A response to Sinn Fein’s “Towards a United Ireland” document

Sinn Fein have launched a discussion paper titled “Towards a United Ireland”

The document is available in both English and Irish with each translation coming to roughly 28 pages each. If you want to read it for yourself, here is the full version.

In this post, I want to highlight some of the key passages and how I feel they could be improved in creating a more coherent offering for a United Ireland that has been lacking within mainstream Nationalism for decades.

There are bits of this document that bring out the greatest hits of Sinn Fein’s argument for Irish unity such as correcting the wrongs of partition in the first instance and the Good Friday Agreement’s impact on the political dynamics of the island.

What I want to focus on below are some of the newer ideas proposed in the document and how they (in my view anyway) should be developed.

On Page 6 they make this point;

Appointment of an Irish Government Minister of State with the dedicated and specific responsibility of developing strategies to advance Irish unity and coordinating the Government’s all-Ireland policies;

What I would point out here is beware the Korean example. In the Republic of Korea there is a full department that looks after reunification issues for the government. However, over the past decade in particular this department has been consistently downgraded as the country looks toward economic development and other sets of relations with their Northern counterparts.

Any minister of state or departmental responsibilities have to be relevant for a prolonged period of time, otherwise the portfolio becomes redundant. How can this person within the government really make change and properly steer and develop policies within this sphere? A lot of thought needs to be put into how this cog fits into the machinery of government on the island of Ireland; otherwise it just becomes another Department of Economic Planning with lots of reports issued, but no real clout within the administration.

I would define right from the outset, this minister of state will do a, b, c & d. For me the key issues should be Border Region development, liaison to the NSMC and the British-Irish Council and North-South Cooperation. Since the 1960’s, North-South has been plagued by the lack of any overarching goals for its purpose, the development of the National Development Plan is a key opportunity to properly put some kind of coherence behind this policy agenda.

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Proposals set out in the document

New Relationships in a New Ireland & New Ireland-New Politics

The proposals above set out some sort of direction of travel towards the concept of “Sovereignty Association.” Some within the Sinn Fein base will regard this as a form of heresy, the idea that some link might still be retained between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. However, I would point out that this concept is not entirely new, the Quebec separatist movement adopted this approach in 1980 and then their Scottish counterparts effectively borrowed this in 2014. The sovereignty of Northern Ireland will change over to the Republic of Ireland; however, there should be no hesitancy in keeping a continued association with the United Kingdom. It’s madness to think that with an inter-linked relationship over centuries that no form of relationship should continue.

Keeping Northern Ireland- This state is nearly a century old, it is a part of the machinery of government on this island and whether some folks on the Republican wing want to recognise it or not there is a degree of ease with its existence within many sections of the community. A lot of our citizens subscribe to not a British identity or an Irish identity; rather they view themselves as Northern Irish.  Writing the state into the blueprint for a United Ireland is a prerequisite towards telling those voters and those who hold those views that quite simply as republicans, we get it.  For those who like the devolution model, the alternative model has to be one based on federalism which takes the devolved assembly to the next level of governance in terms of its powers and place within the governmental structures of the country.

This administration has to be able to govern Northern Ireland as the electors of the Assembly wish it to be governed. It must be able to have the powers to decide on key issues and be able to opt out of certain national programmes that might not suit aspects of the Unionist community. The idea of a single unitary state is something that I believe has passed its usefulness as a political idea.  After nearly a century of Northern Ireland, the overwhelming majority of Unionists and some sections of the Nationalist community recognise the need to have some form of administration in Belfast.  Writing this into the plan, is no cop out or a sell out, rather it is recognition of the realities of political life on this island.

Recognising Northern Ireland as a “Distinct Society”- The document does talk of a new constitution for Ireland and a Bill of Rights for its citizens which is a positive policy. However, I would take this a step further and propose the creation of a distinct society provision that recognises Northern Ireland as a distinct society within a strong and united Ireland. There rightly should be recognition of the Unionist traditions and it is important that under the sovereignty association model that some continued link is able to happen for Unionists to keep that attachment to some key British institutions. Moreover, the Orange Order being recognised not just in the constitution, but also in other aspects of our cultural life is important.

I would also propose here some international arbiter to be brought in to ensure that this process takes place and is doing fairly to the Unionist community. Republicans must be as open as possible on this issue and have nothing to fear by letter others examine the process and make sure that Unionism is properly protected within a United Ireland structure.

A new relationship with Britain

The document outlines some aspects of the relationship with the United Kingdom and some of the positive developments that have taken place since 1998. I would propose that the party develop some coherent policy for how these relationships might be managed and give some new ideas on the topic. The example of the Nordic Council might provide a useful template here as to how the UK and Ireland could cooperate with one another in some formal body which meets regularly and can actually coordinate relations in certain areas between our two countries.

Price of Partition

On this topic, I often think of the Benjamin Franklin quote “Critics are our friends, they show us our faults.” Folks like Newton Emerson might drive some people in Sinn Fein nuts, but his views are worth reading on this subject and those who point out some fiscal issues should be engaged with, not dismissed.

The simple reality is that there are economic issues around unity in terms of maintaining the public sector in Northern Ireland. That’s why the slogan of making Northern Ireland work needs to be put into practice. The economic approach towards Irish unity needs to two pronged, 1) Selling the huge private sector strengths of the Southern economy and batting back the sometimes argued “Zimbabwe Narrative” that others try to put out about the Irish economy. 2) Making the Northern Ireland economy as prosperous and less dependent on the British exchequer as possible (this means moving away from constantly demanding more money from them for some policy areas).

Overall

There are some interesting proposals in this paper, which I would urge both critics and supporters to engage with. I don’t agree with everything in the document, but I welcome anybody who is trying to provoke a discussion on the practicalities of just how this can be done.  I cannot state how important it is for republicans to break out of their comfort zone and listen to those who will really press the case against some of these proposals. It is only by talking with your critics that you improve any proposals, talking to those who agree with you simply creates an echo chamber, that’s why I hope a discussion paper such as this could lead to some new thinking on this issue.

A direction of travel for me has to be the embrace of the concept of sovereignty association with a federal republic within a wider Nordic Council style institution to ensure cooperation between Britain and Ireland. This will require a journey for many and for some they will have to climb down off of some grand visions and address some real concerns. If this document is to move the debate, it needs to be about creating the winning conditions for a future border poll to take place and broadening the tent.  The concept of a united Ireland needs to be as relevant to folks on the Ormeau Road as it is to folks on the Falls Road.  There cannot just be simply better slogans, but a better way of doing business.  If we are truly going to have a New Ireland, then let’s have something genuinely new and if we are going to sell Ireland PLC to the Northern people, let’s start by talking about the enormous strengths that exist in modern Ireland.  I have long believed that you cannot tell people consistently that the South is corrupt state in hock to developers on the Monday and then make the argument for Irish unity on the Tuesday. As David Cameron found during the EU referendum, if you spend your days knocking an institution, why should voters believe you when you ask them to suddenly back it.

This leads me to final issue and that is how this is sold in Southern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, we often look inward and think how we can get Irish unity across the line here, but make an assumption about the South.  Key aspects of the model have to be about better public services for the South in terms of re-thinking configurations and provisions.  We have to spell out clearly why Joe Bloggs in Limerick will benefit from this new dispensation and more importantly why he/she should vote for it.

The modern case for a United Ireland can no longer be about “Brits Out,” it has to be about jobs and why we can create more of them, it has to be about opportunity and why we have more of them, it has to be about rewards and why this change will be worth it. In essence, advocates for a United Ireland have to be about “Better Days,” and why control moving from Westminster to Belfast and Dublin gives us the economic, social and political freedoms to make our own mistakes, but also to better the lot of our own people. The French Republic is based upon values of “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, the American Republic has “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness,” the Irish Republic has to be based upon values of Reconciliation, Rebuilding and Recovery for all corners of the island.

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  • Skibo

    ND now what if you were to talk to a Yorkshire man and say he was not a Yorkshire man but a British man. You could get a nasty response.
    The issue of how you feel about your nationality cannot be forcefully changed by an outside source. Either you have strength of conviction about your feelings or you don’t. neither is it reinforced by flying a flag. What will reinforce it is others telling you what you are not.
    Nobody can take your British feelings away. You will be entitled to remain British no mater where you live. I believe your British citizenship will be protected within a reunited Ireland, as will that of your future generations.
    As for me being Northern Irish, you could say so but as one who has embraced the culture of the GAA, I am many things (no no need for sarcasm). I am first a club man and look to my parish. I am next a county man and support my county. Furthermore I am a Province man and support whoever represents my province. Finally I am an Irish man and support my fellow Irish, even those who prefer to embrace their British element of their culture.

  • Skibo

    Problem is as with most political agreements, it is a bit watery round the edges.
    “2. Subject to paragraph 3, the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to
    be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”
    What evidence does the SOS take into account?
    The most recent referendum swung by about 10 points. The Scottish referendum was called when support was around 30-35% and they came very close to winning that one.
    I would propose that the conditions for the Scottish referendum should be the same for NI, 30 to 35%, oops, Nationalist levels of support are already there!
    Well then should Unionist percentage of the vote drop below 50% there should be a poll. cannot say it much simpler than that.

  • Skibo

    Paddy, to ban something is to feed its support. If you are right then there is nothing to fear an OO protected within a reunified Ireland.
    If you are a republican then you should hold the proclamation dear to your heart and that allows for the rights of the OO to parade. “The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens”
    We have to find space for all our citizens as long as they do not break the law.

  • Skibo

    Ten years I could live with, whether the NI economy can will be another matter. What must be resolved though is the transition period. reunification will not happen overnight. I see it as a ten year plan weaning off the Westminster teat and onto solid food of a thriving private industry driven on an all island basis.
    The issue of publicising the plans for reunification must continue and the rest of the pro-reunification parties must come on-board.
    The more we talk, the more the acceptance of the reality.

  • Skibo

    Well that is two years away. have you seen anything of substantiation yet? A few lines dropped into discussion will not be adequate. A discussion plan on reunification would go a long way to prove their mettle.

  • Skibo

    A plan at least would be a start. There is nothing to substantiate their few mutterings that were more to appease the true Republican elements within the party.

  • Skibo

    Croiteir we have a position within Nationalism and those of no particular leaning where the reunification plan looks like a non-starter at the present time. Why change what we have? What do I gain from reunification?
    To allow the discussion to start, we need to reach as large an element of the electorate possible without turning staunch republicans off. The SF paper, while not and actual framework for a negotiations, is a good stab at a start for discussions on the framework.
    People have condemned SF (and I have been one) for not producing details. Well I cannot condemn them for not doing it and then condemn them when they do.

  • Skibo

    Croiteir, our position at the moment is not as strong as you make out. We have a lapse in Nationalist voting percentages and every time reunification is mentioned, people say, ” show me your plan”. We do not have a plan, a road-map, a journey. All we have at the moment is a romantic idealistic dream of roses in the garden and cake to eat every day.
    Time to be pragmatic.
    I believe that time is now. We have to progress from romantic idealism to solid economic facts and sound constitutional proposals.
    We should have a clear field. I see nobody with an economic policy for continuation of the present constitutional situation where our economy will grow at the rate that Ireland have. Even the UK does not have such a policy for GB.

  • North Down

    THERE is the problem, you’re not taken my British feelings away,they will just get stronger, you are taking my country away, that’s what people on this forum don’t get , u want to get rid of NI and we want to keep it , hear is one for you what if I said are culture is the same which I believe it is , it’s different than the south, its are identity which is different, another one for you I speak to gaa players at work and they tell me when they go down south the ones down south treat them different like they are from a different country,

  • Katyusha

    I don’t know, to be quite honest.
    I mean, the Church had a huge amount of political power in the past, so I can see how people may have been wary about that. I can see how, as a movement that split from the Catholic Church, they might view Catholic practice as warped and incorrect. As a practicing Catholic, I can definitely see how, from the outside, it must llok like a very strange religion, with all of its imagery and mysticism.

    But none of this really explains it for me, on an emotional level. I can’t understand how anyone that claims to follow the Bible could hate – on a real, visceral, emotional level, hate – their fellow Christians. It doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe they just felt threatened by a bigger movement, and if that movement had been something else – Anglicanism, or Islam, or Marxism – they’d have hated it too.

  • Katyusha

    From a moral point of view, it’s interesting. There is only one Christian Democratic party in all of the British Isles – Fine Gael. England is effectively a godless country.

    And Fine Gael demonstrate something interesting. There’s no reason why we have to choose between economic success and conservative, Christian values. We can do both. The only thing Northern Ireland is doing is keeping us all poor and divided.

  • Alan N/Ards

    How many seats, in the Dail, do you think unionists would be able to win?

  • Alan N/Ards

    A number of contributors on this site seem to believe that nothing is set is stone (in the Republic) and things can be changed, if the numbers are there. For instance, is there a possibility that the same sex marriage law could be overturned by a second vote?

  • North Down

    FF we’re they not for gay marage, we could b getting are morals mixed up

  • Katyusha

    You’re getting your southern political parties mixed up. You want FG.

    Nevertheless, FG were for gay marriage as well, although their voters (and FF’s) were less likely to support it than SF and Labour.

    Nevertheless, this brings us to a couple of important and great aspects of republicanism. The first is that there is a written constitution which can only be amended by referendum.
    Why is this important? It means the government doesn’t have the power to do whatever it likes. On constitutional matters, they must ask the people. All of the parties in the Dáil supported gay marriage, but it didn’t matter – they still had to ask the people, and the people could have voted against it if they wanted. In a republic, the people are sovereign. They tell the government what to do, not the other way around.

    The second is the separation of Church and State. As Croiteir of this site frequently points out, the purpose of this is not to keep religion out of the state, but the other way round – to keep the State out of the Church. The government can’t interfere in people’s personal religious affairs. And this means that even if the government legalises civil gay marriage, they can’t force the Churches to follow their rules.

    So you can get married in a registry office, but not in a Church. And as a Catholic, I’m fine with that. As long as the religious definition of marriage isn’t changed, I don’t care. I’ve no interest in how people choose to register their personal tax affairs and living arrangements, and far be it form me to tell our homosexual friends they can’t get married in the eyes of the law. They can live however they please as far as I’m concerned. Part of being a Republic is that you don’t get to force your religious beliefs on others – people can have any religion they wish, or no religion, and the state doesn’t have the right to tell them otherwise.

  • North Down

    Sorry I was ment to type FG , for me the dup r the only one’s who stand up for true evangelical Christian values, I think a big problem is that catholics don’t understand why we are anti Rome , anti catholic church, anti catholic teaching, and it comes across that it’s the Catholics we hate, you say u r a practicing catholic forgave me if I ofend u, a protestant is a protester, r fore fathers were roman catholic , the fist people left the church because they reliesed what was being taught in the Catholic Church wasn’t what the bible was teaching, and these people started the Protestant formation

  • Croiteir

    I disagree. Take a cold look at things.

    Firstly the plan. My plan is complete integration with the republic. That is it. What more would anyone want?

    Then the falling off the nationalist vote. They have nothing to vote for. the SDLP and SF are not effective. Stormont is just a holding phase. They have made the mistake of trying to make the north work. That is a mistake. Stormont should be a fight a day. Instead we see SF cooperate and kowtow. Who would vote for that?

    We need to ensure that both the Dáil and Westminster are continuously called in to fix the mess. They must be made continuously aware that the Project Ulster is a busted flush. Every year a new crises, every month a bypass and every day a row.

    We need to do no more. The ball for change will be in the unionist court, what will they offer to keep us quiet? They should be moving from their positions not us, they want the constitutional status quo not us, let them pay the danegeld, not us.

  • North Down

    Sorry I was meant to say FG , for me the DUP fights for are evangelical values, am a evangelical Christian there is something u should know is y evangelical protestants hate the Catholic teaching, I know u r a practicing catholic forgave me if I ofend u, did u ever ask yourself y catholic priest left the church martin Luther and others, this is how the protestant movement begin they were first called protesters they came out of the Catholic Church, y did they come they reliesed what the church was teaching was not found in the bible, then they started to translate for the public, catholic church killed millions of protestants through out Europe and then later in England . IF they would not go back to the church. Just because we believe the only way into heaven in by asking jesus into your heart and he that he died for are sins, the Pope can’t save you the priest can’t forgave you Mary can’t forgave you good works can’t get you into heaven, this sounds hush but the Catholic Church keeps you from going to heaven, protestants won’t go to heaven to only the ones who have a relationship with jesus, did you know to this day the Catholic Church believe that protestants won’t go to heaven the only way into heaven is though the Catholic Church, we sound anti catholic for the last 400years no just anti catholic teaching

  • Paddy Reilly

    I do not propose to ban the EDL (English Defence League) but I do not think their existence should be guaranteed by the British Constitution either.

    We have to find space for all our citizens as long as they do not break the law.

    The trouble is that the marching brethren do break the law, all of the time. Their numbers however are such that UK authorities choose not prosecute.

  • Croiteir

    Can I refer you to the answer I gave earlier?

  • Croiteir

    I understand that, I can see why there may be a gathering of the clans in order to preserve the old ways, in fact I hear echoes of Paisley in that.

    And if so that would be a good thing. It will aid stability in the emerging state.

  • Katyusha

    Sorry I was ment to type FG , for me the dup r the only one’s who stand up for true evangelical Christian values,

    Well, yeah, but I meant Christian Democracy, which is a very specific type of political ideology – not just including all denominations of Christianity (not just evangelical), but also, it emphasises following Christian principles in how they govern the state – this means supporting those who are less fortunate, protection of human rights, etc. The DUP are a bit too right-wing to qualify – Christian Democrats normally centre or centre-right. The only other big Christian Democratic party I know of other than FG are the Christian Democratic Union in Germany – Merkel’s party.

    Here, have a look: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_democracy

    I think a big problem is that catholics don’t understand why we are anti Rome , anti catholic church, anti catholic teaching, and it comes across that it’s the Catholics we hate, you say u r a practicing catholic forgave me if I ofend u, a protestant is a protester, r fore fathers were roman catholic , the fist people left the church because they reliesed what was being taught in the Catholic Church wasn’t what the bible was teaching, and these people started the Protestant formation

    No offense taken mate, it’s okay. Yeah, I’m familiar with the reformation and the reasons for the split – it wasn’t the first split in the Church, nor the last. I actually live not far away from the city where Luther gave his testimony, so the reformation gets a lot of attention there. As well as biblical teaching, the Church was very corrupt at the time, which was another reason for the split.

    It might be getting better. In other countries – the US, for example- evangelical movements are linking up with other Christian churches to stop things like abortion, etc. which is pushed by “liberal” or atheist parties.

  • mickfealty

    The best plan available is the one Colum says he wants, which is to build broad trust by ‘making NI work’, building strong N/S bridges on the structures we have already agreed and eschewing the idea of victory over anyone. That means, amongst other things, taking the Trojan horse out and publicly burning it. The evening of the 11th of July, being the preferred time/date.

    That needs a willingness to tackle lawlessness; investment over a long time frame of N/S transport and energy infrastructure; proper investment in technical education (so we can help working class Protestant/Catholic boys rather than crying into our soup about their poor fate) and proactive encouragement of R&D, entrepreneurship and business start ups, looking where possible for cross border synergies with, for instance, at second level the south’s network of technology colleges.

    None of it is rocket science. It boils down to providing real leadership rather than just idly berating others for the lack of theirs. And focusing on doing things that broadly benefit everyone in NI whilst bringing both parts of the island much closer together in ways that run with the grain and let us do what might otherwise take fifty years in a more human timescale.

  • Skibo

    Complete integration would be the final plan but it has to be a phased programme to give the Unionist community peace-of -mind. That minimise the violent backlash.
    A battle-a-day sounds familiar. Was that the war-cry of Ian P with the DUP entering the Executive. It just doesn’t work.
    There is a great deal of preparation and groundwork to prepare NI for final integration and it will not happen with a battle-a-day.
    I do not think the Nationalist electorate are fully aware that their reduced voting rate is extending the time frame for, not just reunification but even the start of negotiations. While the voting percentage stays low, Unionist parties can point to the number of people who are content with the present political position. We need to invigorate the Nationalist electorate and two parties back biting is not going to do it.
    We need what we had pre GFA, a pan-nationalist movement where we can discuss what our aims are, what is achievable and a plan to follow.
    I think what SF have done is try to take the middle for the road in this discussion which I believe is a good starting point.
    Westminster and the Dail will always be part of the mix and if Westminster is courted properly, may even be considered a supporter of the Final Solution, a reunified Ireland with a declaration within the Constitution of those born within NI to maintain British citizenship.
    You are right, we do need to do more but that does not include waiting for Unionism to move. Such a plan will merely be a stumbling block.
    The Danegeld is a strange thing to quote. It was a tax paid by native Irish to prevent the Vikings raiding them. What do you expect of Unionism, an appeasement of Irish language, culture and flag in return for extending the lifespan of NI? Unfortunately that may actually work if we are not careful.

  • Skibo

    If a second referendum was called and more than 50% voted against same sex marriage then it could be overturned. I am not sure there would be support in the Dail now for such a vote and after reunification I still believe the support for such a change could not overturn the decision.
    Problem is, it takes a massive ground movement for such a referendum and I don’t think the people are prepared for such a conservative step.

  • Skibo

    SF won 23 seats in the Dail with a similar level of voting. I would expect Unionism to do better as what they have they will hold and they will find other areas within Ireland that will be fertile for votes, Donegal in particular.
    I see them actually amalgamating with FG who have very similar policies when you step away from the National question.

  • Skibo

    ND I cannot do anything about your British feelings. but if they get stronger within a reunited Ireland, is that not a good thing for you? You will still be able to attend your parades, worship at your church or meeting house, still support your local soccer or rugby team or British soccer team as alot of us Nationalists do also.
    As for the GAA, this is something that NI counties continue to preach yet nobody mentions anything when smaller counties meet the likes of Dublin and Kerry and don’t seem to get the rub of the green. NI counties proved in the 1980s that they could be a powerhouse within the GAA and were seen as the ones to beat. That was more down to their intensity and professionalism than anything else.
    The South is a bit different to the North, the East of the South is a bit different to the West of the South just as it is in the North but the difference is minuscule compared to the difference in NI and GB.
    What has worked for the South will work in the North also.

  • Skibo

    Hard to believe I am defending the OO but the majority of their parades pass off peacefully. I handful are contentious. They are learning that they do not hold the amount of sway in the corridors of power that they once did. they say they don’t recognise the authority of the parades commission yet they fill in all the forms. I think one of their problems is how to control the certain bands. These bands even break OO rules concerning parading yet they still allow them to take part in further parades.
    As for their place in a reunified Ireland, I assume they will revert more to their religious roots and do remember they are an all Ireland body.
    One for discussion, could the Legion of Mary be considered a sectarian movement?

  • Skibo

    I agree with most of what you say. One problem is if NI works, then why reunification?
    Do you consider there to be much between such a plan and the SF paper?
    Can you refer to a SDLP paper or is this just a few comments thrown out there to test the water?
    The Trogan Horse analogy for rights was a stupid analogy and i think GA would admit that now. What is there to fear from equal rights for all unless you are at a privileged position. Unionists are the ones complaining about equal rights suggesting they wish to defend their privileged position.
    The technical education is a low point for us. It is considered a failure in this country if you do not progress to University yet the Technical Colleges, if they are linked to industry with apprenticeships will perfectly fill a hole for those who believe University is not for them, I believe we could learn from Germany on this.
    One issue i have is the small take-up of NI students of Southern University positions. Not sure what the reason is.
    One area of change that has to happen is a greater input from the Dail in investing in NI. The future looked so great with the A5 and the Warrenpoint bridge but both have fallen far short of fruition. Dail investment in the A5 is now down to £75m and the Warrenpoint bridge lies in tatters. ( not due to the Dail if I an correct).
    The Dail should be considering rail links too.

  • Paddy Reilly

    I don’t know much about the Legion of Mary, herself next door was into it, my father said she was trying to buy her way into heaven. Apparently they have relinquished performing the 7 Corporal Acts of Mercy to others (the Holy Sisters of the Teacloth, for example) and concentrate on the 7 Spiritual Works. These sound a bit wishy washy and unnecessary to me. No 3 (to admonish sinners) reminds me of Fathers Ted and Dougal standing outside a cinema showing a racy film. Down with this sort of thing. I’m not sure how you would perform no 4 (to bear wrongs patiently) perhaps stand near a puddle on a rainy day and audibly forgive all the drivers who soaked you?

    Anyway, sectarianism, in an Irish or Scottish context, seems to mean indulging in physical violence or verbal abuse on religious lines. I don’t think we need worry about the Legion of Mary.

  • North Down

    Atleast you can understand how hard it will be for you to convince unionists that a UI is the way to go, and am coming from a evangelical back ground, never mind a loyalist one they are black and white

  • Skibo

    Paddy what I was trying to show is the Legion of Mary would be a cold house for a number of Protestants and definitely Free Presbyterians. Does that make it sectarian?

  • Skibo

    I am not on here trying to convince Unionism of the benefits of Irish Reunification. What I am trying to do is show Protestant and British people that a reunified Ireland will not be a cold house for them.
    To discuss convincing Loyalism, you must consider what they are loyal to. If it is the protection of the Protestant working class then I believe we have a chance just as the men of 1798.

  • Paddy Reilly

    The Legion of May is only for Catholics to join. This makes sense as the 1st Spiritual act of mercy is “instructing the ignorant” (in the faith, presumably). Members obviously have to be singing from the same hymn-book: it wouldn’t do if one Marian was asserting the truth of transubstantiation and another denying it.

    May I refer the honourable gentleman to my previous statement: “Sectarianism, in an Irish or Scottish context, seems to mean indulging in physical violence or verbal abuse on religious lines.”

  • Skibo

    Now there is an argument and a half, transubstantiation and consubstantiation. Could keep a group of Clerics going for weeks.

  • North Down

    What if they are loyal to there British , northern Ireland, 6county identity, you have to get past that first ,and then deal with will it be a cold house for protestants

  • mickfealty

    It’s very simple. Because it will only happen if it seems like the most sensible thing to do. Northern Republicanism is still being powered by the ‘our revenge will be the laughter of our children’ mentality of past retirement age old soldiers.

    It needs to get past the deterministic inevitable victory syndrome (and it is a syndrome) and take the risk that their pitch for a UI might not work in the end. This is what terrifies the old soldiers, and why they cannot get beyond accusing ‘opponents’ of having ‘pyschological problems’ (https://goo.gl/clPyNE).

  • Skibo

    Their British identity will not be effected. The areas of the six counties will not be effected. NI may have a place for a while as Stormont may act as a federal parliament but I would suggest bringing at least Donegal within that area.
    Oh look we are past all that now what about that cold house for Protestants?
    Do you really believe that to be true or is that just a natural reaction to the mention of reunification? The present society in the South is multi cultural , one of the most diverse in the EU. What religion you are is slowly melting into the back ground. It is still more important to us nordies but hopefully that will slowly disappear with reunification.

  • Skibo

    Mick ” the fools, the fools they have left us our Fenian dead”. Now that’s a chilling message from old soldiers!
    ” Our revenge will be the laughter of our children”. No, if laughter causes fear we are all in trouble.
    What you do not seem to understand is the reason we have old soldiers is that the armed struggle is over. The battle is neither won nor lost and all is to play for. It is a happier time to be alive.
    I put the reverse of nationalist voting rates not down to apathy of the message but a biding of the time. The numbers are changing and with that the belief that the vision of a reunited Ireland is within our grasp.
    Perhaps I will be disappointed in the next elections but I don’t think so. Brexit will have kicked in and we will be a backwater without the comfort blanket of EU funds. I do not see Westminster replacing it.
    MMG is right about reciprocation. Unionism pocket all offered and stand quietly waiting for more. They believe they are the only wounded party and while not demanding it this time, sack cloth and ashes are implied.

  • North Down

    The identity I was talking about is in a country ni or the wee 6 counties, most people know its not going to b a cold house, your last point u made is the real fear my religion has not protestant but evangelical protestant there is a difference, if that slowly disappears with reunification u won’t have any chance of a Ui, by the way we evangelical protestants are though out NI in are tens of thousands the one’s that keep quiet but come out on voting day and are now turning from uup and going to the dup simply on a moral stance, it is good chatting with you my Irish friend

  • john millar

    “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”

    A good example is trying to get prods to agree to a UI

  • john millar

    “The partition of Ireland, and the unfreedom of these six counties.”
    The prods are free of a UI and are happy to continue to be so
    That is your problem

  • john millar

    “Consider Dublin’s at the same time. Consider their respective positions today”

    Dublins “improvement” is based on
    1 the export of hundreds of generations of thousands of population to er England
    2 Piggy backing into the EU via the UK
    3 EU money (well UK and Germany money)

    Lets see how it performs if/when UK leaves and the ROI becomes a net contributor
    (LOL)

  • john millar

    “Is there really no group of southern Protestants interested in pushing for a United Ireland?.”
    Since they barely exist and previous experience is –ahem –not positive (examples of many)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunmanway_killings

    http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/anti-treaty-ira-burn-protestant-orphanages-to-the-ground-in-galway-1.707681

    They tend to keep their heads down

  • billypilgrim1

    It’s theirs too. And they know it.

  • Skibo

    I agree John and the troubles was never going to persuade anyone of the good points of a UI.
    This is a new phase. The hand of friendship is being held out. It will probably be slapped away a number of times but eventually the people of Ireland will come together for the good of the next generations.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    There’s hundreds of thousands of them down south, I saw quite a few ‘open for business Protestant churches’ when I was down in Dublin for a few weeks last February and on the previous occasion when I lived down south I was almost disappointed that no one gave a stuff about my being a prod.
    So your Wikipedia links to near century old events bear little resemblance to my actual experience of down south.
    Have your own experiences of Dublin been different from mine (and most other Protestants that I know)? If so I’d be most interested in hearing about them.