Points of agreement and disagreement

Denis Bradley, formerly of the Policing Board, was a speaker at the Department of Foreign Affairs Conference in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin. He spoke on the theme of reconciliation, highlighting what the two sides were reconciled to and what they weren’t and how the process was not over but could easily end up in a cul-de-sac.He believes Unionism and Nationalism has reconciled themselves to five things:
No killing
No violence
An acceptance of power-sharing
An acceptance of law and order
An acceptance of all-ireland dimension.

These five points are the basis of a ‘rest period’ for the two communities after over 30 years of open conflict. However, he believes the process of reconciliation must continue so the rest period becomes a permanent period. In terms of what has not be reconciled, he argued that Nationalism has not truly reconciled itself to the presence of the Unionist community. He believes there is a view among nationalists that by being nice to unionists and giving Northern Ireland some money that this will deliver unity. He considers this a serious under-estimation of the strength of attachment Unionists feel to their identity and the Union. Conversely, he thinks that economics will make it more difficult to be a Unionist in the future.

The example he gave of how a process of reconciliation can peter out was ecumenism. He argued it has degenerated into coffee mornings were people are nice to one another because it stopped when it hit the hard issues. One of the hard issues he identified was transubstantiation, something he said only 5th century metaphysicists understood. He highlighted the Church reaction to the celebration of a common eucharist in Drogheda. For the process of reconciliation to continue and deal with hard issues it is up to people to do what they believe is common sense and right and if enough do so the leadership will change its position.

NOTE: No web link, thread based on notes from a Conference attendee.

  • lorraine

    the nationalist people are further along the road of reconciliation than credit is given for. as one of those nationalist people and a republican for a long time i do understand the position of unionism and the depth of feeling unionists have to maintain and defend that which they possess, and cherish and cherish. its the exact same feeling i have for my beliefs, (and i respect that). i want to argue about our respective positions the way arsenal and man u. supporters argue about their respective teams: passionately, honestly, critically – and maybe have a pint in the process. i am not alone, there are many like me – reconciled to the presence of the unionist community and looking forward to an enrichening of both our cultural developments in a non-antagonistic future.

  • kokane

    The welcome fudge that is GFA/STA allows both sides to present their current position as a victory. Hence “we are on the road to a united ireland” and “we have secured the union” can both be claimed. The assumption must be that by the time the actual position becomes clear violence will no longer be an a viable option.

  • Cato

    Protestants are right not to concede on the principle of transubstantiation

  • slug

    Good heartening post lorraine.

  • kokane

    Cato

    I understand that the introduction of the curry flavoured host is expected to boost Free Presbyterian attendance at the next service.

  • susan

    great to hear from you, lorraine.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Lorraine,

    The trouble is that people here define themselves by their nationalism or unionism, as can be seen at election time. I would like to reduce the significance of nationalism (whether it be British nationalism or Irish nationalism) to the level of a recreational pastime as with football, but I don’t think anyone is willing to do that. Essentially people have to stop being nationalists and unionists, and start being other things, before that can work.

  • cynic

    Good post Lorraine.

    I agree with Denis. The funadmental problem is, can we now move on to resolve those differences that have been parked or fudged to get us this far, but I would go further and ask, can we do this quickly enough?

    I think that there is a real tension in this. Several developments are probably essential including:-

    ~ developing a new generation of politicians with forward vision
    ~ creating communities who are receptive to engagement with the vision and with each other

    The problem is that to get this far, we have simply created a sectarian carve up that electorally suits the two main parties / power blocks. It isn’t in either of their short term political interests to try and take the community forward away from narrow sectarian politics.

    On the other hand, if they dont, it just preseves the vacuum of ‘real’ politics and community development. At best we then face political stagnation and decay. At worst, in Ireland political vacuums are eventually filled by violence from one side or another.

    If we are to move on then this deal can’t therefore be end state. It must only be the start of a longer term process or, at some point, it will fail.

    I know that some of them have done an amazing job to get their parties this far, but they have created the sectarian blocks. Where are the statesmen / women who can take us to the next stage?

  • Swerve

    Cato

    “Protestants are right not to concede on the principle of transubstantiation”

    I’m sure Richard Dawkins would agree. So is Protestantism proto-atheism?

  • Greenflag

    ‘he argued that Nationalism has not truly reconciled itself to the presence of the Unionist community. ‘

    The vast majority of Irish nationalists in Ireland have not had to ‘reconcile’ with Unionism because Unionism is not part of their ‘daily ‘ experience being restricted to the North East of this island . For NI nationalists and republicans ‘reconciliation’ is of course important if there is to be any prospect of longer term political peace and stability within NI.

    The question is not reconciling to the ‘presence of the Unionist community’ but reconciling to Unionism as a political force/ ideology. Bradley’s points indicate that the latter will be more problematic than the former.

    While tending to agree with Bradley in the main his given example of failed ‘reconciliation’ i.e ‘ecumenism’ is irrelevant to the political process now underway.

    Ecumenism/coffee mornings etc are all very well for that small number of people both RC and Protesant who take their respective religions so seriously that it is earth shattering news that Catholics and Protestants share /don’t share a common Eucharist . For most younger people in Ireland it hardly matters .

    Lorraine I believe reflects the mood of the nationalist majority at least within NI when she says

    ‘there are many like me – reconciled to the presence of the unionist community and looking forward to an enrichening of both our cultural developments in a non-antagonistic future.’

    That non antagonistic future will be dependent on both political traditions in NI being able to remain ‘at peace’ in the cul de sac they have ‘constructed’ for themselves .

    If both sides can refrain from what the DUP’s Peter Robinson calls ‘chasing constitutional moonbeams’ for long enough for reconciliation to take effect then Bradley’s hope i.e that common sense and right will be imbibed into both political community’s ‘s leaderships -may prove more than just a hope .

  • Reader

    Swerve: I’m sure Richard Dawkins would agree. So is Protestantism proto-atheism?
    Sheesh. You’ve only just stopped calling Prods heretics and now you’re calling Prods atheists instead.

  • hotdogx

    A very nice post lorraine, my feelings exactly. National reconciliation as we call it is about uniting the orange and the green, but to do this common ground has to be found on which we can build trust and as stated above find the “right” on both sides, by this time violence will no longer be an option. I think we have come along way to understanding unionism its beliefs and fears but the GFA did allow both sides to say they won, and indeed they did as everybody is now talking. However i don’t believe the union was made weaker by the violence nor stronger by GFA but at least now we have an atmosphere where people can support a UI without supporting terrorism – as unionism sees it – but allowing a democratic procedure to develop where people may be rallied to the cause for a UI but for all the right reasons. This is why i believe we are closer to a UI than ever before. Even carson himself said that the time may come when a united ireland would be the better option for the anglo irish in ireland.

  • joeCanuck

    “Where are the statesmen / women who can take us to the next stage?”

    They will emerge eventually Cynic.
    Give it 15 years which is nothing compared to the hundreds of years.

  • cynic

    “we have an atmosphere where people can support a UI without supporting terrorism – as unionism sees it – but allowing a democratic procedure to develop where people may be rallied to the cause for a UI but for all the right reasons”

    Ok …but I disagree with the starting assumption that underpins this and several other posts – that only a ‘UI’ is an acceptable solution. From one side that’s fine. What about the other? What would a UI mean in those circumatances? What model of state? How would you accommodate/ persuade unionists who dont want this?

    Indeed, this is exactly the attitude that deters Unionists from entering this entire debate. The automatic assumption from the outset is that their aspirations are second class / wrong and that soon the scales will fall from their eyes and they will see the true path!

    All you will get from this is a response, ‘yeah, well remember we won the war, you lost and you accepted the consititional position of NI in the UK’!

    That’s not the basis for moving forward on either side.

  • cynic

    Joe – 15 years – perhaps – but unless its 15 years of positive engagement I am not sure we have that much time!

    Sorry to be so cynical and pessimistic!

    How long is it to 2016?

  • joeCanuck

    Ah, don’t be too pessimistic Cynic.
    Who would have believed 6 months ago that the DUP would have finally accepted that there is a need for an Irish dimension in our lives?

  • kensei

    “Indeed, this is exactly the attitude that deters Unionists from entering this entire debate. The automatic assumption from the outset is that their aspirations are second class / wrong and that soon the scales will fall from their eyes and they will see the true path!”

    The first half is right, the second wrong. As a republican, one of my core beliefs is that the removal of the Union and uniting the island would be an almost entirely positive thing. I believe the arguments for the Union are outmoded and, yes, wrong. That doesn’t mean your opinion is wrong or second class, and it doesn’t mean I expect you or anyone else to spontaneously convert; it is up to me to make my arguments effectively.

    This is akin to say a Labour activist and a Tory activist having diametrically opposed views on the correct rate of taxation and public spending. They are both going to think each other wrong. I would humbly suggest to you that ignoring the debate because you don’t like the other person’s position isn’t going to help you much.

  • I’m embarrased by the Roman Catholic Church’s reaction to its three priests taking part in a Eucharist with other ministers.
    Talk about bigots.

    Also part of the reconiliation surely must be to debate with protestants that their influence in a Dublin Parliament will be infinitely more than at Westminister. That must be attractive surely?

  • JoeLeTaxi

    hotdogx

    “However i don’t believe the union was made weaker by the violence nor stronger by GFA but at least now we have an atmosphere where people can support a UI without supporting terrorism – as unionism sees it – but allowing a democratic procedure to develop where people may be rallied to the cause for a UI but for all the right reasons. This is why i believe we are closer to a UI than ever before. Even carson himself said that the time may come when a united ireland would be the better option for the anglo irish in ireland.”

    No, conquest for either side will never happen. There will never be a united Ireland. Northern Ireland is the new Belgium / Bosnia / Switzerland / Lebanon. The task is to deal with that without violence by one side or the other to conquer and dominate the other.

    This is what many nationalists have not waken up to, as correctly pointed out by Bradley.

  • lib2016

    If our politicans were unwise enough to try and halt the process now then Denis’s fears might come true however events will not allow them to do so.

    Sinn Fein has to, in fact is already modernising it’s take on Irish independence and our relationship with the EU under the pressure of having to deal with real politics on an all-Ireland basis.

    Similarly the DUP have no illusions about their lack of influential friends at Westminister. They have to take on board the need to work with all parties if the NI entity is to continue in a situation where the UK is evolving and may well dissolve.

  • the great thing is we’re in a situation where the “arguement of force” is replaced by the “force of arguement”.
    So it means we can all be friends.
    so even joletaxis, a UI will never happen, can be met with “oh yes it will” …to be met with “oh no it won’t”.
    It’ll probably come down to who wants it more,
    constitution change or status quo, and who will work hardest.
    Me think the unionists are too lazy, but we’ll see 😉

  • lib2016

    ‘Me think(s) the unionists are too lazy…’

    Nah! but they’ll trip over their zimmer frames. 😉

  • JoeLeTaxi

    parcifal

    “the great thing is we’re in a situation where the “arguement of force” is replaced by the “force of arguement”.
    So it means we can all be friends.
    so even joletaxis, a UI will never happen, can be met with “oh yes it will” …to be met with “oh no it won’t”.
    It’ll probably come down to who wants it more,
    constitution change or status quo, and who will work hardest.
    Me think the unionists are too lazy, but we’ll see ;)”

    By accepting the GFA nationalists have conceded the moral argument against a strict united Ireland, in the sense of an integrationist single parliament affair. Even if there is a nationalist majority in Northern Ireland and a formal united Ireland nationalists cannot argue against the recognition of Britishness of their neighbours or a “dual veto” arrangement of some sort.

    Whatever the constitutional niceties Northern Ireland will never be completely Irish any more than Belgium will ever be completely Dutch of Bosnia completely Serbian. Any attempt to impose that will naturally and inevitably lead to violence to resist subjugation just as applies to the mirror image case. This is what has not sunk into many nationalists’ psyches. They still think that conquest is a possibility. It is not.

  • joeleTaxi, the mistake you’re making and many unionists make is using the word “conquest”; which comes from a fear of literally being over-run by the Irish.
    Persuasion is the key word, an invitation to a wedding more precisely; sounds much more romantic ne c’est pas?

  • kokane

    Joeletaxi

    “nationalists have conceded the moral argument against a strict united Ireland”

    Not sure this is the case – the current arrangments relate to how to make NI work within UK – that is to concede power to Nationalists in the north and influence to nationalists in the south. If demographics and econoomics determine a UI then the shape of the arrangements have yet to de discussed/conceded morally or otherwise.

  • JoeLeTaxi

    kokane

    “Not sure this is the case – the current arrangments relate to how to make NI work within UK – that is to concede power to Nationalists in the north and influence to nationalists in the south. If demographics and econoomics determine a UI then the shape of the arrangements have yet to de discussed/conceded morally or otherwise.”

    No, since nationalists have rejected simple majority rule in NI when within the UK it would make them moral hypocrites to try to impose it in any future united Ireland scenario, and as I stated it would almost inevitably lead to war anyway.

  • kokane

    Unionists had a go at majority rule and to use a southern expression made a pigs mickey of it. That is one of the reasons they dont get to do it any more.

    Re. civil war in 20 or 30 years time – if its a UI then its a UI I cant see prods being exercised over the finer points as long as there are safeguards to avoid malpractice.

  • JoeLeTaxi

    “Unionists had a go at majority rule and to use a southern expression made a pigs mickey of it. That is one of the reasons they dont get to do it any more.”

    Hardly a reason why majority rule should be imposed in a united Ireland rather than a “dual veto” as per GFA etc. Do feel free to address the subject.

    If majority rule is wrong when unionists are the majority then it is also wrong when nationalists are the majority. Discuss….

  • Greenflag

    joeletaxi,

    ‘since nationalists have rejected simple majority rule in NI when within the UK it would make them moral hypocrites to try to impose it in any future united Ireland scenario’

    Because of PR simple one party majority rule is now almost impossible to achieve in the Republic and would be even less likely in any prospective UI. By abolishing PR in NI in 1929 the Unionist Party effectively corralled NI into a one party State . Apart from the longer term negative impact on the large Nationalist minority in NI the first past the post system also led to the demise of the smaller parties such as Northern Irleand Labour and also to fewer independents . Thus NI politics was locked into a sterile sectarian voting pattern from which even now it cannot be extricated .

    ‘and as I stated it would almost inevitably lead to war anyway’

    Between who and who exactly ? It would in any event be a ‘war’ from which ‘Unionism’ would emerge even weaker than before. Such a war would lead to economic ruination for whatever would be left of the NI economy and would probably result in a de facto repartition of NI.

    As I’ve said before if Unionists want ‘repartition’ it would be better achieved through negotiation and implemented by a neutral international agency than arrived at by a ‘stupid’ war which would achieve nothing and would instead leave thousands more dead and another wasted generation to pick up the pieces!

    Surely Unionism has learnt at least that much from the last ‘wasted’ 30 years ?

  • Greenflag

    ‘If majority rule is wrong when unionists are the majority then it is also wrong when nationalists are the majority. Discuss….’

    There is no discussion for you are comparing oranges and apples .

    How about

    ‘If majority rule is wrong when the Labour Party are the majority then it is also wrong when Conservative Party are the majority. Discuss….’

    You presume that politics in a prospective UI would be a larger mirror image of the present politics of Northern Ireland .

    They would not . Politics in ROI is similar to the politics of England in that it is political party based and not ‘religion’ based . We did not win our much prized independence only to see it head down the ultimately disastrous path along which the UUP led Northern Ireland for far too long .

    There was one occassion when De Valera tried to have PR abolished for the sake of ‘simplicity’ i.e permanent FF rule . He could only bring in such a change by ‘referendum’ . Wisely the Irish electorate rejected Dev’s plan .

  • JoeLeTaxi

    Greenflag

    “Because of PR simple one party majority rule is now almost impossible to achieve in the Republic and would be even less likely in any prospective UI.”

    One party rule was not the issue being discussed. Lebanon style community “dual veto” was the issue. We do not have any party with a majority in NI currently and I see no reason that that would not still be the case after a vote for a united Ireland (which is entirely hypothetical).

    “By abolishing PR in NI in 1929 the Unionist Party effectively corralled NI into a one party State .”

    Nonsense. Abolishing PR barely changed the number of seats. The UUP were the comfortable majority both before and after that abolishment. But again we are not talking about parties but “community background”.

    “‘and as I stated it would almost inevitably lead to war anyway’

    Between who and who exactly ?”

    Is that a serious question? War between the two ethnic groups in the island obviously, whatever label you want to attach to them. You can hardly have failed to notice that this is a divided society.

    ” “It would in any event be a ‘war’ from which ‘Unionism’ would emerge even weaker than before. Such a war would lead to economic ruination for whatever would be left of the NI economy and would probably result in a de facto repartition of NI.”

    Yes, that would kind of be the idea. See Yugoslavia circa 1992. And what war hasn’t led to economic ruination?

    “As I’ve said before if Unionists want ‘repartition’ it would be better achieved through negotiation and implemented by a neutral international agency than arrived at by a ‘stupid’ war which would achieve nothing and would instead leave thousands more dead and another wasted generation to pick up the pieces!”

    Well I agree. I was simply saying that if nationalists want majority rule domination over NI they will never get it, because the result of such a demand would be war. More likely there will be some Bosnia / Switzerland / Lebanon / Belgium type arrangement as I said.

  • JoeLeTaxi

    “More likely there will be some Bosnia / Switzerland / Lebanon / Belgium type arrangement as I said.”

    Which may come about entirely peacefully, or may come about after further conflict. My point is that a simple, single parliament united Ireland is out of the question, just as a greater Serbia of Bosnia + Serbia is out of the question and for similar reasons.

    Nationalists need to wake up to that.

  • kokane

    Leaving our our Bonian friends out of it for a moment.

    Joelettaxi. You have not addressed the issue that Unionists having proven themselves unfit for majority rule – due to sectarianism. Power sharing was imposed by the Englezes because of that.

    ROI is now a pluralist society and does not need to have power sharing in order to operate sucessfully.

    In a new dispensation (UI) there would not need to be a restriction becuase of the previous failings of Unionists.

  • confused

    To kokane
    Who are you kidding by saying the ROI is a pluralist state?
    Whilst the RC Church has lost its special status in the constitution it nevertheless exercises too much influence in education ,social policies and health matters.
    There must be a separation of church and state.
    The fear of Unionists is not Rome Rule but Gaelic rule.

  • kokane

    Confused,

    A few actual and current examples migh be useful to back up your point. The obvious one in social policy is abortion – and there not keen on that in Non iron either.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I was simply saying that if nationalists want majority rule domination over NI they will never get it’

    The operative word here is IF . You assume that majority rule in a UI situation would mean ‘domination’ of one ethnic group over another . You may not have noticed but the Irish Republic is now home to many ‘ethnic/cultural/religious groups’ which includes Britons as well as Poles , Chinese and other ‘ethnic’ groups now totaling some 10% of the population . In a UI -the unionist community would be just another ethnic/cultural group of about 10% added into the mix.

    What you appear to be saying is that ‘majority rule’ may be ok for the above ‘minorities’ in the Republic but ‘Unionists’ are somehow ‘different and not as other men /women ‘?

    I don’t dispute the fact that Unionists are an ethnic/cultural/ minority on this island nor would I dispute their right to form a predominantly Unionist State in a part of the present NI State. I have even advocated ‘fair ‘ repartition of Northern Ireland on this board .Strangely not a single Unionist has favoured such a solution or at least admitted it unlike some Irish Nationalists on this board.

    If these latter ‘ethnic’ minorities can live peacefully and prosper within a unitary State why would’nt Unionists ? Just because they’re ‘british ‘ or ‘protestant’ . Eh ?

    The form of Government for any UI scenario would be determined by the economic and political conditions of the time when and if such a UI becomes possible or likely.

    It may happen and it may not. You can rest assured that a single United Ireland Parliament would not be out of the question. Neither would some federal/regional ‘arrangement’ for the strong unionist majority areas East of the Bann in NI, be out of the question. We hopefully can now expect that whatever ‘arrangement’ comes to pass it will be achieved peacefully . Should ‘Unionism’ instead prefer ‘war’ to peace then ‘war’ it will be .

    Unionists may have failed at ‘normal’ democracy on their first outing (1920 to 1972) and on their second outing (1974) and even had major difficulties even getting to power sharing (1998 to 2007) but there’s no reason to believe that Unionists are destined always to fail at politics .

  • Greenflag

    ‘More likely there will be some Bosnia / Switzerland / Lebanon / Belgium type arrangement as I said.’

    There may be much to learn from the example of other countries which have strong internal regional/religious/ethno cultural or linguistic differences but learning from does not necessarily imply replicating .

    Ireland is not Bosnia nor is it Switzerland or Lebanon or Belgium . I’ve no doubt we’ll find an amicable ‘irish/british ‘ solution and if it needs some fudging to gloss it over and cover the nasty bits then fudge will be found 🙂

  • Greenflag

    Posts 11 and 12 above are by Greenflag . For some reason the name did not appear in the usual spot??? The same appears to be happening to other posters?

  • Poor old Greenflag

    Can Greenflag have his own special Greenflag column please? He’s filling pages on his own of late. I think he’s lonely.

  • Tkmaxx

    Denis is always trying to find a spiritual dimension to what he says or does and there is no problem with that – there is part of Denis that he has not fully reconciled himself to – and thats the role of a former priest. Not all that he aspires to can be achieved in that context. He is making the mistake – not of confusing but mixing the issues of politics and theology – not because he is wrong but because he needs to reconcile himself, his decisions and his unfilled as aspirations.

  • Save greenflag

    Wouldn’t want him any other way! More poetry please Greenflag!

  • susan says let greenflag be greenflag

    you said it, sg,

  • JoeLeTaxi

    parcifal

    “joeleTaxi, the mistake you’re making and many unionists make is using the word “conquest”; which comes from a fear of literally being over-run by the Irish.
    Persuasion is the key word, an invitation to a wedding more precisely; sounds much more romantic ne c’est pas?”

    You ignore the murderous campaign for ethnic conquest carried out by nationalists over recent decades.

    I see that four “Scorpion” Serb militia were convicted for war crimes last week. What they done was no worse than the IRA’s Kingsmill massacre. I guess that’s the difference between being a “war criminal” and just being a “criminal”.

    Nationalists have waivered moral rights to simple rule over the territory of NI just as Serbia waivered their rights to rule over Bosnia.

  • isn’t susan lovely

    Is that a barrel of loyalist objection I hear being scraped?

    Whatabout…oh I can’t be arsed.

  • can i bring my wagon wheel table?

    If we’re getting married who gets to choose the constitutional furniture? Can my queeny mum come to stay?

  • Sarah

    “Switzerland” ?

    How did this country get lumped in with those countries?

  • JoeLeTaxi

    ” “Switzerland” ?

    How did this country get lumped in with those countries?”

    Didn’t you know that’s where the magical D’Hondt formula comes from?

  • JoeLeTaxi

    “Is that a barrel of loyalist objection I hear being scraped?

    Whatabout…oh I can’t be arsed.”

    Whatabout isn’t the issue. Like Lebanon all sides have committed atrocities here. No argument on that point. So no side can be designated to rule over the other. Hence the whole GFA. I’m simply saying that those principles behind the GFA don’t become obsolete if 50%+1 of NI vote for a united Ireland. They still apply.

  • JoeLeTaxi

    “I’m simply saying that those principles behind the GFA don’t become obsolete if 50%+1 of NI vote for a united Ireland. They still apply.”

    I’d also say though that if this ever happens we’ll probably all be dead when it does. So this is a very hypothetical argument.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I see that four “Scorpion” Serb militia were convicted for war crimes last week. What they done was no worse than the IRA’s Kingsmill massacre.’

    Kingsmill massacre : 10 Protestants.
    Srebenica massacre 8,000 Muslims.
    Northern Ireland total dead :4,000
    Yugoslavia total dead : 300,000

    And you say no ‘worse’ ?

    As you seem to be a proponent of a Bosnian style political solution here’s an update on how their ‘power sharing’ is working after 12 years approx .

    A group of Bosnian Muslim women – all victims of rape by Serbian forces during the 1992-95 war – recently returned to the scene of their torment, the southern town of Foca, to mount a memorial plaque on the building where they were abused. They had to run a gauntlet of foul-mouthed Bosnian Serb males, some of them identified as rapists, threatening a rerun of the 1990s. The men acted with impunity, and the women were unable to put up the plaque.

    Such incidents attest to the bitter divisions that continue to scar Bosnia long after American arm-twisting forced its feuding leaders to sign peace accords 10 years ago. “These schoolchildren are growing up with the knowledge that their neighbours are their enemies,” says Jakob Finci, a Bosnian loyalist and the head of Sarajevo’s Jewish community. “There’s no goodwill between the political elites in this country. We’ve got 86 political parties, 14 parliaments, 14 governments, hundreds and hundreds of politicians [in a country of 3.5 million] – but not a single statesman thinking of the country as a whole. They can’t agree on what kind of country they want.”

    The Dayton deal brought a truce, the division of the country into Serbian and Muslim and Croat sections and tens of thousands of Nato peacekeepers. It turned Bosnia into an international protectorate overseen by an international high representative – now Lord Ashdown, who leaves in January.”

    Goodbye Bosnia hello Northern Ireland ?

    Mr Hain is of course fulsome in his praise.

    ‘Lord Ashdown brings a huge amount of experience in conflict resolution with him and is highly regarded both nationally and internationally. In particular, his work in Bosnia has received widespread recognition.’

    Indeed.

    As Mr Jakob Finci, a Bosnian loyalist and the head of Sarajevo’s Jewish community states a

    . We’ve got 86 political parties, 14 parliaments, 14 governments, hundreds and hundreds of politicians [in a country of 3.5 million] – but not a single statesman thinking of the country as a whole.’

    As compared to Lord Ashdowns successful conflict resolution in Bosnia and Jakob Finci’s present day Bosnian politcal reality I’d hazard a guess and state that things could be much worse in NI than they are !

  • Greenflag

    ‘I’m simply saying that those principles behind the GFA don’t become obsolete if 50%+1 of NI vote for a united Ireland. They still apply.” ‘

    Where does it state they would still apply in any hypothethical UI scenario?

    If you seriously believe that the Republic’s electorate would even consider the D’Hondt power sharing mechanism in a UI scenario -then your knowledge of Ireland is on a par with that of a hypothethical yak’s awareness that Ulan Bator is the capital city of Mongolia :(!

  • Greenflag

    ‘More poetry please Greenflag!

    In response to this overwhelming demand for more doggerel for a ‘departed ‘ Northern Ireland herewith is small verse or two from a Dublin jack who has always held the view that the present Norn Iron polity was never anything other than a cul de sac 🙂 Grateful thanks to Dennis Bradley for his much understated ‘remark’ here quoted.

    ‘how the process was not over but could easily end up in a cul-de-sac. ( Dennis Bradley)

    In the land of Norn Iron Cul De Sac
    The people forever look back
    No soul of ice age Armagnac
    Nor native of distant Kazakh
    Nor even modern Slovak
    Can compete with our home grown throwback

    We hear that in warring Iraq
    Where religion and oil piggyback
    Politicians are in arrest cardiac
    As Americans talk of pullback
    Perhaps in Norn Iron Cul De Sac
    When Gord decides to cut back
    The politcal leaders macaque
    Will head for the nearest tarmac
    Fly one way to far Sarawak
    And think not of e’er coming back !