Sinn Fein and DUP united on Europe

Going back a week or two, John O’Farrell wrote this run down of the political parties and their stances on Europe. The similarties are greatest between what many suppose are the most inveterate enemies in Northern Ireland politics.

The DUP’s stance on the euro and the EU Constitutional Treaty (and, indeed, membership of the EU) was expressed by their MEP Jim Allister last January:

“It is not, nor is it an end in itself, rather for the Euro fanatics who drive the project the constitution is but a start towards the ultimate subjugation of all national powers. The question for each nation is whether they are prepared to go down that road. The choice is between a Europe of co-operating sovereign nation states or a Europe that is itself a superstate.”

SF passed a motion at their recent ard fheis pledging them to campaign
against the Constitutional Treaty. Their Dublin MEP, Mary Lou McDonald, told the ard fheis:

“Make no mistake, the EU Constitution will provide for the single biggest advance towards the creation of a European super-state since the beginnings of the European project. It will lay the legal foundations for a federal Europe and deepen the divide between citizens and those who hold power.”

  • Occasional Commenter

    Why should there be any surprise that two parties agree on something? I’m sure there are countless issues where most of the planet has a similar opinion but we don’t keep shouting about them.

  • John O’Connell

    This is a very important point. The distinguishing issue that separates the SDLP from the rest of the main political parties in Northern Ireland is Europe. This is crucial to understanding the nature of the conflict in the North.
    While the SDLP is an open, outward-looking political party, sharing much in common with the rest of Europe in terms of values, the other parties put narrow nationalistic ideologies in front of the need for greater cooperation between the countries of Europe.
    While the SDLP is reaching out, and attempting to get others to do the same, on this very important issue of Europe the unionists and Sinn Fein are caught in a time warp, unable to trust other European nations.
    The SDLP has a distinct advantage. It has much in common with the policies of other European socialists, and indeed it is a respected part of the international socialist and social democratic tradition.
    Sinn Fein, and the unionists too, don’t like Europe because they share nothing in common with other political parties there, and because they all believe that it is a step towards the diminution of independence. They say that it is to do with sovereignty, and that they are not prepared to give up any more to Europe.
    However, that is a superficial interpretation of their objections. The reality is that they see their tradition as a British or Irish Israelite tradition, dominated by a desire to remain at a distance from those who simply are not the chosen people.
    Nonetheless, the British Israelite tradition of the unionists and the Irish Israelite tradition of the republicans were at each other’s throats, incompatible in terms of flags and emblems, but distinctly similar in outlook. One might think it possible that they will unite under a common banner at some future date, and save the rest of us the pain and suffering that has to be gone through before they realise that they are actually talking the same language.
    These are the traditions of flags and symbols, and not sustainable values. Their values are different. Some might say that they don’t have any worthwhile values, and that is why they cloud the skies over their parties with flags of various colours and symbols that are both divisive and sometimes obnoxious.
    It is, however, the resolution of the conflict that is important here in this issue of Europe. Unionism, like republicanism, is entirely introspective whereas the SDLP is outward-looking. For conflicts between communities to be resolved, or indeed avoided, both communities must be outward-looking, holding out the hand of friendship to their neighbours.
    ‘Love your enemies,’ Christ said. His words are entirely appropriate to the nature of the conflict here in Northern Ireland. Social democratic traditions such as the SDLP, with their international flavour that recognises the universality of mankind, will always be better at resolving conflicts than the introspective, patriotic traditions such as the unionists and Sinn Fein.

  • Occasional Commenter

    John, please explain why only nationalists can be against the adoption of this particular treaty?

    Also, John said: The reality is that they see their tradition as a British or Irish Israelite tradition, dominated by a desire to remain at a distance from those who simply are not the chosen people.

    Why do you say “The reality is”? Are you implying that they are lying about the reasons they don’t want this treaty ratified? Also, you obviously haven’t made an attempt to understand the objections of those people who don’t fit your stereotype.

    Put simply, I am not a nationalist by any definition of the word, and am against the constitution. Explain that.

    Don’t allow your narrow minded stereotype of the DUP and SF to get in the way of a sensible debate about this treaty.

  • beano;

    Would the SDLP be so keen on the EU if it was more Conservative/Liberal (in market terms) in outlook? Is the longing to be a more deeply integrated part of Europe to do with ideological internationalism or to do with the fact that it is more ‘left’ than either the UK or Irish governments?

  • Occasional Commenter

    Good point beano, but the funny thing is that the French public are apparently against the treaty because it’s far too Conservative/Liberal (in market terms)!

  • Alan

    It is easy to be against the European Constitution if you are parochial, fundamentalist or confusedly nationalistic. Now if we consider the parties concerned . . .

  • Occasional Commenter

    Some might say that SF and the DUP are against this Constitution for stupid reasons, but that doesn’t meant that the SDLP aren’t using other stupid reasons to support it.