This is the end game…

David Maxwell with a relatively gentle retrospective on the constitutional process thus far…

  • Greenflag

    Maxwell’s dreaming . There is no end game . This game will play on until such time as NI politicians and people accept that a 6 county Northern Ireland can never be a normal democracy. A fair and agreed ‘repartition’of NI is the only political solution which can work.

  • Nationalist

    Greenflag, the idea of some sort of “Repartition” is not an answer and would only allow for continued problems for years to come.

    The people voted in 1918 on the issue and the overwhelming majority voted for Independence, which was subsequently denied through the use of force.

    After a long and painful period in our history we are closing once again on the issue of the Nationalist people being in a position to once again assert their wish to Indenpence.

    This time with the world having moved on from the days of Empire, the British will be accept the voice of the people all be reluctantly.

    The Nationalist (Catholic) population stands at 43.8% of the population at the end of 2004 having increased some 5.42% since the 1991 Census. With the Protestant Unionist Majority in the over 55year olds age group the swing to a Catholic Majority is increasing year on year and as predicted may become a reality by 2016.

    The idea of allowing part of our country to taken in similar circumstances willnot happen, nor would I suspect that the British people would want to keep and pay increased taxes to provide for such an outdated notion.

    This is the end game, the final leg of the journey and one which will ultimately end with a United 32 County Republic.

    The only issue is whether the Unionists will this time respect the Democratic wishes of the people?

  • chairmanmao

    Ah so we are back to the old “We will outbreed you into a united ireland” line then?

  • Wilde Rover

    It’s chilling that some people look forward to the idea of nationalism edging into the majority as a political panacea.

    It’s even more chilling that many have not taken the time to reflect fully on the potential disaster that could erupt.

    After all, the history of the Fourth Field doesn’t exactly lend itself to a “sunshine and happy days” scenario.

  • Observer

    Lads’ dream on …

    Greenflag however may have a point … maybe he advacates Sinn Fein/IRA policy – create mayheam not by violent means but by manipulating the political system and making things as awkward as possible. Sinn Fein’s cry yesterday in blaming the Democratic Unionist Party is only an excuse, they don’t stand to loose anything by saying what they said, but difficulties would arise if Adams had told the truth; that being that he is having difficultly selling this. IRA/Sinn Fein have not taken one risk in the name of peace since this “political process” began over 10 years ago. They have manipulated every PM and Government, North and South of the border since then as well as Unionism.

    Maxwell has a point in noting that Blair is seeking to secure his legacy; a legacy that may cool the disaster Iraq ended up in.

    Blair has approx. 4-6 months remaining in office. He won’t be dealing with these issues this time next year. Therefore the time is now.

    This maybe NI’s last hope of peace and long-lasting stability. I believe it is achieveable; but only when Sinn Fein stop playing games and come to realise their new partitionist/six-county policy.

    It is up to IRA/Sinn Fein to persuade Unionists why they should become their political partners in any devolved Government in this part of the Kingdom.

    The year 2016 may be a dream, but it will be no reality.

  • lib2016

    No-one can foretell the future but there will be an internal nationalist/Catholic majority within two General Elections just from the new voters already at school, together with the simple fact that the aging unionist population is simply dying faster. That’s why the figures are being deliberately obscured and why the assumptions about the number of Catholics at State schools have been so discreditied.

    The Brits have to try and ensure some kind of stability and continuity hence their need to introduce devolution before Direct Rule slides ever-so-gently from London to Dublin. Something which has already begun with Dublin taking a direct interest in Northern transport energy and associated infrastructure.

    The unionist paramilitaries are back down to their establishment in the early eighties before the Brits revived them viz. ‘two men and a bicycle’. The unionist political parties have no support from anywhere, not even South Africa or Israel.

    It’s been a long and winding road but we’re nearly there.

  • halcyondays

    I think the point here is that Northern Ireland has been given quite a bit of attention by the current British Prime Minister. If Brown or Cameron take over later this year, they will have no where near the same interest in Northern Irish affairs. Why would they want to get involved in something that would haunt their entire time in office. Observer is right, if things aren’t sorted out in what remains of Blair’s time in office then there really is little hope.

    Lib2016, two sad points for you – Sinn Fein have legitimised Northern Ireland as a poitical entity and there is little evidence that all catholics in Northern Ireland would vote for a united Ireland in a border poll.

  • lib2016

    halcyondays,

    You misunderstand my post.

    1/ Sinn Fein have realised not only that the political route is the road to a reunited Ireland but that devolution will provide them with a powerbase after reunification. It is in both community’s interest to have a NI with a devolved executive of some kind.

    2/ I made it plain that I expect an internal majority to emerge by 2011/12. There would have to be negotiation on a Constitution etc. before a referendum could be considered. If I didn’t think that there was support for re-unification amongst the Protestant population together with the hope of much more such support emerging in the future I wouldn’t favour reunification as a solution.

  • Observer

    halcyondays makes a very valid point lib2016 – whilst many nationalists aspire to a United Ireland many will not wish to lose sight of the benefits of the British way of life such as an excellent health service (albeit not perfect), free education, a steady and reliable economy, human rights and freedom.

    People can say one thing but do very different at the ballot box.

    Whilst the ‘romantic’ dream of a United Ireland looks ‘heavenly’ it is out-dated, historic and in no way practical.

    I tell you what call me a Nationalist – whereby the whole island should get over the past and seek re-unification with the island of Great Britain.

    You my friend are as British as Winston Churchill or indeed Tony Blair whilst advocating an Irish identity which is perfectly acceptable. Events in history, particularly with the establishment of the Free State in 1922 have distorted the truth and reality of the Irish identity. Indeed I think Sir Edward Carson advocated an Irish identity, whilst fighting to retain the Union and overall British way of life.

  • Crataegus

    We must be close to a point where it becomes obvious that this process has delivered all its going to. In such circumstances do you soldier on and continue to build on sand or do you call a time out, and reconsider the way forward. A process that magnified the importance of any extreme simply became self fulfilling. If this is a vision of future progress we are in for a slow slow time.

    What really concerns me is that there appears to be little electoral loss suffered by those directly involved and responsible, quite the opposite, we reward the difficult and objectionable. There seems to be a collective inability to apportion blame and failure. There are no real yardsticks for measuring progress. To call the present process progress is to corrupt the meaning of the word.

    The electorate generally have lost the plot long ago. In all the dismal, myopic naval gazing that I have read there does not seem to be anyone with a clear and commanding vision of the future, a compelling optimism that commands attention. There is no one who argues forcefully for the positive advantages of cooperation and moving forward. Our political parties seem to be as visionary as a room full of contract lawyers and accountants. What is wrong? Is there no one with any sense of optimism, no one with a can do spirit? No one who can galvanise and rally a flagging populous and give them something positive to aim for? Is that not what politicians are supposed to be for?

    Finally trying to put my views on the management of this process succulently is difficult, but special attention needs to be given to those in charge of managing the process. Utter blundering incompetence is the only way I can describe it. This outcome was predicted, those concerns were not addressed, there was no proper consideration of building in a robust fall back position as part of the agreement, but what really takes the biscuit is the inability to realise that you MUST keep ALL on board and you MUST give equal prominence to those who support progress as you do to those who are throwing a fit. We have watched constant prevarication rewarded and good behaviour penalised. Is it any wonder we are where we are?

    If there is to be a reconsideration we need a change at the top and also in the staff advising. Indeed even if there isn’t a reconsideration there should be replacement. If I were Brown that is how I would start. It would send a clear signal of purpose. Secondly with memories of his handing interest rates over to the Bank of England I would be tempted to delegate responsibility for negotiations to an independent body and down grade the British role as overseer. But who is there to do it? That way the issue is downgraded in British terms and the playing field levelled. Worth a try or is there too much dirt hiding under the carpet?

  • George

    Observer,
    I feel you are ignoring the reality of life on this island in 2007:

    Better health services north of the border?

    Today, the waiting lists are far shorter south of the border than in NI.

    A&E is a bit of a mess I admit but the investment in the Republic dwarfs what is going on in NI so that won’t last forever.

    NI Health budget 2007-2008 = 3.7 billion pounds (5.5 billion euros)

    Republic Health budget 2007 = 14 billion euros.

    That type of investment differential is having an effect. If you don’t believe me about the situation, talk to me in five years about better health services. I think it’ll be clearer then.

    As for free education, I recommend you try send your child to university.

    A steady and reliable economy?

    I don’t know on what you base that.

    Human rights and freedom?

    Ask anyone in the Republic if they feel they have less human rights or freedom than those north of the border.

    Not saying that this will make people vote for a united Ireland but to argue that they would be better off in NI won’t add up over time.

    As for Carson, unlike today’s unionists he at least was able to to say with pride that he was Irish.

  • Greenflag

    Nationalist,

    There will be no nationalist voting majority in the 6 county area for the forseeable future .There may be a brief period /window of opportunity for a few years in which the political demographics will narrow further but that will soon open up again as the effect of the nationalist birth rate equating to the unionist figure comes into effect .

    Anyway the whole notion of a 51% or 55% majority within NI delivering a UI is problematical no matter what HMG or the Irish Government state . Unionists will carve up the 6 county NI State when the time comes just as they carved up the 9 county Province of Ulster to their sectarian advantage in 1920 .

    Why anyway would a prosperous, democratically stable Irish Republic want to burden itself with higher taxes by trying to absorb 850,000 Unionists who are alienated from the very concept never mind the reality of a 32 county independent Republic ?

    Far better to have a 30 county or so Irish Republic and leave Unionists to their fate as part of the United /Disunited Kingdom .

  • Greenflag

    Observer,

    ‘Greenflag however may have a point … maybe he advocates Sinn Fein/IRA policy’

    You observe wrongly . I favour an agreed repartition of Northern Ireland by a neutral international body such as the UN or EU . A UI would cost more than it would be worth and in particular given the virtual 100% Unionist opposition to a UI . The very last thing any Irish Government needs to do is to repeat the example of the Ulster Unionists in 1920. Why on earth would we want to drag 850,000 NI British Unionist people who would prefer to remain part of the UK simply because they have been outvoted by 2% in a referendum ?????

    Sinn Fein lest people forget is a political party which at most commands the support of 12% of people on the island of Ireland . The DUP gets even less support on this island some 9% at most .

    The best solution is to leave a ‘repartitioned ‘ 2 county NI in the capable hands of the DUP and their head cleric /ayatollah – and leave the Sunni Unionists to find their own ‘internal ‘solution’ within the UK.

  • Greenflag

    Halcyon,

    ‘Observer is right, if things aren’t sorted out in what remains of Blair’s time in office then there really is little hope. ‘

    For who ? Life will go on just as well with or without devolution . The Republic will continue to make economic and political progress . Northern Ireland will continue it’s economic and political decline relative to both the Irish Republic and the disunited Kingdom .

  • Observer

    George,

    “I feel you are ignoring the reality of life on this island in 2007:

    Better health services north of the border?

    Today, the waiting lists are far shorter south of the border than in NI.

    A&E is a bit of a mess I admit but the investment in the Republic dwarfs what is going on in NI so that won’t last forever.

    NI Health budget 2007-2008 = 3.7 billion pounds (5.5 billion euros)

    Republic Health budget 2007 = 14 billion euros.

    That type of investment differential is having an effect. If you don’t believe me about the situation, talk to me in five years about better health services. I think it’ll be clearer then.”

    The system in terms of access to services is ‘free’, i.e. paid by general taxation. I do not think that this is the same in the Republic (?), as I understand payment is required to access services such as go to A&E or to see a GP. This is not the case in the UK – unless you wish to go private. I admit the service is not ‘perfect’, but then where is?

    Also, do Irish citizens get what they put in, in terms of taxation. It is my understanding that the level of taxation is much higher than in other countries?

    Also – social security system – benefits etc. (Some some people north of the border can easily abuse the system; yet pay no tax while they should.)

    “As for free education, I recommend you try send your child to university.”

    Your mistaken – free education for every child from the age of 5-21 (Primary to Secondary grammer) – Also may I add one of the best education systems in the world!

    As for University – this is means-tested giving young people, from poorer backgrounds a generous helping hand – even since the introduction of tutition fees.

    “A steady and reliable economy?

    I don’t know on what you base that.”

    UK wide – after all Northern Ireland is a region of the United Kingdom. It is part of a bigger economy.

    “Human rights and freedom?

    Ask anyone in the Republic if they feel they have less human rights or freedom than those north of the border.

    Not saying that this will make people vote for a united Ireland but to argue that they would be better off in NI won’t add up over time.”

    Point taken as all HR’s are in conjunction with the EU and UN.

    “As for Carson, unlike today’s unionists he at least was able to to say with pride that he was Irish.”

    Yes, true – but he was also British. This is what has been distorted over the course of the last 80 odd years. Irishness has been hijacked and misinterpreted. I would argue that Unionism has a rightful claim to it without fearing to be classed as ‘non-British’. However can you blame Unionists after 30 years of Irish Republican violence. Statistically this has been proven whereby pre-1969 more people saw themselves as ‘Irish’ – yet British and a change seen post-1969 with Unionists identifying themselves as less ‘Irish’.

    This is something that has to be challenged in my view however I fear its too late as the majority of Unionists would simply not accept the argument.

    As a typical example: I refer to myself as regionally Northern Irish (as I was born here), yet I hold and I am proud to hold a British passport. My Grandfather’s generation would have refered to himself as being Irish or perhaps ‘Ulster’, yet British.

    What the GFA didn’t make clear was that one could be Irish, yet British in the practical sense of holding a British passport.

  • manichaeism

    Observer,

    British is just something invented by the English so they could lord it over the rest of us in these islands. You think the Irish are as British as the English!
    Laughable! For most of the history of these islands they didn’t even think we were as human as them. If all the Irish jokes in England are anything to go by they probably stil don’t!

  • Alex

    some time ago I was chewing the fat with a 50 year old ‘catholic’ mother living just inside the border near Keady, she commented that in ‘her day’ the locals shoped over the border in the Republic, they shared the same local accent on both sides of the border, then came the ‘troubles’, minor roads were closed, the local community was split in half and now her childern talk with a ‘Keady accent unlike their southern ‘cousins’, the ‘troubles’ rather than uniting the island, merely helped further divide it

  • Observer

    manichaeism,

    Well for some reason it says British on my passport. But I guess that mustn’t mean anything.

  • Sammy Morse

    Observer – where are those 21-year old grammar school girls/boys? Are you sure you haven’t been spending too much time on x-rated “school uniform” websites?

  • manichaeism

    Observer,

    For some reason it says British on your passport.

    The reason is called conquest and colonisation.

  • Wilde Rover

    “I favour an agreed repartition of Northern Ireland by a neutral international body such as the UN or EU.”

    How can the UN be equated with the EU?

    Crataegus, I would agree with your “myopic naval gazing” remark and I would like to bring it further.

    The UN is a loose body of sovereign states, whereas the EU is something else entirely.

    And as the pedants are poised with pens in hand, I am not saying that the EU is not a body of sovereign states.

    So what is it?

    Simply put, it is a train whose carriages are, for now, clearly separated. And while this train does make stops it will eventually reach its destination as one unified carriage.

    Perhaps, Crataegus, the champion you seek will not describe themselves as being Irish or British, but European.

    As for the green and orange ostriches, please feel free to try and repartition your part of the train with Styrofoam if it pleases you.

  • Observer

    “Observer – where are those 21-year old grammar school girls/boys? Are you sure you haven’t been spending too much time on x-rated “school uniform” websites?

    Posted by Sammy Morse on Jan 04, 2007 @ 11:43 PM”

    To clarify Sammy,

    Young people aged 18-21 are entitled to free college education to gain qualifications such as – GCSE’s (repeats or additional GCSE’s), A-Levels, GNVQ’s or NVQ’S.

    You are ofcourse right in saying that people finish school at 18 – that’s if their not repeating.

    So sorry I don’t know of any websites.

  • George

    Observer,
    “as I understand payment is required to access services such as go to A&E or to see a GP.”

    It’s around 60 euros to see a doctor and 85 for A&E. Not perfect but at least you don’t pay if you have a medical card or are a pensioner.

    “Also, do Irish citizens get what they put in, in terms of taxation. It is my understanding that the level of taxation is much higher than in other countries?”

    Ireland has the lowest direct taxation in Europe and per capita now spends more than the UK on health.

    “Your mistaken – free education for every child from the age of 5-21 (Primary to Secondary grammer) – Also may I add one of the best education systems in the world!

    As for University – this is means-tested giving young people, from poorer backgrounds a generous helping hand – even since the introduction of tutition fees.”

    It’s free all the way south of the border, including university. Personally, I prefer means testing for university as all that is happening is middle-class parents spend the money on private schooling. Just pointing out that ALL education is free south of the border.

    “UK wide – after all Northern Ireland is a region of the United Kingdom. It is part of a bigger economy.”

    It may be part of the UK but it isn’t reaping the benefits of the UK economy. The GVA gap at 80% of the UK average is the same as it was a decade ago, for example. NI has passed out Wales though.

    “Yes, true – but he was also British. This is what has been distorted over the course of the last 80 odd years.”

    It hasn’t been “distorted”, the reality is that there is now a sovereign Irish state.

    Ireland is no longer part of the British “family” just as Lithuania or Estonia are no longer part of the Russian/Soviet one.

    “What the GFA didn’t make clear was that one could be Irish, yet British in the practical sense of holding a British passport.”

    I probably would have agreed with you on this in 1998 but this isn’t how this has panned out in the interim.

    I feel we are now in a situation where more and more people are “deciding” to be either British or Irish but not both.

    Where it is leading us, I don’t know but over 200,000 people from north of the border taking up Irish citizenship in the last eight years means something is afoot.

  • Greenflag

    ‘How can the UN be equated with the EU? ‘

    I was not suggesting they were ‘equal’ institutions . Both the Irish Republic and the UK are members of both organisations so one could hope that either organisation would administer a ‘fairer’ ‘repartition of NI than was the case with the 1920 Partition of Ireland.

  • Greenflag

    Observer,

    ‘I refer to myself as regionally Northern Irish (as I was born here), yet I hold and I am proud to hold a British passport. My Grandfather’s generation would have refered to himself as being Irish or perhaps ‘Ulster’, yet British. ‘

    Good for you. In any prospective UI you could still be ‘proud’ to hold a British passport . Just because you are politically part of a State according to the law does not of itself make you ‘loyal’ to that State or necessarily feel any affection for it . The example of Northern Irish Nationalists 1920 to the present is a good example of this phenomenon. Admittedly the situation between Britain and Ireland is somewhat convoluted given the long political ‘trauma’ between both islands . It seems that whereas the Irish and most of the British have safely recovered from the ‘trauma’ it appears that both parties in NI are still ‘convoluted’ . Not surprising given the political , economic and social history of NI since 1920 and the last 35 years of political and economic stagnation .

    I can watch the BBC , enjoy British comedy , sports , buy British products , have British friends , take an interest in British politics ,etc etc etc without being ‘politically’ British.

    Alex is largely correct in his statement that the ‘troubles’ have driven both communities in NI further apart . Rather than try to restore what was in hindsight a political and economic failure for Northern Ireland’s nationalists it makes better sense to accept the politcal and constitutional division between both populations and just get on with redrawing the border so that each State will have sufficient ‘constitutional ‘ support to enable normal democratic politics to function within it’s borders .

    Other than for a minority of idealists a 30 county or so Irish Republic can be just as prosperous and politically stable as a 26 county Republic . In addition such a State (30 county ) would enable the vast majority of Irish people in Northern Ireland to participate in real politics in the Dail rather than take part in the farcical, contrived, and powerless circus that HMG has drummed called the NI ‘Assembly’. This ‘joke ‘ has been going on now for 10 years .Time it was put an end to !

  • Greenflag

    George,

    ‘Where it is leading us, I don’t know ‘

    The ‘men from God knows where’ are on the road to God knows where ?:)

    More than likely it will be just another political cul de sac from which they will eventually have to back out of yet again and again and again and again etc etc etc etc 🙁
    Northern Ireland as a 6 county unit is a failed political entity . The sooner people on all sides in NI accept that then the sooner they can move on to a political solution that makes sense and can work in the 21st century.

    40 years of farting around is I humbly suggest ‘enough’ time wasted .If there are any slow learners left at this stage then I suggest that they are misnamed as ‘slow learners’. They would give retards a bad name 🙁