Unionists never had it so good…

Noel Whelan with a sobering sanity check for all the parties to the Northern Ireland’s current political hysteria. He argues that Unionists are getting whipped up by the froth of emotive headlines around the disbandment of the home battalions of the RIR and missing the substance of the overall developments. Not least, the acceptance by Sinn Fein of what was known for years as the Unionist veto.

In fact, the main reason why Sinn Féin has raised the volume of its rhetoric about a united Ireland, with the launch of its Make Partition History campaign, is precisely because the North’s position within Britain is both de jure and de facto stronger than ever. Sinn Féin knows this to be the reality it is only unionism and loyalism that cannot see it. Instead, unionist leadership of all classes and all shades of orange has managed to convince itself and its population that they have suffered only defeats. Far from being more comfortable in their position they see threats everywhere.

They’ve done it again in recent weeks. Additional concessions in the form of disbandment and decommissioning are currently being wrung from the IRA by the impact of public opinion in the nationalist community in the North, in the Republic and in America in response to the Northern Bank robbery and the McCartney murder. However, even at what should be a moment of celebration for them, unionism and loyalism have found something to be defeated about.

  • Jo

    Unionists miss the substance, lose the plot and blame everyone bar themselves.

    Stupid Unionism reigns, the Union loses out and the international perspective rolls its eyes.

  • fair_deal

    Boring! Boring!

    The political debate for the last seven years hasn’t been about a United ireland. Its about defining Ulster’s society.

    It seems increasingly the Northern nationalist price for tolerating the principle of consent is that Northern Ireland becomes a nationalist defined society. Northern Ireland didn’t work properly when it was a Unionist defined society neither will it work the other way round.

  • henson

    what on earth is a nationalist defined society. I thik this sort of vague undefined rethoric is the point of whelans piece. unionism needs leadership – badly.

  • 9countyprovience

    “Northern Ireland becomes a nationalist defined society.”

    This ‘us’ and ‘them’ atittude; Is it taught in pre-school or where is it learned up there? Why can’t it be an all inclusive Northern Irish society? If it seems that Nationalists have been getting so much lately is because they had so little to start off with. Unionist politicians are not helping matters by seperating themselves from this new society, therefore seperating everyone who votes for them too.

    Fair_deal,
    What would you like to see implemented toward making a modern ‘Ulster society’?

  • 9countyprovience

    “Northern Ireland becomes a nationalist defined society.”

    This ‘us’ and ‘them’ atittude; Is it taught in pre-school or where is it learned up there? Why can’t it be an all inclusive Northern Irish society? If it seems that Nationalists have been getting so much lately is because they had so little to start off with. Unionist politicians are not helping matters by seperating themselves from this new society, therefore seperating everyone who votes for them too.

    Fair_deal,
    What would you like to see implemented toward defining a modern ‘Ulster society’?

  • Appalled

    Ah-ha! There’s Fair_deal. I was wondering where he’d disappeared to. His silence has been deafening all week on the wonderful performance by Dawson “I’m so stupid, incomprehensible and illiterate that I can’t actually speak” Baillie, the risible gibberish of “It’s everybody’s fault but ours” Orangeism. The fallacious nonsense of “We don’t talk to terrorsists so we don’t, unless we want to get our own way over something, then of course we’ll talk to terrorists all weekend”.

    Care to enlighten us with your views?????

  • fair_deal

    Hensons

    “a nationalist defined society”

    It takes account of the aspirations and needs of a single community while ignoring the other sizeable community that shares the same space.
    I did provide NI society from 1921-1972 as an example of what such a community can be like.

    Appalled

    I have been on the site almost every day in the last week please do try and keep up. I would not have said what he said.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Not only has the unionist veto been accepted, it has in a sense been made much easier to deploy. In the past, unionism had to be pretty much united to deploy it’s veto, i.e. to get over 50% of the entire population.

    With the current Assembly rules however, the veto can be deployed with just over 50% of unionists. This strengthens the hand of “middle” unionism, but vastly decreases the representation of the working class unionists. In the past, the unionist elite had to maintain the support of the working classes, but not any longer.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Sorry for the double post. When I submit a comment, the browser does nothing and gives an error after a few minutes. But the comment is getting posted anyway.

  • G2

    “In the past, the unionist elite had to maintain the support of the working classes, but not any longer.”

    Would someone please explain who are the Unionist elite today?

  • Biffo

    fair_deal

    “It seems increasingly the Northern nationalist price for tolerating the principle of consent is that Northern Ireland becomes a nationalist defined society.”

    Which is a society that “..takes account of the aspirations and needs of a single community while ignoring the other sizeable community that shares the same space.
    I did provide NI society from 1921-1972 as an example of what such a community can be like.”

    So what pisses you off is that nationalists accept that NI will remain part of the UK as long as tricolours are everywhere and the police is 92% Catholic and 100% nationalist and the Pan-Nationalist Front are in perpetual power at Stormont.

    That’s such a load of crap – henson’s question still stands – care to answer it properly?

  • Dec

    I think Fair_deal’s confused comments underline the confusion in Unionism perfectly. Coming out with soundbites like ‘nationalist defined society’ without qualification echoes the 90’s ‘pan-nationalist front’. Interestingly that phrase survived the CLMC’s adoption of it, but recent events have reminded us once again of Unionism’s chummy relationship with Loyalist paramilitarism. To try and compare today’s society and political landscape with the Stormont regme of 1923-72 is patently absurd, though to hear a Unionist condemn the latter is equally so given that they fought so hard to retain it.

    All week I’ve watched British journalists interviewing loyalists regarding current disenchantment with reason 1 always being the release of IRA prisoners. Seemingly the irony of released loyalist prisoners orchestrating the riots never dawning on them. Issue 2 appears to that ‘themmuns are getting everything’ – though quite what ‘everything’ is, no-one seems prepared to expand upon. Of course the truth is that what Nationalists (and most others) perceive as a social and political levelling, Loyalists view as a direct threat to ‘Their wee country’ and their rightful place in it.

    It has often been argued by Nationalists that if they were Unionists the best way to sell the Union is to make it attractive and comfortable to those who hold no automatic or emotional allegiance to it. Then witness todays DUP demand that the Parades Commission be scrapped. Clearly no-one’s been listening. The message is clear: 80 years on the aim still is a Protestant state for a Protestant people. The Wagons are still being circled. Roll on 2006, folks.

  • fair_deal

    Dec etc

    “The message is clear: 80 years on the aim still is a Protestant state for a Protestant people.”

    A stereotype that sums it all up. If Unionists ever ask for anything there only possible motivation could be a “return to the past/ domination blah blah blah” and “sectarianism”.

    Unionism is a rational political idea and wanting to address concerns of those who vote for it is rational.

  • bertie

    Dec
    “All week I’ve watched British journalists interviewing loyalists regarding current disenchantment with reason 1 always being the release of IRA prisoners. Seemingly the irony of released loyalist prisoners orchestrating the riots never dawning on them.”

    What does dawn on me is that this is yet another reason for opposing the releases, but that reason dawned on me a long time ago.

  • Moderate Unionist

    bertie
    The real problem is that Westminster tolerates a civil society controlled in the main by paramilitaries. That was the real betrayal.

    Who will confront the paramilitaries?

  • The Beach Tree

    Fair Deal

    “A stereotype that sums it all up. If Unionists ever ask for anything there only possible motivation could be a “return to the past/ domination blah blah blah” and “sectarianism”.

    Unionism is a rational political idea and wanting to address concerns of those who vote for it is rational.”

    Fair Deal, that’s a straw man argument – nobody suggested what you are claiming.

    Nobody said anything about “whenever Unionists ask for anything” – it was the very specific things that Unionism demanded that caused the problem, not just anything.

    If unionism is so rational, and what it wants is so rational, why don’t you rationally outline these rational demands that rationally lead rational loyalists to riot rationally all over belfast.

  • bertie

    MU

    Well there’s me and you!

    You first 😉

    I am still flapping ’round like a recently landed macherel! So you’ll need to stall them for a while 😉

    Beach Tree

    Unless I have missed something Fair Deal, would be the last person to argue that there was anything rational or justified about the rioting, which doesn’t mean that anger is not justified!

    Of course Fair-Deal is more than able to fight his own corner. However he is one of the most articulate, well informed and cool headed unionst posters, I am keen to encourage him as I would fear the consequences to us all if he decided some day “sod it!” and we never heard from him again!

    You would still be left with me. I am not inarticulate, if verbose. I do endeavour to be civil but although, I have strong feelings I know virually bugger all about what is actually going on.

  • The Beach Tree

    “Unless I have missed something Fair Deal, would be the last person to argue that there was anything rational or justified about the rioting, which doesn’t mean that anger is not justified!”

    Ok, then Bertie why don’t you explain to me what exactly justifies the anger that so rationally lead to thousands of loyalists going on their justified rampage, because all i’m hearing is ‘themuns themuns themuns’, and not even a sensible attempt to outline actually genuine grievances…

    And might i add by genuine, its not enough that they are held passionately by bigots, I mean examples with evidence and with real and reasonable logic to them…

  • bertie

    Beach Tree

    “Ok, then Bertie why don’t you explain to me what exactly justifies the anger that so rationally lead to thousands of loyalists going on their justified rampage”

    I have not been rioting and I have not been condoning rioting so I do not understand your need to be offensive to me. I can only interpret your post as an accusation that I consider that the “rampage” was justified. I do not accept that there is anything that I have said that makes that a reasonable accusation. Quite the reverse

    I am angry. It would appear that that must mean that I justify the violence and that I must be a bigot.

    I am angry about prisoner releases That must only be because of bigotry. I am angry that the only reason that powersharing is being hailed as the panacea to all our ills is because of IRA terrorism. Seperatley to this I do not support compulsory power sharing. The fact that I don’t must, of course, be evidence of bigotry. It can of course not be anything to with the fact that I consider it undemocratic. I am angry at the pressure to accept into governement SF/IRA, despite the mandate that the DUP (and the UUP) have not to do so. I am angry at the announcement about the RIR, particularly the timing, again only for reasons based in bigotry. I am angry at the name change of the RUC and its emasculation. I am angry at the 50:50 rule, in favour of RCs. Again that must be because of bigotry, not because I abhor such quotas. I would oppose such a quote in “favour” of the disabled. I am not an RC. I am disabled but still, it must be bigotry. I am sick to my stomach about the prospect of an amnesty for the otrs – bigotry again!

    Just in case the message is not getting through. Although I am in danger of RSI. I have made the point so bloody often. I CONDEMN THE RIOTS ABSOLUTLEY. There are reasons why it was made likely that such a thing would happen BUT THAT DOES NOT EXCUSE IT. Further IT IS MY FERVENT WISH THAT ANY AND ALL OF THE RIOTERS CAN BE ARRESTED, THAT THERE IS SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE THAT CAN STAND UP IN COURT AND THAT THE BLOODY BOOK IS THROWN AT THEM.

    And now before I break my keyboard I am going to bed.

    GOOD NIGHT

  • bertie

    BTW

    I am very angry but I’m not going to riot!

  • fair_deal

    Beach tree

    The rational argument for the removal of the Parades Commission

    1. The body was created to resolve conflicts around parades in Northern Ireland. However, when it was established it was described as a bother-causers charter. This has been proven to be correct because the number of communities where there are parades disputes has steadily grown (a spread demographics does not account for). Therefore, it has FAILED in its key role of resolving parades disputes.
    2. The example of a successful resolution of parades is Londonderry (which incidentally involved no route changes). A process the PC were excluded from. This process involved all sections of the city. The Parades Commission insists on a different form of process meeting directly with unrepresentative resident groups – this system has never produced a resolution e.g. Ormeau Road Dialogue, Kilkeel Dialogue, Portadown dialogue. They keep insisting on a particular model that has not and does not work.
    3. In a court case last year the Parades Commission was found to have exceeded its powers and denied human rights. It has been shown to abuse its powers.
    4. It has been shown to tell lies. For example it denied the court ruling on the human rights challenge had any effect on its determination when it did. This denial led to legitimate confusion in nationalist Ardoyne about what was going to happen and helped ramp up tensions unneccessarily. For example, it previously informed participants in dialogue that the test was that the dialogue had been genuine and the parties had been committed to a resolution. In the last fortnight they changed to there must be an agreement. This gives a nationalist veto on parades. It also shows a complete ignorance of negotiation theory which makes it clear a deal is not always possible and to force deals is bad practice. For example, in an Ardoyne determination it warned that violence by residents would result have detrimental effect on the willingness of the PC to listen to their concerns on a parade. They rioted, the PC response was to ban subsequent parades. It’s inconsistency means it lacks credibility.
    5. Parades Commission documents have been found in the hands of the PIRA. It is incompetent to the level of putting peoples’ lives at risk.
    6. Any analysis of their decision-making shows a pattern of inconsistency both in what they ban or allow. This shows the complete lack of a strategic approach to achieve its legislated goal of resolving parades disputes.
    7. The membership of the board is unrepresentative (an issue that there is a consensus on across the parading dispute).
    8. Articles 9-11 of the ECHR. The Parades Commission and attendant legislation does not safeguard these rights but says they have to be negotiated to be secured. The PC is a denial of a all-embracing human rights agenda.

    Failing, Bad model, Incompetent, Ineffective, Unstrategic, Unrepresentative, Abuse of power, Abuse of human rights

    “lead rational loyalists to riot rationally all over belfast.”

    I never said the rioting was rational.

  • Occasional Commentator

    G2,

    What I said wasn’t meant to sound like an anti-unionist conspiracy theory. Governments all over the world down the ages have been run in somebody’s selfish interest (such as the rich). And there’s nothing new about the working class being left out.

    I never thought I’d start sounding like a socialist!