About that Charter..

The UTV report on the launch of Sinn Féin’s Charter for Unionist Engagement provides some of the detail outlines of their strategy.. although I suspect that it was written in the expectation of a different result from last week’s Irish General Election.. Adds Charter available here [4.17Mb pdf file]ANYhoo.. according to the report

Sinn Fein`s new charter for unionist engagement outlined how the party would protect the rights of all sections of society in a united Ireland and sets out how it will engage unionists and other groups about its strategy.

The document, which was also launched by Stormont Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew and Foyle Assembly member Martina Anderson, vowed to:

:: Campaign for a new agreed Irish Constitution based on the separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary which would be endorsed by the people and also press for a charter of rights.

:: Decentralise decision-making to empower citizens and include minorities in the processes which impact on their lives.

:: Ensure all groups including those traditionally excluded from economic, social and political power are given equal rights and respect.

:: Make sure government delivers not only tolerance towards all religions, races and marginalised groups but eradicates sectarianism, racism and other forms of discrimination.

:: Guarantee a full separation between Church and state, with civil and religious liberty for all, everyone free to practice their faith and no religion having a preferential position in society.

:: Promote a national reconciliation process across Ireland.

Perhaps they should have launched that before the Irish General Election? [Perhaps not – Ed]

Adds According to the Charter, “the media” has responsibilities..

The Media

In a democratic society the role of a free press is essential. The media has a responsibility to reflect the diversity of society, to set a positive context for engagement on the basis of our common humanity and to work to end all forms of prejudice, stereotyping and the degradation of human beings.

Which I think we may have heard before..

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  • Billy Pilgrim

    Kensei

    But if FF and FG were to organise here? Though perhaps then the perspective I’ve referred to might be somewhat diluted?

    However, northern members would be subject to internal party discipline, so anyone going off-message would have to answer to Bertie/Enda.

    Ah, so many variables. Whaddayathink Kensei? If, say, FF were to organise in Belfast, do you think they’d get off the ground? I think they’d probably do very well – perhaps swallowing the SDLP whole and taking a chunk out of SF’s soft flank (who would no longer have the luxury of being the only serious players in town.) I’d consider joining myself, and I think I know a good few others who would too. You?

  • kensei

    “Ah, so many variables. Whaddayathink Kensei? If, say, FF were to organise in Belfast, do you think they’d get off the ground? I think they’d probably do very well – perhaps swallowing the SDLP whole and taking a chunk out of SF’s soft flank (who would no longer have the luxury of being the only serious players in town.) I’d consider joining myself, and I think I know a good few others who would too. You?”

    If they organise here on their own it’ll take a long time – they’d have to build form locals up, and that would probably damage the SDLP more than SF initially. If the SDLP merges with FF then it gives them a lot of on the ground advantages that would put then as a serious threat to SF’s dominance in the North. They’d need to be accompanies by some new faces though and a lot depends on the message they push. A more self reliant tack than SF have the moment would probably go down well. Personally I think two serious parties competing with each other would be good for Nationalism as a whole.

    All kinds of risks though, and the key thing is they’d want to avoid getting into Nationalist pigeon hole and have some appeal with the other side. Not entirely sure it’s possible.

  • harpo

    “Seems others are open to engagement while the bulk of the Unionist political class goes through the same tired old motions.”

    SuperSoupey:

    The folks you mention don’t get many unionist votes. The PUP representatives of the UVF terrorists certainly don’t (even though they stabnd in elections), those churchmen don’t, Garland doesn’t, and that loyalist community worker doesn’t.

    If you think this motley crew represents the bulk of actual unionist voters then you are deranged. They may want to sit and listen to the same tired nonsense from McGuinness, but the vast mass of unionist voters don’t want their representatives (who they elected in March) involved in it.

    So let the reps of loyalist terrorists engage in this tripe. Ordinary unionists don’t care. And I doubt that there is anything near 6.9% of unionists represented in that room.

    The voters of the ROI in general don’t care about what PSF has to say, and neither do unionists.

    If you want to see the 6.9% in the ROI and a few reps of loyalist terrorists as being the enlightened ones, then good luck to you.

  • harpo

    ‘Now, you might say that if unionists just refuse to engage on this issue’

    Billy:

    What issue?

    There is no issue, even though PSF wish there was one.

    ‘So I would put it to you and to unionism (and to republicanism) that the challenge for both traditions is to make this place work for the benefit of everyone’

    Far enough, but that isn’t ‘the issue’ that PSF want to talk about. As I’ve said before this supposed engagement is all about what sort of a UI unionists want.

    There’s that precondition again.

    That PSF document is based on the assumption that it is all about a united Ireland. It isn’t. Why can’t PSF just put the constitutional thing on a back burner and deal with what you say – making this place work?

    Is the problem that you assume that ‘this place’ is the whole island of Ireland, and not Northern Ireland? There’s that precondition again.

    ‘Unionism must meet republicanism halfway in making NI the best it can be’

    Yes. But that isn’t what that document is on about. Again, it is about a potential future constitutional arrangement – NI being in a UI.

    ‘I choose the latter. You?’

    I choose it too. But PSF aren’t talking about that in their document. Why is that?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harpo

    “What issue? There is no issue, even though PSF wish there was one.”

    PSF are a footnote in all of this. Forget them. Approx 45% of people here want a UI – that makes it an issue, even if 55% of people don’t want it. Reunification will ALWAYS be an issue here. The GFA explicitly accepted that it was an issue (hence the principle of consent.) It is an issue – the only question is, how will the various sides engage with it? (I’d suggest that trying to pretend the issue doesn’t exist might not be the most productive strategy.)

    “Far enough, but that isn’t ‘the issue’ that PSF want to talk about. As I’ve said before this supposed engagement is all about what sort of a UI unionists want.”

    Of course it is. What, you think it’s up to SF to make unionism’s arguments for remaining within the union for them? Republicans want a UI, so of course they’ll try to manoeuvre the debate in that direction. It’s up to unionists to try and bring the debate back onto their own territory, but as usual unionism seems to prefer to walk away instead.

    “There’s that precondition again.”

    What precondition? SF are making their pitch. Unionism can argue back, or not, up to them. You seem surprised that SF would act like republicans, and would try to talk about a UI as much as possible. Why not hit back with some ideas of your own?

    “That PSF document is based on the assumption that it is all about a united Ireland. It isn’t. Why can’t PSF just put the constitutional thing on a back burner and deal with what you say – making this place work?”

    Now who’s putting preconditions in place?

    How about just having the debate, without preconditions or preconceived outcomes? How about simply having the debate, while accepting that both the status quo and reunification are among the range of possible outcomes?

    “Is the problem that you assume that ‘this place’ is the whole island of Ireland, and not Northern Ireland? There’s that precondition again.”

    Who’s making assumptions? I was referring to this place – you can call it Northern Ireland, I’d prefer to think of it as these six counties. But we mean the same place and we’re talking about the same outcome.

    “But that isn’t what that document is on about. Again, it is about a potential future constitutional arrangement – NI being in a UI.”

    Can you not accept that reunification is one of a range of possible outcomes? Or would you prefer to spend the next few decades much as we have spent the last few, rather than build a future that is stable, peaceful and prosperous, but the constitutional outcome of which cannot be guaranteed?

    “I choose it too. But PSF aren’t talking about that in their document. Why is that?”

    Forget SF! This document (amorphous pish that it is) is nothing more than an opportunity to begin a conversation. I don’t give a damn about SF but I’m up for that conversation. Are you? Or do you want guarantees first?

  • curious

    :: ‘Guarantee a full separation between Church and state, with civil and religious liberty for all, everyone free to practice their faith and no religion having a preferential position in society.’

    I dont know what this Sinn Féin’s Charter are on about. “Separation between Church and state” happend in Ireland back in 1969.

    ‘The Irish Church Disestablishment Act 1869 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed during William Gladstone’s administration.’

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Church_Disestablishment_Act_1869

  • curious

    correction 1869 not 1969.

  • harpo

    ‘Ahern seems to have a much better grasp of how to deal with unionists than SF.’

    Gonzo:

    And that’s a sad reflection on Provo Sinn Fein. In NI these PSF clowns live with unionists, yet can’t communicate with them.

    Bertie doesn’t live with unionists yet can communicate with them.

    As you say of course Bertie has a long view. PSF don’t and think that continual TALing and saying that a UI is just around the cornr is the way to appeal to go about it. PSF have no clue.

  • harpo

    “Moreover, let’s be brutally honest here – SF are getting more stick for being the messenger than they are for the actual message.”

    kensai:

    Nonsense.

    Unionists think the message is shit and wouldn’t care who was presenting it. The fact that it is the Provos though as the messenger only adds to the fact that the message is not going to be received well.

    If the SDLP or Bertie A came out with this crap they would get the same response. The fact that we see PIRA terrorists presenting the message just guarantees that unionists won’t listen.

  • harpo

    ‘Martin McGuiness played a crucial role (especially important given his pedigree)in bringing peace.’

    Dewi:

    True.

    He got his organization to stop killing people.

    Do you think people should be grateful to mass murderers who stop engaging in mass murder?

    Or would most normal people not trust the mass murderer and treat anything he says with suspicion?

  • darth rumsfeld

    “I don’t give a damn about SF but I’m up for that conversation. Are you? Or do you want guarantees first?”

    You bet we do. One simple guarantee- if we say “No thanks” you’ll respect and accept our right to, and your community won’t try the old methods to force us to change our mind.

    The problem with this intellectually vacuous and morally dishonest document is simply that it does not state that, in the zero sum game that SF engages in, someone has to lose, and if it’s them they’ve decided never to revert to type.

    Billy can ask me a thousand times, and I’ll still say no. I’ll get a bit irritated that he won’t get the hint, but maybe some day he’ll get tired and give up. These bozos have shown they don’t have the integrity to do that. Their idea of generosity is to keep muttering about “50% plus one day”.

    After all, if the product’s that good it’ll sell itself.

    Soupy’s problem is that he thinks Unionist bloggers aren’t representative of Unionism as a whole, and he over-values the useful idiots who have been trying since Ballymascanlon to persuade the provos to act nicely with litle success.

    The Unionist rejectionists ( proud life member here) will still be an insurmountable problem if they’re 500,000 or 5,000 in the imagined 50% plus one land- after all, the Provos for years were an insignifcant proportion of the RC population. It’s the ones who don’t blether and aren’t fluent in Humespeak who are the problem, soupy. The silent majority have a small vocabulary, but when they say “No” they mean it. And they’re not even stretched by this waste of good Irish trees, because it doesn’t even get past base camp – the wee word “sorry”.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Darth

    “You bet we do. One simple guarantee- if we say “No thanks” you’ll respect and accept our right to, and your community won’t try the old methods to force us to change our mind.”

    It seems crucial to clarify who you mean by “we”?

    “The problem with this intellectually vacuous and morally dishonest document is simply that it does not state that, in the zero sum game that SF engages in, someone has to lose, and if it’s them they’ve decided never to revert to type.”

    The thing is, it’s not a question of anyone “losing”. For republicans, if there’s no UI today, there’s always tomorrow. I think the GFA makes pretty clear that all but the most recalcitrant fringe of Irish republicanism has abandoned violence for good. That’s the reality, whether in a UI or not.

    “Billy can ask me a thousand times, and I’ll still say no.”

    I have no doubt about it, but you’re one man. I might as well try to persuade you, and others. What choice do I have?

    “…but maybe some day he’ll get tired and give up.”

    Nevaaar! Nevaaar! Nevaaar! Nevaaar!

    “The Unionist rejectionists ( proud life member here) will still be an insurmountable problem if they’re 500,000 or 5,000 in the imagined 50% plus one land- after all, the Provos for years were an insignifcant proportion of the RC population.”

    This reads like a pretty thinly-veiled threat of a terrorist campaign, in the event of a majority voting for reunification. Is this what you’re suggesting? That you and your band of 5,000 will be taking to the hills?

  • useful idiot

    Darthacus.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “It seems crucial to clarify who you mean by “we”? ”
    Agreed, Well, we don’t actually know, of course, just as we don’t really know how many of “themmuns” really go to sleep dreaming of Eire Nua, as opposed to those who just don’t get on with “usuns”. We might surprise ourselves and get all the garden centres emptied as Old Campbellians ferry Sandy Row pensioners to the border polls in their Mercs and Jags. I suspect the numbers will fluctuate on both extremes as the good neighbour strategy benefits the greater number.

    ” have no doubt about it, but you’re one man. I might as well try to persuade you, and others. What choice do I have?”

    None. And I respect your tenacity, just as I would that of the president of the Flat Earth Society. Still won’t make me buy.And the Shinners haven’t even tried repackaging the product.

    ““…but maybe some day he’ll get tired and give up.”
    Nevaaar! Nevaaar! Nevaaar! Nevaaar!”

    Oops. Not a good idea to cite the quotation from a man who…er got tired and gave up.

    “This reads like a pretty thinly-veiled threat of a terrorist campaign, in the event of a majority voting for reunification. Is this what you’re suggesting? That you and your band of 5,000 will be taking to the hills?”

    Nope, though it just seems strange to think that a community of bolshie prods on “50% plus one day” might behave any more responsibly than the PIRA did in 1970. Obviously I’d just refuse to pay my TV licence and smuggle malt whisky and cigars through in support of the good ould cause. Biffo would soon be begging for mercy.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    UI (nice acronym, btw)

    Fantastic! Love it! That could catch on!

    Darthacus

    “Oops. Not a good idea to cite the quotation from a man who…er got tired and gave up.”

    Touche!

    “Nope, though it just seems strange to think that a community of bolshie prods on “50% plus one day” might behave any more responsibly than the PIRA did in 1970.”

    No, I’d just hope that they’d behave rather like the Catholic community did in 1922. It took a half century of humiliation before the spasm that was the provos emanated from the broad nationalist community. Provided an all Ireland government treated the northeastern minority with all the respect, fairness and generosity that the Stormont government denied to Catholics, there’s absolutely no reason to suspect that that community (for the most part a serious-minded, conservative, undemanding people in my experience)would react hysterically.

    (Most likely a few would, but I suspect this uprising could be handled by police and the courts.)

    “Obviously I’d just refuse to pay my TV licence and smuggle malt whisky and cigars through in support of the good ould cause.”

    You sure you don’t have some south Armagh blood in you somewhere Darthacus? I’ll make an Irish republican of you yet!

  • Maggot

    Billy Pilgrim : “It took a half century of humiliation before the spasm that was the provos emanated from the broad nationalist community. ”

    The provos emanated from a republican movement that had been active from the foundation of the state –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Campaign_(IRA)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_Campaign_(IRA)

  • DC

    “Provided an all Ireland government treated the northeastern minority with all the respect, fairness and generosity that the Stormont government denied to Catholics, there’s absolutely no reason to suspect that that community (for the most part a serious-minded, conservative, undemanding people in my experience)would react hysterically.”

    I think the key to Ireland and unification rests with deeper EU integration with more policy matters being placed with supranational institutions.

    The more Bertie pioneers Ireland as an immigration success story and susceptible of more integrationist EU policy coupled with strongly moving towards a multi-cultural state without any ethnic-nationalist parties, then the undemanding lot up here might actually wish to demand something worth being part of and worth having.

    To me this is a better deal than the existing Northern Ireland with its undervalued UK membership which is so because of the lack of economic and political ingenuity which most successful low-populated regions need to have in order to prosper.

  • Dewi

    ’Martin McGuiness played a crucial role (especially important given his pedigree)in bringing peace.’

    Dewi:

    True.

    He got his organization to stop killing people.

    Do you think people should be grateful to mass murderers who stop engaging in mass murder?

    Or would most normal people not trust the mass murderer and treat anything he says with suspicion?

    Harpo – I’m sure people will treat him with suspicion for a time but there is a long history in Ireland of people giving up the gun…and to be objective here I don’t think he was the only person in Derry who regarded an armed response as the appropriate response at the onset of the troubles and probably gave as much as any to bring them to an end.

    Respect yopur view though.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Maggot

    “The provos emanated from a republican movement that had been active from the foundation of the state.”

    Nonsense. The border campaign ended with the dumping of arms in 1962, and anyway, it was almost entirely a southern-based campaign. In 1969 the IRA consisted of a handful of oul fellas in Dublin with rusty revolvers. In the north, the IRA between 1922 and 1970 was mostly a handful of eejits who were rounded up every decade or so when the Unionist government decided it would be politic to bring back internment. “Usual suspects”, if you will. The IRA that emerged in 1970 was something quite distinct from what had gone before.

  • darth rumsfeld

    ..he’s right maggot.

    Anyway, back on thread, and having now read the full text again the old staple “Where’s the beef?” comes to mind. I’m curious as to what(in for SF is a very cheapo leaflet mercifully bereft of pictures of babies, London buses, fish and chips-1970’s retro xerox chic perhaps?)this weak effort presages.

    So you’ve met the loyalists in a mutual guilt salving “We were all soldiers” quest.
    You’ve met the few community workers from Belfast who are the working class heroes simply seeing an angle for their people- and good luck to them
    You’ve met the church representatives, who aren’t even representative of their only church members nevermind the broader community.
    Yup, about the only nice prods left to meet are Ken Branagh, James Galway, and Barry Douglas-you can maybe get them down the West Belfast Festival and tick that box.

    But that’s so obviously a divide and conquer strategy that it just reinforces opposition to you. As does the guff about “Martina has to come from the extreme wing to give this policy credibility”

    Real courage would be going on to the enemy’s ground- not like Adams did for Ervine’s funeral, like the US ambassador in Baghdad- but as the Shankill’s MP, alone, or with a secretary to meetings.

    Real courage- like, I would suggest, Bobby Saulters standing outside Harryville chapel as the leader of the Orange order across from a crowd , some of whom were probably members of his organisation, others possibly paramilitary-connected, in support of civil and religious liberty for all. Fat lot of good it did him, for all the reward he got. So perhaps we can see Gerry Kelly standing outside Greencastle Orange Hall the next time the spides start to attack it.

    And if you really wanted to nonpluss Unionists ( if that’s a verb) you should deliver them what they say they want, not offer what you think they need. Like ,say, a parade down Garvaghy Road. You think it’s a silly thing to want, but for some mad reason we want it. You think we ‘d rather have a new bike. No we don’t.We wanna parade.

    But a shameless populist party that is both pro and anti high corporation tax as the voters demand is hardly going to do anything so electorally risky as stand up to its own voters. And just like Gerry’s flimsy grasp of southern economics, mortgages, and health ( how is your “MRSI” coming on BTW?- or was it MFI?)was ruthlessly exposed two weeks ago, this sad and sickly runt of the SF propaganda department litter is already that- litter, never to be heard of again

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