What’s normal is normal, whatever the norms elsewhere

Elsewhere on Slugger today and yesterday, there has been some speculation as to whether we have reached the end of Northern Irish history/Slugger O’Toole (even Fukuyama doesn’t believe it literally comes to an end). Jane Jenny, who writes South Belfast Diary believes our politics will not stop, but we may be in for some unpredictable changes.

I suspect those who talk about the ‘normalisation’ of NI politics mean one of two things by it (i) politics like England – in particular, the ability to vote for the British Labour Party (ii) the end of sectarian, or should I say nationalist, politics. But let’s think about the use of the word ‘normal’ in this context. The only people who have no problem with the term are statisticians and religious fanatics. The rest of us realise that normality is a very elastic concept. On the one hand, normal politics in NI is what we’ve got at the moment: it’s normal for us, and it has evolved in the way it has in response to local conditions. On the other hand, if party political options do change in the next five years or so, there’s no particular reason to assume that the new pattern will be the same as anywhere else, because our society isn’t. As for the departure of sectarian/ nationalist politics, dream on. Both Irish and UK nationalism will continue to be part of NI’s political landscape for a long time to come. The questions are: how big a part and which other political ideologies will be competing.

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  • Pete Baker

    And as Liam Clarke says..

    The end of history may not be so dull, after all. So far it’s been characterised by rising property prices, political consensus and tight media management, but corruption, skulduggery and intrigue are just over the horizon. Even in peacetime, we may find something to write and litigate about. There will be new crimes for the new times.

  • forlorn fairy

    I’m glad its changed. The old politics was getting very old and very boring. The end stuff was even worse, will they won’t they do it or not. It was a big turn off, and I look forward to sleaze, skulduggery and intrigue (please no more who is a tout or not!!!) I welcome it, along with all the new changes in our society, (except the house prices). It’s hopeful, but I do realise it will take a while for all the old stuff to go, ie dissidents on both sides and the old die hards who make their living from drink and cigarette smuggling. There are little empires that still need to go, but at least we’re not waking up each morning to news of children being burnt to death like what happened in Ballymoney, or sectarian shootings and intimidation.

    Should have happened long ago.

  • There will be new crimes for the new times.

    hmm I often wonder if those who seem to relish every opportunity at exposing error, real or imagined they themselves ever wake up thinking:
    ” I wonder if today is the day I’ll be spotted”?

    Have always thought, the most guarded to be the most guilty. Just my experience!

  • SuperSoupy

    I note Slugger’s is no longer obsessed with the devolution of Policing and Justice now the stories coming out don’t fit the nit-picking and semantics of blogger’s determined to claim it will never happen (the same people that called SF moves on policing completely wrong, that called a SF/DUP agreement dead wrong)


    There was a day when every dot on every i and ever cross on every t was examined on this issue.

    No longer? I wonder why that is.

  • SuperSoupy
    In a word “Hain”, that’s why he’s loved or hated depending upon how fed up one was the constant nit-picking, or how much one was enjoying it.

    as though in my 3:02 they’ll find something else to whine about, see the negativity is mostly in their heads.
    Its the wave you’re attuned to they say in Zen.

  • Er, it’s Jenny, not Jane, at South Belfast Diary. But glad to see the debate getting a wider airing.

  • Mick Fealty


    Any chance of a reference or two of any of that stuff?

  • SuperSoupy

    I’ll give you a reference.

    It’s an issue the site visited lots, with multi, multi linked blogs. The only issue that had more Russian doll blogs was the wrongly called ‘conditionality’ pieces.

    This story goes against the Slugger narrative on the issue and is unsurprisingly not touched. Why? Because it doesn’t lend itself to the phrases triple-locked or quadruple-locked?

  • Mick Fealty

    Hmmm… I thought you were on to something there when I saw one of those that Google quoted saying “.. It confirms my opinion that SF/IRA are not serious about devolution, and never were.”

    Turns out it was a contributor, not a blogger… Seriously, I am struggling to figure which reference you are thinking of…

  • gareth mccord

    What remains and always will, is TRUTH AND JUSTICE for those seeking closure !!
    [text removed – moderator]

    The dirty deals will be unravelled and the government will have to do alot of spinning for many years to come! But do remember the victims and those who seek justice, for their fight amongst the dirty politics will continue until justice!! There is thousands of people who wont and cant move forward thanks to the dirty and reckless deals our politicians have made and making.

    But im sure it wont be long before the money starts rolling in from hollywood! But guess who will make the fortunes from their actions in n. irish history?!

  • GavBelfast

    Do yis not just think that we, as a people, British/Irish, but especially Ulster people, just like arguing, even if it’s only for sport?

    I think it’s part of the character – we are not chilled.

    And if it is only a bloodless sport, what’s the harm it?

  • Pete Baker

    “Seriously, I am struggling to figure which reference you are thinking of…”


    That would be because the arguments claimed to have been made by Slugger bloggers were never actually made by Slugger bloggers.

    As for the article.. despite SS’s enthusiasm, I’m not particularly inclined to accept quotes from anonymous British government sources without question – even if they don’t actually contradict what’s been said here on Slugger in the past.

    Hint: an agreement by the DUP to devolve policing and justice lies at the heart of unlocking the triple/quadruple-lock.

  • Damn – history has ended! That’s a waste of my bloody modern history degree. QUB never told me it was ending anytime soon!

    “dissidents on both sides and the old die hards who make their living from drink and cigarette smuggling” – FF this is what exists in almost every civilisation since the dawn of time (admittedly it only used to be baked bean smuggling in days of yore…) it is just that before the ‘End of History’ NI dressed it up in paramilitary clothing for a 2-page spread in the Sunday World. In other words…career criminals with worse fashion sense than the average spide!

  • dodrade

    In politics there is no such thing as a final settlement.

    That’s the line I forgot to put in my dissertation comparing Sunningdale and the GFA.