Unification: no thanks!

Needless to say, I don’t get a lot of time watching RTE television, but I did catch a repeat of last Monday’s The Panel. Chaired by stand up Dara O Briain this week’s political guest was Sinn Fein’s Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald. She handled the often anarchic informality of the format exceptionally well for a politician. But the best line of the night was undoubtedly O’Briain’s. Regarding a future United Ireland he asked her, “Do you think we really want a million angry Unionists in the country?”

  • George

    Forget the million angry unionists, what about the nearly two million angry northerners? Look at how much trouble a much larger Britain is having.

  • peteb

    Unsurprisingly, she didn’t spend much time talking about Europe.

    I had imagined that the SF MEP was appearing with the comedians, rather than on a political discussion program, to explain to the target audience (aka ‘the yoof’) how decisions made in the EU parliament affect their lives and why it is important to know what was happening there – that, I seem to recall, was part of her election platform – but no. Instead ‘the yoof’ were ‘treated’ to SF-lite analysis of the North.. and did I really hear Dara apologise to Mary Lou McDonald for the ‘difficult’ questions?

    And after Mary Lou trying to sell SF.. we had Dave Fanning trying to sell his show – funny, Fanning seemed to get a harder time of it.

  • George

    Yes Peteb,
    you did indeed hear him apologise which I brought up last week as clear evidence if evidence was ever needed that SF are under no pressure south of the border to deliver anything anytime soon, least of all the IRA.
    Why people think a plethora of pieces in the Irish Times and Sindo mean anything to the majority of Irish people is beyond me.

  • cg

    O Briain doesn’t speak for the majority on this island and clearly a very large majority are in favour of reunification.

  • Keith M

    cg “clearly a very large majority are in favour of reunification.” Clear to who exactly? It is clear (because politics in that country are split on Nationalistic lines) that the people of N.I. don’t want unification (you can’t re-unify something that was never united in the first place unless you intend to re-unify the pre 1921 United Kingdom).

    The people in this country have never been asked about unification directly, however the voted for partition on two occasions (once on the trety and once on the Belfast Agreement).

  • willow

    The problem in regard to Irish Unification is not the people but the attitudes of the likes of Sinn Fein and the DUP.
    The longer Sinn Fein continue to dominate Northern Nationalism the longer it will take for Irish Unification. They have spent so many years bastardising the Irish flag that they have created a verion of Irish Unification that Unionists have a twisted version of, mainly an anti Protestant Ireland.
    Also many Unionists need to step out of their man made state and realise that all over the world they are considered Irish people, even in England.
    When the extreme parties become less important, Irish Unification may be discussed with a more reasonable approach.

  • maca

    “you can’t re-unify something that was never united in the first place unless you intend to re-unify the pre 1921 United Kingdom).”

    Obviously before partition it was “united”

    “The people in this country have never been asked about unification directly”
    except for polls etc

    “however the voted for partition on two occasions (once on the trety and once on the Belfast Agreement).”

    The people didn’t vote specifically for partition then. They voted for the best chance for peace in NI.

  • George

    Keithm,
    Ireland has never voted on partition, never mind twice as you claim. Or are you a radical follower of the Irish House of Commons?

    Partition was introduced by Westminster legislation in 1920 (Govt. of Ireland Act) and partition was not on the ballot paper for the GFA in 1998.

    What over 95% of Irish people did vote for was unification by consent. That’s a pretty hefty majority for unification in my book.
    Maybe you voted for partition by voting for the GFA Keithm but you also voted for unification by consent. Should have read the small print.

    Also, it’s unification we are talking about, nobody mentioned re-unification so your point about us never being united is spurious.

  • Keith M

    George, “Also, it’s unification we are talking about, nobody mentioned re-unification so your point about us never being united is spurious.” Please read cg’s post (that’s the second time today you’ve rushed into replying without reading the thread!)

    The people of the Republic (then the Irish Free State) ratified the Treaty which introduced partition in the election of 1922. In 1998 they voted to enshine the principle of consent (ie the “unionist veto”) into the constitution and removed any claim on Northern Ireland. As I already said neither was a direct vote on the border but they certainly could no be read as support for unification.

    maca “Obviously before partition it was “united””. Yes we were all united as part of the United Kingdom. If Irish nationalists want to re-establish the old UK, they won’t get an arguement from me (although it would not be my solution of choice).

  • maca

    “Yes we were all united as part of the United Kingdom. If Irish nationalists want to re-establish the old UK, they won’t get an arguement from me”

    Why would they want to reestablish the old UK? The ideas is reunification outside the UK as you know.

  • Keith M

    Maca you can’t have it both ways. If you want RE-unification then it means the Republic RE-joining the UK as the only time that Ireland has been politically united was initially as a British colony and then as part of the U.K. from 1801 to 1921.

    If you want unification then it’s a whole new concept as the closest the island ever came to being a single political entity completly separate from Britain was under Brian Boru almost a thousand years ago and as historians will tell you, while Boru claimed to be King of “all Ireland” he was anything but (and indeed most likely died at the hands of a fellow Irishman) as the Battle Of Clontarf proved.

  • maca

    REunification of the island does not have to mean rejoining the UK. Whether we were a colony or part of the UK when previously unified is irrelevant IMHO.
    I’ll happily drop the RE anyway.

  • Henry94

    There is nothing wrong with advocating the south rejoining the UK but no canditate standing on that platform would save his deposit in any constituency in the 26 counties.

    It is very clear that the vast majority of Irish people support unity by consent and only by consent.

    For two long their only choices were parties that were either not serious about unity or not serious about consent. Sinn Fein organised on a peaceful basis and an all-Ireland basis will become the major political movement in Ireland.

  • Davros

    Henry, do you seriously think that People in Ireland who have been exposed to the Celtic Tiger will turn away from Capitalism and support a left-wing party ?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    What’s the point of Sinn Fein in a United Ireland Henry? I’m not being facetious, but is it not likely to suffer the fate of the UUP and SDLP in such a situation – ie it’s main objective has been attained?

    Does Davros not have a point about the left-wing economics? Would that not have voters running, or are we all clever enough to know that SF would ditch any policy in a second if it was risking the loss of many votes? The letters ‘PFI’ and the name ‘Bairbre’ enters my head for some reason… dunno why.

  • peteb

    To keep with the general pedantic tone today, Henry.. you meant to say, of course, “Sinn F

  • Mario

    As an outsider, I would have thought unionist and nationalist people would be overjoyed to join a united Ireland, considering the economic success of the Republic of Ireland. I think the republic of Ireland is not a sectarian place and it seems to me at least that people from NI are treated better in the republic than in the England. I use to hear horrible jokes from the English regarding Irish people from both south and North. A united Ireland, seems to me, would make for an even stronger republic and unionist people could be a political force in a UI.

    It was my understanding (wrong perhaps) that the Good Friday agreements were a first step in the reunification of Ireland.

    I also think, in a European sense, that a united United Kingdom would make sense as well. I think Europe is abandoning its concept of borders. We, in Latin America could benefit from a united South America, but Nationalism at times can be such an old fashion provincial concept, specially here, for , to me at least, it makes absolutely no sense to join economic powers as individual countries who could barely feed our citizens.

    Again, I apologize for not being up to speed to developments there, but this site is very educational to those of us who migrated from there.

  • Davros

    “Does Davros not have a point”

    Bless you Gonzo, I have felt lonely 😉

  • Dag

    Do you really want to know what people in the republic used to think in the mid 20th century about partition? Apart from a few pseuds in Dublin who liked to think they were above the common herd, there was great empathy with northern nationalists. Considering that no part of the republic was without people who had felt forced to leave the north; that most of us were related to northeners; that we all felt powerless to do anything to help those on the wrong side of the border;it would be mad to think there was indifference. I have to add – we thought of the Unionism’s anti-Catholicism and anti-Irishness as quite evil.
    Those Unionists today who still indulge in 19th century anti-Irish comments should wake up. Unionist obsession with putting the ‘native’Irish into their place is so outdated that it’s laughable. To most people in the republic it is almost quaint. Unfortunately it is not so for nationalists who have to live next to it.

  • Davros

    If that’s the case Dag how come the Border campaign of the late 50’s collapsed because of lack of support on both sides of the border ?

  • Fraggle

    Davros, think about what you just wrote. Dag is saying that people in the republic had ‘great empathy with northern nationalists’ and you counter by referring to the fact that the border campaign had little support from BOTH sides of the border. if you are suggesting that this shows that southerners had no empathy etc. with northerners, then it must also show that northerners had no empathy with themselves. it says a lot that you think that to support the cause of northern nationalists automatically implies support for the IRA.

  • Henry94

    Davros/Gonzo

    On the question of economics I think Sinn Fein will have to face the same question faced by other Labour parties which I would frame as finding a way to make the market system the servent of progressive policies without damaging its effectiveness.

    The answer, or at least part of the answer, lies in seeing the state as a regulator rather than an owner and a buyer rather than a provider.

    The experience in the south is that easing the tax burden brought in enough money to treble spending on health but that there was no visable benefit from the extra spending.

    There are three possible responses to that. The right want to use it as an excuse for not spending.

    The mindless left want to keep spending regardless.

    A party which has equality as its objective will identify the reasons for the failure to deliver and eliminate them.

    The biggest failure of the reactionary left has been their undermining of the credibility of public spending in the eyes of the voters.

    People vote for tax cuts because their experience of public services has been negative. They pay the price in escalating housing costs and service industry inflation. The 26 counties is the most expensive place in Europe, because of the tax cutting policy, but it is also one of the richest. And the most unequal.

    Traditional socialism has nothing interesting to say about the situation. I think the bright and thoughtful young people who are joining Sinn Fein in great numbers will have more of an open mind. At least I hope so.

    What’s the point of Sinn Fein in a United Ireland Henry?

    They will, like every other party, be either relevent or redundant and the voters of the day will decide which.

  • Davros

    Good reply Henry.

  • Davros

    Fraggle, I was illustrating that, despite what Dag implies, the vast majority of people in the ROI looked the other way.

  • cg

    Keith M
    you really do have some issues with reality.
    Firstly it is REUNIFICATION as it means to reunite the country and has no mention what guise that might take. Obviously you were well aware what it ment. A United Ireland.
    Stop being pedantic and accept the inevitable. All of the major political parties in the 26 Counties advocate a United Ireland and combined with those within the 6 Counties who favour this it make’s a very sizeable majority.
    The time is coming.

  • Dag

    Someone said people in the south ‘looked the other way’. Well, at that time with emigration a mad lemming rush, economy & society extremely depressing, and the knowledge that IRA etc only put more pressure on nationalist northerners, looking the other way was understandable. I can understand northern nationalists feeling that they were let down. Of course they were. But most Irish people were not only NOT indifferent to their fate, but connected personally with it. When most people read the media they believe- this is how the ordinary people think! Certain people’s jobs depended on them keeping a low profile, and taking the ‘revisionist’ line in politics.

  • George

    Keith M,
    “Please read cg’s post (that’s the second time today you’ve rushed into replying without reading the thread!)”
    I was replying to your statement to cg not to cg. I didn’t rush into any reply, on both occassions I was pointing out inaccuracies in your post.

    On this occassion you wrote:
    “The people in this country have never been asked about unification directly, however the voted for partition on two occasions (once on the trety and once on the Belfast Agreement”

    This is incorrect. The people of Ireland didn’t vote for partition. It was introduced by Westminster legislation in 1920. The Treaty was ratified by the Dail in 1922 not by an all-Ireland referendum.

    Partition was also not up for negotiation in the Belfast Agreement or even mentioned. Are you saying that a no vote was an anti-partitionist vote? Get real.

    In the GFA, the people of Ireland were asked to vote on unification. They voted that there would be unification by consent if the majority north and south wished it so.
    That is where we are today.

  • Dag

    Any unionist posters please understand that I am not being antiProtestant. I am trying to explain the state of mind in the republic circa1950-68. Kildare, despite being the locus of 1798 uprising, by the late 1800s was extremely conservative due to near extinction of landless cottier class. Yet the people I grew up with there looked upon the north as the greatest injustice since the famine. As a youngster I remember our first consciousness of an illegal subversive group was great delight by many around that these people were fighting the British by cutting telegraph lines. No delight in shooting policemen, but attacks on police stations were lauded. Yet this was conservative, law and order country. Then in 1968 there was a deep fear for the fate of catholic areas in Belfast. I can remember the tension in every person. Many young people went on lorries and other vehicles from Kildare up to the north, because to sit around doing nothing would have been worse. Yet Kildare was no republican country, like say Tipperary, Cork or Kerry.

  • Christopher Daigle

    I think the challenge facing Sinn Fein and other left parties is to get beyond the idea of state ownership and regulation being the proper avenue to deliver equality.
    I think a better approach would be developing the idea of extending democracy and democratic processes to the work place and civil society in general.
    And also trying to develop and institutionalize political processes based upon the broadest possible mass participation in the creation of public policy.

    Hopefully that made sense.

  • Ringo

    Getting back to the start of the thread, I don’t think people north of the border grasp the lukewarm attitude of most people in the Republic towards the North, and how this has developed particularly in the past decade. Ask them if they want a united Ireland and they’ll say yes. Ask them if they are prepared to make any sacrifices (perhaps increased taxes, having to accommodate the wishes of two new communities) to facilitate this and I suspect you’ll get a different answer in a lot of cases.

    Dag’s point about the people in the republic being interested in the fate of the northern nationalists is also a weakening argument.
    Firstly, in the late sixties there were many family connections across the border due to displacement, but in the intervening period there was little widespread migration from north to south (a few localised exceptions like the new town in Shannon)- and the family connections that did exist are one or two generations on, and many have passed away. The number of people with first hand tales of the Black’n’Tans and the war of independence has plummeted, and the children of that generation are now in the process of relinquishing power to a generation with little relation to the thinking of Dev’s Ireland. A similar migration from west to east saw very large numbers of Mayo people settle in Meath as part of the land commission schemes and these family connections are also dying out.

    Secondly, the genuine concern at the treatment of the Catholic community in Northern Ireland has also abated since the late sixties as it appears from here that the playing field for that community has levelled. The social reasons for reunification have diminished, which has a hollowing out effect on the political reasons.

  • smcgiff

    A reasonable analysis, Ringo. But, the people of the Republic would vote in favour of unification if it came to it. I can

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I’d say Ringo has a valid point here. Being a northerner who lived south of the border for many years I’d have to agree that while southerners support the idea of reunification, it’s a peripheral concern at best. If there was a referendum on the issue tomorrow I don

  • maca

    Billy
    “When I first went down south I expected people to care passionately about the north, and initially felt a bit put out to find that they didn’t.”

    People in the South are sick to death of all the bull**** in the North and probably just want it to go away. Most people are too concerned with their own issues to worry about the people up North. Remember we have higher priority (to us) problems down south to take care of. 😉
    We’re not going to spend our lives worrying about you lot, other things to take care of 😉

    As for who would vote yes: I think the population would be easily pushed either direction. They say about 70% would vote yes, a good “yes campaign” could easily take that to 80-85% IMHO. The idea of unity of the people, both catholic and protestant would give a yes vote a big boost but the threat of loyalist violence could drop that figure way down.

    “My point being that people in the south don

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Cheers Maca, you’re too kind…

    If only there was something in the water up here that made people have a bit of wit!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I see Newt has broached the subject of your average unionist’s thoughts on unity in his column in today’s Irish News. Some extraordinary stuff in there about unionist attitudes past and present which kinda fly in the face of a lot of what I thought I knew.

  • smcgiff

    Jaysus, Billy, you’re only teasing us. Any links?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Sorry Seamus (it is Seamus isn’t it?) I read the column the old fashioned way – there’s a shop beside me that still sells newspapers in the old-fashioned paper format, which isn’t much good to surfers like ourselves.

    The Irish News is a subscription website but maybe someone here has a link?

  • peteb

    His comparison of Adams with Pinochet may have to be blogged, Billy :o)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    He basically says: “Not while Gerry Adams is alive”. Very interesting.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Blogged?

  • smcgiff

    Seamus it is, but I also answer to, ‘oh, not you again!’

    Reading paper newspapers – Mmm, Interesting concept!

    You could type out the entire section onto slugger! How committed are you to get the news across! :o)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Not that committed!

  • smcgiff

    Mmm, I wonder if a website that blogs the social and political landscape of NI exists that could blog the Irishnews’ article on unionist opinion?

    Stranger things have happened I suppose.

  • Dag

    What about these 50,000 new jobs a year in the republic? Are people from the north going to take up some of these? In the past the govt was very keen for northerners to come down and farm. The story was- they were great farmers, knew how to work really hard, and improve the land (also willing to apply for grants). They were great favourites with the Dept of Ag. Their improvements were resented sometimes by lazy (easy-going) Free Staters.

  • Fraggle

    Dag, in my line of work, a lot of people from the north work in the south becasue the pay is at least double. I work in the south at weekends and the 1 1/4 hour trip is well worth my time.

    What the southern government should do is direct some of the investment towards border areas, Donegal in particular. There is an acute need for investment in the derry/donegal region after the fruit of the loom job losses. Prices (houses, land etc) and wages in the region wouldn’t be as inflated as they are around dublin.

  • Dag

    Fraggle- Donegal should apply to join N Ireland, as it’s the natural hinterland. Then the nw and western areas could develop better. Similarly I would suggest that those areas in Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan that would benefit from losing their status as ‘cut-offs’ also join N Ireland. The Boundary Commission would allow for this.There would be no more discrimination or tension with a balanced population up there. The DUP or UU could not prevent such a democratic move. Theoretically they should welcome it, as democrats.

  • smcgiff

    You wouldn’t mind taking Leitrim as well would ye? Ah, go on! Could be tempted to throw in Longford as well!

  • maca

    Longford is just grand where it is, thank you very much!

  • smcgiff

    Well, IT wouldn

  • maca

    …and the border is grand too, unless you want to move it further north (preferably into the North Atlantic).

  • smcgiff

    Well, in that case the answer is no, Dag. No Cherry picking allowed.

  • Fraggle

    Dag, fantastic idea. Move those border counties into northern ireland and then have a border poll. The extra population should easily be enough to provide a pro-unification majority.

    Seriously, joining NI would just make Donegal’s problems worse judging from the way the west is ignored by policy makers. Have you travelled on the road to derry recently?

    No, if the irish government need workers, they have a ready supply in places like derry. all they need is to provide employment just over the border. in the past, this would have caused problems due to high unemployment in the south but now the tables have turned and there is an acute need for labour.

  • Dag

    A study of THE ROADS around the border is long overdue. Seamus Heaney should write his masterpiece (still awaited)on the queer state of the roads up there. University depts from California should come over and study the psychology which led to good roads going nowhere and bad roads being encouraged by all around.Then serious philosphical questions can be asked – such as why were the busiest roads always blocked? Why did/do some people refuse to walk down certain roads? Why is it said that roads go DOWN or UP, when in fact they are mainly level. There are many other questions about roads that could be asked.

  • Davros

    Dag – have you read “Walking Along the Border” by Colm T

  • Dag

    “Walking the border” by Colm Toibin- no, I’m afraid I haven’t. I believe he is an intellectual. Don’t know if I’d like him walking into my cabin and then writing about it. I’m not up to date on much modern Irish writing. I started on some well known Irish writers. But their books always began with the lines: “The priest sat dead drunk in his car, getting ready to set off and knock down some poor innocent civilian. He put the dirty book he was reading to one side and pressed the ignition key”. Cut to Paris. “Our hero is walking down the Boulevard Du Pre and vondevous esta depat – excuse my French but if you too ignorant a reader to understand a continental language then I won’t bother to translate for you”. Is it only me who finds books like these?

  • Davros

    Dag, try and find a copy of it 🙂 It’s very much based on the roads along the Border and addresses many of the questions you raise. It’s a good read.

  • ulsterman

    Well the only hope of Irish unification is if the Republic of Ireland rejoins the crown under British Rule.

    Ireland cast off your chains and rejoin the British Empire where the sun never sets.

    God Save The Queen.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Ireland cast off your chains and rejoin the British Empire where the sun never sets.’

    It’s been theorised that time travel IS possible Ulsterman, but that it would take all the energy in the universe to achieve it. So, a return to the British Empire is not very likely.

    I am assuming it is the year 2004 in your sphere of reality.

  • maca

    “sun never sets.”

    Interesting thing about earth, the sun tends to set at some stage no matter where you are. Even here in the land of the midnight sun.