Reclaiming ‘Ulster’

A post on ie-politics got me thinking..

Marianne Elliot, in the prologue to her book The Catholics of Ulster, says that few Catholics today would admit to an “Ulster” identity, even less than those who adhere to a “Northern Ireland” allegiance. Elliot argues that it is surely high time for Ulster Catholics to re-assert their regional identity and challenge the view that “Ulster” necessarily means Protestant.

The point rang true with me – when I go to watch Irish rugby games, I sometimes take an Ulster flag (I wouldn’t fly the Tricolour at rugby, as it’s an all-Ireland team) – and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been abused by southernerns for a percieved Britishness (the abusers tend not to realise the meaning of the nine-county flag).

So – on this, one of the most high-profile days in ‘Ulster’ – is it time Nationalists started reclaiming the identity?

  • Nevin

    Billy Pilgrim, I have a feeling that your 2016 mindset is based on, er, pie-in-the-sky. It’s reminiscent of those mindsets in the nationalist family in the late 19th century that thought a simple deal could be stitched up with the Gladstonian Liberals.

    Meanwhile, Blair and Ahern will probably attempt to bribe the loyalist and republican godfathers with more control of local community justice and policing arrangements even if the cancer is likely to spread further into Donegal and other parts of the RoI.

  • Rory

    Thank you, Billy Pilgrim, for your clear headed analysis of where we are now and refutation of the nonsense of repartition.

    It is indeed imperative that we recognise the progress that has been made towards sanity and hope for all the people of Ireland and that we allow that progress to develop organically towards the only possible accomodation that is envisaged by the major players in the game. Indeed I very much doubt that there is any reactionary force, either from within loyalist lumpen-proletarianism and their puppet masters or most certainly not from the ranks of dissident “force alone” republicanism that can disrupt that progress. But over-anxiety and faintheartedness among people of goodwill has the propensity to be its biggest threat.

  • Objectivist

    Keith Mills,
    It never ceases to amaze me that unionists who point out over and over again the logic underpinning partition cannot grasp that the same logic ,if consistently applied,points inexorably towards *re*partition.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    “I have a feeling that your 2016 mindset is based on, er, pie-in-the-sky.”

    Maybe you’ll be proven right. Maybe I will. I suppose that’s the beauty of standing up and making a prediction – by 2021 I’ll either be definitively shown to have either been right or wrong. I suppose we’ll see.

    “It’s reminiscent of those mindsets in the nationalist family in the late 19th century that thought a simple deal could be stitched up with the Gladstonian Liberals.”

    Two things – one, that deal was Home Rule, and they came close. Two – EVERYTHING has changed since then. Here’s a flavour: the Empire’s gone, and so too is the danger of setting a good example for the colonies; Britain is a proper democracy now, with the Lords having been neutered; the majority of Ireland is a successful independent state, rendering null the old imperial arguments about whether the natives were fit to govern themselves; the part of Ireland that stayed within the union is a failure; when the British government today deals with the Irish, it is dealing not with a parliamentary grouping but with a sovereign government; Ireland and Britain are key allies within the context of the EU, which is today the bread and butter reality for both nations; the relationship between the British and Irish governments today is such that a military presence in Ireland is no longer necessary for Britain to achieve its strategic objectives in the north Atlantic; unionism in Ulster was a major threat in 1888-1921 to the stability of any new Anglo-Irish deal, to the stability of the British armed forces, to the stability of the Union and the Empire – today unionism in Ulster might still be a threat to an Anglo-Irish deal, but the other threats have receded, and as demonstrated over the Anglo-Irish Agreement and Drumcree, the British government has gotten used to facing down loyal Ulster.

    The reason I am predicting unification within 15 years? Simple. Northern Ireland is finished, and everyone knows it.

    It may take a few more years before people start admitting it and pointing to the elephant it the room, but when that starts happening there won’t be any stopping it.

    Meanwhile the Republic’s success continues to astound the world and the Irish government’s standing among Ulster’s Protestant’s seems to be rising all the time.

    “Meanwhile, Blair and Ahern will probably attempt to bribe the loyalist and republican godfathers with more control of local community justice and policing arrangements even if the cancer is likely to spread further into Donegal and other parts of the RoI.”

    Blair might but Ahern will not. The Taoiseach and his successors will pursue the gangsters ruthlessly, directing the full resources of the state against them. Look, for example, at the successes of the Criminal Assets Bureau, compared with the Assets Recovery Agency.

    Protestants in the north notice this stuff – hence the joint PSNI/Garda organised crime protocol signed last year, accompanied by zero controversy.

    There’s the thing – an Irish Taoiseach will CARE what happens in Ireland, whereas to a British PM, Ireland is a quarantine zone in which problems are there to be “contained”.

    People are noticing this stuff at last. This is ont of the many factors that have convinced me that SOMETHING HAS GOT TO GIVE. And I believe it will, soon but not just yet.

    Fifteen years, max. (By which time reunification will have been agreed, if not fully completed, natch. There may be a “reunification process” or something like that.)

  • Keith M

    Objectivist “It never ceases to amaze me that unionists who point out over and over again the logic underpinning partition cannot grasp that the same logic ,if consistently applied,points inexorably towards *re*partition.”

    We live in very different times and the same solution cannot guarantee the same success 80+ years on.

    When partition was introduced in the 1910s, it was done to allow nationalists have Home Rule. Most Nationalists would have preffered all island Home Rule, but it became very obvious that that would not be achieved without a huge amout of unnecessary bloodshed.

    Unionists didn’t want Home Rule anywhere on the island, but again they realiseed that if it was blocked, there would be bloodshed.

    Partition was therefore not the first choice of anyone, but eventually is was acceptable to almost everyone, given the alternative.

    Today I don’t know of any group that thinks re-partition is an acceptable solution undeer any condition. Even if you could find an acceptable method of re-drawing the border to satisfy as many people as possible, which parties would encourage their supporters to vote for it?

    For SF/IRA and the SDLP it would mean that the their precious “united Ireland” would go from being unrealistic to completly impossible. For unionists, seeing their brothers sacrificed to a country which has been hostile to Protestants and remains hostile to unionists would simply not wash.

    With no party political support any referendum would fail. The only way re-partition could be introduced would be if it was imposed over the heads of the electorate and as Thatcher realised, that would just cause more resentment.

  • Nevin

    [i]an Irish Taoiseach will CARE what happens in Ireland[/i]

    LOL – Good one, Billy. So where was the Taoiseach of the day when Dick Spring took his ‘facing down the Unionists’ proposal to the British government in 1996 and the British government more-or-less rubberstamped it?

    You’ve failed to note that the two governments have adopted a NIMBY attitude to NI; they’ve attempted to use NI as a quarantine zone for paramilitarism. IMO they’ll fail; the loyalist and republican godfathers will take the sweeties and laugh at Blair and Ahern behind their backs.

  • Greenflag

    Billy,

    Thanks for your reply . My thinking for want it’s worth . Unionists have never been in the ‘national equation’. They have opposed all attempts made by the majority of Irish people over the past 200 years to win national independence . Unionists have a consistent record of opposition to any independent Ireland ,regardless of whether those who wanted independence used peaceful or violent means . Every election resultin NI since that States foundation has been based on the size of the Unionist demographic majority . Northern Ireland was effectively a one party state for all of it’s ‘independent ‘ political existence 1920-1972.

    So what you may say ? Well the conclusion I draw from the above is that Unionists in NI are as attached to the Union as I am to an independent Irish Republic .

    I’m aware at how far Irish nationalists have progressed in NI over the past 20 years or so but this has no impact on NI elections apart from a reduction in the Unionist majority .

    You prediction of a UI in 10 to 15 years is based on what exactly ? A reversal of the demographics favouring Nationalists ? the abandonment of garden centre prods of Unionism for a UI ? . I don’t see either of those scenarios .

    What I do see is Paisley’s ‘fundamentalism’. With Paisleyite fundamentalism or Islamic fundamentalism there can be no rational debate. The ‘fundamentalists’ know the well rehearsed God /Allah answers before they start and then try to force others into the ‘straightjacket’ of fundamentalist preconceptions . As somebody else pointed out on another post these fundamentalists have to be left to find their own way out of the cul de sac into which they have been led or have willingly followed. Repartition provides them with a narrower cul de sac, and might even prompt rational debate ? If Paisley was just a priest it would not matter . But he is the elected political leader of Unionism in NI . As for Paisley being Irish ? Being born in a stable does not necessarily mean you are a horse – you could also be a donkey or a mule or a rat . Take your pick as to which is most appropriate.

    ‘ If you believe in the republic then why don’t you believe that it would be capable of answering the challenges presented by Ulster’s Protestant population? ‘

    Of course I believe in the Republic but it does not have to be a 32 county Republic . I can live with a 30 county Republic or even a 26 county Republic . I don’t see any challenge being presented by any section of Ulster’s protestants to the Republic . They’re not interested . They would prefer to watch grass grow in their garden centres .

    ‘but a critical mass of Protestants are reasonable ‘

    I agree but their ‘reasonableness does not have to extend to voting for a UI in a border referendum does it ? That ‘reasonableness’ would of course help garden centre prods to accept ‘repartition’ as a reasonable solution IMO.

    I’m reasonable too Billy, but my reasonableness would not extend to me voting for a return of the Irish Republic to the UK . Nor would my ‘reasonableness’ ever lead me to accepting monarchy or an established head of Church as head of an Irish State

    As for being ‘scared’ of Paisley or ‘losing ‘ nerve ? I’m not . I just don’t see Paisley or his ilk ever fitting comfortably into a modern Republic . And although I’ll admit that I have little respect for Paisley and his ilks ‘politics’ or their voodoo religion I would be the last one on earth to wish them an uncomfortable future in a 32 county Irish Republic to which they would have no loyalty and would remain bitter and alienated for the rest of their lives.

    A fair Repartition IMO resolves these ‘uncomfortable facts’ in so far as they can be resolved. Unfortunately repartition would leave about 3.4% of the entire island’s population on the ‘wrong side’ of the new border . 200,000 people out of a total of 5.8 million. A lot less than the number of Irish in the present 6 counties or the number that Unionists would be in a 32 county state .

  • Greenflag

    Objectivist

    ‘It never ceases to amaze me that unionists who point out over and over again the logic underpinning partition cannot grasp that the same logic ,if consistently applied,points inexorably towards *re*partition.

    Correct . It is the just another side to the ‘hypocrisy’ underlying much of unionist thinking/posturing if you want to call it that .

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    “So where was the Taoiseach of the day when Dick Spring took his ‘facing down the Unionists’ proposal to the British government in 1996 and the British government more-or-less rubberstamped it?”

    How does this contradict my argument?

    “You’ve failed to note that the two governments have adopted a NIMBY attitude to NI; they’ve attempted to use NI as a quarantine zone for paramilitarism. IMO they’ll fail; the loyalist and republican godfathers will take the sweeties and laugh at Blair and Ahern behind their backs.”

    I disagree. It was the Irish government, not unionism and certainly not the British government, that took the lead on republican criminality. It is the Irish Justice Minister more than any unionist or British politician who is the strongest and most effective opponent of the republican movement and its illegal activities. It is the Gardai and CAB that are the IRA’s most effective opponents.

    To say that the Irish government has a NIMBYish attitude to the north is true in many respects, but not in terms of paramilitarism and crime. Ever since the Troubles, successive Taoisigh have taken direct roles in the north, recognising that the Republic simply CANNOT dislocate itself from what happens in the north, no matter how much any individual Taoiseach might like to. (Though this Taoiseach seems to have a real emotional investment in the place, even if his immediate predecessor clearly did not.)

    (The British government are NIMBYish in all respects towards Ireland – a much more feasible strategy when there’s a sea in between.)

  • Nevin

    Billy, the Taoiseagh of the day had an opportunity to care about Northern Ireland; he instead adopted a partisan approach when he permitted Spring to pursue the ‘facing down the Unionists’ proposal on contentious marches.

    The point you make about McDowell reinforces my views about a divergence in approach by different departments in the two Governments. What message does Ahern’s and McAleese’s ‘fraternisation’ with loyalist godfathers sent to their victims? It will probably be similar to Ahern’s treatment of Gerry McCabe’s widow and his over-hasty release of paramilitary prisoners without a quid pro quo on paramilitary decommissioning and disbandment. Too much carrot and too little stick did major damage to democracy in general and the UUP and SDLP in particular.

    IMO the NIMBY approach is much more dangerous for the RoI but there are risks for the rest of the UK too. The tentacles of paramilitary fascism and mafiaism probably have quite a strong international dimension already.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Nevin,

    You are too much obsessed with the idea of paramilitary criminality to see that the current strategy by both governments is two-pronged. The high profile meetings with UDA chiefs is only one side of the coin, and it is one that is designed to entice them into the mainstream. It is remarkable how the vanity of these people can be appealed to by meetings/invites/golf rounds and so on. But simultaneously, slightly out of sight, both jurisdictions are gathering intel on the activities and the players. This intel then is used by the CAB and northern equivalent to hit the criminals hard, at a time when their leadership has essentially been bought off and brought into the parlour. Yes, those leaders are scum, but in the realpolitik of the present day it is better to hold your nose and flatter them with attention if it can help to divide them from the lower-level operatives who are then easier to mop up or control.

    Neither jurisdiction has thrown in the towel, and neither will. There is no question in the south, for instance, of paramilitary ‘godfathers’ ever extending their very limited spheres of influence, except perhaps to Portlaoise prison. Once the north ‘normalises’, in the sense of the DUP being brought into the political process, and SF signing up to policing, the same will happen there.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Gosh, I’ve unwittingly discovered another of Mick’s autocensor ‘naughty’ words!

    The #### in my post was the dreadful word S C U M. Another word that may never apparently speak its name.

  • Nevin

    Stephen, I must admit to a little obsession: I talk to quite a wide range of folks and then attempt to put the pieces of the jig-saw in place.

    Your ‘if’ depends on stupidity on the part of the godfathers. As they appear to have ‘professional’ advice then that dramatically IMO weakens your argument. IMO, in some places, the official towel is now too small to mop up the minor detritus let alone the major stuff.

    What would you feel if the two governments were to ‘legitimise’ the paramilitary justice and policing systems in areas where the godfather’s rule?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    “Billy, the Taoiseagh of the day had an opportunity to care about Northern Ireland; he instead adopted a partisan approach when he permitted Spring to pursue the ‘facing down the Unionists’ proposal on contentious marches.”

    But what does this have to do with the issue of tackling criminality?

    “The point you make about McDowell reinforces my views about a divergence in approach by different departments in the two Governments.”

    But we’re talking about the issue of tackling criminality, and McDowell is the Minister for Justice – ie the main man. The fact remains that the IRA’s most effective opponent in recent years has not been the PSNI, British Army, special branch or loyalists, but An Garda Siochana and the Criminal Assets Bureau. The Irish government can deal with the IRA more effectively than anyone else.

    “What message does Ahern’s and McAleese’s ‘fraternisation’ with loyalist godfathers sent to their victims? It will probably be similar to Ahern’s treatment of Gerry McCabe’s widow and his over-hasty release of paramilitary prisoners without a quid pro quo on paramilitary decommissioning and disbandment. Too much carrot and too little stick did major damage to democracy in general and the UUP and SDLP in particular.”

    I understand the emotion attached to these cases but governments have to look at the big picture. If you look at where we were ten years ago, you’d have to admit the progress has been staggering?

    “IMO the NIMBY approach is much more dangerous for the RoI but there are risks for the rest of the UK too. The tentacles of paramilitary fascism and mafiaism probably have quite a strong international dimension already.”

    The RoI can handle it. Nothing would destroy the republican movement more surely than reunification.

  • Objectivist

    Keith Mills,
    Your post is a classic example of an ab initio belief followed by post hoc ontological justification.
    ”For unionists, seeing their brothers sacrificed to a country which has been hostile to Protestants and remains hostile to unionists would simply not wash.”
    This canard has been aired ad nauseum.The Southern print media is substantially pro unionist -one point of many which could be made.Besides this hostility ,insofar as it has occurred or is occurring, pales into insignificance
    compared to anti-Catholic/anti-nationalist hostility in the Northern state since its inception.
    The logic is simple.If the presence of a localised unionist majority within the island of Ireland warrants exclusion from an all Ireland set-up then the presence of a localised nationalist majority *within* NI should get equal and opposite recognition.
    Your argument when pared down is implicitly supremacist – in terms of deciding the location of a the border a localised unionist majority counts for more than a localised nationalist majority ergo the vote of a unionist counts for more than the vote of a nationalist.

  • Nevin

    Billy, if you just stop hopping about I could target your points more easily: when you mentioning caring expect me to answer on caring rather that on another point about criminality.

    The Irish government has a hypocritical stance on paramilitary criminality: on the one hand it’s prepared to tackle this cancer down south; on the other it wants a blind eye turned up north with the associated parapoliticians in government. If Bart has such faith in these parapoliticians he could offer them positions in his own administration.

    Are we supposed to be grateful because the paramilitaries have switched from killing people and bombing economic targets to brutalising their own communities and anyone else who dares to enter without their say so, not to mention the development of their mafia-like ‘business’ enterprises?

    Reunification is unlikely to happen in this generation whereas the paramilitary justice systems may well prove to be more ‘attractive’ to some communities than either the Gardai or the PSNI.

  • IDUNNO

    This is the most interesting debate I’ve read here in donkeys.

    Objectionist

    “‘It never ceases to amaze me that unionists who point out over and over again the logic underpinning partition cannot grasp that the same logic ,if consistently applied,points inexorably towards *re*partition.

    Correct . It is the just another side to the ‘hypocrisy’ underlying much of unionist thinking/posturing if you want to call it that .”

    And yet you who advocates re-partition would I suspect object to the original partition of this island? Is this not an example of even further hypcrisy?

    PM
    Great post. I like your open mindedness, it’s a state of mind we should all aspire to posess.

    Billy Pilgrim
    Well done in ripping to shreds GreenFlags idiotic re-partitioning proposal. It stinks of the gerrymandering and selfeshness which screwed this gorgeous part of the world up. His proposals sound to me like Craig’s “Protestant Parliament” crap; it would merely start the cycle again.

    You yearn to see TD’s from your area posted to the Dail Eireann. I have an opinion on that. At the moment there are two states or countries on this island (or whatever the pedants on this site/ thread want to call them). I imagine your ideal is to see the island united under a Dublin parliament. To unionists/prods/loyalists this would be a defeat. They would feel about this, IMO, similar to how Nationalists and people from the republic would feel about being (re)integrated into the UK. It’s something that would be hard for them to stomach. To these people they see Dublin’s historical claims to the North as akin to Britain’s historical claims of dominion over ireland. The fact that Ireland was allowed to send parliamentary represntatives to Westminster did not stop the irish from feeling that they were being ruled by London, just as allowing prods/northerners to send TD’s to Dublin would not stop the feeling that Dublin was “in charge”. A Dublin governent of a UI, or a UI under the tricolour would never be palatable to the orange people of the north.
    I havent really thought this through too much, but what IMO what would be eminently more palatable would be a Northern governed island If the power bases were even geograhically based in the north, and stripped of Gaelicization(is this a word). The dublin rule sceptics would be appeased. The irish terminology/ names used within the government of the Dail are somewhat offputting for those of a unionist perspective (sadly). If the nationalists/ republicans wanted a UI enough it would be acceptable. Coming from a nominally prod/unionist background I would have no problems with a United Ireland on these terms?
    As i said I havent really thought this through too much, but I’d be interested to hear debate constructive or even destructive??

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Idunno

    “I imagine your ideal is to see the island united under a Dublin parliament.”

    Couldn’t care less where the parliament is. They can put it in bloody Portadown for all I care! As long as it’s a sovereign and democratic parliament in which all the people of Ireland are represented.

    “To unionists/prods/loyalists this would be a defeat. They would feel about this, IMO, similar to how Nationalists and people from the republic would feel about being (re)integrated into the UK. It’s something that would be hard for them to stomach.”

    I understand that, and I think a fair bit of creativity will be required to make it unambiguously clear that reunification won’t be about “victory” – or perhaps more to the point, that it will be about victory for everyone.

    “A Dublin government of a UI, or a UI under the tricolour would never be palatable to the orange people of the north.”

    Would it make any difference if it wasn’t a RoI takeover of the north but more of a north-south marriage, creating not an enlarged Republic but an all-new all-Ireland state, with new constitution, new institutions, new symbols etc? All of this is, I think, achievable, if the will existed among a sufficient number of Ulster Protestants to think the unthinkable.

    “I haven’t really thought this through too much, but what IMO what would be eminently more palatable would be a Northern governed island If the power bases were even geographically based in the north, and stripped of Gaelicization(is this a word). The Dublin rule sceptics would be appeased.”

    Do you mean perhaps making Belfast the capital of the new state? Or even better, Armagh? (Ancient resonance, border town anyway, ecclesiastical capital, cherished by both sides, 90 mins from Dublin) Might be worth investigating – the Dublin govt has a policy of decentralisation anyway.

    “The Irish terminology/ names used within the government of the Dail are somewhat off-putting for those of a unionist perspective (sadly). If the nationalists/ republicans wanted a UI enough it would be acceptable.”

    Well I certainly wouldn’t allow that to stand in the way of the reunification of Ireland.

    “Coming from a nominally prod/unionist background I would have no problems with a United Ireland on these terms?”

    Ah, if only it was up to the two of us, we’d have all the problems of Ireland sorted by morning!

    In all of this though I think the biggest problem might lie with people south of the border, who might ask why they should change things they are perfectly comfortable with? It’d mean asking for sacrifices from people who are doing very well thank you very much – which is tough!

    But thanks for replying to my post – greatly appreciated.

  • IDUNNO

    Billy,

    Glad we agree, if only somebody with as much sense as us could get into a position of power!

    On the Armagh point, it actually had occured to me that Armagh would be the ideal place for a capital, for exactly the reasons you pointed out, but my main problem with that is that I believe in a secular state, and even giving any head-bow to any of the churches immediately sets these churches as special. I abhor the idea of any church having a position of power or influence within government, but maybe that’s just my dissenter roots showing through! For all other reasons Armagh would be ideal though.

    To me, it would make a world of difference if it was a marriage of the two states, but i don’t know if many other prods would see the same way. I doubt it. Growing up my perception of a united ireland was us “bowing down” to the Dublin government. What i want is for prosperity and peace for the people of Northern Ireland, and to me looking across the border I’m jealous of what they have there. Many of the reasons underlying the partition were monetary. At the time it made sense for us (prods anyway) in the north to stick with the union; but now, is it still making sense? Not in my opinion.

    The problem is, we could never just switch over to a UI. There would always be a knee jerk, it would need to be small steps, but where is the middle ground when we’ve more or less proven that we can’t govern ourselves. You say the greatest problems would be with the people of the south. I can see how they wouldnt want to fix what isnt broke for them, but as you say it will require a creative solution to fix the mess this place is in. I dont really see any other way forward.

    I worry about northern ireland. I’m an engineer. To me engineering and science is where we need to be making money from. As things stand Northern Ireland makes nothing. Honestly what the f**k does NI produce these days? We’re living off the government and bloody callcentres!! Everyone with any brains leaves to go work in England or down south. There’s no leadership, nothing, and I cant see us going anwhere untill things change. The staus quo will take us nowhere!! That’s what annoys me most. The politicians are just sitting there earning a ton waiting for Bertie and Tony to sort everything out. I honestly cant see things happen. How can we make a difference when we have IMO two of the greatest archvillains of the 20th and 21st centuries as the leaders of our two main parties? Who am i supposed to vote for, the Allaince!!

    The DUP dont want to see NI work because that would mean we could “grow up” and step away from the “motherland”. SF want to see a failed state so they can say “told you so, now if you’d listened to us in the first place” Both sides are playing the otherside up as the bogeyman. Every step each of these sides takes in the direction that they see as forward, they’re trying to push the other side backwards. It’s a zero sum-game. Cant the politicians see this. Of course they can. Why do they do it then, what’s in it for them? Power I suppose.

    Only when the green and orange work together to we have any chance for a decent society here, but I cant see it happening, honestly; not at the top levels anyways, ever.

    And then I come to a place of “reason” like this messageboard and you find morons all over the show, but at least it makes me challenge my own beliefs and prejudices. Nothing makes you examine your own ideas more than hear some b-i-g-o-t-e-d pricks from your own side mouth something that you yourself believe(d) in. Maybe that’s why i come here.

    That was a good rant, now off to bed.

    I DUNNO

  • Greenflag

    Billy/I Dunno/Objectivist

    ‘And yet you who advocates re-partition would I suspect object to the original partition of this island? Is this not an example of even further hypcrisy? ‘

    Someone on another thread made the point about ’empathising ‘ .We look back in ‘anger’ , we can look back from today’s perspective, or we can look back in empathy .

    The look back in anger crowd blames either the Empire or the Republicans . Empathy is restricted to one side – ours which is right -and theirs which is wrong . Not much thought is required . History is simple . This is essentially the DUP model and to some extent the SF model .

    From today’s perspective Partition looks like a botched band aid solution which even King George ‘hoped’ would be a temporary arrangement until ‘sense’ returned . The Irish Free State concurred . Result ? Inertia . Common sense did not return . Both parts of Ireland ‘diverged ‘. ROI to greater independence and financial prosperity after a dismal start and NI to greater dependency following a dismal start and a brief period of pre and post war prosperity.

    Looking back in ’empathy’ at Partition for an Irish Nationalist in 2006 means having to accept that had I been wearing a Belfast Unionist’s shoes in 1920, I would have have been totally against the idea of an independent Ireland . Why give up being a part of the biggest market in the world which had ‘won’ the recent World War . Why join a financially non viable Irish State ?

    Would I have supported the first Partition ? As a Unionist -yes . As a Nationalist I probably would have supported Home Rule and eventually accepted Partition . Like most people North or South I would have wanted an end to political instability and a return to peace.

    ‘Well done in ripping to shreds GreenFlags idiotic re-partitioning proposal. ‘

    If ‘repartitioning’ is idiotic does that make the first ‘partition’ idiotic ? The first ‘partition’ was a response to the irreconcilable political positions held by both sides at that time . We may not like to admit it but the first Partition probably saved tens of thousands of lives . Nonetheless the ‘irreconcilable’ political situation has not changed to this day . Thus ‘repartition’ is just a logical extension to the first ‘partition’ solution.

    ‘In all of this though I think the biggest problem might lie with people south of the border”

    True . Ireland is a very small country and talk of federal solutions with the capital in Armagh/Portadown or Cork are just not going to happen . Given present trends and the widening economic gap between ROI and NI it seems to me that NI is viewedas more of an economic and political liability than an ‘asset’ . ROI will probably be able extract as much economic ‘benefit’ as it’s possible to get from NI, without having to incur the adverse ‘political costs’ of unification. The losers economically and politically in this scenario would be the Irish nationalists in NI. The political ‘winners’ would be the Unionists . Unionists would also lose out economically but they have fewer problems with HMG’s subvention.

    ‘I abhor the idea of any church having a position of power or influence within government, but maybe that’s just my dissenter roots showing through!’

    I can agree 100% with your ‘dissenter’ sentiments in this area .

    ‘I worry about northern ireland. I’m an engineer. To me engineering and science is where we need to be making money ——–The status quo will take us nowhere!! That’s what annoys me most.’

    If I were a Unionist I’d think the same . Inertia be it political or economic has a tendency to continue it’s path until the contradictions become too obvious to ignore any longer . I call this pheomenon ‘The emperor has no clothes moment’! An example would be the Irish Republic’s economic path 1945 to 1957 . The early independent years 1922 to 1945, despite the grinding poverty were a period when hope was still possible . By the mid 1950’s Dev’s ‘Sinn Fein economics’ were going nowhere . A new approach was needed .
    Lemass and Whitaker did the business.

    What saddens me about NI is the politicians seem not to be looking for ways out .They seem instead to be looking for ways back to a world which is gone. The DUP towards greater economic and political dependence on the UK, and SF to out of date extreme socialism which just won’t deliver the economic future which the people of NI need and can sustain longer term

    ‘But at least it makes me challenge my own beliefs and prejudices’

    Now you know why I favour ‘repartition’

  • dantheman

    Green flag,

    I agree with much of what you said. As someone living in downpatrick, i would even favour splitting counties up in order that i can live in a decent modern country like the republic, with modern issues. We would be practically rid of the DUP rabble, and SF would fall away when confronted with real economic issues. I used to work and live in Dublin, it was only when i returned to this inherently sectarian fuckhole did I begin to favour the repartition option.

    Do we really want Ballymena, or Larne or Portadown? I personally do not think it is worth the hassle. Let them march 365 days a year, we’ll have an economy to strengthen.

  • lib2016

    You’re all wrong, of course. Don’t worry – I’m here to set you right.

    You are all underestimating the Ulster Prod who knows perfectly well that Paisley and his wretched sectarian party are a disaster. That’s why they elected him in preference to Trimble who could at least be presented abroad as someone who lived in the real world.

    As the UDA showed last night they have no illusions about the DUP or it’s leader’s fondness for trips to Canada when the going gets tough.

    They’ll resist as long as they can and then give up gracefully. A point which we have almost reached. They backed Paisley because there’s no problem about Paisley’s crediblity with any community anywhere – he doesn’t have any and is as close to a disposable politican as it is possible to get!

  • Stephen Copeland

    Greenflag,

    I don’t want to get into nitty-gritty details here, but couldn’t we get pretty much everything we want through a Confederal solution?

    A confederation of a small (unionist heartland) state in the north-east, and the rest of the island, is not inconceivable. It would allow the unionists control over ‘their’ areas, subject to a strictly enforced but relatively simple Bill of Rights. It would allow different taxation (and spending) regimes, so would not drag down the productive part of the country. And so on.

    I think that, at the very least, such an option has to be on the table when the day of reckoning comes. It would be preferable to the unionists, I imagine, and if it avoids some kind of ‘last-stand’ violent reaction then it would be better for all of us.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Greenflag,

    One other thing …

    Ireland is a very small country and talk of federal solutions with the capital in Armagh/Portadown or Cork are just not going to happen …

    I have just one word in response to that: Switzerland

  • Greenflag

    Glad you agree Dantheman. 🙂

    ‘Do we really want Ballymena, or Larne or Portadown? I personally do not think it is worth the hassle.’

    IMO not worth the political hassle and not worth the cost.

    ‘We’ll have an economy to strengthen. ‘

    Precisely .

    Not having to deal with the DUP would be an added bonus and as you say SF would fall away and /or split up and combine with FF and the Irish Labour party 🙂

    But the biggest benefit of ‘repartition’ would be giving the vast majority of Northern Ireland nationalists an economic and political role in their own country and would remove them from the negative influences of a backward looking sterile unionism.

    The only other practical alternative is a continuation of the present uncertain status quo which will only exacerbate the 6 county’s economic and political problems even more in the future .

  • kensei

    “I don’t want to get into nitty-gritty details here, but couldn’t we get pretty much everything we want through a Confederal solution?

    A confederation of a small (unionist heartland) state in the north-east, and the rest of the island, is not inconceivable. It would allow the unionists control over ‘their’ areas, subject to a strictly enforced but relatively simple Bill of Rights. It would allow different taxation (and spending) regimes, so would not drag down the productive part of the country. And so on.

    I think that, at the very least, such an option has to be on the table when the day of reckoning comes. It would be preferable to the unionists, I imagine, and if it avoids some kind of ‘last-stand’ violent reaction then it would be better for all of us. ”

    I’m against this type of solution because I think in the long run it is damaging to Unionists. In an all-Ireland setup, it is much better for them to be an integeral part of the arrangements, rather than off on their own. I wouldn’t oppose some regional autonomy per se, but extended the whole Island rather than just a bit. The four provinces more or less break the country up into differing economic regions anyway.

    I also think in the event of it happening, there should be an understanding that Unionists would be invited into the first governing coalition if they don’t help form it in their own right. Given the nature of coalition government in the South, it would probably strengthen any government anyway, so it’s win-win.

  • Keith M

    Objectivist “Your post is a classic example of an ab initio belief followed by post hoc ontological justification.”

    You can drop the mumbo-jumbo and get to the point of my post. No party in N.I. or in this country favours re-partition.

    I don’t see a circumstance where any of them would favour re-partition. If you do, perhaps you can enlighten us.

    If no party favours repartition as a permanent solution then the people won’t either.

    With the approval of the people repartition would have to be imposed against the will of the people.

    This is ethnic cleansing.

  • Keith M

    Should of course read “WithOUT the approval of the people repartition would have to be imposed against the will of the people.

  • Stephen Copeland

    kensei,

    I agree about not sending the unionists off into internal exile. I would, of course, prefer them to play a full and active part in the running of the country. I was just thinking out loud about possible ways to overcome strong opposition by the unionist minority that would allow them to save face, retain some autonomy, ‘escape’ Dublin rule, and spare us their ‘doomsday scenario’ violence.

    I disagree that the four provinces mark any kind of ‘natural’ regions, and certainly not economic ones. There is no good case for regional autonomy within what is currently a fairly homogenous state.

    As for unionists being ‘invited into coalition’, I find that patronising (and I’m not even a unionist!). What about if we instituted a D’hondt style government for the whole country, like the executive in the north is supposed to be. It would certainly be interesting, and it would mean that any party with more than about 5% of the vote would end up with real power. That would mean, at least, three or four unionist ministers, if not a tánaiste.

  • lib2016

    You think the decent unionist people of Portadown cast the ‘Loyal’ Orders into the outer darkness so that they could be shuffled off into some kind of Orange ghetto.

    When it comes to reality and keeping their children in Ireland the unionists know which side their bread is buttered on. They’re playing a bad hand of cards for all it’s worth. Can’t blame them for that.

  • kensei

    “I disagree that the four provinces mark any kind of ‘natural’ regions, and certainly not economic ones. There is no good case for regional autonomy within what is currently a fairly homogenous state.”

    Well, Ulser would take in the new state, which would certainly have it’s own economic problems, Connacht covers the West, which is certainly a differnet economy and problems from Dublin and Leinster. Then there is Munster. It has Cork.

    I’m not thinking anything major, merely something to look after regional development and planning.

    “As for unionists being ‘invited into coalition’, I find that patronising (and I’m not even a unionist!).”

    Surely no more patronising than “Here, run this bit”?. It is likely that they could hold balance of power anyway, but just in case it would be a good gesture. I think the feeling of being patronised gets swept away quickly when there is real power at stake. They are of course, at liberty to refuse.

    “What about if we instituted a D’hondt style government for the whole country, like the executive in the north is supposed to be. It would certainly be interesting, and it would mean that any party with more than about 5% of the vote would end up with real power.”

    Oh hell no. It is a anachronism because we can’t have proper government here and as has been pointed out, not really helpful to good governance due to lack of opposition.

  • kensei

    Should be “Ulster would take in the old NI state.”

  • Greenflag

    ‘I have just one word in response to that: Switzerland ‘

    I have just 5 words to respond to that .

    ‘We Irish are not Swiss’

    Switzerland has four spoken languages German (70%) French (20%) Italian (9%) and Romanch (1%). In addition Swiss topography and regional linguistic difference have resulted in a Swiss solution.

    I’m in favour of decentralisation but I don’t believe this has to result in a federal politcal solution . There are no 4,000 metre peaks separating Cork from Belfast or Dublin and while we have our regional linguistic differences I suspect that 99% of people on this island are able to communicate through Hiberno English.

    Perhaps the Irish Senate could sit for alternate 4 year terms in Belfast (make use of Stormont ) and in Cork . But at this time at least from a Dublin perspective a UI seems remote .

  • Greenflag

    Stephen ,

    I don’t want to get into any nitty gritty either.

    As to your ‘ Confederation of a small (unionist heartland) state in the north-east, and the rest of the island, is not inconceivable. It would allow the unionists control over ‘their’ areas, subject to a strictly enforced but relatively simple Bill of Rights.’

    A fair Repartition would achieve the same objective minus federation IMO. Economically if you are going to have a UI then apart initially from some ‘catch up’ incentives to spur economic growth in the North I don’t see ‘different spending and taxation policies ‘ being practical for such a small island . IMO in any prospective UI it would makes better political and economic sense to have direct Northern Unionist /Nationalist participation in the Dail .

    We need to keep our public sector under control and that starts with not having any more government than is necessary.

    ‘if it avoids some kind of ‘last-stand’ violent reaction then it would be better for all of us. ‘

    Which is why I believe a fair repartition is the safer option. Anyway there is only one way to get to the other side of the chasm . You can’t leap and stop half way. The Scots are now finding that out the easy way . Unionists are finding out the hard way 🙁

  • objectivist

    [i] No party in N.I. or in this country favours re-partition.[/i]
    Nobody favoured it back in 1921 because then,as now,everybody tended to want everything.But the *circumstances* demanded it.The only problem was that the whole thing was badly botched through the inclusion of large swathes of nationalist majority territory with a consequent unstable political entity at a time,during Lloyd George’s postwar coalition, when unionists were in a position of maximum influence.
    If the whole thing had been done properly at the start much of the sorrow and strife that subsequently arose would never have happened.

    [i] repartition would have to be imposed against the will of the people
    This is ethnic cleansing..[/i]

    I think you are a bit confused here.’Ethnic cleansing’ involves forcibly removing the indigenous population from an area.Repartition would involve restructuring the border so that most of the existing indigenous population would be located in their preferred state.
    As the original partition was heavily slanted towards unionism it is difficult to escape the conclusion that your unionist sympathies are inclining you against any appropriate modification -much as you will no doubt try to deny this.

  • IDUNNO

    GreenFlag,

    I believe that your re-partition solution for dealing with the unionist problem reveals your mindset. You see unionists as the ‘problem’. It implies that in order to fix things, you have to get rid of the problem; you seem to want to shove unionists into a decreasingly small area of the island until they eventually disappear. Maybe you don’t, but that’s how it reads to me; and if it reads that way to me, you can be pretty sure it’ll read that way to any other prods etc without as open a mind to an irish solution as I have. To prods, a re-partition along the lines you suggest would be conceding territory; a forced step backwards. Forced steps just dont work in the big picture.

    Only an answer that would treat unionists as part of the solutuion, not the problemm, will be acceptable in the long run.

    That’s why I see re-partition as totally infeasible.

    IDUNNO

  • Greenflag

    ‘“What about if we instituted a D’hondt style government for the whole country, like the executive in the north is supposed to be.’

    So if it doesn’t work in NI then it might just work in a UI ? No thanks . We’ll stick to PR and voluntary coalition governments if and when necessary .

  • Nathan

    Stephen,

    Excuse my ignorance, but I can’t see how D’hondt style of governance would benefit Unionist parties, considering that they’ll be struggling for survival in a UI. Indeed, I suspect the Unionist parties would suffer a major haemorrhage in terms of support, considering that alot of northern Protestants (particularly the ones who currently stay at home because they don’t warm to Unionist parties) will be quick to transfer their allegiences to mainstream political parties e.g. Labour, Greens and PDs.

    Therefore, if any capital-U Unionist politico would wish to have their party preserved in a UI context, then they would have to bargain for Sainte-Lague PR model which they use in New Zealand and Norway, which tends to benefit new parties comprising of a stand-alone politicos (e.g. Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party) or parties which would be close to extinction in a UI setup(e.g. the Unionist parties foolish enough not to merge with another political party)

  • IDUNNO

    Objectivist,

    “If the whole thing had been done properly at the start much of the sorrow and strife that subsequently arose would never have happened.”

    Are you saying that if the state had been re-partitioned in a “fairer” way none of the troubles would have occured? You dont think that Catholics in the Protestant north would have been massively discriminated against?

    With a re-partition, there would always be the argument that the borders were drawn in a way to create an artificial unionist majority, as they were initially. Can you not see that?

    IDUNNO

  • kensei

    “Are you saying that if the state had been re-partitioned in a “fairer” way none of the troubles would have occured? You dont think that Catholics in the Protestant north would have been massively discriminated against?”

    Ulster shouldn’t have been partitioned in the first place. It would have led to a more even balance of power. Going to 6 was a short term gain for everyone, and a long term loss.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Nathan,

    … I can’t see how D’hondt style of governance would benefit Unionist parties …

    I was basing this on their current voting strengths. Of course there may be mergers, but it is not possible yet to know. With about 350,000 to 370,000 votes, even in a UI the unionists would be major players, and if they consolidated into one party, would be ensured about one fifth of all ministerial positions.

    Personally, of course, I would prefer mergers, or the growth of entirely new parties – how about a new Social Democratic party?

  • Greenflag

    IDUNNO ,

    Some problems cannot be fixed at least in the forseeable future . We can send a man to the moon but we can’t get the Israelis and Palestinians to stop shooting at each other and neither can we force the DUP to talk to SF etc etc .

    So we do the next best thing . We try to find a solution that meets the primary needs of as many people as possible on this island Unionist and Nationalist and that solution to me means a fair repartition . History has left us with this situation which frankly both Unionists and Republicans in NI have only aggravated over the past 40 years with their numerous botched attempt to square the circle only to end up with an right angled oval that does’nt and can’t work.

    ‘.you seem to want to shove unionists into a decreasingly small area of the island until they eventually disappear. Maybe you don’t, but that’s how it reads to me; ‘

    I’m sorry if it reads that way but that’s not my intent . Which is why I stress that a fair repartition can only be implemented by a neutral international agency and not by either or both governments although the cooperation and support of both governments and others would be essential .

    ‘To prods, a re-partition along the lines you suggest would be conceding territory; a forced step backwards”

    Sometimes you have to go back to go forward . Nationalist Ireland had to take a big step back in 1922 and accept a 26 county State instead of a 32 county republic . That step cost us a civil war. An agreed repartition does not need to cost anyone’s life .

    I don’t foresee any agreed repartition in NI as conceding territory . I see it as conceding to the demographic and political reality of constitutional division in Northern Ireland in 2006 .

    ‘Only an answer that would treat unionists as part of the solution will be acceptable in the long run.’

    For this to happen Unionist politicians have to become ‘problem solvers’ . I just don’t see that capability or interest coming from the Unionist side . I see instead a withdrawal into a narrower cul de sac of even more limited horizons . If you see the present batch of Unionist politicians of being capable of leaping the chasm to problem solving then all I can say is you have more faith and better eyesight than I Gunga Din.

    Repartition is feasible. I accept that UI advocates and 6 county Unionists don’t want to hear about it, never mind discuss it’s merits or demerits dispassionately . Instead they would prefer to run around like headless chickens in the dark for another generation or two mouthing the same old slogans of No Surrender and On to the Republic . Meanwhile Mr Hains redistricting plan will set the foundation stones for repartition in place although he’d never admit it .

  • IDUNNO

    GreenFlag,

    Shouldnt we learn from history; as Kensei points out, the partition was a short term gain for everybody, and a long term loss allround. I agree with him.

    I dont really see what prods in the north would have to gain, in real terms, from becoming a two-county state. The only people to gain would be the unionist politicians gaining power. The man in the street gains nothing from your proposal, and surely that is what’s important.

    As for politicians, I dont see one on either side worth voting for, let alone us paying for.

    On a slight tangent, you said “Nationalist Ireland had to take a big step back in 1922 and accept a 26 county State instead of a 32 county republic.” Surely the step from british colony to a 26 county state was considered a step forward at the time, albeit not the full step to 32county republic that was desired by republicans, but a forward step all the same. Maybe history might question whether it was a step forward, but at the time I would guess that most considered this a step forward from where they were standing.

  • Nathan

    “I was basing this on their current voting strengths.”

    Ah – less confusion now

    “Of course there may be mergers, but it is not possible yet to know.”

    Of course, what we’re talking about is all very academic and we must never lose sight of this

    “With about 350,000 to 370,000 votes, even in a UI the unionists would be major players, and if they consolidated into one party, would be ensured about one fifth of all ministerial positions.”

    Unionists are too heterogeneous these days to be consolidated into one party like the olden days, but yep they would be major players initially. Whether they wish to be a major force in Irish politics in the long run all depends upon whether they can satisfy the pragmatic and pluralist criteria.

    First of all, capital-U Unionists would need to find inspiration in the Dockrell family, who were one of Ireland’s oldest political dynasties until one of their family members (albeit a political turncoat who is now a nominal republican) lost their Blueshirt seat in the 2004 local elections.

    That Unionist family survived for as long as they did because they were extremely popular with Dubliners from all walks of life. James Joyce wrote about ‘Dockrell’s ninepenny wallpaper’ in Ulysses, so rather than existing on the fringes of Dublin society in the 20C, the Dockrells catapulted themselves to the forefront of Dublin society rather than feel sorry for themselves.

    Another thing about the Dockrells was their tolerance. According to my elders, the Dockrell business firm was one of the first to re-employ those of its staff who had been locked up for their participation in the Easter Rising. For that reason, it hardly mattered that the family did some politically incorrect things later on in the 20C (like not supporting the Republic Bill and laying a poppy wreath at the Cenotaph in the 1960s) because they made up for it by their tolerance and acts of good-will for their political foes. Indeed, the fact that political opponents gave them the time of day when southern Unionism had already become a marginalized political ideology in the south (e.g. De Valera, who appointed Maurice Dockrell to the Council of State throughout his Presidency) shows how much of a pillar of the Dublin community the Dockrells were, despite their stale and uninspiring Unionist credentials.

    In contrast, other southern protestant TDs fell by the wayside (e.g. Bryan Cooper, James Coburn, Sydney Minch) because they never bothered trying to secure a personal vote like the Dockrells, who were able to hang on in there because of their public stature and parity of esteem for the Republican tradition.

    “Personally, of course, I would prefer mergers, or the growth of entirely new parties – how about a new Social Democratic party?”

    Yuk, that party exists already (albeit in terminal decline) and its called the SDLP.

    In the event of a UI, I would imagine a few of them (e.g. the David Vance type of Unionist) would wish to join force with the Freedom Institute (e.g. Richard Waghorne et al) to form a strong Irish conservative party in the tradition of Edmund Burke, on the basis that no conservative party in the true sense exists in the Irish Republic. Others will probably be content with the existing Labour and the Green parties though.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Shouldnt we learn from history; ‘

    In theory yes . But look around the world from North Korea to Israel /Palestine /Iraq/Congo?Zimbabwe/Serbia etc etc and I’m afraid the answer has to be we don’t . We Irish or British are not immune from not learning from history either . I have to believe however we must try .

    ‘as Kensei points out, the partition was a short term gain for everybody, and a long term loss allround. I agree with him. ‘

    So do I . But somehow at the back of my mind I’m faced with considering another what if ? What if Home Rule had been implemented with Unionist consent ? What if there had been no 1912 and thus no 1916 or the troubles or civil war ? Where would Ireland be today ? Would we be just another slow growth dependent economy much like Scotland or Wales ? Would our population be closer to 2.5 million instead of growing towards 5 million ? How many lives would have been lost in WW11.?

    Would there ever have been the economic and cultural regeneration that has taken place in the Republic over the last 25 years ? Would we as a nation ever have developed the confidence to welcome hundreds of thousands of new immigrants to our shores ?

    More than all of that would we have been allowed to make the economic policy mistakes we did make and then to undo them to get where we are today ? Would the Irish people eventually have succumbed to the inertia which almost overcame the Republic in the mid 1950’s and become just contented west britons ?

    In a peculiar twist to history Unionists by their resistance to Irish independence from the 1890’s onward actually impelled the separatist republican movement and helped to destroy the more moderate Home Rule nationalists.
    So in a way our present prosperity and positive future outlook is at least partly a result of Unionist resistance to Irish Home Rule and later to Irish Independence.

    ‘ but at the time I would guess that most considered this a step forward from where they were standing. ‘

    If they did it was not a step forward enough to prevent a Civil War . The early Irish Free State was built over the bones of the civil war dead, and the main party division today still harks back to those days . Not until 1926 did the Republicans re-enter the Dail . The fact that FF (former Irregulars) won the 1932 election having been defeated in the Civil War shows just how narrow the margin was either way . Our present democracy can be said to have been truly ‘legitimised’ when Cosgrove handed over power peacefully to Dev in 1932 . Many FF TD’s carried concealed weapons into the Dail on that day . They feared that Cosgrove and the Irish Free State Army with the backing of the Hierarchy of the RC Church would not hand over power to the ‘communist ‘ FF crowd .

    ‘I dont really see what prods in the north would have to gain, in real terms, from becoming a two-county state. The only people to gain would be the unionist politicians gaining power. ‘

    Without a large 47% Irish nationalist majority breathing down their necks Unionists might actually get around to indulging in real politics for a change . A smaller 10% nationalist minority would have insufficent votes to ever win elections but they could influence which Unionist party becomes the government . I presume that these nationalists would tend to vote or give a preference to those Unionists who showed they were less hostile to nationalists than the more extreme unionists ?

    As for the gain ‘for the man in the street’?

    The ‘man in the street’ did not gain a whole lot from 1922 either . He was just as badly off post 1922 as he was pre 1922 . Eventually he did better out of independence than he would have through ‘dependence ‘ but who would or could have predicted that at that time ?

    As I said in an earlier post I have no desire to see 850,000 Unionists in a State in which they would feel alienated . It seems to me that many republicans and some nationalists accept the 50% plus 1 result in a refrendum as being achievable . I don’t even see that as desirable .

    Don’t get me wrong . I have in principle no personal objection to a UI or to 850,000 Unionists as willing participants in a UI. It’s just that I don’t see that as being acheivable given the wide political gulf between the politicians and people on both sides in NI.

    History may prove me wrong and somehow somewhere some ‘Deus ex Machina ‘ may emerge that will square the circle . But from this point in time I can’t see it .

    As for your remarks on your politicians . I agree . But try not to be too harsh on them . They are also ‘prisoners’ of the NI State and it’s history. In a more normal democratic enviroment I’m sure that many of your politicians could and would ‘punch’ above their weight . Where they are today they can only punch each other or the hapless Hain

  • Stephen Copeland

    Nathan,

    Interesting post.

    … other southern protestant TDs fell by the wayside e.g. Bryan Cooper …

    What do you know about him? Was he one of the Killiney Coopers? If so, I suspect a family tie …

  • IDUNNO

    GreenFlag,

    “I have in principle no personal objection to a UI or to 850,000 Unionists as willing participants in a UI. It’s just that I don’t see that as being acheivable given the wide political gulf between the politicians and people on both sides in NI.”

    I dont see a re-partition as acheivable as from the Unionist/protestant side, it would be seen in all ways as a loss, or a step-back.

    I dont see how any unionist party could put a positive spin on what would be seen as selling out 4 of the 6 counties.

    “Hel folks, the bad news is we’ve lost four of our counties; the good news, I’m goin to be your new prime minister!”

  • Greenflag

    ‘I dont see how any unionist party could put a positive spin on what would be seen as selling out 4 of the 6 counties. ‘

    You’re too short on the vision thing .
    I’ll admit Unionism has been very remiss on it’s selling skills so here’s a few spins to help you see the positive spin.

    ‘Martin McGuiness will never be your Education Minister’

    ‘ NO GFA no power sharing ! We said we could deliver !

    Gerry Adams will never be First Minister in NI.

    ‘Kelly will never be Police Minister ‘

    ‘The large catholic/republican minority is no more ‘

    ‘ Carson bought Unionism 80 years . We’ve bought Unionism 800 more ‘

    ‘We are bigger than Luxembourg ‘

    ‘Fenians cherished dreams finally ends’

    ‘Irish Republican’s say goodbye to all that ‘

    ‘Republic forced to surrender 2 county size area ‘

    In 1920 ‘Unionism ‘ sold out three counties of Ulster in order to maintain a comfortable numerical majority . Why would they not repeat the same logic in the first decade of the 21st century , as that is what will be necessary if they are to maintain a ‘comfortable ‘ majority .
    Necessity is the mother of invention they say.

    I sympathise with your First Minister choice but he’ll soon have competition

  • IDUNNO

    Greenflag,

    Nah, your arguments dont convince me in the slightest. Maybe others might be? Good luck.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Good luck’

    Thanks but you’ll need it more than I 🙂

  • PaddyReilly

    What is it about repartitionists that makes them go on and on?

    But since we are stuck with you, I will at least try to bargain you down. The idea that County Antrim has a large and unassailable Unionist majority is quite false. Given that Co Antrim is no longer an administrative unit and no one is keeping records, this is often hard to tell.

    The vast number of Nationalists in the West Belfast ghetto almost counter balances the comfortable Unionist majority in the rest of the
    country. Given that the West Belfast nationalists are gradually moving out into places like Glengormley, Antrim and Ballymena, it is not unreasonable to suppose that this county will eventually have an evenly distributed Nationalist majority.

    If you came from Antrim and not from Dublin you might have some sensitivity in this matter.

    The overwhelmingly Unionist section of the province is in the North Eastern part of County Down. The three adjacent constituencies of North Down, Ards and East Belfast are the three most protestant and most Unionist constituencies in the province and the Catholic community in them is probably declining.

    Would this not be a suitable site for your Orange state?

  • PaddyReilly

    But to get back to the proposed incorporation of Unionists into the Irish body politic. What would happen, I imagine, would be that the UUP would align itself with Fine Gael and the DUP perhaps with Labour.

    The SDLP would go with Fianna Fáil, which would need to form an alliance with Sinn Féin to obtain power.

  • Greenflag

    Thanks PR for your suggestion . As I said it should be left to a neutral international agency . The new 7 super District Councils will have clear Nationalist majorities in 3 and Unionists in the remaining 3 . Belfast seems to be edging towards a small permanent nationalist majority.

    ‘If you came from Antrim and not from Dublin you might have some sensitivity in this matter.’

    We’re not known for our sensitivity PR 🙂 We don’t do sensitive ‘bonfires’ quite like the folks in Ahoghill etc etc etc . A civic failing I’m afraid . Just the facts and the numbers will do .

    From you post I have to assume you too are preparing for another 50 years of deja vu go nowhere NI politics a la present farce ? More no talks about no talks plus various attempts at resurrecting powerless Assemblies where the opposing parties can continue to not talk to each other directly and have to use the offices of a British minister to communicate?

    Or have you some other solution which is preferable to an agreed repartition ?

  • Greenflag

    What would happen, I imagine, would be that the UUP would align itself with Fine Gael

    A mix of the blind and the bland each going nowhere .

    ‘ and the DUP perhaps with Labour. ‘

    Reminds me of an old new joke 🙂

    What do you get when you cross an elephant with a bunny ?

    Squashed rabbit 🙂

  • PaddyReilly

    The “neutral international agency” is another one of my gripes against you. This approach has already been tried, in 1923-5, as I am sure you
    know. The Unionists were easily able to see that one off, by a mixture of obstructionism, string-pulling and judicious threats. Obviously anyone so green as to put their faith in something as vague as that deserves to be cheated.

    Never have an enquiry unless you know in advance what its findings are going to be. (Yes, Prime Minister)

    No, if you want there to be repartition, why not just create a shopping list and we can put ourselves on it? Just rule that any county or section of a county which wishes to transfer to the Irish Republic, should be allowed to do so by referendum. Who appointed you negotiator? Are there any plans to up their dosage? You don’t sound much like a hard man for a bargain.

    As for “another 50 years of deja vu go nowhere NI politics a la present farce” just look at the voting as it stands:

    http://www.electionsireland.org/result.cfm?election=2004E&cons=192

    How long do you think this is going to last? Look at the figures for the Unionist 1st preference vote in the European Parliament election:-

    1979: 60.8%
    1984: 58.0%
    1989: 57.8%
    1994: 55.4%
    1999: 52.3%
    2004: 48.6%

    What will their vote be in 2009 and 2014? Are the go nowhere politics of the 6 cos so much worse than Today in the Dáil?

  • Greenflag

    PaddyReilly,

    ‘The “neutral international agency” is another one of my gripes -This approach has already been tried, in 1923-5, as I am sure you
    know. ‘

    The Boundary Commission was neither neutral nor was it’s remit taken seriously by either the Free State /Unionists/or Westminster. The Irish Free State in 1923 was in the middle of a Civil War and the State was barely in existence . Britain was in 1923 still the major world power.

    Today both the UK and the Irish Republic are members of the EU/UN and Britain is no longer an Empire . Unionists no longer have the power or influence they had in 1923 .

    I’m making the point that ‘repartition ‘ is a viable and feasible solution and preferable to another 50 years of no talks about no talks, agreements which don’t agree, and about the huge waste of time and taxpayers money that NI sucks into the bottomless pit of it’s 70% public sector economy. If at first you don’t succeed than by all means try again but after 40 years of trying to find ‘agreement’ within a 6 county context the political parties representing both tribes have demonstrably failed .

    I would not use the European elections as a predictor of Unionist sentiment for any Border referendum . A Border referendum would increase the turn out of Unionists more so than any other election.

    ‘Are the go nowhere politics of the 6 cos so much worse than Today in the Dáil?’

    The Republic has elections and we even change Governments and our Coalitions are voluntary .

    What you have in NI is an Assembly that never sits for long enough to blow it’s nose -politicians who will not speak directly to each other face to face – and an agreement which can only be described as farcical .

  • dantheman

    Greenflag, which side of the divide would you be living in if this where to happen? i know personally that being from a 90% nationalist town in south down that we would be glad to get rid of the disgraceful unionist system once and for all, but would have fears for our fellow irishmen trapped behing the walls of the orange death machine.

    Secondly would you retain the name NI for this new orange statelet? Obviously the republic would be extended. Not even the most confused unionists (and there are many) could now claim to call this new loyalist-riddled fuckhole Ulster. Would ulidia be their choice? I dont think so as this would exclude downpatrick, which was one of its major centres. Or ulster-scots land. Its hard to know which warped version of history is currently doing the rounds in the unionists psyche.

  • Greenflag

    ‘being from a 90% nationalist town in South Down that we would be glad to get rid of the disgraceful unionist system once and for all’

    Repartition will enable the vast majority of Irish nationalists in NI to look past ‘unionism’ and it’s perennial perambulations and it’s going nowhere politics . The NI nationalist focus would change to Ireland and the wider world as part of a fast growing multi cultural democracy and away from the narrow ground of eternal sectarian politics from which , IMO , a 6 county NI State can never escape.

    ‘but would have fears for our fellow irishmen trapped behing the walls of the orange death machine. ‘

    What walls ? There is no wall between the present ROI and NI and there would be no wall between the new Unionist State and ROI either . Just a new line on the map . Recently I looked at a map of the world from the 1960’s . You would be amazed at the number of borders that have been redrawn , new countries , particularly in Africa and Eastern Europe since that time . Just a few weeks back Montenegro came into existence as a separate state . Czechoslovakia had a ‘velvet glove ‘ self agreed division into the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic .

    There is no earthly reason why Northern Ireland cannot have a Czech style separation.

    As for those Irish people remaining within the new Unionist State they would retain their rights to automatic Irish citizenship just as those British Unionists ‘condemned ‘ to live in an expanded Irish Republic would retain their rights to automatic British citizenship . Unionists resident in the new Unionist State would have the same rights to Irish citizenship that present day citizens of the Irish Republic have to British citizenship . In practice if Unionists from the new State wanted Irish citizenship this would mean taking up residency in ROI and applying in the normal way just like any other foreign national. In the unlikely event of a UI in the future Unionists of the former Unionist State would automatically regain their right to Irish citizenship.

    Both new ‘minorities’ would have dual citizenship if they wished it .

    In practice as we are all EU members we would all share the same rights . I don’t foresee any orange ‘death machine’ in any new Unionist State nor an equivalent green ‘death machine’ in an enlarged Republic .

    Instead both States would settle down quickly to the new situation. Real politics could resume in the new Unionist State. The nonsense of forced power sharing and convoluted political formulae to decide election representation could be consigned to the next 12th bonfire. In addition the pathethic tokenism of appointing politicans to Council /City positions such as Mayor /Deputy Mayor etc on the basis of ‘It’s the Protestant/Catholic’s turn can be consigned to history.

    As to what a new Unionist State would be called ?
    . Northern Ireland would no longer be appropriate . North East Ireland sounds odd . East Ulster might evoke objections?
    North West Brittania ? Anyway their business .

    I’m sure nomenclature would be the least of Unionist politicans concerns .

    As I said earlier the focus for NI nationalists should be the future of Ireland and it’s economic/social and political development not on the eternal ‘navel gazing’ of NI sectarian politics.

  • Nathan

    What do you know about him? Was he one of the Killiney Coopers? If so, I suspect a family tie …

    I don’t know anything about Cooper, other than a last-resort google I did which says that he fought at Gallipoli, and that he was a former Unionist MP. But I do intend to ask around like I have had to do for the Dockrells.

    Unfortunately, I probably won’t have much luck because the Dockrells were the only high-profile, non-Sinn Fein southern protestant TDs in the early 20C.

    Thats not to say that we haven’t had high-profile TDs from a Protestant background in the early 20C – we have (e.g. Dr Kathleen Lynn, Darrell Figgis, Robert Barton, Ernest Blythe, Countess Markievicz), but they were members of the Shinner ascendency class so they don’t count.

  • Robert

    Excuse me gents, could anyone tell me if there is any significance to the Ulster province flag having a closed red hand or a open thumb one, just wondering not wishing to state there is one.