“the chemistry already has changed”

Unconnected to tonight’s BlogTalkRadio discussion, Do we have a deal, or not?, but Vincent Browne has a timely follow-up to his Sunday Business Post article with an appearance today in the Irish Times where, provided there is more than a provisional acceptance of the police, he argues that[subs req]

It hardly matters now whether there will be powersharing next March. The key issue was acceptance of the police.

His argument might not be fully accepted by Sinn Féin who have been at pains to avoid publicly acknowledging the implications Browne points to of accepting “the authority of the state, as represented by the PSNI.”

It was because a sizeable proportion of the nationalist population refused to accept the authority of the RUC from the outset that there was conflict in the North – or at least the refusal of a sizeable proportion of the nationalist population to accept the authority of the RUC was indicative of a general refusal to recognise the state, which was at the core of the conflict.

It was always the case that if the authority of the police force could be accepted across the communities there, the conflict would be resolved, or would be resolvable. Without acceptance, the conflict could not be resolved, would not be resolved.

Now there appears to be an acceptance of the authority of the state, represented by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). If this transpires to be so, the Northern Ireland conflict is resolved. The end of violence or of the “armed struggle” did not signal the end of the conflict, it might have been only a deferral.

The acceptance of the PSNI as a legitimate police force, as signalled most vividly by the remarks of Gerry Adams on Monday, represents the acceptance of the Northern Ireland state by the vast majority of nationalists.

But he’s probably right when he says

It hardly matters now whether there will be powersharing next March. The key issue was acceptance of the police.

Powersharing will follow some time – maybe it will take a few years and if that prediction is correct, it will defy many previous predictions (including some of my own), who thought it might not happen for a generation.

Sectarian tensions and animosities are still very raw, and how could it be otherwise given the scale of the slaughter that was perpetrated for a quarter of a century up to 13 years ago? But the chemistry already has changed.

Although there is still the question of whether the apparent damage done by The Process™ is irreparable

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  • overhere

    Surely in the referendum on the GFA accepted the State of NI or did I miss something

  • Greenflag

    SF should have accepted the PSNI a couple of years ago when it might have mattered. Now it’s deja vu all over again . Next item on the menu will be Paisley reverting to type as the election rolls in and we’ll see more demands made on SF . Another round or twenty of ‘croppies lie down’ should keep Paisley perched on top of the unionist dung heap for another decade or as long as he lives .

    No matter which way SF or both Governments try to spin the events of the past year or two -Paisley has won the ‘war’. 🙁

  • lib2016

    “Paisley has won the ‘war'”

    The fact is that Paisley realised from the start aw-a-a-y back in the 60’s that the NI entity in the sense of it being a home for Protestant supremacism was doomed – and said so publicly.

    That’s why he got rid of the Anglo-Irish and their middle class successors in the UUP, and why unionism is increasingly concentrated in an Eastern coastal ghetto where he and his followers will have large majorities for some time yet.

    He’ll do the deal alright – too much pressure behind the scenes for anything else to happen, but there’ll be no love lost between the various parties and we’ll have dirty politics galore for years.

  • The Dubliner

    [i]“The acceptance of the PSNI as a legitimate police force, as signalled most vividly by the remarks of Gerry Adams on Monday, represents the acceptance of the Northern Ireland state by the vast majority of nationalists.” – Vincent Browne[/i]

    I hope it took Vincent less time to observe the blatantly obvious than it took him to state it.

    PSF’s leadership have moved the republican movement from a position of being anti-state to being pro-state, thereby defeating republicanism from within. They only thing PSF haven’t done – and have taken great care not to do – is inform their supporters of the new position. Spinning the GFA and the PoC as being a transition to a United Ireland rather than an acceptance of the north’s permanent position within the United Kingdom, and spinning acceptance of the crown’s state forces as being merely securing greater control of the republican movement over them (“putting manners on them”), and spinning devolution and PSF’s eagerness to serve the best interests of the state in Her Majesty’s Government as being merely serving the particular interests of republicans were all carefully-crafted to ensure that the sheep followed the sheppard without knowing that the road they were travelling was taking them to a destination that is the direct opposite of where the sheep wanted to be.

    So, the strategy of defeating republicanism by integrating and assimilating it deeper in the United Kingdom was brilliantly successful. Well done to the leaders of PSF and their handlers. The Union is more secure now than at any point since partition. Although the leadership of PSF already know it, their supporters have yet to figure out that their misguided loyalty to Adams, et al, has only had the effect of ensuring that they will now die as they were born: British citizens.

  • Mayoman

    Dubliner: So you prefer the other option of another thousand dead and the same position being reached? In my opinion, this may well be transition. A while ago a few of us asked for a thread that covered the change in mindset of many ‘middle class unionists’ who now see a UI as where there bread is buttered. This was articulated by the protestant ulster author Walter Ellis in a recent RTE radio interview and was confirmed by a (small)number of nationalist-minded contributors from the ‘unionist’ community on this blog. That change in mindset needs to occur in the minds of relatively few unionists for the 50+1% scenario to be reached. What has been achieved is the removal of the shackles to Britain. So SF agreed consent — so did the unionists and never before have the mechanisms for re-unification been so well put in place. I agree with those that violence was always the biggest block to a UI. Let the persuading begin!

  • The Dubliner

    “Dubliner: So you prefer the other option of another thousand dead and the same position being reached?” – Mayoman

    I think you should stop listening to the PSF propaganda which tells you that the only alternative to blind acceptance of PSF policy is violence. The alternative to accepting greater integration into the United Kingdom is simply to not accept it. What republican could embrace a monarchist state, when an acceptable shorthand definition of ‘republican’ is ‘non-monarchist’? A republican holds core republican values such as equal civil rights, and the supremacy of a written constitution to serve as a guarantor of rights and to hold in check the power of government, whereas a monarchy which holds no-one to be equal but invests power in an unelected ruler and denigrates all others to be lowly subjects; where laws are devised by unelected lords; where no written constitution or bill of rights checks the power of government or serves as a guarantor of rights are utter repugnancy which must never be accepted. Republicans must not embrace the state and must reject all internal solutions, when accepting internal solutions (and negotiating them as PSF did with the GFA) does not advance the goal of Irish unity one iota but retards it, at best, by decades, and at worst, permanently.

    The ‘logic’ behind the PoC is fatally flawed. It relies on a deranged assumption that you can charm a man into changing his sense of national identity – a sense of identity that many of both traditions in the north would die for. You can no more persuade a man to change his sense of national allegiance than you can persuade him to change his parents. These things are decided by emotion, not logic. Would you vote to join the UK if you were offered a lower tax band? You would not, yet you hope to bride the unionist with such insults. A man who feels British will always decide that his sense of national identity is best served by remaining a part of the country that he identifies with. So, forget about getting any unionists to vote for a UI, as that is a non-starter as a ‘plan.’

    While the unionist has remained part of the UK, the nationalist has not fared so well. Many have become integrated into the United Kingdom. There are a large chunk of Catholics who are unionist, and another large chunk who have no preference one way of the other regarding Irish unity. So, apart from convincing Protestants about the advantages of Irish unity, PSF have a hell of a lot of work to do just convincing nationalists about it. Nor is the work confined to those two tribes, as you now have many immigrants in the north who have chosen to live and work in the UK, not the Republic. As the Irish and British governments pump more money into the province in an attempt to shore it up, any resulting economic prosperity will inevitably attract more immigrants. As those people will have chosen to settle and work within the UK and not within the Republic, there are no prizes for guessing which way they will vote in if a referendum on Irish unity is ever called. In addition, an improvement in the political and economic situation in the north will also lead directly to an increase in the level of satisfaction with the status quo, leading obviously and conversely to a direct reduction in the level of dissatisfaction with the status quo and reduced desired to change that status quo in the dramatic manner of flinging the north into the republic. So, that logic does not favour a UI, but has the opposite outcome.

    Now, PSF hope to use the issue of Irish unity to gain more votes and support for their party in the south. They hope to position their party as the central dynamic by which all other parties in the south rally around and support in the ‘shared’ goal of Irish unity. In effect, their much touted “republican strategy” is actually nothing other than a party-political strategy aimed at gain party advantage. Do you really think that the voters of the south and the political parties of the south are naive and gullible enough not to see through such an obvious tactic? PSF have not a hope in hell of being allowed to prostitute republicanism in the south for party-political advantage as they did in the north. Their so-called “republican strategy” is a non-starter.

  • The Dubliner

    Continued:

    You will also find that as quickly as PSF find out that their dream of using republicanism in the south for gain is a non-starter, they will drop it and focus their efforts on local politics in the north and clinging onto their little devolved parliament in the north and the hundreds of state-financed party-political careers that it spawns and ‘ne’er a mention will be made of Irish unity other than on various annual commemorations. And really, did they ever think that folks in the south would allow a bunch of Marxists with no experience of finance beyond money-laundering and smuggling rackets to serve as the Negotiators-in-Chief for the south? That’s as deranged as thinking that unionists are going to listen to those they regard as squalid mass-murderers giving lectures about peace and reconciliation – with a few references to green letter boxes and 32-County Socialist Republics thrown in.

    That’s how that will all play out. As it’s now the only game in town thanks to PSF’s (i.e. just Gerry and the Unthinking Sheep) strategy of clutching the republican ball tightly to its chest when the greater goal of Irish unity is best served by defaulting to Strand Two, good luck with that.

  • aquifer

    “Now there appears to be an acceptance of the authority of the state, represented by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). If this transpires to be so, the Northern Ireland conflict is resolved.”

    Really?

    Other people have political conflict without blood on the streets. I’d imagine we could manage it too.

    There was non-violent direct action here before the Provos added the eastern block abbatoir gear.

  • Henry94

    Dubliner

    has only had the effect of ensuring that they will now die as they were born: British citizens.

    I think for a lot of people not dying before their time in a random bombing or shooting was a major factor in their support for the peace process.

    Backing a winnable war is one thing but backing an unending bloody stalemate is quite another. Those, like yourself, who argue that the peace process won’t bring about a united Ireland seem to forget that armed struggle didn’t either and showed no sign of doing so,

    Therefore the case for armed struggle is not a case for a united Ireland but simply a case for unending armed struggle.

    And why not? Once you weren’t actually killed or injured yourself the war had a lot to be said for it. You never had to try to understand the other side or accept their humanity. You never had to compromise or ditch any historical baggage.

    You could take your hard heart for a brave heart and your inflexibility for principle.

    Real courage in my opinion is willingness to change. Real courage was on display at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis and in statements by Gerry Adams since.

  • Mayoman

    “The ‘logic’ behind the PoC is fatally flawed. It relies on a deranged assumption that you can charm a man into changing his sense of national identity – a sense of identity that many of both traditions in the north would die for. You can no more persuade a man to change his sense of national allegiance than you can persuade him to change his parents.”….Fraid the substance of my post is that this is exactly what is happening! Unless you haven’t noticed, there are moderates on both sides. The violent tradition of republicanism may (and only may) take credit for forcing unionism to accept the legitimacy of an aspiration to a UI, but ironically, (and i say this with regret as a left-leaning person), it will be bald capitalism and pragmatism that may knock the last mail into the coffin of the union. As to your point on economics, I think this has been foreseen. From now on, through the NDP and other North-South institutions, the plaudits for the up-turn in NI’s fortunes will be spread across the two jurisdictions and Britain (see Hain’s comments) has not been shy on saying that an all-island and all-ireland economy is the way forward. As I said, we can all hope the nutter’s days are over. The future is with the pragmatists.

  • Sean

    i think the anti-sf and the pro-uda commentators are over stating their positions. Sinn Fein did not fully support the PSNI/RUC what the did say is that they need to be changed from the inside and they are just the men and women to do it.

    And for those that say plan B is dead, dream on Paisley will swallow his tongue but the political police will arrange another storomontgate and the mess will leave the english with no choice but to go to plan B

  • parcifal

    not just courage Henry, but a renewed sense of healthy self-esteem; away from “victims of” the state apparatus, to “participants in” the state.
    IMHO this is one of the root causes of jealousies amongst SF’s opponents; simply put

    “They don’t like to see us wagging our tails.”

  • HJ McCraken

    Henry94
    Real courage in my opinion is willingness to change.

    Well said. Perhaps twenty years of peace will change a lot of mind. Right now Adams has taken a bold first step. Who can tell where it will lead.

  • The Dubliner

    [i]”Backing a winnable war is one thing but backing an unending bloody stalemate is quite another. Those, like yourself, who argue that the peace process won’t bring about a united Ireland seem to forget that armed struggle didn’t either and showed no sign of doing so,

    Therefore the case for armed struggle is not a case for a united Ireland but simply a case for unending armed struggle.” – Henry84[/i]

    Yet another poster who hasn’t understood the post that he is replying to, preferring, instead, to risibly refute points that were never made. The first two sentences of my post (had you grasped their meaning) make it clear that so-called ‘armed struggle’ was not suggested: “I think you should stop listening to the PSF propaganda which tells you that the only alternative to blind acceptance of PSF policy is violence. The alternative to accepting greater integration into the United Kingdom is simply to not accept it.”

    “Real courage in my opinion is willingness to change.” – Henry84[/i]

    Platitudes should not to be confused with strategies or retorts to arguments that highlight flaws in them. Otherwise, my platitude may top your platitude and – oh dear – the ‘debate’ is lost.

    [i]”The ‘logic’ behind the PoC is fatally flawed. It relies on a deranged assumption that you can charm a man into changing his sense of national identity – a sense of identity that many of both traditions in the north would die for. You can no more persuade a man to change his sense of national allegiance than you can persuade him to change his parents.” – The Dubliner

    “Fraid the substance of my post is that this is exactly what is happening!” – Mayoman[/i]

    Don’t mistake “substance” for a claim that is unsupported by the relevant data. Where is the study which shows that unionists are willing to vote for Irish Unity? I’d be very interested in reading the study if you can post a link to it.

  • Henry94

    The Dubliner

    The alternative to accepting greater integration into the United Kingdom is simply to not accept it.

    If that means anything at all it is a call for a return to a failed policy of institutional boycott witch utterly marginalised republicans in the past. And you don’t even need Sinn Fein to do it. There are enough of you to boycott the institutions and achieve irrelevance already. Go for it.

    If it means anything more substantial I’d be happy to hear about it.

  • Mayoman

    Dubliner, not aware of any studies (other than the one outlined below), but this piece on Protestants learning the Irish language is interesting.

    “The assertion that Protestants learn Irish because they are nationalist has some validity. The 1996 Social Attitudes Survey reported that no more than 6% of Protestants favour a united Ireland (Breen 1996: 36). However, 31% of my respondents said they were nationalist in outlook. Therefore the percentage of nationalists among the group I studied was higher than that among the Protestant population as a whole. However, the assertion that all Protestants learn Irish because they are nationalist is invalid; 46% of my respondents were unionist in outlook2. I must emphasise that these figures are not set in stone, as the proportion of unionist learners is rising.”http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/language/mccoy97.htm#learn

    Secondly, this report here http://www.ark.ac.uk/publications/updates/update41.pdf is more interesting. It suggests that far more of the Protestant than the Catholic population are rejecting a traditional religion-based national identity (see Figure 8 in this 2005 report). This adds weight to the anecdotal evidence that a growing proportion of the ‘unionist’ community is likely to vote along pragmatic lines, rather than according to traditional religious loyalty. Conversely, there is little evidence of an erosion in the proportion of Catholics who define themselves as nationalist. The ways this will change a border poll are open to debate, but Dubliner, it is definite evidence that there is a shift in the mindset of the Protestant population as a whole and this section of the population is who us open-minded, secular, inclusive nationalists should be trying to persuade.

  • The Dubliner

    First of all, Henry84, I’ll point out something that posters who fancy that they are e-crusaders or defenders of sacred truths often lose within the spectrum of their own self-importance: my views are my own, so there is one I, and not the strange plural ‘you’ that you imagine you are addressing.

    At this point, I accept that PSF are going nowhere except further and deeper into the United Kingdom. The SDLP were post-nationalist long before PSF de facto were, so they don’t offer any alternative to the unionism of PSF for those whose main priority is a United Ireland. PSF negotiated an internal settlement; and are doing their best to make it work. It is a permanent settlement which is spun to their supporters as a period of transition toward a United Ireland. The policy of the British government is one of normalisation; a strategy of assimilating and integrating the republican movement into the United Kingdom. Crucially, republicans must go from being anti-state to being pro-state as seamlessly as possible. Once pro-state, the process of normalisation is virtually complete – they become (obviously) considerably less hostile to the state and to the political status quo, essentially weakening their resistance to the state to the point were the resistance becomes too minimal to be a threat to the policy. You basically – over time – accept the state, accept the improved status quo, integrate, pledge allegiance, and get on with your life. This is not the path of resistance, of course, but the path of assimilation. That’s as much as any of the main players could have hoped for – and the silent guns and bombs benefit everyone. PSF played their part and will be rewarded with fine office, salary, and generous pension – and hundreds of state-financed party political careers for all those ‘yay’ voices eager to add ‘MLA’ after their names. As I alluded to in my first post, their is no workable “republican strategy” beyond that and there never will be – and PSF’s hopes of using republicanism in the south as a means to grow their party’s support will be quickly slapped down by the southern electorate.

    I would like to see the republican ball removed from PSF and returned to the Dublin government, where it properly belongs. PSF have tainted Irish republicanism for far long enough. That means that I would like to see devolution fail and the process default to the British and Irish government via direct rule. The logic for Irish unity is there between both governments: the north is a liability to a failing British economy, but is potentially an asset to a booming Republic which is desperately short of workers and importing them at 100,000+ a year, and could benefit from the economies of scale. The economic arguments all favour Irish unity. The spanner in the works now is the spanner that PSF threw in there to ensure that there would always be partition and that they would remain politically relevant by being one of the major political parties within the partitioned state i.e. the PoC. That has now created an expectation that any move toward Irish unity must now have the consent of the Ulster-always-says-NO unionists. That’s a major spanner but it can be removed on the grounds that it is UK statute; and can, therefore, be repealed. However, the PoC stays if devolution stays, so PSF’s insistence on devolution is actually an insistence on permanent partition. Now I know that folks will say that there will be a violent backlash from unionists if the governments decide upon unity, say, ten to fifteen years down the road, but those folks are deluded if they think that backlash won’t happen either way. History shows that unionists will use militancy against the will of government any time they discuss ‘the Irish question.’ Allowing the Irish government, and not a despicable party like PSF, to negotiate a shared future of equality for both traditions is the only way forward. Indeed, PSF have no authority anyway to decide what type of Ireland unionists will live in, as that is a matter for the southern Irish to decide, not PSF.

    Dreaming? Not at all. Devolution won’t work. There isn’t a management consultant in the world who wouldn’t declare that farce of a management system to be a formula for stagnancy and failure. So, it will fail at some future point (perhaps if the securocrats collapse it again as they did in 2002), and when it does fail, no-one in the British and Irish governments will waste another 13 years negotiating a replacement. And besides, the province is now normalised and the weapons decommissioned, so there won’t be any incentive to waste time with unworkable internal solutions. So, I see unity via an agreement between both governments as the only workable option. Ergo, the sooner the process goes that way, the better.

    P.S. Thanks for the links, Mayoman. Unfortunately, I have only a few minutes left on this WiFi, so I’ll add to favourites and read later.

  • Henry94

    Dubliner

    If the Unionists refuse to share power and devolution fails then plan B it is and I’m sure that you and I will be looking for the same thing at that stage. But if it does come to that then nobody will be able to say that Sinn Fein didn’t try to make Plan A work. There won’t be the fig-leaf of an excuse left for Paisley and his party.

  • BeardyBoy

    Dubliner is quite correct in the substance of his arguement.

    The essential motive force for the change in the constitutional arrangement is to ensure that there is a large proportion of the state in opposition to its existence. This does not mean violence.

    This means using the state against itself.

    Go into the government and stop it from working.

    to me it is essential to increase pressure for change on the only people who have the power to enable change. the english.

    Dublin and Unionists can only squeal at the English, they have not any real power over them.

    It is imperative that the english get the message that whatever solution they impose on Ireland will be frustrated and destroyed by the Irish.

  • sms

    no one has mentioned yet paisley,s comment on tv the other night that majority rule in the old stormont style was not possible anymore and that power sharing might give an opportunity to get back to that. This is the first time I have ever heard him admit that majority rule was unachievable. is this a chink in the armour? any comments?

  • AvalonSunset

    Mayoman’s comment regarding the minset change in a relatively few unionists to achieve a 50%+1 scenario is optimistic at best. For a UI to be achieved the people of NI need to be persuaded along the only GOD that they all recognise – money. Do you really belive that in a border ballot all notional nationalists would vote for a UI, when they know they would financially be significantly worse off. Higher taxation, poorer quality of social services etc etc. Convince me (and the rest of the NI population) that there is a financial benefit to being in a UI and the narrowminded politics that have plaqued this land for centuries would be irrelevant. As far as I can see neither the British state or the Irish state want us – neither can afford us.

  • Greenflag

    Dubliner ,

    Excellent posts even if I disagree with some of your ‘conclusions’ .

    ‘a PSF have no authority anyway to decide what type of Ireland unionists will live in, as that is a matter for the southern Irish to decide, not PSF.’

    Not just the Southern but also Western /Eastern/Dubliners etc etc 🙂 not forgetting the voices of our new immigrants .

    ‘Devolution won’t work. There isn’t a management consultant in the world who wouldn’t declare that farce of a management system to be a formula for stagnancy and failure. So, it will fail at some future point (perhaps if the securocrats collapse it again as they did in 2002), and when it does fail, no-one in the British and Irish governments will waste another 13 years negotiating a replacement.’

    I agree however I would not put it past either Government to waste another 13 or 30 years in problem avoidance techniques. Both administrations already have 85 years experience in trhying to keep the ‘issue’ under the carpet.

    ‘ And besides, the province is now normalised and the weapons decommissioned’

    You might think that but the day that the ‘province’ will be normalised will be the day it no longer exists- as a 6 county Statelet . A repartitioned smaller NI State could have sufficient democratic support from ‘Unionists’ to claim a ‘political normalcy’ tag. It is difficult to imagine such a smaller State being anything other than completely dependent on HMG for it’s economic survival for at least another generation or more at the very least .

    ‘so there won’t be any incentive to waste time with unworkable internal solutions. ‘

    This is not what the history of NI since 1920 has shown us, and in particular the history of Northern Ireland since 1969. After a dozen or more Colonial Secretary’s and 10? British Governments the fundamental political situation in Northern Ireland remains that of a society divided against itself on it’s fundamental constitution. The circle cannot be squared.

    ‘So, I see unity via an agreement between both governments as the only workable option. Ergo, the sooner the process goes that way, the better. ‘

    Neither Government can deliver a UI . Only the Unionists can . They don’t want to under any circumstances despite Mayoman’s ‘wishful’ thinking. Thus an agreed ‘repartition’ of NI will make for a fairer political settlement for all sides .

    The Republic does not need ‘Unionists’ or NI to continue it’s economic and social advance . Despite the desire of the majority of Irish people for a UI that majority is not prepared to either

    a) Pay for it
    b) Fight for it

    The upcoming election in the Republic will see NI once again being a ‘low priority’ for the vast majority of the State’s voters.

  • Greenflag

    Avalon Sunset,

    ‘Mayoman’s comment regarding the mindset change in a relatively few unionists to achieve a 50%+1 scenario is optimistic at best.’

    You are too polite AS . Not alone ‘optimistic’ but he fails to respect the Unionist voters from both the DUP and UUP who have voted against any possibility of a UI in every election since 1918. I’d regard Mayoman’s mindset as ‘naive’ at best and surrealistic at worst:)

    ‘For a UI to be achieved the people of NI need to be persuaded along the only GOD that they all recognise – money. ‘

    Unfortunately this will not work either .Despite the UK having ‘more money’ and better educational /health /social welfare benefits than the Irish Free State (1922-1949) and the Irish Republic (1949-1999 ?) there has never been the slightest desire on the part of even the smallest minority of the Irish nationalist people throughout the 26 counties to ‘rejoin’ the ‘money’ i.e the UK .

    There is no reason to believe that ‘Unionist’ sensibilities in this regard would be any different than those of their Southern Neighbours (1922-1999).

  • AvalonSunset

    Greenflag – point taken re the 26 counties, however it should also be recognised that there are a significant proportion of non-nationalist Catholics who may not vote for a UI. all I am trying to do is to suggest that we need to dicuss the border issue on more than just idealistic terms.

  • Greenflag

    AS,

    ‘however it should also be recognised that there are a significant proportion of non-nationalist Catholics who may not vote for a UI.’

    I don’t doubt that there are some RC’s in NI who favour remaining in the Union just as there were a few RC’s in the South pre 1922 who favoured remaining in the UK but I would not rate the number in either case as being ‘significant’. In the context of a border refrendum whereby a vote for a UI is decided by a very narrow percentage I suppose even a small number could be seen as ‘significant’. As I don’t ever see a UI being brought about by a narrow (less than 5%) margin in any referendum ) the ‘significance’ of any small Catholic -pro Union vote would be just as irrelevant as a small Protestant pro UI vote-IMO.

    ‘all I am trying to do is to suggest that we need to discuss the border issue on more than just idealistic terms. ‘

    Could not agree more -The idealists on both sides are forever being ‘murdered’ by the brutal gangs of political and demographic facts within NI- these ‘facts’ militate both against the survival of the 6 county State longer term and also against the establishment of a UI in the short and medium term.

    I accept that a lot of Irish Nationalists and Republicans would not view a ‘Repartition’ of Northern Ireland as ‘ideal’ . However IMO the creation of two States on this island in which each would command the loyalty and broad support of 90% plus of their electorates is about as near to ideal ‘democracy’ that it is possible to achieve for the forseeable future -IMO.

    An enlarged Republic can cope with a 3% Unionist minority in a 30 county set up and a 2 county sized Unionist State can probably cope with a 10% Irish nationalist/republican minority . Those ‘pro Union’ Catholics and pro UI Protestants would be free to gravitate to the right side of a new border in such an event .

    There will be no UI unless and until a large section of Unionism decides that that is the political road for their future on this island . By large I mean at least 35 to 40% of Unionists at present in NI. Those who spin the yarn that all that’s needed is a 51% to 49% referendum victory deny the lessons of Ireland’s history. A 75% SF vote did not deliver a 32 County Independent Ireland in 1918 and there is no reason to believe that a 51% vote within NI would lead to a UI in 2020 or whenever !

    Far better then for Northern Irish Nationalists and Republicans within the present NI State to pursue a fair ‘repartition’ of the 6 counties as a legitimate and practical political aspiration. They can do this without having to take part in the farce of a powerless Assembly or by any return to violence .

    The alternative is for Northern Ireland’s Nationalsts and Republican’s to play ‘second fiddle’ forever and a day to Paisley and his DUP who will (never mind power sharing) continue to stall and hinder every move or inch forward that SF try to make towards a UI. Frankly SF should refocus on the economic and social issues and make common cause with colleagues on the left in Ireland and thus try to democratically promote their political objectives in an enlarged Republic.

    Leave Unionists to their Union . It’s where they re ‘comfortable’ .Mother will continue to look after them as long as they want her to . If the day ever comes that they(unionists)decide different then wecan all look again at the constitutional issue.

    My feeling would be that as time passes say in another 20 years or so the economic and political situation/relationship between whatever is left t Unionism in the North East of Northern Ireland and the rest of the country will be so radically different from today that it is probable that a large majority of Irish people within a 30 county Republic would no more consider a UI than the present day majority of Croats would consider a return to a Yugoslav State.

    Common EU membership and the challenge of having to absorb a new immigrant and growing population will obviate the idealistic ‘psychological’ need for an All Island Polity.

    To summarise -the message to SF activists and Northern Ireland’s nationalists who favour a 32 county UI is – don’t bother to waste your time on ‘persuading ‘ ‘unionism’ . About as useful and productive as navel gazing IMO:)!

    Instead focus on what is practically achievable within say 5 to 10 years . An agreed Repartition could be a fait accompli within that time frame achieved most likely through Mr Hain’s Seven District Councils ‘reform’ of local government

  • GrassyNoel

    “As the Irish and British governments pump more money into the province in an attempt to shore it up, any resulting economic prosperity will inevitably attract more immigrants. As those people will have chosen to settle and work within the UK and not within the Republic, there are no prizes for guessing which way they will vote in if a referendum on Irish unity is ever called. In addition, an improvement in the political and economic situation in the north will also lead directly to an increase in the level of satisfaction with the status quo, leading obviously and conversely to a direct reduction in the level of dissatisfaction with the status quo and reduced desired to change that status quo in the dramatic manner of flinging the north into the republic. So, that logic does not favour a UI, but has the opposite outcome.”

    Dubliner I think you may be conveniently forgetting that there are over 4.5 million people living south of the border, many of whom, as society ‘normalises’, will inevitably make the choice to migrate north in the cirection of Belfast, derry et al rather than south to the cities of the republic to live and work. And those people will be much more likely to stay rather than to work ther for 5-10 years and then head back to Poland or Romania.