What care Unionists for the Union?

Following yesterday’s podcast, Adam Maguire has an interesting question: are Unionists in Northern Ireland more supportive of UK unity or simply against Irish unity?

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  • Southern Observer

    Declan,you have made your point and it is a fair one.But is it really necessary to turn it into Slugger’s answer to John Hume’s ‘single transferable speech’?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Declan: “Repartition is something that many nationalists could look again at in what I call the “2021 scenario” ; a hypothetical scenario in which the catholic share of the under 10s remains under 50%, and nationalists are clearly not going to attain the critical mass needed for a United Ireland to be carried. ”

    And I told you before, Declan, repeating it over and over like some mantra isn;t going to make it any less hypothetical or any more believable.

    Your grasp of demographics and statistical extrapolation is rudimentary at best, your seeming inability to acknowledge the hypothetical nature of your thesis and your unwillingness to make even a half-hearted effort to address the obvious flaws in your arguement make seem almost to be a virus or worm program, randomly cutting and pasting the same paragraph and dumping it onto slugger over and over again.

  • declan

    Dread and Southern:

    To claim that my grasp on demographics is poor is disingenuous. Some 45,000 souls arrive in the six counties each year, a minority of them catholic. 20,000 are by birth, running at about 48% catholic (by community background); and 25000 by migration, running at 38% catholic (by community background); figures are from the most recent census. This is after statisticians have allocated a religion to those who have not stated a religion, based on what the person, or their parent says is their religion of upbringing. Thus, at these rates, it seems quite possible that by 2021 the nationalist population will be confrinted with a situation that less than 50% of those under 10 are Catholic (by community background) making it quite possible that people will decide that nationalists just don’t have the critical mass and at that point, 2021 I speculate, many nationalists may start to think in terms of a fair repartition.

  • harpo

    ‘It may be undefinable, even indefensible but the majority of people accept that there is such a thing as an Irish nation consisting of several communities.’

    lib:

    Do they?

    What is this Irish nation then? What ‘several communities’ are in it?

    Is this a way to say ‘you unionists are one of those communities’ without actually saying the words?

    I have to say it all depends on what you mean by ‘Irish nation’. I know there is thread after thread that gets bogged down in what ‘Irishness’ is, but that’s the core of this issue.

    If Irishness is simply being born on the island of Ireland, then that’s one thing, but if Irishness involves being part of this Irish nation thingy, that’s a whole different matter. NI unionists do not see themselves as being part of this Irish nation since they see themselves as a different people. And they are a different people. That’s why they do not define themselves as part of the Irish nation, nor as being Irish or displaying Irishness.

    Nations are sets of people with shared beliefs and characteristics, and not just people who are born in the same geographical region. So with respect to your example, if there are large communities of people in Liverpool or Kilburn who do have this sense of being part of the Irish nation, then they are part of the Irish nation. Nations are about people, not where they live.

    I can’t think of any other nation on the planet that simply consists of a bunch of people who share little more than being born in the same geographical area. Any nation that defines itself in that way would be sad.

    That said, that is the sadness behind some verions of Irish nationalism. Those versions aren’t actually about a nation of people, instead they are about the nation being the territory of the island of Ireland. And thus the nation becomes the island, no matter who lives on it.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Declan: “To claim that my grasp on demographics is poor is disingenuous. Some 45,000 souls arrive in the six counties each year, a minority of them catholic. 20,000 are by birth, running at about 48% catholic (by community background); and 25000 by migration, running at 38% catholic (by community background); figures are from the most recent census. ”

    Factors you are ignoring: the rate of emigration for both communities, any disparity in death rates, average natural life span, mean ages of each communities, the voting patterns of each community, etc. Your analysis, as you present it, is shallow and amateurish at best, Declan. In essence, you’re trying to predict how quickly the tank will fill by analyzing with in-flows whilst, apparently, ignoring the out-flows. Your’s is the sort of shallow thinking that leads to statements any competant actuary would mock, such as “The average person in Miami is born Dominican and dies Jewish.” Both are technically true for the population in question, due to other factors (age of population at time of immigration and relative birth rates) and both are useless for making any sort of *USEFUL* prediction about the populations in question.

  • Greenflag

    Dread , to answer your points

    1) Nationalist aspiriations for a 32 county republic—how do you propose to wean Nationalism off this idea? I’ve asked before, but somehow this one never gets answered.

    Because it hardly needs answering . Nationalists can still aspire to a 32 county Republic even after Repartition just as they did after the first Partition . A decade or two of strong economic growth and local regional development and Northern Nationalists will wonder why they ever bothered with a 32 County Republic or nothing stance .

    2) Unionist intrangiesence—so long as they are the majority and their cultural mytholgy is that of the put-upon defending the border, this idea is a non-starter.

    Other non starter ideas for Unionism to reject were the Anglo Irish Agreement , Stormont suspension, the demise of the RUC , UDR , Drumcree etc etc etc . Unionist politicians ‘sold ‘ out their fellow Unionists in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan when they had to. They’ll do the same with Fermanagh, Tyrone , Derry etc etc. Not a problem

    3) Approval / cooperation from both the ROI and the UK for this notion.

    Here your argument is on stronger ground . Both Governments have ‘contingency ‘ plans for repartition . Neither will however push ‘repartition’ as a solution at this stage . HMG may be trying to nudge ‘repartition’ forward via the 7 Super Councils ‘reform’ .Neither Government will ‘stop ‘ ‘repartition’ if it becomes the preferred option for a majority of Unionists and /or Nationalists in NI . As Nationalists and Republicans begin to cop that the NI Assembly is gone and just an ‘exchange between the deaf’ anyway and that power sharing is a mirage , some may return to the gun or look instead at the more attractive economic and political alternative of Repartition . When Unionists wake up and realise that all PAisley has delivered is a weaker Union they too will look to strengthen the Union in the only way it can be in a 6 county NI and that is by withdrawal to a smaller predominantly Unionist NE -i.e repartition .
    Irish Nationalism has neither the political will nor the military clout to impose a UI over the heads of an unwilling 850,000 Unionist minority . What would be the point ? Unionists went down that route in 1920 with 500,000 Irish Nationalists and where did that lead to ?

    4) Find some way to pay for the changes in infrastructure, re-alignment of public goods, etc., not to mention the tax shock to those folks whose lives will no longer be sudsidized.

    Not really sure what your point here is. You seem to be saying that you can make an omelette without breaking any eggs ? Sorry it’s past time to break the harsh news to NI folk that ‘free lunch’ can’t go on forever . The piper is having problems paying the rat catchers .

    5) Human costs—what is to become of those who find themselves on the other side of the proverbial wire? ‘

    I’ve answered this several times before . Both new minorities would have dual citizenship and all the basic human rights that go with their States being members of the EU .

    ‘Ultimately, repartition will not solve the problem’

    My question to you then is what will ? A UI in 2O?? or 21?? or 22??. By then you and I and the entire Nationalist population of NI will have no further direct or indirect interest. Another decade of procrastination is a time of waste and vice versa.

    ‘It will whet Nationalist appetites’

    For what ? The conquest of England ? Get real Dread . I’ll admit the Glens of Antrim are nice and so is the Ards peninsula but even with repartition we can still visit the Unionist State’s good parts . With 90% of a new Unionist State being solidly pro Union I would imagine that nationalist appetitites would be focused more on improving their economic lot within a larger Republic .

    ‘ excite Unionist fears of being driven into the sea, etc.’

    A fair ‘repartition ‘ will ease Unionist fears of having to swim the North Channel rather than excite them. Anyway Unionists need to throw overboard their discredited claim to a 6 county NI State and face the demographic , economic and political facts as they are in 2006.

    Science moves forward by admitting and correcting it’s errors . Unionism can move forward by doing the same . For me as a moderate Nationalist that means Unionism ‘undoing’ the unfair Partition of 1920 and replacing it with a border that makes political , economic and cultural sense in 2006.

    Sadly the world of Unionism is run through with religious dogma and political paranoia and there is nothing I can do to stop that . Unionist heal thyself would be my approach. After repartition Nationalist Ireland would probably rather watch grass grow than have to deal with Unionist ‘angst’ . Not too much different from the present really.

  • Greenflag

    Dread,

    ‘Factors you are ignoring etc etc ‘

    Here you are clutching at straws for behind your argument is the faith that somehow at some future time the Nationalist voters may outbreed the Unionist voters . But regardless of any and all of your factors I cannot see any change to the overall demographics of NI that would be veer much from a 50/50 situation or at it’s most extreme a 60/40 or 40/60 situation . I don’t know what Declan sees as a critical ‘mass’ but I’d have thought that it would be nearer to 70% than 51% .

    However the demographics work out in 20 years should not blind us to the very real fact of diametrically opposed political viewpoints on the future of NI today .

    The 6 county political entity ‘NI’ is broke – Fix it – Now . Not in 20??

  • declan

    To claim that my grasp on demographics is poor is disingenuous. Some 45,000 souls arrive in the six counties each year, a minority of them catholic. 20,000 are by birth, running at about 48% catholic (by community background); and 25000 by migration, running at 38% catholic (by community background); figures are from the most recent census.

    That means we have annual ingress of:

    19100 new catholics
    45000 new people
    42% catholic.

    Turning to egress, there are two means of departure for six county souls: emigration and death. About 14000 people die each year and about 33% of them are Catholic (by commuity background). And about 20000 people out-migrate each year. Of these a fair guess is that 50% are Catholic (by community background). Historically this figure was higher, but 50% seems a good number.

    That gives total annual egress of

    13620 catholics
    34000 people

    Taking the total ingress and subtracting the egress gives the total incremental net people each year. (Arrivals minus departures). Note this needs to be 51% long term for nationalist critical mass to be attained. The numbers above give

    -4480 net new catholics (by community background)
    -11000 net new people each year
    -41% catholic.

    That is, the net new people added (arrivals minus departures) are 41% catholic, slightly below the current average, so there is little to make the catholic share go up.

    The main factor in the above which was not known from the census was the % Catholic of those emigrating, so I used a conservative assumption. People from the West of the Bann have historically tended to emigrate more, and young people have historically tended to emigrate more, so it could be more catholics than this, say 55%. But even if you assume that only 45% of those emigrating are Catholic (by community background) you still get an annual net population increment of less than 50% Catholic (by community background). Furthermore the inmigration from GB in recent years (the least catholic part of the ingress) has been growing while births are static. It therefore seems more than plausible that the Catholic (by community background) proportion of the population will not reach the 51% needed to attain critical mass. Come 2021, if this hypothetical trajectory plays out and nationalists clearly fail to attain a critical mass, then many nationalists could begin to think in terms of a fair and agreed repartition.

  • Travis

    I think that the future holds many difficulties but also many possibilities. When you go against the grain, people mistrust you. But the challenge is to examine what is being said and to ask how we can best contribute to moving forward in a meaningful way. That means a fair repartition in which 95+ % of all people on the island can lead happier lives.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “Because it hardly needs answering . Nationalists can still aspire to a 32 county Republic even after Repartition just as they did after the first Partition . A decade or two of strong economic growth and local regional development and Northern Nationalists will wonder why they ever bothered with a 32 County Republic or nothing stance . ”

    Only if you clear the hurdles — you’re indulging in bootstrap levitation at the moment, assuming success to justify success.

    Greenflag: “Other non starter ideas for Unionism to reject were the Anglo Irish Agreement , Stormont suspension, the demise of the RUC , UDR , Drumcree etc etc etc . Unionist politicians ‘sold ‘ out their fellow Unionists in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan when they had to. They’ll do the same with Fermanagh, Tyrone , Derry etc etc. Not a problem ”

    I don’t think so. The Unionism mythology is replete with siege imagery. Surrender of territory is nto going to be a easy sale — please note how far folks have slid to the party of “NO!” in the last election. You say not a problem, I say not a likelihood, unless some sort of sea-change occurs between now and then. Thw whole reason they’ve gone over tot he DUP is their dissatisfaction with what you describe. How are you going to sell the notion of the ROI getting to annex four counties to Unionism?

    Greenflag: “When Unionists wake up and realise that all PAisley has delivered is a weaker Union they too will look to strengthen the Union in the only way it can be in a 6 county NI and that is by withdrawal to a smaller predominantly Unionist NE -i.e repartition . ”

    Again, doesn’t jibe with their culture and mentality. For starters, if they are still the majority, as Declan theorizes, what is their motivation to “surrender” more territory? So long as there is no way to win the inevitable plebiscite to get this messed past, why would they go along with it? Things would have to go pretty far south for this to be acceptable.

    Greenflag: “You seem to be saying that you can make an omelette without breaking any eggs ? Sorry it’s past time to break the harsh news to NI folk that ‘free lunch’ can’t go on forever . The piper is having problems paying the rat catchers . ”

    No, what I am saying is that the captial investment necessary to bring the part the ROI is assumed to accept / annex. Likewise the “adjustment costs” are not going to be pretty.

    Greenflag: “I’ve answered this several times before . Both new minorities would have dual citizenship and all the basic human rights that go with their States being members of the EU . ”

    That’s nice. I’m talking the inevitable violence and displacement that is going to follow this decision. We’ve already been treated to at least a couple loyalists suggesting that repartition would provide a wonderful opportunity to “go to work” on Catholic enclaves.

    Greenflag: ” With 90% of a new Unionist State being solidly pro Union I would imagine that nationalist appetitites would be focused more on improving their economic lot within a larger Republic . ”

    Call me a cynic, but I suspect that reaching 30 counties, the more violent nationalists will get stupid ideas, just as I suspect that the more violent Loyalists will get stupid ideas about what to do with those Catholic enclaves remaining on the Unionist side of the border.

    Greenflag: “A fair ‘repartition ‘ will ease Unionist fears of having to swim the North Channel rather than excite them. Anyway Unionists need to throw overboard their discredited claim to a 6 county NI State and face the demographic , economic and political facts as they are in 2006. ”

    Their entire cultural mythology is wrapped around the notion that the Catholics want to drive them into the sea and you think they are going to just cheerfully accept a Northern Ireland 1/3 the size of that which they already control?

    Greenflag: “Science moves forward by admitting and correcting it’s errors . Unionism can move forward by doing the same .”

    And their track-record on this front is? The last election, they ran to the DUP. They are not admitting their mistakes, they are embracing them.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “Here you are clutching at straws for behind your argument is the faith that somehow at some future time the Nationalist voters may outbreed the Unionist voters .”

    No, I don’t have an opinion on that one way or the other. I just don’t think that the prepared groundwork is in place to even make a credible effort to sell this.

    As for Declan ignoring variables, he’s been trying to sell this notion, presenting a scenario that tries to make a prediction that sounds more like a child’s story-problem than a credible analysis of population changes extrapolated over time. Two variables are stressed, to the exclusion of those I have mentioned.

    Greenflag: “However the demographics work out in 20 years should not blind us to the very real fact of diametrically opposed political viewpoints on the future of NI today . ”

    Granted. But this notion isn’t going to be an easy sale to any of the sides. Declans “if, maybe and possiblies,” popping up on random threads like mushrooms after a rainstorm, regardless of the topic at hand, grate after a while.

    Its not going to be an easy sell, particularly to the Unionist population.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Declan: “ut even if you assume that only 45% of those emigrating are Catholic (by community background) you still get an annual net population increment of less than 50% Catholic (by community background). Furthermore the inmigration from GB in recent years (the least catholic part of the ingress) has been growing while births are static. It therefore seems more than plausible that the Catholic (by community background) proportion of the population will not reach the 51% needed to attain critical mass. Come 2021, if this hypothetical trajectory plays out and nationalists clearly fail to attain a critical mass, then many nationalists could begin to think in terms of a fair and agreed repartition. ”

    Better analysis.

    Now, that said, what motivation is there for Unionism — you know, that crowd that continually shouts “no surrender” — is going to simply allow the ROI to annex four counties? What, pray tell, is going to cause this sea change? Unionism is not exactly known for their progressive nature or their willingness to admit past mistakes. The surge to DUP illustrates their willingness to *embrace* their mistakes, as opposed to admit them.

  • kensei

    Belfast Gonzo

    The PDs have 4 TDs and are an important part of the ruling coalition, so Unionism would be significant roughly no matter what size it was. However, if we run a crude calculation – 166 in the 26 county Dail, so about 205 in the 32 version, Unionist candidates could pull in 15-20 seats. Which is a fairly significant power base. The question then becomes – do they limit themselves to Unionist representation, or do they embrace the new state and run candidates elsewhere?

    Everyone else

    Jesus H Christ, another thread derailled by repartition. Thanks, Greenflag.

    Repartition will gain no currency in Nationalista nd Republican circles until it is 100% clear that a United Ireland is impossible. All hope must be totally extinguished. Nationalists didn’t particularly like being the ones left behind in a partition stated, and they are unlikely to wish that fate on others. And no matter how good the cut, even at 95%, it is likely large swathes of the population willl know someone left behind, particularly in Belfast.

    If 50%+1 is posisble, hell will freeze before repartition. Nationalists will not unreasonably think after a 100 years of bering lectured about “the majority”, that the same rules should apply. They’ll try to make the transisition as easy as possible, negotiate, set up all kinds of protections for Unionism, but I don’t think they’ll budge on that point.

  • Nathan

    Unionist representation would evaporate in a UI context, because many northern Protestants will wish to embrace proper party politics i.e. either join the Greens or Labour, or go off and form an Irish Tory Party.

    Unionist politicians will only survive if they can attract a personal vote. The Dockrell political dynesty managed to do it, so its certainly not beyond individual Unionists to achieve a high-profile status in a UI.

  • Greenflag

    Travis,

    ‘That means a fair repartition in which 95+ % of all people on the island can lead happier lives. ‘

    I would not say happier:) Just that approx. 96% of the all the people on this island would get to live and work in the ‘political’ entity of their first choice. Not a perfect solution but good enough.

    Dread,

    The whole reason they’ve gone over to the DUP is because they oppose SF/IRA and do not trust anybody else to save the union. There is no question of annexing anything. A fair repartition carried out and administered by a neutral international agency, would have enough clout to make even the most obtuse DUP /SF voter see sense

    ‘Call me a cynic, but I suspect that reaching 30 counties, the more violent nationalists will get stupid ideas’

    You ignore ‘nationalist’ history on this island. During the period 1920 to 1968 what was the response of ‘nationalism’ in Ireland to NI? Apart from one brief outburst in the mid 1950’s – nothing. Even up to the 1980’s within NI the ‘nationalist ‘ party SDLP still commanded most of the votes. SF rose to power on the back of British and Unionist ‘intransigence’ and as a result of conflict/hunger striker’s etc.

    I believe that Irish nationalists would revert to 1920 to 1968 mode following a fair Repartition of NI. SF would get 8 to 10% of the vote in the enlarged Republic but in the Unionist State the SDLP would win the Irish vote. I don’t see republicans taking up arms against an Irish Republic or a smaller Unionist State. Whatever support they would have for their politics they would have none for a campaign of violence.

    ‘you think they are going to just cheerfully accept a Northern Ireland 1/3 the size of that which they already control?’

    Who said anything about cheerful ? Agreed repartition is suggested as a practical solution to a long-standing difficult political problem -that’s all . I’m surprised you use the word ‘control’ . There is no Stormont/NI Assembly – there is no ‘majority rule’ Unionists do not have control over economic policy/taxation etc. What control do Unionists have exactly? At least in a smaller Unionist State -Unionists would have ‘majority’ rule . They might even have a normal democracy with a real opposition.

    Kensei,

    ‘If 50%+1 is possible, hell will freeze before repartition. Nationalists will not unreasonably think after a 100 years ——but I don’t think they’ll budge on that point. ‘

    Fine Kensei and I don’t disagree that your view may be shared by all republicans and many nationalists in NI at this time . Here is where I would part company with that view and I understand that we are in ‘hypothetical’ territory .

    Assume a 50% plus 1 comes to pass and Unionists refuse to accept the result on the basis that Nationalists ‘refused’ when they were a 40% minority ? Are Northern Republicans prepared to impose their UI on Unionists by force of arms ? Would they expect the support of the Irish Republic in such ‘force’ imposition? Would they expect HMG ‘assistance’ to putting down a Unionist unilateral declaration of ‘independence in response to such ‘force’ imposition?

    The gist of what I’m saying is that behind all the various demographic scenarios and hypothetical what ifs, there remains the essential truth of the NI political conundrum ,’the diametrically opposed view of the constitutional future of NI held by both ‘halves’ of the population’

    The status quo /direct rule will mean that the ‘uncertain ‘ future will continue to be just that -uncertain . Those who hope for a UI by ‘demographics’ in another 20 years are also in ‘uncertain ‘ political territory.

    I believe in the need for ‘certainty’ as to the constitutional future of NI. As long as NI is a 6 county State it’s future will remain ‘uncertain’. The economic and public policy implications of political ‘uncertainty’ will continue to impact negatively IMO on the economics of the NI State .

    This ‘uncertainty’ does not bode well for the economic future of the Nationalist people of NI or for the economic regeneration of the western and southern areas of NI. Nor does it bode well for the Unionist people of NI. A fair Repartition would bring ‘constitutional’ certainty and that would bring investment and economic regeneration to those parts of NI ceded to the Irish republic.

    Dread,

    What is your ‘solution ‘? Do you have any ? I mean anything other than the present farcical status quo extended for another 100 years ?

  • lib2016

    Greenflag,

    The reason there are so few decent unionist posters left is because there are no more sound reasons for the Union. England is on a downwards trajectory and has been so since the end of the Second World War if not before.

    All that’s left is ‘identity politics’ and there are a great many people who don’t feel that they share much of an identity with the DUP.

    The status quo is farcical I agree but it will have difficulty surviving the next twelve months never mind the rest of this century.

    The change in the public status of the OO in Portadown during the last decade is symptomatic of what’s happenin in the wider community. You don’t have much faith in the unionist population if you don’t realise that the DUP have all the credibility of a snakeoil salesman in their own community. The people who know them best know full well that the leading unionist politicans make televangelists look like pillars of the community.

    We’ve lived with no-go areas before and if a few ‘loyalist’ estates want to go down that road then let them. It’ll give them something in common with the tougher estates in Dublin, which is where they score most of their drugs.

    There is no way that unionism can be propped up for much longer.

  • Greenflag

    lib2016,

    I can only assess the ‘strength of unionism by ‘election’ results and by the result of a border referendum when and if such takes place in the future assuming there ever is one.

    ‘There is no way that unionism can be propped up for much longer.’

    Perhaps , perhaps not . My view at this stage regardless of the outcome of the Nov 24th high noon non event is that NI is heading for another generation of ‘constitutional uncertainty’ and that IMHO is not in the economic interest of nationalists and unionists in NI. You can only hope that the next generation of ‘uncertainty’ will remain peaceful.

  • kensei

    “Assume a 50% plus 1 comes to pass and Unionists refuse to accept the result on the basis that Nationalists ‘refused’ when they were a 40% minority ? Are Northern Republicans prepared to impose their UI on Unionists by force of arms ?”

    That to me turns the question it’s head.

    “Would they expect the support of the Irish Republic in such ‘force’ imposition? Would they expect HMG ‘assistance’ to putting down a Unionist unilateral declaration of ‘independence in response to such ‘force’ imposition?”

    I think it would be handled delicately, but the bottom line would be that the democratic will of the people had said that a UI should happen, and Unionism had attempted to subvert that will by widespread force and won’t be talked down, then there is only one possible response. That is a grave thing, but I doubt it is likely.

    Renewed Loyalist violence is likely, but in the long run it is as futile as all the ones that have gone before.

    “The gist of what I’m saying is that behind all the various demographic scenarios and hypothetical what ifs, there remains the essential truth of the NI political conundrum ,’the diametrically opposed view of the constitutional future of NI held by both ‘halves’ of the population’”

    “The status quo /direct rule will mean that the ‘uncertain ‘ future will continue to be just that -uncertain . Those who hope for a UI by ‘demographics’ in another 20 years are also in ‘uncertain ‘ political territory.”

    A UI is certain terrotity. There is no going back. NI ceases to be. It’s right to self determination ceases to be, or at least becomes the same as any other section of Ireland. The demographics will say it is final. Population shifts, both around Ireland and from Europe would say it is final. The Constitutional change required, and the economic considerations would say it is final. I agree that the status quo is unsustainable in even the medium run.

    “This ‘uncertainty’ does not bode well for the economic future of the Nationalist people of NI or for the economic regeneration of the western and southern areas of NI. Nor does it bode well for the Unionist people of NI. A fair Repartition would bring ‘constitutional’ certainty and that would bring investment and economic regeneration to those parts of NI ceded to the Irish republic.”

    The only certainity it will bring is more violence, more trouble and absolutely everyone is unhappy. Partition remains what it always has been. Short term gain for everyone, long term pain for everyone.

  • “The reason there are so few decent unionist posters left is because there are no more sound reasons for the Union. “

    Wise up. The reason none of us bother is because we can’t be bothered wading through 4 pages of nonsense to leave an opinion which will be belittled or ignored by the majority of nationalist posters on the site, or at the very least, overwhelmed by the volume of aforementioned nonsense – as illustrated by the descent of another thread into some pipedream about repartition. The only thing I find curious about this is the apparent concession that partition was legitimate, if not ideal.

  • Objectivist

    [i]The only thing I find curious about this is the apparent concession that partition was legitimate, *if not ideal*.[/i]
    And this is an apparent concession that *re*partition would ben legitimate.

  • P O’Neil

    Repartitioning of the 6 Counties will never work. After the polical fallout and violent backlash after Bloody Sunday, Ted Heath’s government in 1973 had a repartitioning contingancy plan that was declassified in 2003 under Freedom of Information Act. The plan involved ‘surrendering’ Fermanagh and Tyrone to the Republic and forceabley relocating some 500,000 Catholics(were going to clear them from Belfast etc). Notice how its the Catholics that were going to be moved and not the Protestants…..

    It was a crappy idea then (not just because it was British) and its a crappy idea now.

    Only way repartitioning will ever work is if a space in the Irish Sea were designated, and the Unionists were tossed in.

    They are not interested in peace, but only holding onto their dwindling powerbases, through browbeating and intimidating the Unionist sheeple.

    And as with ALL political situations its not the puppet-politicans dancing on strings but rather the puppet-masters in the shadows that need to be watched and exposed.

    I don’t really see what Unionists have to fear from a UI (maybe other than kickback for the last 400+ years) because the Republic is just another British puppet with ‘Irish Peerages’ (who sit in the House of Lords in the UK), and weak-willed and traitorous politicans like Ahern and MacAleese. As Blair is Bush’s lap dog, Ahern is Blair’s, with these sickening close political ties with the UK, I thought the Unionists would feel right at home…

  • Greenflag

    Kensei,

    If a UI is certain then tell me

    1) When
    2) How will it be achieved ”
    Persuasion /Outvoting /Outbreeding / or some other way ? As I fail to see the above 3 being effective inside the next 50 years at least I assume you know of another way ?

  • Southern Observer

    [i]Jesus H Christ, another thread derailed by repartition. Thanks, Greenflag.[/i]
    I think its fair enough that GF raises this issue.It does not get anywhere near the amount of ‘debate time’ that it requires.
    Here’s my tuppenceworth.
    The logic is simple:
    If a substantial area with a localised unionist majority within the island of Ireland warrants exclusion from a unitary state then ipso facto an area,or group of areas, within NI with a localised nationalist majority have a right to bail out.
    Unionists understandable baulk at this and tend to use words like ‘nonstarter’ and ‘pipedream’.However I can see a situation in about 20 years time where unionists become the most fervent repartitionists of all.
    The issue of a violent response to repartition has been raised.Illegitimate violence was used in an attempt to force a territory out of the UK against the will of a majority of it’s inhabitants.This was (quite rightly) faced down by security forces in the ROI and UK.Similarly if an attempt is made to prevent an area *within* NI from joining up with the south,even if the majority population within that area decide that that is the way they want to go,then that will also be justifiably faced down.
    At the moment there seems in any case to be an ongoing creeping but inexorable repartition with population transfers within NI.
    A strong argument can be made for repartition.Nevertheless I think joint Anglo-Irish authority is worth a try before going down that road.

  • barnshee

    “Unionist representation would evaporate in a UI context, because many northern Protestants will wish to embrace proper party politics i.e. either join the Greens or Labour, or go off and form an Irish Tory Party.”

    This statement underlines the sheer lack of understandind of the prod mentality. The very idea that a northern prod would “wish to embrace proper party politics i.e. either join the Greens or Labour, or go off and form an Irish Tory Party.” is risable . They will all be DUP by the next election. How would that fit?

  • kensei

    “If a UI is certain then tell me”

    This isn’t quite what I said. I said that once it arrives, it is stable in a way the status quo is not. That isn’t the same as it being certain. Carbon dioxide is more more stable than wood and oxygen, but that doesn’t mean they will spontaneously combust.

    “1) When”

    Anytime in the next 20-50 years. It is a long term gambit, but hey, whats another 50?

    “2) How will it be achieved “
    Persuasion /Outvoting /Outbreeding / or some other way ? As I fail to see the above 3 being effective inside the next 50 years at least I assume you know of another way ? ”

    A combination of outbreeding and persuasion. The latter will be extremely tough, and will probably take a long time to get going due to the history but I believe that it will eventually gain some traction; the argument for a UI is a fundamentally sound one and not everyone has the same depth of p[olitical feeling, as shown by the number of people that have simply stopped voting. We don’t actually need to convince a huge number of Unionists.

    Things will change as the numbers approach parity. Even now at 40% voting for pro UI parties, it is not a realistic prospect. When that number goes above 45% however, I think the dynamics will begin to change as people need to confront a UI as a realistic possibility.

    50 years? So what? A premature repartition would result in short term gain for everyone, but long term pain for everyone on the island. A two county or hacked up bit of NI would damage Unionists ever bit as much as it would be painful to Nationalists.

    “I think its fair enough that GF raises this issue.It does not get anywhere near the amount of ‘debate time’ that it requires. ”

    You havent been here long, have you? Both Greenflag and declan have the single transferable repartition post.

  • Greenflag

    Southern Observer,

    ‘At the moment there seems in any case to be an ongoing creeping but inexorable repartition with population transfers within NI. ‘

    Not just at the moment SO. It’s been going on since the 1970’s – the result of sectarian violence, continuing political instability, and economics. The ‘repartition’ facts of life now are that it’s a rare Unionist if any who will ‘willingly’ move west of the Bann and a similarly rare Nationalist who will move to Newtownards or other 90% plus Unionist stronghold . Outside of North and South Belfast most of Northern Ireland has moved towards 80% plus majorities either way in it’s towns and communities.

    It could be ‘conjectured that had the Sunningdale Agreement worked that NI would be less ‘repartitionable’ today. In the absence of ‘politics’ 1974 to 1998 , the people of NI took the hint and moved where they could find ‘security’ for the inevitable ‘doomsday’.
    In a sense the ‘peace process’ 1996 to 2006 has been a case of trying to bolt the door of an empty barn, after the horses have headed for separate stables on opposite sides of town .

    ‘However I can see a situation in about 20 years time where unionists become the most fervent repartitionists of all. ‘

    It could be conjectured that behind all the objections to power sharing with SF that ‘repartition’ is already built in to DUP longer term ‘strategy’ to maintain the Union. They just don’t want to be seen as the prime ‘movers’ in what could be called the great ‘sell out’. The longer the DUP maintain their present ‘approach’ the greater the polarisation, internal migration, and greater likelihood of resumption of republican violence and a return to the gun which will lead to yet greater ‘internal’ migration and so on . Thus in 20 years ‘repartition’ will have been achieved anyway without ‘negotiation’ and the rest will be a formality.

    ‘Nevertheless I think joint Anglo-Irish authority is worth a try before going down that road. ‘

    Maybe but effectively that is what NI has had for the past 10 years or more and we have seen that it has done little or nothing to resolve the distrust between the major parties within NI.

    I have yet to see joint governmental authority work anywhere in the world for any length of time ? Perhaps it works on an unpopulated ice shelf on Antartica .

  • Greenflag

    Kensei,

    ‘Anytime in the next 20-50 years. It is a long term gambit, but hey, whats another 50? ‘

    A week is a long time in politics. Who can predict the world of 2056 ? My old man used to say that whereas it’s sensible enough to plan for the future it’s a waste of time trying to plan for the hereafter . Hitler’s 1,000 year Reich plan lasted 12 years . I see you correctly use the word ‘gambit’ . Most gamblers would admit that it’s difficult enough to predict the winner of the 2.30 at Sandown/Epsom /Curragh on Saturday 29th July 2006, never mind the winner in 2056 !.

    ‘A combination of outbreeding and persuasion.’

    All I can say Kensei is that if you truly want your 32 county UI you had better give up the blogging and go to work on the ‘breeding’ :).

    I assume it will be a good deal less ‘tough’ than ‘persuasion’ and much more enjoyable . Of course you might also find that the female party involved may be a lot tougher to persuade of the political benefits to be accrued from ‘outbreeding’. There is also the possibility that the other side could well indulge in direct competition for ‘parity ‘ in outbreeding .

    ‘the argument for a UI is a fundamentally sound one ‘

    I can actually agree with you here on the theory . It’s just the ‘practice part I have a problem with. Being a skeptical cynic is a cross to bear.

    ‘Things will change as the numbers approach parity. ‘

    Indeed . That will be the time for Unionists to climb aboard the ‘repartition’ wagon . However based on the Unionist political track record, they seem to have a problem with timing. I’ll grant that this could result in Unionists ‘jumping’ after the repartition wagon has left town .

    Probably your best bet Kensei .

  • lib2016

    For a nationalist dominated Northern Ireland we need only a small swing in the post-unionist middleclass, an event which will become even more likely if we can persuade some of those being educated abroad to return.

    Those people currently unionist will stay unionist, who ever doubted that fact. What is equally clear is that the middleclass are losing faith in unionism, a development which the rise of the DUP will intensify.

    It takes 10/15 years for any new development to become widely accepted since the old establishment who are naturally wedded to the old ideas have to be replaced. Strangely enough this is the decade when, according to the Equality Commission, senior management levels in the NI Civil Service become dominated by Catholics, as has already happened in the professions.

  • declan

    Southern Observer:

    ‘However I can see a situation in about 20 years time where unionists become the most fervent repartitionists of all. ‘

    The days of nationalist demographic increase could be coming to an end and it is a question of where the increase stops. In the recent census the % catholic (by community background) fell below 50% for the under 10s for the first time. Assuming that demographic trends are such that the nationalists by the 2021 census have quite clearly failed to achieve a critical mass of 51% – the 2021 scenario – then I believe it could be the nationalists who will begin to look again at repartition.

  • Greenflag

    lib2016,

    ‘ What is equally clear is that the middleclass are losing faith in unionism’

    Any evidence for this assertion ? Just because they have lost faith in the UUP or DUP etc does not mean they have lost faith in the union. They may just prefer direct rule for as long as it can be made to last. I may lose faith in FF or the PD’s but I won’t lose faith in the Republic . Inertia is a powerful political force . Not many on either side in NI ever escape the gravitational pull of the sectarian black hole of NI politics . Unless of course they leave . I would imagine that quite a few who have returned will be the first to leave when the situation deteriorates again.

    ‘Strangely enough this is the decade when, according to the Equality Commission, senior management levels in the NI Civil Service become dominated by Catholics’

    And also the time when reducing public sector employee numbers in NI is a major priority of Mr Hain and the DUP.

    ‘It takes 10/15 years for any new development to become widely accepted ‘

    So since 1968 thats almost 40 years how many ‘new’ developments and replacements of ‘old establishments ‘ have taken place ?
    I know there have been positive changes but I don’t see any ‘old ideas’ changing or being replaced . I see instead a hardening of the arteries between the DUP and SF . Perhaps my eyes are not seeing what you hear and my ears are not hearing what you see ?

  • Resolve

    FAO Green Flag…

    Ultimately, and stemming from my confidence in the positive potential of a UI, I do not believe repartition is the right way to go. Sorry, Green Flag. It certainly makes more sense than the original border made, and could be justified using the same kind of logic. I don’t know how familiar you are with Belfast, but if you think for a second that West Belfast republicans are going to accept it (not to mention the inevitably stranded towns such as Dunloy, etc…) you’ll have a rude awakening. Their hope of a UI is what drives them, and this hope would be immediately extinguished in such a scenario. The PIRA may well have decommissioned most (if not all) of their weaponry, but it wouldn’t require much to acquire it again. This, sadly, may be inevitable in such a situation. The articulate way you have advocated this ‘solution’ is commendable, and those who have criticised you for bringing it up obviously think it is preferable to argue about history and identity rather than think creatively about the future. Their criticisms should be ignored. Yet, ultimately, this solution will only perpetuate the divisions from which all our ills flow. The fact that legitimacy is increased (in this new Unionist state) may do little to quell the rage of the few hardliners that remain ‘on the wrong side’. At this stage, we need a total and permanent solution, and to me only the only border that holds such potential is the Irish coastline, from Portrush to Rosslare, from Ballyliffen to Ballybunion.

    There are many other points I would wish to make, but unfortunately I do not have the time to do so right now (can I send you an e-mail, perhaps?). I think it is a good idea! and I do accept that my criticism is of the form of “It’s a bad idea because I don’t like it”… I also see that the Win-Win “Holy Grail solution is increasingly elusive and unlikely, and that maybe disappointment on both sides is necessary for progress and resolution. I’ll be in touch, Green Flag, when I have the time 😉

  • Resolve

    Increasingly on Slugger, i have witnessed threads begin as a discussion of Unionism and somehow winding up as a discussion of how ludicrous the NI State is, whether because of sectarian, demographic or economic and political reasons. There seems to be a lack of intelligent Unionist perspective. Whether this is due to:

    *Slugger being dominated by Nationalists;
    *Nationalist confidence/Unionist lack of confidence;
    *The State being inherently indefensible;
    *Failure of Nationalists to accord the proper respect to Unionist perspectives (resulting in an unwillingness of Unionists to discuss);
    *Nationalist’s 100% conviction on the sense of an inclusive island Republic;
    *Coincidental higher intelligence of Nationalist contributors on Slugger; or…
    *Unionist satisfaction with the Status Quo, resulting in a less anxious, more passive approach to discourse…

    …i am not in a position to say. Nevertheless, this is the pattern I have come to expect. On the one hand, it is slightly petty of nationalists (like myself) to transmogrify every thread, although one may understand it as motivated by:

    *a realisation of the obvious, namely that things are not as they should be in the 6 counties, e.g. continuing sectarian problems, rise of the extreme political parties, tragically dependent economy, etc;
    *a parallel awareness that any november solution (resulting in a power-sharing devolved government) is, as Green Flag describes, a “mirage”, and not really capable of resolving our core long-term difficulties. While most people support such power-sharing (as do I), it is usually because they 1) recognise in it a symbol of peace (as opposed to the violence of the past); and 2) recognise it as beneficial for economic and civic life (as opposed to the undemocratic Direct Rule situation… For many reasons, it doesn’t seem to give us long-term confidence. Things are very uncertain…
    *An absolute confidence that a UI makes perfect sense, and ultimately has the potential to dissolve all our difficulties, whether they be social, economic and political.

  • Resolve

    With certain qualifications, I share this confidence, and do believe that we have the right and duty to try to persuade our Unionist brothers and sisters of the case for a UI. But, IMO, it is important for nationalists to remember Unionist sensitivities. Many associate any mention of a UI Republic with those people who used violence in an attempt to force it against the democratic will. Many of these people really do believe in an exclusive and narrow definition of Irishness, and this should not be countenanced on any level by “true Republicans” (even this term sends shivers up most Unionists’ spines; somehow they hear this term and imagine that we are ‘even worse’ than SF – unfortunate and regrettable – but should this price be paid by us with a truely inclusive and democratic vision? Surely the end should not be devalued by the past means of an unrepresentative bunch? Indeed, most Unionists are now coming to see that “They really have gone away now, you know…”

    And good riddence… they have set us all back 40 years, with much trauma and misery being caused along the way… But no shame should be heaped on those who endorse SF’s “ballet-box and the ballot-box” approach.

    I sometimes think that, sub-consciously (perhaps forming a regular nightmare, from which they awake in sweats and shakes), Unionists believe that long ago the IRA made a deal with the RoI government, which guaranteed SF total governmental control should a UI ever come about. This is obviously a metaphor, but a powerful one, and highly instructive. The truth is that, should the island be politically re-united, SF would most likely either dynamically transform itself or wither away. If they transformed and improved, they would be so far beyond current recognition that there would be nothing to fear, and if they withered away (most likely) everything would be equally hunky-dory. Unionist representation (whether it was still called that or not) would still hold power in much of the North, and would be able to fully guarantee the cultural and economic needs of their people. Indeed, they could do so to a much greater extent than is currently ‘allowed’… It’s one to think about for sure, but for thought to occur, we must first discuss… So, in doing this, I urge all Nationalist commentators to put themselves in Unionist shoes… and take into account fully their concerns of Unionism. And these concerns ARE legitimate and understandable. It’s amazing how some nationalist posters can in one breath (if it suits their purposes) proclaim how similar modern Irishmen and modern British people are… and, in the next, display such a lack of understanding when it comes to their northern neighbours. We must breach this communication barrier. To Unionists, I would urge an open mind about long-term solutions to our problems. Listen carefully to creative thinkers such as Green Flag, and also to suggestions of a UI. This will require courage, but yet again I am not urging you to agree. Simply keep an open mind, and think… what is best for future generations? How can it be brought about?

  • declan

    Resolve:

    “Their hope of a UI is what drives them [Republicans], and this hope would be immediately extinguished in such a scenario.”

    However, come 2021, the hope may be draining away anyway. In a scenario when the nationalist increase has come to an end, short of the critical mass, and maxed out, many six county nationalists could begin to look again at the idea of a fair repartition.

  • harpo

    ‘To Unionists, I would urge an open mind about long-term solutions to our problems. Listen carefully to creative thinkers such as Green Flag, and also to suggestions of a UI. This will require courage, but yet again I am not urging you to agree. Simply keep an open mind, and think… what is best for future generations? How can it be brought about?’

    Resolve:

    Nice words, but once again we see the presumption that a UI is the best thing for everyone. Unionists don’t agree.

    So instead of asking nationalists to present their case well, why don’t you ask them to keep an open mind too, since the island staying partitioned is a very likely outcome of current events?

    Open mindedness seems to be something that nationalists expect only unionists to engage in. They could do with a bit of it themselves, so that at long last they do truly think about a permanent partition.

  • harpo

    ‘Increasingly on Slugger, i have witnessed threads begin as a discussion of Unionism and somehow winding up as a discussion of how ludicrous the NI State is, whether because of sectarian, demographic or economic and political reasons. There seems to be a lack of intelligent Unionist perspective.’

    resolve:

    The former is true, but the bit about the lack of unionist perspective is wrong. There is plenty of unionist perspective on Slugger, but it usually gets howled down in the rush of nationalists engaging in the former.

    The problem isn’t with unionist perspectives. As I say they are a variety of them presented on here. The problem lies solely with nationalists, and the inability of many of them to do nothing other than bash Britishness and unionism.

    Surely what you meant was that there is a lack of intelligent NATIONALIST perspective.

    That is evidenced by the fact that even threads that have nothing to do with unionism end up as a discussion of how ludicrous the NI State is. You name it, some nationalists can turn it into another NI bashing exercise.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nationalists make up 45% of the people of NI, so if NI is a failed entity (or whatever the latest hip description of it is) nationalists have had a big part in creating that condition. To hear many nationalists who actually live in NI, you’d think they lived thousands of miles outside the place, and were commenting on some place that they have no involvement in. But nationalists have ben in NI since 1921, so however it has ended up has had a lot of involvement from them, either positive or negative.

  • bertie

    I remember a wonderful quote (and I forget who from) who said that whenever he hears nationlists asking unionists what would make them more comfortable in a UI, it makes him think of a vegatarian being asked “How do you like your steak?” ;o)

  • Resolve

    FAO Declan…

    First, I must say to you that I endorse Dread’s criticisms of your profections. There are FAR too many uncertainties involved. But i will concede that, should things work out in the way you foresee, then of course it it obvious that fair repartition may become popular.

    Secondly, and it is much more important that you listen to this point… you are really boring me! You have shown yourself to be an intelligent guy, but you have been repeating this over and over again. I read the whole of this thread in the last two hours, and was astounded by your repetition. Please, Declan… give it a rest 😉

    FAO Harpo…

    I noticed that you didn’t reply to my last posts on the “Green and White Army” thread… an oversight, i am sure.

    In relation to your present criticisms, I can see what you are getting at. It is a decent point, and if the tone of my post betrayed such a short-sightedness, I apologise. But i do not believe (after several minute’s serious reflection) that I possess such short-sightedness. It was, after all, an address to my fellow nationalists on how best to frame their arguments for a UI. I did not mean to ignore our parallel responsibility to empathise with the Unionist position (I encouraged them to do just this! – see above) – namely, that our economic, social and political interests can best be served within the UK…

  • declan

    Resolve:

    “First, I must say to you that I endorse Dread’s criticisms of your profections. There are FAR too many uncertainties involved.”

    I have not said that there are not a lot of uncertainties involved.

    “But i will concede that, should things work out in the way you foresee, then of course it it obvious that fair repartition may become popular.”

    Good.

    “Secondly, and it is much more important that you listen to this point… you are really boring me! You have shown yourself to be an intelligent guy, but you have been repeating this over and over again. I read the whole of this thread in the last two hours, and was astounded by your repetition. Please, Declan… give it a rest 😉 ”

    I will make my point as and when anything you say appears to contradict it. I would add that I thought your point above starting in 0857 was overlong and boring. Normally I would not say that sort of thing. However since you have said i to me I have broken the rule. I suggest you give it a rest too, or at least cut it back as it is over long.

  • Resolve

    FAO Bertie..

    I readily acknowledge the applicability of the mentioned quote… nevertheless, if you see my above reply to Harpo, you will see that I would welcome your approach if turned round the other way… for example, if you were to plead with me “The UK makes sense for NI… what would make you more comfortable within this set-up?” My reference to Unionists’ lack of intelligent debate on here was not a reference to the integrity of their position, nor the clarity of their articulation. Rather, their reluctance to approach the problems in the way I have just welcomed. The message seems to be “You’re part of the UK.. accept it”. thiss leaves nationalists feeling disenfranchised, and also obviously causes them to de-value the intellectual credential of the individual Unionist. Regrettable, but as i have said… i, for one, am open to a proper debate…

    If it’s any consolation, you and Harpo were “two of the few” in relation to the lack of… (i’m not saying it again! i hope you all prove me wrong!)

  • Resolve

    FAO Declan..

    When one gives an extreme, one-sided answer, one can afford to be concise. It is called a soundbite. But when one wants to lay down the middle-ground, there are necessary detours – hopefully extremists recognise a certain way to look at things from my posts that they are comfortable in conceding to, and replece their more unbalanced assertions with more moderate positions. This is the ungratifying groundwork that must be laid, if compromise is to follow. I assume this is something you value? Apologies if I take too much space up in these attempts…

  • Greenflag

    Resolve,

    Thanks for the replies and for the clarity with which you outlined your motivation. There is not a whole lot of ground between us in terms of your ‘analysis’ of the overall situation . In particular ,

    1) *a realisation of the obvious etc
    2) *a parallel awareness that etc
    3)*An absolute confidence that a UI makes perfect sense.
    4) *Things are very uncertain ‘

    Where we differ is on number 3 and even then I would not disagree with the thought expressed but with the manner in which it could/should /might be brought about.

    The following ‘thoughts ‘ of Dr Mansergh (FF Senator given at the McGill summer school go over the usual ground . I would not share Dr Mansergh’s optimism nor his hope in any Paisley redemption although I can agree with his overall views.

    Dr Mansergh, a Fianna Fail member of the Irish Senate, was an adviser on Northern Ireland to three Fianna Fail leaders.

    Excerpts

    ‘At a time of political uncertainty and even stagnation he believes the risk of unionism losing its influence if devolution is not restored, is one of the key reasons for optimism that a deal will be struck on the restoration of power-sharing government.

    ‘what does the future hold for the union of Northern Ireland with Britain?

    “I think the issue is, is the union the best option for the people of Northern Ireland?

    “I think already in many respects it is the second class option both for political and economic reasons.

    “Politically – and this is something I think the DUP need to bear in mind when they are deciding in the autumn whether or not they will allow the devolved institutions to work – it is still an old question: ‘Is Northern Ireland a workable entity’?”

    Dr Mansergh believes Northern Ireland will “lose ground” on every level if it fails to accept devolution and the cross border bodies come the autumn.

    “Nowadays the Union doesn’t guarantee any dominance’

    “In fact, I would argue the opposite. The Union guarantees a second class position and I’m not talking about vis-a-vis Catholics but vis-a-vis the rest of Ireland.

    “The type of anachronistic political Protestantism as exemplified by Paisleyism and by the Orange Order, none of that is going to take Northern Ireland very far into the 21st century,” he said.

    The former advisor fears the DUP does not know what the best option is for the autumn and this was shown in Ian Paisley’s “blood and thunder” refusal to cooperate, detailed in his Twelfth speech.

    But Dr Mansergh remains hopeful and points out that “the odds have always been against progress for the past 20 years”.

    “The odds were always against a ceasefire, an agreement, the odds were against an executive.

    “The governments won’t mind the fact that the odds are against it.”

    He is hopeful that the DUP leader may “redeem what many people would regard as a very destructive political career”.

    “It has impeded progress and reform… and it represented a sort of Protestantism that many decent Protestants on the island of Ireland would utterly repudiate.

    “I would have hoped – and I must say I wasn’t impressed by his July 12 speech – that he would like to leave something by way of a positive legacy even at this late stage,” he said.

    But ultimately if no deal is reached in the autumn, Dr Mansergh has no doubt that plan B will swing into action.

    “The conditions, compared with the past are really ideal although unionists might ask themselves why they spent 20 years resisting coalition with the SDLP when Sinn Féin were absolutely no part of the equation. Some mistake in leadership somewhere there surely.”

    He predicted plan B would involve the Irish and British governments closing down many existing institutions.

    The governments will take charge of north-south cooperation and will move beyond the “care and maintenance” agenda they have operated in recent years.

    “It is about such cooperation not in support of any political project but simply if it’s in the economic and social interests of the two parts of Ireland,” he said.

    “It is about any matter that is beyond the strictly internal affairs of Northern Ireland.”

    Dr Mansergh does not believe plan B involves any constitutional change or “joint authority” or “joint sovereignty”.

    The Tipperary senator thinks the most painful aspect of plan B for unionists would be the fact that their politicians would not be in charge.

    While nationalists – and even some unionists – speak of the ‘inevitability’ of a united Ireland, the former government advisor does not believe this to be true.

    “My view is that nothing in human life or history is inevitable. It all depends on what people decide to do, when and in what circumstances.

    “I think unity can be brought about if those who want it act intelligently,” he said.

    He asks the question that, of the two states on the island of Ireland, which has been a success?

    Greenflag’s summary ,

    It will be Plan B come November .

  • Resolve

    Green Flag…

    And if your predictions come to fruition, does that seem to settle, once and for all, the question posed by Mansergh to the DUP? i.e. “Is Northern Ireland a workable entity?”….

    Could this not, over time, lead to certain Unionists looking boldly at alternatives? If they were forced to confront these cold hard facts:

    *NI is not a workable entity, in terms of devolved power-sharing government;
    *Direct Rule simply will not do

    Could the realisation of these two related points lead to a further realisation that Mansergh was right in saying..

    “I think already in many respects it [i.e. NI within the UK] is the second class option both for political and economic reasons”…?

    I would remind you that when I stated my 100% confidence that only a UI had the potential to neutralise our divisions, I did not speculate on the likely chances of this being agreed on, or on how it could best come around. Yet perhaps when Mansergh said…

    “nationalists – and even some unionists – speak of the ‘inevitability’ of a united Ireland”…

    he was closer to the truth than he imagined. Granted, his Popperian lack of faith in historical inevitability is sensible, but there can be no doubt that my above two propositions are correct. Coupled together in any medium-term Plan B scenario, and an unexpected new approach within many traditional Unionist circles may suface…

    I must confess, my initial reaction to your lucid proposal on repartition was fear that Unionists would recognise it as their most sensible course of action. Granted, I am a nationalist in North Down, bound to be on the “wrong side” should repartition take place. Even so, I for one would accept it if it did become Unionist policy and eventually take place. It makes perfect sense for them.. and, of course, for the vast southern and western areas of NI non-sensically within de jure British jurisdiction. But, ultimately I believe it is not only in Nationalists interests to live on an all-island Republic, but also in Unionist interests. Perhaps even more so for them, as ironic (and, i’m sure, patronising to their ears) as that sounds…

    We have to continue discussions, Green Flag. I’ll be looking forward to your response.

    p.s. Have a look at the “Bigger Picture” thread. Leave a comment if you will… I trust your perspective, and want to hear it. It’s not just other people’s fuzzy logic I want to “resolve”.. it’s my own aswell 😉

  • Greenflag

    Harpo,

    ‘But nationalists have been in NI since 1921’

    Incorrect . The Irish have been in that part of Ireland/UK since time immemorial. In Irish ‘nationalist’ format they have been around at least a couple of centuries .More than twice as long as the NI State.

    Bertie

    ‘I remember a wonderful quote (and I forget who from) who said that whenever he hears nationalists asking unionists what would make them more comfortable in a UI, it makes him think of a vegatarian being asked

    “How do you like your steak?” ;o)

    Which could well prompt the ‘vegetarian’ reply

    ‘All potatoes and no meat’ 🙂

    For it could be argued that’s all the Union now provides ? 🙂

  • Resolve

    Something strange just occured to me about the inappropriateness of one of our most taken-for-granted terms.

    “Direct rule” is used to describe “rule directly from Westminster”. But there is a powerful ring off the term that is not deserved, considering the impotence of local representatives under such a system of rule. I would argue that direct rule should be undertood to be what it is, “indirect rule”. And also, even devolved government is hardly truely “direct rule”… without access to an Exchequer, there can be no more real political power than what you described before as a mirage. An illusion.
    This is one of the most forceful reasons for a UI, namely that Unionists would have direct participatiion in governmental power. It certainly seems that a 15% Unionist block in the Dail could protect their interests more than 10 out of 659 MPs ever could…

  • slug

    Resolve

    When someone says that they are 100% certain of something I am generally inclined to doubt them.

  • Greenflag

    ‘my initial reaction to your lucid proposal on repartition was fear that Unionists would recognise it as their most sensible course of action;

    Sunningdale was ‘sensible’. Where is it ? Although I disagree with the idea of forced power sharing as in the NI Assembly it could be said that the GFA is/was sensible at least from a peace process perspective and as a means of ‘rebooting ‘ politics in NI.

    Sunningdale never got off the ground and the GFA at least in it’s ‘expected format ‘ a working NI assembly, has been in cold storage for 4 years .I’d now hazard a guess that the majority of people in NI both Unionist and non Unionist are not storming the barricades for the Assembly’s restoration.

    If I were a Unionist I would see a fair repartition as the only possible way of guaranteeing that at least part of NI would remain in the Union for the foreseeable future . Dr Mansergh remarks on the ‘failure of leadership within unionism ‘ so perhaps the non espousal of ‘repartition’ by any leading Unionist politicians is just another example of unionist failure in political leadership?

    It seems to me that a discussion of possible benefits and/or disadvantages of a repartition solution at least widens any ‘debate’ on the constitutional issue beyond the ‘good us’ and ‘bad themuns’ level .

    ‘Ultimately I believe it is not only in Nationalists interests to live on an all-island Republic, but also in Unionist interests’

    That may be but I would hold that it is more in NI Nationalists economic and political interests to become members of an ‘enlarged’ post repartition Ireland as soon as possible than to ‘fart’ around for another 15 years hoping that ‘demographics ‘ and other factors will lead to a 32 county UI.

    Death and taxes are inevitable but a UI is’nt nor is a 6 county NI . Anyway that’s my input for now on this topic .

    Thanks again for your considered ‘objections’:).

  • Greenflag

    ‘without access to an Exchequer, there can be no more real political power than what you described before as a mirage. An illusion.’

    Or as in my reply to Bertie – the potatoes without the meat . At this stage Unionists or at least the majority of them may have decided that a potato diet will do. The ‘meat’ involved in any potential all Ireland diet could lead to decades of plaque clogged political arteries bringing on a ‘political’ stroke of fatal dimensions.

  • Resolve

    FAO Slug…

    Likewise, my friend.. thank you for pointing out my misuse of language. Believe me, though, i am far from a dogmatist. Let’s say that I have a deeply-rooted conviction. Like all of my convictions, they are open to persuasion… though, subjectively speaking, something that makes me doubt whether an articulate Unionist could convince me of the case for NI within the UK is because I have spent years discussing the issues with my Unionist friends, all very intelligent people. I have seriously looked at things from both perspectives, and come to my convictions not by accepting what I was born into, but by taking the “road less travelled”. It’s been a struggle, but i am pretty sure. Like I say, i’m always open to persuasion, as should you be, regardless of my pretentious claim to certainty 😉

  • lib2016

    With the triumph of the DUP unionism is more identified than ever with Protestant supremacy. It has become immobilised by its own fears.

    Any future for Northern Ireland depends on the emergence of a post unionist generation, otherwise there is only the prospect of a slow transfer of Direct Rule from London to Dublin.

    The reason why we see so few positive comments from unionists is simply because there is nothing positive in their foreseeable future.

    They don’t accept their Irish identity nor their European one either. Their British identity is changing in ways which leave no place for them. Until they can find their own way forward they have about as much hope as a Scottish Conservative – the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • Resolve

    FAO Green Flag…

    I agree with almost everything you said in those previous two posts. Nothing controversial in there, just good old common sense. It is a creative solution, and certainly correlates with most people’s current desires. But I would argue that their current desires aren’t in their best interests. I wouldn’t presume to tell others what IS in their best interests, but we definitely need a period of power-sharing within NI (as inadequate as it is, long-term) to let passion give way to pragmatism and perspective (on both sides). By then, i think repartition will be seen to be less ideal. As you have conceded earlier in this post, it would currently be the best of a bad bunch of alternatives on the table. Of this, I have no doubt.. but we need to give it time. A rash policy choice like this (sensible as it currently is), if enacted quite soon, would certainly be set in stone, i.e. permanant, for all intents and purposes. It may be looked back on, however, as a mistake.

    As I say, it is a creative solution. The two-state solution in Israel, since being accepted by the mainsteam on both sides as the only real possible template for agreement, has yielded some imaginative proposals. The Rand Foundation recently announced proposals for a high-tech railway line, connecting Gaza with the West Bank, thus rendering the future Palestinian state largely contiguous. This sort of creativity and pragmatism can produce solutions to problems which, prima facie, seem intractable. On this account, I must give you credit. Uniionists at high levels would do well to heed your words, and I foresee them doing just that in the future… as you pointed out before (and took the words right out of my mouth) they deserted many “southern” Unionists (albeit regrettably) in 1920 in the intersts of mantaining the Union. Would they not do the same today, if a UI was likely…?

  • lib2016

    There is no possibility of the NI machinery of government being able to cope with repartition. The Civil Service up to very senior levels is increasingly run by Catholics, so are the judiciary and the medical professions. Why on earth do you think we are facing such a push for a settlement now after waiting for thirty years?

    There is a change of power in this society which is reflected in its institutions becoming friendly to a thirty-two county solution. Tough for those on the wrong side of history but there it is.

  • Greenflag

    ‘they deserted many “southern” Unionists (albeit regrettably) in 1920 in the interests of mantaining the Union. Would they not do the same today, if a UI was likely…? ‘

    Yes they would IMO , and also ‘regrettably’.

  • Dónall Garvin

    Solution for the Northern Problem.

    Emigration

    You people can’t really make a difference argueing with eachother as to why your place is in the state it is. Whether NI is run by Dublin or London (or maybe even Belfast) is not really all that important.

    The current state of the country is not great – the high dependence on benefits/handouts makes me question not only why anybody would want to administer NI but who would acutally want to live there.

    Just think – if you take part in the great brain drain – you could help better another community, contribute to a vibrant economy, and live among people who don’t think of you as C/P first and person second.

  • Maxdiver

    Good Point Dnall.

    I’ve been gone since 2004 and been living here in the USA.
    NI has a low standard of living – low prospects – and is in general not a great place to live.

    The best will always leave, and i don’t care what’s left behind.
    Northern Ireland is a warning from History on how not to run a country.

    Anyone with any ambition will know that there is no future in NI and seek a better life elsewhere.

  • Cka

    To me it is more that I was born in the UK, I accept that I am a British Citizen and my family who were born and live in the south who are also Presbyterian have accepted just as eaily that they are Irish Citizens, and they are proud to be so. For me and my family in Northern Ireland it is a pain to see others unable to accept their own situation, living and wasteing energy, persistantly on their own personal and political gains. Hyjacking Nationalist orgainisation and brainwashing the uneducated, let people live in peace and let people just accept what they are, no matter what people say.

  • alan

    Cka,

    Here, here!

  • kensei

    “To me it is more that I was born in the UK, I accept that I am a British Citizen and my family who were born and live in the south who are also Presbyterian have accepted just as eaily that they are Irish Citizens, and they are proud to be so. For me and my family in Northern Ireland it is a pain to see others unable to accept their own situation, living and wasteing energy, persistantly on their own personal and political gains. Hyjacking Nationalist orgainisation and brainwashing the uneducated, let people live in peace and let people just accept what they are, no matter what people say.”

    Now, the way I read thatm, is that everyone born ghere should just accept they are British and be happy.

    The problems with that attitude is:

    1. I’m not British
    2. It’s fantastically patronising.

  • IJP

    I for one opted to live in NI, above other places I lived during childhood (including England and Germany).

    Immigration figures indicate I’m far from the only one. A net migration per year of 2,000 from GB is now standard (has been more or less every year for the past decade, see NISRA). Throw in 16,000 arriving each year from Eastern Europe (31,000 from summer ’03 to summer ’05) and we are truly “living in interesting times”.

    I would advise anyone to hang around – it’s not great currently, but it’s not bad either; and it’s up to all of us to make it better!