Maze site well ahead in sports stadium race…

SPORT is big in today’s news, and – as first revealed on Slugger – it seems as though the Maze Prison site is well ahead in the race for the location of the new NI sports stadium. While a decision has yet to be finalised, cross-party agreement means that the Belfast site is unlikely to get a look in now.

  • mnob

    Thats right, put the stadium 10 miles away from the major population centre and away from public transport links. Don’t put it in a sustainable city centre location (Titanic quarter or North foreshore) close to transport links and existing amenities. Put it in the middle of green fields rather than on an old industrial site.

    Would the last one out of Belfast please turn off the lights.

  • IJP

    I fear that’s a typical NI response – you moan on about something and then when it’s about to be delivered you moan about how!

    I have long maintained Belfast needs a stadium and if the experts say Maze is the best and most cost-effective site, so be it.

    I lived in Frankfurt of a while and its stadium is about 10 miles from the City Centre in the middle of a forest. Hamburg’s new stadium is nowhere near the city centre either. Of course, the key there is transport links – those need to be put in place. But if they are, Maze strikes me as a perfectly good site without even the need to acquire the land.

    But whatever, let’s just build the thing!

  • willowfield

    These “experts” have no knowledge or understanding of sport. Two of them are from Lisburn council, ffs (perhaps rather biased?).

    Maze makes no sense, location wise.

    Disaster.

  • mnob

    I doubt Frankfurt or Hamburg have such a quantity of derelict or semi derelict land on the doorstep of their city centre crtying out for such a development.

    Certainly I would believe expeerts …. but I dont think politicians qualify for that.

    I certainly dont disagree that Belfast needs a stadium, but it needs a stadium accessible to all.

  • Jacko

    The roads infrastructunre around Lisburn and close by the Maze is actually quite good. When the Knockmore link is up and running and connected to the new roundabout at Blaris a mile and a half away, it will only be a matter of upgrading the roads skirting the Maze itself.

    Good choice. Plenty of room for the agricultural thing and Coca Cola as well.

  • The Devil

    Why have a stadium FFS

    they can’t even fill the crap ones they have at the minute

    mary peters…empty

    windsor park… empty

    ravenhill… empty

    why build a bigger more expensive more EMPTY one

  • ricardo

    hmmm don’t know where you get your figures from Devil.

    I go to Northern Ireland home games at Windsor and all matches in this qualifying campaign are sold out.

    From the few times I’ve been to Ravenhill, they don’t have too many problems attracting crowds either.

    But sure, why let the truth get in the way? 🙂

  • Billy Pilgrim

    The Maze only makes sense if you think all a stadium is is a venue to watch a match. Then you’d agree: put in at the Maze, where it’t not in the way of anything.

    Personally, I think that would be a great missed opportunity. The ancillary benefits of having the stadium in the city centre – for example, the shipyard – would be enormous. It would also breathe a little bit of atmosphere into the city on match days.

    Dublin is carnivalesque for days when there’s a big match on at Lansdowne or Croker. Belfast could be the same – but not if this stadium is stuck, bascially, out of sight.

    But you can be sure the stadium will be built at the Maze, the decision was taken long ago. Why? Because the whole point of the stadium is that, by throwing a splurge of cash in one go at this gleaming white elephant, the NIO can claim to be doing something for local sport, without actually devoting any imagination to it. So they’ll build the stadium wherever they can do it quickest and with the least amount of fuss. Where the BEST site might be is a matter of complete irrelevance. What it might contribute to Belfast and the north in the longer term is equally irrelevant – because not in their worst nightmares can any of our direct rule despots countenance still being here even in five years, let alone the longer term.

    But hey, that’s direct rule for ya.

  • ricardo

    I agree with you on that one Billy.

    The panel seem to be viewing the stadium as a stand alone project. People going to matches want to go for a few pints before the game, get a bite to eat, enjoy the craic etc etc. Can you do that in a car park?

    Not only are sports fans getting a raw deal here, everyone in Northern Ireland is, because we are missing an opportunity to give a real boost to our largest city.

  • GavBelfast

    Such a wasted opportunity.

    Typical NI outcome: muddled compromise rather than genuine concensus.

    Successful stadia are built within cities, the closer the better to the centre, not out in the wilds.

    The inclusion of some sort of monument to failure and conflict is at best misguided and at worst objectionable. And the comparisons to Roben Island and Alcatraz, not to mention Auschwitz, are ridiculous in a way advocates for such things here can only be.

    The new IFA Head’s comment about it being about 10 miles from Belfast, a bit like the new Wembley from Trafalgar Square, suggests it hasn’t taken him too long to settle here before muddled thinking has set in.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I can’t see this being other than a flop. Ulster’s Millennium Dome anyone?

  • Davros

    The way things are going by the time this is built Portadown will be a suburb of Belfast. As the man said on TV earlier – the Maze is 10 miles from Belfast city centre , roughly the same as Wembley is from Trafalgar Square. Goodbye to all the countryside I used for rough shooting. Goodbye a lot of superb farmland.

    That aside – has anybody noticed the Irony of Coca Cola possibly basing their Irish Operations on sacred territory for SF ?

  • Donnie

    This will prove to be yet another terrible decision. The stadium in the Maze will struggle to create any craic and people will visit for big matches alone. A stadium in or near the city centre would allow supporters to have a couple of drinks and a bite to eat before or after the match and then hit the pubs should they so wish. This would provide much needed atmosphere and income akin to that seen in Edinburgh or Dublin on match weekend.

    Every time I see a dodgy planning decision in NI my heart sinks and I visualise fat brown envelopes…..

  • Cookie in Exile

    I think’s it appropriate to have a studium on the
    Maze as most NI football supporters must feel like
    prisoners watching that stuff at Windsor

  • willowfield

    Billy Pilgrim is spot on. I agree with him 100%.

  • maca

    I was looking for a map of the Maze and came across another maze in NI, the Peace Maze. Great idea, f*** all the politicians & paramils into a big maze in Castlewellan, with a bit of luck they’ll get lost and ye might have some chance of sorting things out over there.

  • IJP

    I’ve a lot of sympathy with BP‘s points, but Jacko is spot on.

    The reason Belfast’s stadiums often aren’t filled is that they, particularly Windsor, are shoddy wrecks in Loyalist areas. They’re just not appealing.

    BP is correct that direct rule often doesn’t deliver what we want, but whose fault is that? Ours, that’s whose! If we want decisions made by responsible democrats, it’s up to us to vote for them. Voting for sectarian carve-ups will not achieve that.

  • George

    Donnie,
    “Every time I see a dodgy planning decision in NI my heart sinks and I visualise fat brown envelopes…..”

    In this case, I think it’s simply a matter of the Maze being the cheapest option by far, no brown envelopes involved I’m afraid.

    The government own the land, there will be low ancillary infrastructure costs, it will be easily policed and there will be no residents complaining about the number of matches.

    The huge problem is that it shows no forward thinking whatsoever.

    It really is a case of the NIO saying “we have to build a stadium for this place, select the cheapest, least problematic and most neutral option and no don’t ask the supporters what they think. What do they matter?”

    IJP,
    Stormont rule didn’t deliver anything, and neither has the GFA so direct rule is all there is.

    You make a valid point but the cynic in me says there is no use hoping that democracy will soon flower in Northern Ireland. The place has never had a functioning democratic government in its 84 year history and doesn’t look like it will have it any time soon. NI needs a new stadium now. The football team does anyway.

    The Maze it is I’m afraid although even then it might never be built.

  • Davros

    George – if it suits Coca cola, it’ll be built.

  • George

    Davros,
    Coca Cola won’t be financing the stadium although I accept an operations centre would convince the British government to build the necessary infrastructure.

    How big is this operations centre supposed to be?

  • willowfield

    IJP

    The reason Belfast’s stadiums often aren’t filled is that they, particularly Windsor, are shoddy wrecks in Loyalist areas. They’re just not appealing.

    Then build the new stadium in Belfast.

    George

    In this case, I think it’s simply a matter of the Maze being the cheapest option by far, no brown envelopes involved I’m afraid. The government own [sic] the land, there will be low ancillary infrastructure costs, it will be easily policed and there will be no residents complaining about the number of matches.

    There won’t be low “ancillary infrastructure costs”. On the contrary, such costs will be very high.

    The huge problem is that it shows no forward thinking whatsoever.

    Very true.

    It really is a case of the NIO saying “we have to build a stadium for this place, select the cheapest, least problematic and most neutral option and no don’t ask the supporters what they think. What do they matter?”

    Exactly. More importantly, it also answers the question “what the f**k are we going to do with the Maze site?”.

    Stormont rule didn’t deliver anything

    It did. It delivered lots of things. A national health service; an excellent roads infrastructure; an excellent education system, for example.

  • Jacko

    Those who argue that the Maze is too far out of town; needs supporting businesses to keep it an active proposition outside of matches etc. are neglecting to consider a few points.

    When the idea of siting Marks and Spencers at Sprucefield (less than 2 miles from the Maze) was first mooted, the same concerns were raised re. the out-of-town stuff – I think it would be fair to say that Sprucefield has been something of a success.
    Who’s to say what businesses will attach themselves to the site, there is after all 360 acres. Coca-Cola are already eager to site their Ireland operation there. There is strong talk of a technology park or campus (whatever that is)already as well.

    No-one can say with any degree of insider knowledge how often the stadium will be in use. Perhaps youth teams, schools sides etc. from the different disciplines will be able to use the facitilities more often than we think.

    Excellent decision all round.

  • Davros

    George – I’m not sure , but what I have seen suggested is that coca cola will move their entire Irish Operation , both sides of the Border, onto this one site. That’s got to be big. If there’s a republican shrine on their doorstep it’ll make any protests easier 😉

  • metacom

    I’d say center city Belfast is the way to go. We have two downtown stadia (baseball and football) here in Baltimore. They definitely have helped keep the momentum going re revitalization of what had been a depressed and dangerous area. Only down side has been proximity to DC (all the monied dilettantes crowding out the real fans)!

  • George

    Willowfield,
    considering over a quarter of Northern Ireland’s manufacturing exports now go south I believe Stormont made a huge mistake by building the M1 west for political reasons instead of constructing a motorway south for economic reasons to the main population and business centre of the island – Dublin.

    I can see them now: Road to Belfast to Dublin or Enniskillen? Stormont picks Enniskillen. Well done boys, right choice alright.

    Very poor planning indeed and something that is coming back to haunt the place. Also you do know that those failed motorway plans of the 1960s were so botched that the M1 is the only one that was actually finished to its intended length.

    The M2 is the only motorway in the entire UK which has exits that once you leave you can’t get back on the motorway.

    But if you consider that type of planning a resounding success, I can’t stop you. Personally, I think that would be like me calling the disaster that is the M50 around Dublin a planning success.

    As for the NHS, was that not a British government initiative imposed on Stormont and is the education system not also imposed and funded from without.

    Or do you believe Stormont developed and fund these initiatives on its own?

  • willowfield

    George

    considering over a quarter of Northern Ireland’s manufacturing exports now go south I believe Stormont made a huge mistake by building the M1 west for political reasons instead of constructing a motorway south for economic reasons to the main population and business centre of the island – Dublin. I can see them now: Road to Belfast to Dublin or Enniskillen? Stormont picks Enniskillen. Well done boys, right choice alright.

    There was and is actually heavier traffic going west than south, hence more demand for the motorway. I know, though, that for some reason you like to think there is a political subtext to everything.

    At least Stormont built motorways, which is more than the South could manage. Its roads were the laughing stock of western Europe until a few years ago.

    The M2 is the only motorway in the entire UK which has exits that once you leave you can’t get back on the motorway.

    How do you know? And where are these exits?

    As for the NHS, was that not a British government initiative imposed on Stormont

    It was a UK-wide initiative, but it wasn’t imposed.

    and is the education system not also imposed and funded from without.

    No.

    Or do you believe Stormont developed and fund these initiatives on its own?

    It delivered them all. You claimed it didn’t.

    You are a bitter man.

  • Davros

    George has a point about Stormont. The M1 is there because of the festering sore called Craigavon. If the Unionists hadn’t been so keen to do down Derry and it’s nationalist people, there would be a decent road connecting Belfast and Derry and we wouldn’t have the disaster of Moira through to Portadown …and there would be wonderful farmland where there is now a wasteland.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jacko

    “When the idea of siting Marks and Spencers at Sprucefield (less than 2 miles from the Maze) was first mooted, the same concerns were raised re. the out-of-town stuff – I think it would be fair to say that Sprucefield has been something of a success.”

    Yes and no Jacko. The Sprucefield site is very successful, there can be no doubt about that. However Sprucefield has also sucked a lot of capital out of the city centre, so notwithstanding the success of the Sprucefield site, the question of whether it was the right decision is another issue.

    I suppose it then comes down to a value judgement about what kind of doughnut Belfast ought to be – all the jam in the middle, or circular with a hole at the centre?

    I personally believe the former is far better as it gives the city a focal point and breathes life into the streets. All the world’s most beloved cities are jam doughnuts. Advocates of the latter – like decades of Belfast city planners – see town planning as being only about providing housing, goods and services – which is correct in a soulless kind of way. Intangibles like atmosphere don’t enter their thinking – but they do enter the thinking of people who might otherwise visit here.

    It’s city centres that make a city, and a failure to recognise that has made Belfast the underperforming place it is. If you had all the shops you have in Sprucefield in the city centre, it’d be a much more dynamic city centre for it. If you had people actually living in the city centre then you’d have a nightlife. You’d have fewer cars and thus less traffic. You’d have a critical mass of opinion in favour of better public transport.

    The Maze stadium is just another example of the kind of unenlightened short-termism that has ensured that Belfast has not made anything like the kind of post-troubles strides it might have.

    And Sprucefield is my idea of hell.

    “Who’s to say what businesses will attach themselves to the site, there is after all 360 acres. Coca-Cola are already eager to site their Ireland operation there. There is strong talk of a technology park or campus (whatever that is)already as well.”

    Maybe so. And it’ll be functional, no doubt, but there’ll be more soul in the new Westlife record than in this place. It’ll be ghost town for X hours a day.

    Jesus, Belfast could be great but we keep making decisions that take us further down the road to nondescript suburbia. If Belfast is to be hell then fucking Lisburn is the seventh circle. Why oh why oh why do we insist on choosing to be Birmingham when we could be Barcelona?

    “No-one can say with any degree of insider knowledge how often the stadium will be in use. Perhaps youth teams, schools sides etc. from the different disciplines will be able to use the facitilities more often than we think.”

    No doubt Jacko. It’s not that building the site at the Maze is the end of the world per se. It’s just that it’s a tremendous missed opportunity. It could be so much more than a venue to watch a match.

    “Excellent decision all round.”

    I suppose it’s just a matter of different ideas and values Jacko. I can’t agree with you that it’s right to invest so much public capital in commuter-land while there are gaping holes in the cityscape, whole swathes of the town are lying empty or woefully underused and the city centre has effectively been evacuated. We’ll agree to disagree?

    IJP

    You’re missing the point: we’re more than capable of putting together a political class that can work together and deliver for the people. We just have to realise that it’s the state of Northern Ireland that doesn’t work. Its continued existence is the source of our mania and the cause of our infantilism. I continue to be astounded that a person of such undeniably towering intellect still clings to the unionist pipe dream that it might one day just start functioning and that its inherent contradictions would just melt away if everyone was a bit more suburban about the whole thing.

  • willowfield

    Jacko

    People don’t go to Marks & Spencers in order to create an exciting atmosphere and witness a sporting encounter. They don’t go for a day out to Marks & Spencers hoping to spend some time either side of making their purchases drinking in the pubs or eating in the restaurants. People don’t travel en masse to Marks & Spencers for particular events. Visitors don’t travel in from abroad specifically to visit Marks & Spencers.

    Awful analogy.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Myself and Willow are in agreement. Things are getting weird. Gonna have to engineer a row with my old sparring partner. Here goes.

    “There was and is actually heavier traffic going west than south, hence more demand for the motorway.’’

    Chicken and egg Willow. I don’t have stats to hand from the 1950s, and I’m guessing you don’t either, but you are right to say more cars use the M1 and M2 than use the A1 to Newry. But then given the vastly superior nature of the motorways to the deathtrap boreen that is the A1, that’s hardly surprising. The point – and surely you can recognise this – is that a motorway to the border (and on to Dublin) would prove more useful to the northern economy than the motorways around Lough Neagh have been. (Indeed they are basically commuter conveyor belts that have turned Belfast into a US-style drive-time town that closes down at night. I can think of nowhere else in the world where motorways have been built that do not connect, or at least travel in the direction of, another major population centre.) In pretty short order a motorway to the border would outstrip traffic levels on Don Quixote and Sancho Panza – that’s just an opinion, I know, but surely you would concede there is substance to it Willow?

    “At least Stormont built motorways, which is more than the South could manage. Its roads were the laughing stock of western Europe until a few years ago.’’

    Indeed, Ireland’s roads were very poor for a western European country (though they were excellent for a post-colonial one, but that’s another issue.) But you’re talking about what was, not what is. There are now better roads in the south than in the north, and by the time the National Spatial Strategy has been completed there will be a bona fide motorway network in the Republic – something Stormont tried and failed to build for unionist areas of the north in the 1950s. Meanwhile the northern infrastructure crumbles, and we have nothing to look forward to but the hopelessness of years of direct rule. If only the northern six counties had been included in the National Spatial Strategy…

    “Or do you believe Stormont developed and fund these initiatives on its own? – It delivered them all.’’

    “Delivered’’? Your choice of such a loosely defined word suggests you don’t believe the point you are making either.

    I had a lovely pizza the other night. It was “delivered’’ by some bloke on a scooter. Said he didn’t want to “deliver’’ it but he had to or he’d get sacked. Same scenario.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    bitter? I like to think I’m not old enough. Now how about answering the questions a little more fully or at all.

    At least Stormont built motorways, which is more than the South could manage. Its roads were the laughing stock of western Europe until a few years ago.

    Where is the answer in that statement and is there not a touch of bitterness in that comment?

    Quote from Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP:

    “We should also remember that the comparison should not be on where other countries are today, but on where they will be in twenty years time.”

    Where will Northern Ireland’s infrastructure be in 20 years Willowfield in your view?

    How do you know? And where are these exits?

    I’m a mine of useless information, the exits are the J7 and J1b.

    It was a UK-wide initiative, but it wasn’t imposed

    Are you actually saying that Stormont could have opted out of the NHS and education system. You still haven’t answered whether it was funded by the British government or Stormont?

    No.
    Could you elaborate on that no please. How was the Northern Ireland education system funded and please tell me about this wonderful system they put in place and how it differs from the rest of the UK?

    Anything to do with just handing the British government cash to the Catholic Church and saying do what you like for a quiet life? Is that “delivering a system” for you?

    It delivered them all.

    A postman can deliver a letter but I want to know who told him where to deliver it and who paid him for it.

    Did Stormont come up with these services themselves or were they imposed and funded from without? It’s a simple question. You seem to be particularly reticent about the funding.

    Also, as for the motorway to Enniskillen, are you actually saying it makes more economic sense to build that than to build one towards the main economic and population centre of the island, which also happens to be Northern Ireland’s largest market?

    You have to build infrastructure around wealth generation.

  • willowfield

    Billy P

    Chicken and egg Willow. I don’t have stats to hand from the 1950s, and I’m guessing you don’t either, but you are right to say more cars use the M1 and M2 than use the A1 to Newry. But then given the vastly superior nature of the motorways to the deathtrap boreen that is the A1, that’s hardly surprising.

    I doubt that anyone in Belfast decides to do business with a company in Craigavon rather than in Newry or Dublin because they feel safer driving there!!

    The point – and surely you can recognise this – is that a motorway to the border (and on to Dublin) would prove more useful to the northern economy than the motorways around Lough Neagh have been.

    I don’t know. Presumably, if that were the case, it would have been built by now.

    But you’re talking about what was, not what is.

    Indeed. The discussion is about the Stormont regime, i.e. pre-1972.

    There are now better roads in the south than in the north

    Maybe there are. But that is irrelevant to the discussion about pre-72.

    “Delivered’’? Your choice of such a loosely defined word suggests you don’t believe the point you are making either.

    You’ll have to take that one up with George. It was his word.

    George

    Quote from Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP: “We should also remember that the comparison should not be on where other countries are today, but on where they will be in twenty years time.” Where will Northern Ireland’s infrastructure be in 20 years Willowfield in your view?

    I see you’re trying to steer the discussion away from the pre-1972 period! Are you conceding that you were wrong to state that Stormont delivered nothing?

    I’m a mine of useless information, the exits are the J7 and J1b.

    Where are those, and how do you know they are the only ones in the UK?

    Are you actually saying that Stormont could have opted out of the NHS and education system.

    Yes.

    You still haven’t answered whether it was funded by the British government or Stormont?

    Er, I answered “no” to your quesstion of whether it “is the education system not also imposed and funded from without”. You didn’t ask about the NHS.

    Could you elaborate on that no please.

    On what?

    How was the Northern Ireland education system funded and please tell me about this wonderful system they put in place and how it differs from the rest of the UK?

    It was funded by the Department of Education (Northern Ireland). What would you like to know about it? It consisted of primary, secondary modern, grammar and technical schools. It was free. It produced excellent results. Not sure how it differed from the rest of the UK.

    Anything to do with just handing the British government cash to the Catholic Church and saying do what you like for a quiet life? Is that “delivering a system” for you?

    No idea what you’re getting at here. It’s certainly not much of a case for the argument that Stormont didn’t deliever a good education system.

    A postman can deliver a letter but I want to know who told him where to deliver it and who paid him for it.

    You used the word deliver.

    Did Stormont come up with these services themselves or were they imposed and funded from without? It’s a simple question.

    You already asked that and I already answered.

    You seem to be particularly reticent about the funding.

    I’m not reticent about the funding.

    Also, as for the motorway to Enniskillen

    There is no motorway to Enniskillen.

    , are you actually saying it makes more economic sense to build that than to build one towards the main economic and population centre of the island, which also happens to be Northern Ireland’s largest market?

    There is no motorway to Enniskillen. Your question is based on a false premise.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    not a single answer yet again. Please answer the questions, which I’ve now put a simply as possible for you, or I’m not bothered.

    Who funded the NHS and education programmes – Stormont or the British government?

    Was the money for these programmes generated within NI or without?

    Did Stormont have an option to opt out of the British NHS and education system?

    Do you really believe the M1 route makes more economic sense than a motorway to Dublin?

    I’m not trying to steer the discussion any direction. Just try and be honest.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow.

    The existing motorway to Dungannon was built as the first leg of a planned motorway to Enniskillen. That’s a matter of historical record. The M1 was supposed to go to Enniskillen.

    “I doubt that anyone in Belfast decides to do business with a company in Craigavon rather than in Newry or Dublin because they feel safer driving there!!”

    I know you’ll try to fudge this point, but above, you are basically arguing that infrastructure does not affect economic performance. You are arguing that business conditions are not affected by infrastructure.

    “Presumably, if that were the case, it would have been built by now.”

    If infrastructure had been driven only by socio-economic considerations, it certainly would have. But the point, which you are pretending not to see, is that sectarian politics trumped socio-economic sanity, so the roads went west rather than south.

    Just for clarification: do you think the infrastructural projects that included the motorways and the creation of Craigavon were good ideas?

    “The discussion is about the Stormont regime, i.e. pre-1972.”

    It’s only partly about that. Never mind George’s point that Stormont delivered nothing – let’s talk about what Stormont did deliver, and how we’re still living with the consequences. If you are supporting the insane decisions taken then, then it becomes a discussion about now.

    Re. delivered.

    Ok, what word would you use?

  • IJP

    BP

    Thank you for your kind words.

    But the rest of your paragraph is nonsense. Regardless of where you place the border, we have a severe social division that can only be solved once the idea of representing only specific tribes is consigned to the scrapheap.

    There is nothing inherent in NI that means it can or cannot work, any more than there is in South Tyrol, or Malaysia, or Belgium, or any of the other raft of places that have come to function despite social division and ill-drawn boundaries. There is something inherent within a sectarian political system that means it cannot work. Put the border where you like, that system would remain.

    Would you support a united British-Isles state to solve the problem, out of interest?

  • IJP

    George

    It’s an interesting point, but to be fair a motorway from Belfast to Dublin was not necessarily the priority. Ireland was partitioned primarily due to economics more than anything else, Belfast and Dublin were and are simply not part of the same economic system.

    Your underlying point appears to be that the Unionist administration favoured majority-Unionist areas and generally deliberately tried to avoid any hint of cross-border cooperation. On that, of course, you are quite correct.

  • Jacko

    Billy Pilgrim
    “However Sprucefield has also sucked a lot of capital out of the city centre.”

    It depends on which city you’re talking about Billy. Try shopping in the nearest one, Lisburn, where the fear was (and one I shared) that Sprucefield would indeed suck the life out of it.
    Not so, it’s chocker blocked with shoppers particulary from Thursday onwards.

    Willowfield
    “Awful analogy”.

    Actually, it wasn’t intended to be an analogy, but a clear example of how previous fears around a near by out-of-town development proved to be hoplessly unfounded.
    By noting how close the Maze is to Sprucefield and drawing attention to an already planned road link-up between the two locations, I was, though obviously not clearly enough, positing the notion of it all eventually becoming part of a far greater development.

    I can well understand your own disappointment at east Belfast losing out and therefore don’t imagine any points made by me or anyone else will allow you to consider this from a neutral standpoint.

  • maca

    WIllow
    “You are a bitter man.”

    All the talk of red cards these days having no effect?

  • IJP

    BP

    Actually out of interest, I’m not sure you were about when we last tried this.

    My point is that no matter how convinced I am about the merits of an all-Ireland State, I have but one vote. Therefore I have to have something to sell to my neighbours to swing the vote. MOPEry, random blethers about 800 years of persecution, and support for maintenance of a private militia to take over that state once it’s established ain’t gonna do it. In short, the sooner ‘Irish Nationalism’ is removed from the campaign for a stable all-Ireland State, the better.

    So, how about an independent 32-county state based exactly on Australia which, the last time I looked, was a prosperous, stable, independent country. That would mean:
    – maintenance of the British Monarch as Head of State;
    – membership of the Commonwealth and NATO;
    – a federal arrangement;
    – acceptance in symbols of the British link (as a positive thing); but also
    – no cross-border bodies.

    I reckon I could just about sell that to my constituency around here. Could you sell it to yours?

  • JD

    Would you support a united British-Isles state to solve the problem, out of interest?

    Personally, I veer between terror and dubiosity (did I just make up a word?) on this one.

    I know that Britain and Ireland share a tremendous amount. Only a blind person would deny that.

    However, I simply could not get on board with a new Act of Union: the last one left a bad taste in my mouth. GB would have to change hugely as well for a new union to be even considered. At the same time, I really am not sure that GB as a whole would be arsed with overhauling their entire system for the paddies. And if such a state were ever considered to be a possibility, what place might Ireland have in that new state? It would have to be at the very least a federation of independent republics.

    It’s certainly an interesting intellectual exercise. I’m just not sure about how realistic it is.

  • JD

    – maintenance of the British Monarch as Head of State;

    I’m afraid I fell at the first fence…

  • maca

    “Could you sell it to yours?”

    You might Ian, Billy might, but i’m not sure you’ll sell it down South. 😉

    (Knock the first too on the head and you’ll get my vote though.)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    IJP

    “Regardless of where you place the border, we have a severe social division that can only be solved once the idea of representing only specific tribes is consigned to the scrapheap.’’

    You’re missing the point. I don’t advocate the redrawing of the border – I advocate an Ireland in which there is no border. ANY partition of Ireland is inherently the outworking of exactly the kind of “idea of representing only specific tribes’’ that you decry. Partition was a fudge in which both tribes got a state to call their own. The northern troubles were ultimately the result of the inadequacy of that solution – ie it overlooked the fact that by doing nothing other than being born and living in their own homes, a vast minority was supposed to accept that NI was not “their’’ state, that “their’’ state lay to the south and that they could like it or lump it.

    “There is nothing inherent in NI that means it can or cannot work, any more than there is in South Tyrol, or Malaysia, or Belgium.’’

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on that. But just consider these questions: What, fundamentally, IS Northern Ireland? What purpose, fundamentally, does Northern Ireland serve?

    “or any of the other raft of places that have come to function despite social division and ill-drawn boundaries.’’

    See above. The problem isn’t the location of the border. It’s the border.

    The inherent contradiction with NI is, as it always has been, that there are too few unionists in too small an area to make viable a separate state in the north-east insulated from the rest of the people of Ireland. The dilemma at the time of partition was that the numbers had to be made up somehow, and the only way to do that was to include swathes of the territory inhabited by mostly unwilling, anti-partition populations into the partitioned enclave. Today there are proportionally even fewer unionists than then, and in terms of territory it’s fair to say perhaps two thirds of NI is anti-partition and would be ceded in any redrawing of the boundary. Yet if the unionist state was smaller it would be nothing more than a Gibraltar-style anomaly. A monument to mindsets as immoveable as the Rock itself. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Antrim and Parts of North Down.

    “There is something inherent within a sectarian political system that means it cannot work. Put the border where you like, that system would remain.’’

    But the border itself is fundamentally sectarian. It exists for sectarian reasons – that the sects have different and irreconcilable ideals, and therefore if the Taig majority are to have a state, the Prod minority must have one too.
    If you get rid of the border you’d be getting rid of the single issue that has dominated all aspects of life here for nearly a century. It’d have to be replaced by other issues, which would probably be things like: how is the government performing? Are our lives better or worse? Why the hell hasn’t that pothole been filled yet?
    You could have a real discourse, instead of having tribal communities who are bound to root for one government or the other, no matter what they do.

    “Would you support a united British Isles state to solve the problem, out of interest?
    As an abstract principle, I would accept a British-Irish state, provided that state was clearly defined as the confederation of two equal partners with legislative sovereignty and the right of unilateral secession was guaranteed. I passionately believe that the future of my country is a) unified and sovereign at home, and b) best friends with Britain, with whom we share so much.

    That’s the abstract. In reality there is no appetite in the Republic to join the UK – the Republic’s last stint in the union is popularly regarded (whether you think justly or not) as having been perhaps the darkest period in our country’s history. The present sorry state of that bit of Ireland still in the union isn’t a great selling point. These points would be overwhelming even if it weren’t for the fact that with independence the Republic has grown over the last 50 years or so into being a resounding success, and indeed has seen Ireland outstrip its old imperial master in the last decade.
    The old hatred of Britain has largely passed into history, more as a mark of Ireland’s growing maturity than anything else.

    Equally in Britain there is no serious thinking about a new union with Ireland as, I believe, the patronising and racist attitudes that facilitated the old union and imperialism generally have been replaced by a genuine respect for the neighbouring country.

    Anyway, the idea that the 65 million people of these islands would forge a new political construct so contrary to the thrust of history out of deference to the feelings of c. 800,000 people in a couple of Irish counties is, well, a little megalomaniacal to be honest.

    You’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope – it’s the people of Ireland who have to figure out how to live together and how to make sectarian barriers irrelevant. Part of that process has been the Republic becoming the sort of place that might be attractive to unionists (which I think we are beginning to see evidence of – witness the dog that didn’t bark with the new policing agreement earlier this week). Part of that process must also be the unionist population reciprocating by ceasing to declare that they’ll die before even thinking about ending the actual border. (People like you might be the first – I just cannot believe there are good enough reasons why you would continue to support the union for any reason other than that you were born into the unionist tradition.) The end of the process is not the redrawing of the border. It’s the removal of it.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    IJP

    – maintenance of the British Monarch as Head of State

    Over the whole of Ireland or just the existing NI? Would it be mandatory or a personal choice? What would become of Uachtarain na hEireann? Would some sort of dual monarchy system do ye?

    Commonwealth yes. I would personally oppose NATO membership very strongly as I am very proud of the way Ireland has eschewed militarism. That said, I am sad to report that joining NATO might be an argument that could be won in the Republic, and that might become irrelevant anyway with the development of the European rapid reaction force.

    – a federal arrangement

    Okay, no problems there. Might be unwieldy though – perhaps to be reviewed after, say 25 years?

    – acceptance in symbols of the British link (as a positive thing)

    What do you have in mind? A new flag would certainly have to reflect that reality – a union jack in the top left field would be too much, but perhaps some sort of harp and crown arrangement? Or a green, orange, red and blue kinda thing?

    – no cross-border bodies

    Well there wouldn’t be a border so….

  • Davros

    Great discussion Ian and Billy. Slugger as it should be.

  • IJP

    JD

    Appreciate the honesty!

    Maca

    It’s all or nothing pal, are you on or out?!

    You may well be right about the Republic, which backs up my bottom para below.

    Davros

    Quite right. My thanks to BP, Maca and JD for engaging in a proper debate!

    Billy

    You’re missing the point. I don’t advocate the redrawing of the border – I advocate an Ireland in which there is no border.

    Well there wouldn’t be a border so….

    No, you are advocating redrawing the border between the British State and the Irish State. Ireland is not my term of reference, but more to the point it’s not most of my neighbours’ term of reference either. The British Isles is my term of reference. To them, you are the one drawing the border! (I’m not saying that is objectively the case, just explaining what is the case to the people you have to persuade.)

    This is just it you see – from the point of view of those you’ve to persuade, there would be a border. All you’ve done is move it!

    I can literally see Scotland from my window as I’m typing right now (or would be if it was daylight and not fogbound!), to me and my neighbours a border between here and there is no more ‘natural’ than the current one. People must grasp such realities if we’re ever going to get along!

    What purpose, fundamentally, does Northern Ireland serve?

    The same purpose as Belgium, I’d think, or the Republic of Ireland for that matter! All borders are unnatural – even if you place them in the sea – but they often serve a purpose of providing social unity in certain contexts. But my point is an all-Ireland state simply provides social disunity by different means (i.e. it reverses which group is in the ‘right’ state and which is in the ‘wrong’ one).

    Your answer, basically, is that you couldn’t sell what I’ve suggested to your constituency (insofar as that can be defined). The point is, I am really pushing it to sell even that. So it ain’t gonna happen.

    But let me also be clear: I’m not asking you to persuade me, I personally am on record as saying the constitutional position of NI is utterly irrelevant, I’d join the Republic as is tomorrow if it helped. You are trying to persuade your average Protestant-in-the-Street, whose loyalty to the Monarch and British constitution is genuine, whose Britishness is instinctive, and who has precisely zero interest in an all-Ireland State. Likewise, I wasn’t asking you if you would accept the above, I was asking that if it was the deal on the table, would you campaign in favour? And if you did, would that campaign win among your neighbours, family and social circle? I get the impression that the answer even to the first question is ‘no’, and the second is definitely ‘no’. And that is the problem with the very idea of an all-Ireland State!

    Let me repeat, there is absolutely zero wrong with what you write, provided it is seen from a certain historical viewpoint. But from the British viewpoint (i.e. from the viewpoint of those you must persuade), historical, geographical and social reality are quite different, and that different view is equally legitimate. The campaign for an all-Ireland State MUST take that view on board – which is why Irish Nationalism cannot deliver one.

    But my main contention is this: many Catholics in NI would place a fair deal before an all-Ireland State. Among those (also many) that do specifically want one, there is little understanding of the sacrifices that would be genuinely required to deliver it in practice. And among those who do have that understanding, there is no real will to make those sacrifices (as evidenced even among the ‘moderates’ above). In short, the will to bring about an all-Ireland State in practice does not exist, so we’re lumbered with what we have. So we’d better get on with it…

  • Davros

    Good post IJP. Agree, and should have included maca and JD.

    One small point : you wrote “All borders are unnatural – even if you place them in the sea – but they often serve a purpose of providing social unity in certain contexts.” Essentialists won’t agree and essentialism is the bedrock of Irish Republicanism.

  • maca

    IJP
    “It’s all or nothing pal, are you on or out?!”

    Out.

    Just on your post to Billy

    ” to me and my neighbours a border between here and there is no more ‘natural’ than the current one”

    But there is a border between NI & Scotland. And not just the natural one. There’s a little wall around NI dividing it not just from the ROI but from GB also.

    Your last para is spot on, IMO, and applies to many Southerners also.

  • IJP

    Davros

    Correct.

    Maca

    My mobile phone works in Scotland, it costs me 28p to post a letter to or from Scotland, we watch roughly the same TV, pay tax to the same place, etc etc.

    Of course I agree NI is a ‘state apart’, but the divide between NI and Scotland is merely regional. There is no (instinctive) reason to place a national boundary there.

    But I think we’re in agreement, I’m just emphasizing that point.

  • willowfield

    George

    not a single answer yet again.

    I answered all your questions. PLEASE don’t lie.

    Please answer the questions, which I’ve now put a simply as possible for you, or I’m not bothered. Who funded the NHS and education programmes – Stormont or the British government?

    Stormont.

    Was the money for these programmes generated within NI or without?

    Both, I imagine.

    Did Stormont have an option to opt out of the British NHS and education system?

    I’ve already answered that question.

    Do you really believe the M1 route makes more economic sense than a motorway to Dublin?

    I imagine it did in the 60s.

    Why did you not tell me where the “J7” and “J1b” exists are, and how do you know they are the only ones in the UK which don’t allow you to rejoin?

    Billy Pilgrim

    The existing motorway to Dungannon was built as the first leg of a planned motorway to Enniskillen. That’s a matter of historical record. The M1 was supposed to go to Enniskillen.

    But it didn’t. George is claiming that it does.

    I know you’ll try to fudge this point, but above, you are basically arguing that infrastructure does not affect economic performance. You are arguing that business conditions are not affected by infrastructure.

    I’m not. I’m arguing that the relative danger of the road to Newry compared to Craigavon is unlikely to have a significant bearing on a Belfast businessman’s decision to trade with someone in Craigavon or Dublin.

    If infrastructure had been driven only by socio-economic considerations, it certainly would have. But the point, which you are pretending not to see, is that sectarian politics trumped socio-economic sanity, so the roads went west rather than south.

    I simply don’t accept that Labour and Conservative governments have played sectarian trump cards to prevent a motorway being built to Newry.

    Just for clarification: do you think the infrastructural projects that included the motorways and the creation of Craigavon were good ideas?

    The motorways, yes. Craigavon, no. But new towns were the fashion then in the planning world.

    It’s only partly about that.

    Not as far as I’m concerned.

    Ok, what word would you use?

    Delivered is fine by me.

    See above. The problem isn’t the location of the border. It’s the border.

    Yet you want to maintain a border between an independent Irish state and the UK!

    The inherent contradiction with NI is, as it always has been, that there are too few unionists in too small an area to make viable a separate state in the north-east insulated from the rest of the people of Ireland.

    Funny how it has proved viable, then!

    The dilemma at the time of partition was that the numbers had to be made up somehow, and the only way to do that was to include swathes of the territory inhabited by mostly unwilling, anti-partition populations into the partitioned enclave.

    And nationalists’ solution was to include even bigger swathes of territory inhabited by even greater numbers of unwilling, pro-partition populations into an all-Ireland state!

    But the border itself is fundamentally sectarian. It exists for sectarian reasons – that the sects have different and irreconcilable ideals, and therefore if the Taig majority are to have a state, the Prod minority must have one too.

    But the border that you propose is fundamentally sectarian. It exists for sectarian reasons – that the sects have different and irreconcilable ideals, and therefore if the British majority are to have a state, the Irish minority must have one too.

    If you get rid of the border you’d be getting rid of the single issue that has dominated all aspects of life here for nearly a century. It’d have to be replaced by other issues, which would probably be things like: how is the government performing? Are our lives better or worse? Why the hell hasn’t that pothole been filled yet? You could have a real discourse, instead of having tribal communities who are bound to root for one government or the other, no matter what they do.

    If you accept the border you’d be getting rid of the single issue that has dominated all aspects of life here for nearly a century. It’d have to be replaced by other issues, which would probably be things like: how is the government performing? Are our lives better or worse? Why the hell hasn’t that pothole been filled yet? You could have a real discourse, instead of having tribal communities who are bound to root for one government or the other, no matter what they do.

    Jacko

    Actually, it wasn’t intended to be an analogy, but a clear example of how previous fears around a near by out-of-town development proved to be hoplessly unfounded.

    I don’t think they were hopelessly unfounded. Out-of-town shopping developments are economically disastrous for cities and city centres.

    By noting how close the Maze is to Sprucefield and drawing attention to an already planned road link-up between the two locations, I was, though obviously not clearly enough, positing the notion of it all eventually becoming part of a far greater development.

    We don’t want our national stadium to be part of some awful, soulless American-mall-style “greater development”. We want to support our cities.

    I can well understand your own disappointment at east Belfast losing out and therefore don’t imagine any points made by me or anyone else will allow you to consider this from a neutral standpoint.

    I’ve no interest in “east Belfast” winning or losing out. The stadium should be in central Belfast.

  • George

    IJP,
    I suppose my point in a nutshell is that history shows decision making in Northern Ireland appears to have suffered terribly from short-termism, having always either come directly from Westminster/NIO – resulting in decisions like building the stadium at the Maze as it is the lowest common denominator- or from the local parliament Stormont – building motorways where there is political capital to be gained rather than real capital.

    The motorway decision was possible because those making the decisions did so for political rather than economic reasons while more importantly nobody was in a position to question the route or even if they were couldn’t do anything about it.

    The same is true with the Maze. The NIO “panel” has decided for political reasons (H-Block retention issue, cheap, neutral) the Maze will do and there is pretty much nothing anyone can do about it.

    Unfortunately, like the motorway, this decision is the wrong one in the long term. This money should be used to inject more life into Belfast, which would benefit immensely from a modern stadium.

    The depressing thing for me is that so many don’t seem to have realised that, in the long run, NIO one party rule, will be so damaging economically.

    On unification and the monarch as head of State:
    my view is that a partnership of equals cannot involve an oath of allegiance. We should walk beside each other, one cannot lead or follow.

    Willowfield,
    even in the 1960s it only ever made economic sense to build the M1 south and not west.

    When Ireland and the UK both joined the EU there was only one road designated as a Euro 1 route: Belfast-Dublin-Rosslare. Why? Because it is the economic artery of the island.

  • willowfield

    George

    even in the 1960s it only ever made economic sense to build the M1 south and not west.

    How do you know?

    As IJP has pointed out, the NI and ROI economies were quite different. This was reflected in the relative amounts of traffic north-south compared to east-west within NI.

    Anyway, I take it you’ve now conceded that your outrageous claim that Stormont delivered nothing was a load of poppycock.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    Europe’s economists, who I believe know a lot more about this than you, considering they have developed functioning economies, designated it the prime economic artery when Ireland joined the EU. I’ll take their word for it especially as they have been proven right in the interim.

    Or are really going to tell me that they are wrong and that the M1 west has shown itself to be of more economic importance than the road south to Northern Ireland’s largest trading partner?

    In the entire time I have read your comments on this forum, I have yet to see you admit that maybe you misjudged something which is why I expect you to continue to defend the economic folly of the M1 west. Your perogative but you are wrong to defend it.

    By the way, I haven’t conceded anything on the failed Stormont regime, I just couldn’t be bothered continuing a discussion that was going nowhere.

    But I’m an optimist.
    Stormont implementing Westminster directives on the NHS and education made it no more than a glorified NIO. It didn’t come up with these things.

    The only thing I can think of off the top of my that Stormont delivered off its own bat was to prevent the 1967 Abortion Act from applying to Northern Ireland. Even if I don’t agree with that policy it delivered it by simply saying no.

    Can you tell me anything that Stormont came up with on its own that was to the benefit of its citizens?

    It messed up totally on housing, infrastructure and anything else it had money to spend on.

  • willowfield

    George

    Europe’s economists, who I believe know a lot more about this than you, considering they have developed functioning economies, designated it the prime economic artery when Ireland joined the EU. I’ll take their word for it especially as they have been proven right in the interim.

    Er, you just admitted that was in the 1970s, George!

    Or are really going to tell me that they are wrong and that the M1 west has shown itself to be of more economic importance than the road south to Northern Ireland’s largest trading partner?

    I’ve no idea. All I know is that the M1 and the M2 are excellent roads, delivered by Stormont, and that you are denying this.

    Stormont implementing Westminster directives on the NHS and education made it no more than a glorified NIO. It didn’t come up with these things.

    First, it didn’t implement Westminster directives on the NHS and education.

    Second, it did “come up with” the education system.

    Third, who “came up with” things is irrelevant. Stormont delivered them.

    Can you tell me anything that Stormont came up with on its own that was to the benefit of its citizens?

    The education system.

    It messed up totally on housing, infrastructure and anything else it had money to spend on.

    Messed up on housing? Most commentators accept that the NIHT and NIHE were storming successes.

    Try objectivity.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    “Er, you just admitted that was in the 1970s, George”

    I’m not “admitting” anything Willowfield. I’m trying to have a discussion and get your views. Try be honest. Please. Yes, we didn’t join until 1973 so obviously they wouldn’t comment before.

    When economists were asked to look at Ireland and infrastructural requirements they immediately flagged Belfast-Dublin-Rosslare as the the main artery.

    Do you honestly believe things had changed so much in those ten years to 1973 that the economists would have gone for Belfast-Galway via Enniskillen route (west motorway) if Ireland and the UK joined in 1963?

    As I said you simply won’t admit that the M1 was a political rather than economic decision. It doesn’t matter if the road is good, it wasn’t the right decision. It has cost NI in terms of jobs and progress.

    How does the NI education system differ from the rest of the UK? What added value came from the Stormont regime? Just tell me if you know.

    What’s the NIHE and NIHT Willowfield? I’ve never heard of them and who says they were a roaring success?

    Did they deliver for all Northern Ireland’s citizens and the economy or were their decisions politically motivated to deliver to one group like the building of the M1 west?

  • Donnie

    This is far and away the best post I have read on Slugger in a long time. Not a mention of “themmuns” or MOPEry in site. Cheers to all involved for using Slugger for its intended purpose.

  • maca

    IJP
    “My mobile phone works in Scotland, it costs me 28p to post a letter to or from Scotland, we watch roughly the same TV, pay tax to the same place, etc etc.”

    And many of the same things apply to most of us in Europe. Yet there are borders dividing us. So all these “national” divides are “regional” in a way.

    Though I partially disagree that perhaps there is a reason to place a national boundary there, as much as there might be to place one between NI & ROI.
    Perhaps I am overstating the divide between NI & GB but perhaps you are understating it? 😉
    A good place to leave it I think.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow.

    NIHT? What was that?

    As for the Housing Executive (NIHE): please.

    The housing executive was set up in 1971 by a panicking unionist regime that belatedly realised its criminal housing policies and those it had tolerated in the councils had brought the state to its knees. Housing was the jag that unravelled the whole unionist state, so please let’s not credit the criminals for trying to save their own asses at the eleventh hour.

    The NIHE has been by some degree a success but for Stormont (which was finally shut down less than a year later) to take credit is a joke.

    If the Northern Bank robbers gave back the £26 million, would that make everything all right? Don’t think so. Similarly the Stormont fiends deserve no credit for abandoning their 50 year `unhouse the fenians’ policy as their whole wretched house was falling down around them.

    Jesus, housing conditions for Catholics under Stormont were bad enough to make a radical out of Austin Currie. AUSTIN CURRIE FFS.

    If Stormont had actually “delivered” a housing executive then the civil rights movement would never have gained the traction it did and subsequent events might have been very different.

  • willowfield

    George

    When economists were asked to look at Ireland and infrastructural requirements they immediately flagged Belfast-Dublin-Rosslare as the the main artery. Do you honestly believe things had changed so much in those ten years to 1973 that the economists would have gone for Belfast-Galway via Enniskillen route (west motorway) if Ireland and the UK joined in 1963?

    I’ve no idea, George. I imagine the fact that the M1 and M2 already existed would have meant it would have been rather silly for these “EC economists” to recommend building them again.

    As I said you simply won’t admit that the M1 was a political rather than economic decision.

    I can’t admit that which I don’t know. You’re making the claim but it’s backed up only by your own prejudices. If it were true we’d have documentary evidence for it.

    All I know is that Stormont delivered two excellent motorways, which is two more than the Republic did! Yet you deny this!

    It doesn’t matter if the road is good, it wasn’t the right decision.

    That’s your opinion, based on prejudice.

    It has cost NI in terms of jobs and progress.

    How do you know?

    How does the NI education system differ from the rest of the UK?

    Why are you asking in the present tense? It differs mainly in that there is a much higher rate of participation in the state-funded sector, and also in the number of types of school. Why do you ask?

    What added value came from the Stormont regime? Just tell me if you know.

    Stormont negotiated the transfer of church schools into the care of the state, provided funding for major school-building and provided free schooling for all. It established a new university.

    What’s the NIHE and NIHT Willowfield? I’ve never heard of them and who says they were a roaring success?

    For a supposed expert on Stormont you seem to be rather ignorant. NIHE is the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and NIHT is the Northern Ireland Housing Trust. Most historians and commentators say they were a success.

    Did they deliver for all Northern Ireland’s citizens and the economy or were their decisions politically motivated to deliver to one group like the building of the M1 west?

    They delivered for all citizens and the economy.

    Billy P

    NIHT? What was that?

    The Northern Ireland Housing Trust.

    The housing executive was set up in 1971 by a panicking unionist regime …

    So you acknowledge that NIHE was delivered by Stormont. Thanks. Would you acknowledge that it was a success?

    … that belatedly realised its criminal housing policies and those it had tolerated in the councils had brought the state to its knees.

    Stormont housing policies were not criminal. Please do not lie.

    The NIHE has been by some degree a success but for Stormont (which was finally shut down less than a year later) to take credit is a joke.

    Stormont devised it and “delivered” it.

    Jesus, housing conditions for Catholics under Stormont were bad enough to make a radical out of Austin Currie. AUSTIN CURRIE FFS.

    They were worse for Protestants. And worse still for the citizens of the Republic.

    If Stormont had actually “delivered” a housing executive then the civil rights movement would never have gained the traction it did and subsequent events might have been very different.

    It did deliver the Housing Executive.

  • willowfield

    George

    Why did you refuse TWICE to explain where these exits are and how you know they are the only ones in the UK which you can’t return to the motorway from?

    Were you lying?

  • George

    I try not to lie Willowfield, however, as I am human I can be mistaken on occasion. This happens when you give a view. I am also human enough to admit my errors.

    I’m still trying to get your view, I’ve given up hope of you ever admitting you are wrong about anything.

    Simple question: In your view was the M1 a political rather than an economic one?

    You’ve called me ignorant and bitter so far on this thread. Please refrain from the insults.

    You claim the NIHE (Nearly in Higher Education where I come from) delivered for all but you are either lying or just making that up because everything I’ve read on the Northern Irish Housing Executive was that it was corrupt in the extreme, especially in its employment of one community over another and that it also discriminated against one group and delivering for another.

    Or are you telling me there was no discrimination in the allocation of housing?

    You mention a university which was built in the seaside town of Coleraine rather than Northern Ireland’s second city – Derry.

    Another politically based decision. Or are you telling me it made more sense to put the university in Coleraine?

    How do I know about these junctions? I have a big interest in infrastructure and economic development.

    The J7 is on the Templepatrick – Dunsilly section and I believe and the J1b is the Docks/City Centre junction to the A2.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    “…whose Britishness is instinctive…”

    No it’s not. It’s constructed. No-one is born with a flag in their hand.

  • willowfield

    George

    I’m still trying to get your view, I’ve given up hope of you ever admitting you are wrong about anything.

    If I am wrong, I will admit it. I’ve no problem with that.

    Simple question: In your view was the M1 a political rather than an economic one?

    I’ve no idea, George. I’ve no reason to believe it was political. Your prejudices are not enough to convince me. As I said, if it was political, there’d be evidence for it. Here’s a job for you, George. Get yourself down to the Public Record Office and come up with the evidence.

    You claim the NIHE (Nearly in Higher Education where I come from) delivered for all but you are either lying or just making that up because everything I’ve read on the Northern Irish Housing Executive was that it was corrupt in the extreme, especially in its employment of one community over another and that it also discriminated against one group and delivering for another.

    George, I have previously challenged you about lying, but this really takes the biscuit. Such a bare-faced lie is not worthy of response. Outrageous! You really should question yourself. You can have no credibility with lies such as this. Scurrilous in the extreme!

    You mention a university which was built in the seaside town of Coleraine rather than Northern Ireland’s second city – Derry. Another politically based decision. Or are you telling me it made more sense to put the university in Coleraine?

    The argument at the time was that Coleraine was more suitable because of the availability of accommodation. On the face of it, it makes sense. I know where I’d rather study!

    But the location is irrelevant. You claimed Stormont delivered nothing. I told you it delivered a university, and you can’t deny that!

    How do I know about these junctions? I have a
    big interest in infrastructure and economic development.

    And what is the source for your claim?

    The J7 is on the Templepatrick – Dunsilly section and I believe and the J1b is the Docks/City Centre junction to the A2.

    Don’t know what Dunsilly is, but the exit at Templepatrick does enable you to rejoin the motorway, as does the Docks exit. So you’re talking nonsense as usual.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    you have no view as to whether Northern Ireland’s largest road infrastructure project in its history was decided out of economic or political reasons?

    I rest my case. As I said elsewhere, partitionist unionism as an ideology blindly accepts second best and never leads. Going nowhere fast.

    You never once questioned the logic of the M1 West? Incredible.

    I don’t even live in NI and it’s such an obvious piece of folly that I have a pronounced view on it.

    But you, a fully subsidised member of the union simply shrug your shoulders and admit you actually don’t know.

    What’s worse is I think you don’t care? Apathy, the last refuge of a kept man.

    Re: Coleraine. I accept Stormont delivered for the cabal for which it was set up to protect but that doesn’t mean it delivered for Northern Ireland but your apathy means you aren’t even able to see this.

    Either that or you’re part of the cabal.

  • willowfield

    I’ve no interest in engaging with liars, George.

  • George

    Tell me where I lied Willowfield or is this yet another case of when the going gets tough, saying something to yourself for so long that you actually believe it as truth.

    The only thing you said I was lying about was the motorway, which I wasn’t. I named the junctions for you and they are the only ones in the UK.

    Or is it a case that you can’t accept the truth, namely that you took a ridiculous stance on the M1 west, and instead of admitting it, you have to resort to gratuitous insults. That’s number three on this thread alone.

    You don’t have an opinion about Northern Ireland’s biggest road infrastructure project.

    That is the equivalent of a Dubliner not knowing if the M50 was a result of poor planning.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “So you acknowledge that NIHE was delivered by Stormont. Thanks. Would you acknowledge that it was a success?”

    I have already fully dealt with these points. I’m not about to reword it so it might be more convenient for you. I have argued that NIHE was by some degree to successful, but that Stormont deserves no credit for it. You haven’t dealt with that argument. You have pretended everything I wrote was of no significance. I don’t intend to let you treat me with such disrespect for very long.

    “Stormont housing policies were not criminal. Please do not lie.”

    Criminal is a floating concept – surely in this place we understand that. My view is that a policy that systematically runs down the housing conditions of an entire community with the purpose of a) undermining its democratic rights and b) engineering widespread emigration; is a criminal act. Even when carried out by lawful forces. That’s my opinion and I stand by it.

    You have accused both George and I of lying when in fact we have only expressed our opinions. You’re drowning Willow.

    “Stormont devised it and “delivered” it.”

    That’s an assertion that, again, I have already dealt with. Do you want try and explain to me why I’m wrong or are you content to continue insulting me and screaming your disrespect by tackling my arguments with flat declarations?

    “They were worse for Protestants. And worse still for the citizens of the Republic.”

    You’ve hit rock bottom Willow.

    “It did deliver the Housing Executive.”

    Rock bottom.

  • willowfield

    George

    Tell me where I lied Willowfield

    I already did. The clue is in such phrases as “Such a bare-faced lie is not worthy of response” and “You can have no credibility with lies such as this. Scurrilous in the extreme!”

    The only thing you said I was lying about was the motorway, which I wasn’t.

    I didn’t say you lied about that. I asked if you were lying.

    I named the junctions for you and they are the only ones in the UK.

    They’re not. I already pointed out to you that you can return to the motorway from both exits. And you refused to cite the source for your claim.

    Billy Pilgrim

    I have argued that NIHE was by some degree to successful, but that Stormont deserves no credit for it.

    Well, given that Stormont devised it and established it your argument is not in the least credible.

    My view is that a policy that systematically runs down the housing conditions of an entire community with the purpose of a) undermining its democratic rights and b) engineering widespread emigration; is a criminal act.

    That may be your view, but there was no such policy.

    You have accused both George and I of lying when in fact we have only expressed our opinions.

    I didn’t accuse you of lying. And George has lied about the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. You should be joining me in reprimanding him.

    Rock bottom

    Keep repeating that, Billy. You might believe it eventually.

    George claimed that Stormont delivered nothing. That is clearly untrue, yet he continues to peddle his dishonesty. You’re no better in your attempts to back him up.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow.

    Just for the sake of accuracy, you said:

    “Stormont housing policies were not criminal. Please do not lie.”

    Then you denied you had accused me of lying.

    “George claimed that Stormont delivered nothing.”

    Indeed he did, and indeed he was wrong. He should have said that Stormont was not responsible for anything good.

    Let’s set aside the housing executive for a moment: I have made an argument which you continue to disrespect and ignore, so I will not discuss the NIHE any further with you til you have engaged with that argument.

    So please, I’m all ears. Tell me about those triumphs of Stormont I am forgetting about.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    I’m sure Stormont delivered for the cabal just like it delivered motorway madness in a westerly direction but that to me is not delivering for the people it was supposed to, namely the population of Northern Ireland.

    That is why it collapsed and is discredited as being discriminatory. I’m not lying when I make this point, I’m merely stating what to me and many others is a historical fact.

    Here’s my source for the junctions http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/2n.shtml

    By the way, are you still sticking to not knowing about whether the M1 was a good idea?

  • IJP

    George

    Agree entirely with your 1021AM, as indeed with most things economic that you write!

    Maca

    Well, you could be making my point from an entirely different angle: the reality of EU integration is another thing that makes Irish Nationalism redundant.

    In short, a ‘United Ireland’ is not impossible, it just can’t happen! And it can’t happen because of Irish Nationalism.

  • maca

    “And it can’t happen because of Irish Nationalism.”

    And British nationalism i.e. Unionism, and probably a bunch of other isms 😉

  • alex s

    It was noticable that the MP for the Maze area was conspicious by his abscence yesterday letting Edwin Poots take the glory, or was Jeffrey lining Edwin up for a shafting, all that talk of agreement among parties, including Sinn Fein will not go down with the DUP core supporter, maybe that’s Edwin’s punishment for not paying his rates bill?

  • beano

    Regarding the M2 Exit 1B – you can hardly call it a junction where you can’t rejoin the motorway: it’s at the end of the motorway!

    OK technically it’s at 100m before the end but you leave it to go to the city centre, whereas if you go to the “end” then it takes you to the Westlink/M1.

    Speaking of the M1: while I accept your opinion that the building of the M1 towards Enniskillen was a political decision, if Stormont had built the M1 to Newry as you suggest, wouldn’t that leave them open to more allegations of ignoring the “nationalist west” of the province? I wonder how my nationalist student friends from Enniskillen would feel if the motorway they use on a weekly basis to get up to university was not there because there was a motorway to Newry instead.

    Anyway, sorry to drag this back on topic BUT a lot of Northern Ireland supporters and Ulster Rugby supporters seem a bit worried about the maze site as a home for our new stadium. By admission, unfortunately, the GAA don’t seem as upset as us. I’d still be interested to hear
    any fedback on this draft Stadium 4 Belfast Petition?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Beano.

    What the fuck is that second point all about? Get rid of it and I’ll gladly sign your petition, but if Gaelic games are to be excluded from this new stadium then it’ll be nothing more than another unionist-only slum like the one its supposed to be replacing.

    Look, frankly Beano, nationalists won’t believe you if you say your reservations are about pitch sizes. We just won’t.

    “The different sizes of the pitches (Hurling would require a pitch length of 140m, Rugby has a maximum length of 100m, Football 110m) would make it difficult to retain the quality of the atmosphere at Rugby/Football matches.”

    You may have a point here, but the answer is not to exclude Gaelic games. Jesus, you don’t even grasp what you’re saying, do you?

    “This issue was important enough to prevent the new Wembley stadium having an athletics track around the edge of the pitch, and must be given full consideration when designing Northern Ireland’s new stadium and we ask that you consider all practical methods of negating this problem.”

    Negate the problem: fair enough. I’m sure the architects and engineers of the world are equal to the task. But as a matter of fundamental principle Gaelic games must NOT be excluded from this new stadium. If they are, very few nationalists will ever darken its door. (Which mightn’t seem like such a bad thing to a unionist, but what then would be the bloody point of the thing?)

    “Let us be clear that we are not opposed, in principle, to a stadium serving Football, Rugby and Gaelic sports, provided the practical issues are suitably dealt with.”

    Then stop barking up this tree. I’m not suggesting you have any sectarian motivation for raising this issue Beano: but Jesus, my back couldn’t be more up if you’d just been sectarian about it.

    It’s this kind of “non-sectarian” fuzzy logic that led to decisions like building the M1 to Dungannon, or siting the university in Coleraine, or the farce of Craigavon. I’m sure the unionist ministers who took these decisions honestly did not think they were being sectarian. I’m sure they honestly thought they had good, sound reasons for what were in fact outrageous decisions.

    Don’t fall into that trap Beano. Shorten the petition. In its current form, whether you intended it to be or not, it’s a petition to keep out the fenians.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Beano.

    Let me apologise for my language in the above post, it was written in anger. All I will say though is that I was moved to anger by your petition.

  • slug9987

    This discussion went badly off topic.

  • slug9987

    Beano – a couple of comments (a bit less impassioned than Billys). Your points seem good to me – there is benefit in atmosphere from intimacy and a central setting is generally better. The Cardiff Stadium seems a good model on these counts. On the pitch size point can that be solved by retracting seating to expand or reduce the size of the pitch – didn’t the Manchester Commonwealth Games have some system like that? (I am no expert).

  • Stephen Copeland

    if Stormont had built the M1 to Newry as you suggest, wouldn’t that leave them open to more allegations of ignoring the “nationalist west” of the province?

    The track of the M1 was through unionist majority territory at the time of its conception. It is only subsequently that the area it serves (or was intended to serve) has turned green. There was a long string of unionist territory heading west to Enniskillen via the Clogher valley (and then up into north Fermanagh, though the M1 would not have gone that far). My reading of Stormont’s intentions was that it wanted to keep the unionist areas of the west (sic) connected to the heartland, fearing tht otherwise they would wither and die, leaving a green west (sic). Which is, of course, exactly what is happening at a fairly rapid pace nowadays! The unionist ‘islands’ are getting smaller and more isolated – Stormont failed them.

  • slug9987

    “If you get rid of the border you’d be getting rid of the single issue that has dominated all aspects of life here for nearly a century.”

    Isn’t the border the consequence rather than the cause of the divisions in Ireland that have dominated life?

  • beano

    Billy, I assure you I tried to word the petition specifically NOT to sound like a “keep the fenians out”. Angela Smith (Sports Minister) has already made it clear it won’t go ahead without the GAA, and like I said, I have no problem ground sharing *IF* they do something about the pitch size.

    Slug is right in pointing out that these sorts of issues have been dealt with before (eg the athletics track at the new Webmley). My problem is that there’s been no mention of any of these solutions in relation to Northern Ireland’s stadium. It was the architect who pointed out the problem – he failed ot suggest any solutions such as temporary seating.

    Not once did I suggest that anyone signing would want to see Gaelic Games excluded. I have since added that. I don’t know what else to do to counter your paranoia that we would want to see GAA excluded. I thought the fact I asked them to give the accommodation of GAA with Rugby & Football due consideration in the design would have done so (since if they decided not to include GAA the design wouldn’t pose this problem) but apparently not.

  • beano

    I have now updated No to the Maze petition based on your feedback (you may need to refresh the page). See? Nice unionist.

    As I have said we do not want to exclude GAA, in fact in an ideal world I would seek *backing* from GAA fans to get the Stadium built in Belfast. I do not hold my breath but anything that can make it more appealing to the GAA fans is worth considering.

    The second point now reads:
    Secondly, we ask you to consider the implications of playing Gaelic games at the same ground as Rugby and Football. As GAA (in particular Hurling) pitches are much longer, it would require special measures to retain the quality of the atmosphere at Rugby/Football matches. This type of issue was important enough to lead to special arrangements for athletics at the new Wembley stadium, and must be given full consideration when designing Northern Ireland’s new stadium. Let us be clear that we are not opposed, to a stadium serving Football, Rugby and Gaelic sports, provided the practical issues are suitably dealt with.

    Does this address your concerns at all?

  • beano

    My bad – the link has changed to
    This since we’re into march now.