Adams: a shared space for Orange and Green

It seems where McDowell leads, Adams follows. Though to be fair to Adams and Sinn Fein they have been holding talks with a range of people in Protestant civil society since long before Minister McDowell called Republicans back to the founding principles of the 1790s. However this looks like a first (albeit rhetorical) strike to widen the ambit of the Sinn Fein project to include ordinary Northern Irish Protestants and move away from the Defenderism is sometimes accused of by its critics in the past.

…let us begin by reassuring unionists that we are not in the business of coercing them into a united Ireland. Instead as we seek to build a shared space in which we can move forward we all must appreciate that, as some northern Protestants have said to me, ‘the wise man builds his house upon the rock’. In this case that means a meaningful, working partnership between nationalists and republicans, unionists and loyalists. I believe there is a huge opportunity to fulfil the historic destiny of our people by uniting orange and green in unity and justice and on the basis of equality.”

  • Peter

    “It seems where McDowell leads, Adams follows. Though to be fair to Adams and Sinn Fein they have been holding talks with a range of people in Protestant civil society since long before Minister McDowell called Republicans back to the founding principles of the 1790s.”

    Errrmm, right.

    So it DOESN’T seem that “where McDowell leads, Adams follows”.

    Why did you say it then?

  • Fintan, Portlaoise

    There is already a shared space for orange and green, on our national flag along with the white band that symbolises an aspiration to unity between the two. The green and orange fields are of exactly equal size and equal importance. One day eyes will open and all Irishmen and Irishwomen will accept it as their own. Perhaps by the time the Portadown Orangement march the Garvaghy Road one of the flags and banners they carry will be the Tricolour. And they will probably be cheered by the Catholic neighbours.

  • Overhere

    If only Fintan

  • Mick Fealty

    Peter,

    Perhaps I should have been more explicit. Sinn Fein have put considerable time and effort into interfacing with Unionists: if the comments on Slugger are to be gone by, almost to the exhaustion of those taking part.

    But. This line of thinking is not Sinn Fein’s. It actually broke earlier this year through Michael McDowell. I’m not sure why SF did not break this ground first, since on the face of it, they were better placed to push inclusion as a principle.

    Their tardiness in coming to this particular game is an irony well worth noting.

  • Peter

    “Perhaps I should have been more explicit. Sinn Fein have put considerable time and effort into interfacing with Unionists: if the comments on Slugger are to be gone by, almost to the exhaustion of those taking part.

    But. This line of thinking is not Sinn Fein’s. It actually broke earlier this year through Michael McDowell. I’m not sure why SF did not break this ground first, since on the face of it, they were better placed to push inclusion as a principle.

    Their tardiness in coming to this particular game is an irony well worth noting.”

    That’s clearly factually incorrect. McDowell is in no way prior to Sinn Fein’s understanding of the necessity of engaging with Unionism, or indeed teh practice of it. It’s pure nonsense, as indeed you acknowledge above when you said:

    “Though to be fair to Adams and Sinn Fein they have been holding talks with a range of people in Protestant civil society since long before Minister McDowell called Republicans back to the founding principles of the 1790s.”

  • Mick Fealty

    Peter,

    You seem determined to re-paper the same crack.

    If the party doesn’t publicly articulate what it privately understands, then so far as the public is concerned it doesn’t exist. For example, if my grandfather understood particle physics long before Einstein but didn’t write a peer reviewed paper, he doesn’t get the credit.

    I’m willing to be corrected but from my observations McDowell was first out with this line. So what’s wrong with giving him credit for his thought leadership?

  • Peter

    Contrary to Mick’s curious argument above:

    Gerry Adams is here lamenting the lack of engagement by political Unionism and contrasting that unfavourably with his experience of civic unionism more generally.

    You’ll note that this was before McDowell’s conversion to Republicanism

    “It is my view that unionism will eventually engage. Civic unionism, the business community, the broad raft of unionist opinion is for moving on. In many ways political unionism is lagging behind its own broad constituency.”

    Speech by Gerry Adams, President of SF, to the annual Friends of Sinn Féin Dinner in New York, 4 November 2004

  • Mick Fealty

    Peter,

    “Gerry Adams is here lamenting the lack of engagement by political Unionism”

    To be scrupulously fair to Gerry he is doing considerably more than that. If that is all he was doing it would hardly be worth remarking on, since as you rightly point out, it’s been a regular party line for the last few years.

  • Peter

    ““Gerry Adams is here lamenting the lack of engagement by political Unionism”

    To be scrupulously fair to Gerry he is doing considerably more than that. If that is all he was doing it would hardly be worth remarking on, since as you rightly point out, it’s been a regular party line for the last few years.”

    I point it out because he’s been saying the same thing in public for many many years. Long pre-dating the intervention of McDowell.

    “Nationalists and republicans have to take into account the position of unionists, but it is for unionist leaders to put these forward. This is not to underestimate or to downgrade their importance. I do intend to return to this.”

    Gerry Adams, March 1998

  • Mick Fealty

    Peter,

    “…there is a huge opportunity to fulfil the historic destiny of our people by uniting orange and green in unity and justice and on the basis of equality”.

    This bit seems new to me. That’s all from me for now.

  • Peter

    ““…there is a huge opportunity to fulfil the historic destiny of our people by uniting orange and green in unity and justice and on the basis of equality”.

    This bit seems new to me”

    And as I keep pointing out, it ain’t new. He’s been saying the same thing for years. All that’s new is that Unionism is opening up to engagement a bit more.

    “Our primary political objectives therefore remain, an end to partition, an end to the union, the construction of a new national democracy – a new republic – on the island of Ireland, and reconciliation between orange and green.”

    Gerry Adams Bodenstown Speech 2004

  • Keith M

    Fintan, “The green and orange fields are of exactly equal size and equal importance.”

    Well actually no as in flag convention the hoist colour (green) is seen as being the most impotant.

    ” One day eyes will open and all Irishmen and Irishwomen will accept it as their own.” I’m afraid as the current Irish flag has because so associated with one ideoology that this is never going to happen, in the same way as the crown on any flag is anathema to republicans.

  • Garibaldy

    Mick,

    Surely returning to the vision of anti-sectarian republicanism from the 1790s was the reason given for Goulding’s strategy in the 1960s. Which of course Adams and his cohorts rejected. I have to say I find your argument that either Adams or McDowell pulled this out of mid-air sometime in the last few years somewhat bizarre. And anyone who has seen the celtic flag mixed in with the traditional Easter flags in parts of Belfast might wonder how seriously to take this statement by Adams.
    Rather than laud Adams or Mc Dowell for being visionary, shouldn’t we be asking what took them so long?

  • Mike

    Fintan –

    “One day eyes will open and all Irishmen and Irishwomen will accept it as their own.”

    Righto. So as ever unionists are seen as deluded Irishmen and women who will one day have their “eyes opened”.

    Plus ca change, eh.

  • lib2016

    Mike

    “Plus ca change…”

    It would seem that republicans are being attacked simultaneously for engaging with unionists and for not being prepared to engage with unionists. Of course republicans have faith in reasonable debate. The surprise is that unionists have so little faith in the power of their own arguments to open the eyes of us poor deluded republicans.

  • Mike
    Prods settled in Ireland 400 years ago.
    So it’s not really that deluded to ask that they consider themselves as Irishmen now is it?

  • Jacko

    “For example, if my grandfather understood particle physics long before Einstein …”

    Now that you mention it Mick, actually mine did.

  • A. Troll

    The space is there. All that’s needed is for the ordinary Unionist with common sense to go where none of their leaders have dared to go and carve out a place for themselves. They will never be anyone in the UK, where they are not much more than 1% of the population. I just heard Richard Bruton on Newstalk 104 talking about giving immigrants the vote. The Poles alone are nearing 4% of the Republic’s population – four times as relatively important as the Unionists in the UK. There is a place and a welcome for Irish people of a Unionist persuasion in the Irish Republic. Maybe they had better start thinking about accepting it soon, unless they want to stay in their laager mood and wallow in their sad dependency culture. In twenty years from now there may well be plenty of Eastern Europeans in the Dáil. The Unionists should take their place at the table before they have fallen too far behind to do so.

  • Mike

    lib2016 –

    “It would seem that republicans are being attacked simultaneously for engaging with unionists and for not being prepared to engage with unionists. Of course republicans have faith in reasonable debate. The surprise is that unionists have so little faith in the power of their own arguments to open the eyes of us poor deluded republicans.”

    Please point to me where I ‘attacked republicans’ for ‘engaging with unionists’ or over reasonable debate?

    Quite the opposite, in fact, I criticised the attitude that unioists will somehow realise they were wrong all along, their eyes will open and they’ll embrace the Tricolour.

    spirit-level

    “Prods settled in Ireland 400 years ago.
    So it’s not really that deluded to ask that they consider themselves as Irishmen now is it?”

    Another paper tiger.

    I didn’t say that it was ‘deluded to as that Prods consider themselves as Irishmen’. I was saying it was wrong to see unionists as deluded irishmen whose eyes will one day magincally ‘be opened’.

    Until many nationalists/republicans can get their heads round the fact that there are Irishmen and women who are also pround to be British, and that there are other forms of Irishness whose flag is not the Tricolour, then not only is their ‘unity’ project pie in the sky, but unfortunately (their) Irishness remains as a ‘narrow church’.

    (By the way just to complicate things, I don’t call myself Irish as it happens, but the challenge remains as there are many from the unionist community who would…)

  • Mike

    “Maybe they had better start thinking about accepting it soon, unless they want to stay in their laager mood and wallow in their sad dependency culture.”

    Amazing how often these supposed attempts to ‘persuade’ unionists to easily slip into insulting and abusing the unionist community, isn’t it.

  • lib2016

    Mike,

    There are some people who will never be persuaded by any argument. You’ve convinced me that you are one of them.

  • Mike

    How so?

  • lib2016

    Mike,

    When we try to persuade unionists, including yourself, of the validity of our arguments you simply retreat into accusations that we might actually believe in the truth of what we are saying.

    We do.

  • A. Troll

    Mike accuses me of insulting Unionists. I suppose anything is insulting if the eye of the beholder is sufficiently jaundiced.

    There is nothing insulting about pointing to an opportunity and at the same time urging a group whose destiny has long been and continues to be intertwined with ours to get a bit out of the box and take a fresh look at their own attitudes and how those attitudes are ultimately harming themselves.

    Like it or not, Unionist hegemony in Ireland is long gone. The Unionists have to decide whether to be a tiny fish in a big pond or a bigger one in a smaller pond.

  • Mike
    I’ll take you on.
    A heavy one to start, as am trying the reduction argument,
    and if that fails I’ll try the induction one.
    Q: Why do you still wish to identitfy yourself as British,
    when the mainland brits , overwhelmingly, regard you as Wogs ( foreigners )?

  • Brian Boru

    “Until many nationalists/republicans can get their heads round the fact that there are Irishmen and women who are also pround to be British, and that there are other forms of Irishness whose flag is not the Tricolour, then not only is their ‘unity’ project pie in the sky, but unfortunately (their) Irishness remains as a ‘narrow church’.”

    If there are Protestants in the Six Counties that feel British, then perhaps that could be reflected in a federal arrangement in a UI where the Unionist areas could have a certain level of autonomy from Dublin? Would that sweeten the pill?

  • Realist

    “If there are Protestants in the Six Counties that feel British, then perhaps that could be reflected in a federal arrangement in a UI where the Unionist areas could have a certain level of autonomy from Dublin? Would that sweeten the pill?”

    Brian Boru,

    What about Catholics in Northern Ireland who are proudly British…same question apply?

    Maybe it was just your religious mindset in operation again?

  • kensei

    “What about Catholics in Northern Ireland who are proudly British…same question apply?

    Maybe it was just your religious mindset in operation again? ”

    Oh stop it. Catholic and Protestant are used as synonyms for “Nationalist” and “Unionist”. That strictly speaking may be a mistake, but the groups correlate that tightly we all know we is meant.

    This is just an irritating device to avoid the question.

  • Brian Boru

    Realist, the group you refer to is negligible, and certain you wouldn’t have them on the barricades. They wouldn’t mind a UI too much.

  • Brian Boru

    I don’t have a “religious mindset”. I am merely stating the fact that the vast majority of Catholics and Protestants in the NI (though not quite all) are Nationalists and Unionists respectively. Exceptions to the latter being Stephen Rea, Tom Paulin and a few others. Exceptions to the former being Patricia Campbell (UUP) and Sir John Gorman. However these are tiny, tiny percentages and as such hardly worth making decisions on borders over.

  • Shuggie McSporran

    Brian Boru

    “However these are tiny, tiny percentages and as such hardly worth making decisions on borders over.”

    You should try to remember that a very large proportion of catholics have always been small u unionists, possiby even a majority if you believe all the opinion polls over the years.

    They are not unionists in the sense of “if we can’t march down the Garvaghy Road our superior British way of life is doomed”. But for all practical purposes they are unionists.

    It’s possible that, over time, big U Unionists will dump the anti-Irish part of their ideology which would undoubtedly do more for the union than anything else.

    People generally don’t like big changes and in those circumstances the union could go on forever.

  • kensei

    “You should try to remember that a very large proportion of catholics have always been small u unionists, possiby even a majority if you believe all the opinion polls over the years.”

    This proposition, of course, flies against actual voting evidence.

  • Realist

    “This proposition, of course, flies against actual voting evidence”

    kensei,

    I guess we’ll only truly know when we have a border poll.

    Why not just use the proper terminology eh?

    Unionist and nationalist.

  • Mike

    kensei –

    “When we try to persuade unionists, including yourself, of the validity of our arguments you simply retreat into accusations that we might actually believe in the truth of what we are saying.

    We do.”

    What absolute rubbish. How exactly do you work this out?

    Read what I said again, and what I was replying to. I was pointing out that unionists “believe in the truth of what we are saying” – we won’t simply ‘have the scales fall from our eyes’ as if some sort of delusion has been removed.

    lib2016 –

    “Mike accuses me of insulting Unionists. I suppose anything is insulting if the eye of the beholder is sufficiently jaundiced.”

    Again, surprise surprise, the next old faithful line is trotted out. Sure if a unionist disagrees with you, it must be because they’re prejudiced, must it? Course it does. Bunch of supremacists, eh. Slip in the words ‘Afrikaner’ or ‘Nazi’ and you’ve got a full house, good man.

    “There is nothing insulting about pointing to an opportunity and at the same time urging a group whose destiny has long been and continues to be intertwined with ours to get a bit out of the box and take a fresh look at their own attitudes and how those attitudes are ultimately harming themselves.”

    Pershps you could tell me where I’ve used the word ‘insulting’?

    “Like it or not, Unionist hegemony in Ireland is long gone.”

    Bingo! We have a winner! Come one down and collect your “hackneyed old clichéd anti-unionist crap” prize!

    I’m 25 years of age. The thought that I’m getting used to losing “Unionist hegemony is Ireland” or that I secretly yearn to pass laws over, oh I don’t know, Offaly or somewhere (presumably like back in the good old days where folks like me would do this from our mansions built entirely of the bones of rack-rented tenant farmers and their children) is amuising to say the least.

    A. Troll

    “Mike
    I’ll take you on.
    A heavy one to start, as am trying the reduction argument,
    and if that fails I’ll try the induction one.
    Q: Why do you still wish to identitfy yourself as British,
    when the mainland brits , overwhelmingly, regard you as Wogs ( foreigners )?”

    I lived in England for the best part of three years. I wasn’t regarded as a foreigner by anyone I knew, and if any of my acquaintances had used the word ‘wog’ about anyone at all, it would’ve been a very short last conversation I had with them.

  • Mike

    Balls. Messed up the quoting there alright.

    Replace ‘kensei’ with ‘lib2016’; ‘lib2016’ with ‘A. Troll’; and ‘A.Troll’ with ‘spirit-level’.