Slugger O'Toole

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PaddyReilly has commented 917 times (12 in the last month).

  1. Comment on Sinn Fein’s Demographic war for constitutional change is useless without middle class
    on 9 April 2014 at 9:56 pm

    The idea that Catholics, especially those that live in North Down, are somehow obliged to be Nationalists of the extreme Fenian persuasion, is of course quite ludicrous. Consider the case of Lord Ashdown (‘Paddy’ Ashdown), whose father was Catholic, but an Indian Army Officer. Raised near Donaghadee and inevitably called Paddy at prep school, he went on to join the SAS and be leader of the Liberal Democratic party. He is a prime example of the Middle Class Catholic you are talking about. But not being a Northern Ireland resident he is not really relevant to Northern Ireland politics.

    But as I have already mentioned, North Down is 9.2% Catholic but SF & SDLP only pick up 3.7% of the (1st preference) vote. Therefore there are 5.5% of the electorate who might possibly fall into your anecdotal category of Middle Class Catholics unimpressed by the prospect of a United Ireland. Given a turnout of 28,528, that makes 1,569.

    That would be sufficient to retard the onset of a United Ireland by about three weeks. In most other constituencies the Nationalist vote is exactly the same as the percentage of Catholics (and in Foyle it is higher.)

    But as I see it, it isn’t 50% + 1 or a United Ireland that we should be looking forward to, but the end of the Unionist gerrymander. First things first. Never mind Sinn Féin and their plans: let us throw the ball back into the Unionist court. Given a Northern Ireland in which they no longer have the power, which they long ago embedded in the state, to outvote the nationalist side, how are they going to persuade their erstwhile opponents of the wisdom of their policies?

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  2. Comment on Sinn Fein’s Demographic war for constitutional change is useless without middle class
    on 9 April 2014 at 2:04 pm

    The overall percentage of Catholics went up by 1 per cent in ten years last census. It was never going to happen, but it kept the troops fighting

    Got your own personal census have you? The official one, which you can see here: http://goo.gl/Tm0BhQ records that the percentage of Catholics went up by 10.8% and that of Protestants down by 2.2%.

    Sorry if I am obliged to go on repeating what must be by now a single transferrable post, but there seems to be an endless supply of people wishing to feed us erroneous demographic information.

    Project these trends into the future, and what we get is as follows:-

    Year***Protestant***Catholic
    2011***875717*******817385
    2012***873751******825382
    2013***871785******833379
    2014***869819******841376
    2015***867853******849373
    2016***865887******857370
    2017***863921******865369
    2018***865887******873366
    2019***863921******881368

    So the great changeover is something that is going to happen in 30 months time, not 30 years. In Belfast it has already happened: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-26875363.

    The next question to be answered is, are all Catholics Nationalists? Again, the census returns, thoughtfully dividing the information into constituencies, shows us that whenever Catholics form the majority in a particular constituency, eventually a Nationalist inevitably gets in.

    Admittedly, this is not quite the same thing. There is an observable phenomenon that people are much less likely to turn out for an election which they suspect they are going to lose, than one which they know they are bound to win. The Catholic proportion of the population of North Down is 9.2%, but the joint SF/SDLP vote only 3.7%. However, on the other side, Protestants form 23.2% of the population of Foyle, but Unionists get as little as 15% of the vote there.

    So what I imagine will happen is that as we get into 2017 and beyond, Unionists will begin to find that they aren’t quite winning elections any more: many will soldier on, thinking that they just have to try harder or call for more gerrymandering and pan-Unionist pacts. Billy Pilgrim’s metaphor for this mindset is the sinking Titanic; I am reminded of stallions, after castration, still trying to cover mares for 3 months or so. But eventually the awful truth will dawn on most of them, and they will cast around for other outlets for their energy.

    This leaves the field free for Nationalist politicians, who from 2017 onwards will be implementing every policy they can think of that tends to reverse partition.

    When NI was created in 1921, it was given a built in Unionist majority: indeed, that was the only reason for creating such a geographical chimera. From 2017 onwards, Unionists will no longer have this automatic advantage: they will have to show that any policy they want implemented actually is actually for the benefit of all of the population. My theory is that the accumulated effect of 95 years of contempt for the Nationalist electorate will mean they will be unsuccessful in all cases. But you are welcome to try.

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  3. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 4 April 2014 at 7:11 pm

    In the 60s and 70s (and after) there was tons of money around available for any people in the social sciences who could advance a GetAlongerist agenda in Belfast or elsewhere in the North. Career permanent students from all over Britain and Ireland flocked to Ulster to benefit from these bursaries, grants, etc.

    There was the Wee Suffolked Estate. This taught the natives that it is possible for people in low cost housing estates to live together in harmony. Didn’t work. I remember the complaints of virtually the last Protestant family on the estate, (friends of mine as it happens) who were being intimidated out because a local IRA man fancied their house. The problem here is that it was too close to a major Catholic area and there is always a shortage of housing, for Catholics at least.

    Then there were the Corrymeela Slumber Parties. The idea was to take children from deprived and sectarianised areas of Belfast and force them to sleep in the same dormitories and take part together in fun activities. Result: The house fathers soon learnt that it is just a matter of time before everything turned into a major riot and the children started building barricades between Catholic and Protestant sections of their quarters. Apparently, as beavers instinctively build dams, Northern Irish children instinctively create barricades.

    Then there was the Peace Theatre. Using a cast made up of Catholic Dubliners and Anglican Londoners, a series of street theatre shows were put showing children how peaceful solutions work better than violent ones. Result: it all broke up when the male lead was lifted by the Army. As I see it, the IRA probably had a cunning way of dealing with outside do-gooders, which was to phone up the snitch hotline and denounce them as having been involved in the recent killing of a British Army soldier. When, finally, they emerged from 48 hours of incommunicado sleepless torture, they might begin to understand why the natives were dissatisfied in the first place.

    The problem with all these projects is that they blame the individual rather than the political circumstances that they find themselves in. Over the years I have grown to identify the LetsGetAlongerist as person with a self-aggrandising messianic agenda who is prepared to put other people’s lives as risk in order to advance their own career, standing in their professions, access to bursaries etc. A particular negative mention must be given to the awful ‘Peace Woman’ who thought she would ameliorate matters by campaigning for the removal of the walls between the Falls and Shankill. Fortunately she was unsuccessful. In removing the walls; in feathering her own nest, well that’s something else.

    Instead of Lets Get Along, there is a certain wisdom to LetsAgreeToDiffer, in my view.

    Naughton, don’t waste your time with the tribal people on slugger. They are completely incapable of understanding anything other than a mind set of hostile war against their ‘other tribe’. They are to be pitied in this day and age

    Unbelieveable. You appear to constructing a sect to rival the Select Brethren. Instead of don’t speak to them, they’re Catholic/Protestant, you substitute don’t speak to them, they’re Tribalist. In Politics, what matters is how many votes a faction gets, not how wonderful it thinks it is.

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  4. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 3 April 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Of course, the emergence of NI21 gives LetsGetAlongerism a chance to split along sectarian lines, NI21 having a firmly pro-Union stance of the sort which has largely evaporated among Alliance voters, giving us all a chance to have a good laugh at the LetsGetAlongerists not getting along with each other.

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  5. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 2 April 2014 at 10:42 pm

    If our political system returned 90% Getalongerists and 10% Factionalists, then the Gs could impose their will on the Fs, criminalising, imprisoning and generally harassing them. But as the figures are actually the other way round, there simply is no hope of imposing Getalongerist philosophy on society.

    Equally, the idea “My kids are young enough to have a chance at a better life,” is hopelessly optimistic, because even if your offspring are paragons of equity and non-sectarian feeling, those others who surround them are not.

    In fact, every single political philosophy will lead to peace, if only it could command universal respect. If the Fenians had just realised that the Rev Ian Paisley was in charge and stopped agitating and, preferably, voting, then we would have had peace. Indeed, it was nice and quiet in the 50s, and Nationalists frequently didn’t even bother contesting seats.

    If the Protestants could just realise that the IRA rules in this neck of the wood, then we would have peace: isn’t that what we have in Monaghan and Donegal?

    So the last thing we need is another philosophy to come along and tell us we all need to obey them, lecturing us, in their best Blue Peter voices, now look here, you silly chumps, just stop this tribalism thing, put away your spears and assegais, and we can all just get along with each other.

    I sat in rooms with some very angry scary people and by not preaching but trying to positively engage did try to make a difference. I mostly failed, but some of those I worked with did turn lives and attitudes around.

    I like the “I mostly failed”. It brings an element of reality into the proceedings. For something of the sort to have political significance, it needs a 100% success rate.

    It seems to me that you are confusing a process of personal regeneration with the best way to run society. The two things are quite separate.

    ‘Let’s all love each other’ is not a way to run any society. There have to be workable structures.

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  6. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 2 April 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Peace can be made only by those who have previously been making war: the Generals, not the women who chain themselves to railings.

    A Lesgetalongerist is a Reductionist, a person who proposes to effect far reaching reforms, without having the means to do so. The Monty Python sketch says it all:-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNfGyIW7aHM

    This on its own would be merely laughable. But when the Letsgetalongerists then proceed to take potshots at the people who really concluded the negotiations, and put themselves forward for high-paying public office as part of their programme, a certain resentment kicks in.

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  7. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 2 April 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Yes I recall after they shot and killed Danny Lennon on the Falls Road and his car careered and killed the three Maguire children, the British Army announced their role in Belfast was ‘Peace-keeping duties’. Armed Getalongerism, in fact: stop fighting or I’ll shoot.

    If you tell people to get along with each other, and they don’t want to, you have two choices:-

    1) You continue ineffectively as before: your facile posturing comes more and more to resemble Blue Peter proposing to irrigate the Sahara Desert https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNfGyIW7aHM;
    2) You go out there and shoot the insurgents. This makes you as bad as the insurgents you are proposing as the problem.

    Mr Naughton, a Catholic married to a Border Protestant, is chased through the streets with Stanley knives. The Getalongerist Party holds a conference in Bangor, and a strongly worded motion is passed condemning this sort of behaviour. Result: Mr Naughton is chased through the streets with Stanley knives and rocks.

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  8. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 1 April 2014 at 8:46 pm

    There is a book called “The Smell of Breaking Glass” by Sean Treacy, about his time as the licensee of an Irish pub in London. He describes how, after a wedding between an Irish family called Smith and a Cockney one called O’Shaughnessy, a major fight breaks out between the two of them.

    Most noticeable is one matriarch, who wanders through the fray hitting people at random, shouting “Stop fighting”. She is the epitome of letsgetalongeism. Letsgetalongeists are just as likely to use violence as anyone else, if people fail to conform to their agenda.

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  9. Comment on Anna Lo, and the Myth that Northern Ireland Politics is about the Border
    on 26 March 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Every piece of opinion research ever carried out in Northern Ireland has found significant numbers of SDLP and Sinn Féin voters in favour of the constitutional status quo.

    Nationalists can’t make effective use of the All Ireland tools available to them or even lock in their own voters for a border poll.

    In the Crimea, opinion polls assured us that only 41% of the voters were in favour of joining Russia, but when there was a vote in it this became 97%. Why is this?

    1) Opinion polls can be bought by persons with an interest in the outcome.
    2) Many people prefer not to express a desire for something they’re not going to get. At the time of the polls there was no referendum planned.
    3) Opinion polls get more accurate when the election nears; exit polls are almost spot on.
    4) When it became apparent that the Russkies were going to win hands down, the Tatars decided to abstain, pushing the figures even higher.

    So there is an observable effect that when the advocates of a particular viewpoint are destined to lose by the geography of the entities they are placed in, they will respond by not voting or expressing an opinion.

    The figures for the 2011 census show that of the 9 constituencies with a Catholic majority, 8 return a SDLP or SF MP. The one apparent exception, North Belfast, is not an exception, because it only turned green in 2011 and the last Westminster election was in 2010.

    The necessary condition for SF or SDLP to win an election seems to be that the majority of the electorate are Catholic. When that condition is in place, they have in every case ended up with the prize, despite split votes and Unionist shenanigans.

    So when you say Nationalist (politicians) can’t even lock in their own voters for a border poll, you are making unwarranted statement about something that has never happened. When a majority of the electorate are Catholic (in approximately 30 months time) it is then that the conditions will be in place for SF and SDLP (if you consider them a single entity) to start winning elections. They will do so with remarkable alacrity, and it is the other parties who will despair, stop voting, and stop wanting a partitioned Ireland.

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  10. Comment on Anna Lo, and the Myth that Northern Ireland Politics is about the Border
    on 25 March 2014 at 9:21 am

    Has it ever occurred to you that from the unionist perspective the nation is the UK and by YOUR DEFINITION you are the tribalist?

    It is a matter of numbers, of geography, and geopolitics. Given the fact of a worldwide British Empire as the most dominant force in the world, it would be possible for a mere 300,000 Unionist voters to claim that they are in Great Britain, and not the island they find themselves on: the natives are not important.

    But England today lacks the prestige, the wealth and the will, to keep enforcing this reversal of the natural order: so Ulster Protestants from the 6 counties will just have to learn to be a particular tribe of Irishman (as those in Donegal already have). Certainly there is no future in trying to educate the Northern Irish Catholics out of their legitimate aspirations in the name of anti-tribalism.

    There are 4 million Iraqi Kurds, 8 million Iranian, 14 million Turkish. These people are numerous enough to expect their own state. But that does not apply to all of them: there are solidly Kurdish areas and numerous outlying blobs of Kurdish folk in the middle of Turks, Persians and Arabs. These last can never expect to be incorporated in a future Kurdistan: they will always be Turkish/Arabic/Persian tribals.

    NI Protestants are essentially part of an outlying blob. King George V and the British Government did their level best to place them in a federal Irish entity, but they insisted on a separate dispensation. It has not been a success and it isn’t going to last.

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