After all the mutual backslapping…

A long term reader and commenter, and occasional contributor to Slugger, the Watchman refused to switch allegiance to the ‘New Paisleyite’ DUP and remained sympathic to, if critical of the Ulster Unionist Party. In the first of two pieces, he offers a critique of Paisley’s apparent volte face last Monday:

“We remember how Brian Faulkner walked the same road, that Thou didst deal with him. He is no more above the earth. He died in ignominy and in shame.”

Ian Paisley leading Prayer at the Evening Service of Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, Sunday 17 November 1985.

Gerry smiled, Ian grimaced. Gerry spoke fluently, Ian was hesitant. Gerry was the victor in this particular confrontation; Ian looked and sounded like a beaten man, there to announce his surrender. It was indeed a defining
moment, and its imagery, content and tone may well return to haunt the old man once the media backslappers have moved on.

At the heart of the “peace process” has been a simple bargain, whereby the UK state would sponsor IRA Sinn Fein’s admission to a power-sharing government in exchange for an end to its armed campaign. This dovetailed with David Trimble’s ambition to strike a lasting deal with nationalism.

The problem that has bedevilled the whole process is that republicanism has not evolved into anything like a democratic grouping and has no reason to do so. Republicanism remains two-limbed. One limb engages in politics and seeks public office; the other limb operates secretively and outside the law. Each limb depends on the other and any negotiating success is derived from the synthesis of the two. Those who talk about the republicans “moving
away from violence” show their failure to grasp that IRA Sinn Fein’s mafia activities are essential to the success of its political ones. Would Sinn Fein have achieved anything without the IRA in the background?

David Trimble believed that IRA Sinn Fein was on a road that would lead to exclusively democratic means. He gambled that its inclusion within the Executive would accelerate the process. He was duly rewarded by a steady
list of reasons why republicans were unfit for office: Florida, Colombia, intelligence gathering and a whole list of below-radar criminality. The result of Trimble’s failed gamble was the inexorable disintegration of the Ulster Unionist Party. But Trimble enjoyed some political cover from the DUP, whose opposition to the institutions was opportunistic and insincere.

As the largest unionist party after 2003, the DUP’s dilemma was how to secure the restoration of devolution, so congenial to it, when it would have to reach a deal with its sworn enemies. Writing in August 2004 before even the Leeds Castle talks, Robert McCartney made some prescient comments.

Given the unlikelihood of the DUP and Sinn Fein cutting a deal by themselves, if the UK government could bilaterally reach an understanding with Sinn Fein on issues like policing (i.e. give in), then Sinn Fein might be able to make concessions that would meet the DUP’s demands.

By 2005, after forty years in the wilderness, Ian Paisley was the undisputed king of unionism. But what would he now do with his power? Amazingly, a change came over him. When the party was allocated three new life peers for
the House of Lords, one of the nominations was Eileen Paisley. By nominating his wife (last elected in 1975) to the best club in London, Paisley had shown a hitherto unseen desire for respectability and an interest in the baubles of patronage. Those in authority who saw him as essential to the reaching of an agreement were delighted. As well as
carrots, the government also used sticks, although significantly only in regard to the DUP. There was no particular enthusiasm in society at large for devolution. So the government decided to do something about it. The public was told that if their representatives didn’t get Stormont up again then their wallets would be raided and their grammar schools wrecked.

Meanwhile Tony Blair bent over backwards to accommodate IRA Sinn Fein in a mistaken belief that the terrorism could resume in the post 9/11 world.

By the autumn of 2006, it was clear that the DUP had given up on its long desired “fair deal”, and was looking for a way to sign up to the Belfast Agreement without loss of face. Ludicrously, the DUP portrayed the St Andrews Road Map as the basis of a fresh deal, rather than a means by which the Belfast Agreement could be implemented. Once it proceeded down this road, it was always unlikely that it could ever retreat. (In fact, St Andrews went beyond the 1998 Agreement with its promise of an Irish Language Act and new powers for the distrusted Human Rights Commission.)

Then Jeffrey Donaldson was quoted as believing that joint authority would be imposed if unionists failed to reach agreement. This pessimism from a senior party officer could only have encouraged the DUP’s opponents to keep
pushing, in the belief that the party would sign up to anything if the alternative was joint authority. It was also a sign that the pragmatists in its leadership were up for a deal, if Sinn Fein would endorse the PSNI, something that always seemed likely, on the right terms.

The DUP soon found itself in hot water. Despite attempts by its spin doctors to bolster the leadership’s position, the party was clearly divided. No one at the heated meeting in Lurgan Town Hall will forget the confrontation between Paisley and Jim Allister. The unrest was halted by the Assembly elections. The timing of the election, prior to the closing of a deal, played into the leadership’s hands because the party did not have to fight a campaign with the internal splits on display. Combined with the capital accumulated by Paisley over four decades, it was enough to steal the thunder of Bob McCartney and his associates. But, despite a career-ending defeat, McCartney’s analysis, that the DUP’s negotiating position would collapse once the elections were over, was fully vindicated – and sooner than anyone thought.

Twenty days after the election, Ian finally revealed himself to be on the side of the pragmatists and was sitting next to Gerry in an optical disaster for the DUP. It would have been better by far to have smuggled out the news in a communiqué and to have acclimatised people gradually to the new order. Instead, an uncomfortable Paisley humiliated himself in a pathetic spectacle. He read out words that he could never have said before and
bathed in praise from a media that had long despised him. Perhaps he might have remembered all the unionist leaders whom he had denounced for doing far less and who duly ended up on the scrapheap.

In all of this Ian Paisley has been assisted by the Ulster Unionists. Under Sir Reg Empey, the UUP has pitched itself closer to the Alliance Party than the DUP. Its unequivocal support for the Belfast Agreement shows (a) its
failure to learn the lessons from Trimble’s demise, and (b) an inability to capitalise on the DUP’s poor negotiation. There is no doubt that Empey, a man who lacks fight, would have signed up to power-sharing even earlier than
Paisley. Now the DUP is poised to complete the takeover of the UUP’s remaining support, even if that is at the cost of shedding its own traditionalists.

In the final half of this article, I will examine the DUP’s negotiating collapse in more detail and the implications for the future.

  • Observer

    Seems like a reasonable assessment.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Several gaping holes in this argument:

    Republicanism remains two-limbed.

    Another article which treats loyalist paramilitarism, and the connections it has with unionist politics, as an elephant in the corner.

    There was no particular enthusiasm in society at large for devolution.

    Apart from the 71% vote in 1998 which endorsed a deal which had devolution at it’s core. Argue with the mechanics or implementation of the deal, fact is there was widespread support for the basic principles.

    Just a few weeks ago the DUP won a massive mandate after going to the polls saying they wanted devolution.

    I don’t see how anyone can sensibly claim there is no appetite for devolution. The evidence is that it is a popular concept; it’s just the details of the implementation that need sorting.

    By the autumn of 2006, it was clear that the DUP had given up on its long desired “fair deal”, and was looking for a way to sign up to the Belfast Agreement without loss of face.

    Politics is the art of the possible. Noting again once more that the DUP has received overwhelming electoral endorsement. You guys – the rejectionists – were utterly defeated.

  • SuperSoupy

    Whatabout the IRA?

    The Watchman like Allister is discovering day-by-day how increasingly pathetic, rejected and just plain wrong his analysis is.

    Don’t we already have Vance for this unrepresentative, never, never, stuff?

    And we get another eposide of this minority electorally rejected rambling, do we? Can’t he get back to us when it gets a vote?

    A worse man may say: lap it up, slap it up ye.

  • Aaron McDaid

    It would have been better by far to have smuggled out the news in a communiqué and to have acclimatised people gradually to the new order.

    That’s assuming the DUP had that option available to it. All the MLAs were to be sacked unless both major MLAs agreed to an alternative, and the republican movement was always going to have more stomach for that. SF obviously said they weren’t going to agree to an alternative unless that alternative involved the DUP openly and visibly demonstrating a commitment to powersharing.

  • kokane

    Fairly one sided analysis – underplays the significance of Sinn Fein changing their position in relation to police and decommisioning. How many limbs Sinn Fein have or want to use is still not clear – to be elected in South – they can only be seen to have one – or game is up for governement on both sides of the border. But have to agree that photos of deal – with Ian and Grizzly – must have been shocking for unionists – reminded me of proud, dangerous old beast being captured and shackled by his enemies.

  • TAFKABO

    Ultimately it comes down the fact that Bob McCartney put forward his rejectionist agenda and the electorate soundly rejected it. Quite apart from the irony of that, it tells us that the DUP are in step with the majority opinion.
    The trouble with this analysis presented by the Watchman is that it seems to think the opinion of the minority snipers is of more import than the view of the electorate.

    What is happening here is called democracy. Unlike the UUP last time around, or Unionist leaders of days gone by, the DUP have managed to carry broad Unionist opinion with them, without the rump of rejectionism on a scale faced by all those others mentioned in the above analysis.

  • SuperSoupy

    I think for Slugger’s; at some stage the site’s main blogger (Pete) should admit he read everything wrong. Got it wrong. Raised conditionality again and again that others told him was poor reading.

    A terrible political analyst.

    Proved by outcome. Did he get anything right?

    Even Hain ended up a winner.

    Bias was just bias. Lots of it didn’t make any of it true.

  • Observer

    SS
    Couldn’t agree more.

  • graduate

    Watchman has got it shockingly badly wrong and in common with most other UUP sympathisers can’t admit just how badly they are out of touch with electorate. Stop whinging, admit DUP played a blinder and the electorate ain’t going to be with you for a long long time. In other words- build a bridge and get over it!!
    By the way Mick, you’d have been better running the one about Hain being told to pack his bags and sod off by Ian and Martin instead of this drivel!

  • graduate

    Sorry Mick- hadn’t got down to your piece about Hain when I wrote above- was trailing through methodically, top to bottom. Doh!

  • The Dubliner

    Ah, the Shinners are always good for a laugh at their expense. While many of us welcome their new-found commitment to democratic principles (even if it is predicated on the self-serving condition that the majority of the electorate is also in favour of what their leader’s tell the sheep to be in favour of i.e. the restoration of Stormont and Her Majesty’s puppet administration of her dominion based therein), we note with a sense of melancholy irony that their contempt for the will of the minority did not apply to themselves when they were that minority and their leaders were using their minority status to bomb and shoot their way into a position at Her Majesty’s sliver wear laden table of puppets. Tut, such a shame that their respect for democratic principles only occurred after their surrender of militant means.

    And as for that respect for the will of the majority: what a shame that the state itself doesn’t respect the will of the majority in Northern Ireland but has, in fact, accepted that the will of the majority is often fundamentally wrong. To this end, the state has constructed a system whereby the will of the majority (that PSF now so revere) has been deleted from the operation of the state, ensuring instead that majority rule (and the will of the majority) can never, in fact, apply. Oh dear… the Shinners are committed to a majority democratic system that does not exist. It’s just as well that their new-found respect for democratic principles is purely self-serving (and a function of the will of the sheep’s leaders) lest they be forced by logical consistency to recognise that their absolute belief in the righteousness of the majority should compel them to declare themselves to be in opposition to a state which has declared such righteousness null and void.

  • Roisin

    [i]By 2005, after forty years in the wilderness, Ian Paisley was the undisputed king of unionism. But what would he now do with his power? Amazingly, a change came over him.[/i]

    Not really all that amazing. Some British civil servant in the NIO wrote 30 odd years ago that if Paisley was given the opportunity to lead NI in a power sharing arrangement he would do so joyfully.

  • Roisin

    Dubliner,

    Might be a useful argument if you were to forget the will of the majority was expressed in 1918, and not until 1998 were the Irish people polled again on their constitutional status.

  • Aquifer

    “He died in ignominy and in shame.” Faulkner fell off a horse. Presumably he was riding the horse for fun, not as an exercise in self-flagellation.

    Roisin in 1918, despite a campaign of armed intimidation and subversion, the majority voted for parties that accepted a consitutional way forward. But don’t let the truth get in the way of a good myth.

    In their referenda for the GFA, the Irish people have told us exactly how they wish to govern themselves.

  • The Dubliner

    Roisen, you miss the point:

    How can the will of the majority always be right when the d’hondt system for distributing token power to the puppets in Her Majesty’s NI administration in has accepted that distributing power in accordance with the will of the majority is fundamentally wrong?

    If the will of the majority is the standard for truth and justice – if the majority is always right – then majority rule by unionists from 1921 to 1972 was right. As Shinners now claim that their agenda is valid because they claim it has been vindicated as the will of the majority, they have to admit that that rationale can also be used to vindicate previous incarnations of Stormont. You can’t have it both ways. 😉

    As it happens, claiming that you must be right because the majority says you are right is a very poor guide.

  • Roisin

    Aquifier,

    You’ll be providing some evidence of what you posted above, yes?

    The majority returned Sinn Fein (some in no other candidate unopposed seats, so no voting) in 1918, so can I presume the “constitutional way forward” you’re referring to was the one set out by Sinn Fein and Dail Eireann?

    Or did you have something else in mind when you speak of constitutional way forwards?*

    * God Save the Queen.

  • Roisin

    Dubliner,

    Since 1998 I haven’t heard Sinn Fein say anything other than implement the agreement that was signed and ratified by the British and Irish governments, and by the people of Ireland voting north and south on their respective referenda.

    I don’t recall SF saying the UUP and the SDLP should not nominate their respective FM and DFM when it was those parties who won the majority of seats from their respective unionist and nationalist constituencies.

    Perhaps I’ve missed something here, and would be happy if you’d point it out for me.

  • Aaron McDaid

    ‘Democracy’ is not about the will of the majority. It’s about the limits put on the power of the majority. The U.S. is called democratic because, not despite, the rights enshrined in its difficult-to-change constitution.
    Any attempt to discuss democracy in Ireland is pointless without realising that various political, civil and religious rights are more important than voting.

    Roisin,
    SF in those days is different in many ways from what it is today. It wasn’t even avowedly republican when first set up.

  • Roisin

    Aaron,

    Griffith’s Sinn Fein wasn’t republican, but by 1918 Sinn Fein was republican and ran on a republican platform, that laid out in the 1916 proclamation, assuredly republican.

  • George

    Aquifer,
    “Roisin in 1918, despite a campaign of armed intimidation and subversion, the majority voted for parties that accepted a consitutional way forward. But don’t let the truth get in the way of a good myth.”

    Let’s talk facts and not myths then. Remember 25 seats went uncontested and as Nicholas Whyte says “it seems pretty certain that Sinn Féin would have had a majority of the votes if all the seats had been contested.” Are you saying you know more than him on elections? On what do you base this?

    Sinn Féin won 75 out of 105 seats in that election. How many seats are needed for unionists, who won 22 by the way, to accept the Irish people’s right to self determination?

  • Roisin

    To be clear: The “will of the majority” in 1998 was for a power sharing arrangement. I fail to see what anyone’s contention to this is from the pov of contesting democratic credentials.

    Aaron,

    On a sidenote, the USA was founded on Republican (Roman) as opposed to Democratic (Greek) principles.

  • The Dubliner

    Oh great… we’re back to 1916. A couple of points: Sinn Fein of old are not Provisional Sinn Fein, despite PSF seizing the name of that defunct party for the propagandistic purpose of draping a cloak of republican respectability over its evil twin’s sectarian campaign of nationalist violence (a campaign conducted under another stolen historical name). The contempt that unionists showed for the principle of national self-determination back in 1916 is utterly irrelevant to the new dispensation. The GFA legitimises partition, applying the principle of self-determination to Northern Ireland under the codename of the Principle of Consent.

    Aaron McDaid, the reason you don’t have democracy in Northern Ireland is simply because the majority cannot be trusted to respect the rights of the minority. That is the lesson of history that was expressly applied in the power sharing arrangements of the GFA. It isn’t, however, simply there to protect nationalists from unionists; it is also there to protect unionists from nationalists. You only have to read this thread to observe the abject contempt that Shinners harbour for minorities. Like their former unionist oppressors, they repeat the mantra that the majority are always right and that the minority are de facto stripped of all rights to express an opinion when the majority have spoken. When both tribes learn to respect dissenting voices, then you will have the basis for a truly democratic society. When or if that happens is anyone’s guess.

    Roisin, decommissioning (within two years), commitment to exclusively peaceful means, an end to criminality, etc, were also in that GFA that you are keen to give the impression that PSF stuck to the letter and spirit of, despite PSF being forced for almost a decade to do what it had signed up to doing. PSF, of course, fought the 1996 assembly elections on the slogan “No Return to Stormont.” Two years before campaign in those elections, Gerry Adams was whinging about them: “The most recent example of this is John Major’s announcement, in Belfast last Friday, of a proposals for a new Stormont assembly. Such a proposition is absolutely unacceptable to nationalists, there is no internal settlement, there can be no return to Stormont.” Oh dear… no internal settlement and no return to Stormont, followed by Lord Adams negotiating an internal settlement and demanding a return to Stormont with the worst bigot in Europe as its First Minister. Who would believe a word that lying scumbag says other than the sheep that follow him? And this is the crux of the problem: you now have an assembly that will be administered by some of the foulest people on the planet and with just about every canon of decency violated to achieve that grotesque situation. I’m glad your sociopathic leaders decided to stop their sectarian murder campaign, but don’t expect me (or, it seems, The Watcherman) to give that ilk kudos or to be pleased that they have now infected the highest levels of society with the malign cancer that they represent, corrupting all that they come in contact with. It would have been far better if nationalists didn’t force their murderers upon the electorate and upon those they murdered, but let them fade into ignominity (or better yet, let them rot in prison instead of letting them loose on society).

  • Ondine

    Dubliner’s a great one to talk about respect for democracy, since apparently SF voters are not even thinking humans who made their own minds up, but “sheep”. Animals. Sub-humans. Who’s the bigot?

  • Ondine

    Sorry – forgot to mention that Dubliner has nothing but loathing and contempt for DUP voters as well. He’s as even-handed as Newton Emerson, the man who memorably described Northern Irish elections as “Good Prods and Good Taigs vs. Evil Prods and Evil Taig”. These people, along with the Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Kevin Myers and Antony McIntyres of this world, united in one thing and one thing only – the people who disagree with us are not even worthy to be called human.

  • The Dubliner

    Ondine, you’re right. Sheep is an inappropriate word. Shinners are, of course, lemmings.

  • The Dubliner

    Ondine, there is a scene in Apocalypse Now where Captain Willard and Colonel Kurtz are surrounded by jungle tribes people, decapitated heads mounted on sticks, corpses – all kinds of pointless horror that Kurtz has created – and Willard says to Kurtz “They told me that you had gone insane – that your methods were unsound.” Kurtz asks, “Are my methods unsound?” And Willard replies: “I don’t see any method at all, sir.” That about sums up PSF.

  • IJP

    Comrade

    Another article which treats loyalist paramilitarism, and the connections it has with unionist politics, as an elephant in the corner.

    Correct. This point really cannot be made often enough.

    Especially to someone who continues to sympathize with a party which forms the same party group as the representatives of Loyalist gangsters in Belfast City Council, and which did likewise in the Assembly.

    Never mind two-limbed, what about two-faced?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Might be a useful argument if you were to forget the will of the majority was expressed in 1918, and not until 1998 were the Irish people polled again on their constitutional status.

    Roisin,

    It’s a tremendous leap of doublethink to say that the 1998 poll was the act of all-Ireland self determination that republicans had been struggling for all these decades. There were two separate polls, and the electorate were not given an opportunity to speak on the future of British rule; instead they were asked to ratify an international agreement between the two governments (two governments whose authority in Ireland is regarded as wholly illegitimate by orthodox republicans) that itself promised a future poll, but delayed it for the time being. Nonetheless, I’m happy that you’re buying the propaganda if that’s what it takes to keep you on side.

    BTW are you under 30 ? If so, then had you been around in 1918 you wouldn’t have been allowed to vote. You’re lucky the property qualification was lifted.

    Since 1998 I haven’t heard Sinn Fein say anything other than implement the agreement that was signed and ratified by the British and Irish governments, and by the people of Ireland voting north and south on their respective referenda.

    Actually they’ve said quite a lot of other things. On the runs ? Release of the McCabe killers ? These days it’s water charges. What’s even more important are the parts of the agreement that republicans failed to implement themselves. The fact that the IRA did eventually disarm and support the police shows that they knew all along it was the right thing to do; the Agreement would have been in a much more secure and stable condition had they kept their side of it.

    IJP:

    Especially to someone who continues to sympathize with a party which forms the same party group as the representatives of Loyalist gangsters in Belfast City Council, and which did likewise in the Assembly.

    IJP, yes indeed. The UUP have been forging alliances with loyalist paramilitaries throughout their entire history. How can someone call themselves a UUP supporter and simultaneously a total opponent of paramilitarism ?

  • kokane

    Roisin

    1918 election was not a referendum – was there not some debate about whether the total number of votes ( as opposed to seats ) against the union outweighed those in favour?

    Anybody got a link to a site which shows the results?

  • SS,

    That’s in line with a whole gamut of ad hominem arguments we have had from a very small group of annonymous commenters. It’s an interesting switch from the previous object of your attention.

    Why is it ad hominem? Because your post is entirely devoid of falsifiable content. You say he got everything wrong: but how can that mean anything if you don’t tell us, specifically, what he, allegedly, got wrong?

  • Dougal

    The Watchmans view is spot on. His description of the Duppers as “…opportunistic and insincere…” equally applies to the Shinners.

    The Unionist community have allowed themselves to be duped ( or should that be Dupped ?) by a crowd of hypocrits, much like the Nationalist community being shafted by the Shinners.

  • I think it’s usually better not to contribute to your own thread but I want to make a few points.

    I don’t claim that my opinions are those of a majority or even (at present) a large minority. But any argument stands or falls on its own merits, not by the support (or opposition) that it attracts. Even if I was the only person to believe it I would still say it.

    As it happens, I don’t think my position is held only by myself, David Vance and Darth Rumsfeld. As I’ll explore further, a BBC poll conducted in the aftermath of St Andrews found that 32pc of the DUP were opposed to the road map. Now that Dr No has turned into a Yes Man, I wonder what that percentage would be today. Or how it might grow if, for example, Papa Doc’s new coalition partners rob another bank.

    Oh, and as for the UUP, yes, I’m a bit sentimental about an honourable past. That’s as far as it goes. I suspect March 2007 was a point of no return for it. But, as I’ve pointed out on Slugger during the Ervine wooing, I was totally opposed to the UUP’s dealing with the PUP.

    And just for IJP’s benefit, I think that those deals with Wee Hughie Smyth were totally wrong. If I was a member of the city council I would not vote for a terrorist-related Mayor. Which is more than can be said for the Alliance grouping.

  • Roisin

    Dubliner,

    Nice spleen vent. But you’d vent yourself dry before you’d get a rise out of me.

    Look on the bright side, though, one day the dirty northern ‘nationalists’ might even attain your jackeen understanding of what ‘republicanism’ is.

    1916? It’s a pity O’Neill hadn’t understood the great differences between Irish Nationalism and Irish Republicanism before he raised a northern army to go south to try to save your ancestors’ southern arses. I can go back even further if you like. But instead I’ll go forward to 1969. Where was the Freestate army when citizens of the Irish Republic were attacked by British Crown Forces? And on to 1972. Where were they when citizens of the Irish Republic were murdered on the streets of Derry by the British army? Why did they not defend their own citizens? Did Ted Heath hang up the phone on Jack Lynch the Republican or Jack Lynch the Nationalist?

    Want to run that ugly northern nationalist versus jackeen southern republican stuff by me again?

    Comrade Stalin,

    The British presence by default influences the questions and frames the agenda. What’s new?

    1918 is nice to put in your pocket, but unnecessary. The northern ‘state’ was irreformable by peaceful means, and peaceful attempts to reform the ‘state’ were met with violence by the Unionists and British. The northern ‘state’ has now been reformed, and all grievances can be addressed by peaceful means.

    The British-Irish Agreement? I respect the vote of the majority, north and south, on the agreed path forward. If only all parties would do the same.

    Kokane,

    Nicholas Whyte’s website.

  • Roisin

    Kokane,

    By the way, the 1918 election was a defacto referendum because of the platform Sinn Fein stood on — vote SF to establish the Irish Republic and Dail Eireann.

  • IJP

    The Watchman

    I was totally opposed to the UUP’s dealing with the PUP. I think that those deals with Wee Hughie Smyth were totally wrong.

    Then leave the party. It’s pretty fundamental – are you voting for a party linked to paramilitaries, or not?

    If I was a member of the city council I would not vote for a terrorist-related Mayor.

    So you wouldn’t vote for an Ulster Unionist Mayor?

    Strange.

  • kokane

    Roisin

    Thanks for the link will check it out. I agree it was a defacto referendum – but what I was querying was if Sinn Fein got more votes than ALL the other unionist parties – including Redmondites – put together?

  • The Dubliner

    Roisin, I think you unwittingly came close to understanding the difference between nationalism and republicanism there, even if you did so with the futile intention of stirring non-existent feelings of guilt that you hoped would influence by assessment in your favour. You may think you had a right, for example, to blow churchgoers in Enniskillen to bits because the RUC was 90% Protestant, or for whatever grievance you had, but you had no such right. It existed only in your head.

    The violence is republican if it has the specific aim of achieving national self-determination via reunification (see Society of United Irishmen). The violence is nationalist if it has the aim of securing demands from the state that are other than the revolutionary aims of republicanism. For example, PIRA/PSF’s ending of the first ceasefire resulted in a campaign of violence that had the specific and indisputable aim of securing an internal settlement, not reunification. Ergo, it was nationalist and not republican; and as it was nationalist violence, it follows that it was sectarian violence. In short, if you murdered others to secure a stronger position of negotiation in an internal settlement, murdered to “put manners” on the RUC, murdered to vent your frustrations, etc – then you are a nationalist who engaged in a sectarian murder campaign.

    I hold the view (among others) that PSF were covertly nationalist from 1986 (when its leaders decided upon an internal solution on condition that it included their party). All PSF/PIRA’s campaign from that point onward was pure sectarian murder. Personally, I don’t see PSF/PIRA as ever being, in the main, other than a militant nationalist movement that used violence for wholly illegitimate purposes.

  • Roisin

    Dubliner,

    [i]I hold the view (among others) that PSF were covertly nationalist from 1986 (when its leaders decided upon an internal solution on condition that it included their party). All PSF/PIRA’s campaign from that point onward was pure sectarian murder.[/i]

    So the sectarian murders carried out prior to 1986 were okay in your book? Funny thing about that is that the IRA had almost completely disengaged from sectarian murder by that stage.

    Kokane

    [i]Thanks for the link will check it out. I agree it was a defacto referendum – but what I was querying was if Sinn Fein got more votes than ALL the other unionist parties – including Redmondites – put together?[/i]

    From recollection the votes for unionists and Redmondites* totalled more than Sinn Fein. SF ran uncontested in 25 seats, so there were no votes cast. Averaging their percentage of the vote and applying it to the seats they weren’t contested in results in SF having had a clear majority over the combined vote for Unionists and Redmonites, given even that conservative estimate (as the seats they weren’t contested in were highly republican).

    * As an aside: If you’re going to classify Redmondites as Unionist, you might as well classify Griffith as a Unionist. Technically you may be correct, but Redmondites were anti-status quo regardless. In fact, following that logic you might as well classify all Irish republicans as non-republican since all have settled for less than the Irish Republic.

  • IJP,

    For your information I haven’t been a member of the UUP for well over a decade and I haven’t even voted for it for much longer. So how do I leave a party of which I’m not a member? And, ditto, why should I be expected to defend it?

  • kokane

    Roisin

    “From recollection the votes for unionists and Redmondites* totalled more than Sinn Fein.” You seemed to contradict that later on in you reply or am I misreading you?

    I understood that Sinn Fein policy in 1918 was to sever the link completley with the Englezes. The fact that Michael Colins later did a Gerry Adams and adopted a practical approach does not mean that you “might as well classify all Irish republicans as non-republican since all have settled for less than the Irish Republic”. It should be taken into account a factor that Winnnie had threatened to level the country if Collins did not agree. A bit like telling your partner that you love them so much that if they leave you then you will have kill them.

  • Roisin

    Kokane,

    And because northern republicans have had to settle for less than the Irish Republic at this stage they should not be regarded as republican?

    Don’t know if that’s your own view, but it’s a view that has been expressed by some others on this blog.

  • kokane

    Roisin,

    I have always condsidered myself a republican although not agreeing with the ‘armed struggle’.

    The ‘Peace Process’ has in my opinion been about hollowing out the union enough to buy off the IRA. Those signing up to it from either side are no less Unionist or Republican but simply cutting a deal because there is no better alternative avaialable to them.

  • Roisin

    The Shinners represent only the arse end of Irish Republicanism. They supported the murder of their fellow countrymen; end of.

    Supporters like Roisin clearly want to ignore this fact and pass it off with pitiful excuses of “what about sectarian murders carried out by Loyaists/RUC/the Brits?”, “there was a war on”, “shit happend in war” etc However no amount of spin and hype will remove the atrocities carried out by the the Provos (and supported by the Shinners) from the history books.

    Didn’t the Brits shoot their own men in WW1 for refusing to “go over the top”? So may be the Brits and the Shinners aren’t so different after all!