St Andrew’s and Public Attitudes

The Hearts and Minds poll results are in, with 61.8% support, 19.5% opposition and 18.8% don’t knows for the St Andrews Agreement but strong scepticism the timetable will be met. In the Unionist community, of those who have made up their mind, it is almost 2 to 1 in favour (48.5% to 26.1%). However there is a big caveat that a quarter of Unionists are still to make up their mind. Also explicit support is weakest among DUP voters with opponents and undecideds outnumbering those in favour. So the DUP have the biggest selling job to do. Despite the sizeable scepticism or uncertainty among Unionists about St Andrews their confidence is at an 8 year high with 82.6% expecting Northern Ireland to be still part of the UK in 2020. In the nationalist community support for the new deal is somewhat but not massively stronger. Full results here and the BBC’s analysis here.Specific questions of DUP and SF voters would indicate about 20% implacably opposed to St Andrews. Support for the respective parties does not seem to have been affected however, Sinn Fein seems to have slipped a little and for the first time Republic Sinn Fein seems to have attracted a few percentage points in a region wide poll.

  • mcgrath

    That caveat number, didnt you recruite that segment from the UUP a few years back? ie, there are a few people who dont know what the fuck to do, like me, and Im a Nationalist.

  • Balloo

    Its shocking to see that even though only 46.6% of the DUP voters are coming out in support of this agreement, the UUP voters are more behind it on 51.8%.

    Its is good to see that the DUP grassroots are not convinced at this stage, and shows that some in the UUP will follow anything thrown their way.

  • John East Belfast

    An interesting statistic is the increased confidence of unionists in the last 4 years that NI will still be part of Unionin 2020

    A massive increase from 65.5% to 82.3%

    It, in my opinion confirms, what I always knew from on the ground and personal experience, that unionists are not the disillusioned and frightened bunch of unwanted children that nationalist commentators constantly attribute to them.

    It also illustrates how the DUP supporters are finally getting with the programme which we in the UUP set course for 10 years ago.

    However considering the opposite view among the nationalists it also shows how the Agreement has managed to be believed as both a road to a UI as well as a copper fastening of the Union at the same time.

    There are going to be some very disappointed people out there towards the end of the next decade.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The Hearts and Minds poll results are in, with 61.8% support, ‘

    Which is nowhere near enough to make the SAA work. Northern Ireland as a State was established with the support of 66% of the population of NI at the time (1920). And we’ve seen where that has led . NI as a separate State probably now has the support of 55% of the population ?

    To establish a workable democracy in Northern Ireland or in any State you need enough support to give the new governmental structure or State or constituion , sufficient democratic legitimacy. A figure of 90% plus would be needed.

    Northern Ireland as a State has never been able to have that level of support . Nor can it ever given the constitutional divide between Unionism and Irish Nationalism. Sunningdale did’nt get it and even the GFA could only get 71% electoral support in the Referendum.

    So now it’s expected that 61% will work ?

    Roll on Repartition and let the people have proper accountable democracy on both sides of a new border .

  • Bushmills

    Can we please have one conversation were Greenfleg doesn’t advocate re-partition?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Here! Here! No more repartition dreams from GF

  • True Blue

    “Greenflag” should be banned he only has the one tune.
    (John East Belfast” God help Northern Ireland if the DUP follows the UUP’s undemocratic decisions and foolish policies, if they do I will no longer be a supporter and many hundreds like me having said that they have principles unlike the UUP so I do not expect them to. How many times did the UUP jump first and Sinn Fein did not jump I think it was three the DUP will not make that mistake.

  • Greenflag

    Can we have please have one conversation were the same failed solutions and agreements which don’t agree are advocated as a ‘solution’ ? These ‘failed ‘ solutions have been advocated for decades- thus far without result !

    If you believe the poll numbers can make the SAA work say so or not . Otherwise go back to your whiskey- Bushy ! I understand you don’t favour ‘repartition’ as a practical solution . Others do .

  • Mick Fealty

    You don’t have to listen I guess.

    But then again greenflag, you really ought work harder on the specifics of your argument if you want to make them fit most threads/subjects.

    The baseline figures for the ’98 referendum in NI were:

    Yes 676,966 (71.1%)
    No 274,879 (28.9%)

    Now look at the overall figures for Q3 “Do you support the St Andrews Agreement”:

    Yes: 70.6%
    No: 29.4%

    At the time the Referendum was judged by many as indicating a slight majority of Unionists in favour.

    Now, looking at the breakdowns, it looks like the Nationalist consensus is cracking (now 76:24), somewhat, whilst the Unionist consensus (now 65:35) is building.

  • Greenflag

    True Blue ,

    ‘the DUP will not make that mistake.’

    Very true . Why would they when they have made many more . Not a good thing to jump anyway with ‘begging bowl ‘ in hand . Ye might spill Gordon’s goodies .

  • Greenflag

    Mick , I listen 🙂

    The point I’m making is that 70% never mind 61% is not enough . Winning 70% of the vote in a democracy in which the basic Constituion is accepted by 90% plus of the population is fine and can work when people are electing a Government . But not in a situation where the ‘acceptance ‘ of the very State is less than 60% and where it’s longer term political and economic future is problematical . Seems to me that the only people who favour the SAA are the leading politicians in SF and the DUP . I wonder why ? Anything to do with getting their hands or keeping their hands on more of the loot or power .
    Neither of these parties even in a devolved Government will have the power to do what it will take to make NI a ‘modern ‘economy and a ‘normal ‘ democracy.

    The SAA gives Nationalists the worst of all possible worlds . They would be far better off economically and politically under either Direct Rule which is the present reality or after a future agreed ‘repartition’ of Northern Ireland .

    The whole debate re Gordon’s package highlights the narrow constricted and ultimately ‘loser’ society which awaits Northern Ireland under the dead hand of the carve up between the DUP and SF in a public sector dominated economy from which there is no escape within the British Union.

    Apart from the fact that Paisley has not SFAIK spoken directly face to face with Adams or McGuinness. How can you have an effective coalition Government in which under any other ‘democratic’ system of government in the world both parties would be on opposite sides of any chamber ?

  • Greenflag

    ‘it looks like the Nationalist consensus is cracking (now 76:24)’

    Could be because ‘thinking’ Nationalists are begining to realise how much they stand to lose by returning to a Stormont – any Stormont . All of the nationalist gains remember have been courtesy of Westminster . The DUP have been very much against any changes /reforms which could have been seen to have benefited Nationalists more so than Unionists . And that situation still exists . You only have to listen to some of the comments of senior DUP politicians to realise that .

    I’d guess that this is the last opportunity for ‘Unionism’ to have a return to local self government in NI as presently constituted . I suspect that that’s the main reason Paisley is for it . He knows that without it Nationalists will continue to gain and prosper more so than Unionists and that those areas close to the Republic’s border will benefit most of all even under Direct Rule .

  • Billy

    John East Belfast

    As a moderate Nationalist, I’m not at all surprised about the majority of Unionists thinking that NI will be part of the UK in 2020.

    Frankly, I’m surprised that anyone doubts it. I think there will be substantial changes in NI during those years (demographic, cross border institutions etc) The Union will certainly be weaker but not for the position of NI to change.

    I would have been more interested if the question had said 2040.

    The only way for the Union to survive in the medium/long term is (as David Trimble foresaw) for NI to stop being a cold house for Catholics. However, when Trimble took the politically brave (in my opinion) actions that he did, his party got wiped out and supporters went in droves, especially the OO, to the DUP.

    As much as they may deny it, there are still many Unionists (particularly DUP and the OO) who don’t want a Catholic about the place. They cannot see the bigger picture – as Dermot Nesbit observes – every time Unionism goes to the negotiating table, it comes away with a worse deal. This will continue to be the case.

    There were a number of DUP callers to TalkBack on Wednesday who saiad that they would rather pay increased rates etc or even die rather than share power in NI with Nationalists.

    I always laugh when I hear Unionists use the word “concession”. Equality in housing, employment, votes, a non partisan police force not involved in collusion – these are basic human rights – they are NOT concessions. It was not Catholics who were wrong for demanding these – it was Unionists who were wrong for denying them.

    I am honest enough to admit that, if Unionism were to really try and bring Catholics in from the cold, there would be a reasonable percentage of the Catholic population who would not necessarily object to the maintenance of the Union.

    I believe that Sir Reg Empey is trying to do that. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have massive support.

    Also, the biggest annoyance (to the majority of my Catholic friends/family/colleagues) is the Orange Order. When will this blatently anti-Catholic organisation realise that it can no longer march at will through Catholic areas to provoke people.

    To their credit, the UU party have reduded the influence of the OO. However, until someone has the guts to tell them they need to move on from 300+ years ago, nothing will change.

    I believe that the SAA will fall apart at the first hurdle as the DUP grass roots clearly do not want to do a deal. So onwards with plan B which will clearly be better for Nationalism.

    I believe that NI will still be part of the Union in 2020 but probably not in 2040. If Unionism really started to try and make this a fair and equitable society for Catholics, they may save it.

    However, there are too many Unionists who just can’t stomach the changes required. While Catholics are made to feel like second class citizens (i.e. their electoral mandate NOT being respected) and that getting “concessions” will be like pulling teeth, the desire for a United Ireland will simply increase.

  • Yokel

    I took a very brief glimpse at the results of the survery earlier. Was I right in reading that about a third of those who identified themselves as nationalists were in favour of some kind of Joint Authority if the StAA & return to devolution failed to go ahead?

    Thats a frightening figure, frighteningly low or maybe I misread it.

    As I pointed out in response to Mick F’s comments on other threads that Unionist werent really posting about their own community’s views on the StAA whilst Nationalist posters were doing plenty of talking about Unionism and the DUP in particular, Unionists seem pretty comfortable with proceeedings overall.

    John East Belfast pointed out the stat about Unionist confidence in still being in the Union in 2020 and I think that further bears out that Unionism has been fairly relaxed about the whole StAA process. They may be somewhat sceptical & grunt but its not as if they are going to get out their armchairs over it.

    Given this has been the greenest UK government in many a decade theres no sense of doom or impending crisis at all within Unionism at this moment, assuming the StAA goes ahead.

  • Mick Fealty


    “…until someone has the guts to tell them they need to move on from 300+ years ago, nothing will change”.

    Can you say more specifically what you mean, and who precisely you are speaking of: there are lots of figures in the links provided above that might help you articulate your arguments more precisely. At the very least it would help our audience to wrestle with something more concrete than a vague and collective ‘they’.

    In short: less mythos and more logos!

  • Greenflag

    Billy ,

    Rather than go through the hassle of even trying to deal with the DUP far better IMO for Northern Nationalists and Republicans to give up on the UI dream and settle for a lesser goal i.e a 30 county sized Republic .

    As for the DUP members who would rather pay increased rates etc or even die rather than share power in NI with Nationalists ?

    Why not let them have their wish in a smaller Unionist State ?

    I agree that Reggie Empey and other more moderate voices within Unionism have tried but we have to face the political facts of life sooner or later . Sooner rather than later would be my preference .

    Anyone making political predictions for 2020 much less 2040 for NI is about on a par with someone making predictions for the future of Soviet Communism back in 1987 ? Within 5 years the Soviet Union was no more . I can’t recall anybody getting that prediction right ? Eventually the economic and political contradictions become just too great to be stomached . We can see elements of this already in the reaction you quote of some DUP members being prepared to pay increased water charges etc etc rather than share power .

    Like George Bernard Shaw’s famous prostitute anecdote the principle has already been established with the harlot merchants of the DUP . What price will it take to wean them off the ‘Union’ ? Who knows and we should not even try IMO.

    Far better to leave them to keep twisting their ‘dependency ‘belly button until their political and economic arseholes fall out.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m tempted just to start flagging posts with the terms Mythos and Logos. That way people can work their way through the engaged and substantive posts, and disregard the (occasionally entertaining) ex temporised whatever-you’re-having-yourself soliloquy.

    Honestly guys. It doesn’t make for good reading, or politics.

  • GavBelfast

    Overall, I thought the poll results were overwhelmingly underwhelming.

  • Carson’s Cat

    The big issue isnt how many DUP supporters wouldnt sign up to the SAA as it stands today (read the DUP press statements, the party doesnt sign up to it as it stands) – the story actually is how many of them are already ahead of the programme and actually are saying yes and the DUP now can work on those who are currently saying no and bring them along as they watch (eventual) delivery.

    Also interesting to note that the vast majority of UUP supporters are pro-SAA which doesnt make Reg’s attempts to smear it very appealing to his supporters. The Ulster Unionists are trying a very ham fisted attempt at claiming that the SAA is worse than the Belfast Agreement (yet they’ve previously said its the BA for slow learners) yet there is no doubt that they will sign up for it.

    So what exactly is their position then? Their leaflet in the Newsletter today left me somewhat confused….. apparently this is a terrible deal, but they want straight back into the Executive now (without policing etc delivered) so that we can all get on with ‘bread & butter’ issues.

    They’re playing a dangerous game. Slagging off the SAA clearly doesnt appeal to the UUP voter (particularly the Hermonites who are really Alliance voters in disguise) and its hardly likely to get any possible disaffected DUP votes over to them – why exactly would someone who doesnt support the SAA vote for people who clearly would accept a worse deal.

    It actually means that if the UUP continue their current antics they could end up with pro-SAA votes going to the DUP if and when we see them delivering a deal with all the issues tied down.

    And those who said the DUP couldnt do strong confident leadership – still with over 30% of the vote – even in a situation where issues have been ‘in flux’ and there is uncertainty within the community. That’s strength. Delivering 80% of unionists with a strong belief that the Union is here to stay when the UUP could barely deliver a simple majority who believed it – that’s confidence.

    P.S. – Anyone know what Sylvia Hermon thinks of the UUP’s leaflet today? 😉 I hear she is not amused…..

  • kensei


    You are being somewhat disingenuous by excluding the “don’t knows”, there. I think it would be safe to say that the overall support for a deal is a bit lower than for the GFA.

    Second, if you look at some of the figures below, there is clearly a lot of uneasiness. This really doesn’t look any more robust than the GFA was, other than there is possibly less to go wrong.


    “I took a very brief glimpse at the results of the survey earlier. Was I right in reading that about a third of those who identified themselves as nationalists were in favour of some kind of Joint Authority if the StAA & return to devolution failed to go ahead?

    Thats a frightening figure, frighteningly low or maybe I misread it.”

    You misread it. There are a spread of options of which “Continuation of Direct Rule” is the only particularly nasty one. People take into account all sorts of factors when answering these things, including actual plausibility and being seen to compromise. I think it’s significant that it is Nationalism preferred option by some margin, and Nationalism is significantly colder on having another go at Devolution than Unionism.

    I think patience with The Process is being to run out on the Nationalist side, because I don’t think there is a real understanding of what the hold up is. Another fuck up and I’d reckon you’d see that figure slashed.

  • Mick Fealty

    ‘Less to go wrong’ is probably right Kensai. That carries with it a useful perspective on how much has changed since 1998. You’re right too that the don’t knows don’t always don’t vote.

    But the similarity in the figures are (you must admit) uncanny.

  • kensei

    “But the similarity in the figures are (you must admit) uncanny.”

    The don’t knows don’t always vote, but a lot will. Many people will simply not want to give their position. Many are unsure, and I’d class myself as that at the moment. It is difficult to quantify exactly how many, or how they will break. But we can be certain they won’t break 100% “Yes”, so if these figures are accurate then support must be somewhere under 70%.

    I don’t think it is particularly uncanny. People voted in 1998 because they wanted a deal. They probably still want a deal. On both occasions they want to make sure the deal is right. So support will be roughly what it was in 1998 minus the people who feel they got burned.

    If this falls through, I don’t think we can play game forever though because more people are going to feel burned the more we go on. I think the underlying figures already suggest Nationalism is running short of patience; willingness to extend the deadline but less to start the process all over again and large support for JA/other Plan B. I’d say whichever Party captured that mood better in the event would take the Nationalist vote by some margin.

  • Mick Fealty


    “support will be roughly what it was in 1998 minus the people who feel they got burned”.

    Most of these are nationalist, and disproportionately Republican. It would *appear* that, if for the moment we just accept the figures for what they are rather than what they might be, unionist confidence is growing.

    I’m not sure that that’s a recipe for a blow-out. There is so much less at stake. I’ve not come across any serious commentators, in recent times, who say with any certainty that they know what Plan B is. Indeed the most that Dermot Ahern will admit is that they are ‘still working on it’.

    Both the big parties are going to take hits if they do do a deal. They will disappoint fundamentalists in their own ranks. But I suspect that it will be, as Michael Gove once wrote in an earlier Agreement cycle, more a case of ‘falling leaves than breaking branches’.

  • Young Fogey

    if you look at some of the figures below, there is clearly a lot of uneasiness

    I think it’s more cynicism than uneasiness, Kensei. Comparing the situation today with 1998, there’s a lot more cynicism about – from across the community, even about their own political leadership.

    In fact, about the only thing that unites us in NI today is cynicism.

  • Billy


    By “them” I meant the Orange Order leadership. I think they are an excellent example of people who want Catholics to “know their place” and would rather suffer the consequences of direct rule (or joint authority) than share power with Nationalists.

    I am a moderate Catholic – I do not support Sinn Fein and have never voted for them. However, as far I can see the OO have not moved on at all. This has consequences for the NI sitaution as they are extremely influential within political Unionism.

    Despite their protestations, they are perceived (correctly in my opinion) by Catholics and many non Catholics as an anti Catholic organisation. I have lived in England for quite a few years. Most of my friends/colleagues are neither Irish nor Catholic but they see the Orange Order as anti-Catholic.

    The reason that some “traditional” OO routes go through Catholic areas is because, in the days of Unionist domination, the OO wanted to march
    through thse areas to prove that “we are the people”.

    They freely admit that there are convicted “loyalist” terrorists in their ranks. There are many Orange lodges with banners and/or bands commemorating “loyalist” terrorists – these have been listed on previous threads on this site and others.

    When the OO leadership are challenged on this, they just come out with the vague waffle about it being a local matter and do nothing.

    They also purport to support law and order. However, they refuse to condemn OO members and their supporters who indulge in violence. In some cases high ranking OO leaders (Dawson Baillie)have openly condoned this violence.

    Yet their objection to speaking to Nationalist Residents groups is – because they have convicted “Republican” terrorists in their ranks. The words rank hypocrisy spring to mind.

    I am glad to see that in some areas local accomodations have been reached.

    However, the OO leadership need to realise that the only way they will be allowed to march through some of the contentious areas is by dealing with the Parades commission and resident’s groups.

    If they are unwilling to deal with the issues of convicted terrorists in their ranks and loyalist paramilitary bands/banners, why should the residents of Catholic areas be prepared to let them march there?

    The UK police wouldn’t allow a racist group to parade through a black or Asian area. They wouldn’t let an anti-Semitic group parade through a Jewish area.

    So why should an anti-Catholic group be allowed to parade through a Catholic area?

    If the OO members think that, by refusing to speak to residents groups or the parades commission and by standing in fields on July 12th demanding a return to the “good old days”, they will get anywhere – they are mistaken.

    I suggest that they they need to get new leaders who can deal with the contentious issues, take action against paramilitary members/supporters and negotiate with the residents and the parades commission.

    Times have changed and Catholics will no longer be treated as second class citizens. If they don’t face up to that, they’ll still be protesting on Drumcree hill in 2020.

  • kensei

    “Most of these are nationalist, and disproportionately Republican. It would *appear* that, if for the moment we just accept the figures for what they are rather than what they might be, unionist confidence is growing.”

    You’re wrong there. The split on move right away / deal / never is roughly the same for SF and the DUP. Also, Nationalism is just as capable of blowing out any deal as Unionism, a point which appears to have been forgotten and needs to be remembered.

    Unionist confidence is growing because they haven’t got a party on the right constantly telling them the apocalypse is coming. The results of the last sensus probably helped too.

    “I’m not sure that that’s a recipe for a blow-out. There is so much less at stake. I’ve not come across any serious commentators, in recent times, who say with any certainty that they know what Plan B is. Indeed the most that Dermot Ahern will admit is that they are ‘still working on it’. ”

    Regardless of the underlying factors, if the DUP continues to play games (what the hell was Dodds comments about, other than to cause trouble?), then it will be a blowout. And I don’t think Nationalism actually cares what Plan B is, precisely, other than it moves vaguely closer to the South. I think people are just getting pissed off with no delivery. Oh, and paying for it too.

    On an unrelated note, I find the 7% support dissidents worryingly high. It doesn’t take a lot to cause trouble.

  • DK

    I see that the respondents to the poll were 56.2% protestant and 43.8% catholic. By my calculations that means that 0% non-believers or non-christians were approached. Yet according to the census, this is the fastest-growing group in Northern Ireland.

    On that basis, this poll is simply one of the dinosaurs due to go extinct and should be dismissed out of hand. Except for the bit that shows that over time unionists are more convinced that NI will remain part of the UK in 2020, while nationalists are less convinced. Brilliant!

    Also Kensei, it’s only 7% of nationalists that support dissidents, not 7% of everyone.

  • Mick Fealty

    That makes sense Billy, but only if you believe that the OO is going to be the focus for opposition to an agreement. However, the evidence actually points in the other direction. Not only have they de-coupled from the UUs, they are reportedly very reluctant to take the political heat in the way they did in the 90s and early 00s. They will leave it to the DUP in a way they never could with the UUP: most obviously because the structural link once obliged them to get involved in politics, regardless of their own better judgement.

    As for marches, some of the heat the DUP are taking is over the fact the NIO are not offering to abolish the Parades Commission. I appreciate that this negotiation is still ongoing, but I’ve not heard anyone yet describe it as deal breaker.

    According to a recent CAJ report there is still some residual discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland, especially at senior levels, but the major bone of contention is similar to that frequently expressed by many on the left in the Republic and Britain: the growing gap between ‘work poor’ and ‘work rich’ families.

    In other words: religious affiliation provides less grounds for second class citizenship that it ever has done in the past.

    I have to say that the way in which unionists (as opposed to unionism) are mis-characterised on Slugger continues to baffle me. I can only surmise that most of it arises from bad personal experience in the past.

    During the research for the Long Peace document, one nationalist friend asked us not to indulge unionists too much, since they were gradually coming round to see sense. Presumably he meant ‘to think like nationalists’. In contrast, this is what we got from one source at DUP headquarters, more than three years ago:

    People from both communities are taking decisions in government. Given this we would like to see a situation where people can retain their aspirations, but in a more stable environment, rather than through violence.

  • Yokel

    The reason why Unionists get mis represented is simple Mick,

    1. they are crap at self promotion
    2. there is a thread within nationalism that wants their destruction, end of story.

  • kensei

    “Also Kensei, it’s only 7% of nationalists that support dissidents, not 7% of everyone”

    Yes. That was what I was talking about. It is still worryingly high.

    “In contrast, this is what we got from one source at DUP headquarters, more than three years ago:”

    Words are cheap. I can pull any number of similar quotes from SF documents (though no doubt you’d much prefer to quote Mitchell McLaughlin, again). I am can also pull endless negative quotes from the DUP.

    It is, literally, the world’s most pointless exercise.

  • exuup

    Billy youre Mopeing on about second class citizens, please tell me which right and law which applies to me does not apply to you and vice versa

  • Mick Fealty


    No doubt, words are cheap: it is actions that count. We outlined as much in the report at the time. And that party still has to live up to those high minded aspirations.

    However I only produced them as a counter to the blind stereotyping that sometimes passes for debate on Slugger. Now I’ve no intention of asking Nationalists to keep quiet so that Unionists can speak. Whatever it was that Mitchel meant by his oft quoted words, Unionists should take responsibity for their own confidence, whether here or elsewhere.

    But it doesn’t change the fact that blind stereotyping makes for a degraded, not to say, malnourished argument.

  • kensei

    “But it doesn’t change the fact that blind stereotyping makes for a degraded, not to say, malnourished argument.”

    Unionists here are just as guilty of their own stereotyping here, Mick, and it irritates the hell out of me you never take them to task.

  • kensei

    And moreover, if you want a difference between SF and DUP, it’s that in almost every TV appearance, debate, article they will talk the talk about equality, moving forward, Eire nua, respecting everyone and all the rest, regardless if you believe them or not.

    The DUP seem to want to come across as obnoxious as humanly possible. If you want a classic example, watch the Hearts and Minds debate between a DUP man and SF’s unionist outreach counsellor a few weeks back. This is the DUP visible to Nationalism, not some words in documents they will never read or, indeed, speeches elsewhere they will probably never here of.

  • Mick Fealty

    To be honest I don’t care who does it, the effect is precisely the same.

  • kensei

    “To be honest I don’t care who does it, the effect is precisely the same.”

    That may be the case, but you only ever pull Nationalists for it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Maybe that’s right. But have you ever asked yourself why that might be? If there is some truth in what you say, then it might be something to do with the fact that 1 most of our commenters are nationalist, and 2 they are the worst offenders (possibly because 1 naturally encourages the mutual reinforcing of stereotypes).

    Look I’m not trying to unfairly target anyone’s politics or views. I’m just asking that people put their own best case forward: nationalist or unionist. That means making an effort to be more precise in your terms of reference, and trying (though I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another) to avoid stereotyping your opponents.

    That’s fairly simple, surely?

  • kensei

    Sure. I’d debate we are the worst offenders though.

    But if you are going to come in with those interludes, you’d need to be fair about it and not focus on one group. Surely that is also fairly simple?

  • Mick Fealty

    Debate away. But you are asking for a quantitative assessment, where a qualitative one is appropriate. In other words, you seem to want the political outlook to be the thing, when it is primarily the quality of output that concerns me.

  • kensei

    By that measure Mick, I can only assume Unionism has never been guilty of it here from your lack of comment.

    Some might question that as a credible position.

  • Billy

    Ex UUP

    I didn’t say anything about laws applying to only 1 side of the community.

    I was referring to second class citizens with specific reference to the Orange Order believing that they can march provocatively through Catholic areas with no regard for the feelings of the people who live there.

    In my experience many members of the Orange Order think that Catholics are second class citizens and have no say if an anti-Catholic organisation wants to parade provocatively through their neighbourhood. Their justification (apart from sheer prejudice) is that this is a traditional route.

    Many things used to be traditional (women not having the vote, legal discrimination against Jews, Blacks etc) but that does NOT justify them.

    As I said, I would prefer to see the Orange Order leadership acting on the loyalist terrorists within their ranks and the provocative banners/bands etc. I would prefer to see local accomodations being reached as has happened (all too rarely alas).

    However, what the OO need to realise is that there is no longer a Unionist administration and the RUC/UDR to back them up.

    If they are not prepared to move their organisation forward and negotiate with Catholic residents, then they will NOT get to march these routes.

    They can huff and puff and indulge in empty rhetoric all they want. We are no longer second class citizens, if they will not clean up their act and negotiate, then they won’t get to march in these areas.