The real reason for southern hostility to SF?

Jude Collins criticises the trail of senior representatives from the Republic coming in to back the SDLP. He believes the real reason for their sympathies is that parties political inertness, and inability to touch their political hinterlands in the Republic:

The mistake in trying to follow the logic of southern government thinking is to focus on who they appear to be pro. The truth is, they’re not pro anybody, other than themselves. If you want to reconcile these three-different-directions-at-once stances, ask yourself: “Who are Bertie and Michael anti?” You got it in one. Sinn Féin.

And sure why wouldn’t they be? If you were in their shoes, you’d be the same. It’s not the SDLP that’s going to come down and take votes from Fianna Fáil. The SDLP is going nowhere and taking votes from no one. And the DUP or the UUP aren’t going to head south to start rearranging the Dáil’s political furniture.

  • Ringo

    By his logic, if SDLP contested seats in the Republic when they were in the same dominant position as SF now are, they would have experienced the same level of contempt down south.

    Impossible to say for sure but in all probability its not very likely. There is an empathy with the SDLP in the Republic that doesn’t extend to Sinn Fein. And there is little doubt that the Republic’s representatives, from across the political spectrum, heading north to support the SDLP are reflecting their electorate here, or as SF would say, their mandate.

    And the whole electoral threat posed by SF in the Republic is completely overblown. They’re having problems getting one in ten votes in an electorate where Unionism doesn’t feature. They pack the same punch in the Dáil as the Green Party. In the absense of Unionism the standard SF product doesn’t sell – but that said there’s no doubt they’ve mined a rich vein through hard work in certain urban areas, such as Sean Crowe has done. But it is and always will be no more than a niche. There’s a glass ceiling and it is only a question of whether they’ve already hit it.

  • Oilbhear_Chromaill

    There is no way that the SDLP would contest southern elections for a number of reasons. What different in terms of policy would it have to offer than its electoral allies? Nothing of note.
    And, on top of that, they would risk their most favoured party in the north status among the southern parties.
    The SDLP occupy much the same position vis a vis the southern govt as does the Alliance wrt to the NIO/British government.
    JC’s analysis is accurate, painfully so for the southern parties and the SDLP. SF has succeeded where it has failed in transforming itself from a six counties phenomenon to an All Ireland movement – that’s not an opinion, that’s fact.

  • Occasional Commenter

    I’d like to know who’s paying for McDowell and Ahern to come up here. Is it the Irish taxpayer or their own party?

  • Jim Bob

    “I’d like to know who’s paying for McDowell and Ahern to come up here. Is it the Irish taxpayer or their own party?”

    That’s a good point actually, because certainly Michael McDowell was at pains to say his was a personal visit and he was a very close friend of Alaisder McDonnell. That’ll help him too, I’m sure.

    They could both get nicked for misuse of Govt.transport etc unless they could show they were on Govt. business somewhere else on those days and it was on their way home sort of thing. On maybe they were on Govt business supporting the SDLP.

    Although they’re so corrupt down there they could be using Govt transport etc for running their own private business and it would be bluffed and mumbled away by the Burt.

  • Ringo

    OC –

    Surely the only people pained by this situation are SF? As you say, everyone else is quite happy with the good relations between the SDLP and the Republic?

    There is no way that the SDLP would contest southern elections for a number of reasons. What different in terms of policy would it have to offer than its electoral allies? Nothing of note.

    So basically you agree that the SDLP, unlike SF are more in line with the thinking in the South? Sounds like they’re a part of a much bigger movement than SF so.

    SF has succeeded where it has failed in transforming itself from a six counties phenomenon to an All Ireland movement – that’s not an opinion, that’s fact.

    Indeed it is a fact that SF is an All Ireland movement- but it is also a fact to say that its development has been far from uniform. The Nationalist contituency in NI is less than 1 million people and Sinn Fein are getting over 50% of the votes. The Republic has 4 million people, and yet Sinn Fein are only getting one in ten votes here. Aren’t the SDLP getting more than 1 in ten votes in the north and still being described as irrelevant by SF?

  • middle-class taig

    Ringo

    Empathy? Oh please. Spare us. The broad support for the SDLP in the south is about one thing and one thing only. Jude’s analysis is irrefutable.

    These high profile and ministerial visits in support of SDLP candidates have only started since SF have been threatening power in the south.

    There’s a glass ceiling for the Green party and the PDs, and they’re both pretty much there. But SF’s glass ceiling, if they have one, is a long way off. SF can (and in my view will) cannibalise Fianna Fail’s core vote, Labour’s core vote, and the Greens’ core vote. It’s only a question of whether they succeed and how quickly they do so.
    Jettisoning the RA is critical to that endeavour.
    And then of course, there’s the youth. What proportion of them will be willing shinners.

    Your downplaying of the electoral threat is transparent wishful thinking. They’ll never be in power on their own, but a SF with 15-18 seats (entirely realistic by 2011/12) and threatening more in the cities and the gaeltachtanna, 3MEPs, in government in the North where they hold all the nationalist Westminster seats and the RA nowhere in sight would make a hell of a partner for a heading-greenwards FF, but certainly could not be ignored in Irish politics.

    Converse, of course is that a SF with the RA hanging around, devolution stymied and with 6 or 7 seats will be able to be ignored and demonised. That’s why Bertie, Mickey and Dermie are running around trying to derail the SF project.

  • Ringo

    Jim Bob & OComm

    Don’t worry – if we have any concerns down here that supporting constitutional nationalism on an all-Ireland basis doesn’t fall under government business you’ll hear about it. Or rather, you won’t.

  • The Obscure

    Surely the real story here is the tragic spectacle of a newspaper columnist endlessly crawling up a political party’s hole.
    Aren’t these people paid to look beyond the latest press release?

  • Occasional Commenter

    Ringo, my concern is nothing to do with my like or dislike of SF or the SDLP. While you’re making assumptions, I may as well tell you I’d vote SDLP before voting SF.

    Using taxpayer’s money to fund canvassing, whether it’s cross-border or internal, is not acceptable.

  • Ringo

    SF can (and in my view will) cannibalise Fianna Fail’s core vote

    If you really think this is a possibility you have no idea what FF is down here.

  • Ringo

    Using taxpayer’s money to fund canvassing, whether it’s cross-border or internal, is not acceptable.

    Of course it is acceptable to back a particular side in an exteral election, as long as its in the national interest. Like the Ukraine, for example.

  • Jim Bob

    Jim Bob & OComm

    Don’t worry – if we have any concerns down here that supporting constitutional nationalism on an all-Ireland basis doesn’t fall under government business you’ll hear about it. Or rather, you won’t.

    Posted by: Ringo at April 22, 2005 12:30 PM

    =========================

    So in your view then the Irish government have not been telling the truth and at least one of the two ministers involved have not been telling the truth either?

    It’s about time you complacent ot got a really good shaking up.

    And as far as Republicanism and UI is concerned, you Free Staters should quickly “shit, or get off the pot!”

  • middle-class taig

    Ringo

    Did SF call SDLP irrelevant?

    That’s not on and not true, but I hadn’t seen them say it. Isn’t Gerry always saying that the 4 big parties all need to be part of the deal?

    Part of the reason nationalists have turned to SF is that they’ve raised our situation to a position of prominence in political life in the South. In doing so, albeit not without breaking eggs, they have helped make us more part of the life of the nation. It’s been interesting to see a rather chauvinist strand of 26-county nationalism emerge in response. Paradoxically, these visits are part of that. “Let’s support the guys who’ll keep it all up there out of our way”-kind of thing!

    I have no problem with southern parties opposing SF, even aggressively and nastily. FineGaelers have just as important a part to play in the future of the nation as SF do, and are right to attack that which they see as endangering their vision of Irish society. I’m just happy they now know something about how we’ve been treated up here. Although, being honest, I wish they’d do it in an informed and intellectually honest way, and in a way which doesn’t undermine the democratic entitlements of northern nationalists and give succour to the DUP.

    Just remember one thing. 10% for now is containable. But dey’re just geddin staerted down derr…. 🙂

  • Oilbhear_Chromaill

    Ringo should wake up and look at the election results.
    In the recent Meath by-election it was Joe Reilly’s vote which essentially deprived FF of a seat. The same in the UnaG elections in Donegal. And before that Royston Brady lost his safe European seat to Mary Lou while in Connaught Ulster the party lost the second seat because of Piaras O Dochartaigh’s showing.
    How many Dail seats in Dublin did FF lose because of SF.
    The SDLP is only in tune with southern parties in so far as the party, like southern parties, is made up of career politicians. They’re all me feiners. And that’s alright as long as the SDLP stays up north but if they were to take leave of their senses and go south, they would end up as a marginal party with, if they’re lucky, a few council seats.
    Because the SDLP is a me feiner party, full of people of varying politics drawn together to provide an Uncle Tom option for the nationalist option, they have no distinct identity which would impact on southern politics, already over populated with me feiners.

  • middle-class taig

    Ringo

    You don’t think SF will cannibalise FF? They’re already doing it. Why did FF lose the election in Meath? SF won’t devour the whole FF body, but over decades they’ll take an arm or two. If that’s your only response to my post, the shinners are obviously getting to you.

    The Obscure

    Why have you only got eyes for Jude? Why don’t you criticise, for example, Suzanne Breen’s continuing hagiography of the DUP, or the Southern media’s endless and unseemly licking of fleshy parts of Pat Rabbitte, Enda Kenny and McDowell?

    Is it so hard to stomach that a press commentator would push against the one way traffic of hatred towards SF?

  • The Obscure

    OK, MCT, but could we please drop the pretence now that you’re some middle-of-the-road latter-day convert to the cause? Now ordinary punter could suddenly lay out the party line so completely, including informed observation on the pronouncements of the party heirarchy and spirited defence of the risible new party organ. Everybody knows that SF, the DUP and the UUP have mobilised their goon squads to ‘flood’ this ‘zone’ and the alter-egos are becoming a little tiresome.

  • Ringo

    And as far as Republicanism and UI is concerned, you Free Staters should quickly “shit, or get off the pot!”

    I agree. Well we have our Republic, so thats our republicanism sorted.

    And the UI – I’m in favour of an independent NI. But its your state and as long its doesn’t interfere with our state (except for Gerry and other northerners landing down here to lend support to candiates in our elections of course) I’m happy with what ever the people in NI are happy with.

  • middle-class taig

    OC

    “The SDLP is only in tune with southern parties in so far as the party, like southern parties, is made up of career politicians. They’re all me feiners.”

    I disagree strongly. It takes some guts to be Alex attwood and live in West Belfast. He makes my skin crawl, but I think he genuinely believes what he says. Danny O’Connor disproves the adage of there being no head so low as that of a Larne Catholic. He stands his ground where SF fears to tread. Durkan is a good guy in a tough spot trying to find a place for his party, as are John Dallat, Patsy McGlone, Brid Rodgers, Margaret Walsh, Martin Morgan and numerous others. Hume and Mallon have lost it in their dotage, but they were both men of towering dignity and moral rectitude. To caricature them Uncle Toms is beneath any republican. Obviously there are the Fitts and Curries of this world (but even that’s not a fair criticism of the McDonnell/McGrady faction), but a United Ireland won’t be achieved by SF alone. Consitutional nationalism is a legitimate ideology, and its leaders are not ipso facto careerists.

  • Ringo

    You don’t think SF will cannibalise FF? They’re already doing it. Why did FF lose the election in Meath? SF won’t devour the whole FF body, but over decades they’ll take an arm or two. If that’s your only response to my post, the shinners are obviously getting to you.

    ok MCT, you are being mislead.

    No government has won a by-election in the republic in more than twenty years.

    Secondly it was John Brutons seat, so it was FG’s to lose. And they didn’t.

    But FF did lose McCreevy’s seat in Kildare on the same day – and the SF candidate got a negligible level of support. And whats worse is that the seat went to an ex-Labour activist. Which doesn’t exactly fit your picture of SF’s relentless march across the island.

  • Jim Bob

    To Ringo:

    “And the UI – I’m in favour of an independent NI.”

    Right. So which of the Southern parties supports that then?

    Sounds like a very old Ulster Loyalist policy, long abandonned.

  • middle-class taig

    The Obscure

    I voted for Joe Hendron in his defeat of Gerry Adams 1992. I am still convinced that was the correct vote at the time. There was a ceasefire two years later.

    I supported Martin Morgan’s campaign for the EP because I strongly dissent from SF’s localist and reactionary stance on the EU.

    And you need to grow the hell up.

  • Ringo

    Personal opinion JimBob – I assumed your comment about us free staters was aimed at me personally.

  • Rebecca Black

    I was talking to come of the PDs about this yesterday, a crowd from the youth branch are going up to Londonderry this w’end to canvass for Mark Durkan.

    Why would parties such as Fine Gael and the PDs, traditionally right wing parties help the SDLP? Fianna Fail are their natural partners in the republic and to a lesser extent Labour. But it strikes me that the likes of Michael McDowell appearing alongside Durkan is hardly going to help him given that he is trying to appear greener than green at the minute.

  • Jim Bob

    To Ringo:

    “Personal opinion JimBob – I assumed your comment about us free staters was aimed at me personally”

    No. It was a general comment about how Southern politics seem to be playing out in regard to the North at the moment.

    But anyway. Which of the Southern parties do you feel comfortable with in most closely representing this policy of an Independent Northern Ireland?

  • middle-class taig

    Ringo

    “you are being mislead(sic)”

    What have I said that makes you think I can’t read, add and subtract for myself?

    A bad SF vote in Kildare? I thought they didn’t stand. Details please. In any event, would that be a surprise?

    “No government has won a by-election in the republic in more than twenty years.”

    Because they’ve all been bad governments. The real shock is that the even worse opposition has been able to capitalise. Of course, often its some local careerist hoor who has done so….

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    The list of items making it onto SF’s paranoia list never ceases to amaze me. This is just more mope-ing in a new direction. “Everyone’s against us, even the Irish government”.

    The reason they support the SDLP is simple. The SDLP represent the same goal as them – the reunification of Ireland through peaceful means. There is no more, and no less to it than that.

    On the point raised above, the minister shouldn’t be allowed to use government funds to finance canvassing for a party in a foreign election, but AFAIK nobody’s said he used government funds.

    I thought Fianna Fail (sp?) were Irish Tories.

  • middle-class taig

    beano

    You’re a smart fella. You can’t be so disingenuous as to believe your second paragraph. Please tell me you’re just mixin’ it.

    Rebecca

    I’m not sure which is scarier, that the PD’s are coming, or that there’s a PD youth wing. Did you remind them not to call it Londonderry?

    “Why would parties such as Fine Gael and the PDs, traditionally right wing parties help the SDLP?”

    Without wishing to appear sexist, out of the mouths of babes… I take it you agree with Jude’s analysis then?

  • Rebecca Black

    Fianna Fail like to sell themselves as left wing although in reality they are fairly central.

    Fine Gael would be the closest Ireland would have to the Tories but there are a divide in Fine Gael between the Redmondites and the more hard core republican element.

  • Jim Bob

    “The list of items making it onto SF’s paranoia list never ceases to amaze me. This is just more mope-ing in a new direction. “Everyone’s against us, even the Irish government”.”

    That’s quite a naive way of talking about politics. It’s obvious that the Irish govt is engaged in a massive anti-SF campaign this election time.

    “The reason they support the SDLP is simple.”

    No it’s not simple. It involves the SF threat to their own southern seats.

    “On the point raised above, the minister shouldn’t be allowed to use government funds to finance canvassing for a party in a foreign election, but AFAIK nobody’s said he used government funds.”

    The use of govt. transport would be enough.

    “I thought Fianna Fail (sp?) were Irish Tories.”

    Yes that’s right. Although the Burt has recently come out as a socialist and a republican. And that’s to do with the electoral threat from SF too.

  • Ringo

    MCT

    A bad SF vote in Kildare? I thought they didn’t stand. Details please. In any event, would that be a surprise?

    Sorry – I attributed the votes of the indepedent republican candidate to SF.

    What have I said that makes you think I can’t read, add and subtract for myself?

    The assertation that the reason FF lost Meath was because of SF. Only someone looking through the prism of SF politics would have that opinion. Any objective analysis would not have ended with that conclusion.

    Because they’ve all been bad governments. The real shock is that the even worse opposition has been able to capitalise. Of course, often its some local careerist hoor who has done so….

    Really? If bad governments over the same 20 year period have turned this country from an economic basket case to its current position as the best performing economy in the EU, I’d love to see what good governments would have done. Keep it real.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    This week’s instalment of Jude Collins’ “famous people who were mean to me” sadly fails to convince. The idea may be comforting to some that opposition to SF is motivated entirely by the electoral prospects of a party currently polling about 8%, but supporters may have to consider that there are far more compelling reasons for disliking their organisation.

  • Jim Bob

    To Rebecca

    “But it strikes me that the likes of Michael McDowell appearing alongside Durkan is hardly going to help him given that he is trying to appear greener than green at the minute”

    Even that’s not the worst thing about it. The worst thing is that the North has a much more left of centre mentality than the South, and the sight of hordes of rabid PD right wingers from the South will just piss everyone off.

    It’s quite funny how little the South understands about the North

  • Ringo

    Jim Bob

    But anyway. Which of the Southern parties do you feel comfortable with in most closely representing this policy of an Independent Northern Ireland?

    I’ll put it to you another way – if the Assembly in the North agreed that an independent NI was what it wanted, every southern party down would be behind it in a shot.

    Frankly none of them want to even touch the issue of a UI. Its probably more of a no-go area than another abortion referendum. Sure FF will talk the talk, but seeing as they’d never achieve the penetration in NI that they have in the Republic it would be a dilution of their power. And anyone who thinks that the Soldiers of Destiny are more interested in long held principles, like a UI, than power just don’t get it.

  • Ringo

    It’s quite funny how little the South understands about the North

    And vice versa. So what’s all this nonsense about a UI about? Unionists wouldn’t be the only ones in the minority in a UI, northern nationalists would too – so the cold hard fact is that any prospective UI would be on our terms, not northern Nationalists or Republicans.

    But getting back to the nub of the thread – as we all agree, SDLP supporters tend to be closer to the Republic’s way of thinking, they’d be less affected than SF supporters.

  • Liam

    Ringo: “There is an empathy with the SDLP in the Republic that doesn’t extend to Sinn Fein.”

    This is simply your perception and not a truth. There may be an ’empathy’ amongst the other establishment parties, but Jude Collins correctly analysed why that is so.

    Of course it would be very true to say that there is a vote for Sinn Féin in the 26 counties that doesn’t extend to the SDLP!

  • middle-class taig

    Exactly the same people who vote SDLP would vote FF. In what circumstances can you see cross-community agreement on an independent UI?

    The Southern parties won’t touch the UI issue because it means playing SF on their home turf, and everyone’s afraid to do that after the battering Ruari Quinn took off Gerry on the LateLate a few years back. SDLP should push the South on Unity. That’d bring a few back.

  • Jim Bob

    “But anyway. Which of the Southern parties do you feel comfortable with in most closely representing this policy of an Independent Northern Ireland?

    I’ll put it to you another way”

    I thought you might.

    ” – if the Assembly in the North agreed that an independent NI was what it wanted, every southern party down would be behind it in a shot.”

    It’s a non-runner, so it’s a non-issue. But I can well believe that there are a few Southern parties who’d love the idea of it.

    Interesting then they still feel it’s not something they can publicly admit to.

    That tells it’s own story of course, and a story not unrelated to Southern fear of the SF vote.

    “Frankly none of them want to even touch the issue of a UI. Its probably more of a no-go area than another abortion referendum. Sure FF will talk the talk, but seeing as they’d never achieve the penetration in NI that they have in the Republic it would be a dilution of their power. And anyone who thinks that the Soldiers of Destiny are more interested in long held principles, like a UI, than power just don’t get it.”

    That’s why SF success and strategy is so threatening to these Southern parties who talk the talk but can never walk the walk.

    SF strategy is now such that the dynamic they’ve set in place just now needs to play itself out.

  • Jim Bob

    To Ringo:

    It’s quite funny how little the South understands about the North

    ============

    “And vice versa.”

    There’s no comparison between the ignorance in the South for the North and vice versa.

    “So what’s all this nonsense about a UI about?”

    It’s about economic and regional similarity and so on.

    “Unionists wouldn’t be the only ones in the minority in a UI, northern nationalists would too -“

    I don’t think they’d define themselves in other than regional terms like Munster or Leinster does, if that. They wouldn’t consider themselves a tribe apart, from the rest of the island.

    “so the cold hard fact is that any prospective UI would be on our terms, not northern Nationalists or Republicans.”

    I think it might be more evolutionary than just a decision made at one moment in time. By the time such a decision comes around you’d find that all sorts of economic relations had already defined themselves.

    “But getting back to the nub of the thread – as we all agree, SDLP supporters tend to be closer to the Republic’s way of thinking,”

    They suit the South’s political, institutional and media class at the moment for all the obvious reasons that have been discussed above. The South doesn’t want any messin about with its cosy little networks. That’s for sure. And the SDLP because they’re no threat to that fit the bill perfectly.

    But of course, the SDLP are on their way out.

  • brayo

    I think that the issue of southern hostility towards SF has to be looked at from 2 different angles.

    Firstly, the hostility of some southern political parties towards SF can of course be justifiably attributed to political motivations.

    Secondly, and more importantly, (in fact I’m surprised this has not been mentioned so far on this thread) you need to look at the hostility of society in the ROI towards SF. You should not underestimate the extent to which ordinary decent people in the ROI are appalled and disgusted by SF and their links to and support of the IRA.

    Ordinary decent people are disgusted by the blatant and obvious criminality of the IRA, their willingness to murder, intimidate and smear those who oppose them, their willingness engage in mafia-esque activities such as extortion, racketeering, intimidation, in order to enrich themselves personally. It is this repugnant behaviour that appals southern society most, as opposed to plain old “physical force republicanism” (which in itself is pretty much dead now as we all know – replaced by the aforementioned criminal enterprises).

    And so all of this comes back onto SF and rightly so.

    So (fao MCT) if you are saying that we support Bertie, McDowell and co because they “keep it all up there out of our way” I think you are wrong. We just don’t want criminal gangster scum and their political apologists having any say whatsoever in the running of the country.

  • Jim Bob

    To Brayo:

    Thanks for that Party Election Broadcast from the DUP.

    I’ll be contacting the networks to ensure they dock that one off your quota

  • Brayo

    To JimBOb

    fyi, I find the DUP almost as repugnant as the IRA.

    I believe in true republicanism, would love to see a United Ireland, and would like nothing more than to see good strong decent republican leadership representing the nationalist/republican people in NI, standing up to the bigotry of the DUP.

    Its just that SF are so up to their necks in dishonesty, criminality and murder I cannot stomach them. There’s nothing wrong with being opposed to dishonesty, criminality and murder is there?

    I guess your swift response is just another example of SF drones spouting the party line.

  • Ringo

    Jim Bob

    That’s why SF success and strategy is so threatening to these Southern parties who talk the talk but can never walk the walk.

    What Sinn Fein supporters deliberately miss it the fact that it is not Sinn Fein that people are afraid of – glass ceiling *tap* *tap* – but the fact that we have a nice little number sorted for ourselves down here. Stability and prosperity – and the biggest threat to that is the mess north of the border – and the overspill of republican criminality into our state is top of the list. Decommissioning doesn’t bother us, criminality does.

    But of course, the SDLP are on their way out.

    I wonder will their vote drop to below 10% of the overall electorate? i.e the level Sinn Fein delighted to be at down here?

    I think it might be more evolutionary than just a decision made at one moment in time. By the time such a decision comes around you’d find that all sorts of economic relations had already defined themselves.

    Now we’ve found something to agree on – and while SF have been busy providing a political focus for the IRA’s campaign, the people in the republic have been evolving their attitude to a UI – to such an extent where the recent poll (there’s a thread in the archive) are already about 50-50 on the idea – even before harsh realities kick in.

    The South doesn’t want any messin about with its cosy little networks

    Like I said earlier – we’re quite happy with our lot – who are you to decide otherwise for us?

  • middle-class taig

    brayo

    I hope that diatribe was cathartic.

    The reality is that over half the country would have be happy to have them in coalition government – and that’s on the basis of an Indo poll. Whether you like it or not, they’ll be in government North and South, and your wee-twee-pee-dee friends will be out on their deefer backsides.

    Have you ever stopped to think why so many of your countrymen in the North (about 60% of them in fact) don’t seem to believe the guff about “mafia-esque activities … to enrich themselves personally” and choose these people to represent them? Are we all just degenerates in your eyes?

  • middle-class taig

    Ringo

    The West Germans were happy with their low. They still realised and accepted that all Germans were one people.

    I honestly believe that Unity would kill the sectarianism problem in the North within a couple of years. That, for me, is its greatest attraction, not some notion of manifest destiny. Is your material comfort really more important to you than the problems of your neighbours to the North? Are you really so astonishingly, childishly selfish?

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    I take it when you refer to the 60% of “countrymen in the North” you’re excluding Unionist from that, otherwise the figure would be much closer to half that. Ooops.

  • sean west

    SF show them all up for the pretend republicans that they really are.All talk and no action.

  • Ringo

    Liam –
    “There is an empathy with the SDLP in the Republic that doesn’t extend to Sinn Fein.”

    This is simply your perception and not a truth. There may be an ’empathy’ amongst the other establishment parties, but Jude Collins correctly analysed why that is so.

    Ok it is far easier to guage the level of empathy in the republic towards SF. Something under 10% sounds about right.

    And if the other 90% who studiously avoid voting SF have any really strong feelings towards the north (and I agree there are loads that don’t) then it is fair enough to say that the SDLP best mirror their constitutional nationalism.

    So while it may just be a perception (but I’ll stand over it) that there is a resevoir of good will towards the SDLP here, it is clear that there definitely isn’t towards SF.

  • brayo

    MCT:

    Hmm, indo poll and a 60% pulled out of the air. a sound basis for your claims.

    I do not think that my northern countrymen are degenerates, I have genuine empathy for their plight and as I said earlier, I want to see strong decent leadership representing them with integrity.

    The truth about SF and their links to criminality is plain as the nose on your face. You can choose to ignore it if you like, in all good conscience I can not.

  • Jim Bob

    “What Sinn Fein supporters deliberately miss it the fact that it is not Sinn Fein that people are afraid of – glass ceiling *tap* *tap* – but the fact that we have a nice little number sorted for ourselves down here. Stability and prosperity -“

    Well, the market says otherwise. SF have certainly uncovered a rich seam of discontent.

    There were two possible Southern responses to the advance of SF in the South. You could deal with that discontent or you could throw your Govt. weight around in SF’s Northern heartlands.

    You chose the latter, and big nmistake you chose wrong. You’ll now reap the worst of both worlds for that poor choice.

    “But of course, the SDLP are on their way out.

    I wonder will their vote drop to below 10% of the overall electorate? i.e the level Sinn Fein delighted to be at down here?”

    There’s an enlightening Buddhist angle on that thankfully.

    Everyone must pass through 10%, but some will be going up the hill, whilst others will be on their way down.

    “I think it might be more evolutionary than just a decision made at one moment in time. By the time such a decision comes around you’d find that all sorts of economic relations had already defined themselves.

    Now we’ve found something to agree on – and while SF have been busy providing a political focus for the IRA’s campaign, the people in the republic have been evolving their attitude to a UI – to such an extent where the recent poll (there’s a thread in the archive) are already about 50-50 on the idea – even before harsh realities kick in.”

    The numbers on that vary a great deal with how things are going in the North at the time the poll is done. A few years agao it was 89% in favour, and so long as the mood music is nice and jazzy even the Dublin 4 Brigade will go for it. Oh ya!

    “The South doesn’t want any messin about with its cosy little networks

    Like I said earlier – we’re quite happy with our lot – who are you to decide otherwise for us?”

    As in the EU, there’ll be little in the way of decisions as such.

    It’s all just physics from here on in…

  • middle-class taig

    Beano

    No Oops, I chose my words carefully. I don’t want to include in the expression “countyrmen” people who are conspicuous in their desire not to be so included. And as we are discussion nationalist Ireland, I thought it would be ok. If I have offended you, I apologise. I was probably exclusing some Alliance, Green, WC and WP voters though. On reflection, I should have chosen a different expression. I certainly would not wish to imply that northern unionists are not part of my hopes for the future of the Irish nation.

  • brayo

    On that I can agree with you MCT

  • Ringo

    MCT –

    Have you ever stopped to think why so many of your countrymen in the North (about 60% of them in fact) don’t seem to believe the guff about “mafia-esque activities … to enrich themselves personally” and choose these people to represent them?

    Brayo is expressing the predominant opinion in the republic. I’m not sure why you think SF will end up in government in the Republic – not while the status quo remains they won’t.

    And did you ever stop to think that as far as we’re concerned down here, the IRA has no business (excuse the pun) being here? While you as a northern catholic might see some benefits in their existence over the past 35 years, they have been an enemy of our state from day 1. Be it through kidnappings, armed robberies, murders, fuel laundering, cigarettes, dvd’s, extortion, money laundering etc..

    And worst of all they had the gall to do it in our name. And you wonder about the mafia-esque view of them?

  • middle-class taig

    Ringo

    “Ok it is far easier to guage the level of empathy in the republic towards SF. Something under 10% sounds about right.”

    A red herring. I empathise with the LibDems in Britain, but when I had a vote there I voted Labour. SF haven’t reached critical mass in the South to be a credible alternative for partnership in government. That day will come. When it does, the transfer freeze and the 10% will seem a long time gone.

  • middle-class taig

    “I’m not sure why you think SF will end up in government in the Republic”

    I didn’t mean to imply that would be an “end” for SF. Even that would just be a stepping stone. SF would want to be in a position where they were in and out of government, pending of course “reintegration of the national territory” in which case, I think SF’s support would fall.

    “not while the status quo remains they won’t.”

    I quite agree. But have you not been listening to Gerry? The staus quo ain’t gonna stay.

    “they have been an enemy of our state from day 1”

    with good reason – your state was erected upon the foundation of the abandonment and suffering of northern nationalists. That is your state’s enduring shame.

    “And worst of all they had the gall to do it in our name.”

    In the name of chauvinist 26-county nationalism? I doubt it.

    Nobody wants a takeover by the south. A merger will cure both diseased states.

  • barney

    Ringo,

    would you FFS stop talking for “us down here”. Who made you King of the Free State?

  • Ringo

    Barney

    would you FFS stop talking for “us down here”. Who made you King of the Free State?

    Nothin’ worse than a dirty yellow Free Stater eh Barney? Worse than Stoops and Brits even…?

    But now that you mention it, seeing as many Sinn Feiners refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Dáil, I might as well take a leaf out of their book and declare myself the new Monarch of the Free State. Seem to work for SF so why not?

    While it may be irritating for you, it certainly isn’t anything like as irritating as us having to listen to northern Shinners talking about Ireland as if they owned it but the lads in the Dáil had borrowed it and never given it back to them.

    Jim Bob

    Everyone must pass through 10%, but some will be going up the hill, whilst others will be on their way down.

    And others will find that there’s a big thick glass ceiling not too far beyond 10%.

    MCT

    But have you not been listening to Gerry?

    Are you taking the piss? We’ve been listening to Gerry’s mumbo jumbo ever since the ban was lifted about 15 years ago, and the IRA are still wandering around killing people.


    your state was erected upon the foundation of the abandonment and suffering of northern nationalists. That is your state’s enduring shame.

    And yours was erected upon the foundation of the abandonment and suffering of southern unionists. That is your state’s enduring shame. Your point is what exactly?

    Nobody wants a takeover by the south. A merger will cure both diseased states.

    No need, we’re feeling much better thanks.

  • middle-class taig

    Ringo. Reality. Reality. Ringo.

    “And [your state] was erected upon the foundation of the abandonment and suffering of southern unionists. And yours was erected upon the foundation of the abandonment and suffering of southern unionists.”

    I’m charmed and mildly amused that you think you can goad me by criticising the Northern state. Like I give a **** about it. Hello. I’m a northern nationalist. Have we met?

    But I am truly horrified that you think the real shame of the northern state was the fate of unionists in the south (all 23 of them). Not discrimination. Not gerrymandering. Not state collusion in the murder of innocent catholics. Not the political assassination of civil rights marchers.

    I can only assume that I’ve riled you. Feel free to refute that. I’m sure you’ll convince yourself.

    “No need (for merger), we’re feeling much better thanks.”

    Are you saying that from your hospital trolley in the corridor?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    MCT,

    I think you miss Ringo’s point. You may see our state as “diseased”. We don’t.

  • Ringo

    I’m charmed and mildly amused that you think you can goad me by criticising the Northern state.

    No goading, just pointing out the futility of your argument. I certainly don’t feel any shame regarding the founding of this state. Certainly not partition anyway. Possibly the civil war to a certain extent.

    The point you made about the founding of the Free State is equally as relevant/irrelevant when applied to the northern state. Just because you aren’t in the majority community in the north doesn’t make it any less applicable.

    The failures of the Northern state are in no way due to me or anyone in the Republic, take it up with the Unionists on here. And make sure you mention the fact that only 23 Unionists were affected by partition.

    “No need (for merger), we’re feeling much better thanks.”

    Are you saying that from your hospital trolley in the corridor?

    Good comeback. 😉 I’m off, enjoy your weekend!

  • Ringo

    MCT –

    one more thing. This state is in existence for over 80 years and almost everyone alive has known only partition. Over time that has resulted in a sense of allegiance to our state, which for most people supersedes the notion of a UI. Don’t underestimate it. Unlike the UI, it is allegiance to a working entity, not an idealistic notion.

  • middle-class taig

    J_S

    You think it’s healthy that parties attracting over 80% of the electorate are based on civil war divisions? That the state lacks a coherent left-wing party? That the politics of gombeen man is political stock-in-trade? That the country has more tribunals and ombudsmen investigating misconduct in public life than the North? That the press is held in virtual monopoly? That working people can’t afford a house in the nation’s capital? That the fruits of Celtic Tiger have failed to make it down to the most needy in society? That racist referenda get passed? That the health service is in such a risible state? That the labour laws are effectively drafted by IBEC and ACC? That a party of cute hoors, local careerists and faux republicans is the natural party of government?

    I don’t!

    Any takers?

    Cheers for the debate Ringo. You’re right that the failures of the Northern state are in no way due to me or anyone in the Republic. But they are in part down to the formation of the Republic and it’s nelsonian “standing idly by”.

    It is a pity that 85 years later, with all that has gone before, you still encourage us, as you have ever done when we needed you, to “take it up with the Unionists”. With all its faults, if only there were room on your horse for two….

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ringo

    In all my years as a northerner living in Dublin I never met anyone who was passionately patriotic about the Republic. Many, many people were passionately patriotic about Ireland though. Ireland is a real, living, evolving concept for people all over the island. I never met a Dub yet who tried to tell me I was a foreigner or that all points north of Jonesboro was some foreign country.

    You have been criticised for your tendency to speak for all the people of the Republic – and I quite agree with the criticisms, as your opinions seem to me to be representative of what is very much a minority opinion on what used to be called the national question. I speak only from my own experience and do not claim to have the definitive word on what my countrymen think, but I studied for several years at Trinity – the great academy of Irish unionism that, to some extent, it still is – and your stance would have been way out on the right even among Trinity students.

    The point made earlier about southern state (Saorstat Eireann, Eire and finally the Republic) being founded on the abandonment of northern nationalists was interesting. MCT’s language was over the top – there isn’t anything diseased about the Republic, and it’s a mistake for northern nationalists to make ill-tempered, Freudian outbursts against a state that is (notwithstanding the fact that we’ve been left behind) a shining monument to what Irish people have been able to do with their independence. Let’s celebrate that and keep arguing for the inclusion of the rest of the Irish people.

    That said, I also believe there is an element of `original sin’ in the relationship between the north and south. I always got the sense when talking about the north over a pint in Doyle’s or wherever that my southern friends felt unable to really talk much about the north, and would concede the high ground to the northerner.

    If there were to be a referendum on unification I strongly believe it would be passed by a large majority because I don’t think any southern party would be willing to campaign against it, not even the PDs.

    Ringo – why are you so happy with partition? Why do you think it’s such a wonderful thing? I mean, counties like Monaghan, Cavan, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Louth have been economically underperforming ever since partition happened – BECAUSE of partition. But people there still need roads and schools and hospitals and so on – and it’s people in Dublin and Clare and Kerry and Galway and Waterford who have had to make up the deficit.

    I don’t know where you live – I’m guessing you’re a fair distance from the border and have never thought of partition as having a material effect on your life. Well, sorry to break it to you, but it does. Every time you pay your taxes partition is costing you.

    (Which isn’t even to get into the sheer economic potential of the northeast if it were to be unshackled from the colonial-style economy under which it currently labours. The northeast is potentially a centre of industry and business to rival Dublin and is – potentially – way ahead of anywhere else in the country. But partition and imperial rule doesn’t just hold back the north – it denies Ireland a great opportunity.

    Reunification will have teething problems but with proper planning, those problems will not approach prohibitive levels. I’m absolutely confident that you are part of a small minority that lacks the courage and imagination to make the down-payment on the future.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    The parties are those chosen by the voter. I don’t see the north’s brand of politics as an improvement. Ideologically the Republic is a mainstream western liberal democracy. As to the existence or otherwise of a “coherent socialist party”, that is the sort of terile debate I haven’t indulged in since leaving college. Suffice it to say Irish political life has been touched by social democracy no less than our neighbours. There is no press monopoly. A newspaper based on views more congenial to you will stand or fall according to how those ideas find a willing ear. Property prices are a function of economic growth, and could be dealt with by the simple expedient of making it a less attractive place to live. Most of your complaints (immigration, health, disparities of wealth) are gripes which I suspect you would have with any western nation and hardly unique to Ireland. Even to the extent that your complaints carry weight, the idea that the cure is to be found in the basket case of Northern Ireland is by no means an obvious conclusion.

    Ultimately these are matters of opinion, but your problem is that you don’t like the Republic and this puts you on the back foot in dealing with those of us that do. You should be clear about one thing though: those of us who dislike the provisionals do not do so because they are running at 8% in the polls but because they killed people. You (and Mr. Collins it would appear) are going to have to accept that.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Bily,

    Good post. I think you’re probably right about the referendum. All parties are in favour of unification (although normally cross party consensus can be the kiss of death for a referendum). The opposition will not be to the principle but it will be cased on the perceived costs of taking on a province which has been on economic IV for years. Your arguments for unification based on economic planning considerations are I think the strongest available, but sadly get drowned out by the tubthumping.

  • middle-class taig

    J_S

    My point is that the Republic is far from perfect. The North would not provide a cure, but unification would provide a more solid basis for the development and future of the new State.

    This is indeed a sterile debate, not least because the likelihood of any reunification referendum in the South turning Unity down is next to nil. However, the resulting constitutional convention (with British, not merely unionist participation) would in my view offer a clean slate, to the betterment of both regions.

    One last point I wished to make. I understand your dislike of SF. You’ll notice from the thread above that they received no support from me until they set violence aside. But I would remind you that FG and FF (albeit in embyonic form) killed people too. You’re not so hard on them.

    Billy Pilgrim

    “it’s a mistake for northern nationalists to make ill-tempered, Freudian outbursts against a state that is (notwithstanding the fact that we’ve been left behind) a shining monument to what Irish people have been able to do with their independence.”

    While “ill-tempered and Freudian” are perhaps a little harsh, and while I’m not sure I agree with the shining monument stuff, your point is taken and the medicine swallowed. I think, inparticular, I would resile from my use ofthe word “diseased”. Slugger for many is both political engagement and entertainment. The occasional rhetorical flourish can, I would suggest, be forgiven.

  • rasta

    ringo take care i seem to remember a long gone english gent mocking adams as mr 10%……look what happened

  • Ringo

    Billy,

    I have the greatest respect for your opinions – always well measured and well put, but I think you’re off the boil on this one.

    In all my years as a northerner living in Dublin I never met anyone who was passionately patriotic about the Republic.

    Don’t take offence to this, but there is always a degree of sensitivity that is employed when dealing with Northern Nationalists. If I knocked up chat with you over a pint in Doyle’s I’d tut-tut about the border, and nod the head at any tales from the troubles you might have – but its simply the case that unless you’re trying to start a row with a Nordie, you don’t say things like I’ve said above. That’s the beauty of Slugger. Sure they weren’t all biting their lips, but you can be certain there were some.

    Do you doubt my passion for the Republic? Can you not see that only 3 generations of people have taken this state and turned it from Civil War to a role model for small nations in Europe? The people who built this country are our parents and grandparents – and as such they are known to us personally. Why wouldn’t we be prouder of that than some mythical notion spouted by vain men like Pearse? The real heros are the likes of TK Whitaker – realists who built on what was left behind, not Emmett or Tone.

    The task now is for Northerners to sort themselves out. Once that is complete, we can revisit the whole idea of partition if necessary. But the answers to the North’s problems are not found down here. There’s no point in revelling in common cultural experiences
    with someone from Cape Clear when you (not you personally) cannot engage in the same way with neighbours from the other side.

    I have no political affinity with northern Nationalists. I have a sporting and cultural affinity, I’ll shout for Dunloy or Antrim hurlers or Derry or Fermanagh footballers (sorry, can’t stand the Armagh team or their fans). I don’t see Northern nationalists as foreigners, they’re just as Irish as me, but they are ‘from the north’ – i.e., different. We don’t consider English people foreign, let alone northerners.

    Tell me, why would I want to put this state through the sort of turmoil that Germany has yet to recover from – and that’s making a massive and totally baseless assumption that there would be the same level of support across the board as was in Germany?

    The economic arguments don’t add up to unification. There is no economic solution that is totally dependent on political unification.

    The northeast is potentially a centre of industry and business to rival Dublin and is – potentially – way ahead of anywhere else in the country.

    For example what are you basing this on? Population? Certainly not education. Or history? How does the same thing not apply on a greater scale to the Ruhr, the Rust belt of the US, or Northern England? By this logic we should still be an economic backwater.

    And for your interest, I’m from Galway – and while Galway is relatively prosperous now, the west, much more so than the border region suffered through the darkest days of the last century. It doesn’t take a border to cause disadvantage. Name one border county that has farmland to compare with the Golden Vale or the arable lands of south Leinster?

    But partition and imperial rule doesn’t just hold back the north – it denies Ireland a great opportunity.

    This is a mindset. The North is holding back the North. As for the great opportunity – we’ve made the great leap forward – the great opportunity offer now rings hollow in a way that wouldn’t have been the case a decade ago.

    Lets face it, really there’s very little in it for us or Unionists in comparison to you. And at the moment you’d be coming to the table shackled with to republican paramilitaries who’ve scant regard for the rule of law in our country. There is a very long way to go before we get to that stage.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ringo

    Many thanks for your kind reply.

    Re. your points about the Republic. I totally agree with your pride in the achievements of the Republic, but I disagree with your implication that at a certain point, identification with the state superceded identification with the country, and I doubly reject your implication that the growing success of the state is inversely proportionate to identification with the country.

    My reading of history is that one of the rarely-acknowledged catalysts for movement in the north in the 1960s was Lemass’s glasnost policies of the late 50s and early 60s. In the north O’Neill started throwing tentative shapes of rapprochement. In the 70s and 80s, when everything was going wrong in the north, things were also going badly wrong in the south. Bombs in the north directly affected inward investment for the whole island. Our problems spiralled.

    Similarly, the Celtic Tiger and peace process have happened in parallel. I’m not claiming that there is a direct cause and effect here, or that one is directly responsible for the other – but I would argue the point that this is a very small island we live on, and the ambience in one corner affects us all. If you think that by living in Galway, a good 150 miles from the border, that events in the north do not affect you, then I would respectfully disagree.

    We’re a small country and events either south of the border tend to have a butterfly-wing effect across the partition. My point is partition is the cause of instability in the north and – here’s the kicker – as long as this remains the case, the Republic, for all it’s successes, will always have a time bomb in its back yard. That time bomb can only be defused by all the diverse strands on this island facing up to their responsibilities. And yes, people in the Republic DO have a responsibility to the north. Every government has recognised it and the Constitution recognises it.

    “The real heros are the likes of TK Whitaker – realists who built on what was left behind, not Emmett or Tone.”

    Hear hear.

    TK Whitaker was a northern Prod you know. Imagine what a million of ’em might achieve for Ireland.

    “But the answers to the North’s problems are not found down here.”

    You misunderstand – nobody in the northern nationalist community is looking south for answers – just our rightful place in the nation. We want to make our contribution.

    “I have no political affinity with northern Nationalists.”

    That much is crystal clear.

    “(sorry, can’t stand the Armagh team or their fans).”

    That’s it – I’m not talking to you any more.

    “Tell me, why would I want to put this state through the sort of turmoil that Germany has yet to recover from – and that’s making a massive and totally baseless assumption that there would be the same level of support across the board as was in Germany?”

    Thankfully the north isn’t yet the rust-bucket part of the partnership that East Germany was. Infrastructurally the north is comparable to the Republic. When Germany reunified the east needed to be dragged up to western standards at massive cost. Furthermore, we’re talking about a communist society suddenly being thrust not only into the harsh light of a capitalist market, but to the most advanced capitalist system in Europe.

    Irish reunification would require no such infrastructural outlays (though removal of the border would open up exciting new infrastructural possibilities for the whole northern half of the country) and we already have a kind of capitalist economy here.

    What the north needs is economic restructuring rather than massive rebuilding or fiscal injections. We need the kind of economic khow-how that allowed the Republic to go from Mack the Knife to the Celtic Tiger in a decade – NOT a suitcase full of Euro. Economically, reunification would cost the south the services of a few top civil servants. (With a gradually reduced deficit for the first few years, natch – probably made up by the departing British exchequer).

    “The economic arguments don’t add up to unification.”

    Perhaps, perhaps not, I’m no expert. I am continually amazed though that there has never been a study carried out by the experts on the possible opportunities that might arise with the ending of the insanity of partition. But that aside, my modest point at this stage is simply that while economic arguments alone might not make the case for unity compelling, it is certainly crucial to keep reiterating that there certainly isn’t a credible economic argument AGAINST unity. Partition is unconscionably expensive on both sides of the border. That point needs to be made again and again.

    “There is no economic solution that is totally dependent on political unification.”

    True, by unification is certainly the most obvious avenue to the promised land of a single island economy.

    “The northeast is potentially a centre of industry and business to rival Dublin and is – potentially – way ahead of anywhere else in the country.

    “For example what are you basing this on?”

    Not sure I made myself totally clear – I meant that outside of Dublin the northeast has the potential to be the strongest area of economic productivity. The second pole in a bipolar economy if you will.

    Why do I think this? Lots of reasons. For example, there are a million people within a ten mile radius of Belfast city centre. Nowhere else outside Dublin comes close to such a concentration of people.

    Many of those people are well-educated – perhaps short of the sky-high standards south of the border, but not far off. (NI schools have a strong tradition of trouncing British schools in the league tables.) Unfortunately many of those people head to Britain to university and to outstanding careers, but never return. That trend might be reversed if there was something going on here to occupy them – as the Tiger has drawn back many of the south’s best and brightest in the last decade.

    The area also has outstanding infrastructure, with a number of motorways, two of Ireland’s five largest ports, two airports and railway links. Economically the northeast is like an empty stadium just waiting for someone to come and play a match in it.

    Tourism. I don’t know if you’ve ever been up the east and north Antrim coast. If not, I’d highly recommend it. It’s as beautiful as anywhere in Kerry, Cork, Donegal or indeed your own native county. It’s also, in my experience, untouchably the most beautiful part of the eastern coast. We’re talking Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills distillery, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, St Patrick’s old haunt of Slemish, hurling in Cushendall, lobster in Ballycastle. Do you know what the handful of tourists who go there say? “It’s so unspoilt.” That’s what they say.

    It should be thronged with tourists. God willing it will be some day.

    “the west, much more so than the border region suffered through the darkest days of the last century. It doesn’t take a border to cause disadvantage.”

    You’re absolutely right, but that doesn’t address the issue. Pretty much everywhere west of the Shannon has been dogged by disadvantage going back beyond the time of Cromwell. The point though is that previously propsperous areas like Louth, Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal were torn apart economically by the border. The point isn’t that border counties are worst off – the point is that these are areas that might – SHOULD – be contributing overall, but in fact require assistance because of the ever-present handicap of the border.

    “Name one border county that has farmland to compare with the Golden Vale or the arable lands of south Leinster?”

    Armagh, Down and Derry all have some of the best land in the country. Antrim, arguably, has the best of the lot.

    “This is a mindset. The North is holding back the North. As for the great opportunity – we’ve made the great leap forward – the great opportunity offer now rings hollow in a way that wouldn’t have been the case a decade ago.”

    Certainly the nature of the proposition is different. In the past the north was the more affluent part of the island and unification might have been seen as, sort of, “marrying up” for the south. All that’s changed now of course. Now unification is more like a business proposition – sure there are risks, but the pay-off would make it worthwhile. The south doesn’t need it – but with a bit of courage and imagination it could be a move never to be regretted.

    Plus it’d be a debt to history and all that craic. Bonus.

    “And at the moment you’d be coming to the table shackled with to republican paramilitaries who’ve scant regard for the rule of law in our country.”

    I’ll make a prediction: this time next year Sinn Fein will have divested itself of the IRA one way or another. I certainly hope that is the case. Then northern nationalism will be represented only by constitutional parties. Another roadblock on the way to unity will have been removed.

  • Lafcadio

    Some excellent posts here gentlemen.

    I too lived in Dublin (as a northern prod, for context), and went there with the assumption that southerners would be just like northern nationalists in their outlook, but with different accents. However, in my experience, Ringo’s comments above resonate much more strongly than the others.

    What appetite I did find for a united Ireland was pretty exclusively in the realm of the “nice to have”, rather than “need to have” (to borrow some of the soulless language of business..) it certainly wasn’t a defining cause, and tended to be expressed in imprecise terms, a sort of careless aspiration, “ah sure don’t we all belong together..”

    One trend I did notice, to my amusement, was that the staunchest nationalists I met in Dublin were teenage boys – the younger brothers of both my girlfriend and best mate were both diehard Irish nationalists, for which they were mocked lightly “they’ll grow out of it.. sure we’ve all been there..”

    Of course I met a fair few people who were genuinely committed to a united Ireland; some of them even had half a grasp of Irish history, and didn’t say things like “if the brits all just went back to england, we’d be flying!” But in my contact with Dublin’s middle classes, united Ireland was a pleasant enough thought, and undoubdetdly emotionally satisfying; but it was not something for which they would be prepared to risk their way of life and society; and a distaste for Sinn Fein was widespread (I mean among the people I mention above) and actually quite marked, they were viewed as uncouth and untrustworthy criminal apologists and gangsters.

    The general impression I got was that they thought of the north as a kind of unruly and troublesome half-brother – they would never cut him off entirely, and would always look out for him; but really by this stage they had better places to direct their energy.

    Quite apart from the question of a united Ireland, I was amazed by just how little the vast majority of people cared about N Ireland. In terms of topics of conversation, NI wasn’t even on the radar, behind things like traffic jams, property prices, sporting fixtures, business, restaurants and bars, Irish politics; in short the normal concerns of a well-to-do modern democracy.

  • kitty

    “The Republic has 4 million people, and yet Sinn Fein are only getting one in ten votes here. Aren’t the SDLP getting more than 1 in ten votes in the north and still being described as irrelevant by SF?”

    I would suggest that rather than the actual figures, it is the voting TREND that counts. Sinn Fein have gained considerably in the South, and in the North, whilst we all know what has happened, and will continue to happen, to the SDLP vote.
    In addition, Sinn Fein have been attacked right left and centre in the South by the ‘established’ parties, due ONLY to the electoral prospects for the next Dail election and thereafter. It is the rise of Sinn Fein that troubles them.