Moving the border north and east?

Reg Empey has described the proposals in the RPA as moving the border up to Portadown. It has a catchy ring to it, but aside from their new responsibilities for roads and planning, it’s hard to see how the new councils can amount to such a loss of sovereignty. In theory, at least, as Alex Maskey pointed out yesterday, the Assembly remains the kingpin chamber for Northern Ireland.

  • Ling

    ‘Sir Reg said the border would be redrawn. “What’s the Gaelic for Portadown or the Gaelic for Banbridge? People there better know because I fear they will soon be finding out,” he said’

    Somewhat beside the point, but why is this seen as so much of a threat? Wales and parts of Scotland have bilingual placename signs, it’s not such a big deal really. It seems everything’s a threat, or a loss with the UUP an DUP.

  • seabhac siulach

    Whooooo…imagine that, placenames in gaelic…

    Another ‘concessions’ to those pesky republicans.

    Is there no depth to which loyal ulstermen and women will have to sink…

    Glad that the UUP elected such a heavyweight to represent unionist views…the union is safe, surely, with someone of this ability on board…
    Concerned as he is with ALL the important issues.

    Sigh…

    Really, unionists cannot hand over the control of running the 6 counties to english ministers (which is what they are doing by refusing to sit in Stormont) and then complain about any decisions he/she makes. They have abrogated their responsibility to their own people by their stupid refusal to sit in Stormont. As I see it, all that flows from their refusal to pick up the reins of power in Stormont is their responsibility. No point bleating about it to the press…

    But then, unionism is the politics of fear, not hope…keep the people fearful and they won’t see that their public representatives are not doing their jobs…

    Keep at it, Reg, you’re doing a great job so far. We’ll all be very worried about the Irish language signs when the next rates bill arrives…

  • elvis parker

    Reg AGAIN reveals himself to be a pygmy politican and a hopeless leader

  • idunnomeself

    sigh.

    Firstly many people have pointed out this makes no difference because the same proportion of the councils will be Nationalist as before anyway. All this Cantonisation stuff is rubbish.

    Second because in a debate about how public services are delivered he can’t see beyond ‘us and them’

    Third because the worst he can think of the Nationalists doing is putting up Irish road signs. The terror.. the mob’s coming up the road from Newry clutching signposts, as the loyal folk of Portadown quiver in their beds..

  • idunnomeself

    oh and the Irish for Portadown is probably ‘Port na Down’ or something, maybe with a line over a vowel and probably in italics.

    muppet

  • Scotsman

    I can’t believe what I’m hearing. It highlights the winner takes all mentality prevalent among NI politicians. These councils have very little power. But Empey looks at a map, sees a swathe of green, and seems to believe unionists will feel the need to retreat to their laager East of the Bann.

    Either that or he’s just indulging in rhetoric in a pathetic attempt to wind up the more knee-jerk head -in- sand unionist voter.

    HMG is looking at abolishing small rural councils in England, and also doing the same in NI. Get used to it, Reg!

  • seabhac siulach

    Portadown = Port an Duin (I think, with a ‘fada’ on the u…) = The port of the fort

    Banbridge = Droichead an Banna(?) = The bridge of the Bann (strangely enough!)

    Run for your lives Banbridge unionists, the signs with the ‘fadas’ in them are coming!! Argghhhhh…

    And yet, not one unionist long ago ever complained that the motto of the Irish Fusiliers was ‘Faugh a Ballagh’…
    (Is this still the motto of the RIR?)

  • Henry94

    It is Sinn Fein who are often accused of winding up unionists but their own leaders are the real culprits.

  • 9countyprovence

    “And yet, not one unionist long ago ever complained that the motto of the Irish Fusiliers was ‘Faugh a Ballagh’…

    This is still the motto of the fighting 69th New York Reg in the U.S. Army.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Indeed it is, “none shall divide us” is it? Or is that Quis Seperabit (motto of Royal Ulster/Irish Rifles amongst others)?

  • fearganainm

    ‘faugh a ballagh!’ is a corruption of ‘fág an bealeach!’ – ‘clear the way!’

    portadown as gaeilge is ‘Port an Dhúnáin’. what is it in ulster scots?

  • Cahal

    “portadown as gaeilge is ‘Port an Dhúnáin’. what is it in ulster scots?”

    yon shitehowle oh’er thur

  • Tochais Síoraí

    No doubt Sir Reg would agree that the solution would be to revert to the original placenames instead of the bastardised anglicisations introduced by the British Army Ordinance Survey in the 19th century and then there’d be no need for bilingual signs?

  • CS Parnell

    Droichead na Banna surely – na meaning of the, an just meaning an? I knew that “First Steps in Irish” would useful sometime.

    Northern Ireland never ceases to disgust/amaze me. Reg Empty slags off the heritage of two in five (or more) of the people of the place and then wonders why no Catholic would ever vote for his party?

    I know there is plenty on the other side – the Shinners never engage with protestant/unionist culture in any meaningful sense either. But two wrongs and all that.

    But let’s shout it from the rooftops. IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE PLAN GET THE INSTITUTIONS BACK

  • Brian Boru

    A lot of problems for all concerned might have been avoided anyway if the border had been drawn like this in 1920 – even if I still oppose partition in principle. The Unionists would have had a much bigger majority while the Nationalists wouldn’t have been stranded on the wrong side of the border.

  • Cahal

    “The Unionists would have had a much bigger majority while the Nationalists wouldn’t have been stranded on the wrong side of the border.”

    I don’t understand the opposition to repartition. We have proved sufficiently that we can’t live together, or just don’t want to, over the last 80+ years.

    I wouldn’t wish 800,000 unionists to be trapped in an Irish state they don’t want to be in. It is wrong for 700,000 nationalists to be trapped likewise.

    Why don’t we just have votes in each of the council areas (26 or 7) and each decides on it’s own destiny. At least then (a) the ROI wouldn’t fold financially (b) the unionists will ultimately end up with something (c) the ROI will not have to deal with the likes of Paisley et al.

    Because of the history of this place, part of Ireland will always be British so they may as well get a wee corner of it.

    We all know repartition is going to happen anyway. Everything else has been based on a zero sum appraoch and has totally failed.

  • Moyle Rover

    Speak for yourself Brian Boru, never mind us gaels keeping our heritage alive in the glens of Antrim

  • Moyle Rover

    Cahal, are you seriously suggesting we draw a line along the Bann and partition all of Belfast, the Glens of Antrim, the people of toomebridge,Glenavy and Ahoghill into an 80% + protestant state for a protestant people! I must suggest that the next night I am in the bridge in Dunloy for a pint!!!

  • CS Parnell

    Funnily enough, once upon a time Peter Hain was an advocate of repartition. It would, of course, be accompanied by a massive “transfer” of populations.

    Face it folks, we have to live together even if we do hate each other. That is the fundamental idea behind the GFA – we don’t love one another but we cannot get by without at least living together.

    The DUP never signed up and the Sinners signed up with fingers crossed behind their backs. the Shinners have at least recognised that the GFA is the only show in town – what have they left but the policing issue and even there we all know their ‘opposition’ is entirely tactical.

    The DUP, though, strike me as very different. Their leadership long for the days when the taigs were not seen very much and certainly never heard. Not all their voters feel that way – many vote for them for tactical reasons (in the same way as the novo provos vote SF) – but unlike SF they aren’t learning the lessons of what works because they have no bigger gameplan.

    Whining is what the DUP are about. They find hate a more comfortable place to be.

  • Cahal

    Moyle Rover, good point.

    However, I think if a solution is ever to be found, it will involve a lot of hard decisions.

    800,000 unionists would obviously fair a lot better in a 32 county Irish state than 150,000 nationalists would fair in a theoretical 2 county Orange NorthEast Ulster.

    Of course the other option is the status quo of 700,000 nationalists trapped in the current NI.

    I agree that repartition is a crappy ‘solution’ but what is the alternative at this moment in time? We have just had 11 years of stagnant politics. NI is never likely to vote itself out of the UK as a unit. 50% +1 followed by a peaceful unification process seems like a pipe dream to me. So the only alternative is repartition.

    Decades of degrading direct rule or a return to Home Rule lite doesn’t really appeal to me. In the last decade I have witnessed both and am not impressed at all.

    Anyway, I think repartition has some merit, enough to deserve consideration. As for the ‘80% + protestant state’ I think I read somewhere that a spaghetti border could be drawn so that the minorities would be very small – good or bad, I don’t know.

    Probably best not to mention it at the Bridge though.

  • Brian Boru

    I said it would be fairer but I am still opposed in principle to partition. The problem I would have with it is that it would make a United Ireland even more remote, by allowing the Unionists to start the demographic clock from scratch.

  • Moyle Rover

    Sphagetti border wherever it is drawn would not be very good fo catholics in Ahoghill or Protestants in Newtownhamilton. As for people moving my family has lived on our farm for seven generations are you suggesting I up sticks and move to Crossmaglen… No Chance your hurlers are crap

  • Cahal

    I would guess that the unionists in a 2 county state would be way less paranoid about a united ireland scenario. Wouldn’t they then embrace their Irishness as never before? In that case the nationalists left there might be treated OK. But don’t get me wrong, I agree with Brian Boru on this one – ‘I said it would be fairer but I am still opposed in principle to partition’.

    He goes on to say ‘The problem I would have with it is that it would make a United Ireland even more remote, by allowing the Unionists to start the demographic clock from scratch’.

    I think it is a long long way off. I’m a young guy and I don’t expect to see it.

  • Brian Boru

    Bill, yes I think so because it is just 5 miles from Banbridge which is going to be the capital of the new Armagh-South Down area although with the Nationalist vote at 49% and the Unionist one at 43% and the rest Alliance or Independent it could be No Overall Control aswell.

  • Bob Wilson

    Guys lets drop the partition nonsense it aint going to happen. But Reg Empey what can I say… does he have any vision for his party beyond managed decline?

  • IJP

    Mick

    This is an area of unusual disagreement between us!

    What we are likely to end up with is 5 Councils where over 70% of the population belongs to ‘one side’ or ‘the other side’ – and the southern council is heading that way too.

    We have not heard a word about checks and balances.

    This means effectively that nearly 30% of the population of rural Northern Ireland will have basically zero say in local decision making. Is Alex Maskey (and, I daresay, by extension are you) saying that this is acceptable, no matter how limited the powers?

    The reality has been quite clear for some time: Alex Maskey and his colleagues are in fact quite happy to accept ‘majority rule’, as long as they get an equal go at it. They were happy with a sectarian carve-up of the NI Departments, and they’re happy with a sectarian carve-up of our new councils. That’s a disgusting abuse of the term ‘Irish Republicanism’, which was never about that.

    They, like many others, are forgetting the central pillar upon which any stable political progress must be based: majority rule is wrong, plain and simple.

    (That’s leaving aside the dubious chance of getting an Assembly back. Nor, by the way, would I underestimate the importance of powers over planning, regeneration and roads.)

  • Betty Boo

    “I agree that repartition is a crappy ‘solution’ but what is the alternative at this moment in time?”
    Time.
    Although it will properly take much longer then some would like to believe. But the hurt and hate caused will eventually fade, provided that new generations don’t grow up under such circumstances.

  • smcgiff

    Repartition is wrong on so many levels. However, no party will push for it, least of all SF. So, it’s not a runner.

  • Decko

    I honestly cannot believe some of the comments here.
    I am a nationalist, which means I believe in Ireland. I don’t want any of Northern Ireland to be acceded to the Republic if it means Ireland is still divided. Remember the flag of the republic? I want our Scots-Irish brothers and sisters as part of a new Ireland – a better Ireland – not just an extension of Berties Ireland. I want to see scots-irish join by consensus – not be forced into it by creating a new unsustainable state.
    Anyone that would accept repartition by alienating the Ulster-scots is neither a true nationalist or republican.
    Only when the strands of Norman, Celtic and Scot Irish unite under a common constitution will Ireland be free in any real sense.
    Do you not realise that the most difficult border to remove is in your heads?

  • Decko

    So my local council (Down).

    The first council to share power (SDLP controlled by a mile, but they allowed chairperson to be unionists on a rotating basis and shared positions) is now part of same council as castlerea council a council which refuses to power share.

    I am not so worried about it being a sectarian carve up cos that would happen regardless, (and was happening) but that its a financial carve up.
    So if you look at all the councils who will get lots of business rates (Belfast, the weird new greater belfast one, and the new Down one), they are also the smaller ones. The massive ones which are already rural, isolated and poor, will have less money due to difference in area (you get money per person not square mile but your costs are higher when citizens are spread out) and get less from business tax.
    I would not wanna be livin in Fermanagh or Omagh.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Michael Shilliday,
    “Quis Separabit” was indeed the motto of the Royal Ulster Rifles. It was also the motto of the Ulster Defence Union, formed in 1893 to oppose Home Rule and is currently the motto of the Ulster Defence Association, formed in 1971 as an umbrella organisation for the defence associations that were set up to prevent IRA attacks on Protestant communities.

    It is Latin for “Who Shall Separate Us” or “None Shall Divide Us”…

  • its seems odd that the UDA used the language of the Roman Church for its motto 🙂

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Cahal,
    You mention the figures of “800,000 unionists” and “700,000 nationalists”. So you believe there are over 200,000 people of ethnic minorities living in Northern Ireland? According to your figures Unionists only make up 47% of the population, Nationalists 41% and ethnic minorities almost 12%…

    I believe these figures are awy off the mark. I believe ethnic minorities make up roughly 1% of Northern Ireland’s population- about 17-20,000, and Unionists and Nationalists make up 56% and 43% to the nearest percentage- about 950-960,000 and 720-730,000 respectively.

  • Decko

    Ah put your figures away, we’re talking about people not numbers .
    Also I love that if you are neither unionist or nationalist, you are an ethnic minority!

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Decko,
    I am a Loyalist. I would come under the pigeon-hole “Unionist” in statistics, but HATE the name as it is old-fashioned, out-of-date and serves up images in my head of Terence O’Neill, Brian Faulkner and David Trimble- men who would sell-out the Union if it meant a favourable portrayal of themselves in the history books as liberal reformers.

    In a doomsday situation, if HMG were ever to sell out Northern Ireland, I would advocate a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) for Ulster. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel intensely British, but Loyalists are Ulstermen and women first and foremost, whereas Unionists are perhaps British first, and Ulstermen and women second.

    I prefer the status-quo, to remain a part of the UK. UDI would be in a worst case scenario, but the “peace (appeasement) process” seems to be heading in only one direction under bLIAR (Blair) and it would be preferable to a 32-county so-called “United” Ireland which would be a cold-house for Protestants, let alone Unionists/Loyalists…

  • Decko

    Thats interesting. Do you mean Ulster as in 6 or 9 counties? If 6, then have you “sold out” your brethren in Donegal etc?
    Where would a United Ireland as part of a new UK sit in your heirarchy?
    Does your distain for unification outweigh your love for the UK?
    Remember that although you might not consider yourself Irish, its likely that your forefathers did. Being Irish AND British is not a contradiction.
    I have the utmost respect for All-Ireland Unionists, and in fact would be interested to engage them in negotiation. But your philosophy seems to be isolationist, exclusive and anti-irish.

  • smcgiff

    ‘it would be preferable to a 32-county so-called “United” Ireland which would be a cold-house for Protestants,’

    Interesting indeed, and CL would be a loyalist of which I look forward to reading. A sincere person, and for this reason why I really loath his/and others perception of the Republic and the citizens that now occupy it.

    CL, would you consider that partitioned Northern Ireland continues (to this day) to be a cold house for Catholics?

    If yes, then do you understand their desire to be united with the remainder of the island?

    If no, then why do you think Protestants would live in a cold house in modern day Ireland.

    Finally, if the UDI did not receive popular support would you join with the majority (as now) and accept the desired constitutional position, even if that meant a 32 county Ireland?

  • Paddyreilly

    Yes, the sad thing is that at no point does anyone consider it strange that none of the borders and significant boundaries drawn on the face of Ireland were created by the Irish people or their representatives. Never do the representatives of Nationalist Ireland consider that this a right they should be demanding: if the Unionist camp has a monopoly of fixing the external border, then the right to create the internal boundaries should lie with the Nationalists.

    However, I note that the net result would be 3 Unionist Councils, 2 Nationalist and 2 no-overall-control. This at least could be the makings of some progress. What you would need now is a Senate with say three members directly elected by each council. This would give a pro power-sharing majority. In the eventuality that the Assembly fails to elect a government, then this right passes to the Senate, who would be able to do so.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Decko,
    A United Ireland within the UK is something the BNP. Like the BNP, I find this unpalatable…

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Sorry, my post should read “something the BNP support”.

  • ‘A United Ireland within the UK is something the BNP. Like the BNP, I find this unpalatable… ‘

    Why?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    smcgiff,
    You loath my perception of the Republic as you feel I am a sincere person? Elaborate…

    Are you saying that if I really knew what the Republic was like, the scales would drop from my eyes and I’d realise how naive and stupid I’ve been all my life in believing this British, separate identity to the rest of Ireland, nonsense?

  • smcgiff

    CL,

    Answer my question first, and I’ll elaborate. I don’t want to side track you.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Arte you asking me whether I find the BNP unpalatable – they’re white supremacists and Hitler-apologists which i find disgusting – or why I don’t support a United Ireland under UK jurisdiction?

  • smcgiff

    Nope – This one.

    ‘CL, would you consider that partitioned Northern Ireland continues (to this day) to be a cold house for Catholics?

    If yes, then do you understand their desire to be united with the remainder of the island?

    If no, then why do you think Protestants would live in a cold house in modern day Ireland.

    Finally, if the UDI did not receive popular support would you join with the majority (as now) and accept the desired constitutional position, even if that meant a 32 county Ireland?’

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Gotta go and catch a train, but I’ll come back to this tomorrow…

  • Decko

    CL, I have no problem with you finding whatever you want to find unpalitable.
    But please be explicit – why do you not like the idea? Ulster would be in its original form – the form that years of unionists recognised. Ulster would also be part of the UK – something unionists continue to fight for. The rest of Ireland would be part of the UK – something unionists (until the 20’s) fought to protect.
    Am I missing something?
    The union?
    The only thing you seem to want to protect is a scots-irish majority.

    Don’t loyalists and the BNP have links?
    Or did until the incident with the Israeli flags…

  • smcgiff

    CL,

    I’ll most likely not be on Slugger until next Monday, so I’ll clarify my earlier comment.

    My perception of your sincerity is that you have a vision for loyalists that is best served within the UK, and that association with the Republic or inclusion within a 32 county Ireland would be fundamentally detrimental to loyalists.

    I would contrast this with those that simply hate the Irish Republic for having the audacity to see their future outside the control of the United Kingdom (effectively England) eighty years ago – perhaps as a precursor to the end of Empire. They would celebrate the day the Irish Republic became a failed entity. Thankfully they are few and far between and less evident on Slugger in any case.

    I may not accept the assertions behind your beliefs but I can accept your position. I, however, loathe your opinion of the Irish Republic, because I don’t think Protestants should fear a cold house in a 32 county Republic. Not least because that New Republic would have to have close ties to the UK.

  • Brian Boru

    As a Southerner I am heartily sick and tired of this nonsense about the South presently being a “cold house for Protestants”. I once had a conversation with a Southern Protestant from Naas and asked him had he ever been discriminated against and the most he could say is that sometimes people remarked that he was a Protestant. But this is just stating a fact. Nothing offensive about that.

    Our record in our treatment of the Southern Protestants is vastly better than the Northern state’s despicable treatment of Northern Catholics. Despite much Loyalist mythology about the “mass expulsion” of Southern Protestants, the statistics indicate otherwise.

    For example, I would refer Unionists to the following map of the decline of the Protestant %-wise in the South of Ireland. http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/charts/declining_prot_1891_1991.gif

    As you can see, the fastest rate of decline was between 1880 and 1921. By 1921, the % had fallen from 11% to 8%. This was BEFORE partition. In fact, the graph shows that far from most of the Protestants having been driven out in the 1920’s as claimed by some Loyalists, the Protestant % took 40 years to fall from 8% to 4.5%. This strongly supports the thesis that the decline in Southern Protestant numbers after partition is mainly due to intermarriage and the Ne Temere decree’s requirements that the children be brought up as Catholics which was the Catholic Church’s rule on mixed-marriages.

    So, unless Northern Unionists think we are going to force them to marry Catholics (!) I don’t think they have anything to fear in terms of their safety in a United Ireland. Of course, it would be true to say that during the War of Independence, many Protestants left the South, but many of them were overtly supporting the British army and were far from neutral, and we had to stop informers because they had ruined many many previous Irish rebellions. The Cairo gang were not innocent civilians. Neither were the “Loyalist Action Group” in the Bandon area, which pointed out alleged Republican homes to burn and helped torture Nationalists and Catholics.

    A better judge of how Protestants would be treated in a UI is to observe how Southern Protestants are treated. Relations here are harmonious and a very far cry from the chaos that sometimes erupts in the North. Our first Finance Minister was a Protestant (Ernest Blythe) from Co.Antrim whose parents were Unionists. Our first president after we introduced the office in 1937 (before then the Taoiseach was called the president) was a Protestant (Douglas Hyde), and we elected another one later (Erskine Childers). Since 1972 we have removed overtly Catholic elements of our Constitution including the reference to the “special place” of the Catholic Church, the ban on divorce, the ban on contraception, and the ban on homosexuality. There is now nothing left that could be rightly considered as marking out the Republic as a “Catholic state for a Catholic people”.

    The problem with Unionists is that they prefer to look back rather than forward.

  • Brian Boru

    Decko, so are you seriously saying that if a majority in NI vote for reunification, that it should not happen unless a majority of Protestants vote for it? Cannot agree. That would mean holding the Six Counties in the Union against their will, and would parallel the attempt to hold the South in the Union against its will from 1918-21.

    NI should not be held in the UK against its will. That is imperialism and would confirm NI as a colony of Britain.

  • Decko

    No no no. That seems to be sinn feins position.
    The trigger level for Ireland to be united should be no more than the trigger to keep the status quo ie. a majority.
    However nationalists need to wake up to the fact that that isn’t happening anytime soon unless some scots-irish can be convinced that a new Ireland is in their best interests. Even if there was 50.1% nationalists and they voted for a United Ireland, Ireland wouldn’t be united. When you have 49.9% of the population voting no, thats not unification.
    We need to unite Irelands people not just its land. Do you really think that the loyalist paramilitaries would just accept a united Ireland – even if the majority voted for it?
    To achieve a peaceful, truly united Ireland, we (hiberno-normans) need to build alliances with scots-Irish.
    The solution to making NIreland closer to Ireland without taking it further from the UK is to make the whole of Ireland closer to the UK. (I know you wont like this)
    A federal Ireland is one possible solution with official links to the UK (commonwealth?) and the assembly remaining in place as a provincial government.

  • Brian Boru

    Decko, while I agree with you on the desirability of persuading a sizeable % of Northern Protestants of the benefits of a United Ireland, I still say that giving them an absolute veto on constitutional change is totally unacceptable. That would hark back to Penal Times when the only people who had a say were Protestants. It would also reaffirm Orange supremacists in their bigoted views that Catholics should have no political rights.

    “Terence O’Neill, Brian Faulkner and David Trimble- men who would sell-out the Union if it meant a favourable portrayal of themselves in the history books as liberal reformers.”

    Terence O’Neill? All he did was to abolish the rate-payers rule which prevented people who lived with their parents for voting – a rule which before then had blatently robbed thousands of Northern Catholics of their right to vote. CL with all due respect, there is no difference between opposing this and being like the Southern US Whites opposing the Voting Rights Act 1964 which removed electoral discrimination against the Blacks. If you believe that one-man–one-vote is a “sellout” then maybe you should the BNP after all.

    Regarding Faulkner, the Council of Ireland he agreed to was originally part of the partition settlement so it was simply returning things to 1921 in constitutional terms. On Trimble, over 50% of the Northern Protestants (including those Protestants who voted Alliance) supported the agreement. Unionism needs to stop being so paranoid and negative. They often remind me of a broken-record player.

  • PaddyReilly

    There is a misapprehension here in that it is assumed that Unionists are in some way pro British: they are not. They are pro themselves. Page back a few comments and you will find one talking about UDI. The Unionists are in an alliance with certain elements in British society which keeps them in power in parts of Ireland. On occasions when the UK threatens that power, most notoriously at the beginning of the 1st World War, they have shown themselves willing to break the alliance and look elsewhere.

    Having said this much, though, I would say that if ever Scotland gets independence from England, I would view favourably a Scottish Irish union. Common heritage, that sort of thing. The Gaelic is making great headways in Scotland these days. Also neither party would be big enough to dominate the other.

  • Scotsman

    I would disagree that Scottish Gaelic is making great headway. It is certainly gaining more government support and greater rights, but the number of speakers is down to 100,000 and it continues to weaken as its heartlands lose their native-born population.

    Scottish nationalism does not particularly look to Gaelic for its identity, and would not progress if it did.

    Nationalist campaigns tend to focus on the GDP of flexible Ireland to the West and oil-rich Norway to the East and point out that Scotland somehow seems to miss out on such economic dynamism.

    I think the GFA tried to hint at a Celtic Council on the lines of the Nordic one with its “Council of the Isles”

    Didn’t seem to be enough to keep the Unionists in the tent…

  • Decko

    Paddy,

    Lets expand on that point.
    So lets be really really hypothetical.

    Scotland leaves their union (different one to Ireland) this triggers huge constitutional uncertainty.
    Everyone looks to British Irish Council, which meets and decides to form a new alliance a new UK if you will. Scots-Irish agree to unification with rest of Ireland based on guarantee of new union with Scotland, English Regions and Wales and increased religious and cultural safeguards and the maintainance of assesmbly at stormont.
    Ireland as a whole experiences even more prosperity as it becomes a (temporary) euro zone within a new UK (wont be called UK – probably – maybe UWEI – united western european isles?)
    There is a new celtic and gaelic revival with Wales, Ireland, Isle of man, South west England and Scotland having one strong voice. Scots-Irish find that they have more in common with Irish brethren than difference – by exploring the links with gaelic scotland.
    Everyone takes part in a huge festival to celebrate how much they love each other.
    Oh and a democratic socialist government gets elected!

    Ahhh…
    We can always dream, can’t we?

  • Paddyreilly

    I said that I would view favourably a Scottish Irish union. I didn’t say that I thought it likely, or that I would exert myself in any way to bring it about.

    As for your agenda, how are you going to form this alliance with the people you think are Scots Irish? Does this mean Anglicans are to be excluded?

    In my opinion, any folk as politically astute as the NI ex-Unionists will start forming their own alliances the moment a 32 county republic is declared, so you really don’t need to worry about them.

  • Ling

    Scotland, but not England or Wales?

  • PaddyReilly

    England, no. That would be to take the balance of power from Ireland and turn it into a backwater.
    Wales perhaps, if that’s what the Welsh wanted, but geographically it is implausible.

  • Decko

    How can you exclude England??
    And why would you want to – economically, culturally it makes no sense.
    And this isnt my agenda, its just hypothetical. I dont necessarily think its likely or even desirable.
    Of course I dont think excluding anglicans is a good idea. But I also dont like to define people by religion.

  • Brian Boru

    “I would disagree that Scottish Gaelic is making great headway. It is certainly gaining more government support and greater rights, but the number of speakers is down to 100,000 and it continues to weaken as its heartlands lose their native-born population.”

    58,000.

  • G.M.C.

    I don’t think that this is at all serious. I thought that I would, normally, express this. I think I’ve seen it before also.

  • Westy

    I think the salient point regarding partition at the moment, is the fact that there are about 136,000 firearms licences in NI. They are almost all – quite legaly – in loyalist hands. This balance needs redressing – again quite legaly.
    Either you remove the guns and licences or you legaly arm nationalists – in the PSNI or whatever. Remember that firearms are outlawed in the whole of britain and Ireland except in NI. Dont underestimate (please) the power of legaly held weaponry, it has both created and upheld this little bastard orange statelet.
    I dont see SF campaining on this isssue and I feel somebody should, or is it just me that sees this as the main problem? Im quite sincere about this. The question of numbers crops up regarding demography and my aunt Sally but lets talk straight. Whos armed. Guns talk, (and despite what Jerry Adams says)they do so even when they are silent. Gobshite talk of UDI is based, of course, on this fact.

  • PaddyReilly

    point of view, then everything is rosey, a Gaelic University, Radio Station, Cultural Centres, with people flying in from Nova Scotia to sing and perform in Gaelic. Gaelic speakers are turning themselves into a canny, prosperous minority with strong family back up and good school results, a bit like Jews.

    Scotland and Ireland are suited to close partnership because they are the same size, with the same sized population and one cannot outvote the other. Bring England into the equation, and they can both be overruled, and indeed, always have been. Ireland’s current prosperity, and Scotland’s (or at the very least the Western Isles) is due largely to keeping England at arms length and going their own way. The logic of unifying with England surely means that both should unify with America?

    Scotland and Ireland both have a Gaelic substratum, an interconnected business community based on distilling, a similar song and dance tradition, the same kind of food and architecture, the highest rates of red hair and alcoholism in the world.

    But this is a personal opinion based on a Gaelic orientated background. There are plenty of Irish people who think their closest cultural neighbour is Nashville, Tennessee.

    As regards gun ownership, these are worrying statistics, and the obvious solution is for Republicans (those with no criminal records) to form gun clubs.

  • PaddyReilly

    Bugger, the beginning of my post got wiped out. it should read:-

    As regards Scottish Gaelic, one has to take into account that things are improving largely because they were so bad before. Since the setting up of the Scots Parlament everything has bucked up due to new funding, national pride and enthusiasm. Of course, if your agenda is to push gaelic speaking all the way to Berwick, then things look pretty gloomy, but if you look at things from a Western Isles point of view, then everything is rosey, a Gaelic University, Radio Station, Cultural Centres, with people flying in from Nova Scotia to sing and perform in Gaelic. Gaelic speakers are turning themselves into a canny, prosperous minority with strong family back up and good school results, a bit like Jews.

    Scotland and Ireland are suited to close partnership because they are the same size, with the same sized population and one cannot outvote the other. Bring England into the equation, and they can both be overruled, and indeed, always have been. Ireland’s current prosperity, and Scotland’s (or at the very least the Western Isles) is due largely to keeping England at arms length and going their own way. The logic of unifying with England surely means that both should unify with America?

    Scotland and Ireland both have a Gaelic substratum, an interconnected business community based on distilling, a similar song and dance tradition, the same kind of food and architecture, the highest rates of red hair and alcoholism in the world.

    But this is a personal opinion based on a Gaelic orientated background. There are plenty of Irish people who think their closest cultural neighbour is Nashville, Tennessee.

    As regards gun ownership, these are worrying statistics, and the obvious solution is for Republicans (those with no criminal records) to form gun clubs.

  • Brian Boru

    To the ppl here suggesting a United Ireland should unite with Scotland I say No. I like Scotland and hope its potential separation from the Union will act as a catalyst to bring the end of the Union in the Six Counties. But while Scotland has a signifcant Gaelic heritage, with Scots Gaelic having been the main spoken language until the 16th century, they also have a significant non-Celtic heritage in genealogical terms. DNA evidence in programs like Blood of the Vikings, for example (you can still find info about the program’s findings on the BBC website) indicates that the majority on the West coast of Scotland are probably of Norse descent, with about 33% being of Celtic ancestory. A majority on the Western isles seem to be of Celtic descent though. Then you have the incursions of Anglo-Saxons in the southeastern Lowlands. So while we have much in common with Scotland, this should not be exaggerated.

    There is also a darker side to Scotland in the form of a virulent strain of anti-Catholicism there. No doubt it is only among a far smaller % of the Scottish people than in NI, and at least it hasn’t exploded into violence unlike there, but it nonetheless is not something I would want to see in a UI.

    There is also the question of whether should a state would be a republic or a monarchy. Many Scottish nationalists want to retain their monarchy. And I am determined to retain Ireland as a separate and independent republic.

  • PaddyReilly

    With respect, the idea that the Irish are pure Celtic is fictional. They are a mixture of the Mere Irish and Seana Ghaill, whose only common trait was Catholicism, which is why this creed is emphasised, some would say over-emphasised, in the Irish persona. So the Norse influence in Scotland makes them more like the Irish, not less. Normans are effectively Norse who settled in France, and anyway, there is a strong French influence in Scotland.

    Ulster of course is heavily scoticised, even Donegal. Equally, Glasgow is very Hibernian.

    Another common trait I notice is that every single inch of Scotland and Ireland was divided up into clan territory, something that is not the case in any other Western European country.

    There may be anti-catholicism in Scotland. Is there not in Ireland? Generally it has been put to me that a quiet intermarriage is going on, facilitated by the fact that Scotland is not as polarised as Belfast.

    And though I cannot think of anywhere else in the world where it has happened, there is no real reason why a state could not be a Republic in one half, and a Monarchy in another. Perhaps, though, the Scots will grow tired of their monarch?

    But don’t worry, this is nobody’s opinion but my own. In any case, Scotland has not yet severed itself from England, so the proposal is purely hypothetical.

  • John East Belfast

    Brian Boru

    “There is also a darker side to Scotland in the form of a virulent strain of anti-Catholicism there”.

    The only darker side is your previous paragraph to the above where you are talking about DNA and blood and inferring that the kind of United Ireland you want is for the racially pure.

    Disgusting

  • Brian Boru

    “The only darker side is your previous paragraph to the above where you are talking about DNA and blood and inferring that the kind of United Ireland you want is for the racially pure.

    Disgusting ”

    I didn’t say that I wanted a “racially-pure” Ireland, and I do not. I was making the general point about what Ireland and Scotland have in common, and heritage is part of that. It may not be politically-correct to say this, but conceptions of ethnic-history have shaped the national boundaries of almost every European country. I strongly believe that a major reason why the Unionists wanted to stay in the UK included the sense of being of Scots/English planter origin. The constant referring to themselves as “Ulster-Scots” seems to indicate that I am right.

    If I were calling for racial purity then I would be opposing interacial marriage, which I most certainly do not. On the contrary I believe such intermarriage helps to integrate ethnic-minorities into a common sense of national unity within a country. It should also be noted that some of the Northern Protestants – judging by certain surnames – are also of native Irish descent. Indeed historical research that I have seen on TG4 a few years ago talked about how during the Famine, thousands of Northern Catholics switched religion to get more favourable treatment from the landlords and changed their surnames to Anglicised forms in order to aid their assimilation into the Protestant community e.g. McDonald became Donaldson, Lavery became Armstong (as the Irish word for hand is “lamh” (pronounced lawve). So no doubt many Northern Unionists are also of native Irish descent.

    The Normans assimilated into Irish society, intermarrying and speaking Irish and eventually supported the cause of Irish freedom and independence. The same is true of the Catholic planters of Laois-Offaly who were put their by Mary I. So it is entirely possible to have a racially-mixed society. However the problem in France show that it does not always work out well.

  • Brian Boru

    The Orange Order seems to be promoting its own brand of “purity” anyway but barring its members from marrying Catholics.

  • John East Belfast

    Brian Boru

    Historical Ethnic boundaries help contribute to national ones but tryng to disect the British Isles in such a context as the basis for an Independent Ireland is both offensive as well as intellectually daft.

    You mention the revival of Ulster Scots but this is a largely recent revival and the reason it has come about is in reaction to the parochial, insular and oppressive notions of Ireland for the Gaels etc as typified by your post above.

    Anyhow IMHO your posts only reinforce the greater nobility of the Unionist Ideal compared to Irish nationalism

    My Unionism is based on the belief that I am a citisen of a nation that embraces the Celts, Gaels Saxons and God knows who else pillaged these islands over the centuries.

    I have no stomach for the myths of who the rightful Irish may or may not be – and I show equal contempt for any views of superiority or Lost Tribe of Israel notions among my own lot.

    Unionism recognises there is more that unites us than divides us.

    That we may have different cultures and traditions fine – but trying to dissect the English, Welsh, Scots and Irish bu DNA and then saying that should be the basis of nationhood or not is very dangerous ground.

    Anyhow if you say you cannot be united with the Scots then how can you support a United Ireland with all those contaminated Unionists up here ? You are only reinforcing the case for Partition unless you feel the Unionists should be forceably removed ?

    There has been so much people movement in these islands over the millenia that the only thing that now divides us is, as Paddy pointed out above, is Religion.

    If Irish Catholics had fully embraced the Reformation then there would not have been an Irish problem over the last 500 years.

    I dont know why you are bringing the Orange order into this – I am not a member and rarely feel inclined to speak for them.
    However any view on marrying Catholics is religious rather than racial and no different than those held by, I assume, your own Church in its own oppressive Ne Temere.

  • Cahal

    “If Irish Catholics had fully embraced the Reformation then there would not have been an Irish problem over the last 500 years.”

    Nice one John. That’s that one sorted then. Unbelievable.

  • The Orange Order seems to be promoting its own brand of “purity” anyway but barring its members from marrying Catholics

    That is a rule that has little or no effect in the OO nowadays.

    Any evidence that it ‘barrs’ members from marrying Catholics….. no I didn’t think so.

    More fact less fiction!

  • “Reg Empty slags off the heritage of two in five (or more) of the people of the place and then wonders why no Catholic would ever vote for his party?”

    bit of an exageration!

  • Brian Boru

    “Anyhow if you say you cannot be united with the Scots then how can you support a United Ireland with all those contaminated Unionists up here ? You are only reinforcing the case for Partition unless you feel the Unionists should be forceably removed ?

    There has been so much people movement in these islands over the millenia that the only thing that now divides us is, as Paddy pointed out above, is Religion.

    If Irish Catholics had fully embraced the Reformation then there would not have been an Irish problem over the last 500 years.

    I dont know why you are bringing the Orange order into this – I am not a member and rarely feel inclined to speak for them.
    However any view on marrying Catholics is religious rather than racial and no different than those held by, I assume, your own Church in its own oppressive Ne Temere.”

    Why should we have “embraced the Reformation”? Especially since the Reformation was just about letting Henry VIII have 6 wives, or allowing the Scottish nobles to sequester the assets of the Catholic church for their personal enrichment? Personally anyway I consider myself an atheist, but the basis for the creation of other churches was no more valid that the case for the existence of the Catholic church. These churches are all man-made. Anyway, the English having been seen as the foreign invader, and having made no attempt to win over Irish people to Protestantism, and preferring a policy of oppression of non-Protestants, didn’t exactly help the cause of Protestantism in Ireland. It was seen as the religion of the invader. Like how the Muslims in the Middle East would have seen the Crusaders who came to butcher them.

    I don’t agree with Ne Temere but these days Irish Catholics are no longer inclined to obey this rule in the way they used to. Recent Southern census figures have born this out, as has the conversion of thousands to non-Catholic religions.

    I was referring to not wanting political-union with the Scots BTW. Ireland and Scotland have never comprised a unified state outside of the UK anyway. I don’t see why I should unite with what I consider a foreign land. You are taking me up wrong. I am not disputing the rights of the Northern Protestants to continue to inhabit Ireland regardless of what the North’s constitutional status is. I just want the people in a United Ireland to be loyal to the Irish state, and to see themselves as part of the Irish nation. I have already said I am not a racial-purist.

    And if the OO’s attitudes to Catholics have no racial-overtones, then why is a 2/3rds majority of the Grand Lodge required to admit converts from Catholicism to the order?

  • John East Belfast

    Cahal , Brian Boru

    My throw away comment about Catholics and the Reformation was in the context that the only differentiator for the notions of unionism and nationalism on this Island is religion. We all have the same colour of skin and you cant rely at all on surnames.

    If I was John West Belfast I would probably be in the SDLP now. Not entirely implausible because I don’t have to go back too far in my paternal and maternal surnames to find names like Joyce and Phelan. Therefore I am at least as Irish as Gerry Adams.
    Infact everytime I hear a surname of the major Northern PIRA leaders they all appear to be Presbyterians.
    Therefore it is all largely an accident of birth where one’s loyalty lies.

    Therefore our political identity problems have nothing to do with race or ethnicity but its roots lie in the European religious Wars of the 16th and 17th Centuries.

    Brian – I can only assume you want an independent Ireland represented by geography consisting of the Island of Ireland and all its inhabitants – those inhabitants just have to be loyal to that particular statelet – whether they be Protestant, Jew, Catholic or whatever.

    Fair enough but in your arguments against uniting with Scotland I cant see why you had to bring DNA and blood into it.
    Those statements portrayed a different view of the type of people you wnated living there.

    Anyhow I dont share these views and as a unionist living in Ireland you have to appreciate that my view of unified Islands is equally valid and if I want a state consisiting of all the peoples of these islands then that is my right to do so.

    Unless you consider my ancestors to be foreign invadors and hence I have no right to have such views because Mother Ireland should not be violated in such a way ?

    I have no idea what the OO Rule Book says. Perhaps they just want to be sure the convert is truly converted ? – However if that is anything it is religious intolerance – I cant see it being racial ?

  • Brian Boru

    “You mention the revival of Ulster Scots but this is a largely recent revival and the reason it has come about is in reaction to the parochial, insular and oppressive notions of Ireland for the Gaels etc as typified by your post above.”

    I am not promoting an Ireland exclusively for the Gaels. Most of the people living here in Co.Wexford have Norman surnames but their loyalty is to Ireland, not to the State that oppressed their ancestors.

    “If I was John West Belfast I would probably be in the SDLP now. Not entirely implausible because I don’t have to go back too far in my paternal and maternal surnames to find names like Joyce and Phelan. Therefore I am at least as Irish as Gerry Adams. ”

    Agreed absolutely. So some of your ancestors probably fought for Irish independence and freedom too. Do them a favour. See the light 🙂

    “Brian – I can only assume you want an independent Ireland represented by geography consisting of the Island of Ireland and all its inhabitants – those inhabitants just have to be loyal to that particular statelet – whether they be Protestant, Jew, Catholic or whatever.

    Fair enough but in your arguments against uniting with Scotland I cant see why you had to bring DNA and blood into it.
    Those statements portrayed a different view of the type of people you wnated living there.

    Anyhow I dont share these views and as a unionist living in Ireland you have to appreciate that my view of unified Islands is equally valid and if I want a state consisiting of all the peoples of these islands then that is my right to do so.

    Unless you consider my ancestors to be foreign invadors and hence I have no right to have such views because Mother Ireland should not be violated in such a way ?”

    Yes it is perfectly valid to call for that if you want. Just as long as I don’t have to agree with it.

  • John East Belfast

    Brian Boru

    What do you mean by pasting my text and then saying

    “Yes it is perfectly valid to call for taht if you want. Just as long as I don’t have to agree with it”

    What point are you making ??

    I will take your comment about doing my ancestors a favour as a joke.
    I should also point out that my paternal grandfather was in the British Army in Dublin in 1916 firing on the GPO – should I be looking to do him any favours !

    Your whole argument for an Independent United Ireland appears to revolve around childish geography – Ireland is an Island therefore it must be a nation.

    Once you bring its inhabitants into it you don’t like how all of them think therefore you encroach on mythical notions of race and ethnicity.

    Ireland belongs to the people who live there now – They had fundamental differnces on how the land should move forward so they compromised with partition – seems perfectly fair to me.

  • Brian Boru

    “Ireland belongs to the people who live there now – They had fundamental differnces on how the land should move forward so they compromised with partition – seems perfectly fair to me.”

    But the partition was not carried out according to merely the Unionist counties going to the North. You were given 2 Nationalist counties and you rejected proposals from our side for referendums to decide which of the Six Counties wanted to join the North and the South. As such, it was not a partition based merely on giving Unionist areas the right to opt out of a United Ireland. It was rather, a partition based on given Unionists both the 4 counties in which they were a majority – and 2 Catholic majority ones (Fermanagh and Tyrone back then) – in which they were not the majority.

    Do you therefore accept that the border was not drawn in the right place? After all, the Unionist majority would have been much bigger had you settled for the 4 Unionist counties. All of the 26 counties were majority Catholic at the time of partition so it is clear the border was drawn unfairly and without due regard to public opinion in the affected areas.

  • The border should have been the border of Ulster. Carson wanted that. A[part from it being a natural border, it would have meant a larger RC minority and he considered that that would make for a healthier state of affairs.

  • Brian Boru

    And the leader who conceded 6 counties (Redmond) saw his party nuked in the 1918 elections anyway. He had no mandate to do what he did on our behalf, and anyway he was warned by the Brits that he had to accept all 6 counties going to NI or else all 9 counties in Ulster would comprise it instead. It was between the devil and the deep blue sea.

    And partition had already happened in 1920 anyway, before the Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921, under which promises of an All-Ireland body called the Council of Ireland were made but not fulfilled, and under which promises of land being given to the South were broken too. It is a gross distortion of history to paint the 6 county partition without North-South bodies as being something we agreed to in 1921.

  • John East Belfast

    Brian Boru

    I wish you would make your mind up.

    One minute you are talking about the enthnicity of the Irish being the true deciders of who governs Ireland.

    Then you back tracked saying you meant those who live there so long as they are loyal to Ireland.

    Then I tell you that there are many Irish who simply dont agree with your notion of Irishness being separate from the rest of the British Isles.

    You eventually agree with me that such people are as Irish as you (ethnically and historically) and have a right to do so.

    I then propose under such circumstances Partition was a fair solution. I thought you agreed but your problem was where the border was drawn.

    Now you are going on about the betrayals of partition.

    I wish you would make your mind up and be honest with what you actually believe.

  • young fella

    forgive me for maybe falling short of fully understanding of the whole renewed crisis of partition/repartition (that isn’t sarcasm, ive only started reading up on matters) but from what i can gather from an aetheist perspective is that there has always been (dare i say it) a prodestant paranoia, which was exploited some time ago by certain influences in the 19th century, with british empirical aspiration as the motivation. it seems to be protestant culture since then consists mainly of denial of any gaelic/celtic influences right to the present day. this maybe a broad statment, but if it weren’t for this evoking of groundless paranoia (note the line in the proclamation of the provisional government about “catholic, protestant and dissenter”) and possiblly (can i be stereotypical again?) protestant staunchness in not accepting they had been used as this pawn, we might no be in such a stalemate now.please feedback, i’m am very interested in others views particularly if they can point out any facts im missing.

  • Brian Boru

    “Brian Boru

    I wish you would make your mind up.

    One minute you are talking about the enthnicity of the Irish being the true deciders of who governs Ireland.

    Then you back tracked saying you meant those who live there so long as they are loyal to Ireland.

    Then I tell you that there are many Irish who simply dont agree with your notion of Irishness being separate from the rest of the British Isles.

    You eventually agree with me that such people are as Irish as you (ethnically and historically) and have a right to do so.

    I then propose under such circumstances Partition was a fair solution. I thought you agreed but your problem was where the border was drawn.

    Now you are going on about the betrayals of partition.

    I wish you would make your mind up and be honest with what you actually believe.”

    John East Belfast, in a United Ireland, I would consider everyone born here as Irish provided they accept the State that would by then have been voted for on both sides of the border. If they actively resist the imposition of the peoples’ will on both sides of the border by violence then they should be jailed or go and cause trouble somewhere else. There is nothing contradictory in what I have said. Experience across Europe has shown the difficulties of keeping multiethnic-territories intact as political units. So my point was a valid one in undermining the argument for a Scottish-Irish state as called for by someone on this thread. I was not making a point in favour of “racial purity” but rather on the great difficulties found in some countries in assimilating ethnic-minorities into a common national identity.

    My point has been, that ethnicity has been a factor in shaping European national boundaries and you yourself have admitted this. At the same time I agree that it is true that national allegiances regarding this island may not always completely coincide with ethnicity but tend to with religion in the Six Counties. This is true.

    I originally brought up the ethnicity issue in relation to the argument by some here for an Irish-Scottish state. I was making the ethnicity point in terms of listing those matters that we do not have in common with Scotland i.e. there are proportionately more Gaels here than over there. Now, as you can see in the South 10% of the population are now foreign. As such there is no basis for extrapolating from what I have stated that somehow we are going to go on a pogrom against those who are of a non-Irish or non-Catholic ethnic background in a United Ireland. I assume that is the (unfounded) fear that irks you so much on the issue of me bringing up ethnicity.

    “I then propose under such circumstances Partition was a fair solution. I thought you agreed but your problem was where the border was drawn.

    Now you are going on about the betrayals of partition.

    I wish you would make your mind up and be honest with what you actually believe.”

    I am against partition full stop but under the GFA I am willing to tolerate it until a majority say otherwise in the Six Counties. The point I was trying to make on partition is that it would have been easier to accept for Nationalist Ireland if so many Nationalist areas e.g. Co.Fermanagh and Tyrone – containing at the time 500,000 people (now 800,000) had not been given to the Unionist state. This was well out of proportion to the number of Protestants in Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal who found themselves excluded from NI.