A new republicanism could unite: Mansergh

MICHAEL McDowell isn’t the only southern politician trying to redefine republicanism in the aftermath of the Northern heist. The Taoiseach’s adviser, Martin Mansergh – a Protestant republican – has his own ideas.

Mansergh wrote in the Irish Times:

The only source of power attainable in Ireland today is democracy, institutionally adapted in the case of Northern Ireland to the needs of a deeply divided society. In all major statements, from the Downing Street Declaration to the Mitchell Principles to the Good Friday agreement, and subsequently down to last month, the abiding position is that full democratic participation and especially the shared tenure of power require a complete and lasting cessation of all associated paramilitary activity. There is no fudging of democracy in any of that.

* * *

Some argue that continued activity by the IRA has to be strung out as long as possible, because it enhances Sinn Féin’s negotiating power and electoral aura. One could just as plausibly argue it is an albatross round their neck or, to use another avian metaphor, makes them a sitting duck for the securocrats.

It is shocking that, while the Sinn Féin leadership was negotiating with Taoiseach and Prime Minister, with or without their knowledge, others within the republican movement, more sceptical of the peace process, could have been meticulously planning the Northern Bank heist.

The Good Friday agreement is a good one, and demands a proper chance as a model of co-operation between very different traditions. Working it, or allowing it to work, could constitute a tentative first step towards uniting Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter, albeit on a limited basis.

If political leadership cannot even now deliver the future free of paramilitary threat that would make that possible, then perhaps a different republicanism needs to be brought together, one with wide appeal and less baggage, and more closely associated with the much denigrated but far the most successful part of the whole republican project, the independent State to the south.

  • cg

    “If political leadership cannot even now deliver the future free of paramilitary threat that would make that possible, then perhaps a different republicanism needs to be brought together, one with wide appeal and less baggage, and more closely associated with the much denigrated but far the most successful part of the whole republican project, the independent State to the south”

    Is he suggesting Finna Fail organise in the north?

  • James

    “Is he suggesting Finna Fail organise in the north?”

    Fianna Fail’s political engine is patronage. The North does not vote on pocketbook issues.

    Don’t bet the grocery money on it.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I thought they were signing up people here already?

  • cg

    Then what does this gobbledegook from Mansergh mean?

  • Alan

    *Is he suggesting Finna Fail organise in the north?*

    No. He’s suggesting that there would be value in a republican party whose members need not justify a history which includes their determination that politicians and others can be killed simply because they disagree with that political party.

  • alexandrite

    The heist is a watershed, or maybe more appropriately a high watermark for the republican movement. If I follow Martin correctly, we can look forward to the tantalising prospect of an election in May where electors are urged to vote against Sinn Fein to strengthen the hand of Gerry and Martin, custodians of Agreement republicanism. North and South, the success of the republican model has depended for success on money from outside whether it is Europe, the US or the UK exchequer. When the day comes that this all dries up, and we have a level playing field again the rest of us will shout to the roof tops: tiochaidh ar la!

  • alexandrite

    The heist is a watershed, or maybe more appropriately a high watermark for the republican movement. If I follow Martin correctly, we can look forward to the tantalising prospect of an election in May where electors are urged to vote against Sinn Fein to strengthen the hand of Gerry and Martin, custodians of Agreement republicanism. North and South, the success of the republican model has depended on money from outside whether it is Europe, the US or the UK exchequer. When the day comes that this all dries up, and we have a level playing field again the rest of us will shout to the roof tops: tiochaidh ar la!

  • IJP

    SF’s version of Irish Republicanism – complete with total disrespect for any form of independently-enforced rule-of-law and therefore for democracy – is a betrayal of Republicanism’s true origins.

    The more people on this island who recognize this and are prepared to campaign on it, the faster true democracy will come about, and the more likely a stable democratic 32-county Republic becomes.

  • willowfield

    Provisional SF is nothing more than an extreme ethnic nationalist party.

  • Henry94

    Fianna Fail will never contest an election in the north but it will probalbly do for a while as Unionist Exclusion Fantasy Part II when the SDLP goes for its tea.

    But that shouldn’t stop anyone else setting up another all-Ireland republican party if they believe a republic is the sloution. The more the merrier.

  • Davros

    Provisional SF is nothing more than an extreme ethnic nationalist party.

    That’s a bit OTT IMO. Certainly there’s still a whiff of ethnic nationalism from some of the Leaders and in policy but I don’t get that impression from SF voters and people like cg or PS.

  • cg

    “But that shouldn’t stop anyone else setting up another all-Ireland republican party if they believe a republic is the sloution. The more the merrier.”

    Absolutely Henry, It would advance the all-Ireland agenda. There should also be an established Unity group, comprising of individuals and groups who favor a United Ireland.
    ………………………………………….

    Willowfield
    “Provisional SF is nothing more than an extreme ethnic nationalist party”

    Ridiculous, can you give reasons for this theory?
    ………………………………………….

    Davros
    “I don’t get that impression from SF voters and people like cg or PS.”

    go raibh maith agat 😉

  • Davros

    Credit where credit is due cg. You both have argued a good case during a difficult time.

  • davidbrew

    the chief cheerleader of the guilty prods in the south comes up with his usual wibble yet again. How many times do we have to tell you- we’re not buying thankyou all the same. Be a good neighbour and leave us in peace, or keep up this nonsense and become a stalker- in fact didn’t Radiohead do a song about you martin?

  • Michael Turley

    “the chief cheerleader of the guilty prods in the south comes up with his usual wibble yet again.”

    The tireless negativity and personal nature of jibes made by some unionist commentators gets a little wearing at times.

    All he is saying is that the Republican project would be better off if it was more wholly aligned with parties entirely tied to the democratic process. Rather self-evident perhaps but not really worth sneering at.

    “Be a good neighbour and leave us in peace”

    Leave who in peace?

  • ShayPaul

    “Be a good neighbour and leave us in peace,”

    He did exactly that, and it was not how he found us !

    M. Mansergh, unlike some here, walked the walk for peace.

    This excellent piece, is both a challenge and a threat to republicans :

    a) SF distance themselves from physical force republicanism
    b) FF organise in the north as a republican alternative (with or without SDLP)
    c) A new republican party in the north.

    He does not supply the answers, simply poses the problem.

    Like the reference to securocrats and the “with or without their knowledge”.

    The gentleman is a very smooth performer.

  • ShayPaul

    “North and South, the success of the republican model has depended for success on money from outside whether it is Europe, the US or the UK exchequer. When the day comes that this all dries up, and we have a level playing field again the rest of us will shout to the roof tops: tiochaidh ar la!”

    One can’t help but read a little jealousy and a lot of sectarianism into that drivel.

  • willowfield

    Further to my 10.02pm of yesterday (“Provisional SF is nothing more than an extreme ethnic nationalist party”) – neither ridiculous, nor OTT.

    Extreme – endorses terrorism and is the political wing of a terrorist organisation.

    Ethnic nationalist – is of and for the Catholic nationalist community only (despite occasional attempts at inclusive rhetoric); is anti-British; yearns for victory not by presenting an inclusive case for Irish unity, but by hoping for the eventual outbreeding by one ethnic group of another.

  • maca

    …sort of describes most of the parties in the North then.

  • maca

    “tiochaidh ar la!”

    Is that a direct quote? He could at least spell it right.

  • willowfield

    …sort of describes most of the parties in the North then

    Neither the SDLP, DUP nor UUP endorse terrorism or have terrorist wings. The SDLP and UUP are less “ethnic” than the DUP.

  • davidbrew

    I don’t think so Willow- perhaps the Sylvia burberry clones who have joined since 1998 and seem to have lost interest think that, but the UUP is fundamentally the same as the DUP in its ethnic foundations.

    I keep making the point that Trimbleism ‘s most damning indictment is trying to ride both horses. Unionism would be stronger, and he would be more worthy of respect, if the UUP struck out for clear blue water and Norman Porter’s civic Unionism it would be seen as principled-even though it would inevitably lose more electoral ground and become the UPNI mk 2, confined to Greater Belfast and James Cooper’s house. It hasn’t taken a fraction of the risks that the SDLP has done within it’s community- the unhealthy ambiguity towards loyalism in Belfast City Hall being a prime example of double standards. When it dumps Trimble and Reg picks up the pieces in the autumn it’ll be too late-even if he has the courage to plot the new course, which he has shown no sign of doing to datye.

  • aquifer

    ‘One could just as plausibly argue it is an albatross round their neck or, to use another avian metaphor, makes them a sitting duck for the securocrats.’

    His slick sympathy for the sectarian terrorist group is understandable given that the state that paid his ample salary paid for their guns, and he should feel some guilt for the wasted lives and wasting northern ghettos.

    Its about time though that poor vulnerable SF took responsibility for not only the IRA’s actions, but also for the effect of those actions in deepening division and real distress among Irish people.

    Sycophancy with gaelic fascists may be a useful skill in a diplomat, but would be entirely useless in a republican government minister today.

    When I see an ROI minister step outside his religious and cultural comfort zone and address unionist concerns directly, I might imagine that republicanism in ireland had progressed since Cromwell.

  • Nathan

    aquifer
    “When I see an ROI minister step outside his religious and cultural comfort zone and address unionist concerns directly, I might imagine that republicanism in ireland had progressed since Cromwell.”

    Please don’t tar all politicians in the ROI with the same brush. There have been exceptions to the rule. How about Proinsias deRossa (or just plain Frank Ross to his extended family and friends) and what about the great pluralist John Bruton?

    Proinsias was the 1st politician in the Republic to go on record and say that the 26 county constitutional claim to N.Ireland was “50 years out of date” and should be dropped, years before the establishment took his suggestion on board in the signing up of GFA.

    As someone who collected a great deal of baggage in his earlier life, Proinsias later off-loaded it all. In doing so, he redefined his republicanism and as such he is an inspiration to us all.

  • Nathan

    And I forgot to mention Minister McDowell in that as well, just read his interesting speeches on 26 county republicanism. So there you have it, 3 politicians from very different backgrounds who can hardly be described as churning out the silage for the sacred cows.

  • Davros

    Was there a republican movement in Cromwell’s day ?

  • Davros

    That should have read …Was there an Irish republican movement in Cromwell’s day ?

  • Davros
  • Tom Griffin

    I don’t believe there was an Irish Republican movement in Cromwell’s day, although principled English Republicans opposed the invasion of Ireland.
    It was partly designed to get the New Model Army out of England where it was becoming a bastion of support for the Levellers (an early example of the effect of foreign wars on democracy.)

    Incidentally, the Belfast Telegraph article seems to suggest Fianna Fail will bypass the SDLP. Will that leave an opening for Labour.

  • Davros

    That’s what I thought Tom – Isn’t Irish Republicanism considered as starting with The United Irishmen ?

  • James

    “Fianna fail prepare to stand in Derry”

    The Soldiers Of Destiny think turnabout is fair play with the Chuckies even if as it poses The Final Solution for the SDLP?

    Do you guys west of the Bann have a good stock of brown envelopes? Corner the market and I’ll guarantee a cozy nest egg for the gargoyle retirement home.

  • Tom Griffin

    Davros

    I have been meaning for ages to get hold of A Deeper Silence by ATQ Stewart, which actually traces the roots of the United Irishmen back to Seventeenth Century English Republicanism.
    Ironically,this tradition is intertwined with that of the Whigs who supported William of Orange. In many ways Unionism and Republicanism come from remarkably similar roots.

  • Davros

    Yes Tom, I remember Tony Benn making much the same point in the Guardian about The Diggers and the Levellers being hugely important.

  • ShayPaul

    Davros

    You’re not spinning the Diggers and Levellers again ?

    You’ll be telling us that Cromwell was the first Irish Republican next.

    Keep it for the mushrooms.

    Communists perhaps.

    As for levellers this enlightening prose for the time is not a republican manifesto, placed in its context it is an articulate proposition for settlement : note article XXVI.

    They were of course radically suppressed by Davros’ hero , the lord protector himself.

  • Davros

    So Much for your claims that you are not a nationalists Shay LOL.

    Like it or not, the first Modern European republic was in England.

    You’ll be telling us that Cromwell was the first Irish Republican next.

    Silly thing to write.

  • Davros

    The Levellers and the Tradition of Dissent

    By Tony Benn MP

    The Levellers were early christian radicals whose ideas helped to shape the American and French revolutions, and inspired generations of socialists.

  • ShayPaul

    Davros

    Explain your claim about my nationalism – it seems to me you are very confused about this issue.

  • ShayPaul

    And here are the same levellers from the other side.

    It seems that anyone can claim them as their ancestors.

  • ShayPaul

    As for your claims that Cromwell established a “modern european republic” …. you will grow big mushrooms with that one.

    A sectarian puritanical dictatorship hardly fits the bill.

    I might recall also that having eliminated briefly the monarchy, before everyone else, that the exercise was hardly conclusive as “Lizzie and the Corgies” have made a comeback.

    (case ye had ne noticed)

    :o)

  • Davros

    Thanks for the Link Shay 🙂

    “The Levellers’ principled call for the abolition of monarchy and a republican government “

    That quote makes my point admirably.

  • Davros

    As for your claims that Cromwell established a “modern european republic”

    I didn’t claim that Shay, you really do need to slow down, read my posts carefully and think before you write.

  • ShayPaul

    Davros

    have the intellectual honesty to stick to the point.

    Your arguments are ill founded nonsense, anyone reading the levellers will appreciate their propositions in the context of the time as foresighted proposals for a settlement to the discordance between elements at the closing of the civil war.

    Theirs was a parliamentary approach, and along with the diggers they had formalised a humanistic doctrine that many political aspirations “could” claim as a heritage. I posted a counter argument from liberalist conservatives to your post from socialist Tony Benn to prove this point.

    I have many problems with both pieces which are rewriting history in the light of things which came to pass after the event, this is historical fantasy.

    As for “I didn’t claim that Shay, you really do need to slow down, read my posts carefully and think before you write.”, that my friend is condescending crap.

    Now answer my point please :

    “Explain your claim about my nationalism” or was that just another personal attack that you wish to gloss over ?

    Your admiration for Cromwell is well documented here, and previous suggestions that he is the father of republicanism can be quoted if you so wish.

    The fact that he was a sectarian, puritanical, bigoted dictator is a case for history.

    The fact that he was English is of no consequence to me.

  • Davros

    have the intellectual honesty to stick to the point.

    Shay, have the decency to read what I write and don’t misrepresent me. This sub-thread resulted from a point I raised in respect of a comment made by aquifer-

    “When I see an ROI minister step outside his religious and cultural comfort zone and address unionist concerns directly, I might imagine that republicanism in ireland had progressed since Cromwell.”

    I have showed that republicanism in Ireland HAS advanced since the time of Cromewell, as there was no Irish Republicanism in Cromwell’s days … as Tom pointed out , Irish Republicanism can be traced back via the American and French Revolutions TO 17th Century England.

    that my friend is condescending crap.

    Ball , not man…. Please show where I wrote or claimed that Cromwell established a “modern european republic” ?

    I didn’t, you are having a massive tantrum because I dared write something that wasn’t critical of England 🙂

  • ShayPaul

    Davros

    You are still avoiding my question about nationalism, now chill out, remember I am in South Derry next week and you promised me a magners.

    I suggest you:

    a) Make your point about nationalism

    or

    b) Retract the statement.

    I have extensive documents about the 3 revolutions, English, French and American.

    I am afraid I do not share your analysis:

    A snippet :

    The french revolution which inspired many republicans worldwide but was driven by the bourgeoisie and not the people.

    Might I suggest we continue that debate at another stage ?

  • ShayPaul

    “Like it or not, the first Modern European republic was in England.”

    Expand please ….

  • Davros

    One would hardly call The Roman Republic as being
    “Modern” Europe Shay.

    Now, if you want to play silly games, try the BBC website. There’s loads of people there who will play at your level.

  • ShayPaul

    I guess that is as close as you get to throwing in the towel …

    sad

  • Tom Griffin

    Shaypaul,

    I take your point about article XVI. However, some Leveller tracts did argue for religious freedom for Catholics.
    Also they did make the argument against the Invasion of Ireland in terms of the rights of Irish people.
    Peter Beresford Ellis mentions some of the evidence in his book, Hell or Connaught, and some of the same pamphlets are mentioned here:
    Troops Out Movement – 30 years campaigning for British withdrawal

  • ShayPaul

    Tom I am not disputing the impact of the diggers and levellers, just the re-writing of history by all and sunder to make some neat point with hindsight – this is historical fantasy at its best.

    The english civil war and its closure generated a period of creative thinking that had undoubted consequences on social structures at the time and in the future, but the other liaisons created are at best tenuous and at worst bollix.