Morrison: “we must need our heads examining”

Danny Morrison takes a retrospective view of the peace process and some of the compromises on principle and pragmatic gains made by Sinn Fein since it dropped its fundamentalist struggle against British jurisdiction of Northern Ireland. But he argues strongly that Sinn Fein should cool their insistence on a resumption the Assembly and effectively allow Ian Paisley to wait it out so long as he wishes: “…because he represents the largest party might entitle him to be First Minister – but, in truth, who could work with this one-man executive?”By Danny Morrison

A few years ago I was speaking in Fermanagh in front of a mixed audience. A unionist supporter stood up and asked impassionedly had nationalists any idea the devastating effect that 30,000 of them voting for Bobby Sands had on the Protestant community. I replied: had unionists any idea of how nationalists felt at a quarter of a million of their number voting for Ian Paisley who had collaborated with the UDA and continually insulted the Catholic faith.

By his silence I knew the man had never thought about it that way because, you see, nationalists are the troublemakers and unionists are innocent.

I wasn’t comfortable putting a courageous, virtuous person on the same plane as Ian Paisley but the point was apposite. Bobby Sands never instigated the conflict: he was a victim of it.

Following Paisley’s reaction to the recent IMC report (‘IRA didn’t fully decommission/IRA still active’) you can understand the wisdom of the IRA refusing his demand for the destruction of its weapons to be filmed and witnessed by a DUP nominee. Couldn’t you just visualise Paisley at his annual conference last weekend? Not only would he be gloating that he had forced the IRA to wear ‘sackcloth and ashes’ publicly on video – which would have been playing out on a large screen behind his large head – but he would have bellowed that the IRA had lied and not put all of its weapons beyond use, therefore the DUP would not be going into government with Sinn Fein.

Not that the IRA would have acceded to his demand but it is a fact that throughout history it is the people who have been oppressed who are always more willing to shake hands, to compromise for the sake of peace, than bullies and former oppressors.

There are many republicans who feel that the IRA leadership went too far throughout this process. I myself think that whilst there have been mistakes they got the balance just about right. But it has been a difficult road given that the armed struggle was waged – and could only have been waged – with idealistic zeal and for fundamental demands. Independence and a socialist Ireland are what Volunteers signed up for and for which many laid down their lives.

We demanded a British withdrawal within the lifetime of a government. We demanded that Britain recognise the right of the Irish people as a unit to national self-determination. We demanded an amnesty for the political prisoners. And we fought one hell of a long struggle and paid a heavy price in pursuit of those demands.

But there were many lessons learnt along the way. The exigencies of survival meant that republicans couldn’t allow themselves to be constrained by their principles. And so, the IRA began ‘recognising’ courts, particularly in the South where the unchallenged word of a garda superintendent was enough to imprison a Volunteer. Volunteers fought court cases, took the witness stand and refuted allegations of membership and IRA activity. In miscellaneous, political and quasi-political court cases republicans paid fines and some individuals – again quoting pragmatism, but against republican policy – pleaded guilty in court to minimise their sentences.

After the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order was introduced in 1987, republican activists ‘filed’ for marches, albeit insulating themselves from direct dealings with the RUC through using solicitors. It was the same over the Robert McCartney murder – using solicitors and the ombudsman’s office rather than dealing directly with the PSNI. (Incidentally, I consider sorting out the policing issue to be a bigger priority and bigger prize than the restoration of the institutions.)

Republicans have used the courts and judicial reviews to sue the state or compel unionists to obey equality laws.

Purists will argue that this dilutes one’s republicanism – but purists rarely have anything to show for struggle and sacrifice. Life is complex, circumstances change, battles are won and lost, opportunities arise, and, as in nature, it is those who can adapt who survive and thrive. In fact, to use and exploit the system in a considered way, both in its contradictions or whatever advantages it offers to achieve one’s ultimate aims is often to do the revolutionary thing. And this, to me, is the story of the peace process, and the peace process to me is a phase of struggle.

The physical war with the British government is over – though other battles continue, particularly with regard to the truth about its murder campaign. Britain remains as the administrator of the North. But it is willing to devolve powers to an assembly and an executive and work cooperatively with Dublin despite unionist objections. The British army is no longer in our faces or a part of our lives. The majority of political prisoners have been released. Irish government involvement in the North is now a fact of political life. Sinn Fein involvement in the Irish government is an election or two away.

As Dermot Ahern pointed out the other day to unionists, the people of the twenty-six counties agreed to the amendments of Articles 2 & 3 of the Irish Constitution as part of the Belfast Agreement which involved a power-sharing executive and all-Ireland bodies. Neither government is prepared to abandon the Agreement. Nor, it seems, are republicans, who view it as a major compromise but also the template for change and working towards Irish unity.

Which brings me back to Paisley.

Increasingly I think we must need our heads examined. Just because he represents the largest party might entitle him to be First Minister – but, in truth, who could work with this one-man Executive? He is ill-mannered, arrogant, pompous and bigoted. We want the North to change, to modernise, and not to be stuck in the sixteenth century having the Protestant Reformation shoved down our throats. What an advertisement he would be around the world.

We would be a laughing stock.

We would be building on gas.

I thank God that Paisley is terrified of being First Minister, and that the DUP by making the North ungovernable within is demonstrating that the North is a failed political entity. Ironically, that was one of the aims of the IRA’s armed struggle. Goodbye Sinn Fein/IRA, Hello DUP/IRA!

Republicans should remember that they wanted to bypass a northern assembly and executive and work macro-politically towards unification. Sinn Fein should go back to basics and demand the abolition of the failed assembly.

Even though Hain rule is misrule and unrepresentative rule, it is better than Paisley rule. We’ve waited for 800 years, what’s a few more?

First published in Daily Ireland

  • Pete Baker

    Strip out the pompous and arrogant rhetoric from Danny and that sounds, to me, very similar to the role that the BBC’s Martina Purdy, in this article noted the other day, suggested SF would adopt.

  • Agree with Danny Morrison, time for republicans to give the DUP the middle finger.
    “Republicans should remember that they wanted to bypass a northern assembly and executive and work macro-politically towards unification.”

  • Pete Baker

    And it’s possibly even more similar [sans rhetoric] to another article, also noted previously here, also from the BBC’s Martina Purdy, in which both parties positions are considered..

  • harpo

    ‘We demanded a British withdrawal within the lifetime of a government.’

    Result – failure.

    ‘We demanded that Britain recognise the right of the Irish people as a unit to national self-determination.’

    Result – failure.

    ‘We demanded an amnesty for the political prisoners.’

    Result – failure.

    ‘And we fought one hell of a long struggle and paid a heavy price in pursuit of those demands.’

    What a price for abject and complete failure.

    ‘The British army is no longer in our faces or a part of our lives.’

    And all you had to do was to stop killing them! D’oh!

    ‘He is ill-mannered, arrogant, pompous and bigoted.’

    Just the same as you and the Provo Sinn Fein leadership. Can we all do this now? Call the other guys names? Whatever happened to respecting mandates, no matter who obtained them? Or does that just apply to PSF?

    ‘Neither government is prepared to abandon the Agreement. Nor, it seems, are republicans, who view it as a major compromise but also the template for change and working towards Irish unity.’
    followed by
    ‘Sinn Fein should go back to basics and demand the abolition of the failed assembly.’

    The latter action would involve abandoning part of the agreement that doesn’t suit PSF. So how does that reconcile with the former statement that republicans aren’t prepared to abandon the agrement?

    Is this the usual cherrypicking by PSF? The years of calling for implementaion of the agreement in full, accompanied by condemnation of the bits of the agreement that they didn’t like. Here we have it again – PSF won’t abandon the agreement……… except for this part.

    This is just more hot air from Danny on behalf of PSF. They are so desperate to get into power that they are trying everything to make us think that they don’t care about the executive and the assembly. But they really do.

    What’s all the whining about their mandate been about then?

    The demonization of Paisley is a laugh too. They saw who got the biggest mandate (the DUP) a long time ago, so they know who they would have to deal with if they got into power. So it’s hypocricy and nonsense to claim now that they would be better off not going into the assembly and executive because Paisley would be there. That didn’t put them off while they were whining to get the institutions going again.

    Paisley once said that unionists have what they want – the union. Who runs it is no big deal. The DUP don’t care if direct rule goes on forever. NI is still in the union.

    So Danny and PSF can whine on all they want about the assembly. If PSF don’t want it to come back, that suits the DUP very well. No PSFers in ministerial positions suits unionists down to the ground.

    ‘But he argues strongly that Sinn Fein should cool their insistence on a resumption the Assembly and effectively allow Ian Paisley to wait it out so long as he wishes’

    If Danny or PSF think this is a tactic to put Paisley under pressure they are sadly mistaken. He will wait forever if the alternative is for a non-democratic PSF in positions of power.

    ‘and work macro-politically towards unification.’

    Doesn’t he mean micro? Since they don’t want the big picture institutions.

  • harpo
    what was the point of 10 long years spent trying to encourage SF into the democratic process by choosing the ballot box, and now they have done so, their mandate counts for nothing.

  • Taicody

    “If Danny or PSF think this is a tactic to put Paisley under pressure they are sadly mistaken. He will wait forever if the alternative is for a non-democratic PSF in positions of power.”

    Even Big Ian does not have that ability; and as things stand his political legacy will be that of the man who said “No.” Which is kind of tragic really, in any ones language.

    “Paisley once said that unionists have what they want – the union. Who runs it is no big deal. The DUP don’t care if direct rule goes on forever. NI is still in the union.”

    Shallow words indeed.

  • harpo

    ‘what was the point of 10 long years spent trying to encourage SF into the democratic process by choosing the ballot box, and now they have done so, their mandate counts for nothing.’

    spirit-level:

    But they haven’t chosen the ballot box to the exclusion of all else. That is what was agreed – ballot box only.

    That is what is being held out for by ALL of the democrats – unionists, SDLP, Alliance, HMG, ROI government. The message from all of them is the same – you can play once you choose ballot box only.

    Now you can argue all you like that PSF have met the ballot box only criteria, but no one is buying it, other than PSF supporters.

    The mandate will count once this criteria is met. Everyone says so. The only hold up is the Provos themselves.

  • harpo

    ‘Shallow words indeed.’

    Taicody:

    In what way is this shallow?

    Danny may ramble on for pages about why Irish Republican principles had to be abandoned, but this is the simple unionist position. NI is in the UK and unionists like it that way. There has been no abandonment of that by any unionists.

    Maybe you just don’t like people who are plain spoken. Do you prefer people (like PSF) who have principles that get abandoned but then they still talk the same talk about those principles as if they haven’t abandoned them? That’s what PSF have done continually.

    In their support of the GFA they accept partition, but in words they say they don’t accept it. Their actions never match their words. I really have no idea what their position is on anything as one can choose between what theysay and what they do on most issues.

    If that’s your idea of not being shallow, knock yourself out with it. Unionists don’t care. They know what their principles are.

  • Nic

    Sweet jaysis give me patience. Get a load of this:

    “Purists will argue that this dilutes one’s republicanism – but purists rarely have anything to show for struggle and sacrifice. Life is complex, circumstances change, battles are won and lost, opportunities arise, and, as in nature, it is those who can adapt who survive and thrive. In fact, to use and exploit the system in a considered way, both in its contradictions or whatever advantages it offers to achieve one’s ultimate aims is often to do the revolutionary thing.”

    So SDLP policy was right all along, was it, Danny? Where the f**k was this unbelievably hypocritical pap (most of it plagiarised straight from Gerry Fitt) thirty years ago?
    “Sunningdale for slow learners” indeed.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Strip out the pompous and arrogant rhetoric from Danny and that sounds, to me, very similar to the role that the BBC’s Martina Purdy, in this article noted the other day, suggested SF would adopt.’

    There are only a few permutations in the whole political process that all the parties can take. Given that fact it is clear that there will eventually be a divurgence of views among a few commentators. Resist the urge to say I told you so and it’s fairly easy to work out.

  • harpo

    ‘Morrison: “we must need our heads examining”‘

    Is this an indication that Danny will be resuming his previous responsibilities as Lord Chief Justice of the PRM?

    Many heads were examined over the years by the PRM – heads stuck into baths of cold water during interrogations, lead added to heads, heads separated from bodies.

  • Henry94

    I’m very glad that Danny Morrisson has said what everybody is thinking.

    Forget the Assembly and the Executive. All power to the Super Councils.

  • Aye aye, SF supporters have voted democratically and its for nothing; onto the super councils.
    Update:
    SF allowances restored and backdated and new short money passed by over 100 majority on all counts. Cheers to the Labour Party.

  • harpo

    Henry94 and spirit-level:

    So that’s it? All that supposed committment to the GFA and now it’s just abandoned because PSF aren’t getting their way with respect to a ballot box only outlook?

    This betrays an attitude of ‘ah well, that plan to have it both ways didn’t work, so let’s dump it’.

    So was it ever about peace and justice and an agreed future, or was it always about what PSF wanted? So that when the democrats stand up to PSF’s desire to keep an illegal wing about, you just give up as that caper didn’t work?

    I must say it’s an odd situation when Danny M lists all the things that the Provos have abandoned (like the demand for immediate British withdrawal), adds in the GFA and then people like you see some potential in the new supercouncils.

    ‘Victory through changing the schedule that determines what day the bins are lifted’ is it?

    If democracy means anything, hopefully the supercouncils will have a similar requirement for parties that have councillors to commit to the ballot box only.

  • harpo
    The mandate will count once this criteria is met. Everyone says so.
    Yeah right, cuckoo land.
    Once bitten twice shy.
    The DUP never were serious.

  • harpo

    ‘The DUP never were serious.’

    spirit-level:

    No? Then why don’t the Provos stick it to them by stopping all PIRA activity and becoming wholly democratic? Then the DUP would be fully exposed as liars, wouldn’t they?

    And it isn’t just the DUP that are demanding this democracy only thing. Didn’t you notice all of the democrats saying the same thing? You’ll probably expalin that away by saying that the DUP and the securocrats are in control of everyone else.

    Look, for all your whining about the DUP, it isn’t just them that are holding things up, as they should.

    As I say if you are serious, drop the PIRA, become wholly democratic and then they wouldn’t have any further excuses. Would they?

    Then you could genuinely complain that they are the problem, while you have done everything you could.

    Morrison is wrong – it is the Provos who are scared of taking the final step, not the DUP. The DUP would love nothing more than to have held out for a democratic PSF and to have obtained it.

  • west belfast resident

    Jesus we need our heads examined for even reading this shit.

  • Bretagne

    “I thank God that Paisley is terrified of being First Minister, and that the DUP by making the North ungovernable within is demonstrating that the North is a failed political entity”

    Well Danny – that is the SF strategy – eke this thing out – let the process of unionist apathy at the ballot box, immigrants voting to be part of a successful economy, changes to disbility and unemployment benefit to drive migration to the south (and employment flexibility generally) all run their course and wait to see how the DUP fare once Big Ian has gone.

    I see no electoral advantage for SF in making NI work – better to build their number of TD’s in the Sligo, Mayo and the southern border counties -maybe getting to a balance of power position in the South. And use their new ill-gotten gains from Westminster to go after Mark Durkan in Foyle, and Eddie O Grady when he retires – reducing the SDLP to 1 (at best).

    If the Shinner’s grit their teeth long enough – they could have 7 MP’s, 14 TDs, and still no
    devolved assembly – with a border poll in the offing. Better still to have any electoral hope -the SDLP will need to merge with FG – giving a second all-Ireland party.

    Harpo – I think demoncracy can wait as far as SF are concerned..

  • Henry94

    harpo

    Sinn Fein are ready to walk into the institutions tonight but MI5 and the DUP appear to have a veto. The agreement can survive wthout the institutions.

    I don’t think there are any circumstances in which the DUP will share power and MI5 will always provide them with an excuse through the IMC.

    Jumping through ever-incresing hoops to in a vain attempt to make Ian Paisley first Minister is not a suitable use of time and energy.

    Power to the councils, votes in the Presidential election and representation in Dublin are the demands Sinn Fein should be trying to win support for on an all-Ireland basis.

  • Kathy C

    Hi all,

    Again, saddly, Danny Morrison is off the mark.

    He states,
    “fact through history people who have been oppressed who are always more willing to shake hands to compromise for the sake of peace, than bullies and former oppressors.”

    I wonder what history he reads or what news he watches. One just has to look as Israel….a country allowed by the UN to exist only after 6 million Jews were killed.
    Ergo I would say the Israeli’s have been pressed to say the least…yet…they don’t shake hands to compromise…they build walls…they build settlements on others lands… Danny is way off the mark with his anyalsis.

    I would also like to say, that he was correct with Bobby Sands being a courageous, vituous person but I wonder why he remained silent when the sf leadership over a year ago negotiated that the IRA would make a statment that it would end all criminality. Bobby Sands died to say he wasn’t a criminal….Ray McCreesh died to say he wasn’t a criminal. Both men were in the PIRA and both men were courageous, and virtuous….yet Danny Morrison did not write about SF having for the sake of the peace process…having PIRA labeled as criminals. Danny Morrison has done a diservice to the memory of Bobby Sands and all hunger strikers. SF did what Maggy thatcher wasn’t able to do….criminize the PIRA and Bobby Sands died in an attempt not to have the brits criminalize the PIRA… Yes, many should have their heads examined and it should start with Danny Morrison.

  • Harpo,
    Eloquent but bullshit I’m afraid.
    The DUP are holding up the entire project. The other parties wish to proceed. They’ll never stop finger-pointing and over-exagerating, looking at the negatives not the positives is their mindset.
    We all know that. The way they were speaking today in parliament LIVE you’d think we were at the height of the troubles.
    Ever seen shawshank redemption?
    In the end the black fella said to the parole board. ” I don’t give a shit anymore”.

  • Bretagne

    Henry94…

    Power to the councils, votes in the Presidential election and representation in Dublin are the demands Sinn Fein should be trying to win support for on an all-Ireland basis –

    Agreed – so what uae is a minor assembly in the North – thats the bit of the jigsaw that is least valuable to SF

  • ingrammartin

    Good Old Danny,

    Another one for the scrap book eh Danny. I personally dislike the DUP and in Mr Paisley they have a leader who is the epitome of everything that is wrong in NI. That said he wears his heart on his sleeve and is and consistent with his electorate. Dr Paisley takes two words “No Surrender” to descibe his feelings rather than Danny boys 200.

    Harpo`s piece choreograghs all Sinn Feins/IRA historical goals. It is true they have not achieved much since partition,that said it is wrong today to rub their noses too deep in the mire, the public will do that over the next five years and of course Danny will say it was all part of the master plan.

    Martin

  • Mickhall

    Forget the Assembly and the Executive. All power to the Super Councils.

    Posted by Henry94 on Feb 08, 2006 @ 06:37 PM

    I read the above quickly and first thought Henry was calling for ‘All Power to the Supreme Soviet’ if only ah! 😉

    As to Danny, well you don’t need a weather man to know what way the political wind is blowing [it is out of Danny boys rear end] So all the newspaper articles he wrote about the GFA being the bees knees which will lead to reunification by 2016, the trillion nonsensical words spoken, the hatred expressed for fellow republicans who refused to bow to the GFA that poured from the likes of his mouth, none of it was meant it seems, for Danny always new the GFA was not worth the paper it was written on. best to ignore it he now tells us.

    There was a time when anyone who dared to condemn the GFA was banned for life from danny boys web site, I wonder if he has now bared himself. What arrogance, what’s wrong with these people, why can they not simply say, sorry we were mistaken about the value of the GFA, we are only human. But no, we get this type of crap. these guys dont take any responsibility for their actions.

  • Henry94

    mickhall

    I read the above quickly and first thought Henry was calling for ‘All Power to the Supreme Soviet’ if only ah! 😉

    It was a hat tip old V.I. Lenin. Now there was a man who could change tactics to suit a new situation. The Assembly is not the Agreement and if the price of the Assembly is the ditching of the agreement then it’s too high.

    The time has come for a debate on the way forward for republicans. You are well capable of playing a constructive part in that debate and I hope that’s what you will do.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    mickhall,

    you have spent a great deal of your time on this site castigating anyone with even a hint of a connection with SF for failing to look outside the boundaries of the GFA, for failing to explore an alternative (never fully developed). Yet once Morrison even hints at such a course he gets the proverbial verbal kicking.

    For a start lets see all those who opposed the GFA from the start finally give us their well hidden alternative instead of the bitter and continually personal sniping.

  • Stop lying for a start would be a welcome alternative !

  • Mickhall

    OK Pat, fair dues, but where Danny is concerned I would have to have been a saint to pass up the opportunity of giving him just the slightest little dig in the ribs.;)

    All the best

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Understood Mick, I know how tempting it can be.

  • ingrammartin

    Hi,

    Take a look at this nugget.

    Danny Boys Quote”Even though Hain rule is misrule and unrepresentative rule, it is better than Paisley rule. We’ve waited for 800 years, what’s a few more?”Unquote

    Welcome on Board Danny, I will show you to your seat.

    Martin.

    PS.Just another Year

  • Leonard

    “Strip out the pompous and arrogant rhetoric from Danny…” — Pete Baker

    Play the ball, not the man. 😉

  • pauljames

    Does Morrison really believe that grass roots republicans are so naive? The politburo have decided to join the Policing board and now its all hands to the pumps to sell it to the lumpenproles who will do what they are told. Come on Chris G and Pat McC stand up and be counted, surely someone can save us from the chosen few.

  • Nicholas Pugachev

    Danny’s a lovely wee man, but he can’t write fiction.

  • Dualta

    Nic hit the nail on the head. Danny Morrison’s article is, in essence, an eloquent admission that the SDLP were right all along.

    If only the passion and revolutionary verve of that generation of Republicans was directed through nonviolence.

    The ten hungerstrikers, through their nonviolent and just protest showed just how powerful it can be.

    On Danny Morrison’s point about not wanting Paisley in the position of First Minister I think he’s wrong.

    To have Dr Paisley in power, centre stage, in all his roaring fundementalist glory, for all to see, would be a severe blow whatever credibilty the DUP and the northern statelet have.

    For too long he has been able to hide behind the excesses of the IRA. Let the big man shine!

  • Kathy_C

    Hi all,

    I agree with Dualta….let paisly take center stage and let the world see his aggorgance and his bigotry. The fact that morrison doesn’t want paisly to be seen for the…um….man that he is…makes me question ….why not, Dan….? I also think…the brits don’t want paisly to be seen as the …um….man he actually is either. So, dan and the brits have something in common….again.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Nic hit the nail on the head. Danny Morrison’s article is, in essence, an eloquent admission that the SDLP were right all along.’

    What Morrison is stating is that despite the best efforts of nationalists the GFA may well be failing because of unionist sectarianism and obduracy and that it may be time to explore another option that deprives those self same unionist of any local platform from which they will undoubtedly abuse power .
    Given that the SDLP claim that the GFA is their baby and everything they have been working towards. By stating that the GFA may be failing despite the best efforts of those committed to making it work hardly endorses the SDLP view of things.

    ‘To have Dr Paisley in power, centre stage, in all his roaring fundementalist glory, for all to see, would be a severe blow whatever credibilty the DUP and the northern statelet have’

    Anyone within earshot of Mr Paisley is aware exactly who and what he represents. There are few neutrals when it comes to assessing his character.

  • Dualta

    Pat,

    [i]What Morrison is stating is that despite the best efforts of nationalists the GFA may well be failing because of unionist sectarianism and obduracy [/i]

    The Provisional Movement have not fully embraced the peace process. They have been begrudging, manipulating and sectarian from the outset in a bid to push themselves ahead of the SDLP electorally. Sinn Fein’s best efforts were expended, not on the success of the GFA, but on their own party political ambitions.

    Had they moved on the weapons issue earlier, rather than shafting Trimble so badly, we might well have been looking back on real progress regarding devolution, policing and even the eventual reunification of the island.

    Instead, the DUP have eclipsed the UUP, with the Provisional Movement’s assistance and the people of the north are as divided as ever we were.

    It’s also interesting to note that Provisional Republicans claim that the peace process is in fact their baby, to which Hume was merely an assistant to the midwife. Nothing to brag about seeing that the fundamental reasons for the conflict are still in place.

    It was once Paisley and Trimble dancing a merry jig, hand-in-hand through all of our futures. Now it’s Paisley and Gerry Adams.

  • BogExile

    I’ll say one thing for Danny Morrison, he’s at least superficially prepared to listen to and to consider the Unionist viewpoint.

    Unfortunately he then falls into the same ideological abyss like most Republicans. It’s the identity, stupid. Republicans cannot really, in their heart of hearts, equate the legitimacy of Bristish identity to their own. It isn’t even second class citizenship in the collective mind, rather a mental abberation, a curious, exotic and strange temporary condition that a bit of demographics will cure. And if that doesn’t work, well, it’s back to one settler, one bullet, isn’t it?

    Now, you could argue the contrary point exactly – Unionism never understood, catered for, assimilated or utilised the Irish identity in their midst right from the inception of the state.

    But, as has been argued very well in posts above, we are living in a new reality. All Paisley needs is the Union. I suspect he isn’t a bit worried about how it is maintaained. Like some nationalists I would literally cringe to see this dinosaur as first minister representing us all, walking us up into a theological cul-de-sac to international derision. But the point is that Shinners have to do much more than want a United Ireland or hope the scales fall from the eyes of their opponents or wish for a sectarian tipping point or whatever for it to happen.

    No, they have to become genuine persuaders. This is why Republicanism has to go the extra mile to achieve its objectives – to achieve true reconcilliation with the unionist majority is the only key to long term unification. This means total repudiation of paramilitary criminalism, total disbandonment, deactivation of the IRA, a proper unequivocal recognition of the harm pyhsical force republicanism has done to society and joining their rightful place at the policing table.

    I’m sure there are thoughtful republicans in the movement who recognise that this is in their strategic interests (quite apart from being morally right). It must be deeply frustrating and depressing battling against those that think roadside monuments to murderers and flying the tricolour at abandoned rural police stations is the tactical route to this end.

  • Dualta

    BogExile

    [i]No, they have to become genuine persuaders. This is why Republicanism has to go the extra mile to achieve its objectives – to achieve true reconcilliation with the unionist majority is the only key to long term unification. This means total repudiation of paramilitary criminalism, total disbandonment, deactivation of the IRA, a proper unequivocal recognition of the harm pyhsical force republicanism has done to society and joining their rightful place at the policing table. [/i]

    Absolutely spot on. Well said.

  • Mickhall

    Unfortunately he then falls into the same ideological abyss like most Republicans. It’s the identity, stupid. Republicans cannot really, in their heart of hearts, equate the legitimacy of British identity to their own. It isn’t even second class citizenship in the collective mind, rather a mental aberration, a curious, exotic and strange temporary condition that a bit of demographics will cure. And if that doesn’t work, well, it’s back to one settler, one bullet, isn’t it?
    Big exile

    bog Exile

    You have a point here, but it is not only Republicans who have difficulties with this Unionist identity, the English themselves are mystified by it. For this identity is based on a myth, i e there is something called British identity outside the minds of Unionists. [whose bedrock [imo] is based on supremacy. i.e. if we claim we are British our side of the table gets the most goodies as the English need us.]

    Now what i have written is probable totally unfair and offensive, and I realize these days many unionists call themselves Irish and British whatever the latter means. I suppose what your saying is your nationality is something like Italian or irish Americans, but unlike these groups you still give your first loyalty to the land across the sea, not the place you reside at. In other words not being confident in the new country you cling to the past no matter how horrific it was. I know im being provocative and I apologies if I have caused offense, but i have to say I have never heard a proper explanation of what a Unionist identity is beyond king and country and the taigs wish to swamp us.

    I await the the insult and hopefully an explanation, I hesitated before posting this, but then I thought no, lets get things out in the open. As to the British identity being temporary, is that in the main what happened with those who stayed in the south after 1922. I do not mean those who left/were driven out/whatever, but those Protestants who stayed. The majority of whom today would no longer consider themselves British.

  • Mike

    “Not that the IRA would have acceded to his demand but it is a fact that throughout history it is the people who have been oppressed who are always more willing to shake hands, to compromise for the sake of peace, than bullies and former oppressors.”

    Ah right, Danny, the IRA were bullies, they were ‘oppressed’. When the IRA said “give us a united Ireland or we’ll kill you”, they weren’t being bullies, no siree.

    Actually when the IRA murdered Edgar Graham, Robert Bradford, Joanna Mathers, when they committed mass murder at Enniskillen, Teebane, Kingsmills, Warrington, the Four Step Inn, Balmoral Furnishings, etc etc, they were actually being ‘oppressed’. Maybe they were being oppressed by those ‘bullies’ they shot in clod blood or blew in pieces, eh Danny?

  • BogExile

    ‘I have never heard a proper explanation of what a Unionist identity is beyond king and country and the taigs wish to swamp us.’

    That’s a fair comment Mick which deserves i’m afraid, an unfair answer. It’s almost irrelevaant, WHAT it is, it’s more important THAT it is if you see what I mean.

    To use a crude analogy, if i told you that I liked shire sandwiches, you might find that ludicrous, unpleasant and offensive (The DUP?) But the reality is I still like shite sandwiches.

    I think there is a failure at an absolutely basic, fundamental level in Republicanism which will forever retard their progress if some of them, as I believe they/you do want to live in an agreed Ireland with your bristish protestant neighbours. It is simply this that they/you confer no legitimacy on their identity because to do so would in some way invalidate your credentials/history/claim to a United Ireland.

    I’ve had a few e-mail exchanges with Danny Morrison in my time and I used to see the glimmers of this realisation in his words. But he’s gone back on himself, sadly.

  • GloryO

    If anyone thinks that the armed struggle campaign failed, they must be living in cloud-cuckoo land.

    Northern Ireland is in existence for 84 four years. It has changed dramatically since its inception. From a single entity state to one that now has the two sides practically neck and neck with regards to elected representation.

    What was once a comfortable backwater for unionists in the 20s up to the 60s, they now find themselves clinging on by their fingertips to the union.

    This has all changed due to the following factors:

    -Increase in Catholic birthrate

    -Civil Rights Movement

    -Armed Struggle

    -Admission from Westminister that there is no economic, strategic reason bla bla bla.

    -Good Friday Agreement (to a point)

    Unionist politicians now spend all their time worrying about securing the union that the normal day to day isues are ignored.

    Change is happening and happening so quick that an all-Ireland entity is going to happen sooner rather than later, possibly with some ties with Westminister.

    This idea that it will never happen, the Catholic birth rate has levelled off, 25% of Catholics support the union and other excuses won’t change the fact that not a week goes by that makes you think, hmm, the choreographers are putting all the dancers in their positions and we are just waiting for the music to start.

  • BogExile

    ‘If anyone thinks that the armed struggle campaign failed, they must be living in cloud-cuckoo land.’

    Oh dear, just when this thread was becoming refreshingly thoughtful… go away, child.

  • elfinto

    Re: Republicans becoming persuaders

    You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

    The only entity which can persuade the unionists that their future lies within an all Ireland context is the British government. They control the purse strings.

  • DK

    Bog-Exile,

    Good post. I would consider myself a soft Unionist (I am a modern English settler) and the only problem with a united Ireland for me is that I think that the identity with Britain would be lost.

    This would be to condemn the 900K or whatever protestants to a cultural limbo, an exile in their own land, much like the Tibetans – swamped by culture of the masses.

    The present day nationalists in NI have been able to resist a similar limbo as they have always had the republic just down the road, but the NI unionists will lose any equivalent – Scotland and England have never been as culturally similar to the unionists as the Republic is to nationalists.

    So this leaves 2 roads to a united Ireland:

    One is you have a semi-automonous NI (like the Basque country in Spain) within a larger united Ireland.

    The second is that the structure of the entire Irish state changes to reflect the new make-up of it’s citizens: New flag, new anthem, drop Irish, join the commonwealth, etc. etc.

    To unionists Sinn Fein are the cultural equivalent of the Khmer Rouge – the impression is that even in a united ireland, the attempt to remove all traces of Britishness will continue (and intensify). I don’t think that Sinn Fein can change enough to make the case for a united Ireland persuasive – too much baggage and too culturally xenophobic. The Irish government would have a better chance, but until they get off their arses to do something, nothing will change.

    Just to contrast everything I’ve written. I think that the DUP couldn’t make the case for the Union to nationalists for all the same reasons that Sinn Fein can’t make the case for a United Ireland.

  • Henry94

    DK

    New flag, new anthem, drop Irish, join the commonwealth, etc. etc.

    Agreed on the flag and anthem. By dropping Irish I assume you mean complusory Irish which I also agree with. I could live with the Commonwealth membership.

    Give us a few of the etcs. I’d like to see what would hurt.

  • GloryO

    Wow, what have we got here. Some idiot who thinks he owns the thread.

    Bog man, What’s the problem with my post? Because my view does not agree with yours is indicative of the unionist holier than thou attitude towards nationalists.

    I don’t find anything refreshing about this thread or similar where unionist contributors try to deny, one, that the IRA won the war and two, that there will be a united ireland.

    So what if the island is to be united. Get on with it.

    I just look at the facts and figures and it’s so obvious.

  • DK

    the etc.

    Er, don’t know. Not that close to the unionist psyche being an English immigrant. Anyhow, here’s a guess:

    12th a national Public holiday
    Public recognition of rememberance day
    Belfast joint capital city
    British passports allowed
    Schooling to include protestant & british history
    Positive discrimination of protestants in government and media (like minorities in the UK media)
    Cultural protection/funding for Orange institutions
    Rebuild Nelson’s column, but with Carson on top

    Anyone else? Or alternatively, what can the NI state do to persuade nationalists to keep the Union. Answers on a postcard posted outside Belfast to avoid the strike

  • Leonard

    DK, in other words: restore Ireland to its pre-partition state of Britishness.

    It’s not going to happen, kid – no more than England is going to change its customs to accomodate other identities.

  • DK

    Leonard,

    But that’s where you’re wrong. Britain has got a policy of multiculturalism. Contrast with the French one-nation policy. Despite a larger ethnic minority, very few ethnics appear in French public life, while they are all over the place in Britain, despite being even more of a minority.

    A united Ireland would have an even larger ethnic minority, so you would have to do something to accomodate them.

  • harpo

    Mickhall – part 1

    ‘You have a point here, but it is not only Republicans who have difficulties with this Unionist identity, the English themselves are mystified by it.’

    And that’s not surprising because they are not in the same position that unionists are in. There is no danger to the constitutional position of England within the UK. There are no groups within England saying ‘England is really part of France, so England must declare that it is leaving the UK and joining France’ and starting armed campaigns to try to bring this about every 20 years or so. If there was such an ongoing strugle, then I am sure that the English would be just as interested in ‘unionism’ as unionists in NI currently are.

    The only reason that unionism started in the mid-1800s is that there was the threat that unionists living on the island of Ireland would be forced out of the UK into a constitutional arrangement that they don’t like. And it only exists today because there is still that threat to the unionists who are now in Northern Ireland.

    Now you can hum and haw about why unionists are still unionists, but unionism simply still exists because Irish nationalism still exists. Irish nationalists want NI to join the ROI so that there is a UI. Of course the Irish nationalists are divided into various factions that have different ideas about how that should be achieved and what the UI should look like, but they are all on for a UI. Unionism is simply there to stop that happening.

    ‘For this identity is based on a myth, i e there is something called British identity outside the minds of Unionists.’

    It’s not a myth. There is a British identity. Why is there not a British identity?

    ‘whose bedrock [imo] is based on supremacy. i.e. if we claim we are British our side of the table gets the most goodies as the English need us.’

    No. Unionism is simply the desire to stay within the UK. Nothing more and nothing less. It is not anything to do with supremacy. It is defensive in nature and there is the belief that nationalists are by their very nature not loyal to the country – the UK. That of course is valid because nationalists aren’t loyal to the country. They are trying to take part of the country away to join it with the ROI. The unionist reaction to that may come across as being supremacist, but it is more protectionist. Say there was a UI. Would you trust those who remained unionist and tried to take part of the UI back into the UK?

  • harpo

    Mickhall – part 2

    ‘I suppose what your saying is your nationality is something like Italian or irish Americans, but unlike these groups you still give your first loyalty to the land across the sea, not the place you reside at.’

    Now this is nonsense. This is based on the usual nationalist fascination with Ireland being an island with sea around it. As if that makes it one unit that can’t be considered in any other way than as one unit.

    Italian or Irish Americans are living in one country but define themselves by their ethnicity as a sub-group within that country. Italian-American: ethnicity-nationality.

    What you have just said betrays the nationalist thinking that unionists are just British-Irish – that their ethnicity is British but that they live in the country called Ireland and so that makes their nationality Irish. if you want to talk about supremacist thinking, here we have the Irish version. Irish nationalists telling unionists (as usual) what they are. bsed on the nationalist view.

    Unionist are of the opinion that their nationality is British because the UK is the country that they were born in. They are British – no ifs ands or buts. No nationalists may not like it but that is reality. Since 1801 what is now NI has been in the UK, so unionists in NI were born in the UK.

    So if you want to break it down to your Italian-American example, unionists believe that they are some sub-group of the British. Trimble has said that unionists are the Ulster-British, which is a valid view. Ethnicity is from Ulster, nationality is British. Some unionists consider themselves to be Irish-British, which in my opinion is harking back to pre-partition days when all of the Irish were part of the British family, so describing your ethnicity as Irish was safe, and didn’t have the political implications that it does today.

    The physical separation of NI from GB by some water has nothing to do with it from the unionist point of view.

    YOU presume that the countries involved are (a united) Ireland and GB, so that anyone living on the island of Ireland has Irish nationality, and those Irish (under this definition) who look to what you consider to be another country (GB) are simply defining themselves by their ethnic roots.

    Unionists presume that the countries involved are the actual ones that exist – the ROI and the UK. Everyone in the UK is British, so that is their nationality. Now other unionists may not agree but I consider nationalists within NI to be the Irish-British. Their ethnicity is Irish, their nationality because of where they live (in the UK)is British. It’s exactly the same principle as yours about Italian-Americans. The Irish in NI look to another country – the ROI for their ethnicity. My point is you don’t need a sea in between. So to me the Irish in NI are exactly the same as the Mexican-Americans who live in Texas. They live in the USA, so they are Americans, they look to the country next door for their ethnicity.

    As I see it the issue can never be resolved because nationalists and unionists can’t agree on what the countries involved are. So nationalists see unionists as British-Irish, and unionists see nationalists as Irish-British.

    It all comes down to the usual thing – the constitutional position of NI.

    ‘In other words not being confident in the new country you cling to the past no matter how horrific it was.’

    But couldn’t that be applied just as easily to nationalists in NI after partition? They weren’t confident in the new set-up – a smaller UK with them still in it – so they clung to some past of a united Ireland free of British interference.

    You apply this to unionists, once again imagining that the island of Ireland IS one country. Here’s the news – it isn’t.

  • harpo

    Mickhall – part 3

    ‘but i have to say I have never heard a proper explanation of what a Unionist identity is beyond king and country and the taigs wish to swamp us.’

    The last part is nonsense, as is the first. Unionism is a POLITICAL BELIEF not an identity. I really never understand this nationalist desire to force unionists to define themselves by their political belief. If you were in England, would you ask someone to explain their Labour identity? Or their Conservative identity? Or if you were in the ROI would you ask someone to explain their FF identity?

    It’s nonsense. Unionism is the simple desire for NI to stay in the UK. That’s all. So get over it. It isn’t an identity. There are all sorts of unionists – all sorts of identities.

    You put it crudely but the ‘and the taigs wish to swamp us’ is an expression of the unionist political reality. Nationalists do wish to have NI join the ROI. They do wish to change the constitutional position of NI. Is it wrong to oppose this politically? Unionists are British, want to remain in the UK and oppose Irish nationalism. That’s it. That’s all.

    As for identity, I live in Canada now and I am British-Canadian. Ethnicity is British (looking back across the water to the UK – the country that I was born and grew up in), and nationality Canadian – where I live now. I have my own identity/culture or whatever you want to call it, and to be honest I haven’t had to change my lifestyle at all to live here. That’s because of Canada’s British associated history of course, but moving from NI to Canada involved no culture shock. I can enjoy the same cultural things here in Canada that I could back in NI. That’s because I didn’t define my identity or culture by what some would call loyalist culture when I lived in NI. And because there is no such thing as a unionist identity. It’s just a political belief that I still hold with respect to NI.

    People like you seem to think that unionists in NI define themselves by their unionism. That’s nonsense. Unionists in NI don’t go around saying to themselves ‘does this fit into my unionist identity?’ all the time, they just get on with life. Some are into classical music, some are into sports, some enjoy long walks on the beach, some act, some are into movies, some paint, some collect antiques, some are into movies, some enjoy building scale models of famous buildings out of pasta. It’s a big world out there and unionists in NI like many others do whatever they enjoy. Just like people in the rest of the UK or Canada. That’s why I could move form the UK to Canada and do exactly the same things that I enjoyed back in NI.

    To be honest I think that Irish nationalism in NI has boxed itself into such a corner that there IS a definite nationalist identity. And that most NI nationalists do define themselves by it. And far from being the open, inclusive Irish identity that Wolfe Tone defined and various other Irish Republicans keep on and on about, it is a very limited, exclusionist, and frankly anti-British identity, where certain things are defined as Irish, and certain things are defined not to be Irish, and are thus forbidden.

    I don’t consider Provisonals or their supporters to be Irish Republicans on the open inclusive model. To me they are the most bitter of the ugly little-Irelander type Irish nationalists. For all the hot air, when it comes to their actions, they are sectarian, anti-British little-Irelander nationalists who have a gaelic, Catholic, GAA outlook that can’t tolerate anything else being deemed part of ‘Irishness’.

  • harpo

    ‘I don’t find anything refreshing about this thread or similar where unionist contributors try to deny, one, that the IRA won the war and two, that there will be a united ireland.’

    GloryO:

    So any unionist who dares to disagree with your opinion is an idiot who has a ‘holier than thou attitude towards nationalists’?

    That’s the problem with your version of nationalism. You don’t want discussion, never mind agreement – you just want unionists to accept what you say and shut up.

    ‘Some idiot who thinks he owns the thread.’

    How does he think he owns the thread? By being a unionist who dares to post replies to other posters?

    ‘What’s the problem with my post?’

    Are you claiming that we are just to accept what you say and not respond if we dare to disagree with you? The objective of these threads is to let people state their views/opinions as a basis for discussion. That involves others responding to posts if they disagree or have something to say about the contents of any other post. Are you somehow above all of this detail? Your posts are just to be accepted as gospel and no response can be made?

    To me the problem with your post is that you are talking nonsense. And Bog, me or anyone else is entitled to say so.

    ‘I don’t find anything refreshing about this thread or similar where unionist contributors try to deny, one, that the IRA won the war and two, that there will be a united ireland.’

    How dare we deny the truth as handed down by you. How dare we point out that if the ‘war aim’ of the PIRA was an announcement of British withdrawl from NI that they didn’t achieve this, and so didn’t win.

    If, as you claim, the PIRA won the war, why is NI still part of the UK? Huh? Explain it simply so that we poor unionists can get to understand this claim that flies in the face of reality.

    As for a united Ireland, there may well be one at some point. But there is no guarantee of it as you claim. Stuff happens and there could be a united Europe before a united Ireland ever happens.

    You occupy the land of eternal hope, just as football supporters do. In this land, Milwall fans believe that Milwall will someday win the EPL. But there is no guarantee of it is there? It’s just blind hope, based on what you WANT to happen.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘The Provisional Movement have not fully embraced the peace process. They have been begrudging, manipulating and sectarian from the outset in a bid to push themselves ahead of the SDLP electorally. Sinn Fein’s best efforts were expended, not on the success of the GFA, but on their own party political ambitions.’

    An SDLP whingefest to explain away (again) their dwindling vote.

    ‘Had they moved on the weapons issue earlier, rather than shafting Trimble so badly, we might well have been looking back on real progress regarding devolution, policing and even the eventual reunification of the island.’

    Ignoring completely the failure of the UUP tp sell the agreement and factoring out completely the cadre of UUP members who undermined the GFA from the start.

    ‘It’s also interesting to note that Provisional Republicans claim that the peace process is in fact their baby, to which Hume was merely an assistant to the midwife. Nothing to brag about seeing that the fundamental reasons for the conflict are still in place.’

    Irrelevant in the context that you state that Morrison was now advocating the traditional positon of the SDLP (an opinion that i’m sure the author would not recognise).

    ‘It was once Paisley and Trimble dancing a merry jig, hand-in-hand through all of our futures. Now it’s Paisley and Gerry Adams.’

    A nice throw away line, but baseless nonetheless.

  • harpo

    ‘DK, in other words: restore Ireland to its pre-partition state of Britishness.’

    Leonard:

    That’s not what those things mean at all. He isn’t saying that the UI has to be part of the UK. That was the pre-partition position.

    He’s just asking for parity of esteem of those citizens of a British background. A UI would have a choice – either be a nationalist Ireland (Catholic/gaelic/GAA dominated and Britishness suppressed), or be the open society that many ‘republicans’ claim to want.

    Here in Canada, all sorts of ethnic groups celebrate their ethnicity by having marches on their ethnic national days, waving flags etc etc. No one takes it as any threat to the constitutional position of Canada. In a UI those who were formerly unionists in NI would expect the same tolerance. Thus displays of British ethnicity wouldn’t be a threat to the country, just an expression of ethnic identity.

    Of course if some Irish wished to try to suppress that identity then there would probably be trouble. There’s nothing that makes something into a cause more than trying to suppress it. So if Britishness was suppressed – flying flags etc, then a freedom movement might well start out of that.

  • lah dee dah

    The original article has “(Incidentally, I consider sorting out the policing issue to be a bigger priority and bigger prize than the restoration of the institutions.)”

    How might the policing issue be ‘sorted out’? This is the most dangerous statement in the article. It shows that the RM still want changes to ‘root and branch’ of the police, despite the changes that have already made. The police here the most watched and examined such service and one can only suppose some ulterior
    motive in seeking yet more ‘sorting out’.

  • Cahal

    So, harpo, you are from Ireland and hold Canadian citizenship.

    And you claim to be British.

    I can’t imagine how Mick could be confused.

  • Yoda

    Unionism is a POLITICAL BELIEF not an identity.

    How do you square this with:

    In a UI those who were formerly unionists in NI would expect the same tolerance. Thus displays of British ethnicity wouldn’t be a threat to the country, just an expression of ethnic identity.

    One post it’s not an identity, the next it is “ethnic identity”?

    Looks like you’ve still got some things to work through.

  • harpo

    ‘So, harpo, you are from Ireland and hold Canadian citizenship.’

    Cahal:

    No. I said I was from the UK. That’s the country that I was born in and that is what makes me British.

    The fact that part of the UK is on the physical island of Ireland is irrelevant. Ireland in this context is an island, not a country.

    ‘And you claim to be British.’

    I’m not claiming anything. I am British. And Canadian. Those are facts.

    Anyone like you can use a geographical area to define what people born in that geographical area ‘are’ to suit your agenda. Since Canada is part of north America (geographical area) you could argue that everyone born there was born in America, thus making them all Americans. That would be if you had an agenda that wanted to deny that Canada and the USA are different countries.

    You know, it’s this pettyness about trying to undermine the Britishness of unionists that encourages unionists to stay on the defensive when it comes to dealing with nationalists.

    Is it really true that the depth of your argument is ‘you were born on something called Ireland, so that makes you Irish – nah nah nah nah nah’?

    No wonder there is no united Ireland. Many nationalists spend their time in this infantile sniping at unionists. Is this what you consider persuasion to be? The reality is you wouldn’t know where to start.

  • Henry94

    DK

    12th a national Public holiday

    Yes

    Public recognition of rememberance day

    In what way? Remember you wanted the Irish language dropped so I think you need a consistent position on the role of the state in relation to identity.

    Belfast joint capital city

    I’d just make it the capital. Why not?

    British passports allowed

    It is a matter for the British who they give their passports to.

    Schooling to include protestant & british history

    Do you mean British and Protestant versions of history? Or just the history of Britain and Protestantism

    Positive discrimination of protestants in government and media (like minorities in the UK media)

    Five seats in government was offered by Albert reynolds. It’s still on the table. Media organisations will have to decide for themselves but there is no shortage of Unionists and Unionist supporters in the Irish media already.

    Cultural protection/funding for Orange institutions

    Of course.

    Rebuild Nelson’s column, but with Carson on top

    Why not someone we can all look up to? Rory Gallagher? Anyway Carson can stay at Stormont where the Government will sit.

  • harpo

    ‘Unionism is a POLITICAL BELIEF not an identity.

    How do you square this with:

    In a UI those who were formerly unionists in NI would expect the same tolerance. Thus displays of British ethnicity wouldn’t be a threat to the country, just an expression of ethnic identity.

    One post it’s not an identity, the next it is “ethnic identity”?

    Looks like you’ve still got some things to work through.’

    Yoda:

    Not at all. I assume you are deliberately confusing 2 things.

    Read what I said again. My first statement concerns unionism. The second concerns British ethnic identity, not unionism. I didn’t mention unionism in the second.

    ‘One post it’s not an identity, the next it is “ethnic identity”?’

    You refer to ‘it’ as if both are the same. They aren’t. In the first statement I was talking about
    unionism as a political belief. Because that’s all it is. In the second I am clearly talking about the British ethnic identity.

    There is a British ethnic identity that covers all the British, of all political persuasions. It doesn’t just apply to NI unionists. It applies to Conservatives, Labour supporters, or those in the UK with any other political belief.

    I assume you did this deliberately to try to pick a hole in my arguments. But there isn’t one.

    Or maybe you did what many NI nationalists do – assume that the other side is just like much of nationalism. I’d say that many NI nationalists see their political beliefs AND their ethnic identity as being one and the same. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t apply to everyone else in the world. And it’s sad that many NI nationalists think in this way. To them nationalism is the only approved political belief of true Irish ethnic identity. Which is sad if that is the basis upon which unionists are going to end up in a united Ireland. With a political belief that is defined as not being part of true Irishness.

  • Henry94

    harpo

    Of course unionism and the British identity are not the same. It is quite possible to maintain a British identity in a united Ireland as the Irish identity has been maintained under British rule.

    Ireland as a unit was taken into the UK against the opposition of the Orange Order who feared they would have to accept Catholic as equals under British rule.

    The same fear drove their opposition to Home Rule, Independence, Civil Rights Sunningdale and now the Agreement.

    It’s a neat trick to pretend that it is inequality they fear in a united Ireland.

  • harpo

    ‘Of course unionism and the British identity are not the same.’

    Henry94:

    Thank you. Some of your fellow nationalists have a hard time with that concept.

    For the record, I wouldn’t have any problem with a UI. And I wouldn’t have if I still lived in NI.

    But then I never was the flag waving sort, and I’m not over here. I don’t feel the need to wave the Canadian flag to show my citizenship, or the Union flag (or even the NI flag) to show my ethnicity to indicate what I know that I am.

    And that would be the same if I was still in NI. If NI does become part of a UI then I see no need to fly flags to show one’s British identity.

  • Yoda

    Frankly, I’m not that interested in whether or not your argument has holes in it. I’m not arguing that they are the same thing. I’m merely responding to what you wrote in your posts. You said:

    In a UI those who were formerly unionists in NI would expect the same tolerance. Thus displays of British ethnicity wouldn’t be a threat to the country, just an expression of ethnic identity.

    I was simply asking you how the “former unionists” you mention in one post can suddenly become “British ethnic identity” in a UI if unionism has absolutely no ethnic component at all. Why would you say that unionists just become “British ethnic identity” at all?

    I think you are being disingenuous. You clearly see an ethnic component in unionism, but you won’t admit it.

  • Kathy_C

    Hi all,

    Speaking of the union jack and flying flags…isn’t it time the union jack got rid of the Cross of St. Patrick? There is now a Republic of Ireland…and that Cross of St. Patrick was put in the brits flag to demo Ireland was part of the UK….it isn’t anymore…so that cross should go.

    gee…I wonder how unionist/loyalist would like that? Would take away some of their excitiment to fly the union jack in the face of Irish

  • west belfast resident

    harpo I agree, I can see where yoda is confusing the two things.

  • Yoda

    Once again, I am not saying that unionism and “British ethnic identity” are simply “the same,” although I have spoken to some unionists who do see their identity in broadly ethnic terms.

    I am saying that there is a continuity between unionism and ethnic identity in Harpo’s posts despite his repeated insistence that there is absolutely no connection.

    I say again: I am simply asking how the “former unionists” mentioned in one post can suddenly morph into the “British ethnic identity” that is to be celebrated in a UI if unionism has absolutely no ethnic component at all.

  • harpo

    ‘I was simply asking you how the “former unionists” you mention in one post can suddenly become “British ethnic identity” in a UI if unionism has absolutely no ethnic component at all. Why would you say that unionists just become “British ethnic identity” at all?’

    Yoda.

    Again you are confusing 2 different things, and again I think you are doing it deliberately.

    Why do you bring up the issue that ‘unionism has absolutely no ethnic component at all’? It’s true, but it isn’t the issue. You don’t need to be of any particular ethnic identity to be a NI unionist. Are you trying to infer that to be a unionist in NI you have to have British ethnic identity?

    Most unionists already have British ethnic identity because that IS their ethnic identity. Thus if there was a UI most unionists don’t ‘become’ anything as you put it. They already have British ethnic identity. But British ethnic identity is not required for someone to be a unionist. Unionism as a concept does not depend on having a British ethnic identity, although most unionists do have that ethnic identity.

    I didn’t use the words that you ascribe to me. I didn’t say ‘that unionists just become “British ethnic identity” ‘. I don’t even know what that means.

    Of course unionists have an ethnic identity, but doesn’t everyone? Most of them would have the British ethnic identity, but some people who are unionist may have the Irish ethnic identity, or Pakistani ethnic identity. They can have any ethnic identity that they want, can’t they? All they have to do is want NI to remain in the UK. A political belief. You don’t need any particular ethnic identity to believe in or vote for the union. Do you?

    What I am taking you to task about is your assumption that the two things ‘political belief’ and ‘ethnic identity’ are the same. They aren’t. British ethnic identity is something that includes people with all sorts of political beliefs as I said before. So it includes a really big bunch of people. Unionists are one group within that ethnic identity, but only one.

    Now if NI becomes part of a UI and unionists end up in it, they will not lose their British ethnic identity (or any other), will they? They already have it, and would retain it. In political terms they may choose to forget unionism, or they may choose to continue with it. But that’s just a political belief.

    I would say some unionists would think ‘well, that’s the end of it, there is no point in continuing with unionism as a political belief since NI will never be going back into the UK’. And so they wouldn’t be unionists any longer. They might find political mates within the ROI, and a new party combining FG say with unionists might arise.

    But some unionists may still believe that NI could be returned to the UK if they campaign for it, and might still be unionists. So there would maintain a united unionist party on that basis.

    But no matter what political belief choice they took, they would still have this British ethnic identity, wouldn’t they?

  • Yoda

    Of course unionists have an ethnic identity, but doesn’t everyone? Most of them would have the British ethnic identity…

    Here’s the important bit.

    Thank you.

    The rest is a lot of bluster for nothing. Sorry.

  • harpo

    ‘I am saying that there is a continuity between unionism and ethnic identity in Harpo’s posts despite his repeated insistence that there is absolutely no connection.’

    Yoda:

    You are confused. What do you mean by ‘there is absolutely no connection’?

    Take the average unionist in NI – he/she is going to have the unionist political belief AND is going to be of British ethnic identity. But neither depends on the other. You could have a NI unionist of Pakistani ethnic identity, and you could also have a person of British ethnic identity living in NI who is an Irish nationalist.

    Now those would be exceptions and most NI unionists will have British ethnic identity, but that doesn’t mean they depend on each other. Or that there is some direct connection. The only connection is that you see both in many people.

    If you looked at unionists in NI and see that nost of them have dark hair, is your assumption that there is a connection between unionism and brown hair? Of course not – it just happens to be two characteristics of many people.

    ‘I say again: I am simply asking how the “former unionists” mentioned in one post can suddenly morph into the “British ethnic identity” that is to be celebrated in a UI if unionism has absolutely no ethnic component at all.’

    Again we are talking about most unionists – most would already have British ethnic identity, so there would be no morphing required. But their British ethnic identity doesn’t depend on the fact that they were unionists before. In the same way a NI unionist of Pakistani ethnic identity isn’t going to morph into British ethnic identity just because he goes into a ROI and was formerly a unionist. His identity is already there. He would still be of Pakistani ethnic identity.

  • harpo

    ‘The rest is a lot of bluster for nothing.’

    Yoda:

    If it’s bluster, why do you do it?

    ‘Sorry.’

    No need to apologize. It’s just a discussion.

  • Yoda

    Harpo

    If unionism is really not about Britishness, then why have NI in a union with Britain?

    Why not a union with Timbucktoo? Or France?

    Why Britain?

    It is just not possible to have unionism without Britain or Britishness. I cannot believe I have to say this. And, as you concede, the vast majority of unionists are ethnically British: they believe they have British roots/ stock/ etc., and that constitutes a powerful background for their political beliefs.

    You cannot really expect me to believe that in the union NI is on an equal footing (with equal say, equal power, equal importance, equal any way you want to slice it) with parts of England. If equality is not a problem within the union, then why would the Scots feel like London does not have their best interests at heart?

  • Kathy_C

    Hi all…

    Why have a union jack flag all you unionist out there….with the cross of St. Patrick in it. Ireland is no longer part of the Union.

    I think the british….unionist….are all messed up with who and what they are…just like their flag is messed up with Who actually and What countries actually are in their union and flag.

  • west belfast resident

    Why not a union with Timbucktoo? or France?

    why Britain?

    Yoda.

    Yoda that has got to be the most silliest comment I have ever read on this forum.

    why do the scots feel that london does not really have their best interests at heart.
    Yoda.

    Aren’t you answering your own question there?

  • Yoda

    WBR

    Yoda that has got to be the most silliest comment I have ever read on this forum.

    Really? Hyperbole, surely?

    I’ll ask again: if there truly is no “ethnic British” component to unionism (as has been repeatedly asserted in this thread, but which I do not believe for a second: who was it had a recent election slogan that said “Simply British”? Ah yes, the more moderate of the two main unionist parties…), then why is there a union with Britain? Why not France?

    As to your other point, I have no idea what you mean.

  • harpo

    ‘then why is there a union with Britain? Why not France?’

    Yoda:

    Because unionists don’t want to be united with France. Unionists want to be united with GB.

    Is this really so hard to understand?

    You don’t have to be ‘ethnic British’ to want NI to be united with GB. That doesn’t mean however that many people who are unionists aren’t also ethnic British. Of course many are.

    Let me ask you this then. Do you have to be ethnic Irish to believe in nationalism? Couldn’t someone who is ethnic British want a united Ireland? It’s simply a political viewpoint that anyone of any ethnic background can hold.

    Imagine you have 2 brothers of Pakistani ethnicity living in NI. One is a unionist and one is a nationalist. Is that possible? According to you, it isn’t.

  • Yoda

    Imagine you have 2 brothers of Pakistani ethnicity living in NI. One is a unionist and one is a nationalist. Is that possible?

    Of course it’s possible.

    I’ve been asking all along why unionism wants to be united with Britain. If there is absolutely no ethnic attachment to Britain in unionism, what is the rationale for unionism? Why not be republican?

    Remember, try to answer the question without any reference to narratives of ethnic Britishism/ planter stock/ Ulster, loyalty to the Queen, etc., etc. I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.