The challenge facing ‘true’ Republicans

Tom Kelly argues that Sinn Fein’s combative attempt to breathe life into the political cause of re-unification is besides the point. And he excoriates southern politicians for their rush to reclaim the heritage of the 1916 uprising as also being besides the point. Effectively, he argues that the real point of modern day Republicanism should be to take its core values and re-present them in such a way that attracts the Protestant and (now largely secular) Dissenting traditions back to a political project that had its foundations in their own political instincts: “…the real challenge for those who believe in a united Ireland is to persuade non-nationalists on the island that they have nothing to fear from the pluralist, egalitarian and fraternal ideals contained in true republicanism”.

  • Mick,
    Which came first the chicken or the egg?
    All the political energy is going into getting the institutions up and running. It might be better for united ireland aspirations and persuasions to put on the back-burner. But what else do republicans talk about, in the absence of direct talks with the DUP?

  • smcgiff

    “…the real challenge for those who believe in a united Ireland is to persuade non-nationalists on the island that they have nothing to fear from the pluralist, egalitarian and fraternal ideals contained in true republicanism.”

    I agree that the above assurances should be extended at every opportunity (assuming the meaning of republicanism is that of its more widely used form), however, I don’t think there’s a role for anyone to convince unionists that they should be nationalists.

    This is something for each unionist to make up for themselves, or not. I don’t think there should be a hard sell of a UI to anyone.

  • smcgiff,
    TD Niall Blaney, in the donegal democrat:
    Blaney Slams Dail Deputies For ‘Sinn Fein Bashing’
    http://www.donegaldemocrat.com/story/5864.
    Assembly first, unity second.

  • smcgiff

    “I cannot see reunification of the island of Ireland until all parties see no other alternative but to agree on an All-Ireland approach.”

    Where to start…

    If that’s all the confidence Niall has in the benefits of a UI then he can’t really believe the citizens of NI would be better off in a UI.

    I can only say I disagree with him.

  • Henry94

    A simple question for republicans.

    Which country, in your view, comes closest to the republican ideal

    a) France

    b) Cuba

  • Henry94

    c) USA

    d) Other (Please specify)

  • Henry94

    e) Ireland (nearly forgot)

  • smcgiff

    Going on the latest BBC “Epic” I’d have to suggest ROME, well as long as you’re one of the elite.

  • Bogexile

    When Nationalist Ireland effectively deals with the Republican fascist perversion of Sinn Fein, I for one will be happy to dance with (or even as) a comley maiden at any cross roads.

  • Henry94
    pass
    I can only see the Tri-colour.There’s enough orange in that for every unionist to feel equal and proud of being Irish, same as the nationalist green. To me its a perfect symbol that unites two irish traditions.
    The Union Jack does not belong in the Island of Ireland. Just like it was removed from India, Nigeria, Hong-kong. Its an old colonial symbol.

    I accept that there is a schizophrenia amongst unionists as to their identity. With Union Jacks flapping around every corner in protestant Ulster it must be hard to feel Irish.

    Bottom line is unionists are more welcome in Ireland than the UK. That’s a fact.

    Let go the Union Jack, replace it with the Tricolour that’s how to heal the schizophrenia.

    How about a sunset clause: try it for a year, a month, a week even. If it’s having a terrible effect on morale, health, the economy re-instate the union jack.
    Maybe have a trial run, 100 families,in say Ballymena, for research purposes.
    Do you think you’ll have DUP members running around like headless chickens shouting;
    “Help, I don’t know who I am anymore”.
    I could go on 😉

  • Bogexile

    Spirit Level,

    If you want the Tricolour to have ethnic significance in the North and remain true to its original construct, I want at least 54% of the surface area of the flag to be orange and at least another 10% of shaded ‘don’t knows. The rest can be green and you can fuck off with your whire ‘peace’ bit – does not apply. Slightly less aesthetic perhaps but in keeping with the GFA.

  • Bog-exile
    I too am a bog-exile. Your modifications would be too expensive to produce in retails outlets.
    The flag is perfect as it is, encompassing as it does the whole Island.

  • Conor

    Unionists should just accept that they are natives of Ireland. The Island of Ireland. They have heritage in Scotland and England but were born here so stand up and be proud to be Irish. doesnt mean they can tell us native Irish that we’re ‘British’.

  • apologies for flagging, transferring to
    A shared past… where this debate is in full swing.

  • Spirit-Level,

    Enjoyed your link to Niall Blaney’s piece in The Democrat. It is not often that you get politicians talking a modicum of sense without all the spin and baggage that comes with it. It was truly stomach-churning to watch Michael McDowell laying claim to the 1916 centenary proposals while engaging in his usual “Provo-Thugs” jibe.

  • NB

    I should add that McDowells comments were on last nights edition of Questions and Answers on RTE. He even had the audacity to string-off a list of eventual pro-treaty volunteers and champion their contribution to the acheivement of the disengagement of The British from the 26 counties. I’ve no problem with that Michael, but this was a physical force uprising when Collins was credited with “inventing” modern day terrorist attacks. Hypocrisy at its finest from Mr McDowell. We should salute the men of 1916 in the same breath as the volunteers who gave their lives in The Hunger Strikes of 1981.

  • seabhac siulach

    Republicanism in the South of Ireland may not be perfect at present…but, if those in the North of a unionist background were to engage fully in the machinery of the state, and to take their rightful places in government, then it would more truly conform to the wishes of Wolfe Tone. It is surely this lack of engagement that is holding up true republicanism. It is there for them to grasp and make in their own image at any moment. What is there to fear? The number of protestants (approx. 900,000) alone would almost always guarantee full representation in government and also the rights of protestants and their traditions. Albert Reynolds, remember, offered to give one third of Dail seats to unionists if they would agree to unity. Will you ever get a better offer? What is better, to remember dependent forever on the charity of the English or to join with your fellow Irishmen/women and in full economic/political confidence and independence decide on and determine the issues that closely affect the people of the North, e.g.,the water charges, educational funding, etc. ? Do the unionists of the North really think that their love of the ‘mainland’ is truly a reciprocal affair? That the English will forever keep funding the basket case that is the North’s economy with other more pressing economic concerns? It seems to me that to those in the East we are all just paddies anyway…indistinguishable from one another…
    Who knows, in this new republic, we could have orangemen marching down O’Connell street on St. Patrick’s days/Easter Sundays to come. Think of it. I would say to unionists that the idea of republicanism is one for you to reclaim as is the spirit of the presbyterians of 1798.

  • Henry94

    seabhac siulach

    Good post but if I might offer a slight correction the Reynolds offer was for one third of Ministerial posts.

  • slug

    “Good post but if I might offer a slight correction the Reynolds offer was for one third of Ministerial posts.”

    Is this supposed to be what unionsits Britishness is tradable for – serving in a minority capacity under Reynolds for a term? Typical example of disrespect for unionist intelligence.

  • slug

    ‘Is this supposed to be what unionsits Britishness is tradable for – serving in a minority capacity under Reynolds for a term? Typical example of disrespect for unionist intelligence.’

    Interesting mis-spelling of unionists. I don’t think dropping your or others British identity is part of the deal. You would in territorial terms not be part of the UK but your/or one of your passports would entitle you to be part of the ‘British’ Nation.
    If i remember correctly, Unionists had huge influence on Major’s Govt with only a handful of MPs so one third of ministers would be a guarantaur of ‘British’ rights.
    Republicans just want you to embrace your Irishness, whatever shade of green or orange or pink that you visualise it as.
    Can’t see the insult of intelligence anywhere there

  • macswiney,
    yes the Minister of justice is going to have to make up his mind. He can’t have it both ways.

    seabhac sialuach
    Who knows, in this new republic, we could have orangemen marching down O’Connell street on St. Patrick’s days/Easter Sundays to come. Think of it. I would say to unionists that the idea of republicanism is one for you to reclaim as is the spirit of the presbyterians of 1798.

    I’d walk side by side with them, no problembo.

    Slug,what’s the problem now?

  • seabhac siulach

    Unionists’ Britishness is, of course, not tradeable…that was/is not the intention of Reynold’s offer. No insult to unionist intelligence was/is intended. No one is/was trading anything, merely offering possibilities…
    A one third involvement in government was intended as a peace gesture, a hand of friendship, surely, and to show that unionists need have nothing to fear in a unified Ireland. As I said before, their numbers alone would guarantee this, anyway.
    Does the idea not hold some interest, any, to unionists? Is there any conceivable way that unionists would ever accept unity in any form, e.g., a federal system with two parliaments, one in Stormont, the other in Dublin?
    Of course, by Britishness you may be referring to your culture. As I said, one can easily imagine Orange order marches in Dublin in the future. That is part of our common Irish heritage as much as the Irish language is. Could one not argue that we already largely share a common ‘British’ culture in these islands? Witness the popularity of UK football teams in Ireland, television programs, music, etc. All of these things are already shared between us.
    In this sense, a unified (in some form) ireland would likely maintain a strong British dimension. What else, with 900,000 estra British people in it?
    The relations between Ireland and Britain would be dramatically and unrecognizably transformed if the Northern question was solved…there are obvious and strong links between both islands that would flourish if, once and for all, we could solve this national question. If we could jettison the heavy weight of history holding us back. Can we not move on to a new chapter in the relationship between the islands, that of equals, respecting and remembering a shared history and looking forward to a common prosperity? Many people in Ireland have a strong affection for England/Britain…but this affection is muted and unspoken due to the unresolved question of the North. Who can tell in what direction a confident (economically independent) unified Ireland would turn in the future? All paths would then be opened, including a more mature relationship with Britain, not even discounting some form of islands federation…as I said, unionists have all of this in their hands if they could only see it…

  • Andrew Mc Cann

    Ulster will always remain British, and those self deluded “Oirish” Paddies can clear off to their beloved Republic!!!

    NO SURRENDER!!!!!!!

  • slug

    “Can’t see the insult of intelligence anywhere there”

    The offer to serve in a minority ministerial capacity in a Reynolds cabinet for a term in return for leaving the UK? Great deal for uninoists there. (Heavy sarcasm).

  • It wouldn’t have just been in Reynolds term and you know it.
    So you’d rather have the status quo of absolutely zero ministerial capacity at the minute than have at least a third in an IR government?
    I can see the sense yeah..

  • slug

    “Who knows, in this new republic, we could have orangemen marching down O’Connell street on St. Patrick’s days/Easter Sundays to come. Think of it. I would say to unionists that the idea of republicanism is one for you to reclaim as is the spirit of the presbyterians of 1798. I’d walk side by side with them, no problembo.”

    This gets more bizarre. Why on earth would a unionist leave the UK so that OO people can walk in Dublin? If the OO WANTED a parade in Dublin they can apply next year. There was talk of this in Cork this year but it didn’t happen. I don’t think they want to walk in Cork or Dublin that much. They’d like to walk their traditional routes much more. Anyway this all sounds like you would have great tremendous respect for the unionist traditions but conditional on a UI. More meaningful would be an unconditional approach – i.e. the same attitude to a OO parade whether or not there is a UI. The advantage of this would be we wouldn’t have to wait till a UI was fait accompli. It could come now. Offers of respect after a UI are cheap talk – there is no committment value in any of it. It’s non-credible candy floss.

  • slug

    “It wouldn’t have just been in Reynolds term and you know it.”

    I know how parliamentary democracy works. You can’t constrain future parliaments. (Or future referendum outomes – if it was to be a constitutional guarantee).

    Reynolds knew the unionists were not stupid enough to fall for such an obviously meaningless and quite frankly insulting sweetner. He made the offer to seem magnanimous. Safe in the knowledge that it would be rejected. Says it all really.

  • seabhac siulach

    Slug:

    “The offer to serve in a minority ministerial capacity in a Reynolds cabinet for a term in return for leaving the UK? Great deal for uninoists there. (Heavy sarcasm).”

    No answer to any of the points I made then…except for this obsession with the Reynold’s cabinet. I do not remember any mention of it being for only one term.
    As I say, unionists can name their price basically and can strongly determine the conditions in any future relationship…up to them…
    Is there no attraction at all, anyway, in the idea of freely controlling economically or otherwise your own affairs, free from the diktats of unaccountable English ministers? Think of the freedom to decide on where EU money should be spent, etc.
    But then, I suppose, with these constitutional questions of nationality/identity, etc., logic goes out the window.
    I think most nationalists in the North would have been more than happy to call themselves British, by the way, if the pie of money (and other things!) had been more fairly divided between 1920-1972…
    Apparently, the reverse scenario is impossible for unionists to even consider. Even if this could conceivably lead to a changed and closer relationship between the islands. Your Britishness has no ‘price’ then and can not even be discussed, even when this would be to your own material benefit. Even when with 1/3 of cabinet posts it is likely you who would be deciding where the money goes…unlike the UK where the Irish are a tiny minority unable to ever influence financial decisions or otherwise.
    Your Britishness is accepted but unfortunately for you the English too often throw it back in your faces when it suits them…witness how the direct rule minister works in the six counties…

    Andrew McCann
    “Ulster will always remain British, and those self deluded “Oirish” Paddies can clear off to their beloved Republic!!!
    NO SURRENDER!!!!!!!”

    Knee-jerk comments like these help no one.
    Don’t even know why I am bothering to answer. Oh well…
    It is clear that the constitutional position of Ulster (as you put it) is up in the air at the moment. Does anyone seriously think that a return to Stormont will park the whole question? Surely, a more mature relationship must be found in these islands. Shouting ‘no surrender’ is all very well, and all too easy to do, but it does not help…if you are happy for english ministers to keep deciding your future without any say of yours in the matter, well then, just keep chanting those empty slogans…your choice…

  • seabhac siulach

    Slug

    So if the South was less of a ‘cold house’ to unionists then unity is a possibility? Hardly, something that is impossible to achieve. Things are moving in that direction anyway. There is already a growing awareness of all things orange in the south, anyway. Why else the recent mention of walks in Dublin/Cork? Or the purchase of the battle of the boyne site (at great expense)? I can think of many others things this money could have been used for (schools, hospitals, etc.). It was bought to show good will…what more can be done to show good intentions…(note that the purchase was quiet clearly not a bribe or anything else). The few contentious marches in the North do not help the image of the OO and make it hard presently to welcome anyone to the South to march. When these are resolved then who in the South would mind the OO marching anywhere they chose…?

    Offers of Northern representation in cabinet could easily be enshrined in the consitution if there was even a hint of interest up North.
    Referendums in the South are hardly a novelty and for the sake of ending the running sore of the North, a yes vote in any such referendum is practically a certainty.

  • slug

    ss

    Got work to do but thanks for the chat. To cut a long story short unionists just aren’t interested in leaving the UK and guarantees of ministers isn’t going to change that. Its an identity thing.

  • Sadly the DUP would rather cut off their noses to spite their faces. With the emporer demagogue in power, but not in office Dr.No would rather see Ulster burn than talk to the Irish.
    It really is like watching something out of the new BBC “Rome” production.

  • Bill

    Andrew McCann said :

    “Ulster will always remain British, and those self deluded “Oirish” Paddies can clear off to their beloved Republic!!!
    NO SURRENDER!!!!!!!”

    Jesus Christ, some things never change, now why don’t you clear off and crawl back into your hole over at ATW you troll.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Bill, I’d be reasonably confident that the post was not made by McCann, but an imposter.

  • martin TYRONE

    To Unionists,

    Just for arguments sake –say the day after some tomorrow in the future—a majority of the people living in N.Ireland have voted to join a united Ireland—I know you all say unanimously it will never happen–but just for a moment pretend it did—-JUST TRY PLEASE

    How would you think your cultural,religious and historical traditions would best be safeguarded in a United Ireland-how would you feel your interests and way of life would be best protected—WE Nationalists and Republicans are all the time saying that you will not be discriminated against in a U.I—But what laws would have to be in place to make Unionists feel confident of this—Go on Im listening–and remember we are talking hypothetically here so by entering into discussion on it you are not selling out or betraying your British Ulster/scots heritage

    I’m just curious thats all.

  • Henry94

    Is it a great deal for nationalists to serve in a minority capacity in a power-sharing executive in the north?

  • seabhac siulach

    Henry 94

    “Is it a great deal for nationalists to serve in a minority capacity in a power-sharing executive in the north?”

    They will not serve in a minority capacity in the North (6 counties) as they are barely a minority (>46%) in those 6 counties. It makes democratic sense that the assembly ‘arithmetic’ takes account of this…i.e., 50:50, isn’t it?

    When unionists ran the North, catholics had no say whatsoever (let alone the dream of one third representation in the executive) in the running of the place…it was run by a one party government. Unionists cannot now lecture Southern Irish people about fairness with such a dismal record…
    Would there have been the whole 1969-1997 mess if nationalists had been given a fair representation at Stormont? In fact, let’s look at it, if unionists had accepted the minimal home rule proposed (more or less what Scotland has at the moment) back in 1912, something supported even by Patrick Pearse, then we would not even be having this discussion. The tendency to say ‘No’ to ever new initiative, every new development, the inability to evolve (politically), is what has led us to the present situation. It is time now, surely, to show some imagination.

    In Ireland, unionists are clearly a minority, 900,000 (est.) out of 5.6 million (est.)…in this scenario, one third of seats in a cabinet is fairly generous…it is/was intended as a good will gesture, not a bribe…how do you bribe 900,000 people, anyway…you can only convince them by cogent argument and shows of good faith and hope that gradually layers of distrust are broken down…

  • Conor

    andrew mc cann. your living in Ireland i presume. if you want to be a brit clear you off over the sea. you’ll see who they’ll call a paddy then.

  • slug

    “Is it a great deal for nationalists to serve in a minority capacity in a power-sharing executive in the north?”

    Ask yourself what is being given up by nationalists in this deal and compare it to leaving the UK for unionists.

    Serving under Albert Reynolds in return for giving up membership of the UK is not even worth thinking about. Its in the realm of the absurd.

  • slug

    “They will not serve in a minority capacity in the North (6 counties) as they are barely a minority (>46%) in those 6 counties. It makes democratic sense that the assembly ‘arithmetic’ takes account of this…i.e., 50:50, isn’t it? ”

    It depends on the seat distribution.

    Under the 1998 Assembly seat distribution d’Hondt gave nationalists 50% of the ministers in the Executive.

    After the 2003 election, however, d’Hondt would give nationalists 40%, meaning 4 ministers for nationalists and 6 for unionists. That would be 4 DUP and 2 UUP, 2 SDLP, and 2 SF. On top of that the DUP would have the First Minister and SF the Deputy First Minister.

  • slug

    Nationalists only got 40% of the seats in the NI Assembly.

  • slug

    “It wouldn’t have just been in Reynolds term and you know it.”

    I know how parliamentary systems work. How can Reynolds bind future parliaments? His power doesn’t extend that far and anyone with intelligence can see that. Think – what is the commitment value in his statemnt 10 years after a United Ireland? Little or nothing.

    “So you’d rather have the status quo of absolutely zero ministerial capacity at the minute than have at least a third in an IR government?”

    Why on earth would a unionist want to give up membership of the UK to serve under Albert Reynolds in a minority capacity for a term or two? Unionists don’t even want power in the south. They work towards devolution within the UK.

    The proposed deal is highly unattractive. Its in the realm of the absurd. If nationalists seriously think its attractive it shows they don’t understand the value unionists attach to UK membership.

  • slug

    No more replies today from me. Work must be done.

  • Alan

    Such fatuous and mechanical sound and fury.

    The resolution of the question of nationalism in Ireland requires co-operation.

    Competing nationalisms cannot, however, co-operate.

    Therefore, there is a need to re-frame the arguement without nationalism.