The rise and fall of an Ulster-Scots political movement in Donegal?

The Belfast Telegraph reported a couple of days ago that Lord John Laird feels there’s a demand in Donegal for him to become the voice of the county’s Ulster-Scots community, so how better to test this view than run in next year’s Dáil elections as an Ulster Unionist candidate on a radical Ulster-Scots ticket?
He is targeting Donegal North East and Donegal South West in this bold exercise to give a voice to the county’s 14,500 Ulster Scots and it should be interesting to see how many votes he manages to garner. Personally, I think the man is in for an awful land at the ballot box but Lord Laird of Artigarvan is nothing if not optimistic and says he has received a huge amount of backing, including from the “Roman Catholic sector”, and is confident he can make an impact.

“The Ulster-Scots community in the Border areas of Donegal is being practically ignored by the Republic’s Government when compared to the way that the Gaelic language and culture is continually promoted,” says Laird.

“Both sides have told me that they welcome the prospect of the political debate being livened up and moving away from the dull politics currently being promoted by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.”

Laird raises the old chestnut about only 1% of Donegal’s Protestants being in the Civil Service, saying such an imbalance “should not be tolerated in a modern society”.

“I am confident that the 14,500 Ulster-Scots living in the area will stand up and be counted. We understand that there are certain internal conflicts and pressures within the Fianna Fáil party machine that we can exploit when the General Election is called,” says the 58-year-old.

“Obviously I am pragmatic enough to understand that I may not get elected but we will get noticed.”

It seems Laird is using the Dáil elections as part of a policy to put pressure on the Irish Government to recognise Ulster-Scots as an ethnic group but surely he is running the risk of doing irreparable damage to this project by running in what is sure to be a hard-fought general election where, in all likelyhood, he will receive just a handful of votes, especially if he is basically saying to be an Ulster Scot is to be an Ulster Unionist? Hardly a vote winner in the Irish Republic, not least among the country’s Protestant population.

In future, he’ll certainly have a hard job claiming that Donegal’s Protestants are part of an Ulster-Scots ethnic group, unionist or otherwise, if only a miniscule minority of them vote for the only Ulster-Scots candidate on the ballot paper.

This all reminds me of Gregory Campbell of the DUP organising a postcard campaign a while back for all those people born in the Irish Repubic but now living in Northern Ireland who he felt wanted to claim British citizenship. It died a death before it began.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Laird will be laughed at (as usual) or ignored. The Prods in Donegal who have been there for any length of time are perfectly happy with their Irish identity. They will smile and nod politely when the eccentric peer comes canvassing, then they will go out and vote as they’ve always done.

    John – not all publicity is good publicity. You’re in PR, not play school, for crying out loud.

  • GavBelfast

    How does one not ‘play the man’ when it comes to Laird and his antics?

    He strikes me as some sort of Nicholas Fairbairn for the new millennium.

    Language, dialect, weird accent or whatever it is, surely its advocates can do better than Laird to promote them?

  • Rory

    “Lord John Laird?

    John, Lord Laird surely?

    In any case I see that he “feels there’s a demand in Donegal for him to become the voice of the county’s Ulster-Scots community,”.

    Well I am certainly happy that his lordship is feeling something and I most certainly find it preferable that he shares his feelings with us than that we have to bear the conclusions, if any, his thoughts might have developed. I do hope he is feeling better soon.

    Perhaps if he fails in his latest venture he may wish to try his luck at representing the Donegal-Scots community. An address to the Celtic Supporters’ Club in Glasgow might be a good venue for an initial rally.

  • Crow

    Needless to say single issue candidates are invariably in it for the publicity with little expectation of electoral success. There are always exceptions such as Deeny in Mid-Ulster. However, I would doubt the issue of Ulster-Scots would generate sufficient passion among the voters of Donegal, when there are real bread and butter issues at stake. That said, I would welcome it. Why stop at Donegal, didn’t Ulster-Scots make it as far south as Cavan and Monaghan?

  • John laird is going to land on his arse as he always does. I spoke to a Protestant friend of mine who lives in one of those areas that he is targetting.

    Her first response was “Lord who?”

    When I explained who he was she laughed, I think we will all be laughing after the next Dáil election.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    Fair play to him for trying. If it is true that only 1% of civil servants in Donegal are Protestants that could be an issue. Then again many of them might work in the Council in Derry or other places in the 6 countes.

    Frankly though, any person that has the audacity to get taxis from Belfast to Dublin and back and getting the State to pay for them is going to be ridiculed.

    Good look though.

  • Brian Boru

    I doubt he will do well. They are Irish not Ulster-Scots or at least that is how I believe most of them feel.
    “PROTESTANTS in Ireland’s largest border county overwhelmingly identify with Irishness and have pride in national achievements, a survey reveals.

    The poll, conducted from a representative sample of 14,000 Protestants living in Donegal, also shows that 96pc of Protestants mix socially with the majority Catholic community.

    The survey, conducted by Derry and Raphoe Action and funded by the ADM/Combat Poverty agency, studied the extent to which Protestants participated in community life and how they perceived their own future.

    Among the findings was that 86pc of those surveyed identified with being Irish and the Irish State, while 9pc identified with Northern Ireland.”

  • slug

    Interesting to see the Ulster Unionists running for the Dail in a border constituency. Not a bad idea for future years.

  • jerryp

    Before he assumed ( or bought ) the title ” Lord ” what was this guy known as ? Something in the back of my mind tells me there’s a bit of a dodgy history there or am I mixing him up with someone else ? ( not Lord Lucan though ).

  • Brian Boru

    On the positive side though, it’s nice to see Unionists countenancing sitting in the Dail. Sign of things to come maybe 😉 .

  • mnob

    Brian – are you not concerned about the 9% who identify with Northern Ireland ?

  • smcgiff

    ‘to recognise Ulster-Scots as an ethnic group’

    What with Travellers and Ulster Scots, who’s going to be next? North Side Dubliners?

    Actually, I agree with Slug.

    ‘Interesting to see the Ulster Unionists running for the Dail in a border constituency. Not a bad idea for future years.’

    Best of Irish luck to him.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Brian – are you not concerned about the 9% who identify with Northern Ireland ? ‘

    Probably economic migrants from NI! 🙂

  • Plum Duff

    Never underestimate the deviousness of a Unionist plotter. It could be the Laird Laird is trying to wreck the Irish economy from within in that, if he wins, his expenses claims could well bankrupt the Celtic tiger.

    Donegal is a laing, laing way for till trainsport a kyilt ba taxi.

  • darth rumsfeld

    there’s no doubt that Laird will not win a seat. Of course no-one could win a seat after the gerrymandering of county Donegal in the 1960s which had the effect -purely coincidental of course- of spltting the two sections of the Protestant vote which had returned a TD from Donegal for the Donegal Progressive Party for many years (“progressive” was spelt P-r-o-t-e-s-t-a-n-t BTW).

    In recent elections Jim Devenney – the chair of the Ulster Scots Agency-failed to hold a council seat on the County Council, but I’ve no doubt that his team will be out for Laird, as will the reinvigorated Orange order in that county, which has been growing in leaps and bounds or a decade. About 20 years ago Michael Boomer-Brooks stood in a Dail election, and without virtually any work still managed to attract some support.

    There’s no doubt Laird Lord will shake up the dreary politics of County Donegal, dominated by the ever less impressive and more remote descendants of old IRA families. Let’s just hope he doesn’t wear his kilt- there’s a wild draught on Malin Head

    At least the other candidates will have to address the “Protestant” issue- and that can only be good for mutual understanding, can’t it?

  • fair_deal

    This is quite possibly Laird’s biggest misjudgement so far

  • Maitiú Ó Garmaile

    Bring it on. Seems like only two parties will get elected in Donegal: Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. Laird stands about as much chance as Fine Gael

  • IJP

    If Lord Laird gets no votes he will have proved the whole Ulster-Scots thing is nonsense in the eyes of the people it claims to represent, and if he does well he’ll have proved it’s relevant to them.

    Is that not what democracy is about?

    No matter how bizarre a person’s line is, to put your name before the electorate is neither an easy nor a pleasant thing to do. Those being over-critical above might like to try it…

  • jfd

    Three points:

    Firstly, the big story: a very interesting poll, confirming alot of what has been posted by Irish protestants (such as myself)regarding how we see ourselves and our relationship with the Republic: a massive majority supporting and identifying with the state. Wonder if The Reform Movement, read the report?

    Secondly, if Laird wishes to stand for a Dail seat as a unionist, I not only welcome it, I wholeheartedly support his intention to represent those 8% who indentify with NI or an Ulster-Scots identity in Dail Eireann. Should he fail Bertie should nominate him for a seanad seat, along with three-four members of minorities.

    Thirdly, all that said I hope he doesn’t mind losing his deposit, he may need the cash for the taxi ride back to Belfast.

  • darth rumsfeld

    perhaps you would tell us whether you are an irish protestant from the border counties. If not, you’re hardly able to comment with authority on the views of the Ulster-Scots. The older presbyterian church in Dublin Cork etc is very different from the Scottish based church in Londonderry, Lisburn, and of course Donegal, and Monaghan

    I should say that the idea of soliciting votes for the Ulster Unionist party- as the headline of the BT piece implied- would of course be foolish. Sixty years ago Major Myles Sproule stood in Donegal for the DPP, not as a Unionist. Laird should be seeking to promote the interests of the minority community in the R.o.I.- as I presume he is. Or is the UUPso desparate for votes.

  • Carson’s Cat

    “This is quite possibly Laird’s biggest misjudgement so far”

    Quite so – and that’s some statement given who we’re talking about!

    There is no doubt that many Protestants in Donegal find themselves without a voice, but I’ve no doubt they’d rather be speechless than have that voice be John Laird.

    As for the Orange Institution in the County, I think many of them will not be very keen on supporting him. Too many of them have relatives in NI who know all about John and what he’s like.

    Mind you, on the plus side, it should be a real boom for the taxi firms of Donegal!

  • Paddydevlin

    Traditionally protestant, Redmondite aned ex-unionists support the Fine Gael Party. The striking thing about the border counties has been the rise iof Sinn Fein at Fianna Fail’s expense and the decline of Fine Gael to Fianna Fail’s benefit.

    The two Donegal constituencies used to have one Fine Gael TD in each. FG lost their seat in Donegal NE in 1997 to Fianna Fail and SF are more likely to take the old Blaney seat here in 2007. In Donegal SW Fine Gael’s long time standard bearer is retiring here next year and they have a weak replacement candidate. This should cut Fianna Fail some slack allowing them to hold two seats in the face of an SF gain here.

    If Laird is to make any impact here it will only result in the pro UUP Fine Gael having no eats in Donegal to Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail’s benefit. He may well get a political radicalism he doesn’t want! That said I reckon most Donegal Protestants will consider a vote for Laird a wasted one.

    So Unionists realise the evils of partition!

  • jfd

    Hi Darth,

    I’m from Dublin.

    I fully apprecaite the differences you’ve brough up and i would fully agree with you regarding the foolishness of standing on a UUP platform.

    But interesting survey wouldn’t you say?

    Paddy Devlin.

    Apologies but I find language like Redmondite or Ex-Unionist to be largley defunct in the modern context, in the 80 since independence with the except of fringe neo-colonialist like Reform, who is honestly a Redmondite. Or are you implying that FG are not a ‘nationalist’/ or nationalistic enough party.


  • darth rumsfeld

    Actually there was a fairly substantial protestant vote for Niall Blaney on the rather obscure calculation that he was a thorn in the flesh of the Dublin establishment and also that he was a very strong advocate for Donegal. In Monaghan the Protestant Alliance still had a few councillors until about a decade ago. Seymour Crawford FG TD is a Presbyterian and reflects the tradition of FG-protestants Paddydevlin identifies, and he is seen as the unofficial represntative of the protestants of the 3 ulster counties

  • dpef


    Is Lord Laird saying he is an Irish citizen? Or announcing his intention to accept Irish citizenship? It is a requirement for running.

  • According to
    To be eligible for membership of the Dáil:

    You must be a citizen of Ireland
    You must be over 21 years of age and
    You must not be disqualified from election to the Dáil
    You are disqualified from membership of Dáil Eireann if:

    you are not a citizen of Ireland
    you have not yet reached 21 years of age
    You are a member of a local authority
    you are a member of the European Commission or are a judge, advocate general or registrar of the European Court of Justice
    you are a member of the Court of Auditors of the European Community
    you are a member of the Garda Siochana
    you are a full-time member of the Defence Forces
    you are a civil servant and it does not specifically state in your contract of employment that you may be a member of the Dáil
    you are a person of unsound mind
    you are presently in prison serving a term greater than 6 months
    you are an undischarged bankrupt
    you are the President, a member of the Seanad, the Comptroller and Auditor General or a Judge.
    Laird may be a citizen, but he might fail on one of the disqualifying categories… try to guess which one!?

    I’m not sure if he can be a citizen of Ireland and also have the title of Lord, though someone else will have to do the research as I don’t have time.

  • Ulster McNulty

    Lord Laird has an equally sized bee in his bonnet about the Irish government and, particularly, the irish language.

    His big issue is, as quoted above “The Ulster-Scots community in the Border areas of Donegal is being practically ignored by the Republic’s Government when compared to the way that the Gaelic language and culture is continually promoted,”

    I don’t usually engage in whataboutery but what about the UK legislation which “recognises Gaelic as an official language of Scotland, commanding equal respect with English. The Act establishes Bòrd na Gàidhlig as part of the framework of government in Scotland and requires the creation of a national plan for Gaelic to provide strategic direction for the development of the Gaelic language. (Gaelic Language [Scotland] Act 2005”) What about the funding of gaelic medium education in Scotland and the absence of same for Scots?

    I’ll look forward to the day he stands for the Scottish Assembly in his campaign to secure rights for Scots speakers equal to those of Gaelic and English speakers. I think we all would appreciate “political debate in Scotland being livened up and moving away from the dull politics currently being promoted by Labour, SNP, Lib Dems and Conservatives.

    Then again maybe Lord laird just prefers to operate on an all Ireland basis (possibly it’s handier than having to go all the way across the sheugh).

  • darth rumsfeld 2 errors in my post 15- firstly a typo- the redrawing of the boundaries was in 1930s, not 1960s, and I always get Major Sproule Myles back to front

  • jfd

    Sorry Darth,

    But I find the whole ‘boarder’ protestant issue in 2006 to be the dampest of damp squibs, routinely reached for by NI Unionists.

    If you speak to the TD in question, I’m sure that his response would be far from being ‘the unofficial represntative of the protestants of the 3 ulster counties’.

    It’s a common misconception that ‘Southern Unionism’ remains a functioning political ideology in the Republic – an ideology that is supported and facillitated by the Fine Gael party. I should point out that I do not support FG in anyway.

    This is a spurious stance often adopted by narrow ‘Clerical’ nationalist and rabib dogmatic ‘Real’ Republicans.

    Again the simplistic equation of personal faith = political/national identity = X is applied by those ( I am not including you in this grouping) who seek to either:

    a) undermine the emerging pluralism (and success) of the Republic
    b) foster ‘southern’ sectarian division to satisfy their own narrow political agenda in NI

    This is not to say that a minority of Border Protestants do not share the same enthusiasm as their RC and co-Religous neighbours in embracing a pluralistic national identity and that their relationship with the prevailing identity of the state is complex.

    It’s a shame and I have in the past suggested that this minority in our Republic, like all minorities, be represented in the Oireacthas – possibly in Seanad Eireann. I have always believed that the majority must facillitate the minority

    However, I feel it is incorrect to use defunct pre-independence political terminology such as Redmondite and Ex-Unionist (you either are or are not)to describe politically active Irish Protestants from the boarder region.


  • T.Ruth

    We have to be grateful that at least Lord Laird will be off the radar in Northern Ireland for a while and we will all be glad of that. I think however this Donegal thing is just a ploy and he has his sights set on the Senate or the Presidency.
    We are happy to lend the Donegal folks a Lord-we have enough for eleven lords and ladies and sirs a leaping. Can’t even remember them all but here’s my list. Laird,Rogan,Taylor,Trimble,Maginnes,Ranah,Hermon,Empey,not to mention the DUP three.We certainly can’t moan about representation given the size of the population.Just imagine the presence we could have in the Lords if the SDLP and Shinners got on board.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “If you speak to the TD in question, I’m sure that his response would be far from being ‘the unofficial represntative of the protestants of the 3 ulster counties’.”

    of course he’s not going to limit his voter base, but he is well aware of his heritage. That said, he’s a fairly low profile politician anyway.

    “It’s a common misconception that ‘Southern Unionism’ remains a functioning political ideology in the Republic – an ideology that is supported and facillitated by the Fine Gael party. I should point out that I do not support FG in anyway.”

    I was at the inaugural meeting of Reform- indeed I suggested the name- and it was quite clear that very few of the southern participants saw themselves as southern unionists, though many of the northerners who were there sought to embrace their lost brethren. They were on a steep learning curve.

    I don’t think that FG are quite as shallow as you suggest. Some of the more innovative thinking on British -Irish relations has come from John Bruton. The increase in pluralism in the R.o.I. is undeniable, and welcome, but driven from the ground up-perhaps inevitably. official Ireland is still lagging behind, though the recognition of WW1 servicemen is very encouraging.

    I really think that fostering southern sectarianism is such a hopeless aim that noone is seriously contemplating it, and I certainly wouldn’t support it.Your view of your Irishness is much more mature than some bloggers- I think it is George who is a southern protestant from Dun Laoighaire, who seems incapable of accepting that there was any vestige of sectarianism post 1921. If that wasn’t George I apologise to him. The way forward is to recognise that it was there, and to make sure it cannot ever reappear.

    The border counties were and are different- not least because of the last 35 years. Many Protestants from the southern counties of Ulster served in the RUC and B specials. For many the Orange Order is still a foundation stone of their community. They were large enough to maintain a semi-detached community until very recently- largely without looking north, which had largely forgotten them too

  • PaddyD

    Hi Darth

    Apologies for the crude political shorthand. I was stuck for adjectives. I supposed “pluralist” would be a good description for Fine Gael.

    I’m not a Fine Gaeler, but they would be more like the Alliance Party rather than the SDLP (who are closer to Fianna Fail). Fine Gael’s sister party is the UUP. FG has nationalists but that’s not their unique selling point. What sets them apart would be that they encompass a number of Irish traditions. Remember Taoiseach John Bruton (a proud adherant of John Redmond)saying the day he met Prince Charles “the proudest moment of his life”? I don’t know what is the trendy language to describe them, but they have declined in the border counties in the face of exclusively Nationalist/Republican Parties. Elsewhere they’ve declined in the face of the relatively new middle class parties PDs & Greens.



  • david c

    Reform are not “neo-colonialists” – even a cursory glance over their Aims and Objectives disproves this.

    They have a pragmatic and workable set of aims, with which I believe a majority of my fellow Irish citizens would agree. The era of republican monoculturalism in the Republic has long since passed.

    The Republic is a whole new country now, and one which I sure hope has the space for the likes of me – southerners who have a British identity intermingled alongside our Irish identity.

    I am greatly optimistic that this is the case. President McAleese especially has helped a great deal – I remember a couple of years ago going along to the marking of the Twelfth at Aras an Uachtarainn, and seeing a whole big bunch of people there, including southern orangemen from what must have been almost every county.

    One of my fondest memories of our current much-maligned peace process, was that of Queen Elizabeth and An t-Uachtarainn McAleese jointly presiding over the Somme commemoration.

    I would like to see a republic with space for all of us – whilst we ‘west brits’ may be small in number, we do have our place, and we are part of Ireland too.

  • Valenciano

    The difficulty is that when candidates put themselves forward on the “represent the forgotten protestants” ticket, they invariably seem to have other ‘baggage.’ The previous guy who tried this Mr Boomer-Brooks for example was somewhat hindered by the fact that he’d ran as a National Front candidate (he later stood on a Free Para Lee Clegg ticket and managed to forget Clegg’s name during the campaign.) It seems an exercise in total pointlessness as protestants in Donegal are too few for him to make any effective point.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Boomer-Brooks elecion literature is however a classic. One of his appeals to the Roman catholics of Donegal ( his terminology) was thathe, like the church, was opposed to divorce. he’d never wanted to divorce his wife, but sometimes felt like killing her.Profound.

    I remember Kenneth Maginnis once having an idea.I know, but it’s actually true. He wanted to form an alliance with FG, in 1999 or thereabouts. I also recall being told that Bruton could not deliver on a deal- that Fianna Fail were the people to trade with. Bruton had many limitations, but not to exploit his relative openmindedness was a major Trimble failing.Ironically there would be some gain for the UUP in trying to hook up with FG- not sure that it would benefit Enda Kenny though

  • southernunionist

    “I wholeheartedly support his intention to represent those 8% who indentify with NI or an Ulster-Scots identity in Dail Eireann”

    And what about unionists who live in the south who don’t identify with Northern Ireland or an Ulster Scots Identity but are just unionists? They see themselves as British even though they had the misfortune to be born 80 years after Ireland decided it wouldn’t be British anymore.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Spot on, Darth. Trimble never seemed to cop that Bruton would have jumped thru’ hoops if he’d been thrown a bone.

    Never heard of Mr B-B, but his er, thoughts on matrimony might have a certain cross-community appeal.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “And what about unionists who live in the south who don’t identify with Northern Ireland or an Ulster Scots Identity but are just unionists?”

    This is actually a very important point. It is just wrong to insist that Unionist is an interchangeable term for Ulster Scot. Take Jim Molyneaux, for instance. He’s a Huguenot, and it would be ludicrous to shoehorn his identity into the Ulster-Scots, although I add the caveat that linguistically he may well speak Ulster-Scots.

    But there is a British-Irish identity- often Church of Ireland, sometimes RC e.g.Sir John “Up the Micks!” Gorman, even Jewish- perhaps Bruton encountered it at Clongowes Wood, and there is a working class vestige in the Dublin Conservative Club. Reform is actually quite good at drawing these strands together. Laird Lord is probably correct in claiming the East Donegal Protestants as Ulster Scots- the Lagganeers. But can he lay claim to the south Donegal Protestants? He will have to be tactful, and much as I like John, I fear that he doesn’t always do tact.

  • gaelgannaire

    Southern Unionist,

    I take it that the point that ‘Ireland decided it wouldn’t be British anymore in your view ‘was the founding of the Free-State.

    Lets see, born 80 years after 1922 … How many 4 year old unionists are there?

    The second question is when did Ireland decide it wanted to be British in the first place?

  • Rory

    “I always get Major Sproule Myles back to front”

    Relax, Darth. No need to apologise or feel embarrassed. It’s all perfectly legal now. Why over here in London it’s practically compulsory. Especially among the military.

  • Ulster McNulty

    Darth Rumsfeld

    “He will have to be tactful, and much as I like John, I fear that he doesn’t always do tact.”

    You have to be joking. He spends about 99.9% of his time doing complete nonsense.

    If he had genuine linguistic concerns he would have to be campaiging here in his own backyard for recognition of Scots along the lines of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.

    Why is he so concerned about what goes on in a foreign country? (eg UKIP don’t spend their time campaigning for Spanish withdrawal from the EU)

    I’ll tell you why – because he is an anti-Irish language activist, perhaps the only one in existance. Look at the time he tried to put Lá out of business – the reason he gave was essentially that there wasn’t an Ulster Scots language daily, so there shouldn’t be an Irish one.

    You might like the man but I find him an unsavoury character. Ludicrous b!gots, no matter how colourful and charming, won’t appeal to the electors of Donegal.

  • darth rumsfeld


  • southernunionist

    Exactly Darth, those would be my fears too about Laird.

    There is a serious case to be made for unionist representation in the south but I fear Laird taking it on may make a serious issue into a joke as we see on this thread.

  • Paddydevlin

    Hi Darth

    I didn’t realise that Kenneth Maginnis actually floated a deeper UUP-FG alliance. If the polls in the south are to be believed there may be a FF-Labour colaition next year (minus Pat Rabbitte). It will be 25 years since FG won a general election and if FG & the PDs are in opposition there’s plenty of scope to form a new centre right party. The UUP could make some alliance with a new political formation.

    I do not mean that such an all Ireland alliance should be a herbringer of a united Ireland but rather a party that wants to build on an agreed Ireland – a pluralist concept favoured by many FGers. A new party could dump the civil war baggage and could exploit the cultural shifts of the celtic tiger years. Unionists would find many sympathetic cheer leaders in such a formation and it would be a practical way of pursuing the remaing aims of the all Ireland Unionists.

    While I don’t support the aforementioned parties, there is a cultural space for such a political movement just as surely as there is political space for SF & FF and the DUP on the other hand.

    Tribalism has reformed and re-aligned but pluralismn never has over the past decade.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Just by way of further background about 15 years ago Jim Devenny was invited to Glengall Street , UUP HQ, to speak to the Young Unionists, and afterwards for private discussions with Jim Wilson the UUP Chief exec. I remember him saying that this was the first time that there had been any Ulster Unionist- as distinct from Orange-interest in Donegal protestants that he could recall, confirmed by others since.

    I think that experience was shared in Monaghan. In the 1930s the Independent TD for Monaghan, Andrew Cole, a barrister and an Orangeman, was always formally met at the train station in Fermanagh on the Twelfth morning as the representative of the southern Unionist people by Lord Brookeborough. Apart from that, I don’t think there was any grat interest

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Ludicrous b!gots, no matter how colourful and charming, won’t appeal to the electors of Donegal.”

    …er… Neal Blaney?

  • bertie

    “Jim Molyneaux, for instance. He’s a Huguenot”

    Well his ancester of the same name no doubt was but I doubt if that means that all his ancesters were. There is almost bound to be a could mix of U/S in there. That goes for those with English surnames, unless they are relatively new blow-ins they can lay claim to the U/S heritage.

    Laird means well in the main but he rarely follows through.

  • ulsterscot

    Weill he luckin to be larnin tha hamely tongue a tha Ulster-Scotch leid fur whin he gaen roun luckin fowk’s votes in Dinnygal? He niver spaked a coorse wurd yit an I dinnae thank he’ll dae it tha nae.

  • dantheman



    If Lord Laird joins the Dáil
    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    I am delighted to see that Lord Laird is contemplating taking up, or reaffirming his entitlement to, Irish citizenship by standing in the forthcoming Dáil election in one or both Donegal constituencies.

    I am delighted to see that Lord Laird is contemplating taking up, or reaffirming his entitlement to, Irish citizenship by standing in the forthcoming Dáil election in one or both Donegal constituencies.

    He is to be commended for his nine-county view of Ulster and also, by his emphasis on the Scottish connection, moving discreetly away from the exclusive and untenable slogan of the UUP that hung in Glengall Street, Ulster is British.

    He will find in Donegal, as he would in parts of Antrim, that the links between Ulster and Scotland, going back to the early Christian centuries, are as much Gaelic as Lowland Scots, Catholic as well as Presbyterian. He will know that the Irish Government, in 1998 in the Good Friday Agreement, embraced the idea of an Ulster-Scots Agency without difficulty and generously helped finance it.

    His standing for election could be a test of what support his forthright approach to Irish politics has in Donegal and how many from a minority religious and cultural tradition there, who are also proud to be Irish, share his desire to be marked out as a distinct ethnic group.

    As a result of the Good Friday Agreement, Lord Laird could, were he to be elected a Dáil Deputy, remain a member of the House of Lords.

    The experience would give him a unique vantage point to compare and contrast the advantages today (rather than 70 or even 30 years ago) of being part of what is becoming an immensely prosperous and internationally respected independent Ireland as against remaining a peripheral part of a much larger country under the Union.

    Political and economic separation from the rest of the island threatens to leave Northern Ireland a backwater in both UK and Irish economic terms unless, through fully working the Good Friday Agreement, a new dynamism can be created.

    Martin Mansergh Seanad Eireann

  • Southern Unionist & the Reformers etc:

    If you want a British passport, talk to Britain, it’s up to that country to provide foreign whack jobs who think they’re from there with passports if they so choose. Why should the Irish government help you, it’s nothing to do with them, they will give you an Irish passport, if you want a foreign passport, contact the country in question and ask them for one. Don’t be surprised if they think you’re taking the mickey though…

    “Hello is this the American Embassy? Yes? Good. Listen, I’m from Ireland, born here, raised here, yeah parents are Irish, yeah that’s right, America, oh yeah been there once on holiday, I really like you’re style. Yeah so anyway, like I was saying, love your country, in fact, I *feel* American. Hmmm? No no, born in Ireland, yeah, no American parents. So like I was saying I really really *feel* American, so I was wondering, like, in fairness, if I could have an American passport? Excuse me? Go *what* myself?? You don’t seem to understand me buddy, I *feel* as American as you are. OK OK no need for that sort of language! Yeah? Same to you Buddy, I’m going over your head, I’m going to set up a lobby group and lobby the Irish government until they give me an American passport, we’ll see who’s got the last laugh then!”

    Yessssssssss… you can take yourself as seriously as you like, doesn’t mean anyone else has to.

  • darth rumsfeld

    hello- reform this.You seem very defensive. Could this be the reason why?

    I’m not an Irish citizen, I never will be, none of my ancestors going back yea unto the third and fourth generations – or indeed the thirtythird were. Yet in pursuit of never to be obtained unification of Ireland, I can get an Irish passport ( so long as I don’t put anything offensive like “Place of birth-Londonderry” on it).That’s because wish to nurture my irish identity …that I don’t have.

    meanwhile…People born in RoI whose grandparents were British subjects- or possibly even parents- and who wish to express their British identity can’t get a British passport. That’s because Britain doesn’t want to encourage the British identity that many do have.

    And of course in the interests of parity of esteem in Northern Ireland we have to get rid of any public or state expression of like the Harp and Crown, or coats of arms in courts, because some people are so sensitive that they would co into anaphylactic shock if they were exposed to any reminder that this is the UK

    I can see how that would appear perfectly fair in MOPEland. Others might see it as an immature refusal to extend to others the rights you stamp your little foot to have yourself

  • Darthy Baby,

    I couldn’t give a toss if you get an Irish passport or not, I couldn’t give a toss if Mickey McPaddy from Tralee can get a British passport or not. It’s a joke that he complains to me and about the Irish government if he can’t. It’s up to governments to hand out passports, the Irish government gave in to the whingers who wanted Irish passports, fair enough. If you want a British passport go whinge to Britain, don’t make out like I’m pissing on your ‘rights’ cause they won’t give you one (by ‘you’ I mean the metaphorical mcpaddy, not the darth himself who is quite obviously already a British citizen and presumably carries a British passport).

  • darth rumsfeld

    fair enough reformy, we agree that the statement that passport seekers make in wanting another nationality “badge” is either equally meritorious or pathetic.

  • You got it!

    Let them point their ire in the right direction is what I’m sayin… The “Irish” in the UK need to go to the Irish Government, the “British” in Ireland need to go to the British Government.

    Keep the moaning in the right direction and all is well in the world.

  • jfd

    reform this!

    I agree with the substance if not the tone of your posting. It’s very wrong to make fun of the delusional. (He’s says with a grin)

  • Ulster McNulty

    Darth Rumsfeld

    “…er… Neal Blaney?”

    Mmmm, I take your point. However I don’t think he ever matched the ludicrousness of Laird.

  • david c

    So – ‘reform this’ and gfd – do I understand from what your saying that you oppose the extension of Republic of Ireland citizenship rights to residents of Northern Ireland?

    Personally I believe everyone born on the island should have the right to choose UK citizenship, RoI citizenship or both – this is the only way to reflect the mix of (often overlapping) identities we have, and surely also a good way to round off our historical conflicts – at the end of the day, respect and tolerance for all.

  • bertie


    your 2:16 was belting 🙂

  • David,

    I don’t oppose anything, as I said earlier, your own notions are your own. I can’t do anything about giving or preventing you from having a British passport because, and I know this is a hard one… I’m IRISH, and don’t have a vote or say in the governance of the UK. If you want a British passport talk to them, leave me and the Irish government out of it.

    Also I may think you’re a clown for wanting it (delusions of blander), but I neither want to or am able to *prevent* you from having one, because it’s *nothing* to do with me.

    Darth can maybe help you as he actually has a UK vote. So take it up with the British.

  • Slartibuckfast

    Speaking of Ulster Scots…

    That is a genuine document.

  • david c

    Well, Reform This, that’s a fairly hardcore partitionist argument if ever I heard one – is there really such a clearly defined wall between the two traditions on the island?

    I’ve met more than a few hardline unionists over the years who quite happily acknowledge their Irishness, and also I’ve met many from the nationalist tradition happy to acknowledge the british dimension – the many things we share in common across these islands, from Kinsale to Inverness.

  • David,

    I’ve heard of a lot more partitionist people than me. You can pretend to be from wherever you like, you don’t seem to get that I CANT HELP YOU to get a British passport, my opinion DOESNT MATTER A JOT to the British government, because I (and you) am from a foreign country to them, they can’t win or lose our votes. For some reason you feel the need to be persecuted (Jesus complex?) so it’s useful to have me as the bogeyman, the horrible green big0t, here to block you from expression of your true “identity”. Except there’s problem with that. I couldn’t give a flying fuck if you think you’re British, American, Indian or Greek. I won’t try in any way to stop you from going to whatever country in the world you want to get a passport. It’s up to them to decide who they give citizenship away to. The worst I can do is not lift a finger to help you, which I’m perfectly content to not do. Oh, that and think you’re a delusional idiot, if that counts, maybe that will feed your little oppression need some, you can shite on to your friends about how some guy on the internet is blocking an otherwise certain deal with the British government to get you a passport by thinking your a fool.

  • darth rumsfeld

    david c- reform this is right. The fault lies squarely with HMG, although it would doubtless give the issue higher priority if Ahern were to lobby for the extension of the right of eligible Irish people to have a British passport-something that he doesn’t have the vision or generosity of spirit to do in the face of the gombeen men who are the FF backbone.

    Actually this is one of those areas where- as david c knows- Trimble deserves credit(did I really type those last 3 words?). These were precisely the legalistic type of inconsistencies that he used to enjoy raising with Blair. Not , however , with any great degree of success. If only Paisley’s backroom babies could see beyond Assembly consultancies and push issues like these, then HMG might now feel the need to address them properly.

  • George

    David C,
    Gregory Campbell tried to push this issue in regard to the around 34,000 people born in the Irish Republic but now living in Northern Ireland with his ill-fated postcard campaign.

    Virtually none of them seemed interested in becoming British even though they were living in the UK so Gregory’s campaign died an instantaneous death.

    There also doesn’t seem to be any groundswell of support south of the border for this either.

    You are one person interested in this obviously but you need to show that there is a substantial constituency, or at least a viable one, who feel this is needed.

    Otherwise, you risk coming across as a British wolf howling at an Irish moon.

    Perhaps if you organised a petition to show there are like-minded people then you could get somewhere with Ahern and Blair.

  • david c

    Ah, I may be howling to the moon but I am dreaming to the skies. and i’m Irish all the way – equally as irish as any republican.

    In All Seriousness, why should an irish-british lad from Galway, or Roscommon, or Wicklow have any less right to his identity than a republican guy from Tyrone or south Armagh?

    you can laugh all you like, it wont erase history.

  • George

    david c,
    I’m not laughing at anything and I’m not erasing history. I don’t know how you can draw or why you would that from my post.

    I’m saying that you will have to show that this constituency exists, namely there is a critical mass of people born and living in the Irish Repubic, who want access to Britsh citizenship as an essential part of their identity.

    This is something which to date, people who bring up this issue have singularly failed to do.

    That is the reality. Show the reality is otherwise by mobilising this group that you say needs access to British citizenship.

    Gregory Campbell failed miserably in his attempt north of the border, what makes you think you would be any more successful south of it?

  • Bill

    Sir Anthony O’Reilly was born in what is now the republic and became a British citizen by following the correct procedures for doing so. Anyone born in the Republic who can show that they have the right to a British passport can obtain one by following the process defined by Her Majesty’s Governemnet in westminster.

  • jfd


    well said. David C and ‘reform’ are massively out of step with modern Irish identity, out on the fringes nursing a huge post-colonial identity crisis – they’re in denial that the vast majority of citizens in the Republic, irrespective of Religous or Ethnic background have not interest in re-visiting defunct definitions from another century.

    Personally, David C and the Reform ‘movement’ (Ha! a room full of political malcontents, revisionista’s and unrecontructed neocolonialists do not a mass movement make) are entitled to continue, express and formulate their views.

    Unionism, and ardant neo-colonial British nationalism carefully packaged in a cloak of Irish-Britishness, with it’s spiteful critque of Irish independence is a defunct political philosophy in the Republic.

    It won’t fly in 2006.

    As I’ve said before, the success of independence, the vitality of the modern Republic and it’s increasing stature internationally has been a physic blow to the economic and social raison d’etre of Unionism. New stuff like Irish-Britishness is dreamt up. Often neo Unionism employs (as Reform does) the ethnic-cleansing bogey man, in semi-veiled language, turning the same tricks as narrow nationalism historical spin doctors did in NI, it kicks over a chair or two ala David Trimble mono-cultural commets, it has the occasional; hissy fit about the Republic’s ‘inherent’ anti-British nature – but the reality of this is nothing is based in the modern reality, only a unionist ‘reality’ that can’t accept the modern Republic for what it is. It’s a case of denial on a seemingly grand scale.

    As for the Passport ‘issue’ – just because you appreciate and admire another nation does not make you a citizen of that nation nor give you the right to demand citizenship of that nation.

    If that was the case I’d run about calling myself a Swede on the basis that I admire Sweden. The case within Northern Ireland IS different and IS another argument, but the Republic of Ireland is a soveriegn, independent state that offers modern European citizenship. The whole passport debate is yet another ruse used to ‘deny’ the modern Republic and it’s success. Petty. Childish. And wholly unrepresentative.

    Of course Neo-Unionism, as espoused by Reformista’s will harp on about a cultural and media similarities without the appreciation that this is driven by a) market proximity and b) the quality of product from the UK. Does this make us any less Irish. Ask a Canadian. Ask a Norwegian. Ask an Austrian. Ask a Kiwi.

    As an aisde, I work in advertising – a great cultural yardstick. For every imported British ad – three are made locally for British brands in the Republic. Interesting that.

    And the 500,000 British passport holders in Ireland are a simple reflection of our two states proximity. There are similar numbers of Swedish passport holders in Finland. Canada and the US. Need I really go on?

    It’s hard to tell NeoUnionists this, but the Republic is moving on, it’s been 80+ years, slowly maybe but moving at the least. The whole nationalism debate is old, it prevents growth (both physic and economic). The basketcase that is Northern Ireland proves the futility of the nationalism debate. Yes, we shares a geographic space with the UK, yes we share pre-independence history (be that from a British at source narrative of history) and yes we should be more aware and celebrating of this shared history by breaking the narrow nationalist narrative of Irish history – but none of this justifies rejoining or pooling soveriegnty or creating a pan-islands identity.

    As a nation the Republic looks to the future. To Europe.

    Uh-oh he said the ‘E’ word – the real ‘Commonwealth’ of our times.

    I know NeoUnionism has a problem, a skepticism if you will (Empire envy anyone), with Europe so I’ll leave that alone.

    Suffice to say Europe has been the platform through which Irish Indpendence has been validated. Some aspects of Unionism seems to think that expressing this opinion is anti-British – proving just how tight those neocolonial the blinkers have gotten.

    (I posted this on the Young Unionist site a couple of months back – I was just too bored with David C. and his ilk to think of a new response)

  • darth rumsfeld

    “If that was the case I’d run about calling myself a Swede”

    …surely a turnip?

  • jfd

    …surely a turnip?

    more of a spud! 😉

  • Ulster Scots

    Lord Laird says tha thars plinty a’ fowk aboot Dinnygal tha cannae but spake Ulster Scots, but he cannae spake tha hamely tongue at aw!

    Hawes he gaen ti dae tha TD af he cannae spake till he’s ain constitints?

    Af he isnae gaen ti larn tha leid he’s nae an Ulster Scot at aw!

  • whar har har harrrrr!!!! Ulster-Scots I spake, spake it will doo aye. Indeed – y- do ha, wha ha haa. Spaking teh hamely tung hame baying dooing noo, spaking away like a good thing.

    I first started spooking ooooolster skates, when I wais a charactroor en the tv show allo allo. Tis an easy langwich to spook.

    PS For all English speakers, here I am at the back of the photo….whar har boos und damen!!!

  • JC

    Would Lord Laird go to northern Ireland to canvass for votes?