Reaching out with two fingers raised

Irish Nationalists have attacked Unionists for expressing concerns about the nature of Irish Presidential visits to Northern Ireland. Yet when the Duke of Edinburgh makes an official visit to the Republic of Ireland Sinn Fein attacks the political establishment for meeting with him.

Furthermore, Dublin Councillor Daithi Doolan strikes an exclusionist pose:

“The people of this island owe nothing to Britain’s Royal family…”

Either he is unaware of the existence of pro-monarchists among the “people of this island” or he excludes them from his thinking.

  • Harry

    You’re just sticking your head in the sand. An english queen visiting ireland is a meaningful thing, otherwise there wouldn’t be such a move on to try and make it acceptable. The problem is that those who are trying to make it acceptable are doing so without first of all implementing an acceptable political solution for nationalists in n. ireland.

    This can only lead to trouble.

  • Doctor Who

    Harry

    “The problem is that those who are trying to make it acceptable are doing so without first of all implementing an acceptable political solution for nationalists in n. ireland.”

    So the disbandment of the RUC and UDR has not happened, IRA prisoners have not been released, The Good Friday Agreement was mass halucination, Nationalists don´t take their seats on Policing boards and of course Unionists don´t think their rights are being eroded.

    One would be forgiven for thinking it´s you who has their head in the sand Harry.

  • missfitz

    Would Harry be a troll?

    If not, Lord Harry, do you really believe what you are saying?

    The more I think about it, the less sense 30 years of violence made. Yeah, there were problmes, but you know, when you actually think that we murdered each other, it makes me shiver.

    Attitudes like Harry’s need to be stopped/illuminated/informed/whatever to make sure we never go back there

  • IJP

    The Agreement is operating – it is an international accord which cannot be gone back on.

    The institutions set up under the Agreement aren’t operating, but even there the Agreement allows for its own review. You’d have to ask the Governments and the SDLP why they’re so unprepared to seek such a review when it is patently obvious it is required.

    But we’ve had prisoner releases, had changes to Bunreacht na hEireann, had Patten, had the establishment of cross-border bodies, had the Bloody Sunday inquiry etc etc etc.

    The Agreement is real, it’s here, it’s now.

    But most importantly, the Agreement brought with it a set of principles – including mutual respect, the consent principle, and commitment to non-violence.

    Part of the reason it is not functioning is that the institutions were doomed from the start – institutionalized sectarianism and executive power without accountability could never work.

    But the main reason is that people are either abusing or ignoring the key principles. Among the four parties seeking Executive positions next month, I see no commitment to real mutual respect, no base understanding of the outworking of the consent principle, and ongoing apologies (on both sides) for violence and shirking responsibility to improve the police service.

    Could the truth be that the sectarian political system is incapable of moving this society on along the principles agreed in 1998…?

  • Harry

    I can assure you I am perfectly well illuminated and quite well informed. Nationalists are equal. Now implement that equality.

    You want to pretend certain things – suh as power-sharing – are loose-ends which will, hopefully, be tied up. In the meantime you propose to motor ahead with things, like the queens visit, that – in the absence of power-sharing – add up to little more than telling nationalists to quieten down and don’t be making trouble.

    It won’t work. I tell you that as advice, not polemic.

  • missfitz

    IJP
    Thats an interesting question.

    What is the bottom line of what you think we should be hoping to achieve? Surely we have achieved institutionally recognised non-violence? I think it is important to look at violence in sanctioned and non sanctioned aspects. If we get rid of the sanctioned, organisationally approved violence, whats left is thuggery and will be dealt with when we have a fully functioning and supported police service.

    Mutual respect? Well, it doesnt fall from the trees and has to worked for. I have to say that is why I felt that the suggestion to have a couple of days “getting to know you” was a good idea. Rebuild relationships, get to remember people on an individual level again. From what I heard, prior to suspension, many of the MLAs were doing rightly in terms of mutual resepct. For the rest of the populace? Well, thats going to take time, integrated education and leadership from the top. If our politicians can start respecting each other, then the people will follow. Same goes for symbols and other aspects of identity, we need clear and cohesive leadership for that.

    Finally, consent? Well, I think thats the easy one, and has been enshrined by law.

    So, there you go. Easy peasy. No problem. Just get back in there and remember, our future is in your hands

  • Dread Cthulhu

    IJN: “Again, we have a thread packed with classic ‘whataboutery’. ”

    Its the inevitable result of folks making sweeping all or nothing statements. For example, the whole notion that the Protestant population is entirely Irish or an entirely foreign construct. (I’ve been guilty fo this one too, from time to time.) The sweeping statements begs the sweeping rebuttal.

    IJN: “What we require is responsible leadership, people prepared to stand up for the basic principles of the Agreement without condition – and then able to point out the breaches of these principles without having to be hypocritical to do so. ”

    Keep it up and Mick may have to start charging you for these commercials…

  • IJP

    missfitz

    An interesting question and an interesting response!

    Have we achieved non-violence?

    I’m not so sure we have, on several counts:
    – the savagery we wake up to in the local news every morning (evidence to me of a society which still has not come to terms with the fact that violence is an unacceptable way to deal with problems);
    – the failure of one major party even to accept the legitimacy of a police service; and
    – the failure of two major parties to take their seats on the Belfast DPP.

    We still have a major failing within society to deal with the fact it is legitimate in any democracy for the state but no one else to be armed (assuming appropriate oversight), and that politicians have a responsibility to ensure highest standards within the state’s security services. Yet we have one party which fundamentally fails to recognize the former point, and two (both Unionist parties) shirking their responsibility for the latter.

    I’m not sure, eight years on from the Agreement, that ‘taking your ball and going home’ when the going gets tough on the key issue is really a sign we’ve moved on sufficiently.

    As for ‘mutual respect’, I’m not sure we’ve defined ‘mutual respect’ properly. Firstly, it must refer to people – we must respect *people* equally. But it cannot apply to all views – if someone holds an unreasonable view, you can’t be obliged to respect it. If someone tries to argue a 35-year terrorist campaign was legitimate, I will not respect that view – it’s wrong. If someone tries to suggest majority rule by one ‘community’ is appropriate in any context, I will not respect that view – it’s wrong.

    Furthermore, ‘mutual respect’ requires rather more than ‘talk’. While Nationalists may allege they respect Unionists’ ‘British’ identity, the evidence concerning place names or symbols is quite to the contrary, and have they really, as part of that, come to terms with the fact that while the Agreement *may* mean Irish Unity, it may *not*? Likewise, I see precious little ‘mutual respect’ in terms such as ‘leprechaun language’ or ‘sackcloth and ashes’.

    As for ‘consent’ I refer partly to the above point re what the Agreement *may* mean. We have people (on both sides) who cannot even refer to ‘Northern Ireland’ by its correct name!

    What I’m suggesting is that we haven’t really come to terms with what ‘democracy’ – complete with rule-of-law (by a single armed service), market economy (not just grants all round!), and consensus rule (not majority rule – no Unionist hegemony, no Derry name change without consensus etc).

    Should we not be aiming at least at democracy?

  • IJP

    DC

    That’s not quite my point.

    You are quite right that if someone makes a statement that is clearly wrong, a full rebuttal is appropriate.

    But it is not good enough to say, for example, ‘I’m against violence – but since themmuns is at it, I’ll accept it from our’ns too’. You’re either for violence or you’re against it.

    We have a lot of that type of thing above.

    (I’m afraid I fail to see how anyone from ‘Ireland’ isn’t in some way ‘Irish’ and how anyone from the ‘British Isles’ [a term over 2000 years old] isn’t in some way ‘British’, but that’s another point…)

  • missfitz

    IJP
    To do justice to your questions, I am going to leave it til the morning, with your good grace.

    Missy

  • Harry

    The name of Derry should be changed. It’s a grotesque affront to the people who live in the city. Unionists may find it emblematic of the decline of their power and shriek against it. Tough. Some things are better done cleanly and quickly, like pulling a plaster off. Renaming Derry is one of them.

  • james andrews

    Good old harry always worth a laugh,hes taking the piss isnt he?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    IJN: “You are quite right that if someone makes a statement that is clearly wrong, a full rebuttal is appropriate.”

    Ah, but you’re missing mine, IJN. Inevitably, what one of these sweeping statements attracts is the equal but opposite sweeping statement. Put forth the notion that the Protestant population is “part of Ireland,” and, just as night follows day, someone will remark upon the Plantation and the arguably un-natural roots of the Protestant majority in the North. Eventually, the whole thing descends into some variation of “Stupid Taig!” vs. “Bloody Prod!”

    IJN: “(I’m afraid I fail to see how anyone from ‘Ireland’ isn’t in some way ‘Irish’ and how anyone from the ‘British Isles’ [a term over 2000 years old] isn’t in some way ‘British’, but that’s another point…) ”

    Well, given the resistance the Protestant minority has expressed, over the years and in a variety of ways, to the normalization of the political status of Roman Catholic majority (I’m taking a historical perspective on this, not a current events one), and you’re left, at a minimum, some of the more recent Irish did not accept their Catholic neighbors as equals. Arguably, the Protestant minority of the North fought tooth and nail against assimilation into a greater Irish culture, with some die-hards still ‘fighting the “good” fight.’ As for the Catholics, is it so wrong to resent one’s former colonial masters and the fruit of that colonization?

    A way to acknowledge these resentments and move beyond them needs to be found, or this is where the arguement ends — some variation of “Stupid Taig!” vs. “Bloody Prod!”

    Likewise, the “British Isles” is a geographical reference, not a cultural one. Given the wounds and suffering inflicted on Ireland in the name of the “British Empire,” I can understand how some might resent the “honor” of being declared British.

  • IJP

    DC

    Which is probably why it’s best to ignore sweeping statements as the deliberate incitement they are…!

    As for the Catholics, is it so wrong to resent one’s former colonial masters and the fruit of that colonization?

    This brings us back to the earlier points I was discussing with Missfitz – because the answer as of 1998 is quite clearly yes, it is wrong.

    The Agreement demands ‘mutual respect’. One can’t respect the ‘British identity’ of one’s neighbours if one resents their presence on the island in the first place.

    Herein lies the crux of the matter. People assume terms such as ‘mutual respect’ are somehow ‘natural’ or ‘easy’. Not in Northern Ireland they’re not. They have to be worked at proactively. They require the removal and replacement of old prejudices and resentments.

    That is the core reason the Agreement is not working the way it should and, as indicated above, I fail to see how the sectarian political system can deliver that removal – as by definition it is populist, appealing to the old prejudices and resentments for its own survival.

  • dirty harry

    Personally i think starting to rename towns and cities smacks of the post partition replublic, kingstown, queenstown etc.

    It serves no purpose to polarise and cause tension. It could also start a nasty precedent

    imagine portadown wanted to rename itself cromwell, and carrickfergus to kingwilliamstown etc etc, would this be fair to the nationalist minority in those towns ??? no !!!, but those who argue for changing derry/londonderry could not condemn them for doing so. its simply a case of the majority riding roughshod over the minority.

    As harry says “Some things are better done cleanly and quickly”, like when those nice doctors administer harry his prozac.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    IJN: “This brings us back to the earlier points I was discussing with Missfitz – because the answer as of 1998 is quite clearly yes, it is wrong. ”

    So, with the wave of a wand and a few political magic words, its all supposed to have been let go, neh? And yet, the Orangemen and their various auxilliaries and subsidiaries, still want their triumphal marches / riots… hardly an effort at fostering mutual respect. The problem is that you seem to expect the Catholics to set aside their resentment of British colonial rule whilst allowing the Protestants to have their triumphalist marches celebrating British colonial rule. When one side insists on the glorification of events centuries past, they “hold the door open” to all the resentments that accompany that event and, arguably, subsequent events. That formula — that unbalanced contract — will not work and will, in reality, serve to maintain the cross-community resentments.

  • Harry

    Dread Cthulhu has put in a comprehensive way what I would say more succinctly: unionists are autistic.

    The more I read this site the less hope I have for the future of n. ireland. Unionists have next to no clue about the rights or even humanity of their neighbours. Even IJP above, who I believe from earlier posts is an Alliance member, conceives of ‘peace’ and ‘normality’ in largely unionist colours and thinks himself every bit the reasonable gent for so doing. The fact is he’s deluded. Yet if he, who is supposed to represent some sort of unionist compromise, is so far from moving beyond his narrow limits there is clearly no hope for the vast bulk of DUP supporters.

  • lib2016

    Dr. Who & missfitz,

    Austin Curry’s phrase about ‘every sheugh digger in Fermanagh having to sign an Loyalty Oath’ was much quoted by English commentators trying to explain the Northern Irish situation to their readers in the early Seventies.

    Later of course they switched to the ‘it’s all the fault of the nasty IRA’ line when the British role in NI started to be examined. Glad to see that you are both right up to date in your denial of institutionalised discrimination in NI.

  • missfitz

    Lib
    I am not denying the truth or the facts of anything. All I ask for is that people are accurate in their telling of the story. There was no Loyalty Oath for ditch diggers, although there was one for civil servants and teachers.

    No one is denying the hsitory of sectarianism within the Province. And for anyone who considers it, read this:

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/sectarian/brewer.htm

    The point that I continue to make is that we cannot take all of our mistrust, hatred and mutual misunderstanding forever into the future.

    I had great difficulty answering IJP’s points because I was overwhelmed by sadness.

    Sad that 2 ethnic groups cannot conceive of cohabiting a piece of earth. Sad that people cannot conceive of mutual respect. Sad that the fisrt sign of cooperation ever (GFA) is now being seen as less than perfect, therefore needs to be binned.

    I am sad at the venom and hate being spewed by some of the posters here. A United Ireland is not the be all and end all of life. Freedom to work, to live, to prosper, to share equally in the machination of the state, those are the important things.

    We live in this post modern society where our loyalties and communities have been radically redefined. My sphere of concern has shrunk from that of my parents: my concerns are my children and my employment. As we progress it is inevitable that this will increase, and to whom we pay our taxes becomes less of an issue.

    You could lose heart reading the posters here. While some are making a genuine effort to talk and discuss, there are genuine people who have a single fixed idea, the same kind of people who brought us to the brink from both sides in the 1920’s and earlier.

    The only hope is through conversation and working together. Yes Yes, it can all become very political, but we must put our cynicism aside from time to time to undestand the ultimate consequences of our future choices and actions

  • lib2016

    missfitz,

    I enjoyed the link though it seemed rather too kind to the established Protestant churches. The CoI seems to me only now distancing itself as an institution (rather than as enlightened individuals) from the Orange Order.

    As we know from the similar experience of the Protestant church in South Africa this sudden enlightenment comes very late in the game.

    Maybe I should have made it clearer that Loyalty Oaths for sheughdiggers only applied to those sheughdiggers who applied for work with local councils. Private employers had the option of asking what school an applicant had attended which worked just as well.

  • Harry

    On what basis missfitz do you assert that: “There was no Loyalty Oath for ditch diggers”?

  • missfitz

    Put it this way Harry, on what basis do you assert that there was one?

    Lib, I take your point, nowadays most ditch diggers would be with the DOE or DRD or other industrial section within the Civil Service. The only grades taking that oath at the time were professionals and I have never seen evidence of manual grades having to do that.

    If such evidence exists, I would be pleased to have it and remember it if needing it in the future. But, I am reasonably confident it wasnt there,

    I think we are mixing up 2 points though. One is the discrimination in employment that is proven to have exisited.

    The other is the mistrust that existed in having catholic employees, hence the oath.

    But surely we should be delighted that this no longer exists, and there is fair employment opportunities in the Public Sector?

  • lib2016

    No-one ever takes me seriously when I post about this but the Equality Commission has mentioned several times that the current worry is that on current trends the Civil Service will soon be taken over by Catholic women with good degrees. Presumably they will then take over teaching as they are already doing in the South.

    Over-representation by one group in any large sector of employment, particularly in a society as divided as this one, is a serious problem. Is the reason why people won’t engage because they are so entrenched on one side or the other about the subject of positive discrimination in police recruitment?

  • missfitz

    Lib
    Can you support that please, as I have been under the impression that women held lower grade roles, and have not been under the impression that they were in any way shape or form going to break through too many glass ceilings. But that is more of a gender issue than a religious one, I think

  • Harry

    Missfitz wrote:
    “Put it this way Harry, on what basis do you assert that there was one?”

    I thought so. You have no basis for your assertion and so thought you’d chance your arm and slip it in.

    Marc Mulholland (no enemy of unionism he) explains in his book ‘The Longest War’:
    “All civil-service and public sector workers, even those digging ditches for the Forestry Commission as unemployment relief, were required to undergo the galling hmiliation of swearing an oath to the monarch.”
    He was referring to the 1950s.

  • IJP

    DC

    Hang on, hang on, debate only works effectively if you go by what is written.

    The problem is that you seem to expect the Catholics to set aside their resentment of British colonial rule whilst allowing the Protestants to have their triumphalist marches celebrating British colonial rule.

    No, self-evidently triumphalist marches have no role in a land of genuine ‘mutual respect’ – instead, the Orange should become a cultural organization designed to promote tourism and a positive image of Irish Protestantism.

    But you didn’t ask about those, so I didn’t discuss them.

    Unfortunately rather than tackle resentment and triumphalism regardless of its background, you are retreating back to ‘whataboutery’.

    Which is where we started… and it doesn’t work…

    You don’t get to shirk your responsibilities just because others are shirking theirs. No one said it was easy, mind.

  • missfitz

    Thanks Harry, I’ll be sure to look into that. I have some good contacts in the Forestry, so it will be interesting to take some oral testimony from them on this issue. I still have my doubts, based on the more academic sources, but it will be interesting to check it out

  • IJP

    Unionists are autistic

    Having a daft sectarian slanging match is one thing, bringing in such a serious issue as autism is quite another.

    Autism is a very specific syndrome and autistic people have been held back for centuries by failure to recognize the issue and educate people about it. The term, alongside others (‘mentally disabled’ etc) is still banded around far too freely in a way which limits our ability to understand it properly and restricts the freedoms of those who have it.

    So using the term ‘autistic’ as a jibe is a pathetic and disgraceful remark which, along with its poster, should be removed from this board.

  • Harry

    Unionists really are ready at any moment to start hopping around like a woman with a mouse in the room, but with righteous indignation instead of fearful shrieks.

    I happen to have a soft spot for autism and autistic people. But that’s by the by. When I say autistic I mean that unionists appear incapable of comprehending the reality of others, nationalist others. They show all the signs of being sealed within their own world and refuse to move beyond it, simply because they are used to calling the shots and are utterly self-serving. Nationalists at least have an appreciation of the unionist position – that they are a distinct people fighting their corner as they see it. Would that unionists had the scrap of objectivity and humanity to see that nationalists too have these rights.

  • lib2016

    missfitz,

    It was at the beginning of a report which came out around Christmas in I believe 2003.

    In addition to the point about the typical civil servant being a highly qualified Catholic female they also mentioned that this decade would see the retirement of the old senior level of management.

    Catholic women have now become the majority at middle management levels of the Civil service and current legislation will see to it that they get something approaching the number of promotions their numbers would suggest they are entitled to, or know the reason why!

    This is a topic I’ve raised before on other forums and I had difficulty before in finding the references. Simply haven’t got the time – sorry.

  • missfitz

    Lib
    I just find it interesting as I have a very close association with the Civil Service in my work, and this would certainly not be the anecdotal experience. I believe that there is now 1 female Permanent Secretary which is not a good standard.

    As to the middle managers, the chance of promotion to senior level is still very slim. Indeed, with the absence of the assembly, promotion boards I believe have stopped at the moment.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    IJN: “Unfortunately rather than tackle resentment and triumphalism regardless of its background, you are retreating back to ‘whataboutery’. ”

    I hardly consider the facts on the ground to be ‘whataboutery,’ IJN. The simple fact is is that you would apparently have your biases, while would deny other people theirs. To quote from your previous…

    IJN: “(I’m afraid I fail to see how anyone from ‘Ireland’ isn’t in some way ‘Irish’ and how anyone from the ‘British Isles’ [a term over 2000 years old] isn’t in some way ‘British’, but that’s another point…) “

    Now, to repeat — the Orangemen and their fellow-travellers do not consider themselves Irish — how else do you explain their resistance, over the years to the normalization of the status of the Catholic majority? Likewise, these Orangemen seem to expect to be able to continue their marches, complete with banners commemorating LVF killers in some cases. What we have is a negative feedback loop — Orangemen march, Nationalists resent, parade is contested, creating resentment among the Orangemen. The question is how to end the triumphalism without giving the Nationalists a triumph.

    IJN: “You don’t get to shirk your responsibilities just because others are shirking theirs. No one said it was easy, mind. ”

    Surely you can — in contract law, it called “non-performance.” You wouldn’t pay / reward a contractor who failed to perform, would you?

  • missfitz

    Right
    Lib, here we go.

    I contest your statement based on the information from the Equality commission. While you are correct in stating that women have equal share in jobs, at senior levels there is a sharp falling off at Grade 5 and above. This tallies with my previous information,

    Any changes that take place are going to be gradual and perhaps we may see some significant changes by 2020.

    As to your other point about the retirement of the senior level of management, that is not how it goes. This is not like Patten where you have mass retirement, all that will happen in the CS is the normal retirement and replacment cycle, as always beofre

    Adding a link as I know you are busy
    http://www.qub.ac.uk/cawp/UKhtmls/NICS.htm

  • Doctor Who

    Does anyone remember that Stranglers song “Don´t Bring Harry”.

    Surely he is a troll, not even the must ardent republican thug can be so narrow minded, twisted and bitter.

    His autistic comment is a disgrace and then to say he has a soft spot for autism makes him sound even more stupid.

    Can we red card this troll. Don´t Bring Harry.

  • IJP

    DC

    It’d be easier if we stuck to one subject at a time, but I’ll cover all your points do we can return to the one we were discussing to start with.

    First of all, of course we all have our biases (I said we were all sectarian on this forum yesterday).

    Secondly though, you haven’t been able to point to any of mine. Not being able to understand that someone can oppose both Unionism and Nationalism is a product of the ‘whataboutery’ and the failed ‘sectarian political consensus’.

    Thirdly, you’re right – the Orange’s (and others’) daft insistence that they’re ‘not really Irish’ (despite the name of their own organization) is what led them to draw the divide between them and their fellow Irishpeople, and that divide led to subsequent exclusion, discrimination and unfairness.

    Now we’ve established that (which wasn’t the point), care to return to the point, which was actually about Nationalists‘ readiness or otherwise to deal with ‘mutual respect’ including abandoning their instinctive dislike/resentment for all things ‘British’?

    (By the way, ‘non-performance’ describes the sectarian political system perfectly, if you ask me! Perhaps we should try another contractor?)

  • Dread Cthulhu

    IJP: “Now we’ve established that (which wasn’t the point), care to return to the point, which was actually about Nationalists‘ readiness or otherwise to deal with ‘mutual respect’ including abandoning their instinctive dislike/resentment for all things ‘British’? ”

    Sorry, respect, particulary “mutual respect” can not be resolved on a particle basis.

    Likewise, unless and until the Orangemen and their fellow travellers cease their triumphalism, how *CAN* their be mutual respect? You seem to be positing that if onlythe Nationalists would play nicely, all will fall into place and that’s just not so.

  • Harry

    IJP wrote:
    “Nationalists‘ readiness or otherwise to deal with ‘mutual respect’ including abandoning their instinctive dislike/resentment for all things ‘British’?”

    Nationalists aren’t going to abandon their dislike for all things british. They want equal power, nothing more, nothing less. Unionists can march where they want, just not down peoples’ streets where they’re considered an antagonism. Nationalists don’t want to march down unionists’ streets, so there’s parity straight away.

    Doctor Who wrote:
    “Does anyone remember that Stranglers song “Don´t Bring Harry”.
    Surely he is a troll, not even the must ardent republican thug can be so narrow minded, twisted and bitter.
    His autistic comment is a disgrace and then to say he has a soft spot for autism makes him sound even more stupid.”

    It’s called ‘thinking freely’. Try taking a holiday there sometime.

    Doctor Who wrote: “Can we red card this troll.”

    Why not intern me?

  • Doctor Who

    Silly Harry

    “It’s called ‘thinking freely’. Try taking a holiday there sometime”

    HA hA HA. Free thinking republicans…that most be very new..considering they spent thirty years murdering anyone who had a different opinion to them.

    Harry I do not want to intern you just red card you, simply because of the non debate value of your posts, you are stuck in the past, you have fallen hook, line and sinker for all the Sinn Fein / IRA propaganda and cliches.

    Above all Harry your posts are very offensive and you come across as a very aggressive person.

    Now you probably want to kill me.