Waiting.. still

Perhaps in response to another report in the same paper – “The IRA will not disband but will have no role other than to pursue the goal of a united Ireland by purely peaceful means, in the scenario now being considered by republican leaders.”, the Irish Times leader today [just] manages to avoid the Godot reference.. but the connection seems to be there – Waiting for the IRA to go away

From the Irish Times leader column –

Thousands of words have been spoken since the IRA called its first ceasefire in the summer of 1994 cajoling and encouraging Sinn Féin to decommission its army and pursue its political aims by exclusively democratic means. Such exhortations have not been heard in recent months, however, because the days of nudge and fudge are over.

The IT continues with a strong comment on – and notably making a distinction between – SF and democratic Ireland –

But, there can be no war of words now between Sinn Féin and democratic Ireland about the future of the IRA. The time has come for action, not further ambiguity.There are issues of crucial national interest at stake which touch the core of our existence as a democratic State. And, the events of recent months – murder, gangsterism, thuggery, cover-ups, money-laundering and downright robbery – mean that it will not be good enough to return to the promised statement of last December.

Whatever verb is used, the IRA has to cease to exist and be seen to do so. There is one Army in this State. There must be complete decommissioning of arms verified by the de Chastelain Commission. There must be a verifiable end to paramilitarism and criminality.

And it ends with a reminder to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that the cause of Irish democracy must be at the forefront of his thinking –

It is hoped that, with the passage of time, the two governments have not lost the initial sense of outrage over the IRA’s double-dealing with democracy. It is also hoped that the end of the IRA as an army will see the onus placed on the Democratic Unionist Party to resume power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. It is Sinn Féin’s ambition to exercise power in this State, however, which places the ultimate responsibility on Mr Bertie Ahern, not Mr Tony Blair, in coming weeks. There are suggestions that Sinn Féin would prefer to do a deal with the British government. Whatever the disposition of the British, the cause of Irish democracy demands that the Taoiseach takes the lead and gets this right.

  • crat

    Seems we will we be waiting days for Slugger to mention the issues within Loyalism, again? Last time I waited and only read a passing mention of a murder many days later as part another story on a failed murder trial.

  • Tom

    We continue to be grateful for small mercies from the IRA. They will be selling ‘indulgences’ to members next and getting life long membership at Clonard. Perhaps that’s just cynical thinking.

  • Waitnsee

    Crat is clearly rattled.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”It is also hoped that the end of the IRA as an army will see the onus placed on the Democratic Unionist Party to resume power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.”

    If none of the main parties in the Republic are willing to share power with SF, exactly why would the DUP be tempted to do so?
    Once the conditions are right for SF to enter a future coalition in the south, then and only then should the DUP consider power-sharing with a party whose long-term aim appears to be the overthrow of both the Northern and Southern states to be replaced by a one party socialist republic.

  • MT

    Seriously though, what will the DUP do if the IRA decommission? Refuse to negotiate with socialists?!

  • MT

    Seriously though, what will the DUP do if the IRA decommission? Refuse to negotiate with SF, on the basis of their socialist credentials?!

  • Comrade Stalin

    I listened to Robert Saulters speaking on the 12th, and he called upon feuding loyalists to stop, and went on to talk about the unionist community uniting against the common enemy. It’s funny how when senior Orangemen and unionists are talking about loyalists, they strangely seem unable to tell them to do more than try to be nice to each other. There are no demands for disbandment, prosecutions, or calls by other Orangemen or unionists to report any paramilitary activity to the police. Worse, these people seem to imply that loyalists are on their “side”.

    As well as the disbandment of the IRA I’d like unionists to stop apologizing for loyalist paramilitarism and unequivocally repudiate it.

  • Keith M

    CS “As well as the disbandment of the IRA I’d like unionists to stop apologizing for loyalist paramilitarism and unequivocally repudiate it.”

    Too true, for far too long unionist politicians have played “softball” with murdering thugs simply because they were seen to be on “their side”.T hey may not be murdering anyone only members of other loyalist gangs at this stage, but these people are just a big a threat to the long term stability and peace of Northern Ireland, and the time has long since come to tell them to stop forever.

  • aquifer

    The prod paramilitaries doom Unionism.

    Their savage attacks against the middle ground: the mixed marrieds, the immigrants of all religions, and small entrepreneurs, all of whom should see an advantage in maintaining the union, means Unionists could be 49% not 55% long before demographics would have done the same job.

    The prod paraplonkers, like the DUP, only ever complemented the Provo strategy of ethnic division and ghettoisation.

    But who on the Unionist side would be brave enough to ask to have them crushed? The UUP do not have enough people with the Westminster personal protection package, and the DUP have relationships with them on the ground.

    SFPIRA will not be asking the Secretary of State for effective measures, and a labour minister committed to Unity by consent may not feel inclined to try to suppress terrorists who would otherwise be bombing London, or to bale out Unionists more interested in parades than in political power, and who will always trip them up in Westminster.

    Post EU Common Agricultural Policy, its not about who owns which field. So as a small business person where to set up shop. In areas committed to a seamless link to the most dynamic economy in Europe, or in areas where you will paying thousands of pounds to one or more gangs of addicted sectarian thugs?

  • Moderate Unionist

    aquifer
    The problem with Northern Ireland as you correctly point out is that the middle ground has been repeatedly shafted by the self interest of Westminster, Dublin and local political parties (particularly those at the extremes).

    Those parties (not necessarily political parties) that attempt to build a middle ground are hung out to dry by the two governments. Their is no reinforcement of the centre, no postive out come for moderation, no reward for taking risks.

    The people are not stupid. Life is pretty good for the middle classes (most of whom depend on the public sector) and for the working classes it is a case of damage limitation.

    So if anybody did take a stand, who would rally around them. Who would take on the combined might of the civil service, the paramilitaries, Westminster and Dublin?

  • bertie

    I think the electorate gave those in the UUP its just rewards for the way it risked our futures based on trusting IRA/Sinn Fein.

  • barnshee

    ” otherwise be bombing London,”

    I think the days of IRA bombs in London may be over -unless of course some “dissidents” could be provided

  • George

    Aquifer,
    “Post EU Common Agricultural Policy,”

    Unfortunately, despite all his tough talking, Blair is the same man who happily signed Britain up to CAP until 2013 not so long ago. Shock horror – Blair says one thing and does the other.

    I fully agree with you that unionism needs to be getting immigrants, those from mixed marriages, etc. onside to survive not keep mum as their military wing – aka loyalism – attack them and burn them out of their homes.

    If the continued existence of Northern Ireland as a British-ruled entity (they don’t seem to want to rule themselves) means there is no place for foreigners, tolerance of others or a successful business atmosphere, then the place really is doomed – sooner rather than later.

    The northern flood south for the 12th has even reached the southern tip of Cork by the way. They are everywhere. These festivities are great for tourism alright – southern tourism.

    On waiting on the IRA, to loosely paraphrase Michael Collins, we’ve waited 70 years, we can wait another seven months.

  • Dessertspoon

    Hands up if you really think anything the IRA have to say is worth waiting for?

    Hands up if you really think it’ll make a difference?

    Nope didn’t think so…..what exactly are we waiting for anyway? Something that should have been done 11 years ago. George you may be prepared to wait another 7 months or years but some of us aren’t.

  • George

    Dessertspoon,
    you don’t think it’s worth waiting for anything from the IRA yet in the same breath you say you aren’t prepared to wait any longer.

    Which is it?

    My view is that the IRA has to answer to, and find its peace with, the Irish people if there is to be a conclusive end to the idea of “armed struggle” as a method of ending British rule on the island of Ireland.

    I don’t mind waiting a little longer if the answer, when it comes, means the idea of violence as a means of achieving Irish political ends on this island is dead for my lifetime.

    If the British loyalists and unionists believe violence, state or otherwise, is still an option for them to maintain British rule on a part of this island, that is their affair.

  • Dessertspoon

    George I used to have a positive outlook on the Peace Process but over the last 3 years and in particular the last year I have begun to lose faith in it. I am sick and tired of waiting for statements that when they come weren’t worth the wait. I am sick and tired of talks about talks that go nowhere and achieve nothing. I am sick and tired of hearing our political leaders complain about those nasty Direct Rule Ministers but continue to sit on their hands and do nothing about it. I am sick and tired of having hopes raised and then dashed and the endless blame game that goes with it.

    Northern Ireland is without doubt a much better place that it was before 1994 but that momentum of change is slowing and once more the world is passing us by while we wait and wait and wait. What can I say George I’m a Gemini I have a short attention span and don’t like to wait!!

  • Vespasian

    When EVERYONE starts to treat terrorists/gangsters/thugs and their apologists, from whatever hue, for what they are – common criminals – then we might make some progress in this country.

    Until then we are doomed to live in a society where an unrealistically high level of criminality is acceptable.

    It seems too many in this country are prepared to look the other way or cast their eyes to the ground when talking about such people from their particular hue.

    Who will take the lead to change this?

  • George

    I’m a scorpio so am apparently a loyal friend but a fanatical foe, what more can I say!

    Putting on my realpolitik of partition hat for a moment:

    I wouldn’t be a happy bunny if I was a northener either but I think people sometimes forget that one of the GFA’s great achievements is that it finally delivered a sort of constitutional closure for the people of the south.

    The path to unification (whether it happens or not is neither here nor there) is clearly laid out as only being achievable by consent and through peaceful means. The armchair republicans have been silenced.

    In other words, the strand that was relevant to us has delivered for us so we can happily wait.

  • Moderate Unionist

    bertie
    I think the electorate gave those in the UUP its just rewards for the way it risked our futures based on trusting IRA/Sinn Fein.

    So your alternative is?

    The status quo, political stalemate or perhaps a new deal, a fair deal. What type of government do you see for Northern Ireland in 10 years time? Will it include SF/IRA?

  • bertie

    What I might see and what I might want are not necessarily the same thing.

    At the moment because appeasement has been found acceptable in the Belfast Agreement, I see the chance of a decent society further away. Sinn Fein/IRA have been strenghtened because of it. The only silver lining is that the UDP PUP do not seem to be similarly advancing.

    I prefer direct rule than terrorist rule any day.

    I want a government that does not include any terrorist groups. I would appear to be in a minority in NI as I do not favour power-sharing (apart from volentary). Not because I don’t want “to share power with Catholics”, but because I do not support it as a concept. Voting the buggers out is a prime requirement of democracy and if everyone is in government how do you vote them out. If the UUP (back in the days when it was the main party) could have formed a coalition with SDLP, then fair enough.

    I prefer direct rule than terrorist rule any day.

  • Moderate Unionist

    bertie
    A very interesting post.
    I agree with you about appeasement, but Westminster’s strategy is based on appeasement.

    I agree with the concept of no terrorist groups in power, but Westminster will not accept devolved government without SF. Not only would it be counter productive (think of the PR for SF) but it is right that large minorities should have effective representation in any democracy.

    I agree strongly with the notion that only effective sanction in a democracy is the ability “to vote the buggers out” every four years.

    and finally I agree with you that voluntary coalitions represent are more realistic way forward, but this would require a radical rethink in many areas.

    Not least in the position of the local parties.

    I cannot see the SDLP forming a coalition with the DUP without SF involved. I cannot see the DUP and SF being able to sustain a stable voluntary coalition. The only potential coalition that might work (as you say) is between the SDLP and the UUP but not until and unless there is a change in electoral fortunes.

    Although, I understand the frustration that led many people to vote DUP, I cannot see this action removing the source of the frustration in the longer term. Nor do I see a return to the Unionism of Molyneaux and Donaldson as advancing this strategy (assuming that is what you want).

    If voluntary coalitions are also unworkable then one party or one personality will have to develop their position so as to be able to accomodate both traditions. It won’t be the Alliance party and I doubt if it will be the DUP or SF. (It is just possible a new party will emerge) but even this is a challenging strategy.

    Which leaves us with the least worst option of direct rule. In which case, we will see fewer hosptials, fewer schools, lower pay, higher rates, higher water taxes, less employment and more economic migration and the effects will be observed disproportionately on the Unionist side, which ultimately is the biggest threat to the Union.

    Happy to hear your alternative.

  • Comrade Stalin

    MU wrote : Happy to hear your alternative.

    My alternative would be consistency.

    The trouble with you is that when you write the word “appeasement” what you really mean is “appeasement by republicans”. We’ve had a 12th period which has involved the destruction of a commercial premises due to a bonfire over a gas main, a rape and an attempted rape, several assaults, a UVF show of strength shown on TV at a bonfire, and a few murders. This alongside the usual public arson and vandalism associated with bonfire night. Unionist politicians have had precisely zero to say about these events, and are acting as though they didn’t happen. Instead they have been concentrating on rioting which occurred on the other side of the city.

    Unionists are simply in no position to talk about appeasement when they quite readily practice it themselves.

  • bertie

    MU

    “bertie
    A very interesting post.
    I agree with you about appeasement, ………

    I agree with …….

    I agree strongly with …….”

    Stop it! you’re freaking me out! As a “moderate unionist” you have no business agreeing with me!

  • Nathan

    “Waiting for the IRA to go away”!!!!!!

    You’ll be waiting a very very long time, so in the meantime let me burst that Disneyland bubble of yours.

    First, it is misleading to speak of IRA disbandment – that is fantasy world language because believe me there is no shortage of purists within the broad church that is Irish republicanism i.e.) those who believe that constitutionalism is a disease that only serves to undermine ‘true’ republican principles. So even if the provos disband, we won’t be witnessing the end of the IRA, merely the end of an IRA. In other words, a violent ‘republican’ outfit will always exist in the monarchist spirit of continuity, for as long as the border remains in place (the sincere yet misguided types from RSF/CIRA and 32CSM/RIRA will jolly well see to that).

    Therefore, the aim of the 2 governments and the Guards/PSNI should be to ensure that no matter what group of malcontents operate under the banner of the IRA – that they will remain steadfast in ensuring that IRA capability to inflict murder and mayhem is curbed, to such an extent that they are almost powerless.

  • Alan McDonald

    Nathan,

    Does your proposed policy toward the IRA dovetail with the larger “war on terror,” i.e., should the policing agencies remain steadfast in ensuring that [the terrorists’] capability to inflict murder and mayhem is curbed, to such an extent that they are almost powerless?

  • Alan McDonald

    MU,

    Congratulations for being the man in the middle, shot from both sides. Such are the rewards of moderation.

  • Nathan

    Hi Alan,

    “Does your proposed policy toward the IRA dovetail with the larger “war on terror,” i.e., should the policing agencies remain steadfast in ensuring that [the terrorists’] capability to inflict murder and mayhem is curbed, to such an extent that they are almost powerless?”

    In a nutshell, yes – but I don’t think this policy will ever again apply to the provisionals. Like their Republican predecessors, they have metaphorised to such an extent, that they are now considered post-terrorist, by the major players.

    The IRA show will go on though – you only have to look at Irish history to realise this – where every new generation has produced its own IRA. But count the provisionals out because they’ll be too busy imprisoning the next generation of IRA people, through control of the 6-county Crown forces no doubt.

    I just hope that the future Provisional leadership will refrain from doing a deValera on the renegades i.e.) use their future power in government to sanction state murder of ‘Republican’ oppoenents, as did happen in the Free State with official IRA man, George Plant and countless others.

  • Alan McDonald

    Nathan,

    Thank you for your answer. I am most interested in your comment that they are now considered post-terrorist.

    As an American, I have not yet figured out how our foreign policy of “death to terrorists and life to democracy” deals with those terrorists who have an electoral mandate. The category of “post-terrorist” may provide the semantic loophole needed when Mahmoud Abbas includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad in a national unity government to oversee the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Comrade Stalin
    The trouble with you is that when you write the word “appeasement” what you really mean is “appeasement by republicans”.

    Not so! A respect for law and order is a fundamental building block of all democracies. Whether republican or loyalist all criminal activity, all paramilitary activity, all antisocial activity should be opposed.

    The problem is these things are imposible to do as an individual. We need the police to take on the bully boys and we need elected representatives to give them the authority (and to ensure that they don’t abuse the authority).

    There should be no private armies, no summary justice, no protection rackets, because that means that the weak, the elderly and plain ordinary people remain trapped in communities controlled by so called protectors.

    The tragedy of the last 30 years has been the rise of criminality and destruction of the private sector (which had previously given our communities and the people in them, self respect, confidence and pride).

    The problems are the same for both sides of the community.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “Not so! A respect for law and order is a fundamental building block of all democracies. Whether republican or loyalist all criminal activity, all paramilitary activity, all antisocial activity should be opposed.”

    That’s good, but you had to be prompted before mentioning loyalists. In your earlier posts, a person could be mistaken for thinking loyalists even existed. I don’t think deep down that you see them as a problem in the same way that the militant republicans are a problem.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Comrade Stalin
    Not so, every bit as bad. And your argument about not mentioning the loyalists before is also mendacious.

    The difference is that the loyalist paramilitaries were not being offered a seat in government. Nor did they pose a threat to Westminster by bombing the City. So there was no need to appease them.

    My point was and is, that Blair is only interested in negoitating with SF because of their connections with the IRA. He is not much interested in what either the DUP or the UUP do or say as neither bomb Westminster. Westminster are only interested in the DUP as a partner for SF/IRA because Dr. Paisley is seen as the only man that can deliver the Unionists. The sole aim of Westminster is neutralise any threat to London.

    The people of Northern Ireland can lament the government’s failure to support law and order and their appeasement of paramilitary/criminal organisations, but in doing so they miss the point. Westminster has no “selfish” interest in Northern Ireland or its people.

    Of course what the republicans must careful of is, that they might get what they wish for. Without the British Exchequer this place would be a desert.

  • Wichser

    Moderate Unionist

    SF fully realizes that a UI is not available and is subject to consent. The problem with their partitionist project, which goes to the heart of the GFA, is that it ensures that it will compete with unionism for resource and preference from the British Exchequer vis-a-vis unionist people in the same way unionism will compete for them vis-a-vis non-unionist people. Heads the community as a whole loses, tails the community as a whole doesn’t gain. Sectarianism wins.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    Without the British Exchequer this place would be a desert

    Like most Unionists you’ve got that totally backwards…

    Let’s take this slowly…

    Who has fiscal and monetary control over the northern economy?

    Who decides on the budget, tax rates, business incentives, education and training and so on?

    Who has utterly failed to implement pretty damn basic and head-slappingly obvious economic reforms in order to create a pro-business environment, rebalance the economy away from massive over-dependence on the public sector, attract quality FDI, plug the north back into the global trading economy and grab a piece of the action going on a few miles over the border?

    And no, you can’t keep gurning on about “30 years of the SF/IRA terror campaign” being responsible. That ended 11 years ago, and desperately-needed economic reforms are in no way shape or form in any way whatsoever dependent on whether or not Gerry and Ian manage to shake hands. Britain could have – should have, if their claim to jurisdiction over the north is to have any moral legitimacy whatsoever – just got on with the job years ago. It only takes a few years, a decade at most to turn things around. The Republic went from Bankrupt to Tiger between 1987 and 1997 so it can easily be done. There is no legitimate excuse.

    The “subvention” exists because either Britain wants it that way, or Britain couldn’t give a toss about the place. It exists purely and simply because the north is appallingly, disgracefully, atrociously, criminally badly run by the British.

    Now, what exactly where those “benefits of the Union” you were hoping to sell to people in mixed marriages and immigrants?

  • Wichser

    Ciaran

    What are the economic projections for a UI based on an extension of the 26 county state and a complete earning of the British subvention please ?

  • Wichser

    …ending, not earning.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    Well…everything that follows is my own analysis, based on the premise that Unification happened tomorrow morning all of a sudden and nobody had done any planning for it…

    Current subvention is about €3.8bn per annum. North needs infrastructure spending to connect it properly to the rest of the island, and there’ll be additional up-front costs in re-organising the northern public sector, though I’d imagine the bulk of the re-balancing being done in exactly the same way it was done here in the Republic – in 1987 the State made up IIRC 54% of GDP and was running budget deficits of a similar scale to what the north is now. This is why I’m so contemptuous of claims the north’s economy is somehow uniquiely doomed to sucking on Mutha’s teat for evermore.

    Anyway. Currently the Republic is importing 7,000 immigrants a month when there’s a large pool of wildly under-utilised Irish labour on our doorsteps. So existing southern companies and multinationals based here looking to expand can expand northwards. This revitalises the northern private sector with real modern quality jobs, leading to people drifting away from the public sector of their own accord. It’s happened before in numerous countries. As a nice side-benefit it reduces the need for large-scale immigration into the Republic.

    So. Over a period of 5-7 years or thereabouts the economy of the north would be integrated into the Republic’s, the public-private mix re-balanced to something healthier, real wealth-creating industries would move in and provide real jobs. The economic distortions caused by the border in Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth would disappear, leading to the entire region becoming more economically active and thus also reducing the drain on the exchequer of the southern border counties who currently don’t pay their own way either.

    By the 8th year the whole thing would be in surplus. We’ve managed transitions like this before, we have the global commercial contacts and the financial muscle these days. It’s really not a big deal and far less of a problem than the bogeymonstering bletherheads would like to make out. But the total outlay over 8 years would be around €40bn (the subvention declining steadily from €3.8bn to surplus, and maybe €15bn in infrastructure and once-off reorganisation costs).

    To put this in perspective, the 2000-2006 National Development Plan will probably end up spending about €70bn on infrastructure in the Republic. And the returns are a stable, prosperous north, a final end to all this bloody stupid nonsense forever, an enlarged internal market up to nearly 6 million people….it’s all good.

    The €40bn could be financed in a variety of ways: State borrowing (the Republic has the lowest public debt/GDP ratio in the EU and we could actually borrow most of it and not breach Maastricht limits); cutting back on infrastructural spending in the 26 counties for a few years (we’re spending over €5bn a year on infrastructure at the minute); stiff the diaspora for a tenner each (joke!); or with a bit of foresight create a Unification Fund, something similar to the National Pension Reserve Fund, with say 0.5% or 1% of GDP being stashed away each year. Every 10 years if it looks like Unification is nowhere near happening the Government of the day can take half of it and go mad, the fund to expire and revert to the State after 50 years if it is never used.

    Our finances are in extremely good health, we can easily afford this through a combination of savings, borrowings and maybe some small cutbacks in non-critical spending in the 26 during the process. No massive tax rises, no job losses and economic meltdown and disaster and plague and famine. Just simple numbers and a bit of organising.

    Of course, if the Brits would get the finger out and actually run the place properly Unification would be easy, economically speaking. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. As usual, we’re going to have to clean up their mess after they’ve buggered off, limply protesting their innocence…

  • Wichser

    Ciaran

    So no responsibility for the economic mess and the soviet-esque ratio of public to private in the north rests with northern politicians at all then, hmmmm ?

    Maybe it’s no so much a case f the Brits getting their finger out as them the ones holding the plug which, when pilled, results in the economic ruination of the north. Would YOU buy a second hand car off the free state government ?

  • Moderate Unionist

    Ciaran Irvine
    I’m sure you didn’t mean to sound patronising.

    The driving force behind the “Celtic tiger” have been discussed at length on other threads.

    It cannot be repeated in the North for a number of reasons. Time has moved on, there are many competitors for US FDI, we cannot change our corporation tax to match the ROI, we have low unemployment and therefore no slack to drive consumption. We have no political concensus to drive forward the economy.

    This is not to say that things cannot be turned round but we need to restructure our economy towards industries of the future. This will require massive retraining (training) of the workforce, huge investment in our education system (which must be refocused) and physical infrastructure (Water, telecoms, road, rail, housing)and in the meantime we have to support our existing private sector as best we can.

    We must also invest even more in our health service (Northern Ireland has much poorer health than other regions), tackle areas of severe social deprivation, provide adequate support for our elderely and provide a solution for the population unable to participate in the economy.

    We need political stability, a commitment to building a sustainable economy from all parties if we are to make progress.

    So the “benefits of the Union” to everyone are access to investment funds to tackle these issues. A stable corporate legal system, an excellent education system, an excellent health system and the underwriting of our pension and social security payments.

    Such a task cannot be undertaken by a remote region with few natural resources. We raise £3.5 billion in taxes and spend £9 billion. Whilst this is not sustainable in the long term, it is not possible to wave a magic wand and restructure the economy overnight.

    If you can do it, stand for election. I’ll vote for you.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    You could argue that anyone involved with Old Stormont bears some responsibility for failing to manage the economy properly back then as the north was already a basket case long before the start of the Troubles, but since 1972 all fiscal and monetary policy setting powers have been firmly in the hands of London. Even if the Assembly was up and running, it has zero economic powers. So no, they can’t fairly be blamed. You could blame them for not being able to work together and demanding the powers from London to fix it themselves I suppose but that’s a different argument – the question is who is responsible for setting policy and making decisions over decades that have left the northern economy in the state it is in. And the answer is, simply, Mutha. After Unification northern politicians will have to roll up their sleeves and learn to contribute positively to the functioning of a real country, but I cannot see any circumstances in which Mutha is likely to wean them off posturing dependancy politics, can you?

    How on earth would the ending of the subvention in the scenario outlined above lead to the “ruination” of the north? It’s the only chance you lot will ever have of getting a decent economy.

    As to the puerile sneer at the government of the Republic: this is a State that works, that has the most dynamic economy in Europe, that has experience in managing precisely this kind of economic transformation in recent memory, that has the international contacts and goodwill to deliver quality FDI to the north, has the financial resources to bear the cost of the transformation, and most importantly will have a critical vested interest in making sure the northern economy performs. The Republic, morally and from the point of view of pure hard cash, simply cannot indulge the north in its dependancy drug habit.

    Of course, you could always wring your hands, proclaim that nothing can be done, and lie on your belly begging Mutha to please do something nice for the Poor Wee North. After all, that’s worked wonders so far, hasn’t it?

  • Dessertspoon

    Ciaran you may indeed be correct in your assumption that the “poor wee North” (not at all patronising are you??!!) has been beset on all sides by incompetent British politicians who don’t know their asses from their elbows for over 30 years and prior to that was being run like an old boys club by it’s own home grown idiots has in no small part contributed to the sorry state we find ourselves in now. You cannot, however, ignore more than 30 years of economic wrecking policies and general all round “blowing things to shit” policies employed by our own, our very own terror brigades and all of the money sunk into patching up the place and implementing security to stop them. This kind of activity tends to make a lot of companies think twice about investing. Thanks for reminding everyone that while we were still sweeping up the glass and burying the bodies “you lot” down South were making out like bandits.

    When you get down from your ivory tower and take a look at the real world let me know.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    We raise £3.5 billion in taxes and spend £9 billion

    Last figures I heard from the Treasury was that the total subvention was £2.8bn. The Magical Expanding Subvention, I’ve heard all sorts of figures from £2bn to £12bn. Unless you can provide a link, I’ll stick with the Treasury figures if you don’t mind. Anyway…

    It cannot be repeated in the North for a number of reasons. Time has moved on, there are many competitors for US FDI, we cannot change our corporation tax to match the ROI, we have low unemployment and therefore no slack to drive consumption. We have no political concensus to drive forward the economy.

    I don’t believe this to be entirely the case. Your “low unemployment” is a mirage, mostly crap low-pay low-skill jobs and massive amounts of Government “make-work” jobs. Derry and Strabane still have some of the highest unemployment rates in Western Europe, there’s plenty of slack there. You have a young educated populace – demographics was perhaps the single most critical factor to the Tiger. The Republic is still outperforming everyone else in Europe when it comes to grabbing incoming FDI from around the world. Corporation tax was never a major factor and is no longer significant what with the likes of Estonia racing all the way to the bottom of 0%. And why can’t you change tax rates and incentivise FDI? Cos Mutha won’t let you. Never mind political consensus, I’d bet if HMG gave real economic power to the Assembly, with real penalties for abusing them, the whole shower of them would be back in Stormont tomorrow morning. Face it, posturing and blethering and never taking responsibility for decisions is actively encouraged by the northern system, so why would the politicians behave any different than what they do? They’ve no good reason to do hard work for the benefit of the people. And it doesn’t look like that will ever change while you are ruled from London.

    I agree with some of your policy prescriptions, as I said above most of it is blindingly obvious.

    So the “benefits of the Union” to everyone are access to investment funds to tackle these issues. A stable corporate legal system, an excellent education system, an excellent health system and the underwriting of our pension and social security payments.

    And yeah that’s working out just wonderful for you, isn’t it? You would be much better off as an intergral part of the Republic – better access to investment because quite simply the Republic is the best in Europe at winning FDI. A positive dynamic business culture. Stable normal European politics. The ability, experience, wherewithal and desire to make sure the economy is as good as it can be. Part of an outward-looking global trading economy, not a shunned ignored neglected backwater region. Sorry, but these “benefits of the Union” are only in theory and are not delivering in practice.

    Look, if you want to have a successful economy in the north you have as I see it three options:

    1) Leave all fiscal power in the hands of London and hope that they will eventually do the right thing

    2) Have real economic power transferred to the Assembly and let the locals have a go, underwritten by the two Governments for the first few years while they figure it out

    3) Unification and let us sort it out over 7 or so years. We know what we’re doing, we have the resources, and we care. What’s not to like?

    I’ll vote for you

    Yes! My first pledged vote! My journey towards the Taoiseach’s chair starts here! 🙂

    You might have to move to Galway though…

  • Keith M

    Ciarán Irvine

    A fatal flaw in yoir arguement;

    Firstly “You could argue that anyone involved with Old Stormont bears some responsibility for failing to manage the economy properly back then as the north was already a basket case long before the start of the Troubles”.

    Secondly “As to the puerile sneer at the government of the Republic: this is a State that works, that has the most dynamic economy in Europe”.

    Now for the facts. For the first 50 years after the south left the UK, the IFS/Eire/Republic was FAR poorer than Northern Ireland. GDP per head was oftern running at more that 50% higher in the north than in the south. Unemployment lvels in the north were always lower, emigratio levels were lower. So if unionists in Northern Ireland did such a bad job, how much worse must the successive governments in the south have been?

    Secondly, what has given this country the large economic growth demonstrated in recent years is a combination of handouts and “tax dumping” from the EU and embracing deregulation and free market ideology, and in previous posts you’ve given us an indication how you dislike this. You cannot have it both ways.

    “The Republic, morally and from the point of view of pure hard cash, simply cannot indulge the north in its dependancy drug habit.” Don’t do as we do, do as we say eh? Seriously, this isn’t a problem those living in the republic today will ever have to worry about.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    Spoonman: the “war” has been over for years. Get over it. Youse have had the guts of 11 years since the first ceasefires. 7 years since the GFA. Time enough to turn an economy around if the will was there. No more excuses. The IRA are going away and blaming them in 15 years time for the state of the northern economy is going to look even more ridiculous than it does right now. That card is played out, put it away.

    And I’m from Derry born and raised, been living in the Republic since 1991, so I know all about your “real world” thanks. Surreal world more like.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    So if unionists in Northern Ireland did such a bad job, how much worse must the successive governments in the south have been?

    Dev’s insane self-sufficiency policies certainly didn’t help, but you are overlooking the fact that on Partition the north got all the heavy industry and the South had pretty much nothing. The whole thing had to be built from scratch. Economically we had mediocre-to-poor governments till the 50s, and industrialisation only really got going in the Lemass era. Then another bout of terrible governments in the late 70s and early 80s undid half the good work.

    Anyway, this is a total diversion. The question was “Who is responsible for the state of the northern economy”, not “which government was the most cack-handed in the 50s”

    The “EU Handouts Made My Tiger” myth has surely been comprehensively debunked many, many times over by now. Demographics, good industrial policies, aggressive targetting of FDI, political stability and the national wage agreements, the returns from investment in education since the 1960s and riding the back of the US 90s boom to get up the ladder were all far more important for growth than EU subsidies or the corporation tax rate. And even if we do give them the importance you want to, they are now history and an irrelevance. If it was all EU subsidies how come we’re still the fastest-growing economy in Europe when the Eastern Europeans are undercutting us on tax and the EU transfers have ended?

  • Moderate Unionist

    Ciaran Irvine
    Your arguments have been demolished by a number of posters and so you have resorted to slinging insults. You demonstrate your ignorance of European law quite wonderfully and make statements that cannot be backed up the facts. Here is a sample.

    You said
    You would be much better off as an intergral part of the Republic – better access to investment because quite simply the Republic is the best in Europe at winning FDI.

    The OECD said
    “Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ireland in 2004 fell by almost half to US$14.1bn, down from €26.9bn, according to the latest figures available from the OECD”

    “Ireland’s nearest neighbour the UK received FDI worth US$78bn, up a staggering US$58.1bn on the US$20.4bn recorded in 2003”

    Have nice day

  • Ciarán Irvine

    I didn’t notice any demolishing….none of my points or ideas have been demonstrated false. And nobody has demonstrated that either Unification as I outlined it would not work or would not improve the northern economy. More pertinently perhaps, nobody has shown any alternative.

    Now, on FDI. Ireland wins a massively disproportionate share of incoming FDI each and every year. That $14bn got shared around 4 million people. Britain’s $78bn has to go round 60 million. Which country is doing better? And how much of that $78bn is the north actually receiving MU? How much of it is being put to good use, targetted to improve northern industry and provide good modern quality jobs? How much could the Republic actually provide by way of FDI each year during the Unification process?

    It’s all well and fine to say there’s theoretically a bigger pot, but not when you aren’t actually getting a share of it, and show no signs of ever getting a piece of the action any time soon!

  • bertie

    MU

    Now I’m at it – agreeing with a “moderate unionist” – I’ll never live it down!

    Can I just say I totally agree with your post of July 15, 2005 12:21 AM.

    Because some one condemns republican violence without mentioning loyalist violence (or the the other way round) when the context in which the remark is made is specific, this does not mean that they have a different moral compass for “the other side”. I think it is fair enough to ask the question but I do not understand how people are so quick to make the assumption without seeking clarification first. If I was to start collecting money for heart disease research, would I be accused of not caring about the plight of cancer victims?

    Also I think it is quite permissible to have a different emotional response to different kinds of terrorism. Although morally I find the UVF and the IRA equally repugnant, even if I consider the IRA a more long term problem because of the governement is hell bent on appeasing them. There is a additional degree of disgust that the UFF try to say that they do their evil in my name, and assume that on some level they have my sanction, whilst the IRA are more of a direct threat as me amd mine are their targets and I personnally knew more of their victims.

    To quote my mother “they’re all the one sow’s pigs”.

  • Keith M

    Ciaran Irvine “…but you are overlooking the fact that on Partition the north got all the heavy industry and the South had pretty much nothing”.

    I’m not overlooking it at all, the economy in the south was almost exclusivly agricultural. Successive Irish governments could have changed that if the wanted. They didn’t and chose to go into an economic war with our biggest market (where there was only going to be one winner). By your own admission, governments in the IFS/Eire/REpublic, did a far worse job economically than unionists ever did in the north. You were the person who brought this up. Don’t go crying that it’s irrelevant when your arguement is proved to be nonsense.

    “The “EU Handouts Made My Tiger” myth has surely been comprehensively debunked many, many times over by now”.

    Can I suggest that you have a word with A.Reynolds (reputation worth £1) and P.(“class act”) Flynn. They have said that the money gained from the EU played a vital role in the growth of the “Celtic Tiger”, and they should know that they lead the country and were the Irish representative in the EU commission, at a key time.

    The EU funding may not have been the sole cause for the economic growth, but they played a major part. Since then tax dumping (handouts by stealth) has also played a major role in foreign investment which has fuelled the growth.

    “If it was all EU subsidies how come we’re still the fastest-growing economy in Europe when the Eastern Europeans are undercutting us on tax and the EU transfers have ended?”.

    The subsidies haven’t ended. We’re still a net gainer in total EU transfers. The subsidies played a key role in kick starting the economy at a time of growth in the World economy. This created a kind of momentum, which we have thankfully been able to keep (as well as our tax dumping). Many countries in Eastern Europe will catch up with our economic growth levels within the next couple of years and overtake us. We are already losing out to Eastern Europe in some areas (eg the move of Philips from Sandyford to Poland last year). This will continue.

    “I didn’t notice any demolishing”…..”well he would say that, wouldn’t he”.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ciaran wrote :

    “The “subvention” exists because either Britain wants it that way, or Britain couldn’t give a toss about the place. It exists purely and simply because the north is appallingly, disgracefully, atrociously, criminally badly run by the British.”

    Ciaran, you’ve missed the point. Year in, year out, people in NI vote for sectarian tribal dunderheads whose interests beyond sustaining the conflict and keeping themselves in power with a healthy wages and expenses allowance are highly questionable. Why would a government try to bring in some kind of economic reform package when there are so many people who have no interest in it and would rather wreck and destroy ? It seems to be far more important for people here to wave their flags and have their bonfires, marches, rallies, commemorations and riots, rather than create an environment within which they can attract business and take responsibility for themselves.

    You are absolutely right to say that a huge amount of economic activity is generated by the civil service. If you look at the biggest 20 employers in Northern Ireland, you’ll find the civil service and all the supermarket chains listed near the top of the list. The place would absolutely tank if the British decided that they were going to trim back the present civil service largesse.

    Bertie :

    “even if I consider the IRA a more long term problem because of the governement is hell bent on appeasing them. “

    The government appeases all forms of paramilitarism and criminal activity here. How many arrests were made over the 12th period for criminal damage, environmental violations or road obstructions caused by bonfires ? How many unionists complained about the UVF shows of strength, the sexual assaults ? None. Unionists seem to think that crime only matters if the protaganists are trying to get into government. It’s bullshit. There is a huge swathe of lawlessness extending right across all communities in Northern Ireland, and neither nationalists nor unionists are faintly interested in confronting it head-on.

  • bertie

    I agree that HMG appeases all forms of terrorism but that is because it is specifically interested in appeasing republcan terrorists and so turns a blind eye to “loyalist” terrorism because if it tackled it, it might increase the pressure to tackle republican terrorism. Of course terrorism matters whether or not the protagonists are trying to get into government. However it is a legitimate concern that they shouldn’t.

    I beleive (and I know you don’t) that unionist politicians do complain about these things but that the media are never interested in reporting that. Maybe they don’t all do it often enough or in strong enough terms. Maybe it not being reported when you makes it harder to keep doing. Maybe if you are a unionist politician and you have a list of important issues to get accross and there is pressure on you to comment about IRA Sinn Fein because of yet another initiaive to shoehorn them into government, specific condemnation of “loyalist” terrorism or UVF shows of strenght etc. are not on the tip of your toungue.

    For me, when a unionist politician condemns the UFF/UVF etc either in private conversation or publicly, it increases my support for them and would be a vote winner for me. (In a council election I once gave my first preference vote to the Workers Party because I beleived in their total and absolute abhorance of all terrorism – OK they had little chance of getting in and my vote went intact to a UUP candidate, but I would have been happy if he had got in). For the same reason, despite his many failings re interpersonal skills, I have a lot of time for Bob Mc Cartney, who made his contempt for them so apparant that they have threatened his life and I believe also sent him an incenduary or two. I think that they thing that most got up their noses was that Bob did not just condemn their actions (as others did) but he directly attacked their legitimacy.

    I quess the bottom line of this very verbose post is that I agree that I would like to hear much more and much stronger condemnation of “loyalist” terrorism from unionist terrorism.

  • Wichser

    bertie

    I think it is important that they condemn, if they genuinely mean to, ALL violence. The equivocation of at least some and probably most unionist politicians leads some nationalists to conclude that it isn’t the IRA’s violence that they object to at all but the politics behind it. You have to see it from the perspective of some like John taylor who hinted that a lot of unionist voters had a ‘sneaking regard’ for what loyalist terrorists were about in the early 1990s. How is that supposed to reprtesent itself to non-unionists as other than intense partiality in their apparent opposition to violence. Besides, many unionist politicians have in the past and continue to actively support and welcome the violence of the state so let’s not pretend that they have an absolute opposition to the use of force for political ends as a matter of principle because a lot of them don’t. It’s the political ends of the IRA which they find particularly objectionable and thus their pre-occupation with that and not the more ‘pro-union’ acts of violence.

  • bertie

    Wichser

    I remember John Taylor’s comments and I am still not sure what to make of them.

    I am also not sure what you mean by “violence of the state” as this has had many meanings from republican commentators. I am not going to presume any specific meaning on your part, but just in case:-

    The state security services have a right to bear arms, so their existance and the fact thay they are armed I welcome. That said that brings with it a massive responsibility to act responsibly and to use minimum force etc. Considering the numbers there are bound to be some thugs in the security services and there needs to be measures to deal with that. However when people are armed mistakes can occur (no comfort to the families of cource) but that is to me morally different to a “mistake” by terrorist when they blow up the “wrong” target or where they failed to give a warning “oops”, because they had no business blowing anything or anyone up. (and just to be quite clear I mean “loyalist” terrorists as well).

    Again, just to be clear, when I say mistakes by the state forces I do not mean when an individual deliberately uses the cover of legitimacy to perpetrate an act of terror. I await the abuse I may well ge for this, but I cannot give an example of this as none come to mind. I’m just trying to convey a principle.

  • bertie

    Wichser

    I remember John Taylor’s comments and I am still not sure what to make of them.

    I am also not sure what you mean by “violence of the state” as this has had many meanings from republican commentators. I am not going to presume any specific meaning on your part, but just in case:-

    The state security services have a right to bear arms, so their existance and the fact thay they are armed I welcome. That said that brings with it a massive responsibility to act responsibly and to use minimum force etc. Considering the numbers there are bound to be some thugs in the security services and there needs to be measures to deal with that. However when people are armed mistakes can occur (no comfort to the families of cource) but that is to me morally different to a “mistake” by terrorist when they blow up the “wrong” target or where they failed to give a warning “oops”, because they had no business blowing anything or anyone up. (and just to be quite clear I mean “loyalist” terrorists as well).

    Again, just to be clear, when I say mistakes by the state forces I do not mean when an individual deliberately uses the cover of legitimacy to perpetrate an act of terror. I await the abuse I may well ge for this, but I cannot give an example of this as none come to mind. I’m just trying to convey a principle.

  • Moderate Unionist

    If we continually rake up the past, we are going no where. It’s abit like saying American’s are not democratic because of the slave trade. Or we shouldn’t deal with any Germans because Hitler was a bad man. The world has moved on. We must adapt to the new threats and opportunities.

    Cultures,cliques,countries exist to gain economic advantage when resources are scarce. Our economic competitors are no longer protestant or catholic.

    We live in a global economy, the threats are from without not from within. Northern Ireland needs to find away of earning aliving in this global world.

    We need political stability, a commitment to building an economy that we can all participate in and a recognition that not only does the world not owe a living, but nobody really cares what happens here but us.

  • Wichser

    Moderate Unionist

    The rest of us can move on from the past if unionist would only do the same. Any chance of it happening do you think ?

  • Moderate Unionist

    Wichser
    This one has, but many others have had their fingers burnt. Can you think of any way to get them to take things on trust again?

  • Wichser

    Moderate Unionist

    Yes. Celebrate the defeat of the republican project as represented in the GFA and based on the confidence of the consent principle’s primacy across alaal parties accept that that part of the argument is over and that Ni is part of the Uk for as far into the future as it is conceivably possible to see. Based on that, resolve not to go backwards to siege mentality and triumphalism and exclusion but to engage with the rest of us to build future where equality is not viewed as appeasement but a victory for humanity. Oh and stop pretending that orangeism and NI/protestant culture are equivalant, it isn’t true. Orangeism is an affront to a modern society – it’s embarassing and unnecessary and silly and anachronisitic and just plain wrong. Are unionists motivated by a willingess to move on or to continue to hold things back and to lord it over taigs forever ?

  • barnshee

    Bertie
    ” HMG appeases all forms of terrorism but that is because it is specifically interested in appeasing republcan terrorists and so turns a blind eye to “loyalist” terrorism because if it tackled it, it might increase the pressure to tackle republican terrorism.”

    You have unfortunately put your finger on the problem