Towards a social future, or a deadlocked past…?

Interesting piece from Joe Brolly, the RTE sports pundit and former Derry GAA player, who is lining out for St Brigid’s GAA against the PSNI, seriously underplayed squad, on Thursday evening. The move is significant, since the only team the PSNI has played before was that of the Garda Siochana. Brolly, who’s father is a Sinn Fein MLA and mother is a former Mayor of Limavady, speaks with some authority on the likely reaction of the Republican constitutency:

“It would not cause my father and mother to blink that we are playing against the PSNI. You must be joking. I was brought up to be broadminded and liberal. Our household has always been absolutely anti-sectarianism and to be broadminded. The whole process Sinn Féin is at is to get to a situation were lads in republican areas will be joining the police force. I have it for fact that it is part of Sinn Féin’s policy that in the event of conditions being right, they will propose at an Ard-Fheis that they join the policing board and they will move towards encouraging young people to join the police force.

Joe is clearly not an official spokesman for the party, but it would be interesting to know if this thought on the pragmatic limits of Sinn Fein’s constitutional struggle is one widely shared within the wider Republican constituency:

You can bet your life on it that ten years down the line people from staunchly republican areas will be joining the police without anybody batting an eyelid. As well, Sinn Féin will be sitting in Stormont probably no closer to a united Ireland and we would have a much better society for all of that. [my italics]

He contrasts that with the firebombing tactic of the CIRA in Newry recently:

“Should we all be joining the Continuity IRA in droves and burning furniture stores in Newry? Is that the way forward for us? What is wrong with showing plenty of confidence and optimism about ourselves and letting our fellow man live the way he wants to live?”

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  • slug

    Excellent, excellent, excellent!

    Good to see change being embraced.

  • Peking

    Such an open and fair minded attitude is heartening. Am I right in thinking that his father and mother have both been noticeable in the past for expressing similarly progressive sentiments on other issues?

  • Samwise

    Not quite right – the PSNI played the University of Ulster last October or November.

  • Pete Baker
  • carlosblancos

    I think they also played NYPD and the London Met.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Obviously Joe Brolly isn’t hanging much hope of a united Ireland by 2016 then.

    Nice to see a little realism the odd time anyway.

  • Enlightening stuff from Brolly, the thinking man’s Sinn Féiner. But aren’t his comments similar to what the SDLP has been saying for years (need to engage with police and improve policing, end sectarianism, bombing helps no one, deal with the realities on the ground of improving people’s lives now without losing sight of the ultimate goal of reunification, etc.)?

    And the SDLP doesn’t have the additional baggage of having to justify past violent actions, or explain why they were ok then but not now.

  • Occasional Commentator

    He’s blamed the CIRA for the Newry firebombing, when it was actually claimed by the RIRA as reported (twice I think) on Slugger.

  • Dualta

    His father Francie Brolly, a man of considerable quality, was once asked in interview if people whose house was burgled should contact the PSNI or a local community representative and his reply was: “If my house was burgled, I would phone the police.” Francie is not a stupid man. He’s his own man and he knew the import of his statement. Is is an open secret that Francie works with the PSNI in Dungiven on issues of common criminality in his community.

    Also, his wife Anne, a woman of considerable quality, as mayor of Limavady, participated in a formal event with one of the British mini-ministers, opening a road or something. This didn’t go down too well considering the minister in question was out of favour with SF over an army issue. It has been said that a senior Shinner from Belfast got on the phone to take issue with Anne and had to retreat with his arse on fire after the scorching Anne gave him.

    There’ll probably be a few unsavoury things said about the Brollys on this thread, so I’m going to stick my oar in deep. They’re progressive people. Let’s hope they represent the future of SF.

  • Garibaldy

    Credit where it’s due. Positive stuff

  • heres hoping

    El Matador why do you always have to bring the SDLP into every thread, do you believe that if you keep mentioning them and telling us all how wonderful they are and really they have the copyright on all original thoughts then maybe some people might vote for them again. Deal with it the sdlp are a very small minority party with very little influence on this island.

    Back to the real topic very good interview by Joe and probably a position of many republicans at this time but he still acknowledges that underlying all of this policing needs sorted and when it is Sinn Fein will face its responsibilities head on.

  • JD

    As a republican and a SF supporter I have no difficulty with Joe’s remarks or the previous examples of his parents off message statements or actions. I have great respect for Anne and Francie Brolly, fair play to them.

    This does slightly contradict the view that SF is a robot like monolith with no diversion from the party line allowed.

  • lib2016

    I believe that we’ll probably have a form of united Ireland by 2016 yet I don’t disagree materially with anything Mr. Brolly says and certainly not with what he is doing in playing football with their representatives, though Gaelic football might be a little too much of a contact sport for the first moves. Might be safer to start things off with a bridge tournament or something? 😉

    It’s good to disagree now and then, that’s one part of any functioning democracy and something which we are all going to have to get used to now that the days of locking people up because we don’t approve of their flags and emblems are over.

    Sinn Fein has said time and again that they wish to move towards an acceptable police service. Some might even argue that they are the reason why we are moving towards having just such a service.

    It would be churlish not to acknowledge that change is happening. France and Germany started their moves towards what became the EU sooner than this after much more serious differences, for the usual reasons – it just made economic sense.

    It makes sense here too.

  • fair_deal

    Very interesting and positive comments.

    In terms of St Brigids I know a couple of guys very active in it (as are their kids). Joe’s views would equate strongly with their’s.

  • na

    The PSNI team might get more GAA matches if they actually applied to join the GAA?

  • jim

    They mite even have to play in a 26 county league also

  • lies, damned lies

    “I believe that we’ll probably have a form of united Ireland by 2016”

    What delusional nonsense is that?! There isn’t the slightest evidence for that assertion. The Brits and Free State government have categorically ruled out even any form of joint soverignty if the current talks fail. If they succeed, then it’s back to Stormont, Paisley as FM, British troops here in perpetuity and partition copperfastened by the unionist veto being enshrined in a gerrymandered border poll. Thanks to SF’s treachery a united free Ireland is further away than it has ever been. 2116 is looking decidedly optimistic, let alone 10 years hence!
    Why are so many ‘republicans’ in denial on this very, very obvious issue? The emperor IS naked. We have been led up the garden path by a party full of careerists and Brit agents.
    The use of the phrase ‘a form of’ United Ireland is highly illuminating. We’ll be told that we’ve got a united Ireland when we will have nothing of the sort. Just like we’re in a ‘transitonial phase’
    now. Pitiful.

  • tKMaxx

    What Brolly says makes sense and as a sportsman he is upholding principles that all sportsmen share. Though its worth mentioning that already young nationalists are voting with their feet with regard to the PSNI -nearly 5,000 have applied for some 500 places over the past three years. Sinn Fein are playing catch up on this issue and they know it. But better late than never.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    More baby steps in the police process…

    na – the PSNI team is expected to join the GAA soon, I think I read somewhere recently.

  • Peking

    Dualta
    You mention the points I half-remembered about the Brollys.

  • HH-

    “Deal with it the sdlp are a very small minority party with very little influence on this island.”

    The election results say otherwise.

    Plus, the fact that for a great many years SF actually was a very small minority party with no influence didn’t seem to deter them. Nor did it deter the IRA, the ‘army’ without a mandate from the Irish people.

    It’s funny how mandates only seem to count when SF get them.

  • lib2016

    lies,damned lies,

    With the shock emergence of ‘Fine Gael – the Royalist Party’ who is to say what lies ahead for us all? At the moment nothing would surprise me.

    Any further information about the proposed meeting of the dissidents?

  • Brolly says no to United Ireland

    “Oh, croppies ye’d better be quiet and still
    Ye shan’t have your liberty, do what ye will
    As long as salt water is formed in the deep
    A foot on the necks of the croppy we’ll keep
    And drink, as in bumpers past troubles we drown,
    A health to the lads that made croppies lie down
    Down, down, croppies lie down.”

  • declan

    “2116 is looking decidedly optimistic, let alone 10 years hence! Why are so many ‘republicans’ in denial on this very, very obvious issue?”

    Because nationalists are coditioned to thinking that the nationalist vote tends to go up at elections and the nationalist share of the vote tends to go up. However the days of nationalist increase could be coming to an end. I believe that nationalists and republicans will be unable to continue being in denial by 2021. At that point NI will be 100 years old, two further censuses will show that the Catholic part of the 0-10 year old population is not rising any more and in that scenario (which is called “scenario 2021”) many nationalists will come to think in terms of a fair repartition.

  • Cahal

    “which is called “scenario 2021”

    ffs

  • Realist

    Francie Brolly, Joe’s dad, was rather less than “liberal” on Hearts and Minds (BBC television) in the build up to Rule 21 being abolished.

    He was famously quoted on the programme as saying “the GAA is synonomous with republicanism”.

    Honestly Francie?

    Glad that nationalists within the PSNI can now play GAA without discrimination on account of their chosen occupation.

    Can we expect a HM Forces Challenge Cup anytime soon?

    Surely the Royal Irish could get a team together?

  • baffled

    ‘There’ll probably be a few unsavoury things said about the Brollys on this thread, so I’m going to stick my oar in deep. They’re progressive people. Let’s hope they represent the future of SF.’

    Back at work today and feeling a bit down in the dumps but that statement has made my day!! Now I’ve heard a lot of things but never one that has’ Sinn Fein’ and ‘progressive’ in the same sentence. So if the Brollys are so ‘liberal’ as the great barrister Joe would tell us -what the heck are they doing in Provisional Sinn Fein??

  • Crataegus

    Positive very positive. Never underestimate the significance of what appear as small steps.

  • Dec

    You can bet your life on it that ten years down the line people from staunchly republican areas will be joining the police without anybody batting an eyelid.

    What because SF say so? I’ll take that bet, Joe.

  • extra time

    Young nationalists are queuing up to join the police because they can see through the smokescreen of SF ‘objections’ and that the party will be signing up for the Policing Board within a year. There is also the fact that the police pays extremely well, given the level of qualifications that many recruits have.
    So once again the British government is successfully buying off nationalism. It sure worked with SF.

  • na

    I’ve never got this point about young Nationalists joining the police.

    Surely, all we know is some young Catholics have applied to join or joined?

    Is the assumption that every Nationalist is a Catholic or that every Catholic is a Nationalist? Is the aim to get a force that represents the community or a force that reflects a religion breakdown? Is there a difference between a Republican and a Nationalist?

    Is the make up of the police force to be 50% Catholic SDLP supporters and 50% Protestant Unionists? Or Catholic SDLP supporters and Catholic others up to a total of 50% and 50% Protestant Unionist? What happens if a Protestant isn’t a Unionist? Or converts?

    Is the police service in Republican voting areas any more reflective of the local community than it ever was before?

    Do we need a balance of different Catholics? Can you have a right type of Catholic? Whatabout the Alliance party, the agnostics, the Jews and immigrants?

    This Catholic Protestant imposed breakdown is just so late 1980s, the world is a bit more complex.

  • Henry94

    Come on St. Brigids!

  • aquifer

    ‘the British government is successfully buying off nationalism’

    The Brits don’t seem to have too much against nationalism these days. Working off all that historic guilt I guess, or maybe listening to Ian Paisley puts them off the Union. Not losing squaddies and city centres must be nice, and Bertie speaks both English and enterprise, unlike lots of other Europeans.

    I hope no nationalists feel a pressing need to resurrect brit the oppressor, as I detect a lack of interest.

    Goading the rump prods would be one way to maintain cultural and religious apartheid in this country, but don’t let anyone pretend it has anything to do with national liberation, democracy, or republicanism.

  • Reader

    na: Do we need a balance of different Catholics?
    If the current trends relieve the PSNI of accusations of sectarianism and orangeism, then it will make a big difference. There will be a home there for actual republicans when they are ready…

  • willowfield

    In the interview referred to by Realist, Mr Brolly was arguing AGAINST the removal of Rule 21.

    Some turnaround!

    (A welcome turnaround, of course.)

  • IJP

    Dualta

    Well said.

    Although I admit to being extremely biased since Joe’s sister and brother-in-law are good friends of mine (and also people of considerable quality)!

    Realist

    Re Francie Brolly’s comments (and I’m not sure if you have the quote word-for-word): Willowfield has argued many times on Slugger, very successfully in my view, that the GAA is political. I’d have thought it’s nice to hear a Nationalist admit it for once…

  • Realist

    “I’d have thought it’s nice to hear a Nationalist admit it for once…”

    IJP,

    Indeed.

    I too am heartened by the fact that vociferous opponent of the removal of Rule 21, Francie Brolly, now wouldn’t “bat an eyelid” at the emergence of a GAA team representing the Police Service Of Northern Ireland.

    This news tells us as much about the metabolism transformation of the PSNI, as it does about the liberalisation of attitudes within quarters of the GAA.

  • Paul

    There will come a time when the majority of Prods realise that they have nothing now to fear from a united Ireland, and a lot to gain. That wasn’t the case in the past, they had something to fear, it was a priest-ridden dump. It will be “small steps” like this that will prove a new Ireland is emerging. I don’t think it will take to 2116.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Brolly senior is nothing like the liberal paragon of virtue mentioned above. I believe that most of the GAA is composed of decent, broadly nationalist RCs, whose primary aim is sport. But not so in Dungiven. Francie has pushed Dungiven GAA into a Sinn Fein club. The clubhouse has been used to launch SF election campigns. The infamous Kevin Lynch episode recently is another example of the exploitation by SF of the sport’s popularity.

    It’s certainly worked, as the SF vote has grown exponentially in Dungiven,and the dacent ould critters of SDLP have been eclipsed.We’ll see more of this in future, as the GAA has been targetted by SF as another means of advancing the project.

    Oh, and the comments about Joe Brolly being intelligent.. when he’s punditting on the tv during the Gaelic he’s a slabber!

  • Poddyman

    The Shinners decided to target GAA clubs along time ago. People were encouraged to frequent them as often as possible and to become involved in their running. I think it was seen as a way of undermining the middle class voter who traditionally had favoured the SDLP. This “votes by attrition” was a long term goal, with a five to ten year time frame where, it was assumed, older members of the club would either die off or become too ill to attend. This picture has been painted many times in many places. Sadly, like everything with the Shinners, this is just seen a vote winning exercise and, as if proof were needed, we need look no further than the Casement Park fiasco.

  • Sam Maguire

    Darth

    “Brolly senior is nothing like the liberal paragon of virtue mentioned above.”

    Not knowing the man I can’t comment. As someone mentioned earlier on the thread, for me he always seemed like the thinking man’s shinner.

    “I believe that most of the GAA is composed of decent, broadly nationalist RCs, whose primary aim is sport.”

    While some may not describe me as decent, I’d like to think I fit into that category.

    “But not so in Dungiven. Francie has pushed Dungiven GAA into a Sinn Fein club. The clubhouse has been used to launch SF election campigns. The infamous Kevin Lynch episode recently is another example of the exploitation by SF of the sport’s popularity. ”

    Ah now, that’s a bit of a sweeping generalisation. Dungiven would have been considered Republican a few years before Francie Brolly was on the scene. The Kevin Lynch situation is repeated used as a big stick to beat the Dungiven Hurling Club with, but similar tributes have been made to deceased members of local clubs. Whether it is having facilities named after them, A trophy named after them or, as in this case, the club named after them. You can view Kevin Lynch in whatever context you feel is appropriate, but to the Dungiven Hurling people he’ll be the Under 14 team captain who won an All-Ireland 10 days after getting his appendix out.

    “It’s certainly worked, as the SF vote has grown exponentially in Dungiven,and the dacent ould critters of SDLP have been eclipsed.We’ll see more of this in future, as the GAA has been targetted by SF as another means of advancing the project.”

    Really? Sinn Fein’s vote has been increasing throughout the North. Do we put this down to the infiltration of every GAA club in the six counties by the big bad shinners? Just look at the local election results in Benbradagh over the last 25 years. The SDLP never dominated the area, and the recent results are exactly the same as what is happening in other similarly nationalist areas across the North – Mid Tyrone, Slieve Gullion and The Glens among others.

    “Oh, and the comments about Joe Brolly being intelligent.. when he’s punditting on the tv during the Gaelic he’s a slabber! ”

    Even as a Tyroneman I find Brolly entertaining, and surprisingly close to the mark in his analysis. But, yes, he’s still a slabber 🙂