In a nutshell (The thoughts of one regular Slugger contributor)

Nobody’s going to give us a united Ireland. We’re going to have to take it. The military route failed. SF is trying the political route and has been since the start of the peace process. Use the publicity of the ceasefire to build an electoral base. Use that base to push the republican agenda. Get an agreement in the North. Demonstrate better handling of the Unionists and the British than the SDLP. Win more seats off the SDLP. Become the voice of northern nationalists. Use the world stage the peace process provides to make inroads in the south. Build a genuinely national movement. Force other parties to green themselves up. Drive an increasingly greening agenda North or South. Use power-sharing to drive an all-Ireland agenda. Use that all Ireland agenda to strengthen and deepen cross-border bodies. Make the border illusory. Reassure unionists as to life in a future Irish nation. ….

No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, but it’s not as if there haven’t been strides taken.

Posted by Middle-Class Taig

Discuss.

  • John

    Come off it. You cannot be serious in claiming that this flawed SF leadership has advanced the republican agenda. There is no doubt though that they have seriously advanced their own wealth agenda.

    This SF leadership have long ago deserted the working class people of ireland and are purely busy about the business of securing their own pensions. Nothing else can explain their spineless and inept performance.

  • Briso

    Re-posted from another thread. MCT, stealing my thunder!!!

    >Think Briso will have to phone a friend on this one, but be careful because those counted as friends are disappearing fast.

    How very dare you! What follows is all my own work!

    Before I answer the question you asked me, I want to state a few of the premises on which it is based.

    1. I have never been a member of or voter for Sinn Fein.

    2. My assessment of their route to a united Ireland is based on what they have consistently said in public. I have none of the inside information many on slugger seem to have (although it doesn’t seem to help as the insiders claim they were being lied to in private while the truth was told in public).

    I believe that the route to a United Ireland requires the support of the people of Ireland. I don’t believe that there is a way to do it without taking into account their opinions and preoccupations. Killing some of them in order to persuade the remainder has been shown not to work. I believe that the principle of consent in the Good Friday Agreement is the basis on which we move forward because the opinions and preoccupations of the Unionist community must be taken into account on any journey to a UI.

    To me, the crucial element of a strategy is in the 26 counties. Republicans must try to convince the Southern electorate that a United Ireland would not be bad for them. This requires two separate goals. SF must work to deliver positive change in Dublin and the other cities and towns of the 26 counties, particularly by representing the poorest and giving them a route to sharing in the prosperity of the nation, reducing social alienation and hence crime. SF must be in on the ground supporting initiatives to tackle drug abuse etc using the kind of committed activism it has always had in the North.
    Secondly, SF must work to make the North more attractive to the South. Let me explain something that the dissidents have always failed to understand. The day before the Brits begin to plan their withdrawal is the day that the Irish Government approaches them and says, “We would like to re-unite the country and we would like to start on it now.” Before that happens, NI needs to be peaceful, prosperous, orderly and representative of all the people within it. The SF project to provide a Police Force acceptable and answerable to all is a part of the overall.

    The dissidents seem to be of the opinion that if we get a parliament and all the other parts of a settlement with the unionists, our people will, God forbid, become happier and richer and as we all know, happy prosperous people don’t partake in revolution. This will all serve to ‘copperfasten partition’. They have it exactly wrong. The Irish Government twice refused to to take NI off the hands of the British. We need to improve co-operation between NI and the 26, improve relations between the two communities in the 6 and work to achieve a united Ireland by making the case for it at home and abroad.

  • gerry

    jesus chris couldn’t you make up your own post to publicise sinn fein, instead of using someone elses words. couldn’t you do it under your own steam.

    you two left out, breed like rabbits in order to out number other parties and we can have more votes and get in to power. One is reminded of hitler handing out the medals to those women who had more children than the rest, ‘for the fatherland’, only this time its for mother ireland.

    Now do what the dup tell you lads or ye won’t pass your tests!!

    FFS!!

  • confusd

    Middle Class Taig

    Your hopes for the future will be frustrated at every turn by the Unionist majority. We oppose every thing you stand for and it will take some persauding to change our minds.

    YOUR TASK OVER THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS IS DAUNTING.

  • wiseup

    alternative and more likely view:
    Nobody’s going to give us a united Ireland. We’re going to have to take it. The military route failed. SF is trying the political route and has been since the start of the peace process. Use the publicity of the ceasefire to build an electoral base. Use that base to push the republican agenda. Get an agreement in the North. The agreement reforms the political institutions to the benefit of Catholics. Their hostility to the Northern state which spawned and nourished the Provisionals fades. Support for the republican alternative morphs into support for SDLP-style Provisionalism. As support for Republicanism fades, Unionist hostility to Catholic and ‘Nationalist’ politics fades. Extreme Unionism begins to disappear. As extreme Unionism fades so the last vestiges of Provisional-style hostility to the Northern state disappears. Northern Ireland is reformed and stable. The Provisonals become indistinguishable from the old SDLP. Provisionals join a coalition government in the South with Fianna Fail. They start to like the trappings of power and the personal prosperity that comes with it. Increasingly their republicanism, like that of Fianna Fail, becomes rhetorical only. Eventually they merge with Fianna Fail and become indistinguishable from them. The Provisionals have become entirely constitutional on both sides of the Border. The North is stable, Unionists learn to live with Catholics, Provisional-SDLP party accommodates itself to status quo. End of story. No need for discussion. Bye-bye.

  • C-X

    “Nobody’s going to give us a united Ireland. We’re going to have to take it.”

    Hitler said the same thing about the Rhine.

    Northern Ireland is a Home Nation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Yes to co-operation, yes to cross-border initiatives that will benefit each side.

    But no to a party whose premier political objective is to assimilate a nation against that nations will whether by gun or “diplomacy” or by the subtle brain-washing or “greening” of that country.

    A shared future, yes, but not a united one.

  • ben

    Ireland used to be a Home Nation of “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”. Times change. Borders change.

  • Rory

    I do believe that the overwhelming majority of people in Ireland accept that there can be no unity without consent. Certainly PSF acknowledges that as a given reality and CSF, with its Dail Uladh proposal, implicitly accepts it though it cannot seem to make the leap consequent upon that principled acceptance.

    Further I believe that in Ireland it is universally accepted that any form of forced unity without consent would be a madness that would only inflict further division and bloodshed upon the whole country.

    It is in recognition of this that Sinn Fein has shown immense development of political character and an almost sacrificial willingness, given the historical antecedents, to surrender the politics of posture for the hard grind of reality, conviction and openly argued persuasion.

    It would be trite to say that the nationalist people of the north of Ireland are fortunate to have such a leadership at this time since it is more the case that the combined experience of the nationalist condition in the north has rather thrown up the leadership that was necessary when the politically opportune time arose.

    Sieze the day.

  • ingram

    If we are to judge the Sinn Fein/IRA movement upon the advancement of the Republican goal of a United Ireland over the last thirty years then this period has been an utter abject failure.

    The Republican cause was holed and the ship sunk when Sinn Fein/IRA negotiated the relinquishment of articles 2&3 of the Irish constitution.That is not and never will be Irish Republicanism.

    During the Adams /McGuinness leadership period since the mid eighties the only thing really advanced has been the personal wealth of the leadership and the death tally of many fine loyal volunteers many as a result of collusion.The sight of Adams/McGuinness/ Kelly all defending Freddy Scap whilst knowing he was an Agent of the British state was a powerful message.

    During the Adams/McGuinness period. Name one serious real tout exposed by Republicans? that is what defeated the IRA and brought this conflict to a position were the IRA leadership negotiated the following primary changes during the Adams/McGuinness leadership period.

    1. Abstensionism.

    2. Decommissioning all IRA arms and munitions.

    3. IRA defeat ( ask an IRA vol)

    4. Negotiate to remove articles 2&3 from the Irish constitution.

    5. Recognise the right of Northern Ireland to exist and to acknowledge the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the UK.

    6. To recognise the PSNI and to agree to in Sinn Fein`s own words to quote secure policing with the community as the core function of the PSNI and actively encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully with the police services in tackling crime in all areas and actively supporting all the criminal justice institutions.unquote

    In other words to agree to and to encourage people to pass information about unlawful activity IRISH TERRORISM) TO THE POLICE.

    In relation to this point you made:

    Nobody’s going to give us a united Ireland. We’re going to have to take it.unquote

    That is so very true! if Republicans had joined this road twenty years ago like the SDLP urged them to do a re unified Ireland may have been in the viewfinder!sadly Republicans advised by Adams and McGuinness chose not to take the SDLP road prefering to bomb and kill all in the name of Irish Republicanism.Today most Republicans accept the movement was penetrated to its core, take a long hard look within your own community and see who prospered from this conflict and who did not.Only then will you move to a point free from British influence and a genuine prospect of convincing unionism of the merrits of a re unified Ireland.

    Regards

    Ingram

  • Joe Romhar

    if only MCT, if only. It fits the bill for pushing forward a constitutional nationalist agenda but hardly a republican one. The most useful point is its honesty in admitting the war was lost. After that frank discussion can take place. And this is as good a suggestion as anything else on what to do next. It is like the magical fly killer – consent is the fly that cannot be caught

  • kensei

    “Hitler said the same thing about the Rhine.”

    GODWIN’S MOTHER FUCKING LAW

    I swear, I will fucking headbutt the next person who mentions the Nazis.

    “Northern Ireland is a Home Nation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

    Which can change be plebiscite, if of course Scotland doesn’t do it first.

    “Yes to co-operation, yes to cross-border initiatives that will benefit each side.

    But no to a party whose premier political objective is to assimilate a nation against that nations will whether by gun or “diplomacy” or by the subtle brain-washing or “greening” of that country.”

    If a large section of said country votes for said party, there is absolutely squat you can do about it.

  • ingram

    Kensei,

    quote If a large section of said country votes for said party, there is absolutely squat you can do about it. unquote

    IF I win the pools this weekend I will be rich?

    A head butt might knock some sense it to you

    IF only.

    Ingram

  • Mick Fealty

    MCT,

    I have only mostly got questions I’m afraid.

    Is this a polemical argument for a new way forward, or is it what you think has been SF strategy between ceasefire and cessation of the armed campaign?

    Is it really possible for one party to forge a popular ‘national’ movement, especially in the Republic, where for instance as David McWilliams pointed out last night, the DUP’s economic policy is more in line with the norms of the Republic than Sinn Fein’s?

    This is a more serious question than it may seem at first. Once you join a competitive democratic race with others, rather than making ‘illegal occupation’ the cornerstone of your political philosophy you become just one of a number of options, rather than simply the primary opponent to British rule in NI. It’s clear what SF are selling Northern Irish nationalists, but not yet what it has to offer voters in the Republic.

    I have argued consistently over the last few years that SF will struggle to impress southern voters on purely oppositionalist politics. They should probably concentrate on becoming a coherent Social Democrat party, not least because that’s where the gap is in the Republic, and it’s likely to be a long term differentiator between them and the SDLP in NI.

    If our experience on Slugger is anything to go by the world stage is not really accessible any more to any of Northern Irish parties. Partly that’s to do with how long this process has taken, but the ‘romance’ with the US media ended on St Patrick’s Day 2005. The least that requires is a bedding down of devolution, to give you the chance of skilling up your team.

    It’s also not clear what you mean by ‘better handling’ of unionists and the British, nor how you would go about ‘forcing other parties to green themselves up’? Nor indeed, how both of those could be married to you last aim, “Reassure unionists as to life in a future Irish nation…”?

  • Garibaldy

    MCT’s account ignored a couple of major issues I think, which made unity less not more likely. The first was that in pursuit of expansion to areas where it had been electorally weak, like the Castle ward in North Belfast for instance, PSF exploited the marching issues to rachet up sectarian tension and confrontation, knowing that it would make younger voters especially more likely to vote for the more aggressive form of nationalism. Same reason the DUP promotes the politics of confrontation, and which the DUP it seems is having a greater difficulty moving from at this point in time. While successful electorally, the marching issue – or the way it was handled – has further radicalised and divided another generation in some areas where tension had reduced.

    The same applies to decommissioning, the second issue. It was this issue, and the media coverage it generated, that facilitated a great deal of PSF’s growth in the south. It was on the news agenda for the greater part of a decade, giving their spokespeople a public profile and access to the electorate that was otherwise impossible. Alas, it destroyed a great deal of unionist support for the agreement, helping to wreck the UUP. Which was of course listed by Mitchell McLaughlin as one of the Peace Process’ achievments.

    This makes using power sharing, cross-border instituions (which are extremely weak) etc to create a dynamic for unity much, much more unlikely given the increased suspicion that PSF has created in pursuit of party interest. Realistically, PSF’s strategy is to outbreed unionism, and enjoy the (decreasing) benefits of British subvention as far as possible in the interim.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    You can’t, and in any case that’s playing the man.

  • Garibaldy

    Mick,

    Very interesting analysis. I don’t think the PSF can oust Labour as the primary Social Democratic party, not least because Labour has organic ties to the trade unions that PSF simply do not. Never mind that several of their TD’s were clearly elected on nationalist not social democratic grounds.

    What you said also reminded me about the appointment of Martina Anderson as unionist engagement officer or whatever the term was. Haven’t heard a peep out of her or that agenda since the initial flurry. And Adams going to Ervine’s funeral doesn’t count.

  • brendan,belfast

    The problem with your assessment, MCT, is that while you seem to accept the redinition of republicanism and its ‘struggle’ you have not conceded that the nature of, and search for, a united Ireland has moved on too.

    You know where my united Ireland is? its in my head and my heart. I KNOW what nation i belong to, where my capital is, what culture i belong to etc etc. I am equally comfortable knowing that my cultural and political existence threatens no-one. i know that because i never carried a bomb or fired a bullet in pursuit of the united Ireland i aspire to.

    SF’s united Ireland is not one i want to be part of.

  • brendan,belfast

    You said “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, but it’s not as if there haven’t been strides taken”

    just out of interest, who is the ‘enemy’ you speak of?

  • slug

    And Brendan though I am a unionist I would not be that unhappy being part of YOUR united Ireland but I sure as heck don’t want to be part of Sinn Fein’s! If that makes sense.

  • mickhall

    Chris,

    So you are starting threads on slugger based on straight SF propaganda are you, no article or reference as to where the piece first appeared needed, this is the second time you have done this.

    Any one who runs with this particular thread should ask themselves who is pulling their chain.

  • brendan,belfast

    Calm down Mickhall – you seem to be saying that had the article appeared in An Phoblact or the A’Town News it would be a legitmate target for Slugger. but because it hasn’t it isn’t. Big deal. if someone wants to put their thoughts down and invite comment it isn’t a crime.

  • as David McWilliams pointed out last night, the DUP’s economic policy is more in line with the norms of the Republic than Sinn Fein’s?

    The DUP’s policy on Corporation Tax also puts it at odds with the British Government. It shows that there is a significant divergence of economic interests between Northern Ireland and Britain that ought to be an opportunity for nationalists.

  • hi

    mick hall
    you are quite right;
    i have been arguing for some time that mick fealty is really a wannabe shinner – the evidence is there is abundance, not least in the alacrity with which he removes any contribution which names army council members as being army council members – he does this allegedly for fear of libel but he allows libel on others to appear unrestrained! he is also infatuated with jim gibney…politically, of course

  • Chris Donnelly

    Firstly, I’m glad that MCT’s thoughts have generated some considered contributions on the thread. I thought it deserved consideration on its own, particularly in the light of the on-going debate between republicans about the way forward.

    The strength of MCT’s line of argument is that it succinctly charts the path of republicans in the past fifteen years.

    On the back of Garibaldy and Mick Fealty’s observations, I have a number of thoughts of my own.

    Garibaldy’s line on the Marching issue fails to consider the natural hostility from within the nationalist community towards loyalist parades which, as I have pointed out before, long predates the existence of Sinn Fein.

    Sinn Fein has actually provided quite a measured and mature leadership from within the nationalist community over the marching issue, leading nationalists to move beyond simply reacting to the endless goading of too many within the loyalist marching fraternity.

    Mick correctly observes that Sinn Fein’s economic policies in the 26 counties are at variance with those of the governing parties. Whilst an interesting and accurate observation, such a stance is hardly paradoxical to the pursuit of Irish unity; indeed, some may argue that encouraging unionist parties to align with like-thinking parties in the 26 counties agin Sinn Fein only furthers the pursuit of Irish unity.

    As an aside, Tom Griffin correctly points out that the DUP are as far from the British government on tax policy as Sinn Fein from Fianna Fail.

    Whilst not speaking for MCT, I personally interpret the comment about compelling others to ‘green’ themselves up as meaning that an increasingly successful 32 county Sinn Fein organisation will compel other political parties in the 26 counties- and other opponents from within nationalism in the north- to re-evaluate their position on the National question, with the end result being the likelihood of competing political parties organised throughout the island and espousing nationalist/ republican policies.

    In this regard, there have already been a number of notable ‘successes.’ Witness the rapid abandonment of the SDLP’s ‘post-nationalist’ project and that party’s launch this week of an All-Ireland economic policy document (for a party dedicated to organising in only 6 of the 32 counties, that’s some achievement, but let’s not be churlish…)

    Similarly, Fianna Fail will soon be announcing their plans to contribute towards infrastructural projects in the 6 counties as part of their National Development Plan.

    The Labour Party and Fianna Fail are known to be tentatively sniffing out the potential for organising in the north at some stage in the future, beyond the tokenistic approaches already made in that regard.

    All of which illustrates that you don’t have to be the largest political party in Ireland- or indeed any other country- to effect a shift in the political mainstream- just look at the success of the various Green moevements across Europe since the 1980s in compelling mainstream parties to embrace their policies.

    Republicans are first and foremost about striving to attain the objective or Irish reunification. That message alone, however, will not cut it in the 26 counties, nor will it likely be enough in a post- revived devolution scenario, where day to day politics will increasingly preoccupy the minds of voters and political leaders alike.

    Consequently, the challenge- and a formidable one at that- for republicans will be to provide political leadership that marries the twin objectives of effecting change and providing good governance through political institutions, north and south, whilst striving to develop a dynamic leading to unity through expanding the appeal of the republican message.

    A daunting task, no doubt, but the remarkable success of the republican leadership in the past 15 years- in moving republicanism from the fringes to the mainstream of Irish politics; in bringing the farthest reaches of unionism to the brink of an historic deal that would see Ian Paisley embrace (unwilling or not) Martin McGuinness as an equal partner in government; and in achieving all of this with only minimal ruptures within the nationalist/ republican community – indicates that republicans are up for the task ahead.

  • Thomas from Texas

    As an unbiased observer, but with a deep interest in Ireland. I can say that it’s not over, though most Irish people want nothing to do with the political quandary they have learned to live with. It’s really none of my business, and I have no stake in it, but I would like to say that the Republic only has to stay the economic course it is currently on, and perhaps someday the standard of living will fight, and win, this heart-breaking contention.

  • Garibaldy

    Chris,

    Marching of course provokes hostility, otherwise it would never have become the issue it did. And in recent years PSF (and in fact loyalists) have mostly acted responsibly in trying to minimise trouble. The problem is that both sides behaved extremely irresponsibly in the initial years when marching became the major issue. That has left a bitter legacy on both sides, and one that will last for a long time.

    As for driving the agenda in the south. I think Chris is totally right to say that a smaller party can drive a larger agenda in the south. Both the PDs and The WP did it at opposite ends of the political spectrum in the 1980s, although there was no alternative in the Dáil in the 1990s. I don’t think that either the Greens or PSF has provided an effective alternative vision that is pushing the other parties to address social and economic concerns of the working class, and I don’t think either will do so, due to ideological, organisational or vote-chasing concerns.

    As for the greening of the south. I think that this can be overexaggerated, but it is clearly taking place to some extent. The 1916 parade was the clearest indication of this but I think it is a lot more complicated than PSF driving others through fear of being outflanked, though this is a factor.

    The traditional loci of Irish identity have broken down in the last several decades – isolationism/self-reliance went with entrance to the EEC and the link with Catholicism has gone since about 1992. A new form of Irishness is needed, particularly with the changes in the economy, and the confidence that has brung. The natural place to find that was in history and politics. Hence the valorisation of the United Irishmen in the 1990s by Ahern’s Government and now 1916. So I’m not sure it is a greening so much as a desire to rework the self-image of Irish people to believe they are a confident, progressive, modern and democratic people, open to the future. This has not, despite some exceptions, taken the form of xenophobia at a time when 10% or whatever of Dublin is foreign-born. So in that sense I think greening is the wrong word. Rather this is about claiming to be a liberal democratic and modern state and society whose antecedents are found in radical from the past.

  • kensei

    “You can’t, and in any case that’s playing the man.”

    No. What I can do, is spend some time with greasemonkey and filter out some choice stuff – Hitler, treason, ingram that will keep me sane.

    “While successful electorally, the marching issue – or the way it was handled – has further radicalised and divided another generation in some areas where tension had reduced.”

    I don’t think this impacts on unity. Any tension on parades meanly tapped into deep resentments that were already there. Having those just under the surface, bubbling under in private is much more damaging than having it out in the open, where it can be dealt with. In the long run it will be, and the outcome will have to include the OO reforming along with more Nationalist acceptance of the organisation.

    “The same applies to decommissioning, the second issue. It was this issue, and the media coverage it generated, that facilitated a great deal of PSF’s growth in the south. It was on the news agenda for the greater part of a decade, giving their spokespeople a public profile and access to the electorate that was otherwise impossible. Alas, it destroyed a great deal of unionist support for the agreement, helping to wreck the UUP.”

    Again, I don’t believe this is a negative either and excuse me if I don’t weep for the UUP. The DUP would have always had success in attacking the UUP even if the IRA had decommissioned faster (and remember, SF had to manage its own supporters expectations, so it was not entirely a case of “Fuck David”) – not enough decommissioning, don’t believe it happened, support the police etc etc. And the UUP was never entirely comfortable supporting the process. In the end, a deal that will stick can’t have a significant right wing attacking it all the time.

    In terms of Unity though, the ascendancy of the DUP will lead to a lot more people filling the garden centres and a lot more people disillusioned with Northern politics in the long run. I don’t think any of the Northern Nationalist parties could reach those people, but the Southern ones talking about real issues and real benefits might.

    “Which was of course listed by Mitchell McLaughlin as one of the Peace Process’ achievments.”

    Oh FFS.

    “This makes using power sharing, cross-border instituions (which are extremely weak) etc to create a dynamic for unity much, much more unlikely given the increased suspicion that PSF has created in pursuit of party interest.”

    The institutions are there and retain the same powers as before, if not more. As long as they remain and function, the potential remains. I don’t believe Unionism was particuarly keen on them in 1998 and tried to undermine them as much. It’s a long game.

    “Realistically, PSF’s strategy is to outbreed unionism, and enjoy the (decreasing) benefits of British subvention as far as possible in the interim.”

    Don’t buy it. SF will be proactive on the National Question and keep the SDLP honest. If it gains some influence in the South it can push parties reliant on its support to take the North more seriously. In fact, even moderate success will push more parties to organise on a 32 county basis. You are also assuming that SF’s strategy will remain static over the next number of years. If that happens it will be superceded by other parties.

    However, if you are talking in terms of reaching Unionism, SF are going to find it impossible for at least a generation because of the history. And that would be a generatin of hard work. They can however remove some of the causes of division, some of the fear of a United Ireland, and indeed themselves. They can probably help create some space for others to reach out to Unionism.

  • Crataegus

    This is made to sound like an obsession and my initial reaction was get a life. A good stroll by the sea would clear the head.

    I don’t care a sod if Ireland is united or if it is not. There is an assumption that one form of National identity will of necessity be better than another. It is based on a perception of us and them. We can decide our own future; good or bad, mentality assumes a them, an alien group. But in the area in question there is a reverse perception.

    To me if we were all a hell of a lot more pragmatic we would all make stride towards all our goals, for it is difficult to move out of this impasse without a reservoir of trust in each other and currently there is no trust and we have set up a system that rewards divisive politics.

    Most people in NI want to see good schools, healthcare, care for the elderly etc. Most people want to have more local say over their life and let us face it Dublin can be every bit as distant to its regions as London. Most people would welcome cooperation on cross border projects that benefit us all be it transport, tourism, economic regeneration, power grids, telecommunications etc. provided the Muppets of NI politics stop playing stupid political games with things that should happen as a matter of course between two neighbouring friendly nations. Of course there should be better cooperation on this island that is not a nationalist or republican agenda it is just common sense. So please stop claiming it as part of a Republican agenda it is an agenda for the betterment of all and need not lead one way or the other. However once you put the caveat that it is part of a greater plan then progress is mired in distrust. Your actions then become self defeating.

    Mick.

    Like yourself I cannot see SF advance in the south beyond a narrow niche and I would also agree with Garibaldy that they are unlikely to replace Labour. In the North they are also vulnerable to being outflanked by a party, say the SDLP, who do form an Alliance with a major southern party, or a party that has the potential for wider appeal and does not have the historic baggage of SF. By that means they could leap frog past SF. In time SF may be seen as a cul de sac and in the end we also need to ask do we want to be represented by a mentality that is willing to murder to gain a political aspiration. That is a consideration in many minds, I personally will not vote for anyone who so associated. My view is that SF is probably on balance a hindrance to national unity. Mind you the DUP and the UUP make Unionism an abhorrent perversion. Ni seems to be that sort of place.

  • Eimear

    “Sinn Fein has actually provided quite a measured and mature leadership from within the nationalist community over the marching issue,”

    This assertion is obviously incorrect. PSF have been turning the marching season violence on and off like a tap. Nationalist yourth are totally confused as to when they have permission to riot. It seems to depend on the whim of PSF.

    I think we are seeing the start of the end for the PSF political project. Already in the south they have slipped from 12% to 7% in openion polls.
    Do not write off the SDLP vote in the next election as a lot of votes “loaned” to PSF return home.

  • Nevin

    2016 is looming, the extremists are in the ascendant and the Unionist-Nationalist gap has narrowed. Can we expect socialists, armchair and militant, to do a re-run of their attempted revolution of 40 years ago?

  • Crataegus

    Nevin

    Can we expect socialists, armchair and militant, to do a re-run of their attempted revolution of 40 years ago?

    It was a dismal failure, and only a lunatic would go down that path again. Innocent people pointlessly murdered, homes and businesses destroyed and for what! What exactly was gained?

    War by its nature is chaos and in chaos anything can happen. No war or battle is a foregone conclusion. The way forward is to use your brains and build trust, do that and there may well be a united Ireland in your life time. Don’t do it and risk utter misery. There is no contest really.

  • slug

    One of the depressing things here is that the person who is being quoted by Chris Donnelly uses a sectarian name (MCT).

  • Nevin

    Crataegus, the socialist strategy required the combination of the Protestant and Catholic working classes to sweep away the conservative administrations in Belfast and Dublin? Surely the history of communal confrontation here any time the constitutional question is posed should have demonstrated that the possibility of such an event was pretty low.

  • Simon

    I just can’t get past the massive problem of trying to convince several hundred thousand Unionists to join a united Ireland. Speaking as a moderate secular Unionist, I like being part of the UK and I haven’t heard anything to convince me otherwise.

  • slug

    Simon

    Thats why we don’t hear anything about a referendum in the above 🙂

  • BonarLaw

    Simon

    “Thats why we don’t hear anything about a referendum in the above”

    but lots about “battle plans” and the “enemy” and “handling” unionists.

    Talk about bad losers 🙂

  • dalek

    slug

    I think there may be a certain amount of irony in the moniker adopted by MCT

    I agree with a lot of what he says btw

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Demonstrate better handling of the UnionistsQ” MCT- ah yes, so slips the mask. No attempt to engage with the obstacle, just a way to sideline ie. And thus the flaw in republican strategy- talk at us, not to us.

    As we Ulster Scots say- Nemo me impune lacessit!

  • kensei

    “I just can’t get past the massive problem of trying to convince several hundred thousand Unionists to join a united Ireland. Speaking as a moderate secular Unionist, I like being part of the UK and I haven’t heard anything to convince me otherwise.”

    No one has really tried yet and no one has really asked you what you want out of it yet. Why should this be a surprise?

    “”Demonstrate better handling of the UnionistsQ” MCT- ah yes, so slips the mask. No attempt to engage with the obstacle, just a way to sideline ie. And thus the flaw in republican strategy- talk at us, not to us.”

    Terminally, incredibly weak darth. That is a broad statement. I’m sure next time he’ll hire a lawyer so it sounds exactly ok to you.

  • Middle Class Taig,

    As a unionist, I’d like to applaud you. I hope plenty of nationalists take your advice, because it’s the road to nowhere for you. Nothing gets up unionist noses more than that sort of tripe. Even Jade Goody could come up with something more original.

    The only kind of nationalist that I’d fear is someone who contributed to a thread yonks ago and whose name I’ve long since forgotten. But I remember both Darth and myself saying that the most dangerous nationalist is someone who is so demonstrably reasonable, moderate and post-tribal that unionists would feel it was bad manners to turn down his wooing. (Do you remember him, Darth?)

    Keep enjoying the Jimmy Kelly and Brian Feeney columns, MCT. Suits us just fine.

  • BonarLaw

    Kensei

    why do you think Unionists want anything “out of” a united Ireland?

    Don’t you understand that we just want to opt out of it?

    We have said no yet you try to press home your aspiration. In other circumstances that could get you in front of a jury.

    BTW what do Nationalists want out of the United Kingdom?

  • Mick Fealty

    On a point of information, here’s a fuller version of that full post-nationalist quote from John Hume:

    “When people are divided as we were in Ireland, they cannot be brought together by guns and bombs. That only deepens the divisions. The history of conflict resolution in Europe is based on three principles: respect for difference, creation of institutions that respect difference, and a healing process based on working together for our common interests. The essense of unity is respect for diversity,” he said.

    In answering questions about whether his principles might also apply to the conflicts in the Middle East and between Al Qaeda and the United States, he drew from his experience in Ireland and Europe in listing peaceful dialogue, inclusive partnership and economic opportunity as essential.

    He focused on “real politics”–housing, education and jobs–as necessary to building viable communities. He also reminded the audience that Americans already possess the first principle of conflict resolution. “It’s in your pocket, if you have a coin. ‘E pluribus unum’–out of many, one–is the way,” he said.

    “The era of the city-state has ended. We’re living in a post-nationalist world of interdependent people. Human beings are the only wealth we really have. Keep developing your talents as fully as possible. The time for a peaceful world has arrived,”

    To some extent, this highlights the problem of developing an integrated political project across the border. All parties in the Republic are innately Republican, because they operate in the context of a Republic. They are also, to a large extent bought into the post Nationalist interdependent paradigm of the European/US trading block.

    The weakness in the SDLP project is less that it’s leaders recognise this shift in context, but that they have thus far failed to produce a coherent nationalist (small ‘n’) vision of the kind Watchman fears – and of the type most likely, in the end, to effect unification.

    Taking things at face value, there is no kind of charm offensive on the go. Recently Jim Gibney echoed Mitchel’s fingering of the whole unionist community as the problem, rather than it’s politics:

    …this particular brand of unionism is not new. David Trimble expressed and faced the same dilemma.

    It has a resonance stretching back over four centuries to the Protestant plantation of Ireland.

    These centuries were dominated by a power struggle between the minority Protestant and unionists who held Ireland for the British crown and the majority nationalist and Catholics who seek Irish independence.

    There were of course many Protestants who were nationalist and republican. Irish republicanism owes its origins to those from a Protestant background.

    Over the centuries it was the power elite within Protestantism and unionism who had their power slowly wrested from them by struggling nationalists to the point where the DUP now see themselves as the last unionist redoubt.

    The unionist population invested in Ian Paisley in the hope that he would fare better than Trimble at containing nationalist expectations as expressed in its support for Sinn Féin.

    They hoped that Ian Paisley’s leadership would undermine and dampen the nationalist community’s confidence.

    There is nothing wrong with such an expression of Catholic nationalist antipathy towards unionism (and Unionists). Democratic politics is supposed to be combative, and highly competitive. But read against two important trends in the 2001 census, the slowing of the Catholic birth rate and the dramatic rise of ‘others’, such an overtly ad hominem approach is unlikely to yield the party’s desired outcome of a unified island.

    To that extent (as others have noted), MCT’s advocacy of SF’s ‘better handling’ of Unionists, whilst reassuring them of their place in a United Ireland appears more a contradiction than a paradox.

  • Wilde Rover

    I have always thought this vague love bombing idea to be a bit like telling your mates how you’re going to get the knickers off a girl while she is standing in the room.

    The Republic and Northern Ireland are two regions of the EU sharing a border. As a southerner I think it makes economic sense to introduce all-island systems to reduce the effects of living on the periphery of Europe.

    These kinds of pipe dreams only serve to wind up unionists and hinder the introduction of much needed reforms that will save money and reduce hassle.

    It’s far more important to be good neighbours than to be planning shotgun weddings.

  • parcifal

    The watchman,
    One of my pre-occupations is exactly that
    Unionism: To wit or to woo?
    Cunningham on ATW is of the same mind.
    We’re looking for a marriage;
    And how do you woo a reluctant bride?
    Through charm and making her laugh 😉

  • BonarLaw

    parcifal

    the potential bride (nothing is inevitable) is not reluctant she has said she isn’t interested.

    Over and over and over again.

    Why won’t you respect her decision and leave her alone? Or is form of harassment how Irish nationalism defines itself?

  • parcifal

    BonarLaw,
    you’re not speaking for anyone other than yourself, and neither am I.
    Unionists regularly here like the watchman say:

    But I remember both Darth and myself saying that the most dangerous nationalist is someone who is so demonstrably reasonable, moderate and post-tribal that unionists would feel it was bad manners to turn down his wooing. (Do you remember him, Darth?)
    might have been spirit-level

  • Nevin

    “The essense of unity is respect for diversity,” he said.”

    “p84 … reinforcing the identity of one section of the community while ignoring the other was coercion of the other. it begot alienation. alienation begot violence. violence begot repression” … Hume, “Personal Views”

    Sadly, Hume never bothered to practise what he preached; his 3-strand analysis of our politics managed to leave out the Unionist aspiration, NI’s membership of the UK. In Hume’s world, Unionists are merely a tradition on the island of Ireland.

  • BP1078

    the DUP will lead to a lot more people filling the garden centres and a lot more people disillusioned with Northern politics in the long run. I don’t think any of the Northern Nationalist parties could reach those people, but the Southern ones talking about real issues and real benefits might.

    Not sure why a *Southern* party would be any more successful at introducing “real” politics into NI.

    The reason that people find more fulfillment in the garden centre and golf-clubs than at the polling boothes is, yes, they are no longer interested in the sectarian nil-sum game nature of N.Irish politics. They are, I guess, not particularly bothered also about the constitutional status of the place that they live in, otherwise they would be voting at every election for the SDLP or SF. That fact certainly doesn’t make them Unionists, simply people content with what they’ve got, unwilling to rock the economic and social boat.

    To change that mindset, they (roughly 35% of the electorate) have to be shown exactly why its in their interest to vote for a change which will inevitably knock them out of their present comfortable complacency. The “Four Fields”, a “Nation Once Again” ploy ain’t going to work….

    The truth is that while there are undoubtedly economic merits to a UI, they are simply not overwhelming enough to persuade people to change the status quo and the promise of a more stable, non sectarian society in the 6 NE counties of Ulster is simply that, only a promise.

    The more probable and palatable (for the “don’t cares”) scenario is, in event of a NI Assembly up and working the way it should, then a more prosperous and comfortable NI evolving, one which is able to take advantage of its links with both the rest of the Uk and Dublin. If nothing else, it would save all that tedious hassle of having to changa bank accounts and mortages…

    But until the apathetic third of the population are convinced in your economic/social case for a UI, then you are wasting your time even thinking about trying to win over your “enemy” as MCT calls us.

  • BonarLaw

    parcifal

    dream on.

    Nationalist self delusion is an ongoing source of comfort and amusement for this unionist.

  • parcifal

    no worries bonarlaw, its a challenge to see if I can change your mindset,
    gracefully and without harrasment.
    the chill pill anyone?

    You sounded a little uptight earlier
    Over and over and over again.

    Glad to see you’ve returned to your normal happy relaxed self;
    that’s attractive
    for who can be turned on by a sour old puss eh 😉

  • Pragmatist

    I believe there’s a fundmental misunderstanding in some nationalists’ thinking. Making progress from here on in depends on ‘Unity’ of thinking from all sides. Some have taken this to mean that we all want to be ‘United’ within a Sinn Fein vision of Ireland.

    Some of their leaders should have made it clear that there is not going to be a united Ireland, at least in the sense that republicans have been seeking.

    The best we can all hope for is peaceful tolerance of the 2 entities for the present, and then it’s up to everyone to peacefully persuade those in Northern Ireland to opt to join the rest of the island.

    It’s all there to play for as the Ireland of today is very different than the one the IRA started trying to force unionists into 37 years ago.

  • kensei

    “why do you think Unionists want anything “out of” a united Ireland?

    Don’t you understand that we just want to opt out of it?”

    I accept that there are people for whom it will never be an option. But I suspect Unionism is more of a collection of people who support the Union for subtly different reasons than one homogeneous family. Certainly there are a lot of people with deep ties and links to Britain. But I think that there is fear that a United Ireland would mean the end of their culture and way of life. For some I think it is more an Ulster Protestant thing than a “British” thing. I think for some it economic considerations would play a big part. Unionists on here keep telling me they are Irish too, so there is at least some common ground.

    So I believe that there is a percentage of swing voters there, and trying to find out what they think and what they would like to see is an important step to creating a state that could offer the possibility of reunification. I don’t presume to know what is they want. And yes, this argument is perfectly symmetrical with respect to Nationalism. I simply believe that the case for Uniting with the rest of the country has a stronger case.

    “We have said no yet you try to press home your aspiration. In other circumstances that could get you in front of a jury.”

    The wonderful thing about politics is that you have to constantly refresh your mandate, and the same policies may be reject once and accepted later, or vice versa.

    “BTW what do Nationalists want out of the United Kingdom?”

    I can only talk for myself, but to make it so that a UI would be a hard choice? End of Monarchy and the ridiculous titles, Federalism, no entanglements in places where the country shouldn’t be. But then, I have some fairly severe problems with the UK at a fundamental level.

    BP

    “Not sure why a *Southern* party would be any more successful at introducing “real” politics into NI.”

    What i meant was they would be able to make a pitch based on real politics and be credible in a way none of the Northern parties can. Even ignoring their success, they’ve had more practice at it.

    And if hypothetically a Southern Party organised up here and won seats, they could probably cut less divisive figures than SF.

    “To change that mindset, they (roughly 35% of the electorate) have to be shown exactly why its in their interest to vote for a change which will inevitably knock them out of their present comfortable complacency. The “Four Fields”, a “Nation Once Again” ploy ain’t going to work….”

    I fully agree. There is a role for that type of Nationalism but it is mostly in playing to Nationalists. To change minds requires something different.

    “The truth is that while there are undoubtedly economic merits to a UI, they are simply not overwhelming enough to persuade people to change the status quo and the promise of a more stable, non sectarian society in the 6 NE counties of Ulster is simply that, only a promise.”

    I would argue the economic benefits ARE overwhelming and will become more so; and there are lots of reasons the UK government is introducing like ID Cards and ever more draconian laws, and in relation to this Constitutional Democracies will always be better at protecting rights.

    “The more probable and palatable (for the “don’t cares”) scenario is, in event of a NI Assembly up and working the way it should, then a more prosperous and comfortable NI evolving, one which is able to take advantage of its links with both the rest of the Uk and Dublin. If nothing else, it would save all that tedious hassle of having to changa bank accounts and mortages…”

    Or, some of their relatives might move there to work, be successful and like it and with more N-S cooperation it might make more sense. Interest rates might be lower and more stable in the Euro and they might be switching their mortgage every couple of years to get the best rate anyway. Any number of things could happen. It is up to Republicans to make the case, but the point is that there are potential opportunities that simply didn’t exist in the past.

    “But until the apathetic third of the population are convinced in your economic/social case for a UI, then you are wasting your time even thinking about trying to win over your “enemy” as MCT calls us.”

    The same case that should speak to the “apathetic” third also has a role in convincing Unionism. And a multi pronged approach is necessary. Even if I could not convince Unionism, it would be important they had no fear of a UI in the event of it happening.

  • BonarLaw

    kensei

    “The wonderful thing about politics is that you have to constantly refresh your mandate, and the same policies may be reject once and accepted later, or vice versa.”

    So should NI ever vote itself into a united Ireland we would be free to opt out at a future date?

    “I can only talk for myself, but to make it so that a UI would be a hard choice? End of Monarchy and the ridiculous titles, Federalism, no entanglements in places where the country shouldn’t be. But then, I have some fairly severe problems with the UK at a fundamental level”

    ie that you are as British as I am Irish?

    parcifal

    thanks for the concern- red wine time 🙂

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    I’m surprised, since you’ve been posting here for so long, that you still refer to Unionists in the third person, as though somehow they weren’t in the ‘same room’ with you.

  • Wilde Rover:

    “I have always thought this vague love bombing idea to be a bit like telling your mates how you’re going to get the knickers off a girl while she is standing in the room.”

    Very eloquent.

    Parcifal:

    Was indeed Mr Spirit Level.

  • BonarLaw

    kensei

    second wind (second bottle)

    1) “ridiculous titles”- taoiseach, tanaiste?
    2) “no entanglements in places where the country shouldn’t be”- like a territorial aspiration on a region of a neighbouring EU state?

  • parcifal

    The Watchman,
    nice one, spirit-level is my best mate, and is due to make a comeback March 27th, if all goes well with the Assembly. I shall pass on your best wishes.

    BonarLaw.
    Now we all hope you’re a happy drunk, and you won’t turn nasty later. If you feel the rage coming on I’m sure “Best of the Dubliners” would be a good choice to ensure a smoothe evening 😉

  • BonarLaw

    parcifal

    it’s always a smoothe evening chez BonarLaw.

    War is won, Union secure- no prospect of “the rage” but I might try the Dubliners later. Would that be “World Music”?

    Bottle the third beckons.

    Night all.

  • Benn

    Is it possible for the future to hold complete satisfaction for Republicans and/or Unionists? It seems likely that the best outcome is to wean a majority on both sides away from a zero-sum dynamic, thus allowing for a significant measure of accomodation. That comes, of course, at the cost of someone’s or everyone’s zero-sum principles. When rights and needs clash, which get sacrificed? For many in the north, it seems, their needs have suffered on account of their rights (realised or in the breach).

    At the risk of distracting everyone and attracting some to a rant we don’t need to hear in this thread, let me raise the Palestinians as a comparison. When they lost their land back in 1948 they promptly began to construct a fantasy of the “paradise” that had been taken from them. Their leadership and their public intellectuals promoted this idyllic notion, and promised it to them for the future, “get rid of the Jews, and you get paradise again.” But it never was paradise, and when the Palestinians get whatever independence they get, it won’t be paradise. Meanwhile the people suffer on, looking toward a future that has to be far short of their fantasy.

    So that’s where the tension is between SF and the dissidents (and on the Unionist side as well, though not of course in identical ways). How do you determine how far short of the fantasy is enough? How do you wean your people from the visions that have been given to them as promises, but that can’t be delivered? As part of the UK the north gets screwed in some ways, as part of UI the north gets screwed in some ways. The ballot box will allow people to pick a path, to some extent, but only the future will allow for an evaluation of where the line between fantasy and reality currently lies.

    Ben(n)

  • kensei

    “I’m surprised, since you’ve been posting here for so long, that you still refer to Unionists in the third person, as though somehow they weren’t in the ‘same room’ with you.”

    They aren’t. This isn’t a face-to-face thing and I don’t know anyone here. “You” to me always sounds pointed and over familiar in the context of online debate and especially when you are talking in generalities to individuals. It’s a minefield anyway.

    “second wind (second bottle)

    1) “ridiculous titles”- taoiseach, tanaiste?”

    No, that is merely Irish for very simple titles conferred by democratic vote. No one is called “Lord” or “Sir” or “You Highness” or anything like that. Titles of nobility are prohibited by the constitution. I’m surprised you’d even make that comment. I thought we were at least past cheap points at this juncture.

    “2) “no entanglements in places where the country shouldn’t be”- like a territorial aspiration on a region of a neighbouring EU state?”

    Wow, I’m talking through a time warp to 1998. And let’s not play games as we both know the history and complications perfectly well; Ireland claimed but never acted on it. I was thinking more like Iraq over which no one had any territorial claim over anyone else but still Britain and the US bombed the shit out of it.

  • BP1078

    I would argue the economic benefits ARE overwhelming and will become more so; and there are lots of reasons the UK government is introducing like ID Cards and ever more draconian laws, and in relation to this Constitutional Democracies will always be better at protecting rights.

    If they were overwhelming, then the pressure from the apathetic middle-class/business sector would also be forcing the issue a lot more than it is at the present. In the EU of 2007 borders, from a business point of view, have, to all intents and purposes, disappeared anyway. Removing the Irish border politically would create uncertainty and one thing business types don’t like is uncertainty…

    The point about the Id card is valid, but do you think the Irish government or political elite is any more of a believer in open,transparent government and liberal democracy than the British one?

    Or, some of their relatives might move there to work, be successful and like it and with more N-S cooperation it might make more sense.

    That already happens, hell, I’ve even made money down South, I can’t see how Irish Unity would improve my chances any more.

    Interest rates might be lower and more stable in the Euro and they might be switching their mortgage every couple of years to get the best rate anyway.

    They might be, they might not be, it’s that uncertainty again…Better the econ. devil you know?

    Any number of things could happen. It is up to Republicans to make the case, but the point is that there are potential opportunities that simply didn’t exist in the past.

    The point is that the *game* is moving on a lot faster than either of the two political sides realise. Too(?!) many people simply no longer care if they are technically a part of the Uk or the ROI. Neither Unionism nor Irish nationalism can any longer rely on *community background* to win the day. Inertia or apathy means the Union remains and at the minute that’s what we’ve got, Unionism, despite the best efforts of the UUP and DUP, is winning.

    Even if I could not convince Unionism, it would be important they had no fear of a UI in the event of it happening

    Yes, I suppose that was my central point, the economic argument will win over the apathetic third. That technically is enough for the United Ireland. A United Ireland that will work however will not be secured solely by economic reasons.

    MCT’s piece however addressed neither issue.

  • Garibaldy

    Kensei,

    I’ll go into a detailed response when the debate has moved so far on. We agree it’ll be a long time before any uinited Ireland. I don’t think that means that saying it’ll be ages anyway, may as well get our hatreds out in the open is a good approach. I wouldn’t expect nationalists to weep for the UUP, any more than I would. I am just saying that the whole process could have been handled very differently. As for Adams and his difficulties, clearly there were some but I’d say that the last decade plus has proven that at every stage they were greatly exaggerated. I note the interview quited on another thread where he says no major split is likely etc.

    Things could have been handled much differently in a way that would have lessened not heightened division. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable statement.

  • kensei

    “If they were overwhelming, then the pressure from the apathetic middle-class/business sector would also be forcing the issue a lot more than it is at the present. In the EU of 2007 borders, from a business point of view, have, to all intents and purposes, disappeared anyway. Removing the Irish border politically would create uncertainty and one thing business types don’t like is uncertainty…”

    The Business Types are still trying to realise the pipe dream of different corporate tax here; business people can also have political beliefs too. The gap with the Republic is likely to continue growing and I’ve already heard voices on places like Let’s Talk stating the Republic should take over to sort the whole thing out. You have some point about uncertainty though; really there needs to be some coherent plan and figures in place.

    “The point about the Id card is valid, but do you think the Irish government or political elite is any more of a believer in open,transparent government and liberal democracy than the British one?”

    Yes. Or rather, I believe the Irish Constitution or indeed, the Constitution of an All Ireland state forms a more effective barrier to the extremes of authoritarianism. Moreover, the Republic has no pretensions to be a World Power or have “influence” and the like which makes it less susceptible to this sort of thing. Moreover, in an All Ireland State, we’d have much more say in the matter than at present.

    “The point is that the *game* is moving on a lot faster than either of the two political sides realise. Too(?!) many people simply no longer care if they are technically a part of the Uk or the ROI. Neither Unionism nor Irish nationalism can any longer rely on *community background* to win the day. Inertia or apathy means the Union remains and at the minute that’s what we’ve got, Unionism, despite the best efforts of the UUP and DUP, is winning.”

    No, it isn’t. This place is still very divided and we shouldn’t forget it – it may come down to the people who vote. If Irish Nationalism did nothing, then yes, apathy would probably tie up the Union. But it won’t do nothing, and if Unionism relies on apathy I’m glad, because it gives Nationalism a great advantage.

    The world is also a strange place. Scotland could split the Union apart before us and then it would be all fun and games.

    “Yes, I suppose that was my central point, the economic argument will win over the apathetic third. That technically is enough for the United Ireland. A United Ireland that will work however will not be secured solely by economic reasons.

    MCT’s piece however addressed neither issue.”

    Thankfully Nationalism is more than one person and I’m talking about different things.

  • kensei

    “I’ll go into a detailed response when the debate has moved so far on. We agree it’ll be a long time before any uinited Ireland.”

    I don’t know. It may take a long while, equally, there may be a perfect wave and it may hit a Tipping Point.

    “I don’t think that means that saying it’ll be ages anyway, may as well get our hatreds out in the open is a good approach.”

    The only way to move forwards is to get the problems out in the open, and then focus on specifically what we have beefs about rather than general hate of the Other. Anything else is bad.

    “I wouldn’t expect nationalists to weep for the UUP, any more than I would. I am just saying that the whole process could have been handled very differently.”

    There needed to be a phase where Nationalism made absolutely clear how opposed it is to parades going down, and to the OO while it retains certain characteristics. It takes two to Tango, and the OIO is just as guilty for “inflaming tensions” not just of it supporters, but by point blank refusing to talk to people. They are finally beginning to see some sense at least by opening up some. This is the point where progress can actually be made.

    “As for Adams and his difficulties, clearly there were some but I’d say that the last decade plus has proven that at every stage they were greatly exaggerated. I note the interview quited on another thread where he says no major split is likely etc.”

    It isn’t likely because they have carefully shifted the movement. Trying to get policing through in 1998 would have comprehensively split the movement. Decommissioning had to happen in steps and there had to be a feeling it was necessary for it not to do the same. You are looking at the results of good leadership and then saying “Well, they didn’t need to do any of that anyway”.

    “Things could have been handled much differently in a way that would have lessened not heightened division. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable statement.”

    I don’t think it could have. There is no other reasonable stance other than complete opposition to something as unacceptable as forcing marches down places where they are unwanted and are a form of intimidation by an organisation that is sectarian at heart. Always open to dialogue and an attempt at understanding and resolution but firm on the fundamentals.

  • Not for the taking

    1. Ireland is a small little statelet with a fledgling economy in International terms, which has delusions of grandeur way above its size.

    2. It is full of curruption at the top and way down through the ranks e.g Haughey and the questionable, at best, Ahern loans.

    3. Is is only due to Nationalism/Republicanism that anyone would want to hitch their wagon to Ireland when a much better partner is available, with much deeper pockets and better connections.

    4. The hatred of the British by Republicans becomes more intense the more British Ireland becomes. In another 10 years the differences between High Streets North, South or in GB will be indistinguishable and the number of Football fans travelling across the seas to Scotland and England every week will be more than those watching sport in Ireland on a Saturday.

    So the rhetoric about perusading people, who are both Catholic and Protestant,or taking a United Ireland is aspirational cover for the reality that the North will be British for the next 2 or 3 generations at least – 2016 is a very sick joke that is causing the problems here when EVERYONE knows it will not happen.

  • kensei

    “1. Ireland is a small little statelet with a fledgling economy in International terms, which has delusions of grandeur way above its size.”

    It’s a State, dear. You’ll find it has all the functions of such and there are many States smaller.
    In terms of grandeur, it looks to me it just hopes to get as best quality of life for its citizens as possible. It certainly does have any pretensions to being a “Power” or invaded other countries or the like.

    “2. It is full of curruption at the top and way down through the ranks e.g Haughey and the questionable, at best, Ahern loans.”

    I agree. There has been too much corruption in the past and I would hope that preventing it in the future would be one of the key tasks of any new settlement.
    But seriously now, you aren’t putting up the UK as some bastion of fair play, are you? I’d tell you to look at the recent past, but you don’t need to. Just look at the headlines.

    “3. Is is only due to Nationalism/Republicanism that anyone would want to hitch their wagon to Ireland when a much better partner is available, with much deeper pockets and better connections.”

    You don’t get it. Aside from the cultural and emotional links, we aren’t “hitching our wagon” for economic dependence. We are hitching our wagon for INDEPENDENCE. We don’t want subsidy. We want to be part of a successful and growing economy, with the jobs and opportunities that brings.

    “4. The hatred of the British by Republicans becomes more intense the more British Ireland becomes. In another 10 years the differences between High Streets North, South or in GB will be indistinguishable and the number of Football fans travelling across the seas to Scotland and England every week will be more than those watching sport in Ireland on a Saturday.”

    Tired argument. The Republic is confident enough now to take the what it likes from the UK and America without being defensive. Spo it has a successful GAA but has also punched above its weight in Rugby and Soccer. It likes a lot of British TV, but also American TV and home grown stuff too. It has shops form all over the world. That is a sign of strength, not weakness.

    “So the rhetoric about perusading people, who are both Catholic and Protestant,or taking a United Ireland is aspirational cover for the reality that the North will be British for the next 2 or 3 generations at least – 2016 is a very sick joke that is causing the problems here when EVERYONE knows it will not happen. ”

    2016 is probably too soon, unless the Scots decide to break before that. But as I said, happy to see such complacency in among Unionist thinking. It makes Nationalism’s job that bit easier.

  • Garibaldy

    Kensei,

    Clearly Adams et al have prepared the ground well at the various stages. They area a successful leadership. Equally, the ground has been prepared for them in the sense that they are following nationalist opinion. As for the parades, Civil Rights marchers repeatedly went where they weren’t wanted, so that issue is far from clear.

  • BP1078

    In another 10 years the differences between High Streets North, South or in GB will be indistinguishable and the number of Football fans travelling across the seas to Scotland and England every week will be more than those watching sport in Ireland on a Saturday.

    not for taking

    Forget the 10 years, that’s already the case, never mind in the Uk and ROI, but throughout Western Europe. But I’m not sure why you think it makes the Union stronger? Globalisation removes borders, not strengthen them.

  • mickhall

    “They are a successful leadership.”

    Garibaldy

    At what, their party split, through a gross dereliction of duty they allowed their organization to be infiltrated at the highest levels. [by failing to rotate leadership of security dept.] They were defeated to such an extent in the armed struggle that they all but surrendered their armory. They have achieved through negotiations little more today than was first offered 25 years or so ago. They are once again hemorrhaging members. Down south they have no more TDs that the Sticks once had. And today the NI state-let looks as stable and safe as at any time in its history.

    In there defense there is an argument to be put about the enemy they faced etc; and that there were good reasons for many of their failures and to be fair few would have avoided the pit falls they fell into as the pressures on Adams must have been enormous and unrelenting.

    Never the less to call them successful is a bit disingenuous, for the only thing they have been really successful at is remaining in leadership, which has become an end in itself.

    night all.

  • kensei

    “Clearly Adams et al have prepared the ground well at the various stages. They area a successful leadership. Equally, the ground has been prepared for them in the sense that they are following nationalist opinion. As for the parades, Civil Rights marchers repeatedly went where they weren’t wanted, so that issue is far from clear.”

    There is a moral distinction between the Civil rights marches and the OO. And the Civil Rights marchers were never a long term thing.

    It’s 100% clear. Don’t intimidate. There have been the odd example on this site of republican marches through areas where there has been opposition. i condemn them unreservedly.

  • Garibaldy

    Kensei,

    The point about rights is not the morality of those who have them, surely? And I don’t want to be told where I can and can’t walk on the basis of my colour, religion or politics by anybody. So I am wary of a slippery slope.

    Mick Hall,

    As for the PSF leadership. In the context of the discussion, it has been successful. The splits within the provisional movement have been minimal.
    Many of those who are discontented, including some who now fancy themselves as intellectuals and writers, have proven themselves singularly unable of organising any realistic challenge. And PSF has been successful in doubling its percentage of votes and becoming the biggest nationalist party in the north. That’s a bit more of a success than staying in leadership.

    Yes, they are less successful in the south than The WP was. And there is definitely a ceiling there on how far they can go, and I think the next election will see them hit it.
    More importantly in socialist terms is what they are seeking to achieve down there. They have no clear ideological programme in the interests of ordinary people, but then again I was never foolish enough to believe that sectarian nationalists were socialists, so I’m not surprised in the slightest.

    As for the stability of the north, I agree things as they stand are not as progressive as they might have been in the 1970s. For a start, the disarmament and reform of the police achieved by peaceful civil rights protest was wrecked by sectarian terrorist violence. Never mind north/south bodies compared to 1974. And we are more divided than ever.

    The fact is that objectively the Provisional movement’s campaign has put back the cause of the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter by generations. What PSF has been successful at, and particularly since 1994, is in aggressively pursuing the interests of those who identify themselves as Catholics. Which is all they ever were about in the first place, as their actions rather than their words amply demonstrated.

  • Reader

    BP1078: Globalisation removes borders, not strengthen them.
    But which border? The border between the UK and RoI, or the border between NI and the RoI? But, of course, they are the same border. The nationalist project is not to remove the border, just to move it .

  • kensei

    “The point about rights is not the morality of those who have them, surely? And I don’t want to be told where I can and can’t walk on the basis of my colour, religion or politics by anybody. So I am wary of a slippery slope.”

    Intent matters, for a start. That’s why we have first degree murder and manslaughter. If you abuse your rights, you often forfeit them and almost any right that impacts on others is not absolute. Who’s right should be respected, as well – the people who have a right to freedom of Assembly or the people who have the right not to live in fear? No modern society gives the right of freedom of Assembly of any size gathering at any time and at any place for any reason. However the right to live without intimidation is taken a degree more seriously.

    There is no slippery slope to anywhere. It’s a complete red herring of an argument.

  • Mick Fealty

    “Intent matters, for a start.”

    Maybe so. But how exactly do you measure intent? People who took part on Civil Rights marches did so for a variety of reasons. So too Orange parades.

    For some nationalists, they will never be acceptable, because the Protestant only terms of the Orange is not acceptable to them.

    But, ultimately, is that really sustainable in a free society?

  • ingram

    Mick,

    quote At what, their party split, through a gross dereliction of duty they allowed their organization to be infiltrated at the highest levels. [by failing to rotate leadership of security dept.] They were defeated to such an extent in the armed struggle that they all but surrendered their armory. They have achieved through negotiations little more today than was first offered 25 years or so ago.unquote

    I have been debating this point with you for many years.

    I am pleased you have come to accept it and today argue that the Sinn Fein leadership are corrupt. I would add one thing though! in relation to the word:

    allowed.

    I would change the emphasis to :

    Facilitate.

    Regards.

    Ingram

  • Not for the taking

    Kensei

    A statelet is a small state, normally a former part of a large state, usually with a homogenous population.

    Not a bad description of Ireland I think.

    BP1078

    I think Reader picked up the point the border between Ireland and the UK will become irrelevant as Ireland becomes British in all but name.

    Just like what happened to all the Protestants in Ireland, they were finally squeezed out of existance beacuse of the Catholic Church’s refusal to fully accept that couples could remain of different religions and bring up their children as Protestants. So it will be with the Irish as their day to day culture is overun by British and American culture as the younger generations have a more global outlook. There will still be the GAA which will be like the Orange Order in the North a token nod to the past but definitely of the past.

  • Garibaldy

    Mick and Kensei,

    I think that’s a good point about the Civil Rights marchers. We see then now has being motivated by democratic motives but lots of people at the time thought they were subversives, and doubted their intentions. It wouldn’t have been legitimate for the government to ban their marches. The issue with OO marches is complicated. Many see them as hate parades, others as expressions of civil and religious liberty. Both interpretations are true and false.

    As for the slippery slope, of course it’s not a red herring. What is to stop one political group deciding they don’t like the right of another to march on say Easter Sunday and organising protests against it? The principle is the same. Rights are being eroded all over the place across the world in the last few years. Anything which erodes respect for civil rights is dangerous.

  • BP1078

    Not for the Taking,

    I think Reader picked up the point the border between Ireland and the UK will become irrelevant as Ireland becomes British in all but name.

    You hit upon an important point, but it has a lot wider implications, which is why I challenged it in the first place.

    The relationship between the ROI and the Uk has changed out of all recognition in the last twenty years. The anti-British ethos (in the ROI anyway)
    still lurks in the unreconstructed dark corners, but, by and large, I’d say economically, culturally and politically the two countries are the closest they have ever been since 1921.

    Globalisation and membership of the EU has also impacted on this relationship, in terms of movement of businesses (in both directions)and labour.

    But it’s also true that the relationship between NI and ROI has changed. The border between the two parts of the island is political and still exists, but in many ways it is diminishing in importance. ROI investors, property speculators etc are as free to invest in NI as they are in ROI (and long they may continue to pump money into our economy!). Other businesses such as tourism are now organised on an all-island basis-again to the benefit of NI.

    The border is largely now psychological and exists in a much more tangible way between the two communities in NI, than it does between the UK and the ROI and NI and the ROI.

    The challenge for Unionists is convincing a large majority of the population of NI why, although the two borders in question are effectively dsappearing,it is still important that we maintain our political and economic link with the rest of the UK.

    Maybe someone could do a similar piece to MCT’s explaining the advantages?!

  • kensei

    “Maybe so. But how exactly do you measure intent? People who took part on Civil Rights marches did so for a variety of reasons. So too Orange parades.”

    That’s why we have courts, Mick. And anyway, if people complain and you still try to go down without talking, you cannot escape an element of intent.

    I wasn’t suggesting it’s the be and and end all, but it does matter.

    “For some nationalists, they will never be acceptable, because the Protestant only terms of the Orange is not acceptable to them.

    But, ultimately, is that really sustainable in a free society?”

    No, and I don’t suggest for a second that it is as since you read this site as well as run it, you well know. But while the Orange Order remains aggressive, fundamentally anti-Catholic (rather than pro-Protestant), has wink wink nudge nudge links with Loyalism and refuses, point blank, to talk to the people it is at a minimum inconveniencing, it forfeits the any high ground utterly and completely.

    And all the talk of rights: name me a state where the right of assembly anytime, anywhere, for any reason with any consequences is absolute. No state grants those rights. And let’s me doubly clear: no one is oppressing the right of the OO to free Assembly, free expression, or freedom of conscience. just normally, restricting it by a few streets.

  • councilnemesis

    “My Kingdom is not of this world”. Politics is really only secondary. We’d do better to get right with God. Why cant men think of spiritual things instead of looking at what man has done or is going to do etc…?Look at Germany ,West and East. Did unification bring ultimate happiness?NO. It brought a new dawn yes but really ,men are still stuck on the outward appearance-never delving inside the flawed nature of their own hearts.Sure ,work for justice ,truth et al. but dont get so caught up in it boys to the detriment of your own spirits.

  • darth rumsfeld

    kensei
    yet again you prove my point. You offer me something you value, as if I should want it too. But I’m not convinced, and you need to push your product more. But you have to accept that I mightn’t ever want your Bentley, cos i’m happy with my Jag. And the point will arise when I get fed up with your increasingly strident attempts to tell me that you know what’s good for me better than I do, and tell you to please clear off.

  • kensei

    “yet again you prove my point. You offer me something you value, as if I should want it too. But I’m not convinced, and you need to push your product more. But you have to accept that I mightn’t ever want your Bentley, cos i’m happy with my Jag.”

    I respect some people will never be convinced of the merits of a United Ireland. Some people might think it’s better but the emotional binds are just too strong. Fair enough.

    “And the point will arise when I get fed up with your increasingly strident attempts to tell me that you know what’s good for me better than I do, and tell you to please clear off.”

    But this isn’t personal, it’s politics. So you do get asked the same question again, and the same thing is pushed in slightly different ways and with different emphasis. You are free to keep rejecting it by voting against it. If I am irritating you it won’t particularly help my cause, so I’ll try to find some other way. But I’m not just about to give up.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m not a nationalist, and I don’t care whether there’s a united Ireland or not (no objections really). But there are some factually inaccurate matters being reported :

    2. It is full of curruption at the top and way down through the ranks e.g Haughey and the questionable, at best, Ahern loans.

    The Prime Minister has recently been questioned by police over the cash for peerages affair. Ministers have resigned over intervention to grant passports to special people, dodgy special mortgage deals and loans, and strange party financing measures. The other party in the UK has a history of being associated with similar sleaze of it’s own. Corruption is to be found in most places where there is politics. I think in the RoI ‘s case, some of the old-boy stuff is a factor of the relative youngness of the state. I’m hopeful that the existing tribal political situation down there will give way to something more traditional.

    3. Is is only due to Nationalism/Republicanism that anyone would want to hitch their wagon to Ireland when a much better partner is available, with much deeper pockets and better connections.

    Heh. Britain is Public Enemy Number 2 in the world, next to the US of A. Ireland has friends everywhere. Say you wanted to visit Afghanistan. Would you choose to travel on an Irish passport, or a British one ? QED.

    “4. The hatred of the British by Republicans becomes more intense the more British Ireland becomes. In another 10 years the differences between High Streets North, South or in GB will be indistinguishable and the number of Football fans travelling across the seas to Scotland and England every week will be more than those watching sport in Ireland on a Saturday.”

    If I wanted to argue the futility of the border, it would probably go something like that.

  • Briso

    Posted by BP1078 on Jan 21, 2007 @ 02:44 PM

    >The border is largely now psychological and exists in a much more tangible way between the two communities in NI, than it does between the UK and the ROI and NI and the ROI.

    That’s not how it seems in Derry where we cross it every day. Donegal is in the midst of an economic re-generation which is making our faltering hamstrung economy look pretty sick. Our town looks a mess compared to the obviously prosperous Letterkenny and rapidly improving Buncrana.

    The NIO civil servants give us as little as possible. The removal of the border tomorrow would be the best thing ever happened to our city.

  • BonarLaw

    Briso

    “The removal of the border tomorrow would be the best thing ever happened to our city”

    Or at least moving it to half way across the Craigavon Bridge 🙂

  • DK

    Not much more than the usual talk about persuading unionists that a UI is in their interest. But what have the political parties done? Are there any prods in Sinn Fein, or SDLP? Or catholics in the UUP or DUP. And where do the others (muslims, Jews, athiests, etc.) go? Whoever gets the most votes wins – does anyone know?

  • middle-class taig

    Interesting what happens when you bash out a late Friday post and then scarper for a cheeky long weekend away.

    Thanks for your various responses, queries, ripostes and insults. I’ll try to respond succinctly.

    Cheers for the nudge, Chris.

  • Aaron McDaid

    DK: Are there any prods in Sinn Fein …

    Yes. Billy Leonard (ex-RUC and Protestant preacher) is one.

  • darth rumsfeld

    re your post 7 kensei, I agree it’s your right to keep trying to persuade me, but there comes a time when it becomes unwarranted harassment- as the judge said when he hit me with the restraining order for sending Angelina Jolie 100 marriage proposals. If I can’t take the hint, and start stalking her again, am I not in danger of appearing to the outside world like a creep, and driving out for ever the hidden lust she harbours for union with me?

  • Sean

    why would the republicans need to persuade several hundred thousands of people to vote for a northern ireland? lets do some numbers

    I am lead to belive that there are approximately 1.3 million people in Northern Ireland

    leys say 75% of them are of voting age

    1,300,000 x 75% = 975,000

    now lets say 2/3 can be actually arsed to vote

    975,000 x 66.7% = 650,325

    now i believe the demographic is 55/45 so

    650,325 x 55% = 357,679
    650,325 x 45% = 292,646

    for a difference of 65,033

    now lets assume that the republicans capture 100% of the non catholic vote(unrealistic i know but bear with me) that would mean that they would only require 1/2 of the difference in voters or

    65,033/2 = 32,525

    so if the republicans can only capture the hearts of 32,525 protestants then bobs your uncle you have a majority!

    now why do you need hundreds of thousands of unionists to switch sides?

  • sean

    oops 100 % of the non protestant vote