On the peaceful dilemmas of Republicanism…

El Blogador seems to have kicked a interesting (mostly because of its rare civility) debate on a dilemma rarely talked of so discursively within nationalist/republican debate: the existential problem of having to make Northern Ireland work…

  • circles

    Hmmm well the original point may have been civil, if you can excuse the complete ignorance of it. Nationalists and republicans want a united Ireland – now to say “well you don’t have a united ireland but when will you ever shut up about it” highlights that unionists fail to understand republicans just as much as the oft trumpeted phrase “republicans don’t understand unionists”.
    Yes it would be nice if the 6 counties worked better than it does, but nicer still would be a united Ireland – end of story.
    And thats something that really won’t go away you know.

  • kensei

    The question is a fundamentally false premise for Nationalism. NI is a zepplin in a world of planes. Sure you can make it fly, sure you can probably stick rockets on it, but from a fundamental design perspective the planes is better and more efficient for most tasks.

  • Dessertspoon

    The zepplin and plane analogy is an interesting one Kensei but there will be plenty of people who will believe that it’s the 30 odd years of conflict that have stopped Norn Iron from evolving into the jet age and not it’s status as a province, statelet etc. If making Norn Iron work is such an erroneous proposition for Nationalists what are you going to do……Too many people have been sitting with their thumbs up their backsides waiting for a diffinitive resolution to the constitutional question. Is that what you think should continue? Regardless of your political aspirations children need to be educated, sick people need healthcare, poor people need welfare, everyone needs jobs, everyone needs a police service, and everyone needs the development and growth of the economy. Therefore Norn Iron has to be made to work better.
    Maybe it’s time for Nationalists/Republicans to recognise that Unionists/Loyalits want to remain in the Union and for Unionists/Loyalists to recognise that Nationalists/Republicans want a united Ireland and to allow one another to engage with peaceful efforts to attain their goals. However, that shouldn’t mean that no-one addresses the everyday issues in the mean time.

  • Hmm…

    I think the suggestion that nationalist agitation for a united Ireland is somehow illegitimate because the majority disagree displays a lack of undertanding of democracy, rather than a misunderstanding of nationalism. Winning a vote is not the same as winning an argument. Minorities aren’t obliged to adopt the majority view, but merely to abide by the decision and seek to reverse it within the rules of normal politics.

    Kensei’s point illustrates an interesting aspect of the changing nature of nationalist/republican politics, i.e. a shift from the claim that justice requires a united Ireland (whether because nations have a right to self-determination – a rubbish argument IMHO, or because of N. I. state operated unjustly) to a new sort of claim, one which recognises the reformed nature of arrangements here. This new sort of argument will have to focus on showing not that unity is a right, but that unity is attractive: we’ll all be better off (and not only financially) in a united Ireland. It seems clear to me that to win this argument (and not merely a vote), nationalists will have to make N.I. work in the sense that they’ll have to show unionists that they could be at home in an equal united Ireland. While this is risky insofar as a working Norn Iron might well make unity redundant, that’s a risk that will just have to be taken.

  • Greenflag

    Hmmmmmm,

    ‘It seems clear to me that to win this argument (and not merely a vote), nationalists will have to make N.I. work in the sense that they’ll have to show unionists that they could be at home in an equal united Ireland.’

    Sorry but I as a nationalist with a small n disagree . Unionists live in Ireland or to be specific most of them in the NE corner of Ireland . If they don’t feel at home in Ireland they might be better off asking themselves why and finding the answer . You can lead a horse to water etc .

    Irish nationalists/republicans in NI should of course assist in making the best of it in so far as they can for all the people of NI. But if they really want a UI they’ll have to do more than talk about it. From a moderate nationalist perspective I’d be far happier to see NI nationalists work instead towards a fair repartition of the 6 counties of Northern Ireland . This would result in an Ireland in which 97% of the population both Irish and British Unionist would be resident in the State of their first preference . That would leave in an island of just over 6 million people approx 200,000 ( almost evenly split between Unionists and Nationalists) who would be ‘left behind’. This 200,000 would of course enjoy dual British and Irish citizenship and would if the new situation proved unpalateable be able to move north or south of the new border should they so choose . Perhaps both Governments could even come up with ‘re settlement ‘ grants for a limited period say 10 years .

    Kensei,

    ‘NI is a zepplin in a world of planes.’

    Hain’s Hindenburg is certainly full of hot air but so far the semi colonial half secretary has refrained from pushing the ignition .

    And here is yet another case of Hindenburgitis from the editorial page of the Newsletter which by now must be the laughing stock of whatever is left of the non internet news world . I quote

    ‘There is, however, no such thing as a free meal and Brian Cowen and his ruling Fianna Fail party in Dublin will obviously be looking for some political dividend in return, should the 100 billion Euros that he is so publicly bragging about find their way North.’

    I believe the expression is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ But somebody might want to inform the obtuse writer of the editorial that if the 100 billion euros that Bertie ‘brags’ about finds it’s way North there will be one certain political dividend for Bertie . It’s called losing the election.

    I believe the figure destined for NI was considerably less than 100 billion . Perhaps the Newsletter Editor is as deficient in mathematics as in english idiom ?

  • Greenflag

    The existential answer to the eternal existential problem of NI is

    ‘If it’s broke – fix it ‘

    To judge from the current political hype it’s obvious that the political parties and voters don’t want to believe it’s broke and thus the ‘existential problem’ is set to continue ad infinitum.

    A new discernible strategy emerging among all Norn iron parties now is that any ‘fix’ post election will have to be paid for by more money i.e English taxpayer’s money.

    In the meantime Vladimir and Estragon can continue their eternal wait for the Godot who never comes!

  • páid

    Hmmmmm
    “Minorities aren’t obliged to adopt the majority view, but merely to abide by the decision and seek to reverse it within the rules of normal politics.”

    Aye, that or form the Ulster Volunteers.

  • Cromwell

    Paid,
    “Aye, that or form the Ulster Volunteers.”
    Or form the Provos.

  • GavBelfast

    Do your best to make the place unworkable and generally annoy people won’t achieve a UNITED Ireland.

    Work the place and generally help make life fair and better for everybody and you will help to make for a more settled Northern Ireland and who knows what can evolve from that?

    The constiutional position is parked, and the means of changing it settled.

  • kensei

    “The zepplin and plane analogy is an interesting one Kensei but there will be plenty of people who will believe that it’s the 30 odd years of conflict that have stopped Norn Iron from evolving into the jet age and not it’s status as a province, statelet etc.”

    Yeah, they are called Unionists. I’m not one of them.

    “If making Norn Iron work is such an erroneous proposition for Nationalists what are you going to do……Too many people have been sitting with their thumbs up their backsides waiting for a diffinitive resolution to the constitutional question. Is that what you think should continue?”

    It is an erroneous proposition but one we are going to have to live with for the time being. If about 55% of people have decided no, they won’t move from the bloody zepplin no matter what and the agreed system is 50%+ to move, the answer is not to go nuts and try and wreck the place, particularly if you’ve already tried that and it just made people more stubborn.

    No, you keep pointing out the stupid amounts of money wasted and ridiculous situations we get into by not moving to planes, when appropriate opportunities arise. And if we are going to stay in this bloody zepplin, the decor needs to change a bit.

    “Regardless of your political aspirations children need to be educated, sick people need healthcare, poor people need welfare, everyone needs jobs, everyone needs a police service, and everyone needs the development and growth of the economy. Therefore Norn Iron has to be made to work better.”

    Another fundamentally false premise: that everything in your life isn’t in some way touched by your Constitution, your laws and your ability to control your own destiny. So sure, you try to make the best of what you’ve got, but there is still no escaping the fact that sticking rockets on a zepplin might make it go faster, but a plane would comfortably outperform it for less money and be less likely to explode.

    All the problems we have are better and easier solved in an All-Ireland context in the long run.

    The other major point that iluvni misses in the original comments, is that there are also cultural factors that shouldn’t be ignored.

  • George

    Hmm….
    I suppose the next question is whether northern nationalists can make their active participation in Northern Ireland Inc work towards unification with the rest of the island.

    While acitively participating there are two bridges that need nationalists need to build:

    1. with unionists
    2. with the rest of the island / the Republic

    Can they do both whilst keeping Northern Ireland Inc. ticking over?

  • Sean

    I would argue that modern republicans need only make 1 bridge

    that 1 between the unionists and the ROI

    Once people feel their best interests have shifted then their asses quickly follow.

  • iluvni

    Kensei,

    Not too sure I missed any crucial factors in my original question on ElBlogador.

    Perhaps the fact it was a simple enough question calling for a pretty straight forward response which has thrown you somewhat.

    You appear to prefer to waffle than address it directly.

  • lib2016

    Where’s the problem? A few years ago we had a surfeit of unionists raking up the costs of German reunification and claiming that poor old backward Ireland couldn’t possibly reunite.

    Now that the South is one of the richest countries in the world with that prosperity increasingly impacting on the border counties the people who object to reunification have to find another objection.

    To rephrase Sean’s post – grab them by the wallet and their hearts and minds will follow.

  • kensei

    “Not too sure I missed any crucial factors in my original question on ElBlogador.

    Perhaps the fact it was a simple enough question calling for a pretty straight forward response which has thrown you somewhat.

    You appear to prefer to waffle than address it directly. ”

    The answer is straightforward. Even if NI “worked”, it would work better within an All-Ireland context. There are also cultural factors to consider and remember, people still wanted an UI when the Republic was shit.

    What do mean by “works” anyway? We can be overruled on any issue by a different country. Unpopular policy is and can be imposed, with little input from the people that live here. There is no written Constitution, and none of the built in protections that provides. There are issues that no matter how well things “work” here, you can’t escape. Even here “working” would probably mean a high level of dependence on England which I find somewhat unappealing.

    Don’t ask questions if you don’t want debate, or appreciation of different points of view.

  • Obejctivist

    As John Hume pointed out in the 1960’s there is no contradiction between being pro-UI and working for the betterment of Northern Ireland as it comprises part of the entity which is aspired to.

  • gerry

    objectivist, that is true for constitutional nationalism, but if your organization/movement is born from revolution, to fight britain in to the sea, make the place ungovernable, destroy it from within economically, politically socially etc then there is a huge contradiction.

  • páid

    Cromwell,

    erm…..exactly.

    I was drawing attention to Hmmmm’s advice to minorities.

    You wouldn’t be loyal to an independent Ireland.

    Fine, as long as you don’t expect loyalty to Norn Iron.

  • Gerry-

    The thing is, making the place ungovernable and causing destruction isn’t going to affect the Whitehall mandarins- they’ll just ignore it like they always have- it just makes life unbearable for the people living here who have no choice but to ensure it. Therein lies the problem, and hence violent republicanism failed.

  • endure it, even…

  • iluvni

    Kensai,

    Kensai,

    “Don’t ask questions if you don’t want debate, or appreciation of different points of view. ”

    Lets keep it simple:

    Post election March 7, if (and we all knows its a big if) the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement brings about a stable and successful Northern Ireland, but it remains within the UK for the forseeable future (given the referendum guarantees as well), will that suffice for you?

    Can you accept and live with that, even if that means no prospect of a United Ireland?

  • Greenflag

    We need to take a step back and look at the politiccl realities as they are now and as they are likley to be for at least another generation if not more .

    You can gauge the political future from a brief glance at the NI parties broadcasts . I did’nt see any tricolours on the DUP or UUP broadcast and neither did I see any Union Jacks on the SF one . I have not yet seen the SDLP one but I’ll safely assume that the Union Jack will be prominent by it’s absence.

    What this fact of life should tell us is that at the deepest level despite the much vaunted hype about moving beyond the ‘constitutional question’ the fact is that when people come to vote -the vast majority on both sides will not be moving an inch beyond the ‘constitutional ‘ question. Those who say the constituional issue is settled simply because of the GFA or St Andrews mistake pieces of paper for the political truth .

    My analysis of where NI is at this moment is that in both Orange and Green factions approx half of their respective voters are not going to move an inch from their respective positions either now or in a million years . The remaining halves of both sets of voters are split between ‘centrists -moderate nationalists (SDLP) moderate unionists (some in UUP), Alliance , independents and those who don’t bother to vote at all . This election will see if anything a weakening of the what I call the ‘centrists’ and perhaps even a slight increase in non voters but overall any change is not going to make any marked difference IMO . My personal preference at one level would be to see the centre grow because that is where most of the answers to economic and social problems lie but at another level I’d much rather see the NI state in it’s present format ‘disappear’ off the political stage for it is truly a broken political entity . Without HMG financial support it would be another Albania /East Germany.

    So the important question for Irish Nationalists and Republicans particularly those in NI is what to do or can anything be done to further their political aspirations . Here is where I would differ from Kensei

    to be continued

  • kensei

    “Post election March 7, if (and we all knows its a big if) the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement brings about a stable and successful Northern Ireland, but it remains within the UK for the forseeable future (given the referendum guarantees as well), will that suffice for you?

    Can you accept and live with that, even if that means no prospect of a United Ireland? ”

    No matter how successful and stable NI is, I will continue to push for and argue for a United Ireland, because it would be more successful and more stable. There is no situation I can think of where, in the long run, being within the Union is not harmful to our interest. I am 100% opposed to being overruled from a completely different country, I don’t like monarchy and I find written Constitution as highly important thing to have and a big barrier against, I dunno, ID Cards. Moreover, even if the GFA was implemented to the letter, none of the symbols of NI or the British state in any way represent me at all.

    The mechanism for getting a UI is convincing 50%+1 people in the six counties to vote for it. That is the only method that has been agreed. Turning this place into a shit hole helps no one, and pushes long run benefits of a UI further out. So there is no dichotomy between making this place run better and arguing for a UI.

    So, no, I’m not going to become a Unionist. What exactly is it that you don’t get?

  • Greenflag

    Kensei,

    ‘people still wanted an UI when the Republic was shit.’

    True and it’s also true that many people still want NI in the UK despite the ‘shit’ factor not to mention the other ‘benefits’ of reduced investment – lower standards of public services /higher taxes / financial dependency.

    As for the persuading ‘Unionists’ of the benefits of being part of a UI I cannot imagine a greater waste of time and energy than perhaps that incurred in trying to teach turtles to speak English 🙂

    BTW for what it’s worth I agree with most of your analysis however I think it would pay better dividends for NI nationalists and republicans to move towards a fair ‘repartition of NI’ solution than continuing to annoy Unionists by not shutting up about a UI. Of course there would no doubt be a call to shut up about ‘repartition’ but at least ‘repartition’ lays bare the political and economic table for all to see .

  • kensei

    “True and it’s also true that many people still want NI in the UK despite the ‘shit’ factor not to mention the other ‘benefits’ of reduced investment – lower standards of public services /higher taxes / financial dependency.”

    True but I speak just for myself. There will probably be people on the Nationalist side that could be “satisfied” within NI. Similarly, there will be people on the Unionist side who could be sold if you demonstrated that they’d be better off and respect within a UI.

    You are never going to convince everyone, but thankfully you don’t need to.

  • Greenflag

    Sean,

    ‘Once people feel their best interests have shifted then their asses quickly follow.’

    You might think that Sean but I could’nt possibly comment 🙂 On the other hand I’m tempted 🙂 As one’s feelings are known to emanate from the brain and not the ‘ass’ your assumption in the case of Unionism may be to use another term -ass backwards .

    Lib2016,

    Now that the South is one of the richest countries in the world with that prosperity increasingly impacting on the border counties the people who object to reunification have to find another objection.

    To rephrase Sean’s post – grab them by the wallet and their hearts and minds will follow. ”

    You might think that Lib2016 but as we know from the Free State’s/Republics history the ‘grabbing the wallet’ often just leaves people poorer without any impact on their ‘constitutional’ loyalties.

  • Diluted Orange

    Since we’re on the subject of aeronautical euphemisms, such as Northern Ireland being a zeppelin or whatever, may I suggest another one.

    If Sinn Fein and the DUP get elected to form a joint government after the Assembly elections I fear the whole process will resemble that of a lead balloon, i.e. it won’t be up for long.

    Neither party, not just SF, actually wants Northern Ireland to work. The DUP only want it to work for approx 55% of the population. Sinn Fein only want a future United Ireland to work for the other 45% who live in the current state of Northern Ireland. Their ideologies are so absolutely opposed that if the Assembly is up and running for more than 6 months I will be amazed.

  • Sean

    Greenflag

    What about NI isn’t ass backwards? LOL

    My statement

    Once people feel their best interests have shifted then their asses quickly follow

    is based on that old song

    free your mind and your ass will follow

  • New Yorker

    Kensai,

    It sounds to me that you would be happier in the Republic. Why don’t you move?

    Do you consider the EU a foreign power? As I understand it, the EU law must be obeyed in both the ROI and the UK.

  • PaddyReilly

    Do you consider the EU a foreign power? As I understand it, the EU law must be obeyed in both the ROI and the UK.

    Well you’re in need of (British/Irish) Constitution 101 then. The UK and the Irish Republic are both sovereign powers, which choose to follow EU law because it gives them trade advantages. In the same way, I choose to follow Mick Fealty’s rules on posting, because it allows me to post on Slugger. Should I choose not to follow them, I could do so. But I would not be allowed to post further. Similarly the UK and Irish Republic could choose at any moment not to follow EU law, but would then be denied the trade advantages they currently enjoy.

    As for the other question, that is for Kensei to answer, but obviously it would not be practical following any American Presidential election for the disappointed parties all to move to Canada or Paraguay, and similarly in Ireland, if any more nationalists had fled to the Free State after the setting up of the 6 county enclave, the Unionists would have used this timidity to extend their rule still further.

  • PaddyReilly

    It occurs to me that we could combine New Yorkers’s “Why don’t you move” suggestion and Greenflag’s unrelenting plugging of repartition into a cohesive solution.

    Stage one. Draw an international border around Lisburn and its environs, creating an Ulster San Marino.

    Stage two. The rest of the six counties now has a United Irelandist majority. (If it hasn’t, create another San Marino round Ballymena.)

    Stage three. Reunite Ireland, except for Lisburn.

    Now it is unnecessary for Kensei to move. (Assuming he doesn’t live in Lisburn.) The inhabitants of the enclave can make a living selling “No Surrender” teashirts and “Born to walk the Garvaghy Road” tea towels.

    It certainly wouldn’t be any sillier than the current set up, and less people would be put out by it.

  • kensei

    “It sounds to me that you would be happier in the Republic. Why don’t you move?”

    In Constitutional terms, yeah. Sadly, my friends are all here, my family is here and those bonds are pretty tight. Plus I’m not just am Irishman. I’m a Belfast man, and I like my city even if it is shite. That said, I have an application in that would move me South, but it would be a wrench.

    Though I don’t think you entirely get it. The Reunification of the island would benefit everyone both North and South in the long run. So even if I do move South, it’ll still be a political belief.

    But that’s just me. Let’s scale up – should the other 40-odd% of the population who’d prefer it move too? What about the ones that would prefer it in Finchley? Should they move there. Or wait, have we exposed that suggestion as completely fucking stupid?

    “Do you consider the EU a foreign power? As I understand it, the EU law must be obeyed in both the ROI and the UK. ”

    The ROI accepts EU law because it gives trade advantages. The vast majority of control resides with the ROI and it is a much looser arrangement. It can withdraw anytime it likes by referendum, and I have no doubt it would if it suddenly became shit. Moreover, I’m not against a sensible partial pooling of sovereignty if it makes sense. Principle beyond reason is no good to anyone. Though I would be against an EU superstate.

  • New Yorker

    Kensei,

    It seems to me that if you stay in Belfast and at present the majority of NI wants to remain in the UK, you have to respect the wishes of that majority.

    I live probably in a more mobile country. If in 2001 I lived in a “red” state (Bush supporting), I’d move. It would not be comfortable for my wife or me to continue living in a “red” state. And, while in the “red” state I would not say publically ‘Bush is an A–Hole’ – It would offend others and be pointless. I’d wait till I was in a “blue” state and never stop saying it.

    “The Reunification of the island would benefit everyone both North and South in the long run.” Apparently most people in the North do not agree. That may change in the distant future. That’s a personal belief of yours. So long as you are in Belfast, you are similar to me hypothetically in a “red” state.

    I think so long as there is peace and the two communities are more neighborly, life will get more ‘normal’ and new blocks based on non-constitutional issues (economics, education, role of government, etc) will develop. You might find that you have more in common with others of a different community in Belfast than say people in Cork.

    Regarding EU law, as you and Paddy point out you receive big advantages as members. So, it is unlikely you would decide to leave the EU and therefore accept EU law. Practically speaking you obey EU law; although some don’t care for it, I recall some resented EU environmental law implementation.

  • PaddyReilly

    To continue with the American comparison.

    States in the US are historical, geographical, sometimes even geometrical entities. Their borders are extremely regular and rational. That of the six Counties is not. The entity on which it is based is Ulster, which has a Nationalist majority: but by paring away Donegal, creating a riduclous alignment, it has been possible to turn this Nationalist majority into a slight Unionist one. This process is called gerrymander , and it violates proper Human Right standards, particularly the one about equal political rights. It can arise only because one party has the right to create borders, and the other does not.

    Secondly, if you will allow that freedom to express an (anti-Bush) political opinion still exists in states which voted against Bush, then in NI we have 26 districts, with about half pro United Ireland, and half against. Belfast, the district in which Kensei lives, is neither one nor the other, having no overall control. So you should concede that he can say what he likes.

    Equally, I do not think you quite understand how close the vote is. In 2004 the anti UI vote was only 30,000 higher than the pro: that was three years ago.

    So in terms of the blue and red comparison, NI is Florida, not Arizona or somewhere.

  • Crataegus

    Some of you guys should look at the divisions in NI in detail. It is an utter mess. You would have very large minorities whatever way you choose to divide the place up, unless you are thinking endless Berlin corridors and a right patchwork quilt.

    I am truly an outsider I wasn’t even born in Britain or Ireland. I am not Christian and spent much of my life abroad. I could not care less about the border provided it suits my pocket and no one takes pot shots at me. From my perspective instead of bashing each other over the head on differences concentrate a bit on the common ground. Most Unionists and Nationalists are basically practical people. Everyone wants better schools, hospitals, economy etc. Most Unionists whilst they want to be in the UK want devolution. Many Republicans want an Ireland of regions. Etc etc.

    Cooperation on many things on this Island make perfect sense, transport, energy, tourism, economic development of the border regions, economic cooperation generally, fisheries, pollution and so on. The problem comes when some idiot starts to proclaim something that is common sense as a move towards a united Ireland and then we are all back walking in coals.

    I don’t think the problems in NI are intractable or anywhere near as bad as other places that spring to mind (Some family friends live in Lebanon!). In my opinion you need a period of normalisation; the place has been through decades of murder and bombing. People do not trust others.

    Yesterday ran into a Unionist MLA who mentioned he was going over to Ludlow. I said Dublin Holyhead and across Wales very scenic. He hadn’t even though of it! It wasn’t prejudice it is just he does not have connection with the South at all. His connections are to the East, not to the South. Similar to some extent this probably also applies to the Nationalist community. What connection do Nationalists have with say Derbyshire? How many even know where it is?

    The idea that 50%+1 is the way forward worries me. Do you want a United Ireland, Yes; NO; seems a daft way to proceed as if there are no other options. What type of Ireland am I agreeing to or voting against? I remember some years ago going to a talk about this and someone (name escapes me) suggested that we should have options and that we should vote on the options and giving each option points and add the points. He say this as the way at arriving at the common consensus. The guy had the basis of an idea though I thought it needed some work.

    You either take the view that it is possible to find common ground and aim for a united Ireland in that context or you accept that the place is hopelessly divided and that part of Ireland will always be separate. I would take the more optimistic view. Most people in NI are fine people but feel threatened hence the tendency towards obstinacy and over aggression.

  • Greenflag

    paddy reilly ,

    ‘It occurs to me that we could combine New Yorkers’s “Why don’t you move” suggestion and Greenflag’s unrelenting plugging of repartition into a cohesive solution.

    Stage one. Draw an international border around Lisburn and its environs, creating an Ulster San Marino. ‘

    Now that’s what I call a blow below the belt paddy .The uncalled for mention of San Marino is a body blow from which Greenflag will not easily recover .What’s wrong with using Lichtenstein or Luxembourg ?

    On the other hand your idea of developing several San Marinos has prospects . But for jayzuz sake don’t let them combine as one soccer team or we’ll never qualify for the World Cup.

    After this post Paddy -Greenflag is a beaten man 🙁 I surrender unrelentingly )

    PS until tomorrow 🙂

  • PaddyReilly

    Crataegus

    The problem comes when some idiot starts to proclaim something that is common sense as a move towards a united Ireland and then we are all back walking in coals.

    I’m not sure what this sentence is meant to mean. In fact I don’t quite know what your piece is saying and how we are meant to better ourselves by reading it.

    A point that I would like to make is that the US is largely run (internally, at least) on democratic principles, with secessions taking place by popular vote, based on agreed principles.

    NI is based on a human rights violation. It involves giving one party the power to draw borders, and denying it to another. One party can secede within borders of its own making, another cannot.

    Equally, it is established practise that you do not set up a state without the consent of at least three quarters of the affected population, and even allowing a dissenting percentage as big as that is risky.

    When you violate accepted democratic practise, you are left with two parties who both feel entitled to be the government. Thinking that you can just ignore this and concentrate on water rates is just hopelessly optimistic.

    Ah dear, we’ve been through it all. The summer camp for inner city children to teach them how to get on with the other side, which ended with them building barricades down the middle. The meeting of Belfast gays that ended in fisticuffs (on grounds of religion of course).

    You can’t duck the question. It just has a way of working its way back in. And if some ****** American tells you you’re not allowed to speak your mind because you live in this imaginary entity, then you are bound to ask how this entity came into being in the first place.

    you are thinking endless Berlin corridors and a right patchwork quilt.

    Well, what I said wasn’t actually serious. Dividing Ireland isn’t actually feasible. Why not divide Yorkshire between Christians and Muslims? There are as many of the latter in England as there are Prods in Ireland. The way I see it is, someone landed in Carrickfergus with a pot of orange paint and flicked it all over the surrounding countryside. There are blobs all over the place, but the country is predominantly green. A patchwork quilt would be orderly in comparison with this.

  • PaddyReilly

    Greenflag

    What’s wrong with using Lichtenstein or Luxembourg ?

    For a start you can’t spell it. Liechtenstein that is. But San Marino is completely surrounded by Italy, as Lisburn would be by Ireland, while Liechtenstein and Luxembourg are more rational in that they border different sovereign states. So SM comes closer to what I was suggesting.

    See you tomorrow.

  • Greenflag

    paddy reilly,

    I did’nt get where I am today by knowing how to spell Leechenstein 🙂

    ‘Dividing Ireland isn’t actually feasible. ‘

    I’m sad to say it obviously was – otherwise this subject would not be up for discussion on this website . If it’s been divided once then it follows that it can be divided twice . There would of course be a physical limit to redivision as your San Marino analogy shows.

    A common theme in history and even in the present day is that that the values to which people cling most stubbornly under ‘innappropriate’ conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs over adversity. This in short is the Unionist dilemma in NI. Winning societies usually succeed by figuring out which of their core values they should hold on to and which they need to let go off. In trying to hold on to everything – chances are they will/could lose everything. This holds just as much for Irish Republicanism in Northern Ireland as it does for Northern Unionism.

    The opposing NI factions get away it because Peter Pieman continues to pay up like a right eejit !

  • kensei

    “It seems to me that if you stay in Belfast and at present the majority of NI wants to remain in the UK, you have to respect the wishes of that majority.”

    Yes. But I am well with in my democratic right to argue for change, and to use any democratic and lawful means to bring it about.

    “I live probably in a more mobile country. If in 2001 I lived in a “red” state (Bush supporting), I’d move. It would not be comfortable for my wife or me to continue living in a “red” state.”

    That’s your choice. I respect it. But for other people there are other factors too. And GWB is the leader of all America, not just the Red States. Policy he gets passed affects all of America. Didn’t you notice?

    “And, while in the “red” state I would not say publically ‘Bush is an A–Hole’ – It would offend others and be pointless. I’d wait till I was in a “blue” state and never stop saying it.”

    Then you are an idiot. You don’t say Bush is an Asshole. You make the case that a Democratic candidate would produce a better future and you try and do it in a way that people can relate to. And in fairness, the successful democratic challengers in the last election seemed to. You think it is just words? The idea that you just go live somewhere else where you offend less people seems to me fundamentally unamerican, more than anything else.

    The problem with Nationalism (and Unionism, too) is that we are talking to ourselves rather than each other. I think we need to get to a point where we secure in our own identity before we can really have that debate.

    “Apparently most people in the North do not agree. That may change in the distant future. That’s a personal belief of yours. So long as you are in Belfast, you are similar to me hypothetically in a “red” state.”

    No, the Constitutional situation and much else is a whole lot different.

    “I think so long as there is peace and the two communities are more neighborly, life will get more ‘normal’ and new blocks based on non-constitutional issues (economics, education, role of government, etc) will develop. You might find that you have more in common with others of a different community in Belfast than say people in Cork.”

    What I have in common with say, one of my mates from Uni whose life is somewhat similar to me but just happens to be a Prod is completely, staggeringly, utterly, totally irrelevant. What matters is who rules us, how do we change it, does it respect our culture and what opportunities does it afford us for the future. All of which get better answers in a UI. In my opinion, of course.

  • Sean

    Crat
    I am canadian, we live in a situation in which a majority of a minority is always proposing the partition of their little corner from Canada.

    They have had several referendoms with various convoluted questions that even the lawyers had trouble guessing the answer to so the Canadian government set some clear rules.

    1st there has to be a clear majority, 50% + 1 is not sufficient for them to trigger their right to cede sovereignty.

    2nd the question has to be clear and unambiguous, a strick yes or no so that people can make there feelings perfectly clear

    if you make it anything but perfectly clear then you leave yourself open to interpretations and almost a guarantee to open war.

    if you convolute the vote then you let both sides claim victory and therefor us violence to advance their positions. if it is yes or no then the answer is definitive and definate.

    a yes or no would never stop either side from trying a referendum in the future but the would want to ensure that they were at least capable of winning before setting the country off.

    you wouldnt want the egg on your face if your side was trounced would you, it destroys your credibility

  • New Yorker

    Kensei,

    If there was a referendum, as Sean mentions, what percentage would vote for leaving the UK? Second, if voting the UK was to cost every person 4,000 pounds per year, what percentage would vote to leave the UK? If it were even near likely 50.1% would vote to leave the UK, a referendum would have been proposed by now.

    Your UI idea is not realistically going to get accepted by 50.1+ for a very long time, if ever. By constantly bringing it up you are flogging a dead horse. It is like me in a “red” state trying to convince people not to vote for Bush and his ilk – it’s pointless and annoys the neighbors. If you keep running into a brick wall, your head will keep getting hurt. Is it not obvious that politicians are mouthing UI purely for political gain. All the major parties are now pro-union but they will say whatever to get votes.

    Paddy,

    Regarding partition, don’t forget that the Free State agreed to it. Some historians say they dropped the Boundary Commission in lieu of excuse of debt to the UK. It was not unilateral. The ‘Irish people’ represented by the Free State government signed off on it.

    Greenflag,

    I agree with you about that the Unionists made a major mistake, and greatly harmed themselves, by making NI a very cold house for nationalists, by not trying to convince the nationalists that together both sides could work to make a better life for all. Many still have that mindset and continue to be a major problem.

    Crataegus,

    Your thoughts above are refreshing. You are right that people should find and work on common ground issues and stay away from walking on hot coals. Work together and all benefit. Stop pushing the hot buttons and everybody calms down and has a better perspective. You may, however, need new political parties to bring you to that situation.

  • PaddyReilly

    New Yorker

    It seems to me that if you stay in Belfast and at present the majority of NI wants to remain in the UK, you have to respect the wishes of that majority.

    Look at the problem this way.

    The Unionists of NI are about 11% of Ireland’s population. (Some might put it as high as 14%)

    Nationalists are only 10%, say. Thus your argument is that 10% must totally defer to 11%, because 11% is the greater figure. However, Nationalists will always look at the greater picture: we are the larger party in Ulster: this bring us up to 14%: let them defer to us. And also, in Ireland as a whole, we are part of the 89% majority.

    So what makes Unionists a majority? Nothing but the border. And who created the border? God? No. The Ocean? No. History? No. Geographical convenience? No. Surprise, surprise, it was the predecessors in title of the 11% who are now claiming to be a majority. With the aid of the guns they smuggled into Larne.

    So if you think that a border of this sort is going to win any respect, you are quite mistaken. And if “some historians” think that the Free State sold the six counties in the twenties in return for relief of debt, they are also mistaken. The debt issue was not settled until 1939. The Free State agreed to hand over the six counties in response to force of arms, in the way that one agrees to hand over a wallet to a mugger.

    This argument is as likely to impress the victims of this heist as the argument that the slave traders paid good money for their purchases so the current generation of Afro-Americans should still be working it off.

  • kensei

    “If there was a referendum, as Sean mentions, what percentage would vote for leaving the UK?”

    If it matches with the pro-UI party vote, it’ll be a shade over 40%+. Some people will claim that not all SDLP types what a UI, but I reckon a good campaign including the Southern Government and you’d pull in close to that.

    “Second, if voting the UK was to cost every person 4,000 pounds per year, what percentage would vote to leave the UK? If it were even near likely 50.1% would vote to leave the UK, a referendum would have been proposed by now. ”

    No, we wouldn’t get 50.1% right now. but with changing demographics and the right policies, we might get it in 15-25 years. W3e won’t, of course, if we do nothing.

    Thankfully it doesn’t cost £4,000 pounds to leave the UK. Bargain at twice the price, though.

    “Your UI idea is not realistically going to get accepted by 50.1+ for a very long time, if ever. By constantly bringing it up you are flogging a dead horse.”

    That’s politics.

    ” It is like me in a “red” state trying to convince people not to vote for Bush and his ilk – it’s pointless and annoys the neighbors. If you keep running into a brick wall, your head will keep getting hurt. Is it not obvious that politicians are mouthing UI purely for political gain. ”

    Covered this frankly stupid point already. Read above.

    “All the major parties are now pro-union but they will say whatever to get votes. ”

    No, SF aren’t, and the SDLP aren’t and you have no evidence to back up your claim. If they do, I highly encourage them to say it and watch their vote get destroyed.

  • New Yorker

    Kensei,

    SF and the SDLP signed up for the GFA. Both parties support the laws of NI and the UK. That makes both parties pro union. Are those not the facts? Judge by actions rather than words spouted for votes. The only anti union parties left are the dissident republicans.

    6,000,000,000 divided by 1,500,000 equals 4,000. That’s the cost either in additional taxes or reductions in benefits, education, roads, etc.

    We have very different ideas of what is good politics. I don’t indulge in wishful thinking and flogging dead horses.

    Paddy,

    It is not relevant what percentage of the total island population either group is. A change would take place by referendum of people in the North. The unionists are, if I recall, 55-56% and almost all would not vote for a UI. The nationalists are 44-45% and it is unknown what % would vote for a UI. It would not be 100%. I doubt it would be 75%. Maybe 50-75%. But maybe below 50%.

    Regarding the Free State and the Boundary Commission, refer to what William Cosgrove agree to in November 1925. It does not agree with what you state above. There was not a military threat involved.

  • kensei

    “SF and the SDLP signed up for the GFA. Both parties support the laws of NI and the UK. That makes both parties pro union. Are those not the facts? Judge by actions rather than words spouted for votes. The only anti union parties left are the dissident republicans.”

    No, by traditional definitions they are now both Constitutional Nationalist parties. They work to achieve their goals through constitutional processes rather than physical force. Buy a text book.

    “6,000,000,000 divided by 1,500,000 equals 4,000. That’s the cost either in additional taxes or reductions in benefits, education, roads, etc.”

    Already covered in other threads why it won’t be anywhere near 6 Billion. This also ignores the fact that the long run cost of being the Union is much higher and the GDP per capita differential is already greater than 4,000 euro is Wiki’s figures are correct.

    “We have very different ideas of what is good politics. I don’t indulge in wishful thinking and flogging dead horses.”

    In the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s there were some conservatives who proposed what looked a lot like current conservative policy on the US. They were considered lunatics. But they kept pushing and jeez, look around you now.

  • PaddyReilly

    Regarding the Free State and the Boundary Commission, refer to what William Cosgrove agree to in November 1925. It does not agree with what you state above. There was not a military threat involved.

    Yes, lots of counties had to agree to having bits chopped off them in the first half of the 20th Century. Czechoslavakia, Poland, France, for example. It was force majeure in every case. WC did not campaign on a “lets get rid of the 6 counties” ticket and his inability to live up to his promises led his party into perpetual minority status. I’m sorry but there are plenty of people who decline to be sold into slavery by some incompetent or impotent figure from the past.

    The unionists are, if I recall, 55-56% and almost all would not vote for a UI. The nationalists are 44-45% and it is unknown what % would vote for a UI. It would not be 100%. I doubt it would be 75%. Maybe 50-75%. But maybe below 50%.

    Oh really, I take it you’ve asked them all. Bit like the reliable surveys taken by the Rhodesians in the 60s: the Blacks will never vote for independence, it’s not in their interest. Look at the election map on

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/

    You will see that of 18 constituencies in NI, 8 are Nationalist. Now look at the results for North Belfast, a Unionist held constituency:-

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/anb.htm

    You should be able to work out that in the 2005 Westminster election, the Nationalist vote fell short of the Unionist by less than 2,400 votes. And that was two years ago. So Nationalists are within a whisker of holding nine constituency seats in the province, half the total. What does that tell you about the future of a divided Ireland?

  • New Yorker

    Kensei,

    They are constitutional nationalist parties that support union with the UK. They can call themselves whatever they like but they are pro union in practice.

    I’ve read you on paying for a UI on other threads. Unless there were overwhelming support for the idea among the people of NI, I doubt there would be more than token amounts contributed by the EU or the US. You could radically cut costs but that would probably result is massive social problems, workers not paid, educational and health cuts, etc. The key would be to get overwhelming support and I don’t see that in the forseeable future.

    The conservative movement has been in US politics since the country’s founding. The modern conservative movement is best dated to the first edition of the Journal “National Review” in 1955 by William Buckley. Ronald Regan, their first realistic candidate for President was elected 15 years later. The current UI idea has been around for at least 85 years. Ideas in politics usually take off in many fewer than 85 years. Another idea of that vintage is basing currency on the gold standard. I’m sure some people still believe in the gold standard, but I totally doubt the world will revert to it. Still, some flog that dead horse.

    Paddy,

    The people you call nationalists in the North are by and large Catholics. And you seem to assume all Catholics support a UI. I have not spoken to every Catholic in NI, but for the Catholics I know and have met over the years, especially the last 10-15 years, a UI is not high on their agenda if it is on their agenda at all. Generally they don’t have a high opinion of current politics and politicians. What is high on their agenda is their families, their businesses and professions, morality and religion. Maybe the people I know and have met are totally unrepresentative, but I doubt it.

    What William Cosgrove agreed to in 1925 has not been overturned since. In fact they have gone further with removal of Articles 2 & 3. In recent visits to the Republic they seem very content with the current constitutional situation. Have you noticed any difference from my experience?

  • Yoda

    New Yorker: I’m not sure the either/or scenario you’re pedalling can continue to limp along. Even a properly working liberal democracy in NI would radically change the place.

    Liberal democracy with local integration and accountability makes a great deal of sense for NI.

  • PaddyReilly

    The people you call nationalists in the North are by and large Catholics. And you seem to assume all Catholics support a UI.

    I have done a search on this page and find that the first mention of the word Catholic is by you. I did not use the word. I assume that Sinn Féin and the SDLP can correctly be called Nationalist. They do not support the union with the UK, they have merely agreed not to use (any more) violence to attempt to overthrow that union until a majority for reunification is achieved in the 6 county area.

    There is no exact way of telling the religion of people who vote for these parties, so I cannot really comment on it. But I am certain that very nearly half the MPs in NI are Nationalist. Saying that a UI is not high on your agenda does not mean that you are not going to vote for it.

    Articles 2 & 3 have not been removed, they have merely been suspended until such time as the 6 counties vote for reunification. This does not go beyond Cosgrove because Articles 2 & 3 were not brought in until a decade after Cosgrove’s time.

  • kensei

    “They are constitutional nationalist parties that support union with the UK. They can call themselves whatever they like but they are pro union in practice.”

    You can say it as much as you like, it won’t make it anymore true. The Conservatives in England are for lower taxes. They would change it in an instant if they could. Because the accept the current status quo and the constitutional measures for changing it doesn’t mean that they are for the current level of taxation. Nothing new to add here? Then please don’t repeat it for the fourth time.

    “I’ve read you on paying for a UI on other threads. Unless there were overwhelming support for the idea among the people of NI, I doubt there would be more than token amounts contributed by the EU or the US.”

    Actually, trouble seems guaranteed to have money thrown in to sweeten the deal.

    “You could radically cut costs but that would probably result is massive social problems, workers not paid, educational and health cuts, etc. The key would be to get overwhelming support and I don’t see that in the forseeable future.”

    No, it would mean a cut of about a thirds in the republics National development plan. Painful but not irreconcilable. But again, it won’t be anywhere like 6 Billion pa. And the size of the subsidy has to be cut UI or no. 70%+ public dependence! 70-odd%!

    “The conservative movement has been in US politics since the country’s founding. The modern conservative movement is best dated to the first edition of the Journal “National Review” in 1955 by William Buckley. Ronald Regan, their first realistic candidate for President was elected 15 years later. The current UI idea has been around for at least 85 years. Ideas in politics usually take off in many fewer than 85 years. Another idea of that vintage is basing currency on the gold standard. I’m sure some people still believe in the gold standard, but I totally doubt the world will revert to it. Still, some flog that dead horse. ”

    And if people had followed your lead and just not said anything and given up, the 60’s Orthodox would have prevailed. Except it wouldn’t because no one would have moved on from the 20’s. Etc etc etc.

    The world has curious ways of turning. I can’t be sure that in all of history that remains, there won’t be a return to something lie the Gold Standard. Forever is a long time. Happy to flog my dead horse. fortunately for you, you don’t live here and don’t have to worry unless you involve yourself. What is it with Americans and that, btw?