Sinn Fein challenge SDLP on unification

It seems Sinn Féin in Foyle are looking to crank up the tension post the election by calling on the SDLP to support them and call for a referendum on Irish unity despite the Good Friday Agreement clearly outlining that one should only be called if it is clear that a majority would vote to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.

SF’s Mitchel McLaughlin said: “Given our two parties espoused position in favour of Irish unity, I would expect that the SDLP would back an immediate call for a referendum on partition.

“After the elections are over, we intend to engage the SDLP on how we can best prosecute the united Ireland agenda with the parties and the two governments.

“Both parties – Sinn Féin and the SDLP – are saying the same thing: we wish for a united Ireland. Both parties should therefore push for a referendum on the border immediately following the elections.”

  • Northern FF

    ‘Cranking up the pressure’, or a struggling campaign looking for headlines by shouting a fairly meaningless slogan?

  • Chris Gaskin

    David Trimble wanted one a few months ago and we supported that, so why not have one now?

    It should set the ball rolling and hopefully have one every 7 years

  • carlosblancos

    I suppose the Sinners will have to come up with something to get the crowd going when their candidate came out with the outrageous statement that Jean McConvilles murder wasn’t a crime.

    Thankfully, such a stunt won’t work in a city like Derry, while, while solidly nationalist, knows what the Sinners are really made of.

  • carlosblancos

    I suppose the Sinners will have to come up with something to get the crowd going when their candidate came out with the outrageous statement that Jean McConvilles murder wasn’t a crime.

    Thankfully, such a stunt won’t work in a city like Derry, while, while solidly nationalist, knows what the Shinners are really made of.

  • Davros

    A totally dishonest post. There is NOTHING in the Belfast Agreement which says that a referendum should only be called if it is clear that a majority would vote to leave the UK.

    Please do not deliberately mislead visitors George. You have already been corrected on this. Blogging is a privilege on this site, You are abusing that privilege.

  • Chris Gaskin

    I would have to agree with Davros on this George

    A referendum has to be called if the S.O.S believes a majority are in favour of a UI

    He/she has the ability to call one when ever they like

  • Davros

    Thank you Chris.
    I would be quite interested in the result of a referendum, but I suspect it would be used to bolster calls for re-partitioning 😉

  • Gonzo

    Yous are splitting hairs a bit, but since it’s obvious that there isn’t a majority yet, it would be a breach of the Agreement if the SoS called a referendum any time soon.

  • George

    I diasgree Davros and believe the post was worded to avoid what you claim.

    I wrote the Good Friday Agreement clearly outlines that a referendum “should only be called if it is clear that a majority would vote to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.”

    Definitition of “should”: it is recommended that

    Relevant paragraph in GFA:

    “the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”

    To me this is a clear recommendation within the GFA as to when a referendum on unity should be called so I don’t in any way accept your post’s claim that I was in some way being dishonest.

    There is a link to the GFA and a link to the relevant article within the post for people to make up their own minds.

  • Davros

    Yous are splitting hairs a bit,

    Not so Gonzo. Misrepresentation of the Belfast agreement is serious.

    it would be a breach of the Agreement if the SoS called a referendum any time soon

    Not so Gonzo. Nowhere in the agreement is there any prohibition on the Government calling a referendum EXCEPT within 7 years of a referendum called under the terms of the agreement.

    So if in May the SOS called a referendum because of pressure from the DUP there is not only nothing in the Belfast agreement to prevent this, there is also nothing in the Belfast agreement to stop him repeating the referendum in 2006.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Are there two Georges posting here now?

    This is getting confusing.

  • Chris Gaskin

    Why are people so afraid of a border poll?

  • George

    Chris,
    the post didn’t mention anything when the Secretary of State “can” call a referendum under the GFA in this post, it outlined when the GFA recommends a referendum should be called.

    There is a difference. The Secretary of State CAN call a referendum whenever he wants but the GFA clearly outlines WHEN he should call one.

  • George

    Billy,
    there a George T but I believe I am the only George.

  • Chris Gaskin

    That is what I was arguing George

    He has an obligation to call one when he believes there will be adequate support for a UI but he can call one when ever he likes

  • George

    Chris,
    “That is what I was arguing George”

    Where does the post contradict your argument? It doesn’t which is why I thoroughly refute the allegation that it is somehow dishonest.

  • Davros

    George : This is what you wrote:

    “clearly outlining that one should only be called if it is clear that a majority would vote to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.”

    Show me where in the Agreement it says “should only” or show me where it says that one shouldn’t be called unless …..

    You have been dishonest and should retract.

    “To me”

    Your interpretaion, NOT what is in the Agreement

    “this is a clear recommendation within the GFA as to when a referendum on unity should be called so I don’t in any way accept your post’s claim that I was in some way being dishonest.”

    Here you are being evasive. You didn’t write that it specified when a referendum might be called, you wrote that the agreement limited the calling to a specific circumstance. That’s very different.

    This site has many visitors who want to learn more about the politics of NI. Please don’t abuse your privilege by posting misleading blogs. We covered this very point recently so you have no excuse for
    claiming that the GFA limits the holding of a referendum to when the SOS thinks there could be a vote for unification. That’s untrue.

  • George

    Davros,
    Your entitled to your view. I disagree with it completely. I believe it was an honest and frank post and I have nothing to retract and have explained the wording fully.

    I also refute out of hand your claim that I am somehow abusing privelege, being dishonest or anything else.

    “you have no excuse for claiming that the GFA limits the holding of a referendum to when the SOS thinks there could be a vote for unification. That’s untrue.”

    I never made such a claim and was careful not to do so. Please read the post.

  • Davros

    Where does the post contradict your argument?

    “clearly outlining that one should only be called if it is clear that a majority would vote to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.”

    You even misquote the Agreement!

    The words – “if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”

    He/She doesn’t have to be certain that the vote would be for Unification, the SOS merely has to think it “likely”.

    It’s a poor show that you abuse the posting privilege given to you by Mick to play childish games.

  • DerryTerry

    So how would the SDLP advise people to vote in a border poll?

    100 percent for unity, 100 percent for partition.

  • Davros

    I never made such a claim

    “the Good Friday Agreement clearly outlining that one should only be called if it is clear that a majority would vote to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.”

    What is this then ? According to you if the SOS announced on May 6th that he was calling a referendum he would be in breach of the terms of the agreement.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Och Davros and George. Would youse two just get a room?

    Re. a referendum. Why not?

    The southern government needn’t worry about being caught unawares this time around, there’s no prospect of a Yes vote.

    (Though I suppose how the question is worded: if it was “Do you support the continuation of partition and the union over unification with the rest of Ireland” – thousands of unionists might instinctively vote No without reading the question…)

    Seriously though, clearly a border poll would back partition and the union at this stage. All the same though, the campaign would be a good opportunity to demonstrate how compelling the case for unity is – and how threadbare the case for partition and the union is.

    Let’s have a campaign during which the pro-unity and pro-union arguments are put side-by-side. Sure, a majority will back the daft arguments – but then we’d have seven, 14, 21 years, whatever, to have a good, hard think about it.

    The first referendum will probably set the clock ticking irrevocably on unity simply by focussing our minds on where were are now and where we hope to go in the medium term future – why not get started straight away?

  • Davros

    Billy – there’s an important principle at stake here. Blogging is a privilege and one that George abused by deliberately misrepresenting the Good Friday Agreement. It’s not an honest mistake, it’s not open to interpretation, this issue was discussed in depth recently.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Davros is correct and George is wrong.

    The government is free to call a referendum whenever it likes and as often or as infrequently as it likes. Technically speaking, the governments are not required to do anything in any particular circumstances. The Secretary of State is stipulated to be required to lay legislation before parliament to enact a referendum. But parliament is free to vote it down.

    “2) But if the wish expressed by a majority in such a poll is that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland, the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament such proposals to give effect to that wish as may be agreed between Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Oops, an error.

    What I meant was that the Secretary of State can order a referendum, but parliament is not obliged to do anything with the results of it.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Fair enough Davros, but I think your point is made. If anyone was in any doubt about the powers the GFA gives the SoS on this, they aren’t now.

    But what about the issue itself? As a unionist, would you fear a referendum? – Not that unionism would lose the vote, but that unionism might lose the argument?

  • JD

    If the issue is simply one of obligation, then I don’t see anything wrong with George’s post. Without the estimated likelihood of the referendum succeeding, there is no obligation to have a vote. I’d like to see the attempts to explain the reasons for having a vote in the absence of a real belief that it would change anything.

  • Davros

    Billy – the last call for a referendum came from within unionism 🙂 David Trimble. It was firmly rejected by nationalism. 2016 approaches. Gerry and co’ can hint and pretend that they are within a hair’s breadth of getting a majority in favour of Unification only as long as there isn’t a referendum. The reality would be that a referendum would destroy that for at least a generation. Would there even be 40% vote for Unification within 5 years ? I doubt it.
    If you look back I suggested a strategy for Unionist parties after the election that they should demand a referendum to put SF on the spot when they become the largest nationalist party in NI after May 6th – that was when George tried to claim that the GFA didn’t allow it 🙂

    JD – that’s not how he worded it. He used his blogging privilege to play silly beggars having struggled on another thread- which is shameful.

  • Mrs Tilton

    It should set the ball rolling and hopefully have one every 7 years

    Biblically-minded unionists might reply: not seven, but seventy times seven.

  • George T!

    Billy, George –

    hope my name doesnt confuse anyone! Any ideas for a new knickname??

  • Alan McDonald

    George T!

    How about G Washington (he never told a lie)?

  • Keith M

    I knew SF/IRA were having a poor election campaign, but I didn’t expect to see such an obvious cluthching at straws. At least we are spared the incorrect “reunification” word this time. Irish unity is not going to happen in the lifetime of anyone alive today. If it ever does, it will be as part of a federal Europe where natioonal borders are all but irrelevant. SF/IRA know it, the SDLP know it, and this is just third rate politicing.

    For what it’s worth I would welcome a referendum, to sort out this issues for decades to come. Tie in the date of any possible future referendum to he margin of victory for the union, e.g. a 60-40 and no referendum for 20 years,m a 70-30 split and no referendum for 40 years. The issue could then be moved to the back burner where it so obviously belongs.

  • maca

    I think a referendum on reunification should be a high priority. The constitutional question needs to be tackled, only then can the issue be set aside for a few years allowing people to get down to tackling more pressing issues.
    It’ll also be something more interesting to follow that the usual bullsh1t.

  • Keith M

    Maca “REunification” can only happen when the Republic rejoins the U.K.

  • Henry94

    I must say I don’t see the point until we have the numbers. By which I mean a majority voting for nationalist parties. I don’t think anyone could object to a referendum in that case.

  • maca

    No Keith.

  • Keith M

    Maca, you can only RE-unify something that was previously united. The only time that the island of Ireland was a single political entity was firstly as a British colony, then a dual monarchy and finally as part of the United Kingdom. These are the only REunification options, and I’d be interested in which you’d prefer.

  • maca

    Do we have to do down this road Keith?
    “you can only RE-unify something that was previously united” Dah! Ireland was previously united and one day could be reunited, whether that is part of the UK or EU is irrelevant, the island would be reunited either way.

  • Keith M

    This is more than just semantics maca. My point is that left to themselves the people of this island never chose to be part of a single separate political entity. Unity only came from Britain in order to ease the governence of the island. My belief is that nothing has changed and that RE-unification could only only come about as part of a some federal arrangement of the isles. Unification on the other hand is no more likely to happen in the next thousand years as in the last thousand years.

  • clug

    No strategic or economic interest………

  • maca

    Keith,

    “the people of this island never chose to be part of a single separate political entity. Unity only came from Britain”

    But unity did come. And if it comes again the island will be reunited.
    CAIN, Encarta, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Ency Britannica, The IBE, The Guardian, CNN and countless other organisations, newspapers, websites and British politicians are all happy enough to use reunification.

  • Keith M

    maca, I have no problem with the word re-unification as long the word is used correctly. I have specified the only three methods that the island could be reunified (a colony, a dual monarchy or as an integral part of the UK). I’m still waiting for you to tell me which method of reunification you favour.

  • G Washington

    Thanks Alan!!

  • Alan McDonald

    G Washington,

    You’re most welcome, now go chop down a cherry tree!

  • Ryan

    Well I think its a grand idea. It will give nationalists a rough idea of how far or how close the United Ireland is! Also a rough estimate of how long it will take to end the partition of the Island of Ireland and unite the Country.!!!

  • jim c

    keith m

    I have no problem with the unification of Ireland

    The sooner the better

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Keith M

    How come you are so passionate about it? Seriously, I don’t understand how anyone from south of the border could be so emotionally opposed to national reunification as to make the DUP sound rational and reasonable. (No unification for a thousand years? Even on a good day Paisley wouldn’t come out with that one. In fact, I can only think of one European politician in the last century who had to audacity to make predictions a millennium in advance…)

    I simply cannot understand how someone who lives in the peaceful, stable and prosperous south could look north with envy and pine for a return to the union for the rest of Ireland. I do not understand your simultaneous support for union in Ireland, and the visceral hatred you have for almost half of your fellow countrymen who actually live under the union.

    I suspect you’re no more a southerner than Peter Robinson is. I suspect you’re trolling.

  • Davros

    someone who lives in the peaceful, stable and prosperous south

    How many shootings and murders have their been in the ROI this year Billy ? The haves are doing nicely and making sure they hang onto what they have, but peaceful ?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “How many shootings and murders have their been in the ROI this year Billy? The haves are doing nicely and making sure they hang onto what they have, but peaceful?

    Ah now Davros, are you suggesting that there is anything that could remotely be described as conflict going on in the Republic?

    What conflict there is is on a personal level. Yes, incidents of a non-peaceful nature happen, but the lives of 99.99999% of the population involve no conflict more serious than Saturay night outside the pub, road rage or, perhaps, a bit of overly-robust rivalry on the sports field or golf club.

    Could such a state reasonably be described as peaceful? If it can’t, the no state can.