Cutting the Unionists out of the loop…

Good piece of writing in the Irish Times today from Graham Gudgin a former special advisor to David Trimble during his tenure of Northern Ireland’s First Minister’s office.

He lays out a key flaw in the governments’ modus operandi:

The approach of both governments has been to first deal with the IRA and then to persuade the DUP back into government with Sinn Féin. Hey Presto the Belfast Agreement will have been restored and all will be well. The problem with this benign scenario is that every DUP spokesperson makes it crystal clear that a long quarantine period will be required before any move back into government is contemplated. Optimists talk of two years, others of 10 years.

The DUP’s attitude reflects the long deterioration in unionist confidence in the British government and increasing resentment at the continual flow of concessions to the IRA, which they see as an unrepentant and still well organised terrorist and criminal organisation.

For unionists, he argues, the governments’ fixation on achieving the objective of winding up the IRA’s long war seems irrelevant:

Many now prefer direct rule to any devolved assembly with Sinn Féin ministers. Any desire for devolution is felt more strongly by professional politicians than by their electorates. IRA statements and even the reality of decommissioning attract less interest than elsewhere, and in truth will not make much difference to people’s lives. There is little expectation that criminality will end, nor murders of people like Robert McCartney.

Interestingly he points out that sectarianism did not begin with partition (although he argues that that was badly handled), but had its origins in communal tensions back in the 1840s. He also notes that most Nationalists are seemingly oblivious to the disquieting effects their particular pitch for unification has on Unionists at large:

Few nationalists are able to see their aspiration as divisive, and none perceive how they feed loyalist paranoia and increase the need for the Orange Order and others to mark out their territory and proclaim their presence and their strength. The stronger security measures and more responsible political leadership that nationalists call for to deal with loyalist violence will be as ineffective as they were in the 1960s. It is time to deal with the fundamentals.

More pressing is the need for an end to divisive parades and the dismantling of loyalist paramilitary organisations, along with their paraphernalia of flags and symbols. However, this is only likely to happen when both the Orange Order and the loyalist people who support the paramilitaries perceive an end to the threat to their British identity. To achieve this, a starting point would be direct talks between Orange and loyalists, on the one hand, and the Irish Government and the SDLP on the other. The nationalists need to persuade the unionists that they present no real threat to their British identity. At present there is little sign that even moderate nationalists North or South are willing to do this, but a start could be made.

  • Paddy Matthews

    The deeper reality is that sectarian violence from loyalists will continue for the same reasons as it has since the 1840s. Electoral reform in the early 19th century first made Irish nationalism a credible threat to Protestants’ position in the UK. This threat has remained ever since and will get worse as the Catholic proportion of the Northern electorate creeps towards 50 per cent in coming decades. As it increases we can expect communal divisions to widen. The panoply of cross-community measures and integrated education will count for little.

    Mick,

    Why exactly is this “a good article”?

    It’s the standard whinge that we’ve heard from Unionist politicians over the last few weeks – “our fear and paranoia is your fault and solving it is your responsibility; don’t expect us to do anything about it”.

    Is it not long past time that Unionist politicians showed some backbone and started cleaning their own house rather than expecting everyone else to bend over backwards to save them having to make any effort?

    For 50 years we listened to complaints from Unionists about Articles 2 and 3 and our failure to accept the principle of consent. We made those changes. Now we’re told that really it’s the existence of significant numbers of Catholics/Nationalists in Northern Ireland that is the problem. What does Mr. Gudgin propose?

    Mass religious or political conversion?
    Taking the vote away from Catholics in Northern Ireland?

    Because nothing short of measures like that would deal with the paranoia outlined in the paragraph above. And even then would it work?

  • spirit-level

    My thoughts exactly paddy, its a “good article” in the sense that the content is complete rubbish, and exposes just what a long journey unionism has to take to awaken in terms of its thinking. I’ve yet to read one “good article” outling unionist demands, they’ve had them:
    Articles 2 and 3 renounced, and a guaranteed protection of no constiutional change without the consent of the people of northern ireland.
    If they want anything else, they have to sit down and negotiate for it, just like everyone else.

  • foreign correspondent

    ´´Few nationalists are able to see their aspiration as divisive´´

    Such an inane statement. You could equally turn that on its head and say that Unionists are creative division by insisting on maintaining the union.

  • spirit-level

    oh yes, lets not forget unionism demands the IRA step down and decommission. They are getting it. So you’d think they’d be celebrating.
    But when its realised, and it is being realised, that they provoked and needed armed republicanism, to have a bogeyman to blame, unionism can do no more than collapse within itself.
    I think,facetiously perhaps, that future generations will look back and see this collapse as a law of physics governing our universe, and it will be studied in science classes, not humanities.

  • ch in dallas

    I’m starting to understand OO raison d’etre. Last week in Texas whites became the minority at 49.8%. I shudder to think what would happen if Mr. Bush told the Mexican government that the U.S.A. would devolve our gov. into a shared parl. with Mexico. Only fair, the Mexicans would say, as you stole the land from us 150 years ago. I would want direct gov. from Washington. I said I understand OO fear, not condone violent tactics, but if that happened to us in Tx it wouldn’t be bricks at cars, it would be every hunting rifle in the state in a massive Alamo.

  • Crow

    ch in dallas,

    There are some differences worth considering. Unlike the US & Mexico, the UK & Ireland already have what amounts to pooled sovereignty within the EU. Both are functioning democracies and enjoy equally strong economies and a high standards of living. They share a common language, history and heritage. And unlike a huge section of the Latino population of Texas, the Catholic population of NI are not economic refugees, not were their parents or grandparents, etc.

  • ch in dallas

    Crow, I see what you’re saying, but both loyalist and repubs seem to magnify the differences that are there. I was wondering about the EU aspect. If everyone’s going to be run by Brussels anyway, (who can tell a shop keeper in Mayo or Derry what temp to keep their cheese at), what’s the big deal. Everyone’s just a big ol’ happy European. My parl or your’s, doesn’t matter, cuz we’re run by an unaccountable apperachek anyway.Enlighten this American, s’il vous plait.:)

  • elFinto

    Sectarianism started long before the 1840s. The Penal Laws insituted sectarianism in Ireland from the 1690s onward.

  • Dave

    PM
    “What does Mr. Gudgin propose?

    Mass religious or political conversion?
    Taking the vote away from Catholics in Northern Ireland?”

    The only time I can recall that taking place was during WW11 by the Catholic church, can you believe it? neither did I.

    Keyword Avro Manhattan have your eyes opened.

    The truth will free us all.

  • Moderate Unionist

    elFinto
    Don’t forget about the slave trade, and mention the invasion by the Normans, and then of course there was the Romans (they didn’t actually make it to Ireland of course), and before that Celts. Seem to remember St. Patrick was involved.

    All of these people oppressed the locals. That was the way they did things in those days. Rape and pillage.

    Where do you want to draw the line? Do you fancy moving into the modern era?

    CH in Dallas
    Thanks for the insight. It is exactly the same problem. You might also have an issue with native indians wanting their land back.

  • Mick

    Paddy and Spirit,

    I voiced an opinion on the quality of the writing. Now, if you can find substantive reasons why it’s not good quality, fine please be my guest. I’m not averse to being caught out.

    But nothing you’ve written references anything in the Gudgin article (outside the cut and paste para). I can’t fault you for having strong anti Unionist feelings. But where’s your criticism of what Gudgin actually says?

  • fair_deal

    Why so dismissive?

    Graham Gudgin is not one of the usual suspects in special pleading, does the fact that he is prepared to stand over the concerns not show the feelings are widespread?

  • looking in

    Mick – “criticism of what he says”– try it this way

    Electoral reform in the early 21st century first made Islamic nationalism a credible threat to Protestants’ position in the UK. This threat has remained ever since and will get worse as the Islamic proportion of the electorate creeps towards 50 per cent in coming decades

    Now I havn’t exactly addressed your question but you can see how people are unlikely to engage if the arguments are always couched in the derogatory

    BTW & for what it is worth I’m a prod by upbrining

    How does that sound? – I think people would generally find it promoting/justifying sectarianism or offensive…so….logic says….

  • looking in

    feck it ! ignore last para above – crappy editing on my part no idea what i was heading to

  • Yoda

    The nationalists need to persuade the unionists that they present no real threat to their British identity.

    There’s a big part of the difficulty: there needs to be a distinction masde between personal identity and the identity with/ of the state.

    It’s as plain as a pikestaff that unionists will be entitled to a personal sense of Britishness: only a fool would deny them that.

    The identity of the state is another matter entirely: it must be seen to be neither UK nor UI for at least a generation. I favour an arrangement of which mixes joint authority with certain decisions being made by a non-partisan local/ regional legislature. Why not give something like that a chance?

    So, in a nutshell: British identity needs to start to be comfortable with a state identity that is no longer “Simply British.”

  • eire og

    Would this be the same Graham Gudgin who infamously claimed that catholic unemployment rates were higher in the north because ‘catholics tended to move away from areas of high employment to areas of high unemployment?’

  • Moderate Unionist

    eire og
    Why do people try to dismiss people rather than refute their arguments. Perhaps he said

    unemployment in the West is higher than in the East because distance from Belfast has an on economic development.

    and as more catholics live in the West than the East
    unemployment rates were consequently higher.

    You could certainly see the effect in the development of the Linen industry.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Mick,

    Mr Gudgin’s writing is not good for the following reasons: it is partisan and intellectually dishonest. The fact that he is a Trimble unionist does not necessarily make his words honey-coated. Let me give examples of my dissatisfaction:

    To achieve this, a starting point would be direct talks between Orange and loyalists, on the one hand, and the Irish Government and the SDLP on the other.

    The Irish government and the SDLP? Anyone notice what’s missing here?

    The nationalists need to persuade the unionists that they present no real threat to their British identity.

    On the contrary. Nationalists need to reaffirm very strongly that they do pose a threat to the ‘Britishness’ of the north – otherwise they would hardly be nationalists, would they? Nationalists offer an alternative to ‘Britishness’, not a guarantee of eternal (British) life.

    At present there is little sign that even moderate nationalists North or South are willing to do this, but a start could be made.

    He expects nationalism to simply surrender? Why, and why is he not asked that unionism equally ‘surrenders’ its aspirations?

    A shoddy and transparently unionist piece of repetitive wishful thinking. No wonder Trimble went downhill so far and so fast.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Stephen Copeland
    What is wrong with partisan writing? Surely it is ok to put your own point of view across.

    How is it intellectually dishonest? What does that phrase mean? Are you suggesting that one can be dishonest without engaging your faculities?

    What is wrong with getting Unionists to talk to the Irish government and the SDLP if they are the only nationalists they are prepared to talk to?

    What is wrong with trying to assure people that agreement does not mean surrender? Surely it is better to find a way to reduce the violence and then rely upon the principle of consent?

  • Stephen Copeland

    MU,

    Partisan writing is only ‘good writing’ if it is powerful, original, though-provoking, and innovative. Mr Gudgin’s piece was none of those. It was ‘good’, I suspect, because Mick liked the politics expressed in it.

    Intellectually dishonest because it purported to offer a way forward when it was, in reality, just another re-hash of old old positions, and offered nothing.

    If unionist want to talk only to Dublin and the SDLP then so be it, but that cannot offer a way forward. They know it, we know it, and the dogs in the street know it. It offers only a continuation of unionism’s political sulk, to all of our detriments.

    Agreement does mean surrender. One side or other must give. There is no such thing as a win-win in the NI context. Unionism cannot have a guarantee that its right to stay in the UK will be respected, since such a guarantee risks becoming undemocratic in the not-so-distant future. And why should unionism get its security-blanket? Why does it not offer the same to nationalism? A guarantee, for instance, that the Irish dimension in all of its aspects will be fully respected and promoted? Gudgin’s wishlist seems very one sided in favour of a unionist outcome. As a recipe for future stability it scores very low, so to pretend to be anything other than a typical unionist whinge is (intellectually) dishonest.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Stephen Copeland
    There is nothing truly original in the peace process. The multitude of positions had been explored ad nausem, but time and context do change. Maybe this was an idea whose time had come. Worth considering at any rate if only to see if the republicians had any alternative, perhaps even original ideas in response.

    It is not a typical unionist whinge. Gudgin suggests a cause and solution. (A whinge is something where you complain but offer no way forward).

    There are no guarantees in life. What we would like is an assurance that any decision on the constitution issue will be based upon the principle of consent. In any solution, if the cultural identity of communities are not recognised and protected their will be no long term settlement.

    If you want a stable and prosperous United Ireland you had better start reassuring Unionists. You still may not get it but forceful conversion is unlikely to have a happy ending.

  • Mick Fealty

    Stephen,

    I reckoned it was good because it was relatively calm and considered at a time when most reaction (from shades) has been verging on the hysterical. It’s just as good to have some decent criticism!

  • Yoda

    What we would like is an assurance that any decision on the constitution issue will be based upon the principle of consent.

    Again, no right-minded individual should have a problem with legitimate concerns about consent.

    The problem is that the issue of “consent” is often bandied about in bad faith. The more recalcitrant and reactionary strains of unionism are using the notion of “consent” as a way of blocking political discussion.

    That’s why some people have a problem with the issue of “consent”: it’s not the issue at all.

  • Robert Keogh

    What we would like is an assurance that any decision on the constitution issue will be based upon the principle of consent.

    Everyone in NI was given that in the GFA. Unionism rejected it. Baby. Rattle. Pram.

    If you want a stable and prosperous United Ireland you had better start reassuring Unionists.

    What does that mean?

  • Yoda

    What does that mean?

    It’s a threat.

  • Robert Keogh

    It’s a threat

    Aye, but is it a threat of terrorism or a threat to scweam and scweam and scweam until they’re sick?

    If the former we have 30 odd years of Unionist advice on how to deal with terrorists and their fellow travelers. Mass internment, diplock courts, shoot to kill policies…..

    The last time the Irish government had to deal with an internal paramilitary threat – it was f***ing well dealt with, and dealt with hard. Unionists will not have the protection of the RUC or british army if they try to pull any crap inside a united Ireland.

  • ch in dallas

    Moderate Unionist, Thanks for that. The more I learn, however, the more the problem seems intractable. As Lincoln said before our Civil War, a house divided against itself can not stand. We must either be all slave or all free. Two diametriclly (sp?) opposed people can’t occupy the same land be it NI or Palistine or Kashmir. The GFA seems less and less workable. And just like on the West Bank, when peace is at hand, out come the extremists to muck it up

  • Moderate Unionist

    Robert Keogh
    So oft in theologic wars,
    The disputants, I ween,
    Rail on in utter ignorance
    Of what each other mean,
    And prate about an Elephant
    Not one of them has seen!

    1887: referring to the Buddhist fable of the Blind Sages and the Elephant, found in the Udana, chapter 6, section 4

  • ch in dallas

    M.U. Oh wad the gift the giftie give us, to see ourselves as others see us. Burns????

  • abucs

    “For unionists, he argues, the governments’ fixation on achieving the objective of winding up the IRA’s long war seems irrelevant:
    Many now prefer direct rule to any devolved assembly with Sinn Féin ministers. Any desire for devolution is felt more strongly by professional politicians than by their electorates. IRA statements and even the reality of decommissioning attract less interest than elsewhere, and in truth will not make much difference to people’s lives. There is little expectation that criminality will end, nor murders of people like Robert McCartney.”
    For many years Unionists were on this site saying IRA decommissioning was THE issue. That’s why there was no political movement they said, no unionist agreement to work the good Friday agreement. And for those same years nationalists were on this site saying that is NOT the issue, that is simply the latest excuse for Unionists not to participate in shared politics. It was quite evidently pointed out that weapons had a limited life span and could always be replaced. But no, Unionists wanted not only decommissioning, they wanted photographs. That is, they wanted some sort of humiliation to say that non acceptance of the British state had been, and is today, wrong. Now that decommissioning is proceeding, virtually no one cares. That’s because, as mentioned all along by Nationalists, that was/is not THE issue.
    What Unionists really want is reassurrance that their state will be under unionist control and any attempt to make it Irish will not only be guaranteed to fail, but will be discredited as divisive and legally and morally questionable.

    “Interestingly he points out that sectarianism did not begin with partition (although he argues that that was badly handled), but had its origins in communal tensions back in the 1840s”
    I have to agree with elfinto. Sectarianism started with the plantation of Ulster and the apatheid laws set up by the British, based on religious identity. Those two events have created the “insoluble” problem of sectarianism. Just like the British bringing the indians to Fiji, the Tamils to Sri Lanka, or the asians to Kenya.

    “Few nationalists are able to see their aspiration as divisive, and none perceive how they feed loyalist paranoia and increase the need for the Orange Order and others to mark out their territory and proclaim their presence and their strength.”
    To me, this is basically saying – well the game is up. We can’t control NI the way we want to and by effectively exclusive means. We have no choice but to start listening to you as part of this shared politics. But one last dummy spit – you are so divisive by making us share politics !
    I’m sorry if this entry is on the hard side, but the politics of denial is going to have to change, there is no other option, and the sooner the better.

  • Moderate Unionist

    abucs
    People here are great at defining the problem (particularly as they see it). Precious few come up with any solutions (Certainly none that involve seeing things from the other sides perspective).

    There is no generosity of spirit. No willingness to see the other point of view. No attempt to fix things and move on. Just a fixation with the past (which we can’t be changed)and selective quotations from history without considering the context and the benefits. What did the Romans ever do for us?

    CH in Dallas
    There are none so blind, as those that do not want to see.

  • martin

    strawberry fields forever…

  • middle-class taig

    Perhaps Mr Gudgin could be prevailed upon to post a transcript of his article here? I’m very interested to read what moderate unionism is thinking, but I missed the Times the day this came out.

  • abucs

    Moderate Unionist.

    To me it is ‘clear as day’ that sectarianism today is based on the plantation and apartheid laws of the past. If that cannot be at least recognised and admitted, then i don’t see any possible point in continuing.

    I am usually very generous in spirit and wanting to see things from the other side. I say that truly. But i cannot escape the conclusion that there is a brickwall Unionist mentality where certain things are just not recognised, else the cards come tumbling down.

    I say this out of despair, not any sense of triumphilism.

    The only possible solution is to cherish both sides national identity.

    Again i bring in the past here because the plantation and creation of NI were set up expressly to repress ones sides nationality.

    Unfortunately the Unionist mindset, when it comes down to it, is still captive to the ‘it’s our country’ mentality.

    Of course i don’t include all Unionists, but the ones running the politics and the Belfast streets are definitely suffering from this condition.

    The British government after 25 years came to this conclusion also and that is why, as the title of this blog suggests, Unionists are now being cut out of the loop in order to progress.
    Again, this is not a triumphalist comment. It is unfortunate, but necessary at the moment. At some point that wall must come down and there must be a confidence and ‘generousity of spirit’ shown by Unionism to pinch a phrase.

    As far as the “What have the Romans done for us” mentality. No. I don’t have it. the present British government and the one before it are doing a good job as opposed to the reaction in the late 1960’s. There is also a great sense of friendship between Ireland and Britain today, not just between people but also governments.
    That is as it should be.

    But let us be honest about how the past has shaped and is still shaping the future. That wall of denial has to come down. And progression has to be made from a new start.

    That wall is presently being taken down by HMG right now, brick by brick. That is what is really so uncomfortable to Unionists.

  • Moderate Unionist

    abucs
    To me it is ‘clear as day’ that sectarianism today is based on the plantation and apartheid laws of the past.

    How do you feel about the 30,000 Poles working in the south. Are they planters? What do you feel about the skills and capital brought to Northern Ireland by economic migrants?

    Who said “A catholic state for a catholic people”?

    Who said and when
    “the only satisfactory system of education for Catholics is one wherein Catholic children are taught in Catholic schools by Catholic teachers under Catholic auspices”

    Sectarinism is and was rife on both sides. I know of no argument to which there were not at least two sides.

    Move on.

  • willowfield

    The DUP’s attitude reflects the long deterioration in unionist confidence in the British government …

    Many now prefer direct rule to any devolved assembly with Sinn Féin ministers.

    Both these statements are true, but the contradiction is blindingly obvious and presents unionist politicians with a terrible dilemma.

  • 9countyprovience

    MU

    The 30,000 Poles came here to look for employment and prosperity in an Irish state run by a democratically elected Irish government. Of course they’re not planters. The only thing they have in common with planters is that they are not originally from this country. This is a weak comparrison.

    Your second example is a good one however. De Valera’s policies were very sectarian. But this is more to do with the stranglehold the Catholic church had on the population at the time. At the time of the formation of the Irish state, a Bishop was a very powerful figure in Irish society and a lot of policies had to be ‘green flagged’ by a bishop before being passed. An example of this was when a government was knocked out of power in the 40’s (I think) over the mother and child welfare proposal. The bishops didn’t agree with it and the government fell.
    However, this point is no longer valid in modern Ireland. Some governmental policies may still have a touch of religion about them (abortion issue) but in general, most policies are made in the EU or would be of the EU mindset. The power of the Catholic church is waning and is no longer an influence in politics.
    So sectarianism was rife on both sides as you say, but it all depends on how we’ve moved on from then. It is percieved (rightly or wrongly) that the Unionist position has not moved very far from those days. For example, the best way to preserve the union is to make sure as many people in the country are benifiting from the union. One way of achieving this is to have all-inclusive unionist policies which would promote unionism to catholics. There are no policies that I know of. If the Unionists had moved on from the past I would assume that some forward-thinking Unionist would have come up with some proposals for catholics by now, and maybe the whole Union issue would be strictly political.

  • willowfield

    abucs

    For many years Unionists were on this site saying IRA decommissioning was THE issue. That’s why there was no political movement they said, no unionist agreement to work the good Friday agreement. And for those same years nationalists were on this site saying that is NOT the issue, that is simply the latest excuse for Unionists not to participate in shared politics. It was quite evidently pointed out that weapons had a limited life span and could always be replaced. But no, Unionists wanted not only decommissioning, they wanted photographs. That is, they wanted some sort of humiliation to say that non acceptance of the British state had been, and is today, wrong. Now that decommissioning is proceeding, virtually no one cares. That’s because, as mentioned all along by Nationalists, that was/is not THE issue.

    It WAS the issue when the UUP was in the ascendancy, and when the Agreement was fresh. Two things have changed that. First, the length of time that the Provos spun out decommissioning devalued the currency of decommissioning, especially since during that time they continued to engage in illegal activity. Second, the succession of the DUP to the unionist ascendancy required them to demand more than that which the UUP demanded, otherwise there would have been no point in them replacing the UUP. The photograph was their fig-leaf.

    What Unionists really want is reassurrance that their state will be under unionist control and any attempt to make it Irish will not only be guaranteed to fail, but will be discredited as divisive and legally and morally questionable.

    Some unionists may want that. Most unionists are comfortable with power-sharing with peaceful nationalism within the UK. A major problem, however, is that since they voted for that in 1998, violent nationalism has overtaken peaceful nationalism. Hence the need for major symbolic movement by the violent nationalists to persuade everyone that they are now peaceful nationalists. That was the purpose of decommissioning, however, the ongoing involvement in illegal and violent activity by the Provos meant that it lost its value.

    The problem for unionist politicians is that they know they need power-sharing; they know this means sharing power with the Provos; but they also know that their electorate absolutely detests the Provos and cannot abide the thought of them in power. No proper attempt has been made to educate the electorate of the necessity of power-sharing, nor mentally to prepare them for the prospect – the UUP didn’t bother (probably knowing that it would open the door to the DUP), and the DUP knew that to do so would be to admit that the UUP was correct, and that not to do so would open the door for them.

    I have to agree with elfinto. Sectarianism started with the plantation of Ulster and the apatheid laws set up by the British, based on religious identity.

    So the Reformation and subsequent and longstanding religious divisions right across western Europe had nothing to do with it? Sectarianism didn’t exist anywhere else? Sectarianism didn’t exist before the penal laws? The 1641 massacre wasn’t sectarian? Interesting take.

  • Robert Keogh

    Moderate Unionist,

    You could have answered my question:

    If you want a stable and prosperous United Ireland you had better start reassuring Unionists.

    What does that mean?

    Instead the poetry. I can see how that illuminated my ignorance.

    Robert Keogh
    So oft in theologic wars,
    The disputants, I ween,
    Rail on in utter ignorance
    Of what each other mean,
    And prate about an Elephant
    Not one of them has seen!

  • Diarmid Logan

    Interestingly he points out that sectarianism did not begin with partition (although he argues that that was badly handled), but had its origins in communal tensions back in the 1840s.

    Wrong, sectarianism in Ireland began with the British belief that they had a right to settle Protestant colonists on the lands of indigenous Irish Catholics. Only by relocating these colonnists back to Britain can this sectarianism be ended.

  • Yoda

    Sometimes, when I’m reading a thread, I come across posts which really make me understand the call to “decommission” mindsets.

    This is one of those threads.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Robert Keogh
    More than happy to illuminate. How about this. There will be no united Ireland until there is first a united Northern Ireland.

    Anything else would result in a prolongued civil unrest. Not saying it is right, not advocating it, just stating the obvious.

    If you did obtain a peaceful and prosperous united Northern Ireland it is doubtful that people would want to change the situation.

    Does it really matter who we pay our taxes to? We spend more than we raise any way. What we need is devolved local government with local polticians taking responsible actions to improve our living conditions, services and economic prospects.

  • Robert Keogh

    Moderate Unionist,

    There will be no united Ireland until there is first a united Northern Ireland.

    I don’t agree with this assertion. There will united Ireland when 50%+1 in NI vote for it. No united NI required.

    Anything else would result in a prolongued civil unrest.

    Why do you think that? And why do you call it “prolongued civil unrest” is that different from plain old terrorism?

  • Moderate Unionist

    Robert Keogh
    You are entitled to your opinion.

    The south will not risk its political stability and new found economic vitality for 50%+1. I doubt if it would do it for 90% +1.

    Do you accept that the current position in Northern Ireland would be considerably less than 50%? If so, what makes you think people will change their mind?

    I think it extremely unlikely that we will ever see a United Ireland, but don’t let me put you off. I am happy to accept with principal of consent.

  • Robert Keogh

    Moderate Unionist,

    The south will not risk its political stability and new found economic vitality for 50%+1. I doubt if it would do it for 90% +1.

    The Sunday Independent poll found more than 50% support in the Republic for unification. Only 32% currently oppose it. The figures don’t appear to support your conclusion.

    Do you accept that the current position in Northern Ireland would be considerably less than 50%?

    My current best guess is 54% to 43% (+/- 3%) against unification. Probably another 150k or 200k voters would turn out for a border poll that don’t normally vote. It’s hard to predict what affect that will have on the poll.

    Given the age profile of the NI pop, immigration and continuted ineptitude by unionist leaders that will last about 15 to 20 years.

    If so, what makes you think people will change their mind?

    The slow dawning that the Republic is not the bogeyman unionism has painted it lo these many years. I think the best thing republicans/nationalists can do to sell a UI is nothing. The more any effort is made to sell to unionism the more suspicious they’ll be. The best thing to do is just get on with life and either unionism will relax or it won’t.

  • abucs

    The 30,000 Poles working in the south are an indication of a vibrant economy. The influx of such people, in large numbers, bring both benefits and problems. If managed well, then the benefits will last and any problems will fade.

    The Unionists traditionally belong in Ireland. It’s a different situation entirely now. Unfortunately the British government took it upon itself to create and manage the situation over the centuries and it has not been done properly or even-handedly. The Nationalist take is that it was purposely managed to retain division and supremacy. Hence the problems have not faded.

    It is difficult because the Unionist culture that makes the most noise is one of military dominance and celebration of events which enshrined division. By definition this culture cannot be inclusive and will always be sparring and exclusive. It is a condition whose beginnings belong to a long redundant past. A different start needs to be made.

    The British people in Ireland do have another proud tradition of invention and literature. Writers such as Kipling and Swift to name just two have brought joy to schoolchildren all over the world. The British people in Ireland had a rich history as active and leading participants in the British industrial revolution which has also changed the face of the planet. Inventions such as the steam engine allowing the creation of electricity has allowed so many advances including our communication right now. The development of large passenger sealiners helped bring the old and new worlds together, rail engines facilitated trade in the commonwealth and in many ways brought the modern world to places like India and Sri Lanka as well as opening up the American west. The British population in Ireland were at the forefront of these developments. They have a proud relationship with the early American colony and the setting up of government there. Following on from the French they drew on their protestant faiths and supported a republican model of government to empower the individual and hold governments to account while facilitating the average citizens involvement in the running of the country. This has changed the world. The Anglo and Scots-Irish are still in many ways the backbone of America which has become the worlds most successful economic power.

    This is what should be recognised, celebrated and built upon so that the British people today in Ireland can continue this great tradition and not be held captive to any redundant divisive mindset which does not do them justice.

  • CelticClothing.com

    Hi from Philadelphia USA.
    Biblical quotes and poetry are not my cup of tea, but I think “Willowfield” and “Moderate Unionist” offer very credible analysis of the Unionist position. Nationalists posting to this thread could learn a lot from these two informed Unionist “neighbours”.