Sinn Fein caught napping by reaction?

In the Sunday Independent, Anthony McInytre argues that the Sinn Fein leadership was caught napping by Bertie Ahern’s decision to go on the offensive in the wake of Hugh Orde’s public statement.

He believes however that the key part of Ahern’s strategy was:

Ahern’s masterstroke lay not in accusing the IRA but in unambiguously placing Sinn Fein leaders at the heart of the decision-making processes within the IRA. In doing so he has signalled that the party’s leaders will publicly carry the can for any actions engaged in by their own militia. The legal fictions have been dissolved. No longer will institutional power inflict the myth on society that the Sinn Fein leadership goes to the IRA, that the two are somehow separate entities.

Potentially, this imposes a degree of constraint on the party leadership’s room for manoeuvre. To the extent that it organises, sanctions, or ordains violence, there will no longer be an official cloak behind which it can absolve itself of responsibility. Strategically using the process to undermine the peace as an aid to its own expansionism now comes with a health warning. Sinn Fein exposure to the Republic’s electorate and Corporate Irish America will lack the glamour of yesteryear.

However, he argues that none of this will change the party’s current strjectroy:

Sinn Fein, while peeved that the veils of the peace process have been stripped away, calculates that it can withstand the hurricane. It has journeyed here before and knows the terrain well. Experience has equipped it with the necessary hide to sit out the storm. The current proclivity of London and Dublin to hold on to the peace process, despite the vituperative tone of their discourse, will assure Sinn Fein that the current mutual standoff does not preclude some mutual embrace.

The governments are right to refrain from recommending sanctions against the party. Arbitrarily punishing the electorate forthe democratic choices that it makes subverts the very democracy that those advocating sanctions ostensibly promote.

But the insistence, by Dublin in particular, that the US administration should not bin Sinn Fein’s invitation to the St Patrick’s Day festivities at the White House will be interpreted as an indication that processing will at some point be back on track. Sinn Fein leaders could hardly scream ‘discrimination’ were they to be treated like all other convicted felons who seek access to the US.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Leave us North Americans alone, you are only jealous! You are still in the mess, that we or our forebearers had the good sense to leave well behind!

    P.S. Bitter Sluggers,

    I had a great long weekend up in Whistler, the slopes were wonderful.

    Skiing is here, wish you were beautiful!

  • New Yorker

    Dear James,

    Thank you for your concern. If SF/IRA weenies approach my farm, I’ll sick my dogs on them who wll eat them for breakfast and then look for a snack. I am very friendly with Catholics and Protestants in my area; especially to ill rector of Creggan Church and Ballymasconlon. He’s done much good inter-religious work, and he did so with the late Cardinal. I’m hardly a blow in, I’ve been there several months a year for over forty years. I know the people and they know me. The SF/IRA reign is coming to an end, and they are squealling like a pig for slaughter.

    Dear Vera,

    Do you know why we Irish Americans call those who stayed behind and did not prosper weenies? Calling somebody obnoxious is another way of saying I’m not smart enough to understand you.

  • Rick

    How did this thread go from “Sinn Fein caught napping?” to a cross-continental verbal barrage?

    Whether you’re Irish, British or American, it seems hard to deny that SF appears to have had the mat pulled out from under them by the robbery and then the reactions. However,as Vera says, a lot can happen between now and May to influence the political elections.

  • Lafcadio

    Paddy – you have to be kidding! Canada is one of the blandest countries I have ever been to..

  • Mick Fealty

    Lads (or lasses) this is getting close to yellow card territory. I would not like to have to lose half our commenters in a single 24 hour period. But if it has to be, it has to be!

  • James

    “Canada is one of the blandest countries I have ever been to.. “

    You confuse bland with polite, eh.

  • mogo

    New yorker to get the lonie vote in the six counties would be an attractive proposition to any party

  • mogo

    freudian slip read loonie for lonie

  • cg

    Mick

    I understand your point on Yellow cards but it has reached past that stage.

    New Yorker keeps spewing clap trap about “You don’t even know there is a growing rebellion against SF/IRA fascism”

    He offers no evidence for this ridiculous claim.

    As for Sinn Féin/IRA fascism he insults the majority of people in South Armagh, myself, my family and nearly everyone I know. This will not be tolerated, especially by an absentee landlord who won’t know reality if it slapped him in the face.

    I have offered loads of evidence to support the truth about South Armagh, what has New Yorker offered?

    No attempt to criminalize the people will be accepted, the Brits tried and failed.

    I have said I will wait to Election Day to wipe the smug smile off his face but this shit about fascism will not be accepted.

    New Yorker

    As for your family credentials, you have my pity if your only involvement in South Armagh was by your great grandfather.

    My family was in the 4th Northern Division and fought in the War of Independence and the civil war. They also fought in the Border campaign and the Troubles so don’t dare insult my family.

    Any true republican will want to be assessed on what he/she has done and not what there family has done.

    Sad!!

  • mogo

    cg calm down young’n 😉

  • cg

    It really pisses me off when people think the people of South Armagh are fair game.
    To describe these proud people as Criminals or fascists gets on my nerves.

    AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now I am calm 😉

  • Vera

    “Do you know why we Irish Americans call those who stayed behind and did not prosper weenies? Calling somebody obnoxious is another way of saying I’m not smart enough to understand you.”

    New Yorker,
    Actually, since I am an American, in this case it’s a way of saying I think some of your ranting about ancestors and birthrights is the kind of thing that makes us all look bad.

  • New Yorker

    Dear cg,

    What do you call people who take families hostage in the course of a bank robbery, knife to death a man in the Markets of Belfast, intimidate their neighbors, pollute the environment with the deitrus of the process of laundering diesel, etc., etc.? I would say that criminal and fascist is a very apt description. 99.9% of the people in South Armagh are good, honorable and law-abiding people. The reference is to the 0.1% that are the problem; and my people in South Armagh have had enough of SF/IRA bad behavior. Your day is over. People have had it with the fascism and criminality. The 35+ years of the reign of terror achieved nothing but trouble and heartbreak to the people of South Armagh. Can you cite any positive achievements of the so called armed struggle, except getting a bunch of jailbirds on the Brit tit? And, we will be taking strong measures here in the States to encourage the end of SF/IRA. Maybe not the May 5th election, but perhaps the one after that SDLP will return to their rightful place as the majority Northern Ireland Catholic party. It won’t be too soon for the suffering SF/IRA has put the good people of South Armagh through.

  • IJP

    Davros

    If you cannot answer Union, Independence or United Ireland, have you considered that that is why the APNI is irrelevent in the big picture?

    As I’ve explained, on the contrary. That’s like asking whether Alliance supports Manchester United. It’s utterly irrelevant, because whether NI is governed from London or Dublin will be decided by referendum, not by election and therefore not by parties. The real question for parties is ‘What type of NI do you seek?’ Only Alliance can answer.

    Only Alliance can answer the question.

    Why do you not ask SF and the SDLP what type of ‘United Ireland’ they seek? If they can’t answer the question (which they can’t), do you suggest they are irrelevant?

    Why do you not ask the DUP or UUs what type of ‘inclusive UK’ they seek? If they can’t answer the question (which they can’t), do you suggest they are irrelevant?

    (The reality is that NI will remain in the UK for the foreseeable future, so Alliance, like anyone sensible, proceeds on that basis. Many of our members might prefer an alternative arrangement in an ideal world, but in this less than ideal world we get on with it based on reality. Again, unlike any of the other parties.)

    Alliance has a clear set of principles and a plan for achieving them based on what our people have in common. The ‘Big Four’ do not, and prefer to focus on what divides them. Now remind me, who precisely is irrelevant?

  • ShayPaul

    IJP

    Alliance has to show more teeth, and less nice nice to everybody.

    You are of course right, but being right is not enough, you’ve got to get the votes …

  • Davros

    Why do you not ask the DUP or UUs what type of ‘inclusive UK’ they seek?

    Because that is irrelevent to the APNI fence-sitting.

    That’s like asking whether Alliance supports Manchester United. It’s utterly irrelevant

    It’s why the APNI has become irrelevent to the bigger picture. The single issue around which our politics revolves is the status of NI. UK/UI/Independence.

  • cg

    New Yorker

    Ah now all is clear, you support the stoops

    Let’s examine this in relation to South Armagh.

    In the last council elections in the Slieve Gullion ward (where your ancestors come from, not you) Sinn Féin had 3 seats and the sdlp 2 after the election Sinn Féin had 4 and the sdlp 1.

    That same sdlp councilor, John Fee was sent packing by the South Armagh people at the assembly election and they elected and extra Sinn Féin MLA.

    At those elections the vote for Sinn Féin rose dramatically along with South Down.

    Come May Conor Murphy will be elected MP, Slieve Gullion ward will have 5 out of 5 Sinn Féin councilors and the people of South Armagh will have given their answer.

    I know this because for the last few weeks I have been involved in heavily canvassing the entire area and know that the Sinn Féin vote has risen yet again.

    Your great sdlp haven’t been seen in South Armagh for years and in most parts are as welcome as the psni or British army.

    New Yorker it’s about time you got your own country in check before you start lecturing the people of South Armagh.

    I can’t wait till the 5th of May

  • Davros

    I can’t wait till the 5th of May

    I hope you will combine your canvassing activities with a collection for the Silver Gravy Boat – April 8 th 😉

  • cg

    “Silver Gravy Boat – April 8 th ;)”

    What?

  • Davros

    The big wedding LOL

  • cg

    Some how I doubt it 😉

  • slackjaw

    A nationalist acquaintance of mine remarked to me recently on how his doorstep interactions with Sinn Fein canvassers had changed over time.

    In the 1980s, when he lived in a solidly nationalist area of town, he would reply to Sinn Fein canvassers ‘of course, Sinn Fein, 1,2,3’, and did so out of a desire not to have his windows broken.

    He says that the last time SF canvassers came to his house, in a mixed area of town, he had the confidence to reply to them ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can ever vote for you after what the IRA did to this town in the 70s and 80s.’. The polite, well-spoken canvassers said they regretted that he felt that way, but thanked him for his time.

    There is a progress of sorts there, I imagine.

  • cg

    Slack jaw

    “In the 1980s, when he lived in a solidly nationalist area of town, he would reply to Sinn Fein canvassers ‘of course, Sinn Fein, 1,2,3’, and did so out of a desire not to have his windows broken”

    Things must have changed because they will now openly tell you in Republican areas weather they will vote Sinn Féin or not, it also helps when you canvass alongside a psychologist, he’s able to tell if they are lying 😉

    Sinn Féin canvassers will always be courteous but will always challenge the person’s views.

    When I canvassed for Alex in South Belfast it was defiantly a new experience but people respected the fact that Republicans would knock any door.

  • slackjaw

    cg,

    ‘it also helps when you canvass alongside a psychologist, he’s able to tell if they are lying ;)’

    LOL

    Just out of interest, when you talk about South Armagh, how far north and west do you go? Would you include Keady, Derrynoose and Middletown?

  • Davros

    cg – when canvassing in Belfast,did people make the point that they would vote for Alex because of his good work as Mayor whereas they wouldn’t vote for a different SF candidate ?

  • cg

    “Would you include Keady, Derrynoose and Middletown?”

    Not really,it is more Mid Armagh but keady is sometimes considered part.

  • cg

    “cg – when canvassing in Belfast, did people make the point that they would vote for Alex because of his good work as Mayor whereas they wouldn’t vote for a different SF candidate ?”

    People defiantly said it was his year as Mayor that finally persuaded them to vote Sinn Féin but that was only in some parts of South Belfast.

    His work as Mayor defiantly helped

  • Davros

    Would those be people who previously abstained, voted SDLP or even APNI or Mainstream Unionist ?
    I know You cannot be precise, but did you get the impression that many from my side of TDF were persuaded, and were people saying they were voting for the man and not core policies ? If I had been in his area I would have told you that he was getting my vote despite his Nationalism.

  • New Yorker

    Dear cg,

    You can never answer the questions. You just go on with a load of fascist BS. I know how you guys canvass, you drive up to a council house in which pensioners live and say, we’ve got this guy, a jailbrid goon, now we’re taking you to the polling station, understand. We’ve had enough of your fascist reign of terror, understand? By the way, if you ever manage to graduate, do you ever think you will ever measure up to my barristers and solicitors in Northern Ireland?

  • IJP

    Davros

    The single issue around which our politics revolves is the status of NI. UK/UI/Independence.

    And do you think this is a good thing? (You are not quite correct, in fact the Agreement only allows UK or UI, nothing else.)

    You yourself quite rightly made the point that Dublin rule tomorrow would make precisely zero difference to your average working family struggling to get by.

    Therefore Alliance’s view on the constitution is twofold:
    – any alternative constitutional settlement must have full agreement (i.e. we must be able to vote on the basis of a detailed deal, not a vague notion); and
    – the ‘constitutional question’ is irrelevant to real politics.

    ShayPaul

    Alliance has to show more teeth, and less nice nice to everybody. You are of course right, but being right is not enough, you’ve got to get the votes …

    This is 100% correct. This, in fact, is why Alliance is teetering on the brink of irrelevance.

  • Davros

    You are not quite correct, in fact the Agreement only allows UK or UI, nothing else.

    Not everybody accepts the agreement IJP.

  • IJP

    Davros

    You said our politics revolves around the question of UK/UI/Independence. Given the latter option is not in the Agreement and is not supported to my knowledge by a single elected rep, in fact it revolves around UK and UI. But my underlying point is that even that is not accurate, because not a single party explains how it will attain its constitutional goal – in fact, it is about whether you are ‘British’ or ‘Irish’ and dividing us up accordingly.

    Alliance opposes such a carve up – not as vehemently as I would like, but you’ve got to start somewhere!

  • Davros

    Are you saying that the reality of APNI position is that it wants joint sivereignty between London and Dublin ?

  • Mick Fealty

    New Yorker. I’m all for directness. There’s not enough of in NI. But be clear, the next time you choose man over ball it will be a Yellow!

  • IJP

    Davros

    Are you saying that the reality of APNI position is that it wants joint sivereignty between London and Dublin ?

    I’m sorry but I cannot even begin to see where you got that from.

    I’ve stated over and over again that the Alliance position is that the people decide whether it’s London or Dublin, and they do so on emotional grounds, therefore it is not a political question, therefore it is no more relevant to a political party than which football team you choose to support. Alliance would insist only on a fair, inclusive deal. Northern Irelanders can be made good in either state already (e.g. President McAleese in Ireland; Lord Hutton in the UK).

    I have stated Alliance’s core principles above, these include accountable local democracy and (qualified) support for EU integration, thus rendering whether it’s London or Dublin that holds the technicality of sovereignty almost irrelevant.

  • Davros

    “Are you saying that the reality of APNI position is that it wants joint sivereignty [sic] between London and Dublin ?”

    I’m sorry but I cannot even begin to see where you got that from.

    Ian – from your writing. I read you as saying that your party wants to avoid the choice between United Ireland and continuance of the Union with GB, and also that Independence is not realistic.
    What else, apart from the politics of the Ostrich, is left except Joint sovereignty ?

  • New Yorker

    Dear Mick,

    You have a fine website. I recommend it to my fellow Irish American friends. However, there are times, because the issues are so grave, that one must question the integrity and credentials of those who hold antisocial, wrong and, quite frankly, stupid views. In my opinion, these SF/IRA people, who in no way represent my people of South Armagh, need to be directly confronted and we need an open and frank discussion about what they are about and what they have achieved by their so-called armed struggle. I respect your sensitivity, but in the real world, the SF/IRA BS campaign is crumbling, especially here in NY in the last week. There has been a major change in the situation over there. SF have totally disgraced Irish Catholics in Ireland, in the States, and wherever we reside. In whatever forum I will debate the issue; I’m in the process of putting together a conference in NY on whah the last 35+ years of so called armed struggle has accomplished, except making a few men very wealthy, makng fools of many others, and causing death and heartbreak. I have the resources to research those who have been oppressing us in South Armagh and I have the resources to put them in their place. So, Mick, is your site up to having a debate on the issues that affect the people of Northern Ireland?

  • JD

    I’ve stated over and over again that the Alliance position is that the people decide whether it’s London or Dublin, and they do so on emotional grounds, therefore it is not a political question, therefore it is no more relevant to a political party than which football team you choose to support.

    So, you are saying that everybody in NI can choose to be which nationality they wish: British or Irish. The Alliance will not interfere in this emotive issue.

    The Alliance presumably will run a sort of “skeleton” of government services for all these British and Irish people, regardless of nationality.

    Presumably all these people will pay tax to the Alliance government. But this government will not be British, not be Irish, not be independent, and not have joint sovereignty with London or Dublin.

    Will it be a regional government with no government stated preferential affinity with either Ireland or Britain, but no independent status? What would that government look like? Could it support itself without going to either government? Or would it take support from both?

    Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

  • cg

    “In my opinion, these SF/IRA people, who in no way represent my people of South Armagh”

    When exactly were you “elected” as king of South Armagh?

    You don’t speak for the people of South Armagh you don’t have any mandate. You wouldn’t even have the political clout to get the bins emptied.

    “the SF/IRA BS campaign is crumbling”

    What evidence do you have of any “SF/IRA BS campaign” and how is this fictional campaign crumbling?

    “There has been a major change in the situation over there”

    You’re damn right; people are trying to criminalise Sinn Féin and the 342,000 people who vote for us.

    “I have the resources to research those who have been oppressing us in South Armagh”

    For the last time you are an American, you don’t live in South Armagh.

    As for the people who have oppressed the South Armagh population it doesn’t require much recourses, they still have watchtowers in the area and are called the RUC/PSNI and the British army.

  • IJP

    Davros and JD

    With respect, you need to read the whole thread from the original question. In the context of the whole thread, your comments make no sense.

    Fraggle was kind enough to repeat Alliance’s position that it supports the principle of consent.

    Therefore, to get to JD’s practicalities, we will pay tax to a British Government if that’s what the majority wants, and to an Irish Government if that’s what the majority wants.

    But don’t ignore the point: do you know of a single elected rep in NI who has switched from Nationalist to Unionist or the other way? No. That’s because it is not a political decision based on what’s right for NI, it’s an emotional decision based on background. People don’t suddenly think ‘You know, those Unionists/Nationalists were right and I was wrong…’

    Alliance can’t come out and say ‘We’re going to try to persuade all Nationalists to be Unionist’ or ‘We’re going to try to persuade all Unionists to be Nationalist’, because that simply doesn’t happen. It would be impossible to represent people from all backgrounds while identifying with one. And it’s impossible to be democratic if you don’t at least attempt to represent all backgrounds.

    In short, Nationalist and Unionist politics are incompatible with democracy. And Alliance supports democracy.

  • Davros

    do you know of a single elected rep in NI who has switched from Nationalist to Unionist or the other way? No

    Yes …Billy Leonard. Ex OO , now SF.

  • cg

    “Yes …Billy Leonard. Ex OO , now SF”

    That is untrue Davros

    You should know that just because someone is protestant doesn’t make them Unionist and vise versa

  • Davros

    cg – he certainly was in the RUC and I think he was also OO. I’ll happily retract the OO part if incorrect , but as your President Gerry Adams pointed out, one cannot be in the Police and be a nationalist or republican 😉

  • cg

    Billy is not in the police though, is he?

  • Davros

    Billy is not in the police though, is he?

    That’s right, he’s not – therefore he has crossed the divide, which was the point I was making .
    IJP claims that “it’s an emotional decision based on background” …and Billy’s background isn’t Republican.

  • cg

    “IJP claims that “it’s an emotional decision based on background” …and Billy’s background isn’t Republican”

    I agree with you there but I would never listen to Alliance anyway 😉

  • Davros

    LOL – well, apologies to BL if he wasn’t in the OO and I’ll shut up now!

  • cg

    “I’ll shut up now”

    That is progress espically from a Derry wan 😉

  • Davros

    I’m a blow-in on the Antrim border 😉

  • cg

    LOL, you aren’t the only blow-in on this thread 😉

  • New Yorker

    Dear cg,

    I am a South Armagh man from a very good family line. I am proud of my credentials. You cannot cite any bona fides. Other than, of course, dragging pensioners from their homes to force them to vote for a dreary aging jailbird from Camlough. The watchtowers got the photo evidence on yer man from Ballybinaby, so they have proved their usefullness. We’ll get rid of them when you go our of business. Have another bag of crisps and watch a rerun of Eastenders. That’s your limit, you have no South Armagh credentials, you support a bunch of jailbird losers, if you ever are able to get professional membership, you won’t have clients like me, see how much business the jailbirds give you!

  • cg

    “I am a South Armagh man from a very good family line. I am proud of my credentials. You cannot cite any bona fides”

    I don’t need to rely on any family lines to be a South Armagh man; you do because you are an American.

    “Other than, of course, dragging pensioners from their homes to force them to vote for a dreary aging jailbird from Camlough”

    Care to offer evidence or do you consider your false grip of reality enough?

    “The watchtowers got the photo evidence on yer man from Ballybinaby”

    Sorry but that watchtower was taken done, something you would know if you lived in South Armagh.

    “We’ll get rid of them when you go our of business”

    What?

    “Have another bag of crisps and watch a rerun of Eastenders”

    What are you jabbering on about?

    “you have no South Armagh credentials”

    I don’t need any, I am from South Armagh

    “if you ever are able to get professional membership, you won’t have clients like me”

    Thanks be to god!

    There really isn’t any point continuing with this farcical nonsense because you are delusional and out of touch with reality.

    We will talk again on May 5th

  • New Yorker

    Dear cg,

    You’re right on one point. I like to slug it out on Slugger, but it is unfair when a light weight is in the ring with a heavy weight. If you have any influence with the jailbirds and can get, say, the dreary jailbird from Camlough who is running for office on the site to have a real man to man debate, I’d love it. You’re so out of touch you don’t even know what watchtowers I am referring to. So, have another bag of crisps, watch more reruns of the Eastenders, look forward to selling AP on the streets of Newry and intimidating pensioners to go vote for your party of goons who only harm the good peole of South Armagh. Just because you claim to be born in South Armagh means nothing, you’ve got to prove yourself, so far you’re doing a poor job of it Come back to me when you can get a heavy weight to debate. Meantime, enjoy the Taytos!

  • ShayPaul

    New Yorker

    This site is for debate, not insulting drivel.

    Please play the ball and not the man, as this gets in the way of serious points we are trying to discuss.

  • New Yorker

    Dear ShayPaul,

    Have you looked at all the posts on this discussion? I’ve raised the issues, namely, the dream of a 32 county socalist republic is rejected by the Catholics of NI. The SF/IRA for at least the last ten years have conducted a reign of terror in my part of the country. They put up a bunch of dreary jailbird candidates for office, when we want the best and the brightest. That’s the ball. Can you play with it? When someone is incapable of playing the ball, the heavy weight taunts the weenie to get into the ring. That’s what happening here. So far, they cannot play the ball.

  • IJP

    Davros

    I am well aware of Billy Leonard, just as I am of Sir John Gorman etc etc.

    That’s why I deliberately did not say ‘religious background’. After all, there are Catholics who support Rangers and Protestants who support Celtic.

    My point stands: UI v UK is not a political decision (although either can be explained rationally), it is an emotional one based on (broad) cultural background.

    I should add there’s a huge number of people, including me, who genuinely don’t care either/any way. But I would add that there are people in Alliance who do care, some one way, some the other. Regardless, Alliance is open to all those who seek genuine democracy with no preconditions.

  • Davros

    IJP – it’s nonsensical to pretend other than that for our purposes unionist community equates to Protestant and nationalist community equates to RC.
    When you talk of this being cultural you are taking us to ethnicity and the most accurate ethnic marker in NI is religious.

  • cg

    I don’t agree Davros, I am a Republican and my religion has nothing to do with it.

  • Davros

    We are not talking about individual decisons cg, we are discussing the division in the 6 Counties.

  • New Yorker

    Dear Davros,

    Thank you for your reply. Be assured, we Catholics of South Armagh totally reject any arguments for a 32 county socalist republic Ireland, we’re very capable capitalists and think socalism is idiotic.

    Moreover, we want the reign of terror to end. We want these people gone, too bad they are getting sustenance at the Brit tit and cannot stand on their own two feet.

    [edited] Yellow Card NY. Keep to the issues rather than personalities, please!

  • cg

    New Yorker

    Are you serious?

  • New Yorker

    Dear Moderator,

    I’m debating the issues. It is just that no opponents can step into the ring.

    By the way, I’m recommending this site to my many American friends. We believe in intellectual pugalism, as I believe you do. I look forward to a vigorous debate, if there are any men or women out there who can take me on. This is where blogging gets very important and interesting.

  • Mick Fealty

    NY, just remember to land your blows on issues rather the messengers!

  • cg

    “pugalism”

    What’s that?

  • New Yorker

    Dear Mick,

    The blows are landing on the issues. There is no one who can step into the ring and debate on an intellectual level. I’ve challenged my oposition, and they are not up to the task. Can’t you guys over there step up to a debate about the so-called philosophy of SF/IRA and the great harm they have inflicted on the Catholic people of South Armagh? If any of the goon midgets can step into the ring and debate me, I look forward to it. You should be encouraging such a debate, it goes to the heart of the issue and what we have been suffering from in South Armagh.

  • mogo

    I am a republican and my religion has nothig to do with it..

    i disagree cg
    wise man once say “if i wasn’t a taig i’d be a prod”

  • cg

    mogo

    On what basis do you disagree, I am not a devout Catholic

    My Republicanism is totally secular

  • mogo

    cg i’m always sceptical( not of you personnally) because there aren’t many republicans born in the shankill or portevogie (and i appreciate they were born under their own govt etc.) btw i don’t for a second doubt your sincerity but although i am absolutely convinced we’re right we are still products of our environment

  • cg

    In South Armagh we were never brought up sectarian, now doubt there are some that were but the vast majority weren’t. Due to this fact your Republicanism tended to be secular and your opposite wasn’t Protestants but stoops 😉

    It’s similar in other areas across the 6 counties and the Island as a whole.

  • mogo

    cg neither was i thanks what i’m sayin is can we put our hand on our hearts and say if we were brought up in another environment in the troubles would we make a conscious decision to be republican and i will refrain from answerin the nasty attack on us city slickers without whom there’d be no movement 😉

  • cg

    City ones
    LOL, HA HA
    wee boys compared to the country lads 😉

  • mogo

    oh here comes the dirt..from the safety of dundalk LOL 😉

  • cg

    “oh here comes the dirt..from the safety of dundalk”

    What about Dundalk 😉

  • IJP

    Davros

    Of course religious denomination is a fairly accurate marker, not least because it also generally decides which school you go to (‘Catholic Maintained’ vs. ‘State [Protestant]’) and that in turn ties into your cultural background. How many people who attended Catholic Maintained schools are in Unionist parties? How many who attended State schools in NI are in Nationalist parties? Very few.

    However, it is not the only one. For example, a family friend is Protestant, attended a State school, and (but?) is Socialist (at least by self-identification) and (therefore?) supports a ‘United Ireland’ (without necessarily describing herself as ‘Nationalist’). The fact her father was a trade unionist is part of her background and is, in this albeit unusual case, more decisive in her deciding to be exclusively Irish and not at all British (by ‘national identification’) than her religious denomination.

    But let’s not split hairs. My point stands. Very very very few people sit down and objectively and rationally determine whether they would rather NI was in the UK or in an all-Ireland State. Even when they do, they usually come up with a specific set of proposals which would not have the support of any of the ‘Big Four’ parties, because they don’t have specific proposals! Indeed, I have come up with specific proposals for all three options that in practice are much of a muchness, yet when I presented one set on this site (for a ‘United Ireland’) it was Nationalists who shot me down in flames! And that is the point – it’s not about constitutional settlement, it’s about an overall democratic deal we can all buy into.

    Problem is, that requires compromise. And people don’t much like voting for that!

  • mogo

    couldn’t say a bad word aboutthe place.. bastion of freedom 😉 btw is there still a “sheilagh” disco down there

  • mogo

    o.k ijp seein yer up so late and i know its off thread but how does your lord mayor voting for the rir dinner in the city hall but against st paddys parade square with a plague on both your houses

  • Davros

    IJP – I would incline to socialism and I would describe myself as a republican. I would also like to see the end of the border, but none of that means I support nationalism.

    What about Dundalk 😉

    So bad it was relegated to Leinster 😉

  • IJP

    Hi Mogo

    Not quite as late as you!

    I don’t live in Belfast City Council and so I don’t know the full details. Why not address your query to ‘my Lord Mayor’ and report his answer here?

    I have no doubt, however, that an Alliance group on the Council would be delighted to support an inclusive St Patrick’s Day parade/festival. It’s up to the organizers to take responsibility for securing that, and to de-politicize the day.

    Hi Davros

    You’re a good example yourself then!

    In an ideal world, I’d like to see borders made as redundant as possible. In this less-than-ideal world we have to work with the situation in which we find ourselves.

  • mogo

    IJP
    Actually it was early, you were up he wasn’t and he wouldn’t answer my representatives so whats the chances..Billy Hutchinson voted for funding the St. Paddy’s bash Tom Ekin voted against

  • Davros

    In this less-than-ideal world we have to work with the situation in which we find ourselves.

    I agree – which is why the APNI attempt to pretend that the question of Union with GB or UI isn’t central to NI politics has led to it’s marginalisation.

  • IJP

    Davros

    which is why the APNI attempt to pretend that the question of Union with GB or UI isn’t central to NI politics has led to it’s marginalisation.

    When did Alliance ever pretend that? It didn’t.

    It has simply sought to show that making it central to NI politics gets us nowhere. Can anyone seriously dispute Alliance is right in that regard?

    Marginalization has come about partly because of Alliance’s own communications/strategic failures, but mainly because many people want to believe that suddenly Catholics will all become British or that suddenly 1169 will be revisited (and that pending that moment the English will pay for all our petty games), and few want to be told that compromise and consensus are necessary for real progress.

    But lest we forget non-unionist/nationalist candidates achieved their highest overall vote for a generation last summer… we haven’t gone away, you know!

  • IJP

    Mogo

    You’ll excuse me for trusting Tom Ekin more than Billy Hutchinson. You’ll also excuse me for not worrying too much about funding for a party and this particular moment in the political process.

    By all means contact Mr Ekin’s office on Monday. In the meantime, if you’re close to those organizing the festival, tell them to show some responsibility and make it genuinely a-political and inclusive. If they can do that, we’ll work together to make Belfast’s St Patrick’s bash the best anywhere.

  • Davros

    Marginalization has come about partly because of Alliance’s own communications/strategic failures, but mainly because many people want to believe that suddenly Catholics will all become British or that suddenly 1169 will be revisited (and that pending that moment the English will pay for all our petty games), and few want to be told that compromise and consensus are necessary for real progress.

    None of this is Personal Ian, I like and respect you and value your opinions, I’m addressing your party here:
    it’s because people inside the party think like that that has made voters look elsewhere. By all means take satisfaction (self-satisfaction)in being a Voice crying out in the wilderness. But to achieve anything you need to come out of the wilderness, and remember what happened to John the Baptist.

  • aquifer

    “people respected the fact that Republicans would knock any door.”

    The Worker’s Party did it years ago, and deserve respect.

    How do we know the RM is not just looking for policemen’s homes or clearing safe areas for PIRA?

  • IJP

    Davros

    I reciprocate your kind words at the start of your latest and appreciate you were addressing the party.

    However, I disagree with your thesis. There are several reasons for this, but basically: I believe far more than 4% of the population would sympathize with Alliance’s principles outlined above. Evidence would include:
    – Alliance’s past vote, which once approached 15%;
    – Alliance’s ability to attract transfers (it must have done, to hold 6 seats on a lower vote in Nov 03); and
    – Deeny’s triumph in West Tyrone and Gilliland’s 7% (plus suggested 15% second-preference).
    This shows that you can stand outside the divisive ethnic struggle and get big votes, so Alliance’s base principle cannot be the reason for it receiving only 4% (and declining). Furthermore, Alliance’s so-called ‘marginalization’ is nowhere near as bad as parties of comparative size in 1998 (e.g. UKUP went from 5 to 1), which again indicates the principles aren’t the problem.

    You can go into a great deal of analysis about this, and certain things (like the general growth of the extremes or the media’s discriminatory policy against ‘non-labelled’ candidates) do not help. But basically Alliance’s problem is the same as the UUs’ and the SDLP’s (in fact, I believe it is worse still in the latter two cases) – namely a lack of well-presented apparently coherent political strategy/vision and poor communications. The DUP and SF have apparent visions, or even ’causes’ (‘A Fair Deal’ and ‘An Ireland of Equals’) and excellent communications meaning everyone in the party is on message. This, plus hard work on the ground, is responsible for their success at the expense of the rest of us. As a PR man myself I can’t help but admire that side of their operations!

    So, in short, I stand by my own thesis: Alliance’s problem is not its principles (far from it), but rather presentation of those principles in the context of the growth of the extremes. Unlike others, however, Alliance is at least aware of the problem!

  • Davros

    Ian , am I right when I say that APNI vote was strongest ( as you say 15% odd) when it WAS an openly Pro-Union Party ?

  • IJP

    Davros

    That’s an interesting point. As I understand it, Alliance was never ‘openly pro-Union’, but it was clearer about the fact that the consent principle meant maintenance of the Union for the foreseeable future.

    For example, its Governing with Consent document in 1988 clearly refers to power-sharing as a devolved region of the UK being the most likely way forward. But lest anyone accuse Alliance of being ‘Unionist’, I would point out that that is exactly the deal supported by SF and the SDLP ten years later…

    In short, voting for Alliance won’t get you a ‘United Ireland’ any time soon. But voting for SDLP or SF won’t get you a ‘United Ireland’ any time soon either. And back we go to my original point, that how you vote doesn’t affect that issue so we really should get on with real politics… 🙂