Thatcher: “I need that money for my people”…

Garrett FitzGerald is telling tales from school (subs needed). This one points up a profound challenge facing unionism in the years to come, ie how make the Union work in real human terms. It is well worth repeating:

So, after signing the agreement with me on November 15th, 1985, when we went upstairs in Hillsborough Castle to celebrate our achievement with a glass of champagne, Thatcher reacted negatively to a reference I made to an arrangement by which our two permanent representatives to the EU were to propose to their colleagues that their states each make a substantial national contribution to a Northern Ireland peace fund, outside the framework of the EU budget.

I had personally secured the agreement of almost all other heads of government to this proposal. The instant reaction demonstrated how little unionist sentiment she shared: “What! More money for these people? Look at their roads! Look at their schools! I need that money for my people!”

The approach in Brussels was instantly cancelled, and Northern Ireland lost what might have been several hundred million pounds in aid.

  • Henry94

    British as Finchley? She didn’t even believe it herself.

  • JG

    “What! More money for –>these<-- people? Look at their roads! Look at their schools! I need that money for -->my<-- people!” Just in case you did not get the emphasis.

  • Crataegus

    Unionists can make it work in social and cultural terms if they have the will to.

    Economically though it will be very difficult the pitch they are on is on the side of a hill and they are playing up it against the prevailing wind.

    They need a fundamental change in attitude towards regional development and devolved power on fiscal matters. They don’t have any leverage unless there is a hung government after the next election or Scotland moves away from Labour. Perhaps even if Wales would also show some inclination about not returning Labour MPs opinion in the government may change.

    This is also where SFs not taking their seats bites. In British parliamentary terms by not being there they support the government (whatever government) by not being able to vote against it. In my opinion they are missing a trick.

  • IJP

    Paisley’s the same as Thatcher, but with NI and GB reversed.

    For example, he opposed MI5 taking the lead on intelligence in NI saying “Our people are quite capable of doing this”.

    The boundary line between genuine all-UK Unionism and anti-Dublin-ism/anti-Brussels-ism is an interesting one, relatively infrequently referenced.

  • Crataegus

    IJP

    The boundary line between genuine all-UK Unionism and anti-Dublin-ism/anti-Brussels-ism is an interesting one, relatively infrequently referenced.

    I agree and it is important in the current mix and in the evolving positions. Certainly Unionists will get nowhere being deferentially British.

    Most people in England do not relate NI as British unless they have some direct connection with NI. It is seen as a liability. That is the fundamental weakness of Unionism.

    NI is not main stream British. It does not help elect anyone that will form part of a government. It is too small in a British context to be of much relevance. It is of negative economic benefit.

    In many ways Unionism is a contradiction in terms. By being Unionist you wish to remain part of the UK but retain a substantial degree of separation.

    It is interesting and something that many Nationalists should ponder long and hard about.

  • john

    I think Unionism is even more complicated than that. There are ‘genuine’ unionists, the anti-dublin/irish/gaelic element, but also a religiously motivated element and ulster nationalist element. The fear factors that have always held them together are beginning to disappear. The republic isn’t the confessional state that it was and the IRA is effectively gone (or at least it will fade out). Add to this that the British exchequer is looking less willing to subsidise NI without raising at least some extra tax locally, and that the old Kipling-esque (for want of a better term) notion of Britishness is being eroded with the advent of mass immigration and multiculturalism, it looks like interesting times ahead for Unionism/British nationalism.

  • Dec

    Craetagus

    It (NI) does not help elect anyone that will form part of a government.

    The same logic can be extended to Scotland and Wales: ultimately, they get the Government England decides.

    In many ways Unionism is a contradiction in terms. By being Unionist you wish to remain part of the UK but retain a substantial degree of separation.
    It is interesting and something that many Nationalists should ponder long and hard about.

    As ever, there’s always further thinking/reappraisal required by Nationalists. Yawn…

  • Crataegus

    DEC

    same logic can be extended to Scotland and Wales

    Who Is likely to be the next Prime Minister? Where is he from? Certainly not from Ballymena. THe Labour Party has a majority because of Scotland and Wales.

    And yes I think that generally Nationalist, to their disadvantage, do not quite get Unionism right.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crataegus: “Unionists can make it work in social and cultural terms if they have the will to.”

    Only if they have a willing partner to dance with, Crataegus.

    Crataegus: “Economically though it will be very difficult the pitch they are on is on the side of a hill and they are playing up it against the prevailing wind.”

    Against a team in a position to make the rules up as they go…

    Crataegus: “This is also where SFs not taking their seats bites. In British parliamentary terms by not being there they support the government (whatever government) by not being able to vote against it. In my opinion they are missing a trick.”

    Not until recently… it will be interesting to see how the political calculus changes. Mayhap it will be seen as beneficial to take those seats.

  • Crataegus

    Dread

    I think we agree.

  • MOPE off

    Yawn – one, entirely unverifiable claim from GF, made now (and only now) while Thatch is in her dotage, versus, uh, everything else she ever said privately & publicly, and you leap to believe that the former must truly capture her position? Unimpressive. Almost, in fact, a casebook illustration of Nationalist-argument-desperandum. Get over it: mainland Brits have nowhere near the qualms about their putative fellow countrymen that Free Staters so painfully obviously do about theirs.

  • Greenflag

    Crataegus,

    ‘In many ways Unionism is a contradiction in terms. ‘

    Full marks for the obvious -I’ve been saying this for years not that it matters a jot 🙂

    ‘It is interesting and something that many Nationalists should ponder long and hard about.’

    As an Irish Nationalist (small n) I have pondered this ‘contradiction’ and my conclusion is that only Unionists themselves will overcome this political ‘contradiction’ in whichever way/ways they can. The only thing ROI politicians can do is to continue to promote economic development in the North West of Ireland through cross border infrastructural and economic development.

    ‘I think that generally Nationalist, to their disadvantage, do not quite get Unionism right. ‘

    True at least as regards most apolitical Irish nationalists. In a way it’s the same as the historical’ English’ syndrome towards Ireland as a whole and in recent decades the English attitude to Northern Ireland in particular .

    To paraphrase your own words C.

    ‘NI is not main stream Irish . It does not help elect anyone that will form part of a government here .(yet anyway) It is too small in an Irish context to be of much relevance other than at times of increased tension and sectarian violence . It is of negative economic benefit. ‘

    Apart from a difference of degree i.e NI is of course ‘smaller’ in an overall British context than in an overall Irish context the NI internal political and economic cul de sac looks much the same to the average Irish (ROI) or English/Scots/Welsh voter .

    The genuine Unionist -IMO is he/she who favours direct integration of Northern Ireland in the UK . The ‘true’ Unionist is however faced with an even more insurmountable contradiction . Every UK Government even the last Thatcher government has declared full integration to be politically unacceptable .

    The ‘dynamics’ of history are not going in a more ‘Unionist’ direction within NI nor within the UK generally. They appear IMO to be going the other way. Gordon Brown’s Labour Government will be focusing to a huge degree on ‘maintaining ‘ the Anglo/Scottish Union . Northern Ireland will be relegated to where it’s seen to belong – the outermost fringe of an increasingly fractious UK.

  • circles

    Ouch MOPE off!!! She must have hurt you bad with that one.
    We told you she was a callous bitch and that could only end in tears, but oh no, you had to go and fall in love. And now they say she didn’t love you back.
    It hurts I’m sure, but you know in your heart and so did she, that we were never as british as Finchley.

  • Greenflag

    DC,

    ‘it will be interesting to see how the political calculus changes. Maybe it will be seen as beneficial to take those seats.’

    ‘Och aye Gordy . What was that ye said ? Ye need our votes to help ye keep the Labour Government in power and the finances flowing here in NI.’

    Gerry how many Westminster seats do we have?

    ‘Eh Martin 9 or 10 ‘ says Gerry

    How many votes do ye need Gord?

    4!

    Rightee O then . The lads are on their way ! But there is just one thing we’d like to get your committment on before they leave etc etc etc etc 🙂

    Unlikely perhaps – Not an impossible situation .
    John Major will be only too aware of how it worked in the past .

  • MOPE off (seriously)

    Of course we’re as British as Finchley, or Angus, or Swansea, we’re just not British in the same way, nor are they, one to another, British in the same way. Welcome to the Union, it’s a diverse place and you’re here for a long time to come . . .

  • Ringo

    MOPE off

    Yawn – one, entirely unverifiable claim from GF, made now (and only now) while Thatch is in her dotage,

    That isn’t the first time Garret has told that story – I recall him doing so in a television interview years ago. He was describing how he hadn’t previously realised that she was an English nationalist first and foremost. And it is hardly that surprising is it?

  • Elvis Parker

    There is no doubt about the extent of damage done to the Union by the continuation of separtist, so called unionist parties like UUP and DUP. At that time Thatcher had no members in NI to consult let alone worry about.
    The so called unionists parties wish to perpetuate this lunancy.
    Fortunately the Ulster Tories have changed attitudes considerably in the Conservative Party in recent years and Cameron and the rest of the leadership see no reason to collude with this parochial mindset anymore.

  • Elvis Parker

    Greenflag
    Your SF seats scenario is incorrect in three regards:
    SF is very unlikely ever to take their seats (admittedly they have torn up everyting else they believed in so one cant be sure)
    The equation is just as likely to work the other way ie unionist MPs
    One Conservative or Labour MP elected in NI is likely to have more influence that all the other MPs – Irish nationalists/Ulster nationalists

  • Elvis Parker

    Ringo
    Is you or Garret think Thatcher was an English nationalist you really have a very poor understanding of Thatcher.

  • Dec

    Crat

    same logic can be extended to Scotland and Wales

    Who Is likely to be the next Prime Minister? Where is he from? Certainly not from Ballymena. THe Labour Party has a majority because of Scotland and Wales.

    I said the same logic could be extended, not applied, to Wales and Scotland. The size of Labour’s majority may be dictated by Wales and Scotland, but the existence of a Labour Government is decided in England.

    And yes I think that generally Nationalist, to their disadvantage, do not quite get Unionism right.

    If you ask 10 Unionists about Unionism and Identity you’re likely to get 10 different answers. Check out the recent threads on Rugby for examples.

  • Ringo

    EP – take it up with Garret – I’m sure the extent of your first hand dealings with her, which you are no doubt using as the basis for your ‘understanding’, go far beyond his. Personally I couldn’t give a rats ass what box she is put in.

  • Greenflag

    Elvis ,

    I said ‘ unlikely not impossible’

    The equation is just as likely to work the other way ie unionist MPs .

    And it did . Molyneux helped to keep Major in power for years ultimately prolonging the NI agony but the UUP obviously believed it was worth it . We forget that it was an ‘abstentionnist’ Nationalist MP -Frank Maguire who propelled Margaret Thatcher into power in the UK when he failed to support the confidence vote in James Callaghan’s Labour Government .

    As to a Tory or Labour Party candidate winning a Westminster seat in NI ?

    I’d never say never but can only see this possibility in a fully integrated NI within the UK in which context local Unionist parties would be ‘irrelevant’. But that as they say is about as likely as the earth’s moon leaving orbit tomorrow and spinning off on a Uranus bound trajectory.

    As I said the other day .
    The good news is that NI will soon have a DUP/SF power sharing Government and the bad news is that NI will soon have a DUP/SF power sharing Government . The power sharing muppets will still however be choreographed Westminster’s financial strings .

  • circles

    MOPE off – Its alright, there’s no need living in denial. Even Papa Doc has caught on. She didn’t love you, but its ok, move on.
    You in your head might feel as British as they’ve told you you are – much like the character Ali G thought he was a black rapper. But its all smoke and mirrors.
    Another delusion would seem to be your implacable faith in the eternal union, whilst other loyal subjects of your great nation have hacksaws going hard on the branches.
    Woul be interesitng to know what Thatcher would have made of that….probably not much.

    Ringo: “Personally I couldn’t give a rats ass what box she is put in.”
    Trying hard to resist the emptation to follow up on that one…..

  • ….Thatcher reacted negatively to a reference I made….

    Garrett is playing it down – when he suggested to Thatcher that they both send representatives to the EU to get money for NI education Thatcher wheeled on him in her famous vituperative manner and exclaimed “For these people? I need that money for my people!”. Fitzgerald was so surprised by the handbagging that he didn’t have the where withall to say anything else.

  • MOPE off

    Yeah right Circles, on you go – thanks for telling me that I’m not British. That’s really made all the difference. Gosh, there’s goes the Union. Why oh why do I live in this state of denial when I have insightful fellows like you about, so smart you even know better than I do what nationality I am? I’ve various things I could tell you that you are, but it appears that this place’s posting policy won’t let me.

  • Billy

    MOPE off

    I’m a nationalist and, as far as I’m concerned, you can be as “British” as you like.

    The point that many posters here have made (correctly in my opinion) is that people, presumably like you, who believe that NI is “as British as Finchley” are deluding themselves.

    Cataegus is correct to say that “Most people in England do not relate NI as British unless they have some direct connection with NI. It is seen as a liability.”

    I lived and was in business in London for many years. My wife, all her family and the vast majority of my friends/colleagues/business connections are English.
    I can only echo what Crataegus says – the vast majority of English people don’t understand NI and don’t care. They wouldn’t give a toss if NI went into a UI tomorrow.

    That is becoming more and more the case as English Nationalism rises and the UK becomes more involved in it’s own problems – immigration, islamic terror, climate change etc.

    When Brown becomes PM, I think you’ll see cost cutting by hitting the civil service – NI is a prime target. The UK Exchequer and people have had enough of subsidising NI and it’s problems.
    They have had no hesitation in accepting the money (and associated influence) from the RoI have they?

    I deny no-one their right to be British if they so wish. However, if you really think that the UK govt and people consider NI to be an integral part of the UK and “as British as Fichley”, then you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There is nothing inconsistent about the statement attributed to Thatcher. The truth is that you’ll find that all the British MPs outside of our own 18 will hold the same view. When push comes to shove, they’ll look after their own electorate ahead of the interests of people here. The campaign to provide discounted rates of corporation tax should be viewed from this perspective.

  • terence dactyl

    When I lived in England not once did someone refer to me as British, not once as Northern Irish, and not once as an Ulsterman.

    When talking about the place I came from people said Ireland, and when refering to my nationality they said Irish.

    This was something of a shock to me, but hey I was young, naieve, and the penny hadnt dropped yet.

    Sure enough, I came from a town with an Irish name, in a county with an Irish name, on an Island called Ireland, I was a member of the Church of um Ireland, and then there was all those relatives in the Grand Lodge of… Ireland.

    Oh god! I was Irish!

    Yes it was the British that showed me what I was… it only took them to call me Paddy a few times to get the oul brain working.

  • Comrade Stalin

    terence,

    My experience is the same. Work commitments often take me to different parts of the UK. Uniformly, people say things like “how are things back in Ireland?” or “when’s your flight back to Ireland?”.

    In a lot of ways I think one of the faults of unionism has been their failure to strengthen the union from the UK to Northern Ireland. They’ve concentrated too much on the union between Northern Ireland and the UK.

  • IJP

    Dec

    Not necessarily.

    In 1951 the Tories got a majority in the UK despite having fewer seats than Labour in England.

    In 2005 Labour was well ahead in UK-wide votes but actually the Tories won the popular vote in England.

    It is quite possible for the “Fringe” to determine the UK gets a Government other than the one England voted for.

    Crat‘s point, which I think is accurate, is that since the ’70s NI has not even been in a position to influence the outcome. Therein does indeed lie a blatant contradiction.

  • IJP

    Terence and Comrade

    I do actually think that depends a little. Sometimes people simply say “Ireland” because it’s shorter than “Northern Ireland”, especially in Britain, er, sorry, “Great Britain”…

    Frankly, I do the same myself.

    In a lot of ways I think one of the faults of unionism has been their failure to strengthen the union from the UK to Northern Ireland. They’ve concentrated too much on the union between Northern Ireland and the UK.

    This is spot on, however. And again, it’s an internal contradiction. In general, people in and from NI play only a fringe role in UK life, in much the same way people from the Republic do frankly!

  • Billy

    Comrade Stalin

    Exactly my point. I am not trying to deny anyone in NI their “Britishness” in any way.

    I am just pointing out that there are still Unionists who genuinely believe that the UK electorate care about NI and understand it. They seem to think that English people differentiate between Unionist/British/Protestant people and Nationalist/Irish/Catholic people. Frankly, that’s just crap.

    That may have been the case 30 – 35 years ago when the IRA’s disgusting bombing campaign in England was going on.

    However, I moved to London over 20 years ago and I soon found that, once they hear your accent, you’re classified as a “Paddy” or “Mick” – usually in a jovial or friendly way. No-one cares or understands if you consider yourself to be Irish or British or whether you are Catholic/Protestant.

    Nowadays, with all the EU and Asian immigration into the UK, Islamic terrorist threat etc, the vast majority of people in the UK don’t give a s**t about NI.

    I’m not attacking anyone. I’m simply pointing out that anyone who really believes that NI is “as British as Fichley” is deluding themselves.

  • hovetwo

    IIRC the conclusions in the book Home Rule, by Alvin Jackson, the Government of Ireland Act that set up Stormont may have fatally weakened integrationist unionism.

    Local politicians who had Home Rule foisted on them soon got a taste for running their own fiefdom, with little interest in building more bridges from the UK to NI. The perks were great. Stormont Ministers were paid the same salaries as their Westminster counterparts. Meanwhile Carson – a 32 county unionist and integrationist – retired to the Home Counties.

    It’s true that most English – and indeed southern Irish people – don’t “get” Northern Ireland. It’s also true that some PMs would have been happy to see a United Ireland. It doesn’t mean that unionists are deluded because of their identity or loyalties. They have made an enormous contribution to the UK. If anything, the Protestant graduate brain drain that FitzGerald points out is the most important part of his article. Both SF and the DUP should be focusing on reversing this.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    IJP

    “Sometimes people simply say “Ireland” because it’s shorter than “Northern Ireland”,”

    Now how on earth can you make that judgement?

  • Crataegus

    Most English are not aware of our subtle distinctions and badges of identity. I live a lot of the time in central London and people there regard me as Irish. In India or France they think I am British? Those that know me would have a different picture. It is not a political statement or in anyway a slight. It is just an indication of difference just as someone from Liverpool, Glasgow or Manchester would be regarded as different.

    The Unionists separation and isolation has meant that they are virtually invisible in a UK political context and this has helped distance NI from the ‘mainland’ mindset. The British would increase their interest in NI if there was a large gold or diamond deposit under Buchna or if the next PM was likely to be from Coleraine. We ourselves are as responsible for English perceptions as they are.

  • terence dactyl

    Frankly I dont really care what English perceptions are, I am no longer concerned with what they see me or us as.

    It took me nigh on twenty years to get to the point where I could just say I am Irish, I want to see a 32 county Irish republic and I believe the union with Great Britain to be ( and to have been) detrimental to all of our people.

    Im glad we arent as British as Finchley. And anyone who believes we are needs to spend some time in Finchley.

    As for Unionists thinking they are British, well good luck to them, but its a losing battle, everyone including a good number of them know it.

    We are Irish, we have a lot to give to OUR nation, why we stand outside the door gurning I’ll never understand.

  • Crataegus

    Terence

    We are Irish, we have a lot to give to OUR nation, why we stand outside the door gurning I’ll never understand.

    It is because what many see as being Irish repels others and many have no real connection with the rest of Ireland, through family or business connections, friends or sport.

    If we were all clones life would be so much simpler.

  • The Dubliner

    What a weak man and useless leader Fitzgerald appears in that exchange. His boss said no and he didn’t even argue, but instantly conceded even though he knew hundreds of millions would be lost. I guess the poor dear was terrified that Thatcher would publicly humiliate him again as she did with her infamous “out, out, out” press conference two years before.

  • IJP

    “Sometimes people simply say “Ireland” because it’s shorter than “Northern Ireland”,”

    Partly because I lived in GB for a long time, but mainly because, as I said, I do it myself!

    The point is that most (although by no means anything like all) people in GB know there is some kind of distinction between North and South. But few care.

  • Datz Reit

    I was on a stag weekend in Manchester there last week and was chatting up this girl about 23-24 yrs of age. When she heard my accent she asked me was I Scottish or Irish . I told her I was from Ireland, down around Cork. She then asked:

    “Cork – is that near Belfast?”

    I replied that it wasn’t. She then asked:

    “I’ve heard of Belfast. Whereabouts is Belfast?”

    Make of that what you will.

  • Greenflag

    Dubliner,

    ‘What a weak man and useless leader Fitzgerald appears in that exchange. His boss said no and he didn’t even argue,

    That’s why Thatcher in the end had more respect for CJ Haughey.

    Fitzer is no doubt a brilliant academic but he had a tendency to kowtow to HMG and in particular to Unionist leaders . His successor in FG – Bruton made the same mistake and Enda Kenny is going the same way it would appear?

    Maybe Kenny might have learned from Paisley’s antics this week ?.

    To be fair to Fitzer he was only one of a long line of politicians to have been handbagged by the Iron Lady .

    Had Maggie devoted one tenth of the time that Tony Blair has to Ireland in regard to finding a solution to the NI situation -NI might have avoided 15 to 20 years of political stasis not to mention the hunger strikes . However Maggie was never convinced that NI was worth much of her time .

    People in NI might want to think about that !

  • Greenflag

    Datz Reit’

    ‘Make of that what you will.’

    There’s a least one female Mancunian who is/was never interested in Geography 🙂

  • Ringo

    Greenflag
    Fitzer is no doubt a brilliant academic but he had a tendency to kowtow to HMG and in particular to Unionist leaders

    There’s no point in pretending that Anglo Irish releations were anything remotely like what they are today. Irish representatives, both officials and politicians were not treated as ‘equals’ (basically afforded the respect due to the leadership of any sovereign state) and not just by Thatcher or her government. Irish representatives were frequently made to wait in corridors to meet civil servants etc.. In fact, the Anglo Irish Agreement was the first point at which there was some semblence of parity on display. As for his kowtowing to the Unionists, any chance of an example of something he (or even Bruton) conceded that the leader of The Republican Party hasn’t conceded in the past decade? When it comes to people failing in their roles as leaders, Haughey’s opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement for purely selfish reasons stands way above anything Fitzgerald did in relation to the north. Given the week that is in it, isn’t it clear that real leadership often involves saying yes rather than no?

  • Dec

    IJP

    In 1951 the Tories got a majority in the UK despite having fewer seats than Labour in England.

    Hmm, 56 years ago.

    In 2005 Labour was well ahead in UK-wide votes but actually the Tories won the popular vote in England.

    In votes cast as opposed to seats won? I seem to recall Thatch forming a Government in the late 80s with just over 40% of the vote. That’s the first past the post

    It is quite possible for the “Fringe” to determine the UK gets a Government other than the one England voted for.

    In 1951, right?

    Crat‘s point, which I think is accurate, is that since the ‘70s NI has not even been in a position to influence the outcome. Therein does indeed lie a blatant contradiction.

    How much influence does 900,000 (approx Unionist population) out of a population of almost 61 Million warrant?

  • Two Nations

    Most Unionists are well aware of English ignorance but it has zero effect on their identity or Britishness. The Scots and Welsh both have problems with English ignorance and arrogance, so why should we be any different.

    Most English would describe these islands as the British Isles. So I would ask Nationalists, just because the English say something does it make it true?

    English attitudes make very little difference to the identity of the Ulster-British. Nationalism still does not understand the mindset of the average Unionist.

    Unionism does not mean wanting to be English. It does not mean wanting to BE anything. We are British because we are British! There is no identity crisis. We do not need English verification of this. We certainly do not need Irish verification of this. There is no one on this planet that can stop us feeling the way we feel.

    The Union is not about wanting to be with the English, who are generally disliked anyway. The Union is about security. Security in the first instance for our religion (less important these days) and secondly for our identity.

    The English are a lot of things but culturally dominant they are not. The Scots, Welsh and ourselves have been left alone to carve out our own identities, in spite of the large number of English who live inside the Union. The majority of Scots and Welsh are happy. Nationalism, although simmering, is not a strident force.

    An UI does not offer the Ulster-British this security. The English have not bombed us or killed us in an effort to eradicate us and our identity. The Irish have. (I am not trying to MOPE here, just express a widely held belief among Unionists.)

    Even now when the violence has been removed there is a lot to fear about the strength of the Gaelic lobby on this island.

    Some other problems include
    – the opposition to OO marches and culture
    – the lack of parity of esteem for the British identity as evidenced by the situation in Irish rugby, were the emblems of ROI have dominance in a supposed all-island team
    – the general harshness shown by Nationalists to all things Unionist; the flagrant disregard to Unionist sensibilities; pathological hatred for the perceived Unionist mindset. All these things are displayed in Slugger on a regular basis and by clearly intelligent Nationalists.

    So how can Unionists possibly feel at ease with the idea of an UI? We would make a 15% minority; there is no security in that. I would rather maintain a Union with 50 million arrogant people, than have one with 4 million informed people who believe deep down we should not be there in the first place.

  • Greenflag

    Ringo,

    ‘Given the week that is in it, isn’t it clear that real leadership often involves saying yes rather than no? ‘

    You might think that however IIRC one of the real leaders this week is somebody who is known to have said NO so often that it became part of his title 🙂

    So my answer to your question would have to be a qualified YES and NO depending on the timing /environment /conditions and whether or not you believe that Mr Hain was prepared to administer pain . I believe he was which is why Dr NO found hinself by default saying YES .

    Often it’s not just saying Yes or No that makes the difference in politics between success and failure but how you say Yes or No.

    Bertie has proved himself to be a master in that particular art .Which is why we’ll have to suffer our uninspiring ‘waffler’ for another 4 years .

    Oh well it could be much worse . We could have 4 years to look forward under a real leader like Paisley .

  • Greenflag

    Two nations ,

    ‘ We would make a 15% minority; there is no security in that.’

    Oddly enough I disagree with you here . There is probably more security in being a 15% minority than in being a 53% majority . This is one of the reasons why I favour a fair repartition of NI . Irish nationalists would end up between 10 and 15% of a smaller Unionist State and British Unionists would be less than 3% in an enlarged Republic .

    ‘ I would rather maintain a Union with 50 million arrogant people, than have one with 4 million informed people who believe deep down we should not be there in the first place.’

    Instead of 50 million ‘arrogant’ I’d have said disinterested in the main. BTW if 4 million believed deep down that you should not be here – you would not be here . I’d say 99% of the 4 million are about as interested as the 50 million i.e disinterested in the main as to whether you are here or not unless of course you have highly marketable skills in a nationally representative sport .

    You make the mistake of assuming that Irish people cannot distinguish between Unionism the politics and Unionists the people . I believe that in the latter respect the Irish have done a far better job in making that distinction than Unionists have in making a similar distinction between Sinn Feinism as politics and the nationalist/republican people.

  • PaddyReilly

    Even now when the violence has been removed there is a lot to fear about the strength of the Gaelic lobby on this island.

    And on the neighbouring island:-

    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/vli/language/gaelic/index.htm

  • Two Nations

    Paddy,

    Not the same thing.

    Scottish Gaelic is not the dominant (domineering) cultural force in the UK. It is part of the fabric of British culture.

  • IJP

    Dec

    No, in England alone Labour would have great difficulty forming a government right now!

    The 900,000 in 61 million is one of those circular arguments. Is it better to be a small fish in a big pond, or a big fish in a small pond.

    Leaving quite aside that the logical follow-on from it is Northern independence…!

  • Datz Reit

    On a really pedantic note – I think the population of the Republic is more like 4.75 million now (up from 4.3 the previous time – we recorded a 10% increase since 2001) according to the results of the latest census, and still growing rapidly.

  • hotdogx

    I remeber watching a kids show or game show in england when i lived overthere. There were a number of kids from around the uk on the show and they were all being asked where they were from what their names were etc, all very normal stuff, then the micophone was passed to this young girl. The host said “ah and you are irish from county down”. She suddenly exlaimed IM NOT IRISH IM BRITISH! i remeber the silence that fell on the crowd and audience on this “live” tv show and the sheer shocked expression of the TV host who was lost for words hearing this from a 10 year old. People in britain don’t consider any part of ireland british and have no interest in NI. I had one english man even saying that britain regrets its past ocupation of ireland and was to blame for the troubles, this surprised me. In my opinion this clearly shows up unionism for what it really is!

  • The Dubliner

    “Fitzer is no doubt a brilliant academic…” – Greenflag

    Really? Does he have a Nobel Prize for Economics? No. Has he even made one single notable contribution to economics? No. There is no evidence to support the claim that Fitzgerald is anything other than an unremarkable economist, despite a pro-British media hyping him as such.

    As leader of the Fine Gael / Labour coalition government from 1982 to 1987, his economic mismanagement of the Irish economy quite literally bankrupted the state. Unemployment increased from 10% to 18%. It was much higher in real terms because emigration also increased dramatically under Fitzgerald, running at 20% of those seeking employment, forcing those that Fitzgerald’s incompetence had forced out of employment out of the country instead of onto the unemployment register. The Fine Gael government of Fitzgerald (with John Bruton as Finance Minister) had the effect of more than doubling the national debt. Borrowing was out of control, running at 12.6% of GNP. The budget was running massive deficits.

    In fact, Fine Gael’s term of government was so disastrous for the Irish economy that it necessitated the formulation of an all-party Programme for National Recovery (PNR) in an effort to salvage the state after his 5-years criminal incompetence had the effect of bankrupting it.

    It wasn’t until the Irish electorate threw them out of government and installed a Fianna Fail government that a serious effort was made to get the state’s finances under control. Where Fitzgerald had, for example, borrowed 1,771m in one year, Fianna Fail cut borrowing back to 193m immediately into their term. Prudent FF economic management has continued to keep the budget under the control which it brought it under to where we now have whopping great budget surpluses, very low unemployment, and are a net importer of people rather than a net exporter of them.

    Fine Gael government brought nothing but ruin upon Ireland. Based on their appalling record of economic failure and mismanagement, I wouldn’t trust those morons to run a paper shop never mind a country.

  • Obscure Reference

    I’m sure a FF/Labour coalition of the time would have been just as disastrous. I’m inclined to blame Labour’s delusional brand of socialism as much as Fitzgerald’s feeble hand at the helm.

  • The Dubliner

    Are you saying that Fitzgerald, as head of government, implemented policies that he knew would bankrupt the economy?

    I don’t think he acted with malice of foresight, but if he did, then he should be in Mountjoy.

  • Greenflag

    Dubliner,

    Ok I exaggerated Fitzer’s qualities . Perhaps I should have said that he was a fast talking low/non achiever (as Taoiseach anyway). I would not single out Fitzer alone for the late 70’s 1980’s economic policy debacle in the Republic . This was a ‘communal effort among politicians of all parties and originated as far back as 1973 when the then Coalition Government (FG & Labour) failed to make needed policy changes in wake of the oil crisis . Then followed a few elections in which each party tried to outbid the others in a ‘freebies for all’ downward public sector spending spiral ( Northern Ireland’s present mode) which eventually came to an end in 1987. Ray ‘ Mac(the knife) Sharry finally started pruning back the overall public sector cost .

    Fitzer was preferred by Unionist politicians and British Governments on account of his ability to bend over backwards so as not to offend . Normally a politic thing to do – however at a time when the UK was under Maggie and NI Unionism was in political rigor mortis under Molyneux , Fitzer’s timing of rear ending flashing was out of kilter by a decade. Thus poor fitzer was made to endure public humiliation from Thatcher ( OUT OUT OUT speech) and the phone line to or from Molyneux was reminiscent of the sound of silence .

    Fitzer forgot was that he was elected by an Irish electorate who are more than a little sensitive to politicians /leaders who forget to whom they owe their position.

    It’s been more than a decade since the last FG/Lab Coalition so memories are fading. I believe the electorate will return FF/PD in 2007 The last minute ‘cobbling together’ of this daft Assembly will be good for Ahern in the hustings . People will reflect that it’s probably a good idea to have at least one government on this island that will last it’s term and that it is not run bya mix of 17th century fundamentalist ‘creationists’ and just recently ‘evolved’ constitutional politicians.

    Some thoughts for the day :

    ‘What are the Darwinian pressures that drive many human beings towards irrational belief systems ?’

    ‘What evolutionary benefits might there be in following irrational leaders?’

    (DUP voters will know the answer to this one)

    and

    ‘Why do humans among other animals instinctively and habitually divide the world into US and THEM ?’

    If you or anyone else know the answers to the above then don’t waste any more time on Slugger !

  • Greenflag

    Obscure Ref

    ‘I’m inclined to blame Labour’s delusional brand of socialism ‘

    And the Rabbitte is now hopping around in the electoral meadow this eastertide waxing lyrical about the benefits of reducing taxes .

    Somethings never change . Anyway accusing the Irish Labour Party of being ‘Socialist’ is about as accurate as accusing George Bush’s Republicans of being compassionate conservatives . Correct in theory but in practice about as credible as Father Dougal’s belief in a Deity or as Paisley’s belief in the non Anti Christ nature of the Pope.

  • PaddyReilly

    Well, the current wisdom is that the upturn in the Irish economy was not caused by the actions of its politicians, but by its birthrate.

    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/11/13/8393173/index.htm?postversion=2006110710

    In the same way M Thatcher could claim that her economic policies had been successful, when possibly it was North Sea Oil that kept the British economy afloat.

    Thatcher of course, is the subject of this thread. Her attitude is interesting.

    The basic corruption which underpins the province of NI is the fact that it returned a large majority for the Conservative and Unionist party. On occasions this majority could be very important for the party, so the tendency was to overlook the excesses of the Unionists in return for this vote.

    Eventually Edward Heath realised that this was untenable and the relationship was severed. Nevertheless Unionists still form a block of 10 votes, which could be useful for propping up minority governments. This however is countered by 3 SDLP votes, which would be well advised to vote counter to the Unionists, bringing the number of useful votes that Unionism has to sell down to 7. Sinn Féin potentially has a further 5 votes, but chooses not to use them.

    An interesting speculation is: could they be induced to drop the boycott of Westminster? I am not sure that any useful purpose could be served in doing so, but if it came to an important vote on NI which they had the power to deflect, it might be worth considering.

    After all, they seem to have dropped all their other republican principles, and the electorate has only rewarded them for doing so.

  • Greenflag

    paddyreilly,

    ‘but if it came to an important vote on NI which they had the power to deflect, it might be worth considering. ‘

    They would’nt stop to consider it’s worth- They’d do it and in the opinion of most apart from a few blinkered ideologues and IMO they’d be right to do it .

    NI may be just on the edge of leaving the era of political ‘principle ‘ for the era of financial principal which when all is said and done should provide a better return on their mutual investment than the past 40 years of ‘principled and unprincipled barking’!