They have a cunning plan..

After a long day of meetings with the various parties Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Prime Minister Tony Blair have issued a joint statement.. and there’s a work plan for the parties[pdf file] [not much detail though – Ed]. It would appear that Hain’s the Preparation for Government Committee is intended to meet throughout the summer.. assuming no-one decides to boycott it that is.. The BBC report has some comments from those involved. October’s work ends with: “Parties conclude discussions and finalise draft Programme for Government and draft Ministerial Code.” That’s assuming everything goes to plan..From the Work Plan:

July/August

During the summer parties continue to address necessary issues in preparation for government and to consult their members and communities.

• Preparation for Government Committee continues its work (i) identifying the issues that need to be addressed and (ii) preparing a programme of work to enable the Assembly to address these (to be agreed and announced by end August).
• MLAs and parties discharge responsibilities towards employees, landlords etc in respect of ending of salaries and allowances from 24 November.

September

During the autumn efforts to elect FM/DFM continue. Parties hold discussions with each other and the Governments on changes to the institutions. Discussions with parties continue on support for and devolution of policing.

• W/B 4 September: Assembly returns.
• W/B 11 September: Peter Hain and Dermot Ahern take stock of progress on all outstanding issues with the parties.
• Timetabled subjects in plenary on preparation for Government; Preparation for Government Committee continues its work.

October

Parties conclude discussions on all outstanding issues.
Taoiseach and Prime Minister continue to monitor progress closely.

• W/B 2 October: Governments receive and publish IMC report.
• Assembly sessions to prepare for Government continue.
• Final consultations within parties if necessary, and confirmation of readiness to finalise preparations for government.
• Parties conclude discussions and finalise draft Programme for Government and draft Ministerial Code.

Either

November

Parties and Governments make final preparations for restoration of the institutions.

• W/B 20 November: last opportunity to amend Standing Orders and introduce Emergency Bill (on changes to the institutions) at Westminster following all-party agreement to restore devolution.
• 24 November: last opportunity for selecting FM/DFM and Executive and affirming pledge of office. By midnight Secretary of State notifies Presiding Officer of intention to make a Restoration Order [effective on Monday 27 November].
• W/B 27 November: Ministers arrive at Departments. Executive meets.

Or

November

• 24 November: Salaries and allowances for MLAs and financial assistance to parties stop.

December

• BIIGC at Prime Ministerial Summit level to launch new British Irish partnership arrangements.

, ,

  • Rubicon

    Plan B = Anglo Irish Agreement for slow learners?

  • michael

    anybody else want then to fail just to know exactly what ‘plan B’ is?

  • Brian Boru

    Plan B is probably closer to what SF wanted anyway. Remember in the original negotiations they opposed an Assembly until the end. Roll on Plan B!

  • Greenflag

    Time to stop flaying this dead Assembly and bury it instead . If it was a horse the RSPCA would have had both Governments as well as all NI party leaders in the dock for cruelty inflicted on the horse.We’ll not mention the cruelty inflicted and on the long suffering taxpayers and voters of the UK and Ireland who have had to see their leaders waste far too much time on this bunch of collective irresponsible ingrates.

  • Stephen Copeland

    I’m almost sorry for the DUP on this. The choice (Plan A or Plan B) is pretty much neutral for Sinn Fein – they either get to participate in an equal partnership with the DUP (and thereby watch the DUP choke on their humble pie), or they get effective JA (and watch the DUP just choke). For the DUP, of course, the choice is exactly the same.

    Only five months to find a way out … and the two governments have invested a considerable amount of credibility in this, so won’t take kindly to DUP shenanegans.

    It couldn’t have happened to a nicer party!

  • Stephen Copeland

    what exactly is “effective JA”? Legally, structurally and fiscally what do mean? How could it be worse than having a criminal conspiracy exercising unfettered executive power?

    I don’t care for the reality of the devolution on offer and don’t see why the alternative should make me choke. Perhaps if Blair went along to some set piece PR stunt and, say, wrote on a white board what Plan “B” was then I might possibly lose sleep worring about 24th November. Or then again, I’m not sure I’d believe what the PM was threatening. That’s the problem, a decade of “constructive ambiguity” and processing has shot any credibility Blair had amongst unionists.

    Come 25th November those unionists who objected to the institutional basis of the Agreement will be happy if the sectarian Assembly has gone, NI will remain in the UK and I suspect nationalists will wake up just a little disappointed in what “joint stewardship of the process” actually means for their secessionist aspirations.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Peter King,

    I suspect nationalists will wake up just a little disappointed in what “joint stewardship of the process” actually means for their secessionist aspirations.

    You seem to be adopting the Wilkins Micawber approach. That is your choice, of course, and faced with the devil or the deep blue sea (as the DUP is) I might do the same.

    However, I think that time will be a better friend to nationalism than unionism. Even if your ‘great white hope’ (aka Gordo) comes to you assistance, it can only be a temporary relief. I think that most nationalists are prepared to accept that the changes that must come will take another 15-20 years, and most are fairly resigned to the wait. There will be several more ‘agreements’ along the way, and probably another Assembly or forum. Many of today’s protagonists will be just footnotes in the books, and hopefully time will have eased the great hates. Plan B won’t be the end of the story at all – we’ll probably have gone through most of the alphabet by the time of the end-game. So while you may have high hopes for Plan B, remember that others are planning half an alphabet ahead!

  • Stephen Copeland

    What is it about Plan B that makes “a better friend to nationalism than unionism”?

    What changes “must come”? I thought nationalism was 100% for the Agreement.

    Out of interest, when do you expect Plan Z to deliver up the fourth green field?

  • George

    Plan B = what we have already have without the parties cashing the big cheques.

    There will be no joint authority for several reasons. Here are just 3:

    – There are no votes for the Irish government parties in claiming that joint authority exists.

    – The Irish or Britsih governments don’t want joint authority.

    – Sinn Fein doesn’t want the Irish government as the “voice” of nationalism in Northern Ireland.

    What we will have is the British government running the show in a manner that keeps as many people as possible happy and keeps a lid on the security situation.

    There will concessions to nationalism followed by outrage from unionism followed by concessions to unionism followed by outrage from nationalism followed by concessions to nationalism followed by……

    And if the bill comes in at less than 5 billion
    and SF and the DUP are kept in their boxes the UK and ROI will be most happy.

  • George

    I suspect your senario of a “managed” NI is as close to identifying Plan “B” as any posters are going to come.

    Still preferable to enforced coalition with Sinn Fein.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Peter King,

    What is it about Plan B that makes “a better friend to nationalism than unionism”?

    I said time, not Plan B, would be kinder to nationalism.

    What changes “must come”? I thought nationalism was 100% for the Agreement.

    Changes in society and in governance. If you think that there is consensus for the current arrangements you are sorely wrong. There will be increased north-southery in the short-term, and wholy different relationships later, to reflect the increasing strength of nationalism.

    Out of interest, when do you expect Plan Z to deliver up the fourth green field?

    My estimate is the late 2020’s. You can call me on it if I turn out to be wrong 😉

  • Stephen Copeland

    ahhh, time -the Tim Pat Coogan school of nationalism. Strange comfort blanket for an old Campbellian.

    BTW I am interested in what changes in governance must come given the howls of protest that any step outside the Agreement attracts from nationalism.

  • George

    Pakman,
    “Still preferable to enforced coalition with Sinn Fein.”

    If the truth be told (I have changed my view on this in recent months, in fact I’ve done a U-turn), Sinn Fein out of government north of the border would be the most preferable option for all the southern parties.

    Devolution north of the border means SF a step closer to getting their hands on the reins of power south of it, so the southern government will pull the institution down themselves if they have to.

    SF have to be kept in their box. Any time unionism wants or needs to strike a deal with the other tribe, it can come to Dublin.

  • George

    we could do business!

    I recall a UUP bag carrier and sometime columnist only half joking back in ’98 that the deal was FF look after the south and the Ulster Unionists manage the north in perpetuity.

  • slug

    I suppose the main big picture strategic worry of the two governments is to make sure that militants on the republican side don’t try to start a new campaign at some point. Is that the reason the NIO seem so keen to get a deal?

  • George

    Pakman,
    while this consensus has warmed my heart and given me hope for the future I feel I must make you aware that there are dangers with dealing with Dublin.

    We southerners after all invented cute hoorism and there’s no guarantee that we wouldn’t shaft you when the time came to harvest the fourth green field so to speak. And people are quite happy to wait another 50 years.

    Deep down the Irish Republic will always be a predator when it comes to Northern Ireland.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if down the line unification wasn’t presented as the only way for the unionist crop to save itself from the blight that is SF. Cruise O’Brien tried to sell this line to the UKUP not so long ago.

  • George

    thanks for the words of warning re harvesting. Whilst that’s not attractive, I’m up for a bit of pruning. D’ya want the Bogside?

    In fifty years time perhaps you will be having sufficient problems dealing with the foreigners within you current borders without contemplating adding the one million foreigners to your north.

  • Keith M

    “If the truth be told (I have changed my view on this in recent months, in fact I’ve done a U-turn), Sinn Fein out of government north of the border would be the most preferable option for all the southern parties.”

    Obviously those “southern parties” include SF, as finally putting Paisley in the most important position in N.I. is hardly going to gain any extra SF votes, neither will copper-fastening the “local solution” (i.e. local democracy) that they set out to destroy for 70 years.

    Then considser a supposedly “socialist” party having to take on the ludacrous levels of the public service in N.I., and you finally get to see SF’s bigger picture.

    When push comes to shove a properly functioning local administration, accoutable to the people of N.I., is the last thing SF want.

    “Devolution north of the border means SF a step closer to getting their hands on the reins of power south..”

    It means nothing of the sort, if fact if anything it means a step further back from ever being in any position of power in this country for the reasons I’ve mentioned above.

    The only thing that will move SF closer to power in this country is the long overdue abandonment of criminality and the successful fullfilment of the “period of decontamination”. Only then will supporters of parties like FF no longer baulk at coalition with SF.

    “Any time unionism wants or needs to strike a deal with the other tribe, it can come to Dublin.”. Here we agree (and I suspect we can also consider the DUP in the same camp given Paisley’s visits to Dublin), far better to talk to the man with the barrel organ etc.

  • George

    Pakman,
    I doubt if we’ll be going down the pruning route but thank you very much for the kind offer. Obviously you are safely away from the prune zone.

    Don’t worry about the foreigners in 50 years time they’ll be Irish. We need to reach the magic pre-famine 8 million and we won’t manage it on our ownski.

    Keithm,
    “Obviously those “southern parties” include SF, as finally putting Paisley in the most important position in N.I. is hardly going to gain any extra SF votes, neither will copper-fastening the “local solution” (i.e. local democracy) that they set out to destroy for 70 years.”

    When I said all the southern parties wanted Sinn Fein out of power I wasn’t including Sinn Fein as one of the southern parties. Obviously SF have 5 TDs but I thought people would make the leap that they weren’t included in that comment.

    Also the people who vote SF in the Republic don’t just vote for them on the “national question”. I think you are looking at thinks very one-dimensionally if you do. You are totally underestimating your enemy if that’s all you think SF voters are.

    “It means nothing of the sort, if fact if anything it means a step further back from ever being in any position of power in this country for the reasons I’ve mentioned above.”

    I think your argument is too simplistic. Sinn Fein only got votes south of the border when the IRA moved away from its campaign of violence. They will only get more votes if they move closer to the mainstream. They need acceptance and that only comes by being in government, north or south.

    Sinn Fein helping run a quarter of this island will lend credence to them not detract in the mind of the electorate.

    “The only thing that will move SF closer to power in this country is the long overdue abandonment of criminality and the successful fullfilment of the “period of decontamination”. Only then will supporters of parties like FF no longer baulk at coalition with SF.”

    I don’t disagree with what you are saying but I am saying that if SF is in government north of the border, it will be harder for parties south of the border to avoid letting them into power. The “period” will be shorter.

    The much easier option for southern parties is to leave them in political no man’s land for the forseeable future.

    So no Assembly and unionists dealing with Dublin.
    Naturally, this takes northern nationalists for granted but when have we done otherwise.

  • George

    no really, have it.

    As for my current zone of choice, I have first hand family experience of being on the wrong side of a line – something that will not be happening again.

  • MikeH

    Pakman

    You really don’t get it – do you?

    NI is an economic liability to the UK govt as well as an international embarrassment.

    The vast majority of English people don’t want NI and would be glad to see the back of it. Unionists love to think that English people see them all as British. Well, (having lived here for 20+ years), I can tell you that, when they hear your accent, you’re just classified as Irish and no-one cares what religion you are.

    In the past, when Unionists said NO – everything stopped and the GB govt kept bailing NI out (to the tune of billions). Those days are over – the UK govt and the vast majority of people are sick of funding the Unionist spongers (to quote Harold Wilson) and are going to stop doing so. The (long overdue) disbandment of the RIR, the destruction of the watch towers, the reduction in Army personnel – do these things educate you at all?

    You clearly don’t like Tony Blair but that doesn’t make him stupid. He’s not going to say Joint Authority and cause an unnecessary argument but clearly “Plan B” is the beginning (decisions affecting NI being discussed and agreed between the UK and Irish govts – you don’t have to be a rocket scientist do you?)

    The upshot will be greater numbers of middle and upper class Protestants sending their children to English Universities – a lot of these will choose not to return (as they have no interest in living in an NI where Catholics are treated as equals).

    The demographics clearly favour nationalism anyway and this will merely accelerate. Unionists would be far better adopting a strategy of trying to work with Nationalists and ensure that best future for all.

    However, any Unionist who has the foresight to do this and prepare their membership for change (David Trimble) is labelled a “Lundy” or traitor.

    The current DUP tactics clearly assume that the UK govt will back down over the November 24 deadline. Do you really believe that?

    Tony Blair had the courage of his convictions and pressed ahead with the Iraq war (although this was unpopular with the majority of the electorate).

    The vast majority of English people don’t give a s**t about NI – for those that do – closing the assembly, stopping the salaries of the MLAs and working with the RoI govt to administer NI will be a very popular decision.

    So, on the one hand – Tony Blair can save millions of pounds and make himself more popular among the UK electorate of over 60 million – or he can waste millions of pounds and pander to less than 800,000 Unionists who are increasingly viewed as being about 100 years behind the times.

    It’s a poser isn’t it?

  • harlequin

    Mike H

    Interesting how much you seem to know about the “vast majority” of English people. I assume that this would be based on some form of survey. Would be very interested to see the data.

  • memorystick

    George

    You must be either unbelievably niave or just thick.

    Plan B whether you like it or not is Joint Authority, furthermore what do you think will happen down the line when the shinners increase their share of the vote in the Dail, end up with ministries in the Irish parl…..? The NI Assembly with its fault is one hell of alot better for unionism than Joint Authority and the effective repartitioning that will be RPA. I’m not quite sure what the DUP are at but I hope to god they know what they are doing because from here its look very bleak.

  • harlequin

    Mike H

    So no survey then.

    I thought not.

  • Mike H

    I get do indeed “get it”.

    I studied in Manchester and London. I worked in London. The one thing English people do ask when they hear a NI accent is what religion you are because it is lazy shorthand for your politics and nationality. Whereas I find ones’ religion the least interesting of personal attributes and quite frankly none of my business.

    I don’t require any more education from you or anyone else- a law degree and subsequent professional qualification will suffice. To say nothing of ten years involved in the “process”.

    You also refer to the politics of out-breeding. The fact you resorted to that tired nonsense requires no further comment.

    Perhaps you should come home and take stock before you post again. Twenty years away has made you rusty.

  • George

    Memorystick,
    “George
    You must be either unbelievably niave or just thick.”

    I like to think I’m a little bit of all three – unbelievable, naive and obviously thick. So thick I can’t count and I’m actually going to try and address your post.

    “Plan B whether you like it or not is Joint Authority.”

    As I’m thick as the proverbial I don’t have a say in the matter. What I like is neither here nor there but I would be delighted to hear you tell me where and when any member of the Irish or British governments said Plan B is joint authority. In fact, they have said the opposite. Or are you in charge of plan B? Why should I believe you ahead of the people who are in charge of Plan B?

    “furthermore what do you think will happen down the line when the shinners increase their share of the vote in the Dail, end up with ministries in the Irish parl…..?”

    And who will they go into Dail Eireann with? All the major parties have said they won’t go into coalition with SF under any circumstances.

    Considering SF have 5 seats and need 84 to get into government without the help of some other party I feel it is safe to assume they will need the help of another party. Or have I missed something here? Is there a coup d’Etat planned?

    “The NI Assembly with its fault is one hell of alot better for unionism than Joint Authority and the effective repartitioning that will be RPA. I’m not quite sure what the DUP are at but I hope to god they know what they are doing because from here its look very bleak.”

    The NI Assembly is a joke for jokers. All the guff and hullabaloo surrounding it is only tolerated because it has zero effect on the parliaments of power on these islands – Dail Eireann and Westminster.

  • MikeH

    Pakman

    I’m not querying either your academic credentials (incidentally I have an honours degree from NI and a Masters Degree from London) or your intelligence.

    I just disagree with your interpretation.

    Harlequin

    Obviously there has never been a referendum in England\Wales\Scotland (as a whole)on this specific issue so there are no figures – but this doesn’t prove that either of us is right or wrong.

    What I can say is that, in my opinion, the future
    of NI is a NON-ISSUE for the vast majority of English\Welsh people. I have lived here for 20+ years and my wife and children are English – I don’t claim to know the vast majority of people but I’ve met a lot through family and business and overwhelmingly – they don’t understand the situation in NI and don’t care.

    An obvious example is the policy of “ulsterisation” that was followed by successive UK govts for 30 years. When people were being killed and millions of pounds in insurance costs incurred in England – it was headline news and a high priority. When these things occur in NI, they are just meaningless statistics to most people “across the water”.

    Of course, that’s my interpretation, but I think you’ll find that this “policy” has been interpreted in this way and widely critised by every major political party in NI over the last 30 years.

    In 1985 – Margaret Thatcher, a CONSERVATIVE and UNIONIST Prime Minister, signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement – hated by NI Unionists. One right-wing Cabinet minister (the late Ian Gow) resigned. However, MT was returned to power in 1987 with a massive majority – so it can hardly be claimed that even Conservative UK voters were overly concerned about her signing the AIA and the Unionist outrage.

    In 1998 the Labour Goverment signed the GFA and 3 years later was returned to power with a massive majority.

    When the Labour Majority was reduced in 2005 – it was over a war in Iraq (nothing to do with NI).
    Even with a much smaller majority – they’ve not struggled to get the current legislation (with the Nov 24 deadline) through.

    I’m usually back in NI about 4 times a year. I read the NI newspapers on-line, I visit web sites such as this and ATW, listen to TalkBack etc. Therefore, I think I’m fairly “clued up” on the current situation.

    It was actually listening to TalkBack that inspired my initial post. There seem to be a lot of (particularly older) Unionists who believe that there would be some sort of outrage in the UK if the British Govt and the RoI take embryonic steps in the direction of joint authority over NI.

    As you asked me, Harlequin – where are the figures to substantiate this? Let’s face it, the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments were established with little or no protest.

    There are of course a minority (very small in my opinion) for whom NI is an issue. Friends of the Union (really Kate Hoey, Robert Cranbourne and a few right-wing establishment figures) and people such as Andrew McCann. Or, if you really want to scrape the barrel, there is the BNP or Combat 18. However, none of these groups or individuals have exactly got the govt running scared, have they?

    Any future UK govt can see how the demographics are going and ,while there may be a change of emphasis or pace, I suspect that the final choice will be the same – sort it out internally or it’s off down the joint authority road.

    That’s where (in my opinion) the current DUP position is flawed . They obviously believe that, if the Nov 24 deadline isn’t met, the govt will lose their nerve because there will be massive opposition (in the English/Welsh electorate) to any fledgling moves towards joint authority. I don’t believe that the vast majority of the English/Welsh electorate could care less and I think the govt will proceed with their plan as detailed in the relevant legislation.

    Harlequin – I agree that that there are no absolute figures to prove my argument (or yours).
    However, if you can provide any figures to show that either:

    The future of NI is a big issue to the English/Welsh electorate

    or

    There would be any sort of massive political backlash in England or Wales against a joint UK/RoI administration.

    I’d be very interested to see them.

  • abucs

    Hello George,

    You refer a couple of times to the possibility in the event of there being no assembly, that Unionists will sort things out with Dublin and Nationalists will just be taken for granted.
    I don’t believe this is remotely possible. Maybe 40 or 50 years ago with a British government, but not now.

    In the first instance, under what capacity will unionists be having this exclusive love-in with Dublin ? Or London for that matter.

    At the moment big Ian is the First Minister in waiting, and Martin is the Deputy First Minister in waiting. A shared office under the GFA, whose principles Dublin wishes to uphold.

    In the absence of an assembly big Ian simply becomes the MP for north Antrim. At the moment he has 8 other DUP MP’s but there are 9 other non DUP MP’s. Are you trying to say that Dublin will deal with only one set of NI MP’s. ?

    Do you seriously think the UUP will go for that ? The SDLP ? Alliance ? Not to mention the party who under the GFA are in line for the other half of the shared leadership office. Heck, i don’t even know if the DUP could stomach those arrangements with Dublin.

    Westminster MP’s anyway do not have the structure, staff or authority to run NI. They are only slightly more influential than the 3 European MP’s who get lost in the European parliament.

    The practical power in NI, as far as available staff, budget, transparency, accountability, structure of government and control of decision making will gradually pass to the enhanced 7 councils. It has already begun with housing.

    Unionists may be in a position here to lobby for half of those councils, but NOT on a NI wide scale. And without universal NI-wide agreement between councils (almost a given), that lobbying will be on a very fragmented, ad-hoc and weak basis. A small amount of money can be pumped into these councils to greatly enhance their powers and give Dublin/London major influence by holding the purse strings.

    The joint stewardship may insist to the councils basically to behave how they wish or get on without the extra funding and watch other councils streak ahead of you. Look at the influence the West has at the moment with the HAMAS controlled Palestinian authority.

    I think Bertie said it well in Armagh. He pondered aloud that nowhere else in the world would local politicians give up their power and influence. He said that he didn’t want for himself and the British PM to take that power and influence that is being surrendered. But if they chose to surrender it, so be it.

    The DUP at the moment are choosing to surrender it. Both their power and influence will be greatly diminished in the absence of an assembly and as hinted to above, I believe future dealings will more than likely be with elected councils. And certainly not with some pipe dream of a wink and a nod by an unrepresentative boys club that belongs to the distant past.
    Whether that boys club be in Dublin or London or a combination of both.

  • harlequin

    Mike H

    You really could have saved yourself an awful lot of writing – and saved me an awful lot of reading – by just answering my original question.

    However, to be fair, you did actually answer my question in your ‘obviously there’s never been a referendum’ line. In other words, your “the vast majority” quotes were made up.

    Given that you have clearly made that up, why should I – or anyone else – pay any attention to anything else you should say? Where’s the truth and where are the lies?

    “Harlequin – I agree that that there are no absolute figures to prove my argument (or yours).
    However, if you can provide any figures to show that either etc.etc.”

    I didn’t make any argument, Mike. I simply asked you – twice – to back your “the vast majority” claims.

    You didn’t. You couldn’t.

    You made them up.

    End of story.

    Goodnight

  • Crataegus

    Harlequin

    I haven’t met too many English or Welsh people who have any real interest in NI. By no means a representative sample, but if have you wish to believe there is indeed support or interest then fine with me.

    Abucs

    The DUP at the moment are choosing to surrender it. Both their power and influence will be greatly diminished in the absence of an assembly and as hinted to above, I believe future dealings will more than likely be with elected councils.

    The DUP have been good at appealing to the popular vote ‘the mob of Rome’ as it were. They have been an utter disaster when it comes to strategic long term planning as positioning for of the popularist politics is simply for the moment and present gain not long term benefit. In my opinion they have consistently undermined the best interests of the position they aim to strengthen. I would imagine when the history is written they will be regarded as an unmitigated disaster when viewed from a Unionist perspective.

    The councils scenario is potentially a mess and it will enable the selling off of all assets here and water privatisation. This to me is the real sign that the English are planning to leave. Strip out all assets and dump the place. It is in the common interests of the people on this Island to stop that if possible.

  • Prince Eoghan

    harlequin

    Very dismissive of Mike H, this is after all, all about opinions. Isn’t it? Maybe there is too much of a whiff of credence about his opinions for you?

  • Greenflag

    ‘The one thing English people do ask when they hear a NI accent is what religion you are because it is lazy shorthand for your politics and nationality. ‘

    Can’t say I blame them . The English haven’t got the time or the interest to go through the ‘identity’ games that NI people play when it’s not immediately clear from which side of the fence some NI person comes from .

    In other parts of the world where people do not want/need /care what one’s religion or lack of one is and are interested just enough to ask what part of Ireland I was from, North or South my reply of ‘the East ‘ is usually enough to forestall other questions 🙂

  • páid

    just on the question of how Britons feel about losing NI….

    perhaps there would be significant poll evidence if either…….

    it was ever an election issue (save a very marginal one in a few west of Scotland constituencies)

    or…..anyone could be bothered commissioning an opinion poll

    My own opinion

    Britons don’t particularly want rid of NI

    Britons don’t particularly want to keep NI

    As long as bombs aren’t going off in English cities, IMHO, outside of an increasingly marginalised Tory rump, I don’t think they care much.

  • Harlequin

    Crat, Prince E

    In none of my emails did I express an opinion either way. Mike H made some pretty sweeping statements, I simply asked for some evidence.

    FYI, my own experience (living in England for a good few years now) strongly supports Pid’s view. Most English people have little or no understanding of NI, nor do they particularly want to. I have many good friends over here, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have had any form of discussion with them regarding the NI situation.

    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday