What Sinn Fein can do for the Irish in Britain

Interesting line of thought from Paul Donovan in the Irish Post, who welcomes Sinn Fein’s interest in taking up the cause of the Irish in Britain. He gently suggests that if they wish to press their suit further, it might help them immeasurably if they were to take up their five seats at Westminster.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    They weren’t too worried about the Irish in Britain when they were planting bombs in the pubs of Birmingham.

  • Conor

    tochais siorai

    why werent they worried about the Irish in britain then? were they targeting a pub frequented by Irish living in England? stop talking crap. what you said has nothing to do with the matter.

  • TS is spot on. Bombs don’t care what nationality you are, everyone is a target.

  • Conor

    but thats were your wrong. the target was british soldiers. their taget was not civilians.

  • You mean British Soldiers like those stationed in Canary Wharf or Warrington? Most of their bomds targetted civilians.

  • slug

    The leverage at Westminster could increase in future years. The Lib Dems increase at each election and the share of the big two parties has fallen almost monotonically since the 1970s to the 75 year low of today. There may be a return to the question of PR at some point – the Lib Dem’s price for government. Once PR is in place this little part of the UK with its 3% of the population will be important in deciding which way the UK’s closest votes go.

  • Open your eyes, Conor.

    Tochais is right. Anti-Irish hostility was built because of the actions of the IRA’s bombing vamapign in Britain and it was the Irish in Britain who bore the brunt of it, yet the Shinners didn’t give a damn about them.

    Sinn Féin aren’t out for anybody but themselves. They have sold out the victims of British State collusion by backing the OTR legislation so they can help out their Provo pals.

    Wolfe Tone must be spinning in his grave.

  • vamapign = campaign

    Mea Culpa.

  • Brian Boru

    I agree that the Provo’s immeasurable harmed the cause of the Irish living in Britain. They were made scapegoats for murders that the vast majority of them never supported. The Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six being the most well-known examples of this.

    On the separate point of SF taking its seats in Westminster I support its position of not doing so. Republican voters see partition as something to be tolerated rather than supported. Sitting in Westminster would imply active support in principle for the union and this is something they are entitled not to do. The original SF never sat in Westminster after all. They would be completely breaking with Republican tradition to sit in London in a parliament they – and I – consider has no moral right to rule any part of this island. I want partition to end but recognise this can only happen by consent. If I were an MP up there there is no way I would sit in which I consider a foreign parliament, whose English, Scottish and Wales members I consider foreigners. Indeed if truth be told most of them consider people from NI foreigners too I believe.

    Also, as Republicans, it is unreasonable to force SF to take an Oath of Allegiance to a monarch. It is contradictory to the very concept of Republicanism in any country.

  • Nathan

    Spare us with the unneccessary articles, Mr Donovan – puhlease.

    Whether Sinn Fein wish to abstain or not from the Palace of Westminster is a matter for the them – generally, Irish people residing in Britain are indifferent to such matters, its a non-issue.

    Moving swiftly on, there are much more burning issues to address. For instance, many Irish people in Britain would like to have unqualified access to RTE/TG4/UTV/TV3 broadcasting on their TV screens – the half-baked Tara channel was wound up a few years back with nothing in its place. That is an issue which (amongst other things) needs addressing now. Some of us can (if we put our minds to it) go to great lengths to get Irish channels (with the exception of UTV) broadcasted on TV, for a monthly cost. But others are not so fortunate – they are completely oblivious to the loopholes that exist in their favour. Even if they are aware, they haven’t got an active Irish bank account in order to set up a regular direct debit etc. That means they’re reduced to watching the same old recycled garbage on British channels.

    It doesn’t have to be this way – we shouldn’t need to be resorting to back-door measures in order to get access to Irish channels in Britain. As an Irish citizen who relocated to Britain a few years back, I expect much more than what is currently being done at governmental level to assist the Irish in Britain. Up till now, only the Irish Labour Party have demonstrated a willingness to raise their heads above the paraphet with all matters concerning the Irish in Britain.

    In that sense, I’m pleased that Sinn Fein is also taking a healthy interest in the REAL Irish people of Britain for a change (i.e. minus the motley collection of plastic paddies and brittle bridgets) – better late than never

  • Brian Boru

    I think that only by living in an Irish state can the Irish people be confident of getting treated better than by other governments.

  • John East Belfast

    Brian Boru

    “there is no way I would sit in which I consider a foreign parliament, whose English, Scottish and Wales members I consider foreigners. Indeed if truth be told most of them consider people from NI foreigners too I believe.”

    if this is the narrow minded view the ‘Irish’ have of their neigbours and cousins then I am not surprised they require special representation – it would be hard to like somebody with that mindset

  • GavBelfast

    Do (some of) the Irish citizens/diaspora who live in Great Britain feel like some sort of ‘special case’ section of the population?

    If so, why?

  • finn69

    fair to say denonating a bomb in england was less likely to kill irish people than a bomb in ireland, anti irish feelings in england predate any bombing campaigns and the old cobblers of sending money home was a tax dodge for many.

  • John East Belfast

    Let’s cut the crap about whether the PIRA bombs in England were supposed to kill British squaddies as opposed to Irish living in England.
    They were killing plenty of Irish at home.

    Fact – the Provos were responsible for the deaths and maining of more Irish people and the destruction of more Irish property than anyone else.

    SF don’t give a damn about people – just their twisted and time warped cause.

  • Nathan

    finn

    “the old cobblers of sending money home was a tax dodge for many.”

    Really – news to me. Maybe I’m too recent of an expat to know about these things.

    Anyhow, if it was that easy to escape our tax liabilities, then we’d all be at it. Truth is, its hard for the private individual to escape tax.

    The only exception I can think of are the Irish entreprenaurs in Britain i.e. the ones that run construction sites and what have you. They have an easier tax ride because they have the resources available to let the likes of PwC or KPMG do their ‘tax planning’ for them, at a rate of £500 pound sterling an hour. Lucky bastards!

  • G-man

    Brian Boru

    Interesting couple of remarks:

    “a parliament they – and I – consider has no moral right to rule any part of this island”

    “English, Scottish and Wales members I consider foreigners.”

    I for one am an Irish person who is happy to remain part of the British family so from my point of view the British parliament has as much moral right to govern NI as any other parliament. Also the idea that my pals from London and Edinburgh are “foreigners” is narrow minded bollocks (as is the notion that my pals from Dublin would be “foreigners”)

    Join the 21st century please – bout time you republicans lightened up and got a life.

  • tyrone gael

    “British parliament has as much moral right to govern NI as any other parliament”

    Why do the British have a right to rule 6 counties in Ireland? Seems like a simple enough question, but I’ve never seen anyone give a good reason for it.

  • Marty J

    “Why do the British have a right to rule 6 counties in Ireland?”

    I would have thought it’s because a majority of the population want to be “ruled” by them. I may not like it much, but that’s democracy for you. “The worst form of government apart from all the others” to paraphrase Winston Churchill…:-)

  • Dutch

    GavBelfast,

    You asked:
    “Do (some of) the Irish citizens/diaspora who live in Great Britain feel like some sort of ‘special case’ section of the population?
    If so, why?”

    Up until recently the Irish in Britain were not even tallied separately in the census because the general idea was that they weren’t ‘foreign’. However, many studies of the Irish in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s found that this group was actually faring worse than every other group of the British population on many measurse (mental health, alcoholism, homelessness, unemployment….).

    For that reason the British government has changed many policies to try to tackle the problems the Irish have in Britain. It makes for a better and healthier Britain if this group is recognized and helped. The same goes for any other ethnic or social group.

    In my own experience I did notice a tendency for Ireland to export its strongest and its weakest. Many hopeless cases I knew of took the bus to England in search of a better life. Most never came back.

    All in all, the rich, educated Irish don’t normally need any help (or want it) but the poor and marginalized would be pretty pleased to see some more active help from the Irish government.

    One big difference between Ireland and other countries (USA, France, Finland,….) is that you don’t get to vote in general elections if you leave the country. If that rule was changed the Irish in Britain would hold the balance of power.

  • DK

    I am English living in N. Ireland – do I get to be a special case here?

  • Mickhall

    I am English living in N. Ireland – do I get to be a special case here?

    Posted by DK on Nov 25, 2005 @ 01:50 PM

    DK,

    Out of interest, do you feel like a foreigner?

    Mick

  • DK

    Mick,

    Thanks for asking, but no I don’t feel like a foreigner. NI is just too similar to other UK regions. I do get the odd numpty blaming me for Cromwell etc., but this is very very rare, and I’d probably get an equivalent “you’re not from round here” in any other region. Not that the Republic is much different either, and initially unitl I got used to it the accent was easier to understand in people from the South.

    Anyway, I have lived here for 12 years and I now have a family here (the main reason I stayed – I came to take your women).

  • Fergus

    “They weren’t too worried about the Irish in Britain when they were planting bombs in the pubs of Birmingham”

    Absolutely right, they didn’t bother themselves about the effects these dreadful acts would have on the Irish in Britain, Birmingham in particular. Irish shop stewards lost their positions in Birmingham car factories in reaction to the bombings, it caused harm to the labour movement in Britain, in which many Irish were active. Some Irish were beaten up. Despite claiming to be socialist the Provos never cared about such things.

    As for aiming to kill Brit soldiers (did that ever do any good anyway?), how many soldiers were killed in these bombings? Any? Killed and maimed plenty of young people not connected in any way with the security forces. It achieved nothing but the greater hostility of British people to the republican cause.

    My mom was working as a shop assistant in the West Midlands at the time. After the bombings a male member of staff called out at her “send the Irish bastards home” as she went upstairs for a lunch break. However, when she got in to the staff lunch room the rest of the staff stood up and clapped her, pulled up a chair and asked her to sit down and join them and to pay not attention to such comments. These were the people we, and millions of other Irish made are home amongst. Our friends, our lovers, our work mates. We didn’t appreciate seeing them ripped to pieces by Provo bombs, just as we were appalled at Bloody Sunday. And don’t forget the innocent Irish men and women, and English too, who rotted in prison for many years because of those bombs. Even though teh British justice system falsely imprisoned them, if the bombs hadn’t have been planted they wouldn’t have had their lives disrupted.

    Utterly pointless waste of Irish and English lives. Makes me mad to think of it. Hard to think that if the bombers are still alive they think they did something heroic.

  • Brian Boru

    “I would have thought it’s because a majority of the population want to be “ruled” by them. I may not like it much, but that’s democracy for you. “The worst form of government apart from all the others” to paraphrase Winston Churchill…:-) ”

    MartyJ, only 2 of the 6 counties have Unionist majorities, and only 4 of them did in 1920. All of the 26 counties given to the South were majority Catholic, while only 4 of the 6 given to NI were majority Protestant. So the border was not strictly delineated according to the religious/political divisions of the time. Had it been, while I would still have hated partition, I would have found it easier to tolerate because most Northern Nationalists would have had a government that reflected their national allegiance.

    Since you profess your support for democracy, can I take it that if a majority in NI votes for a United Ireland, that you will accept the result?

  • Dutch

    “I am English living in N. Ireland – do I get to be a special case here?”

    Officially the concept of English does not exist so I don’t think that you are recorded on the census or anywhere else.

    That being said, if there were a significant English minority in N. Ireland who were continually showing up in studies as being at the bottom of the pile I am pretty sure that there would be some movement to ask why and you might well get a special case status.

    Is there anything English that you can’t get in NI? (Pork pies, Cheshire cheese, Theakstons….)
    If not, I don’t think that you have much call to be a special case….

    In Holland I would like to be able to get TG4 but you have to pay about 8 euro a month to see it on the internet. That’s about the same price as all my cable channels……….

  • Marty J

    “”artyJ, only 2 of the 6 counties have Unionist majorities, and only 4 of them did in 1920. All of the 26 counties given to the South were majority Catholic, while only 4 of the 6 given to NI were majority Protestant. So the border was not strictly delineated according to the religious/political divisions of the time.”

    Thats a well and good Brian, but i don’t see how that relates to a “democratic” country in the here and now.

    “Since you profess your support for democracy, can I take it that if a majority in NI votes for a United Ireland, that you will accept the result?”

    As I’d be one of the ones voting for a United Ireland, I sure would.

  • G-man

    Just picking up on BB’s last post.

    If the majority of NI voted for a UI, I for one would absolutley accept the result. But does he accept the pirnciple of consent given to the people of NI by the GFA as endorsed by a huge majority of Irishmen and women ?

  • finn69

    nathan
    “Anyhow, if it was that easy to escape our tax liabilities, then we’d all be at it. Truth is, its hard for the private individual to escape tax.”
    they were, hence the reason it was stopped. not disimilar to IR35 closing a tax loophole,

    and no its a piece of cake to avoid tax, which IT contractors prior to IR35 and city bankers do annually with their bonuses with the assistance of accountants. and with changes to pension laws we can all do from next year…..if you earn enough, you’re very innocent, bless

  • Brian Boru

    “If the majority of NI voted for a UI, I for one would absolutley accept the result. But does he accept the pirnciple of consent given to the people of NI by the GFA as endorsed by a huge majority of Irishmen and women ?”

    Yes but only grudgingly. I voted Yes to the changes to Articles 2 and 3 but only as a compromise.

  • What odds on how many years, 2, 3, less or more, until SF takes their seats? This article is a floater for sure, it won’t be that long now. Look for movement on the Oath to enable this.

  • Brian Boru

    I don’t think they will ever take up their seats there. Nor should they. They have never ever entered a British parliament in any of their guises and people trying to pressure them to do so should just lay off. If I was a SF MP up there I wouldn’t either, because most Irish Catholics instinctively see Britain as “other” and “foreign” regardless of the legal position. Agreeing, as SF have done, to put up with partition until a majority say otherwise is NOT the same as embracing British rule. It simply means tolerating it but that doesn’t require active participation in the UK Parliament. And even if they did, what is the point when NI MPs are only 2% and as such their views can easily be ignored on any issue without a Government having to worry about losing control of Parliament?

    A locally-devolved parliament in Belfast, which devotes all its time to local issues rather than 15 minutes like Westminster in NI questions would ensure that the day-to-day concerns of people in the North get the kind of attention they deserve. As we have found since independence, there is more to life than this endless constitutional question, important as that is.