SF complain about Irish Government interference in North

All has changed, changed utterly. Not so long ago it would have been Unionist political parties complaining about the Irish Government interfering in the politics of the north, and they still might.. but this time, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams is there first… leadership, eh?

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    LMAO You couldn’t make that up!

  • iluvni

    So it’s Brits Out AND Irish out now?

  • Davros

    Gerry is showing his age – a real Socialist rallying cry pre-Thatcher … “Everyone Out!”

  • ormeau r

    The SDLP must have so few election workers on the ground they have to bring in McDowell to hand out election literature

  • fair_deal

    LMFAO.

    Although it is not without precedent. There was the time Alex Maskey told a Dubliner campaigning for Joe Hendron in West Belfast to “fuck off home”.

  • chief

    last year I was out leafletting in lenadoon with a friendly southerner who had come up to show his love for the stoops.

    At one door I was having a friendly chat with an old boy who wanted to know what party I was from. When I told him I was from the stoops, he said, “if I had a gun, I would shoot you myself.” Good chat.

    So my southern chum piped in with a friendly injerjection. The old boy from the Sinn Fein Lenadoon party wasn’t impressed, and told him that there was no need for “foreigners” to come up to belfast to try and tell the good people of lenadoon what to do.

    Good chat indeed.

  • Jim Bob

    To All:

    I’m not sure why you’ve all got this story wrong, other than you’ve no interest in getting it right.

    Adams was complaining about an Irish government minister showing support for a particular party at this election time, not about southerners coming up to support the SDLp which they always have done in the past.

    Mark Devenport discusses this issue and compares it with the way the British government are keeping out of the local party politics now that the election propaer is under way.

    If he can manage to understand the story, there’s really no excuse for any of the rest of you.

  • peteb

    Ha ha.. Stop it, Jim Bob.. you’re killing me 😉

  • Jim Bob

    To Peteb;

    Adams made the distinction between the presence of an Irish government minister and an ordinary southern politician. That’s quite clear in what he said, and very explicitly so.

    Devenport understands the point. You’ve chosen not to understand the point.

    Governments differ in poll approach

    By Mark Devenport

    BBC Northern Ireland political editor

    It is election time in Northern Ireland, so the government is staying silent – the British government that is.

    The Irish government appears to be adopting a rather different approach to the campaign.

    The governments are taking differing approaches to the poll

    British civil servants and ministers are strictly following a long standing convention known as “election purdah”.

    According to official guidelines, the principle is that the government should “do everything possible to avoid competition with parliamentary candidates for the attention of the public”.

    Civil servants are warned that “material produced with complete impartiality which would be accepted as objective in ordinary times may excite criticism during an election period when feelings are running high”.

    That is why British ministers limited themselves to a brief written response when Gerry Adams launched his latest IRA initiative.

    It is also, of course, not particularly convenient for direct rule ministers to spend time responding to Northern Ireland developments whilst they are concentrating on defending their seats across the Irish Sea.

    The wall of silence from one government makes a flurry of activity by the other all the more interesting.

    The Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, spent a day visiting South Down in the company of the outgoing SDLP MP Eddie McGrady.

    Michael McDowell will back SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell
    The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said the minister was not engaging in party political campaigning but was responding to a long-standing invitation.

    However, Sinn Fein did not buy this line – a party source accused Fianna Fail of doing anything possible to “give a leg up” to the SDLP.

    Then, interviewed for the BBC’s Inside Politics programme, the Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, revealed that he made a formal protest to the Irish government over the visit.

    But shortly afterwards it emerged that Dermot Ahern’s visit was not a one off.

    The Irish Labour leader, Pat Rabbite, announced plans to visit Derry in support of SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

    Then, the BBC learned that Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell would be heading to Belfast to back SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell.

    Changing mood

    Given Mr McDowell’s status as a special “hate figure” for Sinn Fein, this intervention promised to be particularly interesting.

    Whilst the SDLP’s close links with the southern parties are no secret, these visits appear the most overt interventions in a northern election campaign for some time.

    They clearly reflect the change of mood in Dublin towards Sinn Fein since the allegations surrounding the Northern Bank robbery and the McCartney murder.

    As republicans would be quick to add, they must also be seen against the backdrop of Sinn Fein’s growing electoral success in the south.

    Whether such interventions will assist the SDLP is open to question.

    A photograph of Eddie McGrady with the Irish foreign minister can do the party no harm.

    But will Michael McDowell’s presence in Belfast make it more or less likely that Alasdair McDonnell will be able to attract the Sinn Fein voters whose support he needs if he is to take South Belfast?

    That is a question which can only be answered after 5 May.

  • harry

    I hear the stoops have hired Cliff Richard to help them drum up support.

    I don’t however think he’ll be singing congratulations, come May 5th

  • peteb

    Jim Bob

    To be serious then, for a moment.

    Actually, I understand the point that SF would prefer everyone to discuss very well. But, as my original post illustrates, in pushing that agenda Sinn Féin are echoing the language and behaviour of Unionist political parties in the recent past.

    But since you insist, how’s this instead?

    SF want the Irish Government to be more like the British Government. That’s even funnier.

  • John O’Connell

    Sinn Fein turn the stomach of most reasonable Irish people because they are an invention and creation of the British in Ireland.

    The big surges for Sinn Fein were in 1916 after the killing of 1916 heroes by the British, and in 1981 after the letting die of the Hunger strikers.

    On both occasions Britain was in the driving seat and they created by their negligence an obnoxious theology in Ireland. Even the British are nowhere near as obnoxious as Sinn Fein are these days.

    But the point is that Sinn Fein and their neoNazi nationalism is a product of Britain’s negligence in the affairs of Ireland. It’s up to us as Irish people to deal with Sinn Fein on this basis – as a foreign import – and to reject them accordingly.

  • Davros

    John – the big surge was when DLG was considering the introduction of conscription. SF was on the wane after an initial surge. It was Conscription more than the executions that gave SF their big vote.

  • Jim Bob

    To Peteb

    “To be serious then, for a moment.

    Actually, I understand the point that SF would prefer everyone to discuss very well.”

    Obviously you don’t, since you insist on changing their point to a straw man of your own invention. So rather than deal with the point they’re making, you’ve invented your own point that you’d prefer everyone to discuss.

    “But, as my original post illustrates, in pushing that agenda Sinn Féin are echoing the language and behaviour of Unionist political parties in the recent past.”

    They’re not. You’re still avoiding the point. What Adams has explicitly complained about is Irish government ministers interfering at the time of an election. He’s not complaining about Irish governemnt interest in the North more generally which was always what Unionists complained out.

    You really need to be honest about the point that Adams is making, a point which Devenport had no problem identifying immediately. A point indeed thast Ahern had no problem immediately identifying, since he sought to excuse his behaviour by suggesting that he had an engagement planned long in advance and by implication couldn’t of course have known there was going to be an election on.

    “But since you insist, how’s this instead?

    SF want the Irish Government to be more like the British Government. That’s even funnier.”

    You really are determined to get it as wrong as possible, aren’t you?

    What Adams wants the Irish government to do is not abuse their offices in selectively intervening in the election process. Again a point Devenport had no problem understanding but which you continually insist on misrepresenting.

  • George

    I have to say I also see the issue as relating around a government minister helping the SDLP.

    All the independent TD’s came up last week to support Dr. Deeny in Tyrone and there was no issue.

    Nobody has a problem with Labour leader Pat Rabitte, who is in opposition, coming up too. There’s no issue with back bench FFers canvassing either.

  • john

    “It’s up to us as Irish people to deal with Sinn Fein on this basis – as a foreign import – and to reject them accordingly.”

    We Irish people do deal with Sinn Fein by supporting them in our hundreds of thousands

    I think its bitter and twisted people like yourself john o connel who are a product of the british involvement in Ireland

  • peteb

    You really are determined to get it as wrong as possible, aren’t you?

    That’s just my irreverent nature… again.

  • PatMcLarnon

    Given that Fianna Fail have allowed party members to organise in the Northern six counties of Ireland one wonders why they are electioneering by stealth.
    They are by history a particularly dishonest party. Why not simply put their Saturday night United Ireland lasnguage to the test and fight elections in areas like West Belfast, West Tyrone etc.
    Of course they wont, gutless as they are, they are not stupid. Humiliation would await them and they know it. When you have to use the SDLP as a stalking horse it really is desperation all round.

  • Davros

    They are by history a particularly dishonest party.

    How come ? All political parties are dishonest. Why are FF especially so ?

  • Jim Bob

    To Peteb

    “That’s just my irreverent nature… again”

    An irreverence seemingly shared by FF/PD ministers in their contempt for the proprieties of the electoral process.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    I don’t see anything wrong in government ministers campaigning for who they want to win an election, as long as they’re not using government funds to finance the trip. They’ve as much right to an opinion as anyone else and shouldn’t have to suppress it just because they also happen to be government ministers. As long as they’re not abusing their position there’s no problem and I doubt SF would complain if they were backing them!

  • Davros

    An irreverence seemingly shared by FF/PD ministers in their contempt for the proprieties of the electoral process.

    That’s funny 🙂 Where does Ballot box in one hand and armalite in t’other fit in the “proprieties of the electoral process” ?

  • Jim Bob

    To Beano:

    “I don’t see anything wrong in government ministers campaigning for who they want to win an election”

    That’s your problem right there then!

    “I doubt SF would complain if they were backing them!”

    Hopefully someone else would complain about it, and hopefully someone else like me who appreciates the very delicate issues involved would come along and back them up.

    But even more hopefully you wouldn’t get government ministers abusing their office in such a fashion in the first place!

  • John O’Connell

    Davros

    Thanks for that

    John

    “I think its bitter and twisted people like yourself john o connel who are a product of the british involvement in Ireland”

    I didn’t bring the British Tory value system into Irish affairs. Sinn Fein did. Sinn Fein are just another example of a Eurosceptic fascist party that likes to control the streets to everyone else’s detriment.

    Irish Values are typically Christian with a big taboo about violence. That’s why Sinn Fein have moved away from those things – because they had little or no support for the IRA campaign while it was ongoing.

    What I’m saying is that the British created Sinn Fein and they’ve promoted them in the last number of years and what do we get? We get Robert McCartney’s death amid serious criminal activities.

  • Jim Bob

    To Davros:

    “That’s funny 🙂 Where does Ballot box in one hand and armalite in t’other fit in the “proprieties of the electoral process” ? “

    It doesn’t.

    And neither does government interference in elections.

    It’s easy once you lose the us and them approach Davros.

  • Keith M

    POliticans from the Republic have been involved in Northern Irish elections going back to Dev’s time, the fact that this statement comes within a few hours of the announcement McDowell’s visit just show how much the Minister for Justice upsets the shinners. Good on you Michael!

  • lorre

    Why dont the Stoops and FF join together and become a genuine ‘4 Green Field’ political party for all the people of Ireland.

    After all SF cant be a proper genuine ‘4 Green Field’ party when Alex Maskey told a southern nationalist SDLP campaigner to ‘Fuck off back to Dublin’ he’s not wanted in West Belfast.

  • Henry96

    Aside altogether from the inappropriateness of Ministers getting involved in the election, what are the SDLP playing at? Are things really that bad that bringing McDowell is going to improve them?

    They must believe they have lost Foyle for sure.

  • Keith M

    Henry “They must believe they have lost Foyle for sure.” As much as I’d enjoy having Durkan land on his arse, I’m afraid I remain skeptical of your powers of predicting the outcome. I’m still waiting for Ahern to declare a day of mourning for the Pope as you you told us he was certain to!

  • John O’Connell

    Henry94

    If having Michael McDowell annoys SF so much then it’s a definite improvement. The SDLP are demostrating their courage, a courage that doesn’t depend on them executing their enemies a la Robert McCartney.

    You don’t see Alasdair McDonnell complain about knife cultures in S Belfast in order to protect one or more of his buddies.

    Real courage means standing up in peace for peace without the backing of psychopaths.

  • spongebobsp

    john

    I Don’t think the SDLP in West Tyrone were allowed to show their courage.

    They wanted to back Deeny but were overruled by the leadership.

    Not much improvement for them!!

  • Jimmy Sands

    Say no to Dublin interference – Votail SF!

    It really is long past time the unionist electorate gave SF due credit as the party which has done most to secure partition.

  • Green Party Supporter

    the Shinners would moan about anything – theres no point in justifying their whinings – they’re doing so well lately why would they worry about a Justice Minister of a very small state – and England don’t give a fuck about us.

    unless they want a one-party-state, no?

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Have any of the ministers done anything to suggest they are abusing their position as ministers, eg misappropriating funds? Has there been a statement that the Irish government saying they back the SDLP? Or are the ministers simply campaigning in their role as politicians with an interest in ‘the North of’ Ireland? To them is not any different from the SDLP standing aside (had they done so) in West Tyrone, to allow someone they feel shares their values to win?

  • Henry94

    KiethM

    You should remember the difference between prophosy and prediction from the European elections. However in this case I was just speculating about the state of the SDLP mind not making a prediction myself. I would see it as too close to call.

  • iluvni

    are sdlp playing the ‘green card’?

  • GavBelfast

    When can we expect The Green Party up for a bit of SDLP bolstering? And when’s Joe Higgins coming to town?

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Southern parties lendnig a bit of a hand to the SDLP, but it does leave them open to the question: what do you actually stand for? Labour? Liberal? Social Democracy? Conservative? Anything you want us to?

  • NewYorker

    The SF complaint on this matter highlights how frozen out of the process they are until/if they clean up their act. They would have been better off to be quiet on the matter.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    The question of what they stand for in this context strikes me as rather obvious: the survival of the non-homicidal nationalist tradition in the north to which, presumably other policy differences would be considered secondary.

  • GavBelfast

    Jimmy, what the SDLP stands for is honourable and decent. But I fear the rag-bag nature of their cheer-leaders runs the risk of giving a penalty kick to their militant rivals.

    It’s pretty obvious that Sinn Fein and their supporters regard themselves as more Irish than the (Southern) Irish themselves, so I can’t see support from Sourthern sources doing much if anything to recapture those who have gone over to the RM.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I was merely stating that I understand the motive. As to its effectiveness I tend to agree with you. Ironically it seems to me further evidence that we really are foreigners to each other by now.

  • RedPaul

    Much of the above reminds me of when I had to write to Martin O’Muilleior (?) many years ago. I sent the letter to the Owenvarragh address as it was the place I had for him. He wrote back and told me to call him Councillor and send post to the city hall. I remember thinking, ” ****, who are the new unionists in town!?” Of course I was wrong.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Paul, in response to his indignant reply to you, you could have addressed a letter to:
    COUNCILLOR Marty Miller, c/o the Members Room, City Hall
    😉

  • hensons

    quite astonishing the inability or the pretence of one that many have in understanding Adams point.

    Rabbitte, Kenny any backbenchers MEP etc etc are well within their rights and its not inapropiate for them to canvass or campaign for whoever they like. I welcome Rabbitee’s visit today as it may help him develop a sustained interest.

    Ahern is not any old politican he is the Dermot Ahern TD and also he is the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the republic of Ireland. This country are the signatories to a number of aggrements, protocols and treaties with the united kingdom of which (unfortunately) the 6 counties of Ireland is part of and eddie mc grady (also enfortunately) is the member of parliament for.

    the Irish govt and the state are trivilising the role of the foreign minister by allowing that psot to canvasss for a poltical party in a jurisdication they have an interest in. although the the propping up of the sdlp has happening for years, it tends to me more subtle.

  • middle-class taig

    I can’t believe the sheer naïveté being demonstrated on this. Think it through. Some of you need to try to think like a fenian for a minute.

    Adams is the smartest frigger of them all and this is a bloody master-stroke.

    Time for a lesson from chucky-school:

    1. First rule of elections – allow as little publicity as possible for things which might damage you electorally. Do not under any circumstances publicise things which are damaging for you.

    2. Second rule of elections – flog mercilessly every angle which grinds you out a few more votes. But if possible, disguise it behind some legitimate non-gimmicky point.

    3. Third rule of elections – make sure you get the vote out. Nothing does that better in northern nationalism than setting up hate figures to vote against – eg, Mid-Ulster 97, 87% turnout to get McCrae out (even before the Electoral Disenfranchisement Act); by 2001, down 5 points.

    3. Fourth rule of elections – energise the base. Elections are like military campaigns or sporting contests. The side that wants it more, often prevails.

    Adams isn’t upset about government ministers nailing their colours to the SDLP mast – he’s absolutely f*cking delighted!! If he was upset he wouldn’t mention it, he’d just ignore it – you can’t waste precious election coverage on stuff which is bad for you. And believe me, Adams isn’t doing so.

    Have any of you any idea how disgusted northern nationalists are with Bertie, Dermot and the boys over the last six months? We can’t turn on the tv or open a paper without reading about the contempt in which the leader of our nation holds us, our communities and some of our leaders.

    But the real bête noire of northern taigs, the Caiaphas of D4 faux-outrage, the person every northern fenian loves to despise, the man half the St Vincent de Paul Society would joint the RA to get a shot at is none other than Michael Mc(Ne’er)Do-well.

    The man is a political goldmine. One photo of his grinning chops on the front of Daily Ireland (notice how often they feature him) has my granny (who reveres John Hume like St Francis) running out for a Wolfe Tones CD. One word from the Minister for (Social In)Justice and my lovely stoop-id girlfriend is out subscribing for An Phoblacht. His weasely visage alone will have an army of shinner teenagers putting up posters from now till Christmas. Even Paisley doesn’t have the same Pavlovian effect on chucky anger neurons.

    Gerry has played this one like a Federer forehand. Fenians love to feel ganged up on at election time. Gerry has just fed that appetite a filet mignon. He’s nailed the SDLP so firmly to FF/PD that every time those craven hoors say a thing on the North the nationalist electorate will superimpose the SDLP tricolore swoosh behind them.

    By the time 555 rolls round, republicans are going to be queueing Zimbabwe style to get sticking an X-shaped two fingers up McDowell’s neb.

    His visit to Belfast will be quare craic. It’s the equivalent of Mo Mowlam campaigning in Portadown with David Trimble. While I genuinely abhor the implications of what I’m about to say, I’m not sure his safety could be guaranteed in North or West Belfast without a huge military/police presence. I hope he sticks to the South (Belfast, that is). In any event, if this is Alasdair’s big election trump card, he needn’t be looking at properties in Belgravia.

  • Levitas

    In the words of Martin Ferris TD
    (off the record)
    “I thought things were going great when I heard that Dermot Ahern had arrived, but when Michael McDowell poked his nose in I was delighted, as far as I’m concerned the longer he stays the better…he’s a guaranteed vote getter for the party”

    SF are delighted by these interventions, the protest is just to draw media attention to it-some of your contributors are not very politically sophisticated-a protest is not always a sign of genuine disquiet.

  • J Kelly

    mct I agree entirely this visit will help Sinn Fein far more than the SDLP. Republicans look at McDowell as the modern Thatcher. This invitation is an indication of how split the SDLP are. I hope I am proved wrong in this but I do not think so, Mark Durkan would have every member of the Dail canvass for him bar six and they are five shinners and McDowell. This is an attempt from McDonnell to set the agenda for the SDLP for the next three weeks attack, attack, attack.

  • Davros

    In the words of Martin Ferris TD
    (off the record)

    If they were off the record should you be reporting his words ?

  • GavBelfast

    “We can’t turn on the tv or open a paper without reading about the contempt in which the leader of our nation holds us, our communities and some of our leaders.”

    I doubt if the Taoiseach or any Government minister in the South really thinks of him or herself as being your (pl)leader/minister, let alone having contempt.

    Not that any of them would ever dare to say so, of course.

  • Saoirse

    Well done SDLP. just when it looked like 8 nationalist seats out of 18 was possible, ya go and screw it up. Not a chance will Maskey lose one vote now. Bright move Alasdair! your obviously not the sharpest tool in the box now are ya.

  • irish aussie

    Just in response to saoirse comment,Sinn Fein could and in my opinion should win Nth Belfast, even more so now Mc Dowell has turned up in town. I am very surprised that no one seems to think it is in play,just look at the numbers

  • Alan

    *SF are delighted by these interventions, the protest is just to draw media attention to it-some of your contributors are not very politically sophisticated-a protest is not always a sign of genuine disquiet.*

    Methinks you do protest too much!

  • Henry94

    irish aussie

    If nationalist voters want it enough we can take north and south Belfast. That would wipe the smirk off Paisley’s face when the results came in.

    We could also steal Upper Bann if the unionist canditates are close together.

    Do we want it badly enough to make it happen?

  • aquifer

    Interesting one this, for the historic complaint of the northern nationalist minority has to be as much against the southern political class who abandoned them, as against the English who also wanted Ireland to be kept at arms length politically.

    In the Devalera’s concession of partition and privileging of Catholicism, in Collins’ attempt to subvert his own agreements to attack the embryonic northern state, through Devalera’s rejection of war-time re-unification for support for the allies, to the unilateral declaration of a Republic by Fine-Gael in 1949, and Fine Fail cabinet members giving of guns to the most reactionary elements of republicanism in 1969, Southern Republicanism’s interventions have been a bit sad for the enlightenment irish republican project of uniting catholic protestant and dissenter in an independent political state.

    (if the meaning of state is taken to include ‘condition’ as well a boundary of government, we are almost there already due to British acquiescence)

    This recently discovered enthusiasm for things northern is probably just the vital realisation that armed subversion can flow both ways.

  • Henry94

    aquifer

    The support for the SDLP is just partitionismm in another form. It has to do with stopping the al-Ireland advance of Sinn Fein. It is still about the self-interest of the southern parties and not the interests of northern nationalists.

  • GavBelfast

    Henry, how on Earth does Sinn Fein advance the notion of uniting Catholic, Protestant and dissenter?

    It is no more appealling to even notionally Protestant people than I suspect the DUP is people who are not Protestant.

    This is a serious question – I am what you might call a “soft Unionist”, totally unaffiliated, but I can see merit in the island being as one and open to be persuaded, but how does Sinn Fein’s history, attitude and outlook ever appeal to soft or golf course/garden centre/notional unionists, never mind the Paisley variety?

  • George

    Changing Articles 2 and 3 has let the Irish nationalist genie out of the bottle and I always wonder at how unionism saw this as a victory. But then again they never did understand the Irish psyche.

    When I was growing up the constitutional question was a closed issue but not any more. Now, more and more Irish people have to have a view on the constitutional issue which is exactly what Sinn Fein is tapping into.

    The interest in all things northern is simply a result of southern parties now having to show how they “aspire” to unifying the Irish nation.

    GavBelfast,
    it is for Northern Ireland to deliver a unified state if it wants to survive so the onus is on your average unionist, the only person who really wants to perpetuate this border, to show the merits.

    SF is more concerned with convincing more and more Irish people to be proactive in trying to remove the border than it is with convincing British unionists to give up trying to protect it.

  • John O’Connell

    Henry94

    “The support for the SDLP is just partitionismm in another form. It has to do with stopping the al-Ireland advance of Sinn Fein. It is still about the self-interest of the southern parties and not the interests of northern nationalists.”

    Sinn Fein is about people with anglo-philiac names like Henry trying to pretend to everyone that they have an Irish drop of blood in their veins.

    We’re equal now.

  • GavBelfast

    George, I still want Henry94 to answer my point, but your comment about “unionism” not understanding the Irish psyche is interesting to say the least.

    What do you mean by “unionism”? The UUP/DUP, their supporters, or just people who live here who, like myself have a British passport but are no less Irish ouselves?

    Remember in the Agreement: we (all of us here) can be Irish, British, or both (and presuably neither!).

    Do you not see how your comment can be seen as condescending and/or exclusivist?

    Sinn Fein scares people – not just in an abstract way – its track-record alongside its military wing gives its opponents, not just unionists, good reason to be frightened.

  • George

    GavBelfast,
    for me, unionists are those people on this island who believe their interests are best served by the continuance of British rule. Today there are only northern unionists, aka British unionism. Despite comments to the contrary, Protestantism hasn’t died in what today constitutes the Irish Republic but Irish unionism certainly has.

    With the idea of a union between Irish and British dead for the last 80 years, there is naturally no place for Irishness in partionist unionist ideology as evidenced by the policies and agendas of the DUP and UUP before them. “Ulster is British”, “Simply British” etc. etc.

    Nowhere does either party claim to have any Irishness in it. That to me is its fatal flaw, which will cost it eventually. As the years go by, the only common link among unionists is their Protestant religion.

    True, the GFA was an attempt to create a Northern Ireland where people could be British, Irish or both. This is why I say it is up to the NI state to deliver a state which represents British and Irish if it is to survive. In other words a real union of British and Irish.

    At the moment only one culture is represented by the nation’s symbols and only the British are ruling the place. Unionists are happy with this because they are British but that’s short term thinking at its worst. It is proof if proof was needed that there is no room for the Irish in the union. Personally I think there never was.

    Here we are 204 years after said “union” and the Irish have yet to get any form of local representation and the DUP are saying it will be another 25 years at least before the rump Irish population left in the “union” will have any chance of representation in how the region is run.

    You can’t get more exclusivist than two centuries of one culture rule.

    I for one believe 21st Northern Protestants don’t want to eschew all Irishness and simply to remain ruled from Westminster and this will lead to a drip drip away from unionist ideology in the coming decades.

    Within the next 30 years, northern Protestant numbers will drop from 20% to 10% of the island population for a start.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    SO George, if all unionists have to unite them is their protestantism, how would you explain atheist/agnostic unionists like myself?

  • George

    Beano,
    I am saying it is the major rallying standard and common bond for partionist/northern unionism.

    Irishness is of no relevance to unionism.

    I’m sure there as many aetheist/agnostic nationalists as there are aetheist/agnostic unionists and I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of said nationalists were formerly RC and the majority of said unionists were formerly of the Reformist faith.

    Would you agree or are you one of the rare breed of lapsed Catholic unionists I hear so much about but never meet?

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    LOL no I’m not a lapsed Catholic. From my experience the Catholics tend not to be Unionist as such, but pragmatically pro-union, in that they feel more Irish than British, but are happy to remain in the UK.

    TO say Irishness is of no relevance to unionism is quite a sweeping statement. To be fair it is largely irrelevant to most unionists but this is something that has been forced upon them be a redefinition of Irishness by Sinn Fein and the Southern state.

    Hopefully the advance of integrated education will allow unionists to embrace the Irish influences in their culture, but that shouldn’t necessarily mean they will give up unionism. Contrary to the myth propagated by the partitionists who formed the Southern state, being ‘irish’ should not preclude one from being British.

  • George

    It’s Sunday and I am currently worshipping at the temple of Premiership football so I’m feeling particularly sweeping. Please excuse any excesses and in return I’ll forgive your sweeping one about the south being responsible for partition and not the UVF private army and its usurping of Irish democracy.

    I agree that the Irish state has redifined Irishness, which is exactly what the Irish people demanded of it. This is what happens when you are in control of your own destiny. It’s called self determination.

    Unionism has jettisoned Irishness because it wants to remain under British rule more than it wants unity with the Irish people. That is the simple world we are living in.

    Unionism is the ideology which has set out a simply British/Ulster is British stall because it sees no benefit in unity with the people of Ireland or it sees it will lose power and influence.

    And this is its Achilles heel because many northern Protestants don’t want to eschew their Irishness. This is why I see a drip drip away from unionism in the 21st century regardless of what SF do.

    Irishness is bigger than SF.

  • GavBelfast

    “Irishness is bigger than SF.”

    It had better be, or we would all be doomed.

    I think an all-Ireland state might well be better at shaping itself to accommodate former ‘soft’ unionists, albeit that such people would probably remain well-disposed to the UK, than it would to accommodating a Sinn Fein mentality of being more Irish than the (“Southern”) Irish themselves.

  • George

    GavBelfast,
    could it be that Conor Cruise O’Brien of UKUP fame was right when he said it was time for unionism to cut a deal with southern nationalism on unification rather than enduring death by a thousand Sinn Fein/British government cuts?

    “Soft” unionists certainly have to figure out in their heads what assurances they need in order to swear allegiance to an all-Ireland state and (sweeping excess escape clause) figure out in their hearts if they want to get in touch with their Irish side.

    Getting in touch with your Irish side means finding commonality of purpose with the Irish people not convincing them you are different.

    What I have in common with many northern Protestants is our mutual Irishness not Britishness.

    Ireland is changing by the day. Northern Ireland is no longer the industrial hub and wealthiest part of the island and within a generation northern Protestants will probably be outnumbered by Poles and Latvians on this island.

    Where do these people fit in for northern unionists?

  • GavBelfast

    George, if I’m right in my understanding of your last point/question, the more decent, hard-working, contributing people of whatever extraction we have here (in NI or on this island generally), the better.

    It is my current preference that NI remains part of the UK, but I am genuinely open-minded about a “United Ireland”, though there would obviously have to be changes to accommodate same. If I didn’t like it, I certainly wouldn’t take up arms.

    But I do genuinely think that the Crossmaglens, Carrickmores and Creggans of this world might be nearly as difficult to be accommodated in this new 32 county entity as they have been for the NI state, and as it would for the new Ireland to claim the allegiance of the Ballybeens, Ballymenas and Brownlows of this world.

  • George

    GavBelfast,
    I don’t doubt it. I think many northern unionists have more in common with your average southerner than they do with many northern nationalists.

    If your average southerner thought the majority of northern Protestants would consider a united Ireland and that it was going to be a peaceful transition, they would bend over backwards to accommodate them.

    You say Sinn Fein scare people, I can assure you that northern Protestants and the violence they might unleash to stay within the union, scare very many southern people sh*tless.

    Southerners don’t possess the same hatred or fear anymore, 80 years after the Civil War, and baulk when faced with the prospect of such hatred re-entering the southern Irish body politic.

  • Henrí94

    GavBelfast

    In a united Ireland situation Unionists would find themselves in a better political situation than Sinn Fein. Idologically and economically there is little or no difference between the DUP the UUP Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the PDs. A very natural coalition government could emerge out of whatever combination of the above made up a majority.

    Even the SDLP could join in.

    In my view Sinn Fein will face a much harder task in first of all uniting the left-wing vote on an all-Ireland basis not in the sam party as such but around an agreed set of policies to take on the establishment parties.

    John O’Connell

    Sinn Fein is about people with anglo-philiac names like Henry trying to pretend to everyone that they have an Irish drop of blood in their veins

    What an extraodinary outburst against a pseudonym. Guess what the H in P.H. Pearse stood for?