I.T.M.A.

A provocative look at the centenaries of the UUP and Sinn Féin in the Blanket by Dr John Coulter who seems to be saying a plague on both your houses – Celebrate 100 Years by Undoing Betrayals.

  • cg

    “The time has now come for the middle class, educated doves within Sinn Fein to take the party back to the strategy of its founding father”

    I would love to know who John is referring to.

    “his peaceful protest movement was hijacked by nationalist extremists and Far Left socialists who virtually reduced Sinn Fein to a non-entity because of the disastrous Easter Rising of 1916.”

    John’s level of knowledge of Irish history is disastrous.

    During the rising Griffith offered to join the fighting but the leaders said no as he would be more useful with the propaganda afterwards.

    John’s writing as usual is based on fantasy and not fiction.

  • Davros

    During the rising Griffith offered to join the fighting but the leaders said no as he would be more useful with the propaganda afterwards.

    Haven’t heard that one before cg- not doubting you – have you a source ?

  • cg

    I will look in up in my files but more than likely it was Lyons or McDonnell

  • Davros

    Thanks cg 🙂

  • Peter Brown

    “In this year of unionist commemoration, this great betrayal can be undone by the DUP and UUP either working towards the creation of a single Unionist Party, as well as officially opening a Unionist Embassy in Leinster House to represent the dwindling Southern Protestant population.”

    If I made either of these suggestions I’d be shot at dawn. Is this sentence even good English or does that either not muck it all up….

  • Ringo

    as well as officially opening a Unionist Embassy in Leinster House to represent the dwindling Southern Protestant population.

    Firstly the southern protestant population isn’t dwindling anymore and secondly there is nothing to suggest that southern protestants are unionists.

  • davidbrew

    good point Ringo- this buffoon seems to think the way forward is to ghettoise the Protestants in the south, Given that the founders of the state already tried that with negative results for the protestant churches, his solution is to reactivate that policy voluntarily. Perhaps the next idea is for the Jews in Germany to wear something to make them stand out from the crowd too-how about a yellow star?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Davidbrew.

    Seriously, for the sake of civility, would you desist from the frankly disgusting practice of equating ANYONE on this island with either the Nazis or their Jewish victims. I’m sure we can all agree that the crimes of the Nazis were unique and without parallel. That being the case, could we stop calling each other Nazis? And could we, in the name of all that’s decent, desist from equating ourselves with the Jews who died in the Holocaust. It’s just so ineffably pathetic. David – you, I and everyone else on this island is lucky enough to never have experienced anything like the victims of Auschwitz or Belsen. Chances are we will be lucky enough to never have to. Let’s be grateful enough to acknowledge that, whatever our grievances with each other.

    Anyway, John Coulter, eh? Whatever else about him, he always provokes plenty of debate on Slugger. The unionist reaction to his essays (which are usually along the lines of a) he’s a fantasist or b) he’s not even a unionist) remind me of the way the old four-green-fields nationalists used to lash out at the revisionists.

    Frankly, he’s the only unionist commentator around these days who is saying anything that lies outside the comfort zone. (No, internecine DUP-UUP squabbling, vicious as it frequently is, does not count.)

    Fact is, unionist thoughts on the BIG QUESTION tend to be mind-numbingly predictable, whereas the broad Irish nationalist community houses a far greater multiplicity of ideas. Nationalism used to be just as intellectually arid as unionism is today but that changed over the course of the troubles, helped immeasurably by the emergence in the 1970s and 80s of the revisionists.

    God bless the West Brits – you couldn’t love them if they were your own, but Fanning, Cruise O’Brien, Harris and the rest have done a great service to their country. They were the tough nannies who helped Ireland grow up, south of the border anyway. I think history will record that their contributions, far from weakening the country, strengthened it immensely by helping wean us off some of our more childish tendencies. South of the border at least.

    Unionism has never had a comparable revisionist movement and accordingly, unionism today does not differ substantially from unionism in 1912. There aren’t many political ideologies you can say that about. If a unionist wants to know how unionism TODAY looks from the outside, think DeValera’s Ireland.

    You don’t get to move from Dancing at the Crossroads to Riverdance by people telling you what you want to hear, so bravo John Coulter for shaping up like a man prepared to tackle a few of unionism’s sacred cows. (Cows which, frankly, have been turning the grass of this green field to cud and shit for long enough). It’s time a few courageous and original thinkers emerged from within the broad unionist community.

    Is Coulter is the first unionist revisionist?

  • Davros

    Unionism has never had a comparable revisionist movement and accordingly, unionism today does not differ substantially from unionism in 1912.

    That’s a strange claim BP

  • Davros

    It’s time a few courageous and original thinkers emerged from within the broad unionist community.

    how does , assuming you include Loyalism within the “broad unionist community”, the UPRG document “Common Sense” fit in with traditional unionism/Unionism ?

  • willowfield

    The party currently and misleadingly operating under the name Sinn Féin, i.e. Provisional Sinn Féin, is only 25 years old, not 100.

  • willowfield

    The party currently and misleadingly operating under the name Sinn Féin, i.e. Provisional Sinn Féin, is only 35 years old, not 100.

  • davidbrew

    “It’s time a few courageous and original thinkers emerged from within the broad unionist community”

    Agreed. Let’s hope John starts thinking soon.

    How is it original to suggest that every Southern Protestant is a Unionist deep down , and that they should come together as a group-comprising hardbitten Donegal Orangemen, Martin Mansergh, 1/2 of Bono and David Norris to open an embassy in Leinster House to champion this Britishness in direct competition to the British Embassy downtown? And what about all those Protestant immigrants from Africa, USA, Germany etc? Coulter’s idea is a disgusting sectarian “one size will be made to fit all” vision- and that’s why the comparison with singling out a section of the community on the basis of its religion is apt.

    Do you know that there is still an “Embassy of the Confederate States” in Washington where diehards can get their passport franked by the “Ambassador”- a clever businessman who has tapped into the legendary refusal of our Scotch-Irish cousins to accept the reality of defeat. That’s obviously tongue in cheek- as we would recognise, but John seems completely serious in viewing people as large religious/ethnic or racial blocks than move in concert and form coalitions for the benefits of the grouop as a whole. Look out North Korea if it comes to pass.

    He’s weak too because he lambasts the Ulster Unionists of 1905 for abandoning the southern Unionists, when even a cursory examination of Southern Unionism makes manifest the differences. He might well have had a point about Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan being dumped in 1920, but there is frankly a worrying racist undertone in his notion of a sturdy british people throughout Ireland cleaving one to another in unity and mareching into a new Ireland to take their place. I don’t think that was what yeats meant when he spoke out for the “no petty people”, though he was mad enough that he might have thought like John.

    In actual fact, all the flexible thinking has been coming from Unionism. Nationalism is still constipated by John Hume’s template, and a consatitutional imperative in the South which some take more seriously than others but to which all subscribe in varying degrees. Even Trimble’s focus on the east west strand displayed more vision than 100 Martin Manserghs.

    We have the actual problem of accommodating a substantial portion of the population detached from the state and its institutions , while armchair republicans-in the objective sense of the term, not the one hijacked by the Shinners- have the luxury of fantasizing about how generous they could be in the warm glow of Eire Nua. Nationalists are more preoccupied about the colour scheme of a new plane, while we have to make sure the bloody thing can fly. John seems to want to make sure only the “right type” can buy a ticket for his plane

  • Davros

    We have the actual problem of accommodating a substantial portion of the population detached from the state and its institutions , while armchair republicans-in the objective sense of the term, not the one hijacked by the Shinners- have the luxury of fantasizing about how generous they could be in the warm glow of Eire Nua. Nationalists are more preoccupied about the colour scheme of a new plane, while we have to make sure the bloody thing can fly. John seems to want to make sure only the “right type” can buy a ticket for his plane

    Nicely written David.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “Nicely written David.”

    Agreed, that was a serious contribution from David – we all knew he had it in him.

    I disagree with Coulter most of the time – and I certainly agree with you David when you say that his underlying assumption that Protestant equals unionist, or potential unionist, has simply been disproven by the history of the last 80 years or so.

    While Coulter is wrong to say that Protestant = unionist, he would be right to say that at the moment of their abandonment in 1921, Protestants in the 26 were in most cases far more attached to a sense of Britishness than were those who created the new state, yet they were jettisoned by their unflinching fellow pro-British Irishmen to the northeast. Never has a coherent voice emerged from east of the Bann arguing that his or her forbears were wrong. Never have the actions or assumptions of the historical icons of unionism been seriously investigated – only mitigated or championed. So while one can be a republican and still believe that Pearse was a vanglorious fool or that DeValera was our Franco, it seems unionists cannot similarly look beyond the official hagiographies of Craig and Carson. It seems, looking in from the outside, that intelleectual investigation is positively discouraged. `Lundy’ is a powerful weapon. This might explain why the Protestants of Ulster are seen – not least by themselves – as dour and inarticulate. (If they were less so, they may even begin to question the wisdom of unionism…)

    So Davros, that’s what I mean when I say unionism hasn’t changed substantially since 1912. If republican thinking in 1916 could be replaced by republican thinking today, events would have been very different. If unionist thinking from 1912 could be replaced by unionist thinking today, events would proceed in much the same way.

    Meanwhile time passed and the Britishness of substantial Protestant populations in south Dublin, Wicklow, west Cork, Monaghan, Donegal etc faded – actually, that’s the wrong word. I can’t say that. I can say that their Britishness has not been a major political issue.

    So what I applaud is Coulter’s willingness to tackle unionist assumptions about the course taken by Carson, Craig and the covenanters during the seminal years of modern Irish history. I compare him with the revisionists of the republican tradition because of his willingness to be critical of the policies that led to partition, rather than taking it as an article of faith that everything unionists did after 1912 was just, noble, heroic, essential etc etc etc.

    My point is that for 30 odd years there have been high-profile republicans has had a school of thought that says 1916 was bullshit. People like Eoghan Harris, grandson of an Easter Riser, have pushed basic republican assumptions to the limit with their doggedness and shrillness. But by doing so, republican first principles have been able to evolve.

    Unionism is not yet ready to hear a voice from within that dares to say that 1912 was bullshit. Perhaps Coulter is the first?

  • Chucky R. Law

    David
    “How is it original to suggest that every Southern Protestant is a Unionist deep down”

    If i’m not mistaken (and I know i’m not) this is indeed something I have pointed out to you on previous occasions. Many of your posts in the past indicated you thought protestant does (or should) indeed equal unionist. Has you opinion changed on the matter?

  • Chucky R. Law

    Sorry I forgot to sign that, -maca

  • davidbrew

    not at all chucky- there was a substantial British-Irish identity in 1922 as BillyP rightly points out. There is a much lesser one today, and one different in tone, but then the RoI has become much more British too. In 1953 East Donegal Protestants joined in the Coronation celebrations and lit a bonfire as part of the chain throughout the UK- they almost certainly won’t for King George VII or William IV; but equally in 1970 very few Southerners would be voting in Celebrity Big Brother, or doing their shopping in the sales at Selfridges, nevermind (bizarrely) supporting Liverpool FC

    So far as revisionism is concerned, it’s quite true to say that there has been a tendency to be uncritical of Craig and Carson- except from Donegal (and presumably Monaghan/Cavan) ex-Unionists on the wrong side of the line. Mind you ther’s been even less tendency to examine the appalling leadership of O’Neill in particular, and some of his successors to a lesser degree-perhaps it’s time a closer spotlight was shone on some of the ridiculous leadership Unionism got in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

    But this isn’t revisionism from Coulter so much as peddling a strange agenda which is post-Unionist. I’m actually all for rebuilding many of the avoidable fractures of 1919-1921, especially if it’s done on the basis of recognising 2 Irelands both of which have substantial common ground but also have to accommodate those who hold the alternative (and other) viewpoints., That would strengthen Unionism by neutralising the particularly venomous strain of Northern nationalism which we are always told ( and I believe) doesn’t extend beyond the loony fringe in the south.

    I think many serious scholars criticise Craig’s administration post 1925 , and with reason, given it was a cabinet of elderly businessmen, and the Commons sat for a Stakhanovist 36 days a year. I have no problem in saying that Stormont was a largely dormant body of decrepits with a smug superiority which still rears its head in the UUP.

    I’m equally open to persuasion that the UUC in 1914 was up a blind alley under Carson’s leadership, though frankly I’ve yet to hear a convincing alternative strategem given the insistence of Asquith to treat us like irritating colonials. In many ways the best chance for Unionism to was explore the “Home Rule All Round” ideas which even convinced the peerless Joseph Chamberlain for a time, but again the stubborn Gladstone, who was of course also the most anti-Catholic PM of the past 150 years, shattered that.

  • Davros

    So Davros, that’s what I mean when I say unionism hasn’t changed substantially since 1912. If republican thinking in 1916 could be replaced by republican thinking today, events would have been very different. If unionist thinking from 1912 could be replaced by unionist thinking today, events would proceed in much the same way.

    I don’t think you are right Billy. One strand of Unionism today is trying to establish Home rule in NI. One Strand is considering Independence. One strand favours complete integration. The Unionism of 1912 was led by the local arse’o’crockery and Business interests. Where is that today in Unionism ? The focus and the power structures within Unionism have totally changed. Central to the Unionism was the arguably justified fear of
    Roman Catholic Church domination. That’s no longer central to mainstream Unionism. In fact at the core of Unionism today is an uncertainty and an attempt to establish a new identity. How can you say that today’s Unionism hasn’t changed substantially from 1912 ? Unionism then was overwhelmingly united behind a Covenant.Where is the equivalent today ? That covenant was based around the Empire. Who in Unionism is arguing empire these days ?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I’m talking about first principles Davros. Republicanism (by which I mean everyone from the PDs, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail right through to the various Sinn Feins) has changed out of recognition in recent decades because the old sacred cows (four green fields, one nation inviolable, the iniquity of England etc et fucking cetera) have been dragged out into the open and slaughtered. Republicanism has been able to have a robust debate and as a result, the republican argument has been strengthened. Crucially, that robust debate has been centred on the most fundamental question any political ideology can face – are we right?

    There have been robust exchanges within unionism, but they have had the opposite effect. In-house unionist debates have basically taken the form of one traditionalist unionist accusing another of selling out, forcing spiralling counterclaims. Therefore intra-unionist debate all centres on the question of how strong you are on the union. It’s the polar opposite of the republican revisionist experience.

    So while republicanism intellectual wars have been about original, questioning thinkers attacking the sacred cows while traditionalists have fought to defend them or renew their relevance, unionism’s intellectual civil wars have been about being seen to be the strongest defender of a bunch of long-dead dudes.

    If there were a mirror equivalent there would be a unionist Kevin Myers’ or Eoghan Harris. You would have regular columns in the Tele and the News Letter questioning the wisdom of partition and the union and lambasting unionism’s time-warped political class.

    Unionism would be well-served by such discussion if only so unionists would for once have a defence for the union other than “We are unionists”.

    (Incidentally Davros, David unwittingly illustrates my point above when he raises the two nations argument. Four green fields and two nations were the Romulus and Remus of the partioned, violent Ireland of the 20th century. They were the ideologies that allowed the great schism of the 1912-22 period.

    David is an articulate, intelligent and principled member of unionism’s political class. Could you imagine an articulate, intelligent and principled member of republicanism’s political class in this day and age proposing unification on the grounds that Ireland is four green fields, a nation inviolable?

    Not a chance. Why? Because republicanism has left behind the assumptions of the second decade of the last century. Has unionism?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Incidentally David, what were the `Home Rule all round’ proposals? That’s a new one on me.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    By the by Davros.

    “One strand of Unionism today is trying to establish Home rule in NI. One Strand is considering Independence. One strand favours complete integration.”

    But all are informed by the same, most fundamental assumption of 1912 – that Ulster’s Protestants must remain separate from the rest of Ireland and that they must exercise territorial control over the largest possible are in order to ensure that continued separation.

    There isn’t a single audible voice from within – not a SINGLE audible voice – saying that Ulster’s Protestants might actually be better off moving away from that assumption.

    You might argue that were they to do so, they would no longer be unionists. Perhaps. But they would still be Ulster Protestants and would still be motivated by what they perceived to be the best interests of their communuity. In doing so they would make a major contribution is starting to untie the Gordion Knot between Protestantism and unionism, just as the revisionists helped create enough space between Catholicism and Irishness for the modern, secular Republic to move into.

    “The Unionism of 1912 was led by the local arse’o’crockery and Business interests. Where is that today in Unionism? The focus and the power structures within Unionism have totally changed.”

    But you’re talking about political structure and personalities. This has nothing to do with whether or not unionism has shown an ability to investigate its own fundamental assumptions with real intellectual rigour. The demise of the big house unionists and Paisley’s election triumph are internal reforms, nothing more.

    “Central to the Unionism was the arguably justified fear of Roman Catholic Church domination. That’s no longer central to mainstream Unionism.”

    I accept this point, though I can’t resist the temptation to point out just who the electoral leader of unionism actually is.

    “In fact at the core of Unionism today is an uncertainty and an attempt to establish a new identity.”

    Which is exactly my point. 1912 unionism is dead in the water, yet unionism labours on with its core 1912 fundamentals not only intact but completely unchallenged. This seems to me to be a convincing, if partial explanation as to why unionism today is indeed so uncertain and so in need of a new identity. Deep down you know that in this day and age, the 1912 ideas are bunk.

    “Unionism then was overwhelmingly united behind a Covenant. Where is the equivalent today?”

    Unionism then was united around opposition to a single Irish government with executive powers (and later, sovereignty) over the large Protestant populations of the northeast. That hasn’t changed. The Anglo-Irish agreement prompted huge 1912-style rallies and petitions. Similar moves today would likely have the same result.

    “That covenant was based around the Empire. Who in Unionism is arguing empire these days?”

    The Empire is gone. That is simply an external reality that unionism is powerless to change. If there were still an Empire today, perhaps unionists would still be avid imperialists, though of course there isn’t much point in being pro-Empire when there’s no empire. But to take an instructive example, how many unionists do you know who think that sovereignty over Gibraltar should be returned to Spain?

  • davidbrew

    Joe Chamberlain- our greatest politician never to have been Prime Minister (unlike his decent dullard son Neville)- fell out with Gladstone over the nature of the Home Rule Bill introduced in 1885, but earlier was prepared to consider a form of devolution for the regions of the UK- indeed he probably would have supported a similar, Empire wide standardisation.

    When Gladstone would not amend his proposals Chamberlain and 90 odd others left the Liberal party , as did most Ulster Liberals who had sent a delegation to see the GOM and were sent away with a flea in their respective ears.

    It’s relevant in the context of the devolution debates in the modern UK. it also shows how much he, as an arch Unionist ( in the sense of recognising the supremacy of Westminster as fundamental) was prepared to think “outside the box”.

    Joe was the most remarkable politician of the late nineteenth century, in that he was a social reformer and radical ( developing the idea of “municipal socialism”) as well as being a protectionst, and Imperialist. Oh, and he had the vision and good taste to name his house “Highbury” before the greatest football team on the planet popularised it among lovers of the beautiful game.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Thanks David.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Oh, David, meant to ask. When you talked about Chamberlain’s ideas on devolution to “the regions of the UK”, I wondered what form he thought this devolution should take? Did he envisage more than one devolved administration in Ireland?

  • Davros

    dragged out into the open and slaughtered.

    Hardly. After all Mitchel confirmed that it is Sinn
    Féin’s position that the IRA is the legitimate government of Ireland.

  • davidbrew

    David is an articulate, intelligent and principled member of unionism’s political class. Could you imagine an articulate, intelligent and principled member of republicanism’s political class in this day and age proposing unification on the grounds that Ireland is four green fields, a nation inviolable?

    oh stop, you’re making me blush. The reason no republican politician would talk like that is that, in its most basic sense, they won in 1921- ot least got enough to satisfy them, and noone challenged the result, while Unionism also won just enough, but the result has alwys bben challenged. No Unionist can ignore the war of attrition which means northern nationalists regard every deal as a staging post to the summit, not an honourable draw-and of course I distinguish the attitude of southern nationalists here.

  • Davros

    Could you imagine an articulate, intelligent and principled member of republicanism’s political class in this day and age proposing unification on the grounds that Ireland is four green fields, a nation inviolable?

    I take it you missed Gerry Adams’ Sinn Fein reaffirmation of all that ?

  • Davros

    I disagree with most of the rest of your writing, although I’m happy to concede that your case is arguable. But I’m too sleepy after a huge lunch to tackle such a huge issue.

  • Ringo

    Billy –

    I’m talking about first principles Davros. Republicanism (by which I mean everyone from the PDs, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail right through to the various Sinn Feins) has changed out of recognition in recent decades because the old sacred cows (four green fields, one nation inviolable, the iniquity of England etc et fucking cetera) have been dragged out into the open and slaughtered. Republicanism has been able to have a robust debate and as a result, the republican argument has been strengthened. Crucially, that robust debate has been centred on the most fundamental question any political ideology can face – are we right?

    I think that is very well put – but Davros’ point regarding Mitchel McLaoughlin hints at the thing I would fundamentally differ with you on.

    Yes there was a robust debate but the main result was not the strengthening of Republicanism. Everyone that was willing to hold a mirror up to themselves and as you say, ask ‘are we right’ ended up moving away from republicanism or rejected it in the first place: Fine Gael, Labour, SDLP, WP, DL, PD. Of all the political parties that sprung from the second decade of the 20th century only Fianna Fail maintain any tenuous link to republicanism – and it could also be said to be the only party that never seriously engaged in the debate (no need do much soul searching when you’re top of the tree). But anyone that thinks that Fianna Fail’s republicanism goes deeper than the ink on their letterheads doesn’t know Fianna Fáil. They didn’t need to have a debate on principles because they aren’t tied down by principles.

    Republicans (some, not all) are still the keepers of the sacred cows. I don’t think the Sinn Fein leadership can be included in that, but they play to the grass roots that are. I think they are like Fianna Fáil – tied down by nothing.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “After all Mitchel confirmed that it is Sinn Féin’s position that the IRA is the legitimate government of Ireland.”

    Did he say that? Or are you extrapolating?

    I don’t doubt that there are people in Sinn Fein who actually believe that crap, but party policy since 1986 has been to recognise the sovereignty of Dail Eireann.

    So even if Mitchel actually believes that Sinn Fein is the legitimate government of Ireland, the important point is that he won’t – can’t – come out and say so.

    David.

    “In its most basic sense, they won in 1921 – or at least got enough to satisfy them, and no-one challenged the result.”

    I see where you’re coming from but I must disagree. For one thing, the south had a civil war, so you can’t really argue that `no-one challenged the result’. A decade later the anti-treatyites had regrouped into nothing less than the established party of government. I would argue that the national question remained THE dominant issue in Irish politics at least until Lemass came to power. The old soft-focus Hollywood version of 1916 and all that wasn’t really brought into a more realistic focus until the last 20 years while the rise of Sinn Fein south of the border and the emerging attraction of all-Ireland politics seems to me to imply that when the constitutional talks about “firm will” of the Irish state to reunify with the rest of Ireland, it’s not just an empty nod.

    “Unionism also won just enough, but the result has always been challenged.”

    “No Unionist can ignore the war of attrition which means northern nationalists regard every deal as a staging post to the summit, not an honourable draw.”

    But of course northerners who see themselves only as Irish people will never see partition as an honourable draw. I won’t bore you by explaining why as I’m sure it requires no explanation.

    You refer to a war of attrition in the north, but it is only attrition against the unionist assumptions of 1912-22. The fundamental assumption was that there needed to be a partitioned state in the northeast, and that that state should be governed by and for Ulster’s Protestants. Two nations. My point is that republicanism has moved beyond four green fields but unionism still clings to two nations. Your point has demonstrated mine.

    The big questions are these: were Ulster’s Protestants right to take the course they took in 1912-22? (It is absolutely essential that you consider the possibility that they were not.) And: might future generations go the opposite way? (It is absolutely essential that you consider the possibility that they may, and that by their own reasoning would be right to do so.)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ringo.

    I think it’s important to point out that Fine Gael, Labour, SDLP, WP, DL, PDs and Fianna Fail are all still very much republican parties. They all support the agreed reunification of Ireland and the creation of a democratic island republic encompassing all the Irish peoples. That’s a noble and civilised goal, though one might oppose it with equal nobility and civility.

    `Republican’ isn’t just the byword for bogeyman. It’s the dominant political philosophy on this island and the glue that binds the existing, incomplete Irish state.

    You say that FF are the only remaining party aside from the SFs that has a link with republicanism – I disagree. They may be the only one that puts the word on their letterheads but that’s just a word.

    The important point is this: Fine Gael, Labour, SDLP, WP, DL, PDs and Fianna Fail have all moved decisively away from the physical force republicanism of the early 1900s but are no less republican for that. The mainstream has ridded itself of extremism but it is still republican.

    Which proves that you are making a mistake when you assume that political violence and nationalist extremism are essential ingredients of republicanism, even in an Irish context. Hell, even in a northern context.

    The revisionists went a long way to excising that assumption from the republican consciousness and republicanism has been greatly strengthened as a result. (And I am NOT talking about Sinn Fein here.)

    Unionism would be well served by a similarly rigourous examination of its central precepts. Then perhaps it wouldn’t be led by a man whose socio-political philosophies are little different to those espoused by Henry Cooke.

  • davidbrew

    Billy
    yes, I believe they were right in 1912-1922, but not necessarily for all of the reasons some of them did so.It was certainly wrong of HMG to try to use Home Rule to buy off the IPP for votes in the Commons, but many of the economic arguments may well have been overstated and of course economics are never static.

    I also understand the argument that the UVF introduced the gun into the equation though I don’t accept it- there had been violence and civil unrest adopted from the plan of campaign and Phoenix park murders, not to mention of course the 1798 rebellion, and it was pretty obvious even to Carson ( no macho man) that Asquith wasn’t going to listen to reason. In a narrow sense Bonar Law was right in saying “there are things grester than parliamentary majorities”.

    As a covenanter, I fully subscribe to the notion that the government had a duty which it reneged on, but how the Covenant was misused to justify partition was certainly open to criticism. I think Craig , more than Carson, understood the need to work closely with the |Dublin administration and tried to keep the lid on the 1920s troubles, but Collins was simply too duplicitous -e.g. the assassination of Henry Wilson- or lacking in the generosity of spirit Craig had ( not Dunville’s) .

    Future generations might well go the opposite way. In 1798 many Ulster presbyterians rebelled against the Anglican establishment for sound democratic reasons ( as opposed to the Defenders in the south), and were content with the Union as the means to end it. if the Union wasa imperfect in practice, it was much the best option. It’s still the best option, though it has been used against Unionists and could be again. We hear the economic arguments for an all ireland economy, but that doesn’t need a united Ireland either.

    The point is simple: better the devil you know is the post-Unionist mindset of many Protestants, Catholics and Dissenters, and even at that unsophisticated level nationalism has still to move light years before they’ll be persuaded to change.It might not be grounded in much, but believe me there’s no one more thran about not being pushed where we don’t want to go-even the Sylvia hermon brand of Unionism. I believe most Unionists in leadership positions want to work closely with a republic which still respects us in the morning, but too many republicans would see us as just another notch on the bedpost.

  • davidbrew

    I should have said the real republicasn revisionism is the open and honest discussion of an ireland incorporated in 2 nations. They can’t even dvelop a critique of joint authority because they don’t have that capability.

  • Ringo

    Which proves that you are making a mistake when you assume that political violence and nationalist extremism are essential ingredients of republicanism, even in an Irish context. Hell, even in a northern context.

    I would content that all that is left of the old Irish republicanism is a hollowed out shell best known for its political violence and nationalist extremism. They are not the essential ingredients.

    There is a big difference between empathy with the nationalist community north of the border and idealistic Irish republicanism as you describe it. I’d like to see where FG, Lab, PD’s & Green’s state that promoting a united Ireland is one of their goals. And I’d then like to see how they are going about promoting it or fostering the ideal. All of the republicans in those parties have their republic, and they live in it.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Good stuff David. This exchange has been very satisfying, and I’ll still respect you in the morning, I promise.

    I know you think they were right in 1912-1922. I’m not trying to get you to say they were wrong. I’m just trying to point out the importance of taking sacredness out of the equation. That’s what the revisionists did for republicanism and a comparable intellectual movement within unionism would help us further along to the holy grail of a rational discussion between the traditions.

    No one would argue that the 1912 gun runners invented political violence in Ireland but the fact remains that before the boys went to meet the irregular service at Larne there was an unarmed, if uneasy peace in Ireland. Most people in Ireland were Home Rulers and Redmond’s pursuit of Ireland’s interests though parliamentary procedures was the mainstream. You say: “it was pretty obvious even to Carson (no macho man) that Asquith wasn’t going to listen to reason’’. But this carries the implicit assertion that the UVF’s position was totally reasonable while Asquith’s (and parliament’s) was totally unreasonable. Perhaps, but crucially, perhaps not.

    You say that you hear the economic arguments for an all Ireland economy but that would not necessitate a single state. Fair enough. I think the need for a single economy and ending the inefficiency of the economic border is more important than political disputes. We’ll continue to argue over where we should send our political representatives but it’s be better for everyone if they were being elected from booming regional hubs rather than public sector-heavy border towns. The debate on the constitution would continue though – you call it a war of attrition against unionists but pro-unity motives are generally much more benign than you think.

    “The point is simple: better the devil you know is the post-Unionist mindset of many Protestants, Catholics and Dissenters, and even at that unsophisticated level nationalism has still to move light years before they’ll be persuaded to change. I believe most Unionists in leadership positions want to work closely with a republic which still respects us in the morning, but too many republicans would see us as just another notch on the bedpost.

    Fair enough. Nobody said it was gonna be easy, and hey, a girl’s gotta have standards. Light years away? Okay. That’s the start of reason. Never is the end of reason.

    Thran? Is this a typo or am I about to get my first lesson in Ulster Scots?

  • davidbrew

    thran / thrawn
    Ulster Scots- stubborn;unyielding; me

    An Englishman in 1912 once said you can take an Ulsterman through the points of the argument and he’ll politely agree with you at every stage, until you presume that he has conceded the main point when he’ll flatly refuse to do so, and deny that he had ever any such notion. That’s thran!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Who was the Englishman? Erskine Childers?

    Might explain his pretty disrespectful opinion of “Ulstermen”. I suppose to be an Englishman in 1912 was to look around the world and see every other people on the planet in terms of a cliche. No doubt that Englishman believed that in his few witty sentences he had said all there was to say about the people of Ulster. Thankfully times have changed and Paddy Irishman-style jokes have fallen out of currency.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “I should have said the real republican revisionism is the open and honest discussion of an Ireland incorporated in 2 nations. They can’t even develop a critique of joint authority because they don’t have that capability.”

    The most powerful aspect of the republican case is that the part of Ireland where republican theories have been put to the test has become a place to be envied, while the part of Ireland to which that experiment was not extended has become a place to be pitied. Through all its ups and downs the Republic has bound remained together by its central republican principle. One cannot disute that the state is a success not only in economic terms, but in the political fact that it exists as an expression of the near-unanimous will of the people who live there. The results are there to be seen so critiques of republicanism can only go so far and ultimately are disproven by fact.

    The non-republican part of Ireland on the other hand is more deeply divided even than when it was founded. One cannot say that it exists as an expression of the will of the people – only that it exists as an expression of the will of a slim majority. It is also unarguably economically dysfunctional and has, since its inception, lived far beyond its means. Its economic policy has been to look to outside investment and subsidy to keep the population in work but the north has never been a net wealth creator – which is a shocking indictment of an area with such a highly-developed industrial infrastructure.

    These are simply realities which republicans are right to point out, and which a unionist revisionist might look at.

    “The real republican revisionism is the open and honest discussion of an Ireland incorporated in 2 nations.’’

    By that reckoning, republican revisionism is about moving closer to the position to which traditional republicanism was most fundamentally opposed. Perhaps you’re right, perhaps that’s what revisionism is. This being the case, I take it you agree that unionism has not yet been able to encompass anything that could be described as a revisionist movement or thrown up a commentator like, say, Kevin Myers, who, like yourself is very much a Two Nations man but has come to his views from the starting point of the republican tradition.

    If indeed revisionism is about moving away from absolutism and towards the very positions to which one’s tradition is most fundamentally opposed, then if unionism ever reaches the revisionist stage, unionist revisionism will accept some of the fundamentals of republicanism. For example, there could be an acceptance that this is Ireland. Even east of the Bann, that is an inescapable reality, as is the fact that people in Belfast live in a city with a greater commonality of socio-economic and geopolitical interest with Cork than with any city in Britain.

    Incidentally, I think your suggestion that economic unity might be acceptable to unionists in a way that political unity would not is very interesting. Economic unity would certainly blunt a major argument for political reunification. It would also mean that in many very meaningful ways Ireland would be united. It would take a lot of the heat out of the anti-partition feelings of a lot of rich nationalists, at least for a generation or two.

  • Davros

    Davros-“After all Mitchel confirmed that it is Sinn Féin’s position that the IRA is the legitimate government of Ireland.”

    BP: Did he say that? Or are you extrapolating?

    He said it quite clearly.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Davros.

    “He said it quite clearly.”

    You haven’t answered my question. What did he actually say? Have you a source or quote? Did you just infer it quite clearly?

  • Davros

    Billy, the link to the program has been provided .
    Mitchel was there representing Sinn Féin.

    Michael McDowell summarised why Mitchel did not accept that the Killing of Mrs McDowell was a crime.

    Mitchel and his colleagues believe that ANY Volunteer committing ANY authorised action on behalf of the IRA IS NOT committing a crime because they believe the IRA IS the legitimate government of Ireland.
    McDowell states this and asks Mitchel is that your position ?

    Mitchel says yes.

    Listen to it yourself. It’s quite clear.


    “>hyperlink

    Real Player needed, fast forward to 27 minutes into the broadcast. McDowell Puts forward his explanation and asks Mitchel if that is the correct explanation for his denial that the killing was a crime.

    Mitchell says yes.

  • davidbrew

    “The most powerful aspect of the republican case is that the part of Ireland where republican theories have been put to the test has become a place to be envied, while the part of Ireland to which that experiment was not extended has become a place to be pitied.”

    Actually the Republic’s succes is because thewy have abandoned republicanO( i.e. nationalist in this context) theories. After leaving a Union of the British Isles, a failed attempt at creating a Gaelic Catholic and free Ireland, and an economic war against the UK, all of which left the Free State/Republic much weaker than NI, the ruling elite decided to join a larger Union, surrendering much of their independence in return for the undoubted benefits of European cash. Only the rhetoric remained, but it was still too powerful to permit the truth to be uttered-namely that the only way to draw the two parts of the Ireland closer together was by coming closer to the UK. A consequence of that was the inability of northern Nationalists to believe they should use the structures of NI to promote a very close relationship with RoI whilst remaining part of the United Kingdom.

    The EU had changed enormously in the past 30 years, and so would the UK if this approach had been tried.Structurally the UK has always recognised that the Republic is not really foreign. I oppose joint authority as, inter alia, unaccountable, but if the RoI and republicanism generally invented a construct recognising two nations on the island in perpetuity it would be a much more challenging question that status quo Unionists could not easily duck. Trimble tried to argue that the GFA had moved onto this ground- he took a legalistic approach to say that because the territorial claim had been amended and the GFA backed up be legislation, everything else that happened was re-arranging the furniture as the house was now owned jointly. He might have got away with it if republicanism hadn’t fostered the impression that the house rules were deteremined by their agenda first and foremost.

    Myers and Harris shouldn’t be lone voices, but the vanguard of the republican project to approaching the problem.

    Unionism is very different from 1912-and even 1985. It is no longer about the letter of constitutional law alone. As one example, I doubt that Unionism is hung up on the sovereignty of Westminster to the degree Carson was. Decades of shabby treatment have produced an antipathy to our governors which is probably much deeper than the Scots felt during the 1970-2000 period. My guess is that a lot of Unionists in NI, if they lived in Scotland, would gravitate to the SNP , though they would not seek full blown independence.

    We have been forced to recognise that the Equal Citizenship ideal of the 1986 period is not a runner. We’re not going to be as British as Finchley except in the constitutional sense. So what? We can be as British as Islay, Bradford, Cardiff, Ballsbridge(:0))by exploiting the multicultural aspects of the Union.The Ulster Scots revival is an example of that. Many ( though by no means all)-not just Protestants- in the south had to water down their Britishness after 1921, as you rightly recognise, but there’s too many concentrated in too small a space for that to ever happen here.

    Virtually noone would sanction local politicians for fostering cross border ties now whereas twenty years ago that was the territory od the McGimpseys alone. Contrary to the impression of many southern posters, we are very well aware of the changes in the South. We too get ripped off on shopping trips to Grafton Street; we go to concerts at the Point, We may well get our petrol or car insurance from the Republic. All of Bangor decamps to Dunfanaghy in the summer.It’s not just the middle class going to Lansdowne Road twice a year any more.

    We don’t find galloping irridentism but we do find that the ordinary people have moved on , and essentially live the life of any provincial UK city-shopping in Tesco M&S,cheering for Exeter City against the scum, not going to church on Sunday. If all politics is economics the UK pre 1921 was probably never as homogenous as the British Isles are now.

    But because almost no-one will speak this truth , and noone stands up to the Shinners, the old style republicanism flourishes in the North and lipservice is paid to it by the political classes in the south. What’s the point of FF competing with SF over its centenary? Who would stop voting FF if it dropped “The Republican Party” from its logo, so long as the inward investment keeps coming? Unionism recognised long ago that it couldn’t get a 100% victory; Republicanism also needs to educate its own that there won’t be a United Ireland in 2016 or 2116 or ever if it is the construct that has always been offered to us to date.

  • George

    Firstly, great thread guys.

    Davidbrew,
    “we do find that the ordinary people have moved on , and essentially live the life of any provincial UK city-shopping in Tesco M&S,cheering for Exeter City against the scum, not going to church on Sunday.”

    I believe this is wishful thinking on your part, part of a deeply held belief that independence was basically wrong has just given the Irish people what they would have got if they had remained in the union in the first place, that no value accrued.

    This is patently not the case. Look at Ireland’s equivalent in this matter – Scotland.

    Which region has less crime, greater wealth, greater national pride, greater sense of belonging, greater long-term prospects, greater international clout etc.

    I don’t see Ireland needing a Fresh Talent initiative to stop it sinking without trace. Compare the situation in Glasgow (in complete economic and demographic decline) and Dublin (population of 2 million by 2020). Scotland’s brightest are going to London, Northern Ireland’s brightest are going to Dublin and London.

    Ireland (Republic) has turned from being totally dependent on Britain in 1921 (85% of exports to UK) to today (13%) where it is fully linked into the European project.

    None of this would have been possible in the union.

    If anything, Dublin is getting less like somewhere in the UK by the day.

    This will, in my view, be the test for unionism in the long term as Ireland moves further and further away from the UK, both culturally and economically.

    In the south, we don’t need to say there won’t be a united Ireland, we have moved beyond this to the theory of Doogism. All we care about is what there will be. No doesn’t interest us.

    There will be a peaceful, prosperous independent Irish state, the best in Europe is the aim. If this state encompasses 32 counties great, if not, then we’ll just make it a 26 county success.

    What does unionism say there will be for all the people of Northern Ireland in the future? At the moment, it looks like it will be a place in a state which offers much less than what the Irish state will offer its people.

    That will be a hard sell in the next 50 years.

  • davidbrew

    “None of this would have been possible in the union.”

    -why not? Oh Bertie’s boys have lobbied mightily, but they’re now going to have to compete with Poland etc- they’ll be pushed right down to the back of the queue.Think of the influence ireland would have had throughout the 20th century at Westminster- it would probably have held the balance of power in the Commons for all but a few years post 1945, 1983-87, and 1997-date. If Gladstone was prepared to sacrifice part of his party, and Asquith prepared to risk civil war, don’t you think after Ireland’s sacrifice in WW1 there would have been buckets of money to develop the country -Oh I know that the depression would probably have put the kybosh on that, but it’s a fair bet no government would have annoyed Ireland lightly.

    “This will, in my view, be the test for unionism in the long term as Ireland moves further and further away from the UK, both culturally and economically.”

    Now who’s guilty of wishful thinking? How are you moving farther away from the UK culturally? We’re all part of a broadly similar sub-American culture. Ireland’s only modern distinctive cultural icons are Geldof,Bono and Podge and Rodge- oh and perhaps Michael Flatly. The language is wedged into nonsensical constructs like Lana Bus, and Lana Tram to keep it in the public eye. Gaelic games have tried to internationalise in Australia, and now Canada, without any great success, but the mere fact that they feel the need to, and their defensiveness against soccer suggests that-like cricket in the UK, a once dominant sport is creaking under the presure of Celtic and Man ure. And we don’t need to look far for a parallel fall from dominance, when seeing the decline of the church since 1970. The power of Sky will brainwash us all.

    And as for economics,the average High Street in any Irish town is the same anonymous collection of international stores as here.How long before many of the international companies there relocate to China or Malaysia? How many more immigrants can the economy absorb? The economy may, for the first time, be outperforming NI, but it’s too early to assume that will be permanent, we still have many significant advantages for the individual UK citizen. We’re hardly East Germany-and Leitrim’s hardly the Riviera!

    “There will be a peaceful, prosperous independent Irish state, the best in Europe is the aim. If this state encompasses 32 counties great, if not, then we’ll just make it a 26 county success.”

    Good luck in your aspiration, though I fear it’ll will end in disappointment, both in where you feature in the top European states, and in hoping to persuade us to jump .

    Your frankly admirable “take it or leave it” pitch would transform politics in Ireland- it’s a refreshing contrast from the traditional nationalist “take it now or take it later” line which is still the starting point for politics up here.

    It is also, if I may be mischievous, an implicit recognition of the two nations in one island theory that you were rather disparaging about earlier on the thread. No matter- it’s been a most rewarding discussion and I’ve enjoyed being challenged by your perceptive insights

  • George

    Davidbrew,
    on the econmy point. Our economies are diverging a lot faster than you think. You talk about the East and believe the hype of those who don’t like the idea of the Euro or an extended EU. I love it.

    For Ireland as a Eurozone member, they are potential markets and employee source not a threat. Over 70% of Ireland’s direct investment in 2004 came from the EU while American investment dropped to below 15%. A huge change around since 2001.

    Here’s a fact that might startle you: Ireland received 3 times as much FDI in 2003 as the 10 accession countries put together as 33.4 billion dollars came here.

    In 1995, they had ten times the FDI we had. The fact is very different from the Daily Telegraph fiction.

    Eurozone countries are more eager to remain under the umbrella of the single currency rather than investing in the UK, ranking it 12th in 2004, down from ninth place last year.

    Last year UK FDI inflows dropped by nearly half from $27.8 billion in 2002 to $14.5 billion in 2003. This was likely driven by fewer investments from and disinvestments by European investors. EU FDI flows to the UK tumbled by an estimated 80% from 2002 to 2003.

    U.S. investors ranked the UK their second most attractive market in the world in 2004, pouring more cumulative investments into the UK than into any other country in the world, and accounting for 15% of total U.S. outward FDI stock.

    On having a voice in Westminster if we stayed:
    look what Britain is willing to do to Northern Ireland after all it sacrificed in World War II as part of the Belfast-Liverpool-Clyde triangle, never mind WWI.

    As for economic welfare, I say again, look at Scotland. The UK is doing nothing to stop the drain to London and do you honestly believe that Britain would willingly have worked to get rid of what the FT once called a “limitless, supply of cheap labour”, namely an economically stunted Ireland. Not a chance.

    On sport, do you think that there would have been more or less interest in hurling and Gaelic football if Ireland was still in the union?
    I don’t think so.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Great discussion guys.

    David

    I’ve been thinking about your two nations idea. I must say I instinctively resist it with every fibre of my being, because it means that my next door neighbour – let’s call him Sammy – whom I have known my whole life, with whom I grew up, who was born in the same hospital ward as me the day after I was born – is a different nationality to me. That we are foreigners to each other. We have the same postcode but a different nationality.

    I don’t know where you live but assuming there is someone down the road who supports Irish reunification: clearly you have political differences but can you really say he is a different nationality?

    So this is why my experience simply doesn’t tally with the two nations theory. Two tribes I can go with. Two traditions I can go with. But two nations? I think there’s quite a burden of proof on you.

    But let’s accept for a moment that the two nations argument is axiomatic. My political ideal is to see an Irish state comprising these two Irish nations. I may be persuaded that there are two Irish nations but I will never accept that these two nations cannot – or should not or must not – make common cause.

    How useful would it be, do you think, to change the context of the debate? How much more possible might it be to advance an argument in favour not of Irish unity but of an Irish Union? Ireland as two nations, one country?

    (You may argue that you are already in a union. Point taken. But this would be a union in which your participation would actually be wanted and valued. Don’t tell me unionists aren’t stung by the humiliation of their position in the UK.)

    George also raises a pertinent question. Currently – and I accept that it’s for the first time – the standard of living south of the border is superior to that in the north, and in fact is superior to that of most UK regions. Not only that but this newfound wealth and economic dynamism has been grounded in educational and infrastructural investment and prudent (if conservative) fiscal and financial policies from government – ie. the factors that allow us to be confident that wealth-creation will continue in the future.

    In contrast, NI – which only ever enjoyed a superior standard of living due to massive subsidy from Britain, at one time paid in government contracts to the old heavy industries, later to the factories, then to the security apparatus and throughout, to the obscenely bloated civil service – has never created wealth and seems no more poised to do so now than ever.

    This being the case, it is possible to predict with great confidence that in the coming decades the Irish state will be seen demonstrably to offer far more to its residents than the British state will offer to people in the north. You may accept this prediction or reject it, but it is a legitimate prediction that, one cannot deny, COULD happen. (I’d say it will, in all likelihood, but the important thing is to recognise that it is a rational extrapolation of current trends, and therefore is a real possibility.)

    If this does happen it will present a major challenge to the pro-union case. How will future unionist leaders persuade their community that they should shun the prosperity on their doorsteps? Amazingly, unionist temptation could be the force that brings the union to an end.

    The obvious bulwark against such rampant rationality would be sectarian card, but that would be sheer nihilism and would have a devastating effect on the unionist community.

  • Davros

    BP- Geographic determinism seems to be the sole case you have for one state once you accept that there are two nations. That’s shaky.

  • Biffo

    davibrew

    “Decades of shabby treatment have produced an antipathy to our governors which is probably much deeper than the Scots felt during the 1970-2000 period”

    Why then don’t unionists want to strike out, go it alone or join the republic?

    “My guess is that a lot of Unionists in NI, if they lived in Scotland, would gravitate to the SNP , though they would not seek full blown independence”

    The SNP is all about full blown independance..in Europe..on the Irish model!

  • davidbrew

    “The SNP is all about full blown independance..in Europe..on the Irish model!”

    ..indeed it is, but that’s not why people vote for them- for many it’s a protest vote against a distant, unaccountable establishment

    “Two tribes I can go with. Two traditions I can go with. But two nations? “

    Whoa, you find it impossible to believe a neighbour is from a different nation ( not what I said, actually) but from a different tribe? Rather racist that- what about ken maginnis and Gerry Adams, and their great great grandaddies from different races?

    Tne UK is a multi-cultural, multi-tradition nation, quite capable of accommodating Brother Forbes McLoyalist of Sandy Row, and Seamus O’Gunman of Crossmaglen , and all points in between, as it has absorbed Scots, Welsh, Jews, Bangladeshis, Cypriots etc.I don’t recognise the SDLP voter from down my street as belonging to a different nation, though of course (except in time of war) he’s free to give his allegiance to whatever state he wants as long as he abides by the law- he can even have dual citiizenship if he wants.

    “it is possible to predict with great confidence that in the coming decades the Irish state will be seen demonstrably to offer far more to its residents than the British state will offer to people in the north.”

    perhaps-but not with great accuracy

    “But this would be a union in which your participation would actually be wanted and valued.”

    yeah, funny how we’re always told that, but when it comes to making a solid proposal it’s so much fluff. It might be a choice of staying in a solid but loveless marriage for the sake of the kids, or cheating with the smoothtalker from next door- if so I’ll stick with what I know.

    You see, you couldn’t afford us. For as long as I’ve been posting on Slugger I’ve challenged nationalists to make us an offer we can’t refuse. I’ve selected certain areas of culture which mirrors the SDLP focus on removing the symbols of britishness in NI, and asked if they would be changed. Things like renaming Sackville Street, Rutland Square etc, bringing back the Boyne Obelisk, the Statue of William outside Trinity, a new flag, a memorial to the RIC and recognition of the Unionist vicitms of 1919-21.

    You might feel these are petty points-well to us so was the SDLP need to change the RUC name, remove the Royal Coat of Arms from our Courts etc etc. We’ve seen our government pander to nationalism’s insecurities and prejudices- you’ll have to offer a lot more to detach our alegiance. And that’s before we even get to the new constitution!

    Your only change to the sales pitch is to throw in the promise of a bright new economic tomorrow to all the usual list. But you’re still talking at us , not to us, because you’re not really interested in what we want- particularly if we keep saying leave us alone. And you need to realise that No means No now and factor in the possibility that it means Never- hence the point I made about Nationalism needing to look at alternatives like joint authority if it is genuinely thinking outside the straitjacket of 1916.

  • Davros

    Well said DB.

    The bribery aspect is interesting. By their criteria when the going got rough the people of the Free State should have been clamouring to rejoin the Union. They didn’t. They weren’t to be bought. Why should we be any different ?

    Going back to the days when nationalism was being shaped :

    “In his pioneering essay, ‘What is a nation?’ (1882), Ernest Renan suggested that the principle of nationality is founded upon the desire to live together or, in his famous phrase, ‘a daily plebiscite’. Yet this was only one of two essential constituents, for the existence of a nation also required ‘the possesion in common of a rich legacy of memories’

    ( yes, it’s a quote, from page one, History and Memory in Modern Ireland edited by Ian McBride, 2001, Cambridge University Press.)

    Now-

    do we want to live together, North and South, as a nation ? No.

    do we share the same “rich legacy of common memories” ? No.

    We don’t have a common nationality. One could be “made” – against the will of the Northern majority – that’s true, as a “French” nationality was made in France. But what cg describes as the “largest nationalist party” in Ireland supports the right of the Basque people to undo that manufactured nation and go it alone. If a localised majority which is an overall minority has a right to self-determination, then the wishes of the Northern majority must be respected by Sinn Féin.

  • davidbrew

    Blimey Davros you’re always one with the obscure but apt quote.
    I often wonder about the Shinner attachment to ETA , for the reasons you state. Also their attachment to Breton separatists, for whom Unionists might be expected to have a greater sympathy given the manner of the French government’s attempt to make them into “proper” Frenchmen fitting the nationalist stereotype.

    BTW how do you get an Old English Sheepdog to sit quietly in a car and not yowl in the driver’s ear? It’s doing my head in

  • Davros

    Blimey Davros you’re always one with the obscure but apt quote.

    It’s a cracker and I’m looking forward to seeing how our nationalist friends address it. it opens up huge areas for debate. The reason I went with the Basques rather than the Bretons is because I know that SF have Batasuna representatives at their Ard Fheis. France is interesting considering that they had so much input into Irish republicanism. Of course the French and Americans
    owe huge amounts to English radicals of the mid 17th century. France is no more an natural unit than Ireland. The perils of Geographic determinism.

    Old English Sheepdog? Remember the time I asked you about a legal matter? What goes round comes round! 😉

  • Henry94

    Davros

    If a localised majority which is an overall minority has a right to self-determination, then the wishes of the Northern majority must be respected by Sinn Féin

    The logic of that is re-partition as the areas where nationalists are a local majority have just as much right to opt of of the north as the north had form Ireland as a whole?

    do we want to live together, in the North in the UK as a nation ? No.

    do we share the same “rich legacy of common memories” ? No.

    We might remember some of the same things but we remember them so differently that they are hardly common memories.

  • davidbrew

    “Old English Sheepdog? Remember the time I asked you about a legal matter? What goes round comes round! ;)”

    But surely you know the world owes lawyers a living? :0)

  • Davros

    Exactly Henry. You point out why Sinn Féin’s position is untenable in respect of their support for Batasuna. Surprised to see you suggest repartition, as if we go down that route we would surley conclude that there would have to be some form of ethnic cleansing so that no minority exists within a state.

    Both nationalism and unionism are moribund, long live the European Union.

  • Davros

    You can e mail me if you like David. It’s not a topic which is likely to interest many others 🙂

  • Henry94

    Davros

    Surprised to see you suggest repartition

    I’m not suggesting it. I’m pointing out that it’s the logic of your position. Although when you combine it with support for a European super-state maybe logic is the wrong word.

  • Davros

    I’m not suggesting it. I’m pointing out that it’s the logic of your position.

    What position ? I was basing the discussion on SF’s support for batasuna. And you keep showing there is no logical way that SF can assert that a localised majority has a right to declare Independence in France while insisting that the same right be withheld from a Northern majority.

    I say a plague on both houses, nationalism and unionism.

  • mucky

    This is the best discussion to have taken place on slugger for a while and is a credit to the posters.

    DB

    “You see, you couldn’t afford us”

    I completely agree, but as far as the Republics concerned, we stopped making any offers years ago. Of course we want a UI but we discovered that Unionism was a Delorean. It’s historically interesting, looked pretty cool in it’s day but, ultimately, it’s outdated, inefficient and costly to run. The British have also had a terrible time trying to get parts for it (sorry for mixing the metaphors there).

    “we keep saying leave us alone”

    Just a word of warning, we tried that down here under Dev and it didn’t work. It wasn’t until Ken Whitaker came along with his grey paper and put an end to protectionism that we started to progress;)

  • George

    Davros,

    do we desire to live together?

    If a majority of the voting electorate, north and south, decide we do then, under the GFA, we will.

    “do we share the same “rich legacy of common memories”?

    Yes, but we just remember them differently 🙂

    On “we keep saying leave us alone” mucky hit the nail on the head. I remind you also of what happened to Greta Garbo or, having seen the (too long and too self indulgent) Aviator this week, Howard Hughes when they decide they wanted to be left alone.

    It is not a viable option, especially when 43% of the voting electorate demanded the exact opposite in the last general election.

    Davidbrew,
    when Scotland joined the union, there was an edict that every main street in every town be renamed Union street, Dublin was well within its rights to rename its main street.

  • mucky

    Davros

    I can’t disagree with your point with respect to Renans theory of nationality vis-a-vis a UI but the theory doesn’t endorse the Unionist contention that they are part of the British nation either. A seperate NI nation is the only one that fulfils Renan’s criteria due to the 53% majority but were such a nation to be created, it would negate the Union. Where does that leave Unionism?

  • Biffo

    davidbrew

    “Things like renaming Sackville Street, Rutland Square etc, bringing back the Boyne Obelisk, the Statue of William outside Trinity, a new flag, a memorial to the RIC and recognition of the Unionist vicitms of 1919-21.

    You might feel these are petty points-well to us so was the SDLP need to change the RUC name, remove the Royal Coat of Arms from our Courts etc etc. We’ve seen our government pander to nationalism’s insecurities and prejudices..”

    So, you invite Irish nationalists to extend respect to you, but you see no reason to return the compliment. It just about sums up our woes in this part of the world.

  • mucky

    Davros

    I can’t disagree with your point with respect to Renan’s theory of nationality vis-a-vis a UI but the theory doesn’t endorse the Unionist contention that they are part of the British nation either. A seperate NI nation is the only one that fulfils Renan’s criteria due to the 53% majority but if such a nation were to be created, it would negate the Union. Where would that leave Unionism?

  • davidbrew

    “you invite Irish nationalists to extend respect to you, but you see no reason to return the compliment. It just about sums up our woes in this part of the world.”

    Quite the opposite. I invite nationalists to accept that they too must see some sacred cows slaughtered in the interests of cultivating the possiblity of Unionist participation. of course I don’t accept any of the demands were necessary, and would love to reverse them- but my government took a decision that these were necessary sacrifices to bring nationalism on board the project. I want the Irish government to make a similar decision, but given their mealy mouthed response to the Ulster Scots Agency I know it won’t be forthcoming.

    “when Scotland joined the union, there was an edict that every main street in every town be renamed Union street, Dublin was well within its rights to rename its main street.”

    Yes of course it was, but it wasn’t the way to appeal to Unionists or show them parity of esteem. OK that was then, and we called a town Craigavon, but my challenge is to nationalists who claim to want to persuade us of the merits of joining their country in 2016 or whenever.

    I’m giving you some of the examples of things that annoy Unionists about your state, and no-one’s even begun to think seriously about my relatively modest, though symbolicly important shopping list, nevermind the real one-whatever it might end up being- that you guys would have to pay for. Is it just a mental block that you can’t see that we’ve never had to give serious consideration to an offer because you’ve never made a serious one? You either don’t want anything to do with us (most ordinary folk)or you expect us to shuffle into an unchanged Ireland the day some vote is 50% +1 (Sinn Fein and some of the eggheads in Iveagh House)

    Mature strategic thinking requires an honest re evaluation. Either you start asking us what we want for a United Ireland, and be prepared to cheerfully pay the price or you work on constructs which recognise the permanence of partition. What you’re doing now is just lazy drifting- which suits us fine

  • davidbrew

    “we discovered that Unionism was a Delorean. “

    And they can both travel back in time :0)

  • Biffo

    davidbrew

    “Quite the opposite. I invite nationalists to accept that they too must see some sacred cows slaughtered in the interests of cultivating the possiblity of Unionist participation. of course I don’t accept any of the demands were necessary, and would love to reverse them- but my government took a decision that these were necessary sacrifices to bring nationalism on board the project. I want the Irish government to make a similar decision, but given their mealy mouthed response to the Ulster Scots Agency I know it won’t be forthcoming.”

    You say it’s the opposite but it still sounds the same. You’d want to see nationalist sacred cows slaughtered in the south but you don’t feel there was ever any need to slaughter unionist sacred cows in the north to cultivate the possibility of nationalist participation?

  • George

    Davidbrew,
    “Either you start asking us what we want for a United Ireland, and be prepared to cheerfully pay the price or you work on constructs which recognise the permanence of partition. What you’re doing now is just lazy drifting- which suits us fine. “

    This is the folly of unionism as it is in 2005, summed up in two sentences. I commend you on your brevity.

    The only part of this island lazily drifting is Northern Ireland. It has no wealth creating power, has 200,000 less people working than it should, has no democratic parliament and no control over its finances.

    It has no idea what direction it is going in and, even worse, has no control over where it is going. But that suits unionism fine. It is more interested in slaughtering sacred cows to help justify the creation and continued existence of Northern Ireland.

    I promise we’ll do our best to try make you feel better about yourselves but in the meantime, the Irish Republic knows exactly where it is going and where it wants to be, and has the democratic and economic infrastructure to achieve it.

    You believe we must ask what unionism wants and, even worse, pay for the pleasure of trying to convince unionism. Not going to happen.

    If you want subvention rather than control over your own destiny I recommend you stay British because that is not the way any future Irish state would be constituted.

    The people of the Irish Republic don’t want to inherit a problem, they only want to be part of a solution.

    Northern Ireland as it is currently constituted will be a subvention haven for the forseeable future – in other words a problem.

    In 20 years time and if things continue as they are, it will still be drifting and the Irish Republic will still be moving in its direction of choice.

    Then the people of Northern Ireland, surrounded by corpses of slaughtered sacred southern cows will then, as now, have a choice – try move in the same direction and address the obvious economic, social and democratic problems or drift for another 20 years.

    In the meantime, the people of Ireland aren’t going to be sitting around asking themselves whether unionism would accept the flag of St. Patrick instead of the tricolour or mulling over the idea of changing the name of the Gardai.

    Pro-Europe, low taxation, non-militaristic, eurozone member etc. are the salient points.

    In other words, work on issues that deliver for the Irish people not symbols that may divide. Take care of the customer and the business will run itself as the founder of McDonalds said.

    Also,
    I certainly don’t see a forward looking united Ireland renaming O’Connell Street as Sackville street. I can see it being renamed after the person who solves the “Irish Question”.

    Lemass said in 1959 that the 1937 constitution was a 26 county one so the point of a new constitution being required was conceded 46 years ago.

  • Davros

    do we desire to live together?

    If a majority of the voting electorate, north and south, decide we do then, under the GFA, we will.

    However in respect of Sinn Féin, supposedly the largest nationalist party in N.I. (according to cg) Basques via ETA/Batasuna have the right to oppose this principle even when a majority of the voting electorate of France wish the artificial construct of a French nation to stay together.They support Batasuna, therefore they should support a six county Independence movement.

  • George

    Don’t get your point Davros because I assume your average Batasuna boy would say France and Spain have nothing to do with the Basque country. It’s called the right to self determination.

    If the people on their (Basque people) northern borders want to construct a country called France, best of Basque luck to them would be the view I figure.

  • Ringo

    the Irish Republic knows exactly where it is going and where it wants to be

    Where’s that George? Seeing as I’m probably going to be here I’d like to know.

    In other words, work on issues that deliver for the Irish people not symbols that may divide. Take care of the customer and the business will run itself as the founder of McDonalds said.

    Agreed, and surprising coming from someone hidebound by symbolism. Take care of the customers and it doesn’t matter whether the sign says McAleeses or Burger Queen at the door.

  • Davros

    your average Batasuna boy would say France and Spain have nothing to do with the Basque country

    Your average NI boy and girl ( bit sexist of you there George !) has consistently said that the free-state and ROI have nothing to do with NI !

    It’s called the right to self determination.

    If they support self-determination for Basques then they cannot complain about Northerners wanting self-determination, in fact they should support a NI homeland 🙂

  • George

    Ok Ringo,
    I’ll try be brief:

    Technology, Talent and Tolerance

    I’d like to think I’m not as hidebound by symbolism as you think. I just believe we are all so very fortunate to live on this island.

  • Davros

    Coime to think of it, didn’t the IRA take much the same view vis-a-vis Southerners when Northerners binned the Southern Leadership, and isn’t SF overwhelmingly run by Northerners ? 😉

  • JD

    Your average NI boy and girl ( bit sexist of you there George !) has consistently said that the free-state and ROI have nothing to do with NI !

    Yes, it’s amazing how far-reaching the effects of gerrymandering are. *runs for cover*

    If they support self-determination for Basques then they cannot complain about Northerners wanting self-determination, in fact they should support a NI homeland 🙂

    Any breakdown for the number of “unionists” who wish to be independent? Presumably “independent” would actually mean independent of the UK also.

  • Davros

    JD- I remember reading a while back that most unionists/protestants would favour an Independent NI ahead of a UI if the Union ended. And way back Father Faul wrote something similar about nationalists/Catholics ( although it was before the SDLP took a nose-dive ). However, as a majority of basque residents don’t support Basque Independence, that shouldn’t affect SF’s Position re NI Independence LOL And in respect of the UK – French Basques look to Spanish Basques…So NI unionists attachment to the UK is analagous.