nationality, National Consciousness and Nationalism in Pre-modern Ireland” (Routledge, 2015).

    The all important thing is that the identity of Ireland and the identity of that other island to the east have been recognisably seperate identities from before Christ and that in modern usage, the island of Ireland is “Irish” and the landmass of Great Britian is simply “British”. If you check the passport issued, it is for “The United Kingdom of Great Britian AND NORTHERN IRELAND, and although the designation of a holder is as a “British citizen” this does not make Northern Ireland a geographic part of Britian, but simply a part of what is still geographically Ireland politically united at this moment with Britain and forming a fourth part of the United Kingdom with the three constituant parts of Britain!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Not rocket science. BP1! “Much less” is “less than something”, not the entire absence of that thing. While the treat is “much less” because the loyalists may not have support from those on high, they can still enact violence and civil disturbance of their own unsupported. Surely you do not imagine that after a century of the encoded habits of a default resort to violence when challenged the absence of an Edward Carson will turn then into warm friendly lambs?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    all loyalty is conditional. Unionists’ is no more conditional than anyone else’s. Being loyal to your country doesn’t mean having to agree with the government of the day, or anyone else for that matter. It’s hardly disloyal to, for example, campaign for your region to be treated like other regions, or to oppose a government’s perceived appeasement of the state’s enemies.

    This stuff about ‘conditional loyalty’ is oft repeated but it’s an unclothed emperor of an argument. I’ve been onto this for decades now and can attest, none of the arguments the other way amount to a hill of beans. By all means have a go but I can tell you, it’s a non-point. But I can also predict it will continue to be repeated until kingdom come. Such is the way of the world. Many assertions of deep truths – particularly when people generalise about a whole ethnic group – are the ritual incantation of half-examined, self-comforting tropes. This is a classic example.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I would never suggest one side is as bad as the other – not in my lifetime at any rate.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    on this thread, you can read as well as I can: yourself, Declan, Liz McNeill, Antrim Gael …

    The SF point was just to rebut the jibe that the unreasonable people were those outside the tent on this one.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You should read Newton Emerson’s piece on it here:
    Puts it better than I can.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well my reason for believing that 30 years from now will be the optimum time for a UI is based on the fact that 50 years will have elapsed and all or at least the majority of those that were actually protagonists will be dead.

    Add in the effect of demographics and that the younger generation ( or at least most of them ) will have more experience of intermingling with each other and it may simply become acceptable as the commonsense course of action.

    If Brexit turns out to hasten the event then there are still too many ‘loyalist’ sectarian nut jobs around, and too many nationalist dissident nut jobs eager to go again.

    And as ever it’s the innocents on both sides that suffer the most.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Look, BP1, I know its a different trajectory entirely, but when myself and other PD members “sat down” in support of general Civil Rights here it had an effect. I am not even begining to argue Unionism’s case, but one simply cannot ignore the possibility of what can happen when people feel they have nothing to loose, no matter how much one may disagree with them.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “I suspect 2016 will turn out to be quite late in the game.” Indeed! For myself, BP1, the island wide vote on 22 May 1998 was the fulcrum of actual change.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    AI, the intermingling is going a pace alraedy. Almost anyone I know under 20 has shaken loose the old encoded habits of the post 1920 situation. interesting times directly ahead!

  • congal claen

    Hi Sean,

    “We could discuss this ad infinitum”


    What I find strange in your argument is that the very sources you are using to attribute the origin of Ireland and Britain describe the isles as a whole as the Britannias, or something similar. You accept the individual naming but not the collective by the same writers. That’s strange logic.

    You also say that by describing the isles as British it is in some way an expression of power. That is not how I see it. I’ve no trouble in Europe being called Europe, don’t dispute where it came from and I don’t think being described as European undermines in the slightest my sense of identity. It’s just a description. Similarly, I don’t think the term Irish Sea means that sea belongs to the Irish any more than to any of the other countries that share it’s coastline.

    As for the passport, I consider myself British by virtue of being born in the British Isles, not born in Britain. BTW, although not politically Irish, I also consider myself Irish by virtue of being of the island of Ireland. They aren’t mutually exclusive. In the same way we can also be described as European.

  • Anglo-Irish

    That was then, and this is now.

    There isn’t going to be another Armada, if there is another World War it will be fought with high technology. The one after with sticks and stones!

    As I said in the previous post the British would never have agreed to the inclusion of future referendums with a margin of 50%+1 if they had been determined to hold on to NI at any cost.

    They are not entirely stupid – although giving the impression from time to time – the GFA was created over a period of time and future consequences would have been taken into consideration.

    They were aware of the possibility of future demographics bringing about a majority of people wanting a UI and they accepted that fact.

    The UK is no longer a major player in military power no matter how much it’s establishment like to believe it is so they can rub shoulders with those actually carrying a big stick.

    We are currently sixth in military strength and spending money we don’t have to maintain that position.

    If Germany was so minded it could leapfrog us into seventh place and the gap in between the top 4 and the rest of us is incredible.

    We are playing at it, and we can’t afford it.

    At some point realisation may dawn and we can start to emulate the Scandinavian countries and Canada, Germany etc and forget about joining in wars at every opportunity and concentrate on improving the lifestyle, education and standard of living of the general public.

    I’m not holding my breath.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    This is always going to be one of those things which requires far too much unpacking to ever be seriously handled on Slugger, MU, but here goes. Partition was always a very artificial solution to problems which it in turn compounded with its simplifications. Unionist fears (what Campbell Bannerman called “Ulsteria”) certainly had been camped up in the north from the time of the first Home Rule Bill, but to speak of “pre-existing differences” as if these somehow reflected the encrusted attitudes of a centuary later which had seen the steady nurture of such fears by post-partition Unionism itself is most anacronistic! The educated older generation of Unionists who lived through the Great war and Revolutionary period quite naturally thought of themselves as “Irish” Unionists, and this modern notion of a particularly seperate British/”Ulster” identity is very much a product of partition itself, a particular “invention of tradition” that is only really a few decades old. Carson and others high within Unionism in its earlier years could easily imagine the people of the six counties moving towards Irish Unity (after a temporary exclusion) until quite late in the day when they had brokered the much newer idea of partition!

    Surely someone who has powerfully disussed the theme that differences as such do not debar those in NI from their “Britishness”, can strive to make the same leap to imagine in turn just how little these concocted northern differences might have divided the northern community from their “countrymen” in a pre-war, Constitutionalist Ireland had their inculcated fears not been fully exploited by the UUC at the period of the Third Home Rule Bill to mendatiously prevent this. ne has only to look at the “Alternative Covenant” of 1913 for a vivid counterfactual.

  • Anglo-Irish

    And about time.

    I saw a very interesting TV program a while back in which young NI students were interviewed about one of NI’s current problems – I forget which, there’s been a few – and I remember being impressed with their responses.

    The point was made that those interviewed were from both communities, but you couldn’t tell which from the answers given.

    It was pretty clear that they were all pretty unimpressed by the NI political ‘leadership’ on offer and there was a commendable lack of bitterness or finger pointing that tended to be on display among their elders a few years ago.

    Only to be expected to be fair, they have been fortunate enough to avoid the major confrontation of the past and long may it continue.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, no! One has only to look at the actions of those seven Anglican Bishops whose trial had sparked of the Dutch invasion in 1688, where five of the seven stood by their Oath of Loyalty to James when asked to swear allegience to Willaim. They had opposed their king on a matter of conscience, and accepted teh legal consequencse, but that self same conscience told them that their oath of loyalty once taken was not conditional. This has been the foundation upon which any social trust, any civilisation, has been built for most of history, no matter how people choose to act today.

    Thats a pretty high “hill of beans” to my mind. I’ll stick with Josiah Royce and “a wholehearted commitment to a cause” rather than the sort of nicely calculated version which, while it lets Unionsim’s self-interested fickleness of the hook, cancels out any real meaning in the word.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As I told you, this is not a matter that can seriously be discussed with the unqualified simplifications you are putting forward. Simply put, its not the same writers, not if you unpack this fully! Those ancient writers who are careful with their naming differentuate, those who were simply copying what they had read in others generalised, and created the “block naming” you are refering to.

    Regarding identity, I fully agree that British identity and Irish identity are not mutually exclusive, and with my own Anglo-Irish “brogue” and culture I am a text book example of this. W.B Yeats, for example, was just as engaged with the whole range of British culture as with his particular cultural Irishness of expression. Culture and politics are two very different things! But, (one last time) Britain is Britain and Ireland is Ireland for quite a few significant political purposes!

  • congal claen

    Hi Sean,

    Mainly agreed.

    “Culture and politics are two different things!”
    To which I would add a third – Geography.

    So, the British Isles are the British Isles?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You could also say their loyalty to the Crown was conditional upon who was king … My point is everyone’s loyalty to any institution or country always has one particular limit: if the government of the country you are loyal to tells you to stop being loyal to it, you disobey that government, right? Which act would be more ‘loyal’: obeying that government and no longer being loyal to that country, or disobeying that government and remaining loyal to a deeper idea of what your country is? Loyalty always begs the question, loyal to what, or to whom?

    People can be loyal to people, to institutions, to ideas, but there are always – ALWAYS – conditions. Like your bishops there. To them it had to be James. So they were loyal to James, but what if James had forsaken the Crown, what then? Or if he’d changed religion? Scratch the surface and you always find there are parameters. Unionist loyalty to the UK is deep and passionate like any other national belonging, no less so. This idea that it is ‘conditional’ (read ‘impermanent’) is such nonsense. The main condition is only that we won’t be put off by anyone rejecting us, even if it were the PM or the Queen, our fellow citizens, anyone. Hardly a lack of loyalty to our country, compared to other peoples.

  • grumpy oul man

    But still you , when casting blame forget about the NI that existed before 1970, the violence of unionists when people both nationalist and some unionists tried to change things peacefully.
    In another post you excuse Unionist violence by claiming it was just protests (see my points about loyalty to the half crown) the History of the troubles for you seems to start at the birth of the Provo’s and leaves out the violence and discrimination by unionists before that and you also deny or downplay the continued involvement of unionists politicians with terror groups after the provos came on the scene.

  • grumpy oul man

    But unionists are more conditional than other people.
    On the island of Britain for example, people in general don’t form paramilitary groups (especially leaders of political parties) when the government does something that doesn’t suit them, and i do love the way you describe the UWC lock out, the anti AIA protests, Drumcree, Twaddle, Flegers, Ulster resistance etc (all involving terrorists all involving attacks on British government forces )as campaigning for your region.
    Did not Paisley put a independent NI forward as a argument when unhappy with the British government and even after he called the queen a parrot “Unionists” increased their vote for him.
    Sorry you can mope about “particularly when people generalize about a whole ethnic group but do you ever wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t believe you.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t see disloyalty to the UK in any of those things you mention. Disloyalty to the government, absolutely – but who’s loyal to the government specifically except android party members involved in that government, ffs?

    Look at the early Free State years. Now De Valera disagreed with the treaty and didn’t initially accept the pro-Treaty government, to the extent that a bitter civil war was fought. Both sides were, I have no doubt, unswerving in their loyalty to Ireland. Can you not see loyalty to your country can mean taking profound issue with how others lead it, to the point you may even feel it is they who are betraying the country and not you?

  • grumpy oul man

    So attacking the crown forces is not disloyal. Violently closing of roads against a elected goverments ruling is not disloyal. Forming terror groups is not disloyal!
    I must say i admire your chutpaz your logic not so much.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you need to define your terms though – disloyal to what? It’s certainly not disloyal to their country. Illegal yes, criminal yes, throw the book at them, be my guest. But if you think it’s a sign of how weak and ‘conditional’ their attachment to their country is, you must have a screw loose. Violent patriotism isn’t very nice but not because it’s ‘disloyal’ to the country, it’s because it takes violent form.

    We all reserve the right to disagree with the leadership of the country; its public servants are bound to do the leadership’s bidding, in a democracy, so we can find ourselves at odds with the police or army at times, like at Orgreave or over Iraq. That’s fine, it doesn’t make you any less British. What you’re not entitled to do though is attack the police or army or any other public servant. It’s not their fault and they’re only doing their job. So I condemn Loyalists for hurting people and taking lives, not for ‘disloyalty’ as such. They don’t owe ‘loyalty’ to the police and army, they owe them respect and the right to go about their business without being attacked. Loyalty to your country is a completely different concept. Trying to change your country or being at odds with the government does not mean you’re disloyal to your country. You may be, but not because of that.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ah, but its not just “value free” geography, is it? The “John Dee” origin shows that at source this is a seriously political designation forged at the very moment of the genocidal Tudor Conquest of Ireland, which still carries that “power discourse” baggage unconsciously, even when used by those who may not see it in that way. Simpler, and certainly more considerate, to politely use (as the passport does) “Great Britain and Ireland”. That usage does not court controversy or (for sane people at least) cause offence.

  • grumpy oul man

    “You need to define your terms though – disloyal to what? It’s certainly not disloyal to their country.”
    Setting up a illegal army is disloyal, violently opposing the government is disloyal.
    the UWC strike was disloyal.
    and doing it all to try to turn the clock back to a failed sectarian state (because these things where not done to preserve democracy) is simply wrong.
    You can condemn loyalists all you want but then you would have to explain your support for general unionism for working with the loyalist killers.
    Unionist violence was illegal but it was also political, it was either meant to terrorize a section of the population of force the state to change its course.
    this is disloyalty, organized disloyalty, the only people who cant see that are those with the same orange tinted glass,s you wear.

  • Croiteir

    Again this presenting 50%+1 as a big breakthrough, it was nothing of the sort, it was always there. To think otherwise is just deluding yourself.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Perhaps you could explain that to me as I’m a bit confused here.

    How was 50%+1 ‘always there’?

    Are you saying that the people of both communities in Northern Ireland were always in agreement from partition on that on occasion referendums regarding reunification would be held and that a majority of 50%+1 would result in a United Ireland?

    Because if you are then I definitely missed that.

    Obviously, given the gerrymandered constituencies and one sided voting methods it couldn’t have happened anyway but I’m still amazed to learn that it was a known option.

  • Katyusha

    Emerson’s piece is all over the place. It tries to deny that the unionist response is irrational, then concedes that it is irrational and even describes the roots of such an illogical response in terms of association with a completely unrelated forum held over thirty years ago. It then posits two “rational” reasonsfor the unionist refusal to take part.
    The first is that there is already a north-south body in place (formed in completely different times to discuss comparatively minor issues). This justification hinges upon a denial that we are in extraordinary times in which we would benefit enormously on increased communication and collaboration on an issue that is going to affect us all, and which potentially affects us more than anywhere else in the EU.
    The second is an apparent desire to exclude Northern Ireland from a negotiating process that will profoundly affect us.

    Now, if unionism wants to disavow any power or input that they may have on this process, that’s fine. It’s their own decision to write themselves out of negotiations. But you can’t expect people not to call them out on how ridiculous and irrational their position is.

  • grumpy oul man

    One much more divided because of the armed struggle.
    So we have many intergetted schools. Because of the massive decline in discrimmation (still some out there alas) catholics now have acess to workplaces they never had in the old NI Catholic priests and protestant ministers work openly together without crazy fundies mobbing to stop it.
    How can you possibly claim that we are more segregated than in 1969.
    Unionisn reacted violently to any attempt at peaceful change perhaps without that violent reaction we may not have had a armed struggle.
    So it not the border holding us back its people going on about the border thats holding us back, back to it was themmuns i see. Your never very far from it are you.

  • billypilgrim1

    The reason you had an effect is not that you sat down, or that you had nothing to lose. It’s that your cause was just.

    That’s where any comparison between what you did in the 60s and what loyalist dead-enders might do in the future falls down. You would no more be a forerunner to them than Nelson Mandela was to Eugene Terreblanche.

  • billypilgrim1

    Yes, and back then, people were talking about thirty-year timescales. That’s almost twenty years ago now.

  • billypilgrim1

    The demographic effect is already substantially advanced. The loyalist nutjobs are a lumpenproletariat rabble. And the while many of the protagonists of the Troubles may not yet be dead, they are old.

  • Croiteir

    I am saying that the English have always said that partition would end once the majority in the gerrymander would agree to it.

    I do not know how you missed that, must been off school that day I suppose however both I and others have posted why on numerous occasions on this blog. Do you want to go through that again?

  • Hugh Davison

    Wall off NI, more like. Develop it as a theme park, charge people entry, dress the locals in Williamite costumes and run re-enactments.
    Does that sound cruel?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d not quite happy at any thought of being their fore-runner as such, just that the technique of civil disobedeince is a neutral thing, and can be effectivley used by any cause, no matter how strongly one may disagree with it. I am hardly in support of the successors to those who targeted me on the Derry March!!! My grandfather had known Bunting Sr from the as a fellow officer in WWII, and accordingly Bunting knew perfectly well who and waht I was, (a “Rotten Prod”, as they used to describe socialists from their own tribe). Two or three times I noticed I was pointed out to a small group of henchmen by Bunting himself.

    No, not my “successors”, but I’m all too aware just how effective the technique of civil disobedience is in itself.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It’s coming, it’s coming……..

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I remember the Civil Rights Campaigners all sitting down in the middle of Linenhall Street in Belfast City Centre in the 60s. It is not a bad tactic ! It is hard to do anything against such a peaceful protest !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My wife recently quoted a comment on the Guardian about people voting for the Conservatives, “I never realised just how many people seemingly want to be poor and jobless…”

    How much more…….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you, GOM,for bringing this up. The tendency to “wash out” the close relationship between the events of 1969-98 and 1920-23 here always produces a pretty incomprehensible version of what went on, a sort of “a big bad boy came from nowhere and threw a bomb” version. The inceptive recourse to violent solutions from 1911, Political Unionism’s constant political trump card, is key to any serious perception of these events, and without a sound knowledge of the climate of discrimination before 1969, backed by an armed “political army” in the shape of the Special Constabulary, the drive to simply see this in terms of “numbers” is compelling for Unionists dispite the simple fact that this entirely distorts the true significance of what occured.

  • SeaanUiNeill


    You’re not another devotee of Dr Adamson, perhaps?

    “Ulster” and “Dál Riata” are not interchangable terms in any academically informed circles!

    Still, I can’t help posting Steve McDonald’s version of this:

  • Anglo-Irish

    Ignoring it until their backsides hurt and they need to eat is the best tactic.

    Obviously the Chinese government would disagree and I believe that NI has the entire fleet of the UK’s water cannon.

    You see it is forbidden by the Home Secretary – now the PM – to use them in Britain, too dangerous.

    In Northern Ireland however it’s a different matter.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Sounds to me as though a lot of the residents would love it.

    Will there be bonfires and facepainting involved?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Not really it’s becoming repetitive especially when people who can only see one point of view are involved.

    The English are renown for duplicity in dealings with other countries.

    Promising the end of partition when the gerrymandered voting system allowed for it is tantamount to promising to take your children to Disneyland on the Moon as and when it opens and after you’ve won the lottery when you’ve no intention of buying a ticket.

    Now however 50+1 is entered into legislation and a system of voting is in operation that will eventually make it happen.

    The English ( British ) are perfectly well aware of that and are looking forward to the day.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “You could also say their loyalty to the Crown was conditional upon who was king.”

    You’ve not perhaps noticed the subtile point that , in their eyes, William was not “the Crown”. Your suggestion of relativeness would only hold in a situation where everything is without tehsort of moral anchor which people in the seventeenth century took as a base line in their lives. Modern man simply works from different moral values.

    Loyalty is about the concept of integrity, where ones credit is only discernable in the absoluteness of committment once word or oath is given. My more conservative cousins who are engaged in finance speak to me about the absolute solidity of personal trust in finance a bare forty years ago, which they compare to our self-interested current free for all.

    No, loyalty meant something very different to the generation who fought the Great war, some of whom I remember vividly. Such men would have considered your interpretation of “loyalty” as inevitably something with limits an insult to their personal honour and integrity. “Honour”, yet another difficult term in todays climate. Strangely, you then go on to suggest that somehow the Unionist loyalty is more solid in itself, not what many who have studied it in depth have found. The anti-recruitment campaign which SF developed as a power base in 1918 was ironically strongest in the northern counties, (and not amongst Catholics!) and anyone who fought in WWII had their own perception about Unionist pritestations of “loyalty” gleaned from the even lower rseponse to service in the hour of the Empire’s need. I have no doubt that it would not be difficult to still find Unionists with an unwavering “Loyalty to the Crown” if one looked, but many, many more with an unwavering “Loyalty to the Half-Crown” (a description I first heard from the mouths of ex-service men).

    And we have not even begun to examine how propaganda and encoded habits of thought have contributed to even the most strongly held “loyalty”, something which, in a world which has now seemingly accepted the “virtue” of “nudging” should not be beyond consideration as an important factor in the intentional creation of such “loyalty” in support of political agendas from a century and a half ago.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Yes but I was hoping for a peaceful mutually agreed reunification that I’m certain time will bring.

    If it were to happen in five years time what do you think the outcome would be?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “I have no doubt that it would not be difficult to still find Unionists with an unwavering “Loyalty to the Crown” if one looked, but many, many more with an unwavering “Loyalty to the Half-Crown””
    Where’s your evidence though of unionists changing their allegiances for money?
    It seems to me unionist feelings about NI’s belonging in the UK have remained remarkably constant despite all sorts of external pressures, from war to economic collapse to a massive terrorist onslaught to being shoved around left, right and centre, not listened to etc. The idea that our loyalty to our country is more wavering than most other people is completely absurd.

  • john millar

    “OH no MU, you’re not going to get away with that one. British clearly means “of the Island of Britain”, a geographical and historical entity long recognised as such:”

    My relatives on the Isle of Wight are most upset to learn that they are not British

    What the inhabitants of the Western Isles Orkney and Shetland make of it I know not.

  • john millar

    ” loyality to the half crown ”

    In my day this was a derisive comment applied on the Catholic/republican community whose distaste for “british rule” was however matched to an unbridled enthusiasm for the “half crown”

  • congal claen

    Hi Sean,
    Similar to the “power discourse” of the 26 counties being called “Ireland” then?

  • john millar

    “I’ve also had the situation where they have blamed the whole Troubles period on republicans despite linking them to a timeline showing clearly that it was ‘loyalists’ that first introduced violence back in 1966.”

    You`re a naughty boy- violence has been embedded in Irish/English and Catholic/protestant “relations” for hundreds of years with peaks and troughs across the centuries (1570`s 1601, 1640s 1690s 1797/8 etc etc) the 20th Century was no different – (we have hopes for the 21st but the runes are not great)

    Picking an arbitrary starting point is sloppy

  • john millar

    “Time to end this failed experiment.”
    First step -full fiscal autonomy for NI and an end to the subvention

  • grumpy oul man

    Yes it ws used as a sterotype. Also the lazy catholic was a sterotype.
    Of course unionist by denying catholics axcess to employment and forcing them to depend on goverment handouts had to explain it someway and of course the lazy taig was the urban myth used

  • billypilgrim1

    What do you think the consequences of that would be? That an entrepreneurial boom would fill the vacuum?

    I think it much more likely reunification would be voted for by a large majority. Would you be ok with that?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Which is why I’d like it to be rebranded by a more fitting name such as ‘British nationalism’.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    So Ireland is laying claim to the British landmass with this, then, in your opinion? The whole island has been Ireland for quite a few centuries, and is called this by medieval English writers, but I have not encountered any early modern Irish writers using “the British Isles” in the same manner, so yes,, “British Isles” is self evidently a power discourse. “Ireland” for anyone without a political point to make in favour of “Westminster and Liz” is simply common sense. That’s why I’d recommended Brendan Bradshaw’s book in an earlier comment.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John you may offer them my sympathy, but point out that as with NI, their passports are still valid for citizenship purposes. As I understand it, Orkney and Shetland are associated with the polity of Scotland and are called the Northern Isles, while the Isle of Wight is an off shore island which is considered to be a part of Great Britain in geographic terms. All of these islands are associated directly with the British landmass,while clearly Ireland is not!!! Northern Ireland is part of Ireland both as part of the historic landmass of Ireland and, politically, as part of Ireland until the fabrication of a specialised statelet for political Unionism, which in turn retained the name of Ireland, but with a slightly inaccurate geographic description appended. Ireland is an island (as Britain is) which was last land linked to British landmass 6500 years ago. Going by how this discussion is beginning to develop I’m beginning to seriously wonder if some of the querents here are somehow actually writing from that particular pre-history.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Where’s your evidence though of unionists changing their allegiances for money?”

    Would the kind of things said by the grandees of the UUC 1910-14 do as some proof, MU? Although money does not directly feature it is quite implicit in some of the utterances of this period:

    As I mentioned, I first heard the phrase “Loyal to the half-crown” as a child from a fine soldier, awarded the MC on D Day, who was as contemptous of the political Unionism of his day and its ingrained self interest as I find myself with current Unionism sixty years after I first heard his dry sarcasm. He had held high rank in the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, and was an unwavering supporter of the Union, but did not suffer fools gladly, and knew his fellow protestants all too well to have ever indulged in sentimentalising the loyalty of most of them as coming from other than self interest. A great number of those who had served, and watched many Unionists scrabble to claim neutrality in the last war were just as disillusioned with the greater part of their fellow citizens. The general indifference and contempt shown to ex-service men here was another factor, where those who found work frequently found themselves working directly under men who had used, I was told, every ploy to avoid service. Oh, such men’s “feelings about NI’s belonging in the UK … remained remarkably constant”, its simply that many did not care to fight for the UK.

  • Ciaran74

    I’d be interested to know the proportion of pensioned, middle earners vs low earnes against traditionally defined demographics.

    Would that tell us that generally Unionism is a heady polarised mix of well pensioned/ doing okay and nothing to loose? I agree it’s an encoded default button to ignore rational progression at all costs, or it appears to be but it also appears that the ruddy cheeked DUP cheerleaders have never been hungry.

  • Croiteir

    I do not get the logic of that, you still try to promote the 50% +1 as a novelty while denouncing the pre-existing position which was less exacting. all the GFA did was introduce 2 new obstructions to unification. It was a retrograde step.

  • Anglo-Irish

    You believe that a united Ireland was a possibility when the Unionists had hegemony over the province and the constituency areas were rigged in order to maintain it?

    And you think that installing an agreement which lays down the circumstances under which reunification can take place, combined with a PR voting system which reflects the democratic wishes of the whole community is a retrograde step?

    So do you believe that NI was a better place for the nationalist community pre GFA or post GFA?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As a lean and hungery non-trougher myself, this steady trend over the past thirty years towards the culture of surprisingly generious pensions (many at the public expense) for what is often time servers seriously grates, while younger people cannot even find deposits for homes. That such fortunate people all seem to vote for a homogenious generic style of politician in almost every country, of which the DUP is our most recognisable example, makes me incandesent….

    But please, please do not get me started on the DUP……

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The quotes from UUC grandees don’t actually prove your point though. They just show Ulster leaders were willing to defy the government of the day and even the monarch out of loyalty to a deeper sense of what their country was. I would feel exactly the same way today. Again, it’s confusing the willingness to defy the actions of some national institutions with a lack of attachment to the nation. If that’s what you mean by disloyalty fine, but I think nearly everyone with a brain reserves the right not to do a leader’s bidding if he/she judges it wrong. That’s the basis of the right to civil disobedience. And people should not have their national identity or belonging impugned just because they want to protest against an act of parliament.

    The ‘loyal to the half crown’ thing is a bogus jibe aimed at unionists to suggest they were / are just chancers, not serious about their identity or national allegiance. All I can say is, in my experience of growing up in Northern Ireland and as a keen observer of it today, that seems an utterly bizarre assertion that couldn’t be further from the reality. I can only imagined is motivated by hostility to unionists.

  • The Irishman

    Well said.

  • Croiteir

    Do you believe that it was a possibility in the md nineties either, the British may have thought so hence the imposition of more obstacles in the GFA.

    You are studiously avoiding the point and you are also side swerving the fact that it is now harder to get a reunited Ireland due to the GFA.

    If you wish to start a different discussion on whether the lot of the nationalist people is better or worse due to the GFA then open a different thread and we can discuss it there.

  • Anglo-Irish

    I can assure you that I’m not studiously avoiding anything.

    You have me genuinely intrigued.

    As you may or may not know I’m not from N,I nor do I have anyone ( to my knowledge ) related to me from there.

    My Irish family are Clare people.

    My impression as an outsider is that the GFA has opened a way – previously denied – to allow for the reunification of Ireland to happen given a democratic wish for it by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

    You appear to be saying that isn’t the case, and in fact the opposite is true, it would have been more likely prior to the GFA.

    Please explain, because it makes little sense to me, and I know for a fact that there is little to no objection among the majority of English people for reunification to take place.


  • Thought Criminal

    I would have no problem with that. We also, however, need to stop referring to SF/IRA with their inaccurate name as “Republicans” and call them by their correct name: Fenians.

  • Croiteir

    Okay, firstly we start at partition and the Government of Ireland Act which stated that the two parliaments of Ireland could unify if both agreed by a simple majority of members of both agreeing. The specifically put it in as they believed at that stage partition was a temporary measure. They saw Ireland as a single administrative unit.
    The next Act followed the declaration of the Republic. This is the first time I see the so called principle of consent is mentioned. And it clearly is limited, to the consent of the Stormont regime to unification. The Government of Ireland Act 1949 clearly states that the north, nor any part of it, will leave the union without the consent of the Stormont parliament. Again we see the British stating that they would agree to the unification of Ireland, but this time they clearly limit it to Stormont and no longer mention Dublin.
    The next lap is to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that resulted from the Good Friday Agreement. In I we see the so called principle of consent, which we know better as the unionist veto, once more asserted, this time it will be done by a poll of the population of the north, this is an extra obstacle. To find the conditions attached to triggering the poll we need to look at the GFA and the annex, the actual important part of the GFA. Here we see the reservation of power by Westminster. It says that the poll is to be triggered only by the SOS having reason to believe that it is likely to succeed. (This is pulling power from Ireland to England. It did not exist before. Previously the power to rejoin the south was a prerogative of the Irish alone.) It does not specify the means of by which he will assess the likelihood of success for the poll, I assume, and my assumption is as good or bad as anyone elses, that a majority in Stormont would be the trigger, in effect this would have been enough under the 1949 Act. But there is yet another impediment. Reaching back to the 1920 Act which this 1998 Act abolished and see that the added obstacle of the republic having to have a simultaneous poll to accept the north is also needed.

    In effect the only thing that the GFA has done in regard to the possibility of a reunited Ireland is to add more obstacles to it.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “Sorry, but I could never resist an open goal” Our wee team have had to dust themselves down from that kick in the ballicks and re dribble back up the field to put the ball back into the top corner of the “Blades” Net ! Attached is a recent picture of young loyalists from Inner South Belfast attending a recruitment meeting with O’Hare & McGovern (NI Main Contractor) looking to gain Apprenticeships from this organisation ! We Want to Work !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, “They just show Ulster leaders were willing to defy the government of the day and even the monarch out of loyalty to a deeper sense of what their country was.” And, for each and every one of these people, that was the sole motive for their stance? For most of us less absorbed in party feeling who read these comments in the pamphlet, they provide clear and simple proof that these people speaking were acting entirely from self interest, and their rhetoric of loyalty was simply a ploy for popular support for their private (usually financial) concerns from a more innocently “loyal” community. It is this very blatent self-interest as an inherited characteristic which makes the “half crown” comment so painfully accurate in regard to a particular type of political Unionism. There were , of course, sincere British patriots amongst the UUC certainly, but even these were frequently driven privately by their own inherited anti-Catholic zeal as much as by any political motive. You have often quite rightly spoken out on Slugger against violent solutions to our political problems, but with your own oblique endorsement here of the Unionist rejection of constitutionalism with implicit violence, “I think nearly everyone with a brain reserves the right not to do a leader’s bidding if he/she judges it wrong” (in the context of those people who were themselves the very fountainhead of violence here) you cast something of a shadow over your absolute credibility in this. I think this is a far far more nuanced thing that requires a much more subtile assessment. It was not simply that they wanted “to protest against an act of parliament”, these people were willing to resort to violence against the state to resist that act of parliament, and willing to employ the help of a foregin power to do so. You are willing to claim that the State of NI was necessary as a people’s “self determination” but to ignore that this only came about, could only come about historically through the threat of violence against the Parlaiment that had been elected in 1910. That others you are less indulgent towards have taken this mendatious example as a model for their own successful political action since that time offers little surprise to anyone willing to join up the pattern and not simply argue as a cheer leader for one political camp. You seem willing to entirely endorse the outcome of the threat of violence in a continuing Union, but critique those who followed this very example in our recent troubles, but who subscribe to a different political allegience.

    Regarding the second paragraph, I find it bizarre myself that you can even begin to suggest some universal sincerity of patriotic purpose across Unionism past and present! Unionism, despite a century of effort by the UUP, etc, is not some homogenious unity of purpose, but a patchwork of endlessly differing motivations. Certainly, many people, such as the British army officer I’d sourced the “half Crown” comment to, were sincere and unshakable in their loyalty to Britain, but such sincerity will, in any community, not be a universal traint. It will steadily reduce in its potency across the spectrum of the motivation of others for whom their “conditional” loyalty is dependant on Britian “protecting” their ability to loathe Catholics, liberals, socialists, Irish speakers and every minority group they believe they are threatened by. To suggest that every Unionist is motivated in his beliefs by mercenary motives would be grossly unjust, but to assume that each and every Unionist is inspired by simple loyalty and nothing else is patently absurd. We have endless proofs of this calculated “loyalty” within political Unionism and only a partisan would begin to seriously argue that if Stormont was required to manage local self-government on what tax could be raised locally without subsidies the “loyalty” of such people would be, to say the very least, seriously strained. You have argued elsewhere that all loyalty must of essence be a contigent thing. But, here, seemingly in the case of Unionists, there are no chancers whatsoever it appears, no people who are only “loyal” in some trade of for what they can get from that loyalty. Really?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John, I’d first heard it applied in the 1950s by a family friend, a much decorated officer of working class origins applying it to those Unionist supporters (a few of them Stormont mps later) who strongly claimed “Irish neutrality” in order to avoid active service in the war against Hitler. Many such people were most strident against any post-war move to sack wartime workers to make way for the employment of returning ex-servicemen. I’d always seen the quip as a most telling image of Unionist self-interest.

    I can certainly see how the other usage might have developed from his jibe, or my man’s usage from the your instance.

  • Anglo-Irish

    I’ll have you know that since we’ve appointed Chris Wilder – one of our own – as manager it isn’t quite as easy to put the ball in the Blades net as it used to be! : )

    That picture is excellent news. Good luck to all of them.

    As I’ve said before, despite not being in the first flush of youth any more I believe that the youth of today will be fine.

    As ever there are wastes of space around, but that was always the case, in the main if given the opportunities they will work hard and prosper.

    And as time goes by and both sides realise the others are people like themselves hopefully sectarianism will fade away.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Thanks for taking the time to answer me.

    Yes, I can see where those facts could lead to your conclusion and that’s certainly one way of looking at it.

    There is another way of looking at it though.

    The previous situation required Stormont’s agreement, given the stitch up involved in Northern Ireland politics that was never going to happen.

    So the power has now been taken from Stormont who were intransigent and moved to Westminster who would be glad to see the back of the place.

    NI costs 25% more in government expenditure than any other part of the UK.

    Following reunification I would imagine that the ROI would be required to pay that 25% deficit initially and then gradually increase the responsibility of the United country until Britain is relieved of the commitment after an agreed period.

    As for how to determine whether or not a poll would be likely to succeed there is a situation currently that a petition which has obtained 100,000 signatures has to be debated in the House.

    In the event of there being an obvious growing demand for a UI then one of the nationalist parties, or better yet jointly could organize an online poll with a target of whatever figure was agreed to be beyond dispute and forward it to Westminster accompanied by appropriate publicity.

    With regard to the Republics agreement that is something I do know a little about.

    Whilst they are obviously slightly wary of renewed violence they regard Northern Ireland as what it is, a part of their country.

    They will vote overwhelmingly for reunification with their people.

  • billypilgrim1

    “our interests may not concide with those of Ireland”

    They sure as hell don’t coincide with those of England.

  • Croiteir

    Okay – that looks like a lot of wishful thinking to me, so I will give you my critique. Firstly the last bit. I agree the south will vote for reunification, irrespective of how much it will cost before anyone tries to raise that objection. The cost of not doing so in the face of the north voting to leave the UK is simply too high. The south really has no choice.

    As for that petition idea, I do not see how it will change the position one iota. There are regular polls here which offer an undisputable measure of the probability for a United Ireland, or at least has that appearance. But lets play that game, poll hits the magic 100,000, it goes for debate and with a lot of hoo haa it boils done to the fact that there is an international agreement in place and nothing will be done as no election to date shows results which indicates any probable success. The whole poll thing is just diversionary and achieves nothing.

    So the present stitch up is much the same as it has always been, Britain will never surrender their territory, as clearly stated by Martin Mansergh, but if it does in will only be done due to a clear and undisputable democratic instruction from the Irish people from within the north, the unionist veto is enshrined in law, it was agreed to by the nationalist people and now we have to work within that constraint. All under British control.

    It really is time for the nationalist people to wake up to this. I did not vote for the GFA on that basis, the acceptance of the unionist veto and rejection of the nationalist position going back 800 years. A decisive victory for British diplomacy.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Firstly, it isn’t a question of people in the ROI ‘ having no choice ‘, the vast majority of the people in the Republic Want their country reunited.

    No matter what the politics say about the matter they – quite rightly – regard the Island of Ireland as their country.

    Secondly, the point that I was making about the 100,000 petition was that that is currently in place.

    However, in order to prove beyond doubt that there is a strong possibility of a UI referendum being successful then a far larger number would need to be aimed for.

    The petition for a new referendum on Brexit obtained 4 million signatures in a little over a mont.

    Before anyone points out that it was rejected that’s because there was no obligation on the government to act upon it.

    In the case of a significant percentage of petitioners in NI it is an agreed part of the GFA and the SoS wouldn’t be able to argue that it didn’t have a chance of succeeding.

    The Unionist veto is a myth, it is a well thought out sop to put ‘loyalists’ back in their box with the illusion that they are still in control.

    The GFA had to do two diametrically opposing things simultaneously in order to put a halt to the ongoing unsolvable violence.

    It had to offer something to both sides in order to get them both to put down the guns.

    The nationalists were given a clear – but prolonged – pathway to a UI.

    Sharing power ends Unionist hegemony for ever, PR+STV guarantees a fair and democratic representation of the populations wishes.

    The ongoing demographics does the rest given time.

    Nationalists knew that whilst they weren’t losing the armed struggle ( admitted by the British Army ) they weren’t winning either.

    An ongoing stalemate wasn’t going to solve anything and there is more than one way to skin a cat.

    The Unionists were given the illusion of a continuation of the status quo whilst the mat was being pulled from under their feet.

    Why do you suppose that whilst virtually all nationalists were for the GFA a substantial number of Unionists were against it?

    I’m not alone in believing that that is what took place in 1998.

    Brexit may throw a spanner in the works and hasten things which may or may not be a good thing.

    Whatever happens a UI is inevitable, it’s only a matter of time.

  • Croiteir

    But the do have a choice, they will also have to exercise it if the terms of the GFA and its subsequent international treaty are to be complied with, you may say it is a forgone conclusion as to what the outcome of that choice is, but to deny that it is there is a fallacy.

    The point of whether the petition exists or not is immaterial, what is material is the outcome.

    An online poll will never be able to trump a plebiscite. It is that simple. And so far no plebiscite has given the SoS any cause to worry about having to go to the Houses of Parliament for permission to hold a border poll.
    It will be as effective as the border poll ran by SF in Crossmaglen or wherever it was. Good optics for the converted but in the real world getting nowhere.
    I suppose it does have an advantage in making /fooling the nationalist people into believing that something is actually being done. And as you say the government may not even have to bother with it as it is a constitutional matter. I would also point out that even after about 4 months it has only got 3800 odd signatures, which just about represents the level of belief that anyone has in it being an effective driver for reunification.

    The unionist veto is not a myth, it is a real and accepted part of political reality, enshrined in international law. If you do not believe so please explain why.

    As for the argument that nationalists were given a clear but prolonged path to reunification that is a misrepresentation, what happened was that nationalists were once again told the British position on reunification and were given no choice on it. As far as PR-STV is concerned that was just a rehash of the 1920’s settlement which was subsequently repealed by Craig in favour of FPTP, The British once again not moving from their position of a hundred years ago, the best you can say is that it gave the unionist and their legacy a sap inn the gub, but really it was the British telling us all what we were getting.

    As to why the nationalist people voted for it? Well it suited their political leaders. after the defeat of military republicanism they had nowhere to go, once the ceasefires had happened their operational capacity was compromised, the political reality of London and Dublin calling the shoots was realised, that is why the Annex is the most important section of the GFA, the rest is what the two sovereigns allowed the provincials to agree. There was very little options open to nationalism. I voted against as it was a bad deal. I have been proven correct.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Yes, they have a choice, that choice will be in favour.

    The Unionist veto is a myth and a number of Unionists including Jim Allister and Robert McCartney agree with that.

    Once the circumstances are in place and there are a majority of CN voters in the province then bringing that fact to the notice of Westminster will be reasonably straightforward.

    The SoS at that time will have no option but to call a referendum.

    ” After the defeat of military republicanism “.

    That will come as a bit of a shock to the British Army, who prefer to deal – eventually – with reality rather than myth and wishful thinking.

    The cold hard fact is that Britain no longer has a use for Northern Ireland.

    It has gone on record stating that it has ” No selfish, strategic or economic reason ” for retaining jurisdiction over Northern Ireland.

    That statement was made in 1990 by the then SoS. Do you really think that statements such as that are made in the public domain by ‘off the cuff’ comments?

    Northern Ireland is nothing but an ongoing burden to Great Britain. It isn’t a part of Great Britain, but occupies the part of the lunatic uncle in the attic within the present UK setup.

    It is a drain on resources, costs 25% more than the average region in government expenditure.

    It is a constant cause of concern as to whether or not it will all kick off again, and that is the only reason that the ridiculous amount of subsidy is being expended in the area.

    Anyone with an iota of reasoning ability knows that this situation will continue until a UI comes into being.

    Whilst ever the ridiculously unnatural situation of a country divided by purely political circumstances continues there will always be confrontation.

    In 50 years, if the division is still in place there will be confrontation.

    In 50 years following reunification it will all be over, a historically interesting footnote in the history of a nation.

    The British know this and have accepted it, some people are slow learners.

  • Reader

    Anglo-Irish: Now however 50+1 is entered into legislation and a system of voting is in operation that will eventually make it happen.
    There was a border poll in 1973, which was run on the basis of 50%+1. Prior to that, a vote in Stormont could have taken Northern Ireland out of the UK. Since the GFA, a vote in Stormont is not enough. Well done, chaps…

  • Anglo-Irish

    Given the one sided sectarian stitch up that existed previously Stormont would never vote for its own abolition.

    Two things need to be understood, firstly things change, the only certainty is that things change and there is now a means by which a UI can be achieved without further political argument.

    Secondly and most importantly, the English wish to divest themselves of the ongoing cost and insular local problems of Northern Ireland.

    What possible reason do they have for not wanting to rid themselves of a situation with no positives and a load of ongoing interminable negatives?

    The GFA was designed to ‘ keep the lid on ‘ while time and demographics work their magic.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Bunting must done some pointing in his house with his own son.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ronnie Jr was pretty much of an age with me. There are some interesting reflections on Ronnie in his school friend Walter Ellis’s excellent autobiography “Beginning of the End: The Crippling Disadvantage of a Happy Irish Childhood ” which I cannot recommend too highly. Especially at “1p” on Amazon:

    “Walter Ellis grew up in East Belfast. His father was a commercial traveller, his mother a housewife. He and his sister were not abused as children. Ellis was never forced to wear girls’ clothes or spend days naked in a cold cellar. Instead, he was sent to school each day and to church on Sunday. In the summer, he and his family went on holiday to the seaside. But, determined that he should not suffer from the crippling disadvantage of a happy Irish childhood, Ellis systematically set about destroying everything that gave him stability. He was expelled from school and dropped out of not one, but two universities. He also acquired as his best friend the Protestant renegade Ronnie Bunting, who, as chief of staff of the INLA, murdered Airey Neave, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the carpark of the House of Commons. Bunting was an extraordinary, demonic personality. He once foisted Joe McCann, Ireland’s Most Wanted man, on Ellis’s mum for the weekend and gave Walter a suitcase to look after that turned out to contain over a hundred thousand pounds – the proceeds of an armed robbery. The last straw came when Ellis was arrested by Special Branch in England on suspicion of plotting to assassinate top government minister William Whitelaw. “The Beginning of the End” is like nothing else that has come out of the Ulster Troubles and is sure to shock, intrigue and entertain.”

    Walter grew up in the same stultifying North Down middle class suburban Belfast as myself around the same time, so I can endorse much of his amused pereception of that gratifyingly lost world. I repeat “highly recommended!”

  • Croiteir

    The south have a choice only on paper, once again I say to you, and try to answer this properly without just repeating a mantra, that the choice in the face of a north voting for reunification is a choice of a civil war engulfing all the island or at worse a regional one, if that.

    The unionist veto is far from being a myth, it is enshrined in an international treaty, it does not get much better or more real than that.

    The British Army may not have had the win that they wanted, but they would have had little chance of that, that was not really ever gong to happen once the IRA had met a certain mass, the defeat was won in the shady arena of running loyalist mobs and informers, sapping the will to fight. The simple fact was that the combatants had had enough and sought a way out, That was not the action of a victor. They lost. They got no stalemate as was evidenced in the agreement between the sides afterwards.

    You also keep repeating the mantra that Britain has no interest on Ireland, they do, Martin Mansergh outlined why in his piece in the Irish Catholic.

    That article also exposes the fraud that was carried out on people who fell for the “No selfish interest” line, first there is not a comma, (not one iota is very important ) as the interest is not selfish. And Cameron took a glee in reversing any doubt over this.

    I accept that while there is a border there will be trouble, but why would the English be bothered? It is only the Paddies after all.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Do you really believe that the incongruous, unstable , ill contrived nonsense that is Northern Ireland is going to be tolerated til hell freezes over at the expense of the British taxpayer?

    The place is costing the UK Billions, for what? What purpose does its existence serve ?

    It costs an average of 25% more than other regions of the UK simply because it’s a bloody nuisance that needs to be subsidised in order for it to behave like a civilised area.

    Are you under the impression that that’s acceptable as a long term non solution?

    The next time it kicks off in NI the British are going to do what they should have done in the first place, end it once and for all.

    There is only one way that that can be done, and it’s blindingly obvious what that is.

    You remove all hope from one side, you leave them with nothing to fight for.

    There is only one side that that can be done to.

    Britain isn’t going to re-invade the ROI so there is only one way to get rid of the border.

    As for your repeated reference to Martin Mansergh, you are aware of his background I assume?

    Born and raised in England, educated at Oxford, wrote for the Irish Times before joining FF.

    He’s old school Tory and his Irish background is Tipperary which as someone with Clare blood does not impress me in the least.

    Britain wants rid, I have never met a single Englishman that has any feeling for NI other than a negative one.

    As you say ” It’s only Paddys after all “.

  • Croiteir

    Yes I o, because it always has, since it was first invaded, this is really only wishful thinking, there is no reference to anything that can support it, nothing in history, nothing in policy. In fact Britain has the north exactly where it wants it, the Ulsterisation policy has been successful.

    I am very aware of Mansergh’s background, in fact I made reference to it, how that negates his report is beyond me.

    I have met English who have expressed the view that they have an obligation to Ireland and they see the occupation from that point if view.

    Now instead of swallowing myth and conjecture please present something to me, from some sort of authoritive source, that backs up your opinion.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Don’t think I’ll bother wasting my time if you don’t mind.

    trying to convince someone who believes that things will remain as they are because that’s the way they are now would be a somewhat otiose task wouldn’t it?

    The fact that Britain used to control all of Ireland and no longer does seems to have passed you by.

    Likewise, the fact that Unionists used to exert hegemony in Northern Ireland and have had it taken away from them hasn’t registered.

    The fact that demographics will shortly bring about a situation where the majority of the population in Northern Ireland regard themselves as Irish apparently counts for nothing.

    The fact that the voting system, unlike that in Britain actually reflects the will of the people is of no consequence apparently.

    That Britain are on record as having agreed to accept the result of a democratic vote to reunite the country matters not in your view.

    The GFA was a carefully calculated and nuanced agreement designed to end the violence and keep it that way for as long as possible, there had to be a bone to throw to the unionists otherwise it simply wouldn’t work.

    The Unionists had rejected Sunningdale and many were against the GFA.

    There were only three differences between the two agreements 1, Self Determination 2, Recognition of both identities 3, Inter Island co-operation.

    None of those changes suited the unionist side.

    Your belief that Great Britain wishes to hang on to a useless appendage for evermore which is costing Billions every year with no possibility of reduction and every probability of increase makes no sense whatsoever.

    Britain has always conducted its policy using Lord Palmerston’s words of wisdom ” We have no eternal allies , and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow “.

    Great Britain has no Interest in Northern Ireland only on ongoing drain on resources.

    You may wish to continue believing what you like but but it’s endgame for NI.

    As for your English acquaintances that feel they have an obligation to Ireland, all I can say is you must have moved in different circles to me.

    Providing The Donald doesn’t do anything rash in the meantime I will be celebrating my 70th birthday early next year and the majority of those years have been spent in England.

    I have never met a single English person that had any feeling for Northern Ireland other than a negative one with regard to the Troubles.

    On numerous occasions I have explained as patiently as possible that it’s not all the fault of those ‘Mad Paddy’s’ and that Britain has played a significant and not particularly honourable part in proceedings.

    It’s obvious you don’t want to be convinced otherwise so perhaps we should simply agree to differ on this one.