Southerners not taking northern nationalists seriously

Damien Kiberd with a comprehensive review of comments in the last week from various southern commentators all hanging questions over the political re-unification of the island. But he argues:

The problem for these people is that Northern Catholics and republicans have not gone away. They are becoming increasingly self-confident. And they do not want to live under constant physical threat from the drugged-up unionist lumpenproletariat that thinks it can terrorise Catholic districts on an annual basis, safe in the knowledge that the number of arrests carried out by the PSNI will be minimal.

  • slug

    Daily Ireland is fun!

    “Dr Paisley is possibly the only politician in Western Europe who has never — in the space of 40 years of active political life — sat down and negotiated an agreement with his political foes to operate a political system in his native place.”

    A moments thought and I suspect not.

    “Dr Paisley might even condescend to attend a match at Croke Park, where the Fenians try to park their BMW and Mercedes cars without being clamped before seeing the puke footballers of Tyrone hammering the skilful men of Kerry.”

    Why would Dr Paisley be interested to see people parking high prestige cars without being clamped?

    But Interesting choice of words. The main point seems to be that NI nationalists (who he styles “fenians”) have high-prestige cars and always win at sport.

    I am a public transport man, myself, whose team loses 🙂 Humility is good for the soul.

  • spirit-level

    Declan quotes Rabbite

    “the communities that go to make up the North cannot function together,”

    Then he argues that Dr.Paisley:

    “is possibly the only politician in Western Europe who has never — in the space of 40 years of active political life — sat down and negotiated an agreement with his political foes to operate a political system in his native place.”

    By a kind of circuitous logic, he provides the answer to the very question he poses.

    Leaving me with nothing to think about !

  • Keith M

    “Alison O’Connor conducted an interview with the Free State minister for social affairs, Séamus Brennan.” Only in the Daily Provo would you see this kind of nonsense. Is it any wonder you can’t give the rag away down here?

  • Dec

    Keith

    All that ‘Daily Provo’ stuff is getting really boring and it wasn’t even funny in the first place. Now if you’d come up with ‘Daily Iraland’….

  • BogExile

    DIreland: –

    The unreadable written by the unreacable.

  • BogExile

    DIreland: –

    The unreadable written by the unreachable.

  • trpd

    Declan? Damien? Which one?

  • Shore Road Resident

    It’s alarming to think that the man who wrote this bilge is considered to be a thinker in southern sympathiser circles.

  • George

    If the northerners paid and displayed while sejourning in the capital, they wouldn’t be clamped.

    Cork people always whinge about this too because they seem to think you can park anywhere on a Sunday. People live in these areas 24/7 so parking restrictions apply. Live with it.

    As for the “Free State” jibe, is it any wonder a lot of southerners don’t take northern nationalists seriously if these types of comments are still being used to gratify them.

    95% of the northern nationalist electorate voted for the GFA I thought or does everyone in Northern Ireland vote one view and mean another?

    Did the same Kiberd write in the Sunday Times that the Irish economy is in trouble from 2007?

    If so I assume we’ll be seeing an article about the rise in disgruntled unificationists from then on to go with the cocky, confident triumphalist ones.

    Jaysus.

  • smcgiff

    ‘If so I assume we’ll be seeing an article about the rise in disgruntled unificationists from then on to go with the cocky, confident triumphalist ones.’

    Jaysus, George,

    You said that like it would be a bad thing!

    😉

  • George

    I always feel at my most partitionist and resentful on a Monday smcgiff and get more and more dreamy-eyed about a unified island republic with 32 comely maidens all for me (50/50 recruitment of course) as the week slowly wears on. 🙂

  • smcgiff

    ‘I always feel at my most partitionist and resentful on a Monday smcgiff and get more and more dreamy-eyed about a unified island republic with 32 comely maidens all for me (50/50 recruitment of course) as the week slowly wears on. :-)’

    So, come Friday you’ve that ‘United-Ireland’ feeling! 😉

  • Dualta

    If I was a southerner I’d be living in abject fear of a united Ireland. Seriously, who in their right mind would want to throw their lot in with us?

    We’re a social, cultural, political and economic basket case and a straight-forward, traditional Republican model of a united Ireland is not necessarily going to change much of that.

    We need to shape up in order to make Irish unity attractive to the vast majority of people on this island.

    Fundamentally, we need to engage in this peace process fully in order to bring an end to the constant sectarian squabbling and skirmishing which shows us for what we are.

    I think the biblical saying about removing the smote from one’s own eye before pointing to that in another’s is the first step to a successful conflict resolution, whether it’s between two people or two peoples.

    A maturely honest and searching critique of ourselves and the making amends for whatever wrongs we have committed is surely the first step to winning the heart of our enemies.

    There are several measures that Nationalists and Republicans can take to begin a serious process of peace building with Protestants. Here are a few examples:

    An unconditional apology for all of the wrongs committed as a result of the political conflict between us.

    The ending of all opposition to Loyal Order marches, however offensive and triumphalist they may be. The best way to end such marches is to combat the fear and hatred which fuels the perceived need for them.

    The acceptance of Londonderry as the name of the city. This would much more than a symbolic gesture and would show Protestants that we mean business when we say that their culture and traditions would be cherished and nurtured in an all-island arrangement.

    The removal of all political symbols from our districts, including murals and memorials. If we want to remember, we should do it privately and with dignity.

    Adams’ leadership has brought about the most important step of all, which is the need to stop killing Protestants. It has been a magnificent effort towards building Irish unity.

    However, the continued adherance to the ideals of armed struggle by some Republicans remains a major obstacle. It should be a priority to bring about a situation whereby all Nationalists and Republicans act only nonviolently in the pursuit of Irish unity. This is an internal Nationalist issue which can only be dealt with nonviolently.

    There are many other things we could do to try to persuade Protestants and others that this conflict is best ended for good.

    None of these things need detract from the basic fact that the Northern statelet is a failed entity and has no real prospect of ever delivering for all of us who live in it.

    We need the help of the people of the South. We need to prove to them that helping us will not be detrimental to their own economic and social well-being.

  • beano

    Good luck dualta. You’ll need it, and that’s just to avoid getting hung drawn and quartered if you ever mention some of those ideas in public in some nationalist areas.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Terrific post Dualta. Some very interesting suggestions about how nationalists can take things forward. Not easy, some of your suggestions, but very courageous stuff.

    It seems to me that at the moment we are seeing unionism eating itself. Political unionism has handed itself over to the dog collars and has been exposed for the sectarian and incurably violent phenomenon nationalists always said it was. The Orange Order has literally drawn its ceremonial sword and been faced down with howls of laughter. Some of the instruments of the state like the police and various militias are being slowly but surely abolished or wrested from sectarian control. Economically the Protestant community is shattered with the Don’t Votes and the Can’t Reads making up very substantial shards. When it was at the height of its industrial might Harland & Wolff was a great metaphor for the Ulster Protestant community. Today, H&W arguably still is.

    Now, while there might be a temptation for nationalists to feel a certain amount of schadenfreude about all this, but that would be foolish. There’s no need to let up in the task of pointing up the lunacy of partitionism and unionism, but the challenge is not as simple as just that. Today’s unionists are the people with whom we must try and forge a unified country tomorrow, so the challenge is not to destroy unionist politics – it’s the much more nuanced challenge of trying to bring about an amicable separation between our Protestant countrymen and unionism.

    While unionism is falling apart, nationalism is making progress and confidence is on the rise. Perhaps the time has come for nationalists to extend something to our Protestant, erstwhile unionist countrymen that would have been impossible for previous generations: generosity.

    Unlike our parents and grandparents, perhaps we can afford to be generous? We should at least start thinking along those lines. I mean, if you were an Ulster Protestant, wouldn’t you find it easier to believe nationalists when they talk of how great a unified Ireland would be if you could see some evidence of generosity up front? Wouldn’t you be dubious if you were told the generosity would only start after unification?

    Dualta suggests “an unconditional apology for all of the wrongs committed as a result of the political conflict between us.”

    I agree. Some questions arise though. Who would issue this apology? SF? SDLP? The Taoiseach? The President, on behalf of the nation? But assuming some mechanism could be found, it would be a powerful statement. Would there be a reciprocal statement forthcoming from unionism? It would be nice, but there shouldn’t be any quid pro quo. That’s how everyone would know it was genuine.

    You also suggest: “The ending of all opposition to Loyal Order marches, however offensive and triumphalist they may be. The best way to end such marches is to combat the fear and hatred which fuels the perceived need for them.”

    This is a difficult one, not because of the evil marches themselves (and I use that word quite consciously) but because of the issues surrounding them. Orangemen have always refused to talk to residents’ groups. This refusal to even converse is essentially a denial of their basic humanity and their right to be treated with the common courtesy and respect that even a perfect stranger might feel entitled to. Residents’ groups are entitled to be treated as human beings: the Orange policy is that they are not. For a decade or so, that has been the standoff. To end the standoff without any dialogue taking place would be to accept the Orange thesis that residents’ groups are essentially subhuman. That might be a dangerous concession to make.

    But I’m not being generous. The residents’ groups should unilaterally announce that if Orangemen want to march then they have no objection. They should set out tea stalls along the route and hang out “Cead Mile Failte a Fhir Oraiste” banners from their windows. It would be an exceptionally bitter pill to swallow, but I believe the most progressive move would be to swallow it with a huge smile. By such an act of greatness the residents’ groups might blunt the bitterness and hatred in the hearts of the Orangemen. If they could do that, what a coup it would be.

    “The acceptance of Londonderry as the name of the city. This would much more than a symbolic gesture and would show Protestants that we mean business when we say that their culture and traditions would be cherished and nurtured in an all-island arrangement.”

    People from Derry might have a problem with it but I think if it would help convince our Protestant brothers and sisters that we’re not out to get them then it would be a small price to pay. Londonderry in a unified Ireland is a lot easier to swallow than Derry in a partitioned Ireland.

    ”The removal of all political symbols from our districts, including murals and memorials. If we want to remember, we should do it privately and with dignity.”

    Hear hear.

    I would also add that we need a complete change of heart when it comes to flags. Unionism has a much bigger problem with flags than nationalism, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get our house in order. Flying tricolours from lampposts and so on should be a no-no. If someone absolutely has to fly a flag then they should invest in a flagpole. They should run the flag up every morning, then take it down and fold it away in the evening. (There’d be a damned sight fewer flags around if everyone treated them like that, but that is only the most basic of courtesies with which a national flag should be treated.)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Beano

    But on the issue of Dualta’s suggestions: just say one or more of these initiatives came to pass. Would you be impressed? How do you think you would react? Would they in any way blunt your Little Ulster nationalism or anti-Irish antipathy?

  • beano

    Well if you explain what my anti-Irish antipathy is, or what you mean by my “Little Ulster nationalism”

    In answer to the other part of your question, yes I’d be impressed, given that I’m very sceptical of the republican “Ireland of equals (and protestants)” having anything to do with true equality and respect for the ‘other’ tradition.

    I accept that having the upper hand, unionists may well have more to compromise, but I don’t think this peace process should be a one way string of ‘concessions’. Steps like those outlined above would be a positive indication that it wasn’t being treated as such.

    However I suspect there would unfortunately be the bigots who will see it as a victory to be shouted about and shoved down throats, which is just… (depressing/embarrassing/disgusting/moronic – take your pick, I couldn’t decide).

  • G-man

    Dualta

    Excellent post and fine words. If this was achievable and the unionist community could reciprocate with similar changes then life here would be so much better.

    But one quibble. It really annoys me when republicans refer to the country of my birth as a “statelet”. It is one thing to pursue the entirely legitimate poltical goal of Irish unity. However, to refer to NI with that term (which is used in a derogatory and mocking way) is so irritating. Every time Gerry Adams uses the term I stop listening.

    It is one of the examples of the crap outdated language that exists on both sides of the political divide in NI (in this example it is crap outdated Sinn Fein language).

    Personally, I am more than happy for Derry to be called Derry since this reflects the views of the majority of its residents. But for now at least, rightly or wrongly the majority of the residents of NI wish it to remain a separate country within the UK – I have no problem with you or anyone else trying to present the case for a UI but the current preference of the population should be respected and you should stop referring to NI as a statelet.

    Whilst on my soap box, you will appreciate that from my point of view, republicans refusal to use the term Northern Ireland falls into the same category. This is similarly stupid to Unionists who oppose the renaming of Derry. Politicians on both sides need to recognise reality.

    If republicans really wish to make a UI an attractive option to the British population in NI, one small step to think about are the words you are using and how they they might offend.

    Apart from that – good luck with your mission.

  • slug

    G-Man

    Have you noticed that the Dublin media – including RTE – uses NI and Northern Ireland now. Previously they exclusively used “North”.

  • IJP

    You know, when you deal in NI politics you very often get to the stage where you sense the whole thing’s pointless. People are so busy airing grievances against others that they just cannot see how they may have caused grievances to others. And you think emigration really is the best option.

    And then you see a post like Dualta‘s and a response like Billy Pilgrim‘s, and you realize not all is lost!

    Compromise is bloody tough – but without it, none of us will get anywhere near our stated goals.

  • IJP

    G-man

    But do you not think people are far too quick to be ‘offended’?

    I mean, what the hell is offensive about the term ‘North of Ireland’? I mean, it’s blimmin’ irritating in that it shows a complete failure to grasp reality and accept the fundamentals of the 1998 compromise and others, but it’s not offensive!

  • slug

    IJP

    Yes, I’m not offended by “6 counties” or “North of Irelandd”. But I am pleased when I see people accepting the term NI and Northern Ireland. I am sure that people in the Dublin media in particular are using it a lot more freely. It may seem a minor point, but somehow it is a kind of recognition.

  • G-man

    Slug

    I don’t really follow the Dublin media but this is good to hear. I guess this is consistent with the Republic’s overwhelming support of the the GFA and the consequent change in their constitution.

    I just get pissed off when people are stupid. The use of the term “Northern Ireland” is only an issue because Republicans have made it an issue by refusing to use the term.

    As I said above, the goal of a UI is an entirely legitimate and reasonable goal and many moderates are open to persuasion by people who are not being stupid. People who refuse to recognise the term “Northern Ireland” by virtue of outdated dogma are just being stupid.

    IJP – I think I agree with you. I find it very irritating when people deliberately use some of the alternatives to NI – since at best it is dogma and at worst deliberately provocative. I am not irritated when people switch between different names for NI as part of casual speech.

    Am I offended ? I think a little bit – I was born and grew up in a country I thought was called Northern Ireland and after many years away have return to live in NI. When Gerry Adams tells me that my country is a statelet I just think “asshole”.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Beano

    “Well if you explain what my anti-Irish antipathy is, or what you mean by my “Little Ulster nationalism”.”

    Oh, I suppose it was just something I thought I discerned from many of your posts over a long period of time. But I’ll retract that last bit, for the sake of politeness.

    I asked in the post whether you would be impressed – you said you would. I also asked how you would react. What kind of things do you think might become possible nationalism really managed to impress the Protestant people?

  • slug

    G-man

    To be honest I just don’t listen to Gerry Adams anymore. I did for a while after the ceasefires but he is totally 100% patronising towards unionists. He glues a lot of people together – against him – who otherwise would otherwise have little in common!

  • stu

    I was about to get laid into Kiberd’s article, but someone obviously gave him enough rope to hang himself. Sickeningly disrespectful, lazy, ignorant journalism at its worst; I don’t see anyone having anything positive to say about it from any community.

    Dualta

    Brave, brave suggestions. In particular ending opposition to the marches and agreeing on the name of Londonderry; I heartily appreciate the sentiment, but those from my so-called community who are interested in those particular issues won’t buy into a UI ever, they would see this as a victory, not a concession, gesture or compromise, and they’re the reason a UI isn’t feasible within our livetimes.

    I talked in the house-price page about de-segregating more areas in Belfast, and think removing murals, kerbstones and flags would be a good start; as would redevelopment of the residential areas near H&W.

    I have to agree with G-Man and ask that you don’t refer to NI as a statelet, particularly a failed one (we don’t call the Republic the ‘Free State’ unlike some journalists); a UI would need to allow the 6 counties a degree of autonomy anyway to get enough people this side of the border to agree to it, and the UK is better equipped to deal with this, particularly financially, but I’m sure being reasonable, we can agree to disagree on that. Which is, I think, the most important step that everyone on either side of the community can do.

    Thank you for your eloquent and bold suggestions, and in return, here are examples of how Unionism might engage Nationalists:

    1)Getting devolution up and running- having affairs run from Belfast is preferable to having them run out of London, for most people here anyway, and you’ll have more say in Stormont than in the Dail.

    2)Graffiti/flags etc etc – removing symbols of militant loyalism. I’m a big believer in freedom of speech but glorifying terrorism doesn’t do anyone any favours. Removing support for militant loyalism would be a good start, and get the Inner Circle to issue an apology to the good people of NI for fucking up their country;

    3)Agree that the people of the Maiden City can call their hometown whatever they wish, and respect their decision.

    4)Recognise that a band marching down a road where they aren’t welcome is a bad idea; politely suggest to the OO that it’s their responsibility to be welcomed somewhere, and if they want to show their loyalty, there are plenty of loyalist areas they can do it.

    There are plenty more, but those are the most pertinent.

    Billy- you were right about H&W being arguably a metaphor for the Ulster Protestant community – I’m going to argue with you on it. There are just as as many ‘Can’t Reads’ on either side of the community; patronising Protestants isn’t going to get them on your side. Otherwise we’re in agreement.

  • levee

    I’d like to add my appreciation of Dualta’s comments – very well said and very mature. We need more people like you in Northern Ireland with a pragmatic forward-looking approach.

    Also, a series of well considered responses – one in the eye for those who said the quality on Slugger had gone downhill recently!

  • maca

    G-man
    “I just get pissed off when people are stupid. The use of the term “Northern Ireland” is only an issue because Republicans have made it an issue by refusing to use the term.”

    Isn’t it the same issue with the use of “Ulster”? Both sides probably need to cop on and get over things like these.

  • Joe

    It is not clear to me why Kiberd thinks that Seamus Brennan should be bound to adhere to the line on partition espoused by Markievicz, Margaret Pearse, Harry Boland, de Valera and Brugha. This is dogmaticism that allows for no evolution or development over a period stretching back up to ninety years and ignores a defacto quite pragmatic and subtle attitude to partition on the part of De Valera at various times over a very long career. Ditto the reference to Rabbitte not being faithful to the spirit of a James Connolly quote on partition though the Labour Party has always had a significant non-nationalist strand – in fact it could be argued Connolly was an exception in his nationalism. Interestingly Kiberd impugns the motives of those in the ROI that have reservations about a united Ireland without dealing with the reasonable questions they raise. The notion that a united Ireland will be a panacea for the north is to say the least controversial. And why go down a road that might undermine or even destroy the one solid achievement of Irish nationalism – the creation of a free, peaceful and generally tolerant and decent society in the ROI – without at least airing the issues involved. These are a lot more than small mindedness, fear of Sinn Fein (though this is certainly widespread) and the mentality of “Castle Catholics”.

  • Brian Boru

    As a Southerner who dearly wants a UI, I am utterly fed up with the West British remarks of Rabbitte, Murphy and some others. Castle Catholics indeed!

  • Dualta

    Billy Pilgrim,
    Despite my fear that this might look like the beginning of a political love-in between you and I, I must also say that your post is excellent.

    When I made my first post I was expecting something of a barrage of criticism from some and it`s great to know that I`m not the only one who thinks this way. I find much of what you say to be right on the button.

    If I can answer your first question about an apology. I believe that Nationalists and Republicans on the island need to reconvene the All-Ireland Forum, or a body like it, to chart a way forward towards unity.

    The first step, I would suggest, is that every nonviolent effort is made to bring about the ceasefires and disarmament of the remaining militant Republican groups. This is most important. An apology is much easier to accept when you feel that there is a real commitment not to repeat the offence.

    Secondly, a statement on behalf of the Irish people, endorsed by the leaders of the political parties and groupings on the island should be delivered through the chair of the All-Ireland Forum (or similar person or body) apologising, unconditionally, for the harm caused as a result of the conflict.

    Your latter suggestions around the marching issue are my views entirely. In fact, there`s a man in Derry, I think his name is Prontious O`Meenahan (sp), who used to stand on the Derry-side of the Craigavon bridge to greet the Loyal Order marchers with a big sign saying `Failte go dti Doire`, or something like that. His views are similar to ours. I remember people dismissing him as a nut, but I can remember thinking that he knew exactly what he was doing.

    Also, I can remember a quote from Hume around the time of the first residents` protests, when he said simply, `Let them march.` He knew what he was saying too, but the rest of his party were too scared of losing ground to Sinn Fein and joined in the fight.

    If we look at what happened to the swelling of the numbers of people marching and joining Loyal Orders as the result of the marching issue becoming so prominent. I would argue that the direct opposite would happen if the marchers were left alone. In time their numbers would drop and the hatred and fear that reverberates with every drum-beat would dissipate into history`s ether.

    On the issue of the name of Derry. Nationalists in that fine city have been struggling for years to cast off the legacy of the old Corporation and all that it represented. They have been badly abused and the pain runs deep. The name of the city represents that struggle to them.

    However, few who know the place could deny that Nationalists there are flourishing under a new-found sense of confidence. The days of the Corporation have gone and they`ll never return.

    The people of Derry have risen to the occasion numerous times and I think that your point about living in Londonderry in an all-island nation, rather than in Derry in the UK would not be lost on all of them. It is a fine city filled with fine people the majority of whom have always known what needs to be done.

    Stu,

    I understand that there are those within the Unionist community who`ll never want to live in an all-island nation.
    Yet, I feel that if Nationalists can hold out the prospect of a decent all-island arrangement that we can generate enough support for it amongst Protestants and that those who object to it would fell less anxious about it.

    I`ll also accept the criticism of my use of the term statelet, but I`ll ask those who raised the issue to understand my use of it. I was born into a community who was locked into Northern Ireland a permanent minority.

    Northern Ireland has failed to deliver for all of its people and was doing so long before the rebirth of the IRA in the early 1970s. It does not hold the powers of a state. It has no fiscal power. Its legislative powers are limited and dependent on the approval of another state. It has no international profile or role. It is a mess, a basket-case, an absolute failure.

    I`m sorry that my use of the term statelet offends you and I will stop using in this forum, but please understand what my reason are for using it.

  • Robert Keogh

    Dualta and Billy Pilgrim,

    great posts guys, I agree with almost everything the both of you have said (hence the silence). However, there is one small issue I would like to take up with Dualta.

    Secondly, a statement on behalf of the Irish people, endorsed by the leaders of the political parties and groupings on the island should be delivered through the chair of the All-Ireland Forum (or similar person or body) apologising, unconditionally, for the harm caused as a result of the conflict.

    While I agree with the sentiment and your intent, I must disagree with you on this one. The parties in the south and the citizens of the Republic are not responsible for the violence of republicanism/loyalism. In fact the vast majority of the citizens in the Republic were overwhelmingly against the violence the IRAs carried out in their name. Witness the legislation passed, the many books of condolences signed, etc. By making the apology you request the Republic would be intimating they were in some way responsible or culpable for the troubles in the north – which we certainly were not.

    Now as devils advocate I want to point out unionisms response to the constitutional amendments to articles 2 & 3, the 1972 amendment that deleted all articles recognising the Catholic religion as the official state religion. In both instances these were held up as barriers between our two peoples but in each case when the asked for changes were made there was no appreciation, merely a contemptuous “well they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.” My fear is that politically active unionists still feel this way and any gesture the Republic or nationalists make in this vein will meet with the same response.

  • Gonzo

    Great thread, always good to see people thinking outside their tribal boxes. So permit me to think aloud about Dualta’s points for a moment.

    An unconditional apology for all of the wrongs committed as a result of the political conflict between us.

    That would mean going further than the apology of 2002, in which the IRA apologised for the deaths of civilians.

    The key section was:

    It is therefore appropriate on the anniversary of this tragic event [Bloody Friday, July 21 1972], that we address all of the deaths and injuries of non-combatants caused by us. We offer our sincere apologies and condolences to their families.

    For republicans to go any further would mean an apology to combatants. This would, in essence, be to completely de-legitimise the IRA campaign; it would be to say it was ‘wrong’ and shouldn’t have happened.

    The IRA will never do this, in exactly the same way the Government as never will for its own killings of IRA members.

    An unpleasant thought, but political embarrassment on a huge scale for which ever side shifts. Unionism doesn’t think it has anything to apologise for.

    The ending of all opposition to Loyal Order marches, however offensive and triumphalist they may be. The best way to end such marches is to combat the fear and hatred which fuels the perceived need for them.

    There might be room for greater manoeuvre here. Past experience shows that either side can shift when it’s in their interests to do so. Conversely, violence can be turned on at the flick of a switch when either side feels the need to demonstrate a little political ‘cutting edge’.

    I was thinking about what you wrote, and might suggest some heresy: that for ONE year only, as a unilateral gesture of goodwill, all parades could parade where they want. Republicans could also protest, as is their right, but ignoring the marches would demonstrate good faith too.

    It would completely throw the onus onto the Orange Order (and police too, I suppose) to reply in equally magnanimous terms. In the same way that IRA decommissioning is leading to greater pressure on the DUP to re-enter government (though not immediately, the case becomes stronger the longer the IRA remains quiet), so such a gesture would put the ball in loyalism’s court.

    There are enough observers at any contentious parade to know if the law or parade rules are breached. It will be up to the marchers to show respect, and I doubt if they’ll be short of judges – in the media or the courts – if they don’t abide by the rules.

    Breaches of parade determinations would result in future parades being banned indefinitely in the particular area the offences took place. Perhaps minor offenders could be subject to ASBOs preventing them entering a certain area or drinking in public etc. The loyal orders would be expected to expel offenders (or refuse to hire offending bands) from their ranks. Convicted paramilitaries should not parade; in fact there should be no sign of any paramilitarism.

    If that one marching season went smoothly, the loyal orders would be expected to reciprocate the gesture and enter unconditionally into talks with residents groups. All flags should be removed outside the marching season, and no paramilitary ones ever flown. In addition all flags should only be in areas where they are welcome. There should be properly trained marshalls, and the Order could contribute to the clean-up operation after marches, either financially or by providing resources.

    There are a hundred other ways the Orders could show good faith in a demonstrable way.

    Local solutions in some areas might provide models for other contentious routes. Some talks should include public meetings, to inform the public of what is happening.

    If direct dialogue publicly isn’t an option, no-one has ever had a problem talking through a committee chairman to the ‘other’ side. Even Paisley slipped once in the Assembly Agriculture committee and directly addressed a republican. What they do behind closed doors is up to them, although minutes might be useful.

    It would also offer the unionists an opportunity to call the bluff of republicans. By entering into genuine direct dialogue, they could test republicanism’s words against action.

    There are, however, fundamental problems in all this. Many Catholics and nationalists feel aggrieved to different degrees that marches celebrating past victories over the Irish pass through areas where most people don’t want to be reminded. It’s ultimately seen as a potent symbol of domination by one community over the other. However, if those parading could convincingly treat those who live in the areas they march through as equals, there would be no reason for republicans to object any longer.

    On the other side of the Rubicon, loyalism would have to swallow hard and agreeing to enter talks. This is anathema to them as it would mean legitimising the authority of republicanism and some of its representatives who have terrorist convictions.

    To have to ‘bow the knee’ and request permission from the ‘enemy’ in order to do what loyalists believe is a fundamental right – to walk along a public highway and celebrate their civil and religious liberties, as they understand them – is, for them, a step too far.

    Disputed parades are seen as a zero-sum game, with only a winner and loser outcome. However, in places like London/derry, once they realised that everyone was losing, they managed to thrash something out.

    And speaking of Stroke City…

    The acceptance of Londonderry as the name of the city. This would much more than a symbolic gesture and would show Protestants that we mean business when we say that their culture and traditions would be cherished and nurtured in an all-island arrangement.

    This, to me, is a silly semantic debate. No-one calls it Londonderry in real life. It’s a mouthful to say and too long to be bothered with 99 percent of the time.

    Anyway, it’s the Apprentice Boys of Derry, so it just seems petty. Londonderry just sounds contrived.

    The removal of all political symbols from our districts, including murals and memorials. If we want to remember, we should do it privately and with dignity.

    There have been some moves already to change the nature of loyalist in a few loyalist areas. All memorials should be subject to normal planning rules and regulations.

    Adams’ leadership has brought about the most important step of all, which is the need to stop killing Protestants. It has been a magnificent effort towards building Irish unity.

    If republicans are genuinely on a political path to a united Ireland, then they need to consider what unionists and loyalists are actually loyal to, and why.

    Many unionists believe their rights and liberties would be under threat in a united Ireland; that they wouldn’t be able to exist as they do now. Republicans consider this a unionist position of domination; unionists see it as the British way of life.

    However, I think the notion of ‘Britishness’ in Northern Ireland and what it means in the rest of the UK are two different things.

    The ‘British’ values of loyalism seem increasingly outdated in an globalised, pluralist society. They need to redefine Britishness, and some are doing that. Slowly.

    The existence of Britishness per se is not anathema to Irish republicanism. Britain and Ireland are equal partners in the peace process and co-exist happily in the EU. They have a mutually beneficial relationship gained through enhanced co-operation and compromise.

    The quickest way to a united Ireland in a purely political context is not for the nationalists to outbreed Prods in order to secure a majority in favour.

    The fastest way is for nationalists to convince unionism that it is in its best interests to be in a united Ireland,
    is to convince them that there is a ‘British’ way of life (more familiar in Great Britain than here) that would not be threatened in such an entity.

    Conversely, for as long as the UK remains intact but while their dwindling majority continues to decrease, unionists need to start building a long-term case for NI to remain within the union.

    The survival of the union in the long term will mean unionists convincing nationalists that it is in their best interests too. At the moment, politics here is structured in such a way that encourages parties to shore up support on their ‘own’ side.

    Eventually parties might be forced to cross bridges to get votes. But current political circumstances, including structures in the Agreement, promote tribalism, rather than any need to gain support from and represent the entire community.

    To do so would require compromise on both sides, and until it is actually in the interest of politicians to compromise, then it probably won’t happen.

    The Government might consider some ways of doing this. The Westminster voting system, for example, could be changed from a ‘first past the post’ simple majority to a more proportional system of representation. Even if it doesn’t, the change in council sizes will mean politicians representing larger areas, which might mean more political compromise to secure votes from ‘themmuns’ under the single transferable vote system.

    If political leaders were seen to succeed through reaching out for votes instead of retreating into their most uncompromising positions, that could have, I believe, an enormous social and cultural impact. The reverse is true at present. Those who can keep the pot boiling make gains, so it makes no electoral sense to attempt to represent the ‘other’ side of the community.

    If the British and Irish governments haven’t worked out by now that reducing politics to a game of how to balance concessions in equal measure to both ‘sides’ leads to ongoing instability, they seriously need their heads looked.

    But now I think there are maybe early signs of the government manufacturing consent by creating or promoting situations that promote cross-community co-operation. Examples might include the Maze stadium and water charges. The most curious example is how both the DUP and Sinn Fein are almost at one on the economy, an area where both find common self-interest.

    It might be worth recalling the words of a previous NI Secretary of State when he said that Britain had ‘no selfish, strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland’. By treating Northern Ireland in the same way as any other part of the UK (water charges, troop reductions that mean symbolically more in NI than in GB, community policing, no tax raising powers for ‘minor’ UK members etc etc…), the Government might increase unionist discontent with Direct Rule. The Treasury will oppose DUP economic proposals as strongly as any from nationalists, but no IRA bombs in the City of London means NI will have to pay its own way more and more.

    If the war is over, and the above is true, it might not just be nationalists that unionists need to convince that they should remain in the union in the long term.

  • Dualta

    Robert,
    I beleive that there is a collective responsibility across the island and throughout both communities for a lot which has been said and done over the years.

    The hurt that I refer to is not just that felt as a result of the physical violence of Republicans, but also the intemperate language which has caused offence and promoted sectarianism.

    Even within the moderate Nationalist community in the north there is a vicious sectarianism. I have witnessed it on numerous occasions. The conflict on this island is much, much more than the presence of physical violence and it transcends the border, the Irish sea and the historical act of partition itself.

    What I propose is that Nationalists act to excorcise sectarianism from within our hearts and minds. The approach I have outlined above is as much about this, as it is about winning over the hearts of Protestants. The former is a means to the latter.

    There are many people on this island who bear no ill-will to anyone, never mind northern Protestants, who they`ve most likely never encountered. Many individuals have nothing to apologise for, but we as a historical community do, I hope you`d agree.

  • Dualta

    Gonzo,
    Some greats points well argued. You posted while I was typing my last post so I`d refer you to the one about in response to Robert about my belief that an apology is needed. I should also apologise for not being so clear in my first post. It appears that I have encouraged misunderstandings of my idea.

    Also, on the parades issue. I would propose that Nationalists would support the ending of the parades commission. We should leave it to the Loyal Orders to decide when, where and how it is appropriate to march.

    The Loyal Orders have their raison d`etre in this conflict. They were formed to defend their community against the real and/or perceived threats from Nationalists.

    In the event of a successful peace-building initiative from Nationalists, the need for the Loyal Orders in that role would diminish. I think they would become less a factor in Irish life and would, in time, as with their counterparts in the AOH, drift into obscurity.

    The removal of the political interface of the marches would help this process on considerably.

  • Robert Keogh

    Dualta,

    I understand your position and I am sympathetic to your aims but I must reiterate that only the combatants in the conflict can apologise, for they are the ones whose actions caused pain. The Republic and its citizenry did not support the armed campaign and have tried on several occasions to reach out to unionism with the constitutional amendments I listed. I doubt unionism would respond to an apology any better then they responded to the amendments. On top of that unionism would seize upon an apology as admission of responsibility and culpability and we’d never hear the end of it.

    You made some interesting comments about inflammatory speech – I’d like to refer you to my comment on Gonzo’s anthem thread about speech vs violence.

    I’ve always thought that the best way for nationalists to deal with orange order parades was to line the route three or four deep, shoulder to shoulder, and as the bands pass by just turn their backs and stand in silence. It is a dignified protest and avoids seeing anything offensive or antagonistic. Do that for a few years and those paraders who are only there to antagonise will get bored and leave.

  • Robert Keogh

    Gonzo,

    If the British and Irish governments haven’t worked out by now that reducing politics to a game of how to balance concessions in equal measure to both ‘sides’ leads to ongoing instability, they seriously need their heads looked.

    You are absolutely correct but with one exception. While the horse trading on concessions were on issues such as policing, politics, emblems and the like it was perceived as a zero sum game but if it switches to something neutral like funding then that stopse. From the little we have picked up on the DUPs list of requirements they seem to be largely financial – hefty redundancy packages for RIR, large cash injections into deprived unionist communities, orange halls rates dispensation and so forth. Any number of millions of pounds is worth it to bring a conclusion to the conflict. Can we call this “Killing direct rule with money”?

  • PaddyReilly

    1) a reduction in the amount of spurious bunting, painted kerbstones etc would be welcome, and probably lead to an increase in value of adjacent houses. However, this matter is not confined to one particular community, and rectification can only be a voluntary process.
    2) apologies are a waste of time: often they provoke a greater resentment. No side has a monopoly of guilt or victimhood. Just don’t mention the war.
    3) The people of Derry can call their city what they want. Be grateful that Newtownards is not renamed Madre de Dios.
    4) The Orange Order needs to be restricted, confined, and ultimately proscribed. Would anyone seriously propose that the best way to ameliorate community relations in Urban America is to allow unlimited marches by the KKK? What nonsense! The OO is sectarianism incarnate. It has no place in a modern Europe. The purpose of leading a sectarian mobile vulgus through the streets is to demonstrate that the rule of law is suspended, and replaced by the will of the mob.

    There are plenty of Protestants who would be glad to see the back of the OO, and it is with these that Republicans should be making common cause, not with the troublemakers. Law and Order, the protection of property, these are the issues that they want to see dealt with.

  • maca

    Just a couple of points stood out…

    Stu
    “I have to agree with G-Man and ask that you don’t refer to NI as a statelet, particularly a failed one”

    Statelet I agree with, but it has pretty much been a failure in many ways though hasn’t it? You might be offended by this but who’s to blame?

    “we don’t call the Republic the ‘Free State'”

    Many unionists do. Southern Ireland or Rep. Ireland are two others 🙂

    Dualta!!
    “Secondly, a statement on behalf of the Irish people… apologising, unconditionally, for the harm caused as a result of the conflict.”

    Bullshit Dualta! Why should anyone apologise on my behalf?? I have done nothing wrong, neither has anyone I know. I will NOT apologise for the hurt caused by others and I will NOT take any responsibility for the dirty campaign of the PIRA or any other such organisation. Let the killers & their supporters apologise.

    Collective responsibility my ass.
    I hope you know that this suggestion is deeply offensive.

  • slug

    “I have done nothing wrong, neither has anyone I know. I will NOT apologise for the hurt caused by others and I will NOT take any responsibility for the dirty campaign of the PIRA or any other such organisation. Let the killers & their supporters apologise.”

    Well said Maca – some sense at last. You are of course right. An apology from you would be ridiculous.

  • Dualta

    Maca,
    I have not suggested that you do take responsibility for the violence of others. Only those responsible for it can do that. If you were to read again the full post which I made (or read it for the first time perhaps) you’ll realise that you have misunderstood it and that there is no need to feel offended.

  • maca

    Dualta
    Your point here was clear:
    “a statement on behalf of the Irish people, … apologising, unconditionally, for the harm caused as a result of the conflict.”

    The Irish people are not responsible for the acts of PIRA & Co. The IRA and their supporters are responsible. Apologising on behalf of the Irish people is accepting responsibility for all acts which include those of PIRA and others.
    If I misunderstood perhaps your wording wasn’t the best ..?

  • Dualta

    Maca,
    You referred to my use of the phrase ‘collective responsiblity’, therefore you read at least some of my response to Robert Keogh who had similar reservations to yourself.

    If you read my response to Robert you will see that there is much more to my argument than you imply. Your concerns are addressed in that post.

  • maca

    Your point to Robert about collective responsibility has certainly some good points, perhaps I mis-used your phrase ‘collective responsibility’ in my outburst, the red mist had already descended by the time I read your post to Robert.
    But your point as I highlighted in my 10:25 still sticks in the gut. Any apology we make, and perhaps we do have some things to apologise for, will be made by us and not lumped in with any (unlikely) apology from the IRA or the likes.

  • Ringo

    I’m with Maca on this one. I might as well apologise for the actions of loyalists as republicans – I’ve nothing to apologise for. What I find most objectionable is that it would provide legitimacy to the lie that somehow, despite attracting a negligible amount of support in the Republic beyond the border counties, that republicanism had the tacit approval of the general population. I don’t see what the SDLP or the Alliance Party has to apologise for either.

    Telling each other lies in the hope that it will all get better won’t get anyone anywhere. The problem isn’t solved by getting those who are innocent to admit their guilt, in the hope that the headcases somehow see the light. But, if there is anything this thread shows, it is not the people who contribute to Slugger who are the problem.

  • Dualta

    I’m afraid the main point of my original post has been a little lost in the discussion of the example of an apology. I saw the danger of that when posting originally, but carried on regardless.

    The list of examples I made earlier is neither exclusive nor exhaustive. They are examples of the sort of measures that I believe Nationalists could take on the long road of persuading Protestants to help build a new nation on this island. I cannot see any other way that this. Force has not only failed, but has proven itself to be counterproductive.

    Only when all of the people on this island stand shoulder to shoulder under an agreed political framework, giving it their allegiance, will we hope to see an end to the trouble on this island. I believe that it is possible to achieve such an end and I believe that nonviolence is the only way to achieve it.

    All of the above suggestions can be placed squarely within my interpretation of the principle of nonviolence, which is, that there is not just an absence of physical violence, but the presence of conciliatory acts, aimed at making your enemy feel less animosity towards you.

    Here is an excerpt from Gandhi’s autobiography in which he gives a succinct account of the principle.

    “A Gujarati didactic stanza likewise gripped my mind and heart. Its precept-return good for evil-became my guiding principle. It became such a passion with me that I began numerous experiments in it. Here are those (for me) wonderful lines:

    For a bowl of water give a goodly meal;
    For a kindly greeting bow thou down with zeal;
    For a simple penny pay thou back with gold;
    If thy life be rescued, life do not withhold.
    Thus the words and actions of the wise regard;
    Every little service tenfold reward.
    But the truly noble know all men as one,
    And return with gladness good for evil done.”

    I’ve never had any doubt that we’ve needed a revolution here to bring an end to our problems. It’s just that what we had was not revolutionary, it was reactionary. The only revolution worth fighting is the one to rid ourselves and our societies of violence.

  • beano

    Maca – as a southerner, what do you think we should call the southern state if not the Republic?

    (please not that responding with “Ireland” will staisfy my assumption that the reason for so many different names is simply because said state has not provided a suitable description of itself)

  • Ringo

    Maca – as a southerner, what do you think we should call the southern state if not the Republic?

    the Mothership 😉

  • maca

    Beano
    Ringo beat me to it 🙂
    Well “Ireland” is the correct and official name whether you like it or not. But i’d be perfectly happy with Éire in any language.

    We could always change the name of the island to Hibernia and leave the country names as they are now, wouldn’t that be ok?

  • Biffo

    What about Island? A lot of English people already call it that – as in “Nawthen Island”

  • George

    Dualta,

    you seem to be espousing the Irish government’s line of, in the next few years, working more for an agreed Ireland than a united Ireland.

    One issue I would have is that while the Irish state, and its people, has fully accepted Northern Ireland’s legitimacy (GFA) and has completely set out its stall looking for reconciliation and agreement, we are still waiting for unionism and its people to fully accept our legitimacy. That would help a lot.

    I am with Ringo, maca and Robert Keogh on keeping the Irish Republic out of any apologies.

    A pledge to non-violence I’ll sign up to immediately, but personally, I think we already have our pledge of non-violence in Article 29 of the Irish constitution.

    On Loyal Orders marching, the Orange Order marches without a problem in Rossnowlagh but it is more religious in its bent south of the border. For example, union flags are not flown on the orders of the OO there.

    They came up with that one and enforce it themselves. Respect breeds respect so we need more of this.

    Would Loyal Orders be so willing to compromise in such a way north of the border?

    Would they be prepared to put Protestantism before politics?

    If so, I think they could be marching where they want in a heartbeat.

    I like Gonzo’s idea of taking a chance and saying you can march anywhere in 2006. Let’s see how that affects the Christian content of the events.

    I differ from Billy Pilgrim and others in that I don’t want the Loyal Orders to wither away, I want them to do what they are supposed to do, be a vehicle for the promotion and celebration of Protestant culture in Ireland.

    Protestant does not equal British on this island. It never has and it never will.

    If the Orders can’t change and deliver for all of Ireland’s Protestants, then I hope they wither away but optimist I am, I think they can change.

    Londonderry, Derry, is all semantics. The nature of language is such that you cannot impose a name on something.

    On bunting, I fully agree but I also want to see unionists end the burning of the Irish flag.

  • Zorro

    The only revolution worth fighting is the one to rid ourselves and our societies of violence.

    Finally a post which reaffirms my faith in humanity!

    Bloggers of the world unite!