Planning for a united Ireland

One thing that’s immediately obvious when spending any time in and around Leinster House is the general indifference towards a united Ireland. There is also a heavy workload facing the Oireachtas, especially in regard of monitoring EU directives. But Jarlath Kearney reports on Sinn Fein’s latest call for a Green Paper on the subject.

The party’s proposals to progress “practical planning for a united Ireland” include urging the Taoiseach’s office to bring forward a green paper within 12 months, which would involve an intensive consultation process across the island.

The draft green paper would then be referred to a specially constituted Oireachtas joint committee on Irish unity, to include input from political representatives across the island. A minister of state solely responsible for the progress and co-ordination of all-Ireland activity would also be appointed.

Sinn Féin is calling for a substantial increase in the number of North-South bodies and in the resources made available to them, specifically the expansion of the North/South Ministerial Council and the existing implementation bodies.

The party also wants to see the establishment of an all-Ireland consultative civic forum and an all-Ireland interparliamentary forum — both of which were set out in the Good Friday agreement.

  • Ringo

    I’d say indifference is a mild way of putting it, Mick. It would probably rapidly turn to panic if a border poll looked like going through.

    As Sinn Fein keep pointing out, we’ve more than enough on our plate down here what with a health service that’s on its knee’s, running tribunals to deal with corrupt ex-ministers, nevermind trying to find time to put humpty-dumpty together again.

    Now I know Gerry and co are only dying to give us a hand out, but too many chef’s…

    And it looks like the indifference extends to the press too, is there any sign of this story in the media in the Republic where the Dáils deputies are actually elected and legislate?

  • drumcree

    Interesting article – this constitutes real politics, involving the creation of convincing arguments and the art of political persuasion. If only this could be what Sinn Fein and the retired ranks of the IRA could focus upon, as opposed to the variety of other ancillary activities which are currently undermining the political process.

    However what should be very clear, is that just as the British Government was required to step back from being a promoter of the union of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, equally the Irish Government has an obligation not to be a promoter of a United Ireland, or produce Green papers in that regard. That’s what the political process within Northern Ireland should be there for.

    It also prompts the reminder that unionists should start thinking proactively and creatively about strategies to develop the value of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, and the role and activities which the British Irish Council could undertake to progress that agenda.

  • Keith M

    To use my mother’s great phrase “have they nothing important to be worried about?”. Where are the green papers on the effects of global warming, on how to are going to deal with a nuclear disaster, a huge meteor hitting the earth, the volcano under Yellowstone blowing Norther America apart and putting Ireland under a tsunami. All of these are far more likely to occur than a “united Ireland”.

  • tadgh

    Keith –

    I’m not so sure that a united Ireland is unlikely. From my perspective it seems an absolute inevitability. Since no one can read the future, I can’t say exactly when or exactly how. Cross border bodies and ministerial councils seem a good start.

    Perhaps I’ve succumbed to the SF propaganda machine or maybe I just realize that apartheid and partition aren’t sustainable – whether it’s North of Ireland, South Africa, Palestine, etc.

  • James

    It’s the elephant in the room, isn’t it?

    Possibly the only thing the Cruiser and I will ever agree on as well.

  • Fraggle

    whatever happens, the demographics of the north are moving inexorably towards a majority of those from a (roman) catholic background (which includes hardcore athiests like me). go look at the age breakdown in the 2001 census – there is an overwhelming protestant majority in the older agegroups and a catholic (roman again) majority in the under 25 agegroup (which means under 29 now) whatever happens regarding the union, we will be in a position to decide what we want.

    in the meantime, we could do with getting rid of the gangsters who are holding the place back, improve the economy (particularly the economy of the west of NI) so that unity isn’t stymied by the economic cost to the south.

  • IJP

    Hi Tadgh

    From my perspective it seems an absolute inevitability.

    Most Nationalists say that, but they can never explain why! Can you?

  • willowfield

    tadgh

    I’m not so sure that a united Ireland is unlikely. From my perspective it seems an absolute inevitability. Since no one can read the future, I can’t say exactly when or exactly how.

    So no-one can read the future, but it’s an “absolute inevitability”. Right.

    Perhaps I’ve succumbed to the SF propaganda machine or maybe I just realize that apartheid and partition aren’t sustainable – whether it’s North of Ireland, South Africa, Palestine, etc.

    So you don’t think a Palestinian state will ever come into existence?

  • Ringo

    Tadgh

    The single biggest reason why I think that unification is highly unlikey to occur is that idealism doesn’t last a week in government. Fianna Fáil – the Republican Party have been in government in the republic for the best part of a century and we in the republic are more comfortable with the border now than ever before.

    Yet the whole unification project is founded on idealism and little else. Talk of inevitablity while conceding that you don’t know how or when is fantasy stuff, but at least it is harmless.

    However, your assertion that partition is unsustainable, so we’ll end up with a United Ireland, displays either downright ignorance or utter comtempt for those in the North who would consider the dissolution of the union with the rest of the UK and the formation of a united Ireland a new form of partition for them.

  • barnshee

    I never ceased to be amazed by posters who assume that a UI will result if prods fall into a numerical minority –They simply won`y join -who will “force them” How? Repartition is inevitable NOT a UI

  • Davros

    barnshee – the ratio prod/RC isn’t the decider. The reality is that the decider will be the % of RCs who support the continuance of the Union with GB.

  • Ringo

    Davros –

    do the people in the republic not get a say in this too? Are we obliged to accept a UI just because a majority in the North wants it?

  • willowfield

    The formula in the Belfast Agreement is for votes both north and south.

  • Davros

    do the people in the republic not get a say in this too? Are we obliged to accept a UI just because a majority in the North wants it?

    Yes. Unless I misunderstand the law, the People of the ROI overwhelmingly voted for just that,that Ireland, under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, will Unite if and when the people of NI give the go-ahead .

  • Davros

    In which case I stand corrected. but under the terms of the GFA and as things stand , the ones not wanting unification are the northerners. As substantially more members of the RC community favour maintenance of the Union with GB than members of the Prod community favour UI, then the reality is that the crucial % is not the sectarian head count if and when we reach 50% + 1 but the % of RCs who favour the Union with GB.

  • George

    Davros,
    you are incorrect here.

    There has to be a referendum north and south if there is to be a unified Irish state.

    There is currently no provision for a united Ireland in the Irish constitution, merely an aspiration. The whole constitution would probably have to be rewritten.

    Also, the crucial % is equally the number of northern Protestants who favour unification.

  • willowfield

    Why would the whole constitution have to be rewritten?

  • Fraggle

    when the two (main) communities reach parity, wouldn’t the british want to encourage unification to get shot of the place. over the next couple of decades, we are going to have a gradual greening in every council. every unionist majority will become slimmer, every nationalist majority will become stronger. electoral boundaries will shift as the higher death rate in places like east belfast shrink the electorate.

    a nationalist majority is years away so unification isn’t a serious option to the general population. when the numbers make it a plausable proposition, the arguments can be put to the population. until then, why should the average punter worry about something that’s not going to happen. whatever happens, eventually the continuence of the union with great britain will be at the sufferance of the catholic population.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    a question?

    Why don’t you read it yourself and make your own judgements as to why it would have to be changed to accommodate a further six counties?

  • Ringo

    when the two (main) communities reach parity, wouldn’t the british want to encourage unification to get shot of the place.

    FFS fraggle, at least make the effort to sell the idea to us!! What would we want with a bunch of rejected Britons? 😉

  • Fraggle

    Ringo, the six counties would be of a lot more use fully integrated into the republic than the present situation. britain has no economic use for NI. it is a waste of british taxpayers money, something that the unionists never seem quite grateful enough for. (thinking of Lady Hermon standing up in the hoouse of commons complaining about the cost of the assembly – a large part of which goes to paying fat saleries for her constituents).

    the value of the six counties to the republic and the value of the six counties to britain are two different things. running northern ireland from britain is more inefficient than integrating it into the republic would be.

    remember that the irish economic expansion is running into bottlenecks concerning available labour. there is plenty of available labour in northern ireland. nothing would shift people off the DLA like a good job.

    Also, we are just as irish as you and are entitled to our republic as much as you are.

  • willowfield

    George

    Why don’t you read it yourself and make your own judgements as to why it would have to be changed to accommodate a further six counties?

    I’ve no reason to read it to make that judgement. Obviously it will have to be changed!

    Now stop your evading and answer the question.

    Fraggle

    Ringo, the six counties would be of a lot more use fully integrated into the republic than the present situation.

    How?

    britain has no economic use for NI. it is a waste of british taxpayers money

    So why is it better for ROI taxpayers to “waste” their money? Especially when per capita it would cost them a hell of a lot more than UK taxpayers.

    running northern ireland from britain is more inefficient than integrating it into the republic would be.

    How’s that?

    remember that the irish economic expansion is running into bottlenecks concerning available labour. there is plenty of available labour in northern ireland.

    We live in a single market. There is free movement of labour. Nothing to stop the Republic employing people from NI.

    Also, we are just as irish as you and are entitled to our republic as much as you are.

    Not while most other people don’t want one!

  • Davros

    Also, the crucial % is equally the number of northern Protestants who favour unification.

    There’s Billy Leonard and I presume Ivan Cooper…
    Get real George.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    why bother answering one question which will lead to three more when all I have to do is recommend you read the Irish Constitution yourself and make your own decisions.

    In other words, I’m cutting out the middle man on this one, namely me. I’ll gladly discuss it with you but I’m not going to do all the work for you.

  • George

    Davros,
    that’s the current situation but that is not to say that will be the situation in 20 years time or 40 years.

    Why do you believe that Northern Irish Protestants will stand as a one as unionists ad infinitum?

    Stranger things have happened on this island of ours. Unification must mean unity.

  • willowfield

    George

    why bother answering one question which will lead to three more when all I have to do is recommend you read the Irish Constitution yourself and make your own decisions.

    Sorry, George. I’ve no idea what you’re on about. You’re like an obstinate teenage child.

    Just answer the question, George. Why would the whole constitution have to be rewritten?

  • George

    Willowfield,
    why don’t you stop asking questions and just read it yourself rather than getting upset at me and slinging the insults for not kowtowing to your whim.

    All the answers you need are in there. Compare it to the situation in Northern Ireland and the situation you would like to continue even if the union ends and join the dots. You’re intelligent so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

    I’ll give you one dot to start you off:

    Article 8, section 1. “The Irish language as the national language is the first official language.”

    Here it is.

  • Davros

    that’s the current situation but that is not to say that will be the situation in 20 years time or 40 years.

    That’s true

    Why do you believe that Northern Irish Protestants will stand as a one as unionists ad infinitum?

    1) I’m not sure it’s logical to add that comment George. WE were after all discussing the reality of now.

    2) I’ll try and address your question –

    as long as militant republicans in the form of those Mr Hydes in SF, PIRA and dissidents exist , and as long as there is constant vilification of our culture and what are seen as attempted denials of our rights , as long as a United Ireland is seen as a Cold House for many of us, then the “other” will seem sinister and threatening enough to ensure cohesion.

    Sean Lemass summed up his impression of Northern Nationalists after his visit here in 1965 …

    From the nationalists that he met in the North, however, Lemass concluded that
    “for them the day partition ended would be the day they would get their foot on the throat of the Orangeman across the road”. For all too many of the northern nationalists the aim has not been civil rights, but revenge.

    Behaviour seen around the proposed visit to Cork suggests that for some …..

    And It has to be said – that the OO from the North is welcomed in Donegal and not in Cork or Dublin could be said to prove that Ulster IS sufficiently different from Munster, Leinster and Connacht to justify continuance of partition. Those in Donegal have moved on from the old sectarian hatreds and quarrels, yet the other provinces still cling to them.

  • willowfield

    George

    I’ve already explained above that I’ve no reason to read the constitution to make the judgement that it will have to be changed!

    Now just answer the question and enough of your teenage evasions. What is your problem? Why would the whole constitution have to be rewritten?

  • Ringo

    Also, we are just as irish as you and are entitled to our republic as much as you are.

    Fraggle – if I ever gave the impression that I saw myself as being more Irish than you then I apologise. I don’t.

    But it is futile to suggest that differences doesn’t exist between yourselves and ourselves after spending more than 80 years of different societies. And compounded by the different histories of the last 30 odd years.

    As simple indication of the fact that a sense of otherness is now firmly entrenched is the frequency with which people here will refer to someone as a northener, from the north, etc..
    While someone from Wexford which is just as far away is defined by some other characteristic other than where they are from. This might not be the case in the border counties, but once you go beyond, loath as they may be to admit it, they see the north as being a different place altogether.

    and are entitled to our republic as much as you are.

    Indeed you are.

    If you want a republic, why not an independent NI Republic north of the border? But it really is none of my business what sort political arrangement that you have in the north so long as it doesn’t impinge on my state. Unification would. And the spillover of a poisonous mix of politics, paramilitarism and organised crime does too.

    The priority for nationalists shouldn’t be integrating with the Republic, it should be integrating with the other side. We’re not the solution to anything.

  • Fraggle

    Ringo, you must be very old to have spent 80 years in any society.

  • George

    Because we would be a 32 county country emcompassing a completely different range of people, with different needs and expectations than the current population, Willowfield.

    The constitution would have to change to reflect this and to protect their specific needs otherwise we’d be in the Supreme Court every second week – an expensive business.

    Taoiseach Costello as far back as 1954 made this admission/realisation. If you read it, you might understand.

  • IJP

    Lads lads… this is the same tired old debate we’ve had countless times.

    Clearly those who seek a ‘United Ireland’ will see the statistics and international parallels in their favour. Clearly those who seek maintenance of the Union with see the statistics and international parallels in their favour. That’s a given, there’s no need to repeat it.

    Tadgh‘s claim was that a ‘United Ireland’ was inevitable. I’d still be interested to hear why he, or anyone else, thinks this – i.e. leaving aside questionable statistic trends and inappropriate international parallels!

  • ShayPaul

    IJP

    Why ?

    Because nothing else has worked.

  • Ringo

    Ringo, you must be very old to have spent 80 years in any society.

    Indeed, doesn’t that just go to show that there is pretty much no personal experience of a pre-partition Ireland left? It is an anachronism.

    Might make a good film though :- some bearded lunatic with millions in cash lying around decides spend it on a hair brained project to bring the past to life on a remote island, ending with tragic consequences for all involved….

  • slug9987

    “Indeed, doesn’t that just go to show that there is pretty much no personal experience of a pre-partition Ireland left? It is an anachronism.”

    It is an interesting thought.

    Not so long ago, maybe 10 years ago, I spoke with some 80-somethings who said that they grew up with Ireland being Ireland and there being no Northern Ireland (as they put it). My oldest acquaintances today do not remember pre-partition.

    Similar with those who fought in the First World War. I think there are only a few dozen left in France.

    This loss of living human memory is for some reason a poignant thought.

  • idunnomeself

    i thought this was going to be a list of amendments SF was going to make to make the Irish State more attractive for Unionists.

    I wait with baited breath for them to call for actions like rejoining the commonwealth, a human rights act, policing reform (including quota of Protestant recruits), the removal of all barriers to public life and education for those with no Irish etc etc.

  • Fraggle

    “policing reform (including quota of Protestant recruits)”

    more sensible just to transfer over the existing PSNI.

    “the removal of all barriers to public life and education for those with no Irish etc etc.”

    probably necessary.

    “a human rights act,”

    is there not a pan-european one that does the job? in any case, the human rights record of the present republic is hardly the worst.

    “rejoining the commonwealth”

    what for? forgive me for asking but apart from organize a big sports event every so often, what does the commonwealth do? what are the benefits in membership etc. what are the costs?

  • IJP

    ShayPaul

    I didn’t ask why a United Ireland, I asked why it is inevitable.

    Mind, seems to me partition worked alright for the Republic in the end, maybe that’s Ringo‘s point?

  • fair_deal

    Tadgh

    “Perhaps I’ve succumbed to the SF propaganda machine or maybe I just realize that apartheid and partition aren’t sustainable – whether it’s North of Ireland, South Africa, Palestine, etc.”

    The proposed solution in the Holy Lands is PARTITION.

  • Malachy

    Mind, seems to me partition worked alright for the Republic in the end, maybe that’s Ringo’s point?

    When was in the end ? Was there a date or was it just a period of time by which fat-arsed complacency became a element of Southern culture ?

  • maca

    fair_deal
    “The proposed solution in the Holy Lands is PARTITION”

    Which means nothing really.

  • Davros

    Maca- it suggests that partition of Ireland isn’t out of place in the 21st century ?

  • fair_deal

    Maca

    Tadgh was arguing that the end of partition was inevtiable but a comparison was the inevitability of a Palestinian state which would be created by the partition of the Holy Lands. This is a contradiction in his argument.

  • maca

    OK, i was just taking the statement on it’s own, I hadn’t read Tadgh’s post.

  • George

    Davros,
    “as long as militant republicans in the form of those Mr Hydes in SF, PIRA and dissidents exist , and as long as there is constant vilification of our culture and what are seen as attempted denials of our rights , as long as a United Ireland is seen as a Cold House for many of us, then the “other” will seem sinister and threatening enough to ensure cohesion”

    You associate a united Ireland with the IRA and Sinn Fein and a cold house as if remaining in the union will eventually lead to stability, equality, democracy and prosperity. It has been a cold place for 85 years and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

    Also, vilifying your culture (is the word MOPE appropriate here?) is a bit strong. People can’t remain silent if sectarian, bullying attitudes like those at Drumcree are masquerading as “culture”.

    The way you go on, you would swear Irish culture hasn’t been vilified in Northern Ireland on an institutionalised basis for decades.

    All I know is that there isn’t an annual burning of British symbols in the Irish Republic but there is an annual burning of Irish symbols in Northern Ireland including my national flag. How many people in Northern Ireland have been brought to book for this incitement to hatred? Zero I believe.

    As for NI Orangemen being welcome in Donegal, the Orange Order are welcome if they are a cultural institution or religious group, they are not welcome if they are part of a sectarian agenda.

    The OO in Rossnowlagh and those who go there from over the border are part of the former group.

    The Portadown posse are part of the latter or is attacking police now a cultural activity?

    The people of Cork would trust the people of Donegal, the trust isn’t there for those from Northern Ireland.

    The Orange Order has to earn that trust before it can be treated as just another cultural or religious organisation. It still has a way to go.

  • Davros

    As for NI Orangemen being welcome in Donegal, the Orange Order are welcome if they are a cultural institution or religious group, they are not welcome if they are part of a sectarian agenda.

    That was WHY they were invited – to represent their cultural and religious institution George – and they were at pains to stress that they wouldn’t be accompanied by any Blood and Thunder bands. It speaks buckets for the Ireland you want that there is to be Cultural apartheid – that Irish men and women from NI can only be allowed to go about their lawful pursuits within Ulster …. and then you wonder why my community look upon people like you with distrust ?

    You associate a united Ireland with the IRA and Sinn Fein and a cold house as if remaining in the union will eventually lead to stability, equality, democracy and prosperity.

    Setting up straw men George. A question was asked and got a reply that directly answered the question without any such nonsense being implied.
    Please stick to what I write.

    Also, vilifying your culture (is the word MOPE appropriate here?) is a bit strong. People can’t remain silent if sectarian, bullying attitudes like those at Drumcree are masquerading as “culture”.

    again , you wander off led by your own prejudices.
    you asked a dodgy question and as I pointed out I have tried to answer it on behalf of my community.
    You have – possibly subconsciously – implied that the only culture in my community is that of the Johnny Adair antics at Drumcree. I find that both revealing and insulting.

    “you would swear Irish culture hasn’t been vilified in Northern Ireland on an institutionalised basis for decades”

    right , so in your book the ONLY Irish Culture is what you are comfortable with George … that’s very revealing. Nothing from my community is, in your eyes, “Irish” …it has to be green or gaelic or deedly-dee …. You answered your own question with that spectacular piece of chauvinism George.

  • George

    Davros,
    I am merely accepting what the representatives of unionism have said time and time again, namely that they are British and not Irish.

    The DUP says nowhere that it represents Irishness while the UUP says it is “simply British”.

    You yourself claim that the difference between Ulster and the other three provinces is justification for partition (even justification for partitioning Ulster itself apparently) but now you’re back being Irish again, but stating at the same time that there are two separate Irish cultures.

    The way I see it you seem to be saying we are so separate that we can’t live together but how dare I say you are not Irish.

    Who am I supposed to believe, your representatives you say unionists are British and not Irish or you who says there are Irish unionists but they’d never want to have anything to do with the Irish?

  • Davros

    I am merely accepting what the representatives of unionism have said time and time again, namely that they are British and not Irish.

    and that’s why the governing body of the organisation we are discussing calls itself the Grand Orange Lodge of ….Ireland. Yeah, right George 😉

  • George

    Davros,
    interesting that you have to go back to a group formed before partition to find anything Irish in unionism.

    That was back in the days when unionists were called Irish unionists and Lord Carson considered himself Irish.

    Call Paisley and Trimble Irish and they’d be insulted.

    The UUP and DUP have jettisoned their Irishness and are now only British. They want nothing to do with Irishness.

    Unionism’s decision not mine. They have sworn allegiance to one nation (Britain) and one culture (British), simple as that.

    That is why most unionists still consider nationalists as fifth columnists in their midst rather than fellow citizens to build a nation with.

    That is also why 43% of Northern Ireland’s voting electorate refuse to show allegiance to the British state while at the same time wishing to join the Irish one.

  • aquifer

    When are we going to get RTE on cable?

    Have the Nationalist parties here campaigned for this, or are they scared their voters will prefer Coronation Street to Glenroe?

    The defacto SFPIRADUP plan is for social apartheid and repartition.

  • George

    Glenroe stopped nearly a decade ago Aquifer, Fair City is the name of RTE’s current soap.

    TV3 broadcasts Coronation Street while RTE has Eastenders.

    If you want RTE, petition your local representatives to let it broadcast in NI or do what my family did before cable to get BBC, stick a great big lumping aerial on your house and take the signal from over the border (or Wales in my case).

    That’ll be what you’ll have to do as RTE isn’t going digital any time soon.

  • alex s

    Sinn Fein need to sort themselves out be fore the tackle the unification issue

  • Alan

    I regularly watch RTE on cable – NTL – and that is through a digital package.

  • Davros

    interesting that you have to go back to a group formed before partition to find anything Irish in unionism.

    interesting ? Try ‘relevent’ George – we are after all discussing the Orange Order 😉

  • Davros

    Wales George ? That explains everything 😉 LOL

  • George

    Davros,
    where do the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland mention anything about being Irish?

    The word Ireland is in Northern Ireland so by your logic that’s proof of Irishness?

    Where do the DUP, UUP or any other Unionist party mention anything about being Irish or getting in touch with their Irishness? They are only interested in being British and British culture.

    What do you mean by Wales and does “;)” mean something?

  • willowfield

    George

    Because we would be a 32 county country emcompassing a completely different range of people, with different needs and expectations than the current population, Willowfield. The constitution would have to change to reflect this and to protect their specific needs otherwise we’d be in the Supreme Court every second week – an expensive business.

    Well, my goodness, you finally answered. Thank you very much. It wasn’t so hard, was it?

    interesting that you have to go back to a group formed before partition to find anything Irish in unionism. That was back in the days when unionists were called Irish unionists and Lord Carson considered himself Irish. Call Paisley and Trimble Irish and they’d be insulted. The UUP and DUP have jettisoned their Irishness and are now only British. They want nothing to do with Irishness. Unionism’s decision not mine.

    Rather sweeping statement there, George. If it is true that (some) unionists have rejected Irishness, have you ever wondered why …?

    They have sworn allegiance to one nation (Britain) and one culture (British), simple as that.

    I have sworn allegiance to no “nation” and to no “culture”. What a lot of piffle!

    aquifer

    When are we going to get RTE on cable? Have the Nationalist parties here campaigned for this, or are they scared their voters will prefer Coronation Street to Glenroe?

    We already have it. At least I do …

  • beano

    I consider myself a fairly moderate unionist and I admit I’ve never considered myself Irish, whereas my Granda (now living in Canada) would talk about back home in Ireland. This is partly to do with the fact he was born shortly after the creation of the Free State, and partly due to his absence from Northern Ireland for the last 25 years.

    The main reason I, as a unionist, have a problem being labelled Irish, is because the likes of Sinn Fein/IRA have led bombing and murdering campaigns against my people and my country for 30 years and all in the name of “Irishness”.

    “The way you go on, you would swear Irish culture hasn’t been vilified in Northern Ireland on an institutionalised basis for decades.”

    Can you give me examples of this? The only one I can think of are the GAA who have been blatantly sectarian from day one.

    Despite this, I think Davros is right. You can’t claim on one hand that you want to include Northern Unionists in an Irish state, and somehow declare that you won’t then accept their culture because it is wrong and “not Irish”. By republican political theory, we’re all Irish and Unionists are just too silly to realise it. Either we’re all Irish in which case our culture is as validly Irish as yours, or we’re not, and we should retain our own country and government.

  • Ringo

    Fair points, Beano.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    no generalisation. The UUP and DUP (over 90% of unionist voters) say nowhere that they are Irish but make clear their allegiance to the British nation and British culture. What you think on the matter is subjective and not of relevance in this instance.

    David Trimble’s conference speech in 2004:
    “We have been the main vehicle for Unionism for by far the greater part of the last 100 years because our core values reflect those of the Ulster-British people. “

    No Irish in there Willowfield.

    “For us, Britishness is not just a flag too often waved to annoy others. It is a living, organic relationship with our fellow citizens elsewhere in the Kingdom. We are for a big United Kingdom, not just a little Ulster. We embrace British values…”

    No Irish in there either.

    Do you think I’d get more about being Irish from a Big Ian speech? Don’t think so but I’ll look if you want.

    What part of “simply British” don’t you understand Willowfield?

    It is not a sweeping statement, it is a statement of fact that there is no room for irishness in partionist unionism.

    The reasons are many and complex, some down to unionism as an ideology some down to the perception/reality (delete as appropriate) of Irish culture excluding Protestant culture.

    Beano makes some valid points on the reasons he sees as to why this is although I would describe the GAA’s history as more mono-cultural than sectarian.

    Whatever the reason, it doesn’t change the fact that partitionist unionism’s two largest parties mention nothing about being Irish for the simple reason that in their position to declare Irishness would weaken the union.

    My own view is that this is a major factor as to why it is the vacuous ideology that it is today, incapable of leading its people, accepting of second best and happy to be ruled by others.

  • maca

    Beano, agreed, (‘cept for the GAA comment)

    George, I think that’s a very fair point. None of us (of sound mind) would deny that some Unionists are Irish. I am happy to accept that Willow is as Irish as I am (I don’t believe in “levels” of Irishness anyway), however there seems (to me) to be zero acceptance of Irishness by the unionist parties.

  • willowfield

    George

    no generalisation. The UUP and DUP (over 90% of unionist voters) say nowhere that they are Irish but make clear their allegiance to the British nation and British culture. What you think on the matter is subjective and not of relevance in this instance.

    Nonsense, George. First, giving “allegiance to the British nation and British culture” (as you claim the UUP and DUP do) does not preclude being Irish. Second, someone’s identity is not determined by who they vote for. Each person determines his own identity. We do not live in an Orwellian Big Brother state where our minds are controlled.

    Do you think I’d get more about being Irish from a Big Ian speech? Don’t think so but I’ll look if you want.

    George, if unionists are reluctant to emphasise their Irishness, you might wish to consider why.

    What part of “simply British” don’t you understand Willowfield?

    Again, I find myself having to explain to you that being British does not preclude being Irish. I find your simplistic notions of identity rather worrying and disturbing.

    It is not a sweeping statement, it is a statement of fact that there is no room for irishness in partionist unionism.

    It is a sweeping statement and it’s not a statement of fact. Stop trying to tell other people who they are.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jesus, this old chestnut.

    The Irish people are the people of Ireland. They are the people who live here. You don’t have to pass a test to qualify, but you can’t ever quite scrub the oul sod from your fingernails either. When a republican says a unionist is not Irish, it is preposterous. When a unionist who has been, say, born and raised in Antrim, says he is not Irish, then that’s preposterous too.

    (Surely, surely, nationality is fundamentally decided by where you come from? I mean, you might admire the culture of Denmark more than any other country but that doesn’t mean you’d entitled to Danish citizenship. Nor does it mean the Danes would have an excessively narrow-minded idea of nationality if they refused to give you a passport. Equally if you are born and raised in India, never lived anywhere else, people just wouldn’t understand if you declared that you were NOT Indian. The relationship with identity and a connection with the land is just a fact of life.)

    The Irish people are drawn mainly from two distinct traditions. That is not in itself a problem at all – indeed in a more benign future I believe it will our greatest strength.

    No, our problem is not that there is more than one major tradition in the Irish family. Our problem is that many people in both traditions insist that we cannot and should not live together. We have accepted as fact the fallacy that because we are not homogenous, we must be kept separate.

    The reality is that for all our differences we are all Irish, our future is a common one and this piece of land we share is the fundamental reality of our material existence. This land we call Ireland.

    We differ over the nature of the construct we call “Ireland”, but the reality of the land and of our island existence is that our interests are best served by a single decision-making process on this island, involving the people who live here.

    Circumstances, cultures, attitudes and nomenclatures change, but the interdependence of the Irish people is the unchanging reality. The northern state has failed because it deviated from that reality, believing that British subvention could make up for the lost hinterland. In truth, British subvention has made enslaved, embittered children of we northerners, while the rest of the Irish people have taken their rightful place on the world stage.

    Whether Ireland is ruled from within or from overseas, the people who live here have got to work together or face decline. That has been the lesson of partition, and is the single most compelling reason why the doomed experiment must eventually be called off.

  • Martin MacKay

    To an outsider this whole argument over identity seams daft. Identity is up to the individual – what they identify themselves as, but this much seems obvious…

    Anyone from the island called Ireland is surely Irish, regardless of whether they are citizens of the state calling itself “Ireland” or the state calling itself “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. Therefore people from Northern Ireland can be, without any contradiction: Irish (from island of Ireland or through citizenship of Irish state), Northern Irish (from territory called Northern Ireland) and also British (by citizenship of the British state, the fact that Northern Ireland is part of the British state, or even just by the fact that all of the island of Ireland is part of an area called the British Isles).

    Unionists may not like to be Irish, but being from an island called “Ireland” they are entitled to call themselves/be called it. Similarly, people from anywhere in Ireland can claim to be British as whether republicans like it or not, Ireland and Britain are part of a geographical area termed the British Isles (in the same way a Swede can claim to be Scandanavian).

  • maca

    Of course Martin we can complicate the issue slightly by saying that there is no legal definition for “British Isles”, so defining ones identity using this term may not be quite the same as with a term such as the UK, NI or GB for example.
    Also “Scandanavia” may not have a “legal definition” either, although the ‘Scandanavian countries’ do mutually recognise each other as being part of Scandanavia. A significant difference from the “British Isles” where Ireland (ROI) rejects the term.
    Can you tell i’m bored?? 😉

  • CavanMan

    The british isles is not a legal term,and is not used anymore .These islands are now referred to as the islands of the North Atlantic,The British and Irish isles,or quite simply Britain and Ireland.
    Martin you said people in the Republic can claim to be british,they can claim all they want,but unless they are a citizen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland,then they are not legally british.If i come across in anyway anti-british,i dont intedn to.im just making a point.

  • Martin MacKay

    CavanMan:
    Na you don’t sound anti-british just for making a point on legality. I’m new to this website, but seriously do people get offended that easily?

    Actually both you and maca make fair points on the term British Isles not being recognised in the republic. I won’t argue against that. It is widely recognised throughout the world though to refer to both Britain and Ireland and so arguably it has de-facto status (like the sea of japan – not recognised by south korea but known the world over).

    regardless, i wasn’t talking about legal status or claims, but that identity is an individual thing and people should perhaps be recognised as whatever they feel themselves to be.

  • maca

    Martin
    “regardless, i wasn’t talking about legal status or claims, but that identity is an individual thing and people should perhaps be recognised as whatever they feel themselves to be.”

    Well yes and no 😉
    I don’t think any of us have a right to dictate to others what their identity is or isn’t, it is an individual thing as you say. However if I identify as being Samoan it doesn’t make me so, there has to be some basis for the identity claim. if you see what I mean?

  • CavanMan

    people do get easily insulted on this website yes,In Fact i agree with your points that people who wish to have a british identity should be allowed to because of the close nature of these islands..i do however not agree with the usage of the british isles,as i believe rightly or wrongly that the term gives the British some claim upon our territory,The large majority of people on this island are not british,and while i respect the minority who wish to exercise their right to be british,it is an personal insult to call a majority of Irish people in the republic and a minority in the North, british.

  • Davros

    Cavanman – suggest you run a google on the British Isles. You’ll find it’s used a lot 🙂

  • maca

    Well the problem with “British Isles” is that it is a loaded term. It was chosen about 400 years to reflect (AFAIK):
    • the politicial situation at the time
    • the dominance of the larger island (GB) over the smaller one.
    The situation today is a tad different. The term is definitly not (as many would claim) just a geographical term.

    Anyway we’ve discussed this term umpteen times and never agreed on it.

  • Davros

    “The term is definitly not (as many would claim) just a geographical term.”

    Like the term ‘Irish’? 😉

  • maca

    Dav
    “You’ll find it’s used a lot”

    Correct of course. But i’ve noticed that it’s usage has become more inconsistent in recent years. Quite often i’ve seen it been used to mean basically the same as the “British Islands” (which is of course a legally defined term)

  • maca

    Dav
    “Like the term ‘Irish’? ;)”

    Correct again 😉

  • CavanMan

    Thanks Davros http://www.the-british-isles.com/ according to this web,the british isles is made up of England,Scotland and Wales,but according to this website http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/britishisles/ both these islands are included in the make up of the ”British Isles”.Interesting.

  • Davros

    There are loads of sites using the term 🙂 And like all terms it can be defined in a variety of ways.
    Some terms and phrases become meaningless through such ambiguity – e.g. ‘parity of esteem’

  • Martin MacKay

    Given the history of ‘these islands’ – and note please my use of non-inflamitory term there 😉 – I understand that use of the term “British Isles” could be mistaken for a claim of sovereignty over the fully independent, sovereign nation and state, Ireland. So fair play, we should respect other people’s views and sensitivities so I’m gonna make a determined effort not to use the phrase (though i might accidentally lapse back to it – sorry in advance and no offence intended).

    It should be recognised though that when British (Scots, English, Welsh) use the term we don’t for a second mean that we have any rights over Ireland – it’s just a geographical term. To us it’s the same as Canadians/Mexicans/Colombians being “American”, even though completely outwith the “United States of America”.

    Just as a point of interest by the way, long before Ireland or the UK came into being, all the peoples of the islands of Albion and Hibernia were “British/Britons” and were enemies of the invading Anglo-Saxons, or “English”. So maybe it’s something all the celts should reclaim..?

  • Inishowen

    I’d like to make a comment here (my first), as someone of Irish descent (both parents) living in England, on the question of Irish identity . Maybe this is a bit off thread , but still.
    Over the last few years the “Irish community” in the town where I live has organised a St Pat’s day festival. It’s great and I think it is a really positive development. However, I just got the pamphlet advertising this year’s event and I see two large prominent contributions from Catholic clergymen. Well I’m an atheist, and for me St Pat’s Day is about Irish culture, not religion – but OK it’s a saint’s day so maybe I have to make allowances. But there is nothing from a C of I minister, or a Presbyterian minister. In addition, one of the clerical contribution includes a bit about a book called “Inventing Ireland” by Declan Kiberd where the author talks of the “unsentimental” way the Irish dumped their language (due to an inferiority complex apparently) and suggests the same may happen to their Catholicism. “Perish the thought” says the Monsignor in his piece. Now, these comments in this context pushes all sorts of the wrong buttons for me. It conflates, in my view, Irishness and and Catholicism – something that makes me very angry even though I come from a Catholic family. Surely this is something to move away from as rapidly as possible? The whole history of the country demonstrates the disastrous consequences of such a situation. Why, often as not the two “sides” in NI are dubbed Catholic and Protestant as synonymous with Irish and NI British. The same cleric writes that he wants Ireland to be a “generous, tolerant and inclusive place” which, of course I agree with. But a homily from the Monsignor and a message from the Catholic bishop may not seem inclusive to any unionists from NI living here (probably few, but still). How many of them would attend? I think the organisers of the day do a great job but in this case I think they have fallen into that same trap. All the same I hope the day goes well and I’m skipping work to be there!

  • CavanMan

    Inishowen i understand ,St Patricks Day has been hijacked by ultra republicans and is in some areas perceived as an Catholic Event,when it is a day as you put to celebrate the culture of this island be that the culture of the orange order or the Ancient Order of the Hibernians,both are as equally irish and as equally welcome at a St Paddy’s day parade.

  • CavanMan

    Atheists are also most welcome(just seen that you wrote that now):)

  • maca

    Inishowen
    St.Paddys is also a ‘religious holiday’ though, not just a ‘national holiday.’

  • Jimmy Sands

    Bizarre:

    1. There appears to be an Italian flag on the cover.
    2. Acres of photos of these hideous individuals presumably dating back to before having the shit-eating smirks wiped off their faces.
    3. The same constitutionally illiterate proposals for the right to speak in a legislature to which no-one has elected them, together with the proposal that NI residents enjoy presidential voting privileges denied to citizens elsewhere.
    4. Remarkably, given the that the premise is the previous absence of concrete proposals as to the structure of the post-anschluss state, not a single hint as to what SF actually has in mind.

  • IJP

    SF cannot deliver a stable, united Ireland any more than the DUP can ‘smash Sinn Féin’.