Republicans inviting Unionists to the dance?

IOt was interesting to watch Gerry Adams so apparently at ease in at the dining table of Hillsborough House last night. Today his party launches a Charter for Unionist engagement, but not every unionist is over the moon about it.

“…we recognise there are entrenched positions out there within the unionist and republican population who find engagement somewhat difficult, we hope this charter will in some way prevent those people who are trying to maintain fostering differences of the two communities.

“The development of our unionist engagement is about trying to build up a better understanding of people from the different parts of our community and their experiences. It is a two-way street and a slow process but there is significant engagement between ourselves and people right throughout the Protestant, unionist, and loyalist community.”

The Belfast Telegraph notes that meanwhile:

…the Orange Order has demanded an apology from republicans for the murder of Orangemen throughout the Troubles. Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Drew Nelson, has said: “We believe that 311 members of the Orange Order were murdered as a result of the Troubles.

“Of those, almost 200 were current or former members of the security forces. Many were murdered simply because they were members of the Orange Order. In the case of the Tullyvallen Orange Hall massacre in 1975, the IRA burst into a lodge meeting and murdered five defenceless Orangemen.

“There has been a clear campaign since then to attack our buildings and on average 14 Orange Halls have been burnt per year – that is more than one per month. In total there have been over 260 attacks on our halls”.

Over in the Newsletter gives the initiative a cautious response:

Are Martina Anderson and Sinn Fein serious? Is it anything more than a stunt? We shall soon see. If it proves to be just another stunt, then it will be a damaging stunt – for it will have shown once more that republicans are in a state of denial, and determined to deny their neighbours full rights to exist and express themselves.

Republicans have, if you like, issued the invitation. Let us see now if it is worth attending – let republicans begin now to embrace reality.

  • Pounder

    Starting off by demanding an apology is not thw way to start off. There is plenty of blame to go arround on this wonderful wee island. If they truely want to call the sinners bluff this wasn’t the way to start.

  • Mick Fealty

    Surely if you make an approach to someone or, as in this case, a group of people you have then deal with the response they give you, rather than lecture them on the way they should have replied?

  • Pounder

    Maybe Mick, but there is such a thing as meeting someone half way.

  • Mick Fealty

    Did you never go to a ballroom of romance? Boy asks girl, girls says no, boy goes back to other side of the hall. Girl says maybe, boy still has to make the running.

  • SuperSoupy

    Gregory Campbell’s and the OO responses are red-herrings from those that don’t seek any engagement so raise insurmountable obstacles.

    The engagement being promoted is between SF and Unionism. If the OO require an apology from the IRA before they are open to that it doesn’t seem like SF can deliver what they want and to be honest I think they know it and that’s why it’s raised.

    Unfortunately the other current, rather than historical, issue they raise – attacks on OO property, is one that could usefully be addressed by engagement. SF have already called for such attacks to end. Such calls could be greatly enhanced by Republicans and the OO coming to greater understanding of each other and could possibly improve the filter through to those currently not listening.

    But the OO seem to want to rule out dialogue with their impossible demands rather than taking an opportunity to create some kind of relationship/understanding that may be to it’s own benefit.

    As I said red-herrings thrown up by those with no desire to move forward and of little relevance as the debate/process will move on without them until they are ready to start playing catch up.

    The door remains open.

  • Whatever Next

    Gerry, Gezza, Gez old bean – you’d be a lot better off launching a charter for Southern engagement.

  • J Kelly

    Gregory Campbell is still hoping that this is all a nighmare and he will waken up from it soon. I heard someone recently calling him the Spokeperson of Unionist Outrage. The problem Gregory seems to have that the only people who want to hear him is the media. Who lets be honest like the bad news. Good news doesn’t sell.

  • tobar

    If SF was serious about Unionist engagement, it would have chosen someone without the Provo bagage Martina carries. Is this another opportunity for SF to play the victim card, being seen to “reach out” to Unionism only to be rejected?

  • Pounder

    “Did you never go to a ballroom of romance? Boy asks girl, girls says no, boy goes back to other side of the hall. Girl says maybe, boy still has to make the running.”

    But the Unionists seem to be demanding more than a little chasing. More like several square inches of skin and a pint of blood from each and every Shinner.

  • I have to wonder when the OO will apologize for the 715 civilians killed by their unionist murder gangs because they were Catholics. And, the anti-Catholicism that sparked these murders is largely — no, entirely — the work of the OO and its hangers on.

    There are, indeed, bloody hands on all sides in NI but I have say that unionists, both individually and as a group, seem far too blind of their own bloody hands.

  • Pounder

    Both sides are just as bad in that regard. What we need is for Martin and Ian to sit down togeather and no appologis(I’m not nieve enough to believe that’ll happen), but atleast acknowledge that they did wrong in the past. Then remind the people that there is in fact a country to run. the “We did X because you did Y” is the political version of a dog chasing it’s tail.

  • lib2016

    tobar

    “If Sinn Fein was seriou8s about Unionist engagement, it would have chosen someone without the Provo baggage Martina carries”

    Only to have her dismissed as having no credentials to speak for all wings of northern republicanism? Sorry – maybe some day it will sink in that nobody gets to choose their opponents spokepeople.

  • Sorry, Pounder, but when all is said and done and all the murders are counted up, it seems that the unionists/loyalists — and the security forces they hold so dear — murdered twice as many people as the PIRA and about 4 people for every 3 murdered by all republican groups combined.

    So, it seems to me that the unionist/loyalist owe the first apology for their murders.

    And, it is the unionist/loyalist who are still refuse to disarm.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Mick I too found it interesting to watch the beard dining with the hob-nobs at Hillsborough castle.
    I’m sure many a south Armagh die-hard threw a few objects at the TV. All that talk of revolution and radical socialism, and the great leader sits down with the enemy and scoffs the honeyed snape.
    Animal Farm anyone?

  • lib2016

    Gerry Lvs Castro,

    It’s a cultural difference and probably also a huge generalisation but the nationalist population tends to see itself as upwardly mobile and chooses leaders who can pass themselves anywhere. The attacks on the Armani suits came from unionists and completely miss the point.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Lib2116:

    Do they also choose leaders who can draw British salaries, administer British rule, accept the PSNI and own holiday homes despite having a supposedly ‘average industrial wage’?

    I’d personally wonder what and who the 30 year ‘struggle’ was actually for.

  • seanzmct

    Sinn Fein can reach out to whoever it likes and whoever can also give SF the bum’s rush as was the case in the General Election in the South.

    If Martina Anderson(who not long ago stated that British Conservative MP’s were “legitimate targets”)achieves as much as 6.9% success in her grotesquely patronising outreach programme, I will be amazed.

    What next, Mad Dog Adair running an Ardoyne republican outreach clinic???

  • lib2016

    Gerry Lvs Castro,

    You are simply applying the same tactics which the northern opposition to SF have been using for years, the same years which have seen SF grow steadily.

    Bertie and his professionals scored better by portraying Sinn Fein as a threat to the electorate’s pocket. If you want to play politics then you have to discuss politics rather than rubbish about Adams and his private life. In any case most people know that Adams is a successful author whose books have sold in America.

    The UUP destroyed themselves with these tactics and the PD’s appear to be following them so you aren’t alone.

  • jaffa

    Apparently Mr McGuinness was the main speaker at the launch, not Ms Anderson. Is this charter on-line anywhere?

    http://www.sinnfeinassembly.com/en/press-centre/entry/505

  • jaffa

    It is. If you hit the link on the top left of page lined to above there’s a PDF for your enjoyment.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GLC

    Don’t mean to be too confrontational, but your posts here have been tired, wrong-headed stuff. You clearly have no understanding of why people would be interested in voting SF. That’s why last week’s election was so interesting. Fianna Fail – a party that understands exactly the appeal of SF – have succeeded where UUP, DUP, PDs, FG etc have failed, and have halted SF’s rise. Whether that will be permanent, only time will tell, but it’s interesting that it took Ireland’s largest republican party to give SF their first bloody nose in fifteen years.

    I referred to this on another thread as a sort of “to catch a thief” scenario – it takes a republican party to put manners on a republican party.

    Unionists interested in cutting the ground from under SF in the north should take note. There’s a reason why SF absolutely love Gregory Campbell but cower from Bertie Ahern like a naughty schoolboy cowers from his daddy. All it’d take would be a wee bit of empathy to figure out why that might be the case. That’s the challenge for unionism.

  • jaffa

    Well at least all the subtitles are orange. That was a nice touch.

    I think they should just bin page one. The framework bit committed to talking about anything you want to talk about including the past and that was it really.

    Good long list of stakeholders. Good to be reminded all about the different kinds of people who make up a society.

    Worth waiting for.

    Gerry’s smile’s nice. What toothpaste does he use?

  • tobar

    lib2016,
    “…nobody gets to choose their opponents spokespeople.”

    True. However if this particular spokesperson is charged with the task of reaching out to the Unionist people then surely it would be better to choose someone who is not going to antagonise Unionists? Otherwise, it might appear SF is sayin, “We are doing this to reach out to you and this is how we want you to respond.”

    IMO, this is merely another stunt by SF and an opportunity for it to play the victim card. SF knows how the Unionsist people view Provos like Martina, so why didn’t they choose one of their younger members without the Provo bagage.

    It’s seems like a nice idea at first but on closer inspection, it’s clear SF has messsed up again. May be that’s what they wanted all the time (painting themselves as the rejected do-gooders)? Back to the drawingboard I’m afraid, in more ways than one!

  • The Devil

    I would imagine it was more Ballbag than Ballroom

  • Cromwell

    tobar,

    Or in Martina Anderson’s case; back to the circuitboard!

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Billy Pilgrim:

    ‘You clearly have no understanding of why people would be interested in voting SF.’

    Absolutely correct Billy I don’t. A few weeks ago I challenged the SF cheerleaders on Slugger to tell me exactly what SF’s policies are outside of a UI. All I got was some links to a lot of guff that would have taken weeks to wade through.
    That was before the ROI election. It appears that the southern electorate had the same problem as myself and ignored SF in their droves.

    Speaking as a Unionist not identified with any particular party, I’ve found Unionist politicans to be roughly as useful as tits on a nun. There is a very good reason why Paisley survived the ‘troubles’ without even a potshot being taken at him.

    SF however played every card in the book — mopery, intimidation, exploitation of suicide and lies followed by damned lies.
    They had the added advantage of a military wing, undue deference from the British, Irish & US govts and hapless political opponents on both sides.

    However Chris Gaskin summed it up better than anyone else when he declared that a donkey in a tricolour could get elected in the north.

    Southern voters however see absolutely no reason to ‘votail Sinn Fein’ and why the hell should they? You tell me.

    My tuppence worth is that Unionism will never be able to decrease the SF vote — it is as tribal as the DUP’s. SF and the DUP have huge mandates precisely because of each other and that situation could continue for decades.

    What would work though is FF / FG organising in NI. Splitting the Republican vote and giving Unionism a more palatable govt partner can hardly be a bad thing for anyone.

  • Dc

    “exploitation of suicide”

    Ah I only wish everyone in Northern Ireland read Slugger they would be very much informed.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Ahem Dc — that’s ‘the north’ / ‘here’ / the occupied six counties’ or ‘the wee six’ — Northern Ireland doesn’t exist anymore remember?
    Please get with the programme.

  • harpo

    “Maybe Mick, but there is such a thing as meeting someone half way.”

    Pounder:

    Unionists aren’t interested in meeting Provo Sinn Fein halfway on anything.

    Why can’t Provo Sinn Fein just accept this reality and move on?

    As many have said on this thread this is all about the Provos wanting to be seen to be doing something and to play the victim when unionists tell them to get stuffed as usual.

    Where is it written that any lot of people have to engage with any other lot of people? Do you demand that Provo Sinn Fein meet Westminster halfway instead of refusing to sit at Westminster?

    Provo Sinn Fein refuse to sit at Westminster and I say that’s up to them. Unionists refuse to have anything to do with horseshit approaches from Provo Sinn Fein and I say that’s up to them.

    You can’t force anyone to engage with something they aren’t interested in engaging with.

    In this case it will be the usual ‘what sort of united Ireland do you want?’ horseshit. Sorry, but unionists aren’t interested.

  • Suilven

    ‘Sorry, Pounder, but when all is said and done and all the murders are counted up, it seems that the unionists/loyalists—and the security forces they hold so dear—murdered twice as many people as the PIRA and about 4 people for every 3 murdered by all republican groups combined.

    So, it seems to me that the unionist/loyalist owe the first apology for their murders.

    And, it is the unionist/loyalist who are still refuse to disarm.’

    What a load of crap Bob, and I’m surprised noone else has pulled you up on it. The best figures available (on CAIN) show PIRA as being responsible for 1707 of 3524 Troubles-related deaths, or almost exactly 50%. All republican paramilitaries killed 2057, or over 58%. All that said, 1 death was too many.

    Now you know the true figures, and going by your own logic, I take it then you accept PIRA/P O’Neill/SF “owe the first apology for their murders” ?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GLC

    “Absolutely correct Billy I don’t.”

    Yes, I know that. You aren’t even trying to. My point was that because you are utterly devoid of understanding for Irish republicanism (and proudly ignorant at that) you are totally incapable of effectively opposing SF. And when I say “you”, I do mean you personally, and I mean unionism generally.

    Whereas if you look at last week, you see a real Irish republican party making wee boys out of the SF bete noire. I asked you if you thought there was a lesson there for unionism, and you replied by ranting about how much you hate SF.

    Pity. There’s an interesting debate to be had here.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harpo

    “Why can’t Provo Sinn Fein just accept this reality and move on?”

    Move on to what?

  • redbull

    What about Sinn Fein support for ALL VICTIMS OF THE TROUBLES. Bearing in mind republicans were responsible for 90 percent of the human carnage.

  • frank

    The Orange Order asking for an apology, what a joke.

    Perhaps they should apologise to the victims of Joe Bratty who murdered over 20 Catholics while being an active member of the Orange Order and Apprentice boys.

    Or maybe apologise for the murderous exploits of UVF brigadeer John Bingham, who was an active orangeman during his killing sprees.

    Or maybe issue an apology to the victims of the Shankill Butchers who were members of the Orange Order and still are (Eddie McIlwaine).

    All of the above are still celebrated at orange parades.

    Or maybe the Orange Order should apologise to the parents of 16 year old James Morgan who’s beaten and mutilated body was dumped in a pit with dead animal carcuses outside Castlewellan in 1997. Morgan’s murderer was an active participant in his local lodge as well as an active uvf member. The orange order initially refused to expel Norman Coopey, dispite his carrying out one of the most horrific crimes of the troubles.

    I can understand ordinary innocent people looking for an apology for the death of their loved ones, but the orange order was full of active terrorists during the worst of the troubles and many are still celebrated by them.

    The orange order should be told to go and hang their heads in shame, the have the blood of many innocent civilians on their hands.

    I wonder do the OO figures include the terrorists of the uvf, uff & Shankill Butchers in their fugures ?

  • harpo

    ‘Move on to what?’

    Billy:

    Move on to working with unionists as they are, within NI. And stop wasting time talking shite about ‘what sort of a united ireland do unionists want?’.

    Reality is that NI is in the UK and will be there for quite some time. PSF can either talk crap about fantasy united Irelands or get on with making the place (as it is) a success for all of the people.

    Which do you think they will choose?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harpo

    Right, now we’re getting somewhere.

    “PSF can either talk crap about fantasy united Irelands or get on with making the place (as it is) a success for all of the people.”

    What are your thoughts on the development of an all-Ireland economy? The experts on Spotlight last week all had to grudgingly concede that this was the key to economic regeneration here. Of all the options open to us, it’s the most likely to succeed, but it’s clearly contrary to unionist orthodoxy.

    But that’s the reality – unionist orthodoxy and economic regeneration seem, at the present time, to be incompatible. The challenge for unionism must be: how to strike the balance.

    What do you think?

  • Whatever Next

    Harpo, as you don’t need me to tell you, you’re wasting your time. You’ve with excessive politeness explained to one note Billy here that his a priori assumption that all conversations on Slugger have to start and end with his idee fixe of a ‘united Ireland’ is as preposterous as insisting that all discussions should start and end with an absolute assumption of a Union perpetual. And look where BP ends up – banging on about ‘all Ireland’ issues. Which in truth no more degrade the integrity of the Union than bilateral east-west stuff, like the free trade and free movement agreements (both of which predate Common Market membership) degrades the sovereignty or political integrity of the Republic of ireland. But always, always, always back Billy must come to ‘all Ireland/united Ireland’ conclusions and assumptions. You may as well Harpo talk to a tape cassette as ‘chat’ to ould Billy there. Though come to think on it, at least with the tape cassette there’s the chance you could record something new onto it.

  • SuperSoupy

    Billy,

    Seems you’ve picked up a stalker. Good luck with that.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Whatever Next

    Why are you talking about me as though I’m not here?

    “And look where BP ends up – banging on about ‘all Ireland’ issues.”

    As you’ve pointed out in your own post, “all Ireland” issues aren’t the same as a united Ireland. What’s your point?

    “…Which in truth no more degrade the integrity of the Union than bilateral east-west stuff.”

    Then what’s your objection, if they work?

    And why do you always insist on being so excessively rude?

    “…always back Billy must come to ‘all Ireland/united Ireland’ conclusions and assumptions.”

    As I’ve pointed out, this is where the experts’ consensus is. But typically, you just ignored that. Again, your lack of basic manners is appalling.

    “Though come to think on it, at least with the tape cassette there’s the chance you could record something new onto it.”

    !!!!!

    What next? I’ll be accused by Chris Evans of being ginger? Accused by Gordon Ramsay of swearing too much?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Supersoupy

    Yeah, I think stalker is a fair description. Perhaps some of the moderators could help me out? I don’t like to blow the whistle, but WN seems to have a deranged obsession with me and it’s been going on a few weeks now.

  • Whatever Next

    Strewth, mister ‘shut up you mentalist!’ lecturing the rest of us on manners. Truly the wonders of Slugger will never cease. But watch out, you’ve picked up a crawler.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    A “crawler”?

    Sounds like a threat.

  • Whatever next

    Yeah, that’s right, everyone posting on the same thread as you, but disagreeing with you, is stalking you. No wonder you use such a wide variety of synoymns for mental illness when you smear them. Good luck with ‘stalking’ thing too. Oh by the way Slugger Mods, I’ve got Stalkers too, cos, er, they’re on the same thread as me. Seriously, such a tendency to whining.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ah wait, I understand now. You’ve decided to diversify and insult Supersoupy as well? I retract that last post.

    Though obviously I stand over the one about your rudeness. As for your emotional stability, my opinion would purely be that of a layman.

  • Whatever Next

    Posted by Billy Pilgrim on May 30, 2007 @ 12:07 AM:

    A “crawler”?

    Sounds like a threat.

    Right, you’re talking the p*ss now, plain and simple, aren’t you? Or are you seriously moving over to the libel end of the smears? ‘Threat’?! J*sus f*cking Chr*st.

  • YouWin

    Whatever next keep up the good work scourge of the provos.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    WN

    I honestly think it’d be best if we acted on the suggestion I made earlier and simply ignored each other’s posts from now on. I have no interest in continuing a dialogue with you, and it’s clear that you have no interest in dialogue with anybody. So we’ll go our separate ways.

    Deal?

  • Dewi

    Whatever Next – What do you fucking want ? – You have people here who are trying to engange for Christ’s sake !

  • Whatever next

    You know [he gently tried to explain], this high and mighty pose of yours would be soooooo much more effective if you weren’t in the habit of smearing people all the time. You would save yourself a lot of fun being poked at you if you weren’t in the habit of astonishingly cheap stuff like, ‘As for your emotional stability, my opinion would purely be that of a layman’. But as you can’t even seemingly see the slight gap between piously typing, ‘Though obviously I stand over the one about your rudeness’ and then *straight away* gurning on about ’emotional stability’ &c, well gosh, it’s not a starred first for self-awareness, is it?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Whatever Next / You Win

    Jesus, sock puppets now?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    WN

    Right, whatever. Do we have a deal?

  • SuperSoupy

    Billy,

    That was me trying to lighten the mood. It’s all going very nasty.

  • Whatever Next

    Billy, if you’re too grand to talk to people you disagree with, fine, hoorah in fact. But if you want to stop people picking you up on your unfortunate habit of lobbing round unpleasant little bromides, stop lobbing them. Really couldn’t be simpler, but since it’s after midnight, and you still haven’t worked that one out, I’m hardly holding my breath.

    Dewi, I’ve addressed the theme of the thread: you haven’t. I’ve time after time asked, if Sinn Fein are serious about ‘reconciliation’, what are they going to do to ‘reconcile’ those who are currently unreconciled to them because of all those people they murdered. You too, again, can ignore that if you want, but what you can’t do with any real credibility is say that I haven’t ‘engaged’. I’ve ‘engaged’, and with a damn sight more sincerity it would seem than Martina.

  • Whatever Next

    Smear away Billy, I’ve no idea who or what ‘You Win’ is, as Slugger management can easily confirm. But you really don’t get it, do you? You saw something you didn’t like – whoever or whatever ‘You Win’ is, and what was your first response? To *immediately* smear, and accuse me of sock puppeting. Billy, that may not tell you anything about who you are, but it tells everyone else enough.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Billy:

    I waited hours for your reply to this question:

    ‘Southern voters however see absolutely no reason to ‘votail Sinn Fein’ and why the hell should they? You tell me.’

    Your 9:59 post forgot to include an answer.

    But we’ll move on regardless. What you’re saying is that I (and Unionism) can’t effectively oppose SF because I don’t like them. Right.

    You also stated that FF made ‘wee boys’ out of SF. Well Billy, you’ll be glad to hear that I have taken absolutely zero interest in any ROI election … until this one. I found RTE Radio One on the web and listened to the coverage for hours and it was hugely enjoyable. Not for the quality of broadcasting, but the results themselves.

    So onto the FF angle. Bertie stated on many occasions in the last year or so that he wouldn’t enter a coalition with SF, but gave the impression at times that he just might if things went the wrong way. Additionally, the fact that Paisley was prepared to sit down with SF in Stormont made his protests seem rather hollow.
    Other than that prevarication, what exactly did FF do to stymie the poor shinners Billy?

    Could it be the case that no-one actually destroyed SF’s chances other than themselves?
    Unworkable uncosted policies, meaningless soundbites, major policy change mid-campaign, over-reliance on northerners, Adams shambolic debate performance, over-estimation of the peace process bounce … could any of these things have had any bearing? Was it really FF’s doing?

    Actually it wasn’t. As usual, SF assume everything is about them. To coin a phrase, it was about the economy stupid. The increasingly mature and affluent southern electorate weren’t about to bet the farm on the way-out economics of SF, or indeed anyone else for that matter. They reckoned FF to be a safe pair of hands for the short-term at least and ignored the fringe options entirely.

    You asked if there was a lesson here for Unionism. The only logical one is ‘refuse to share power with SF and nobody will vote for them.’ Didn’t work up here sadly.

    I mentioned earlier that FF / FG organising in NI could disipate the SF vote. You didn’t respond to that either. Where’s this debate you’re looking for?

  • Whatever Next

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear, Billy’s last little smear job rather too quickly flushed out. Well good news smearers one and all, I’m off to bed and Mrs Next, so get those smearing fingers a typing.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Supersoupy

    Thanks for trying.

    WN

    Goodbye then.

  • SuperSoupy

    Donal,

    I thought you lived in a shared house with five others all using the same shared hub.

    Congrats on your recent marriage.

  • Dewi

    So “whatever next” what do you want ?
    Burial sites ? – I’m not being nasty just trying to understand

  • Whatever Next

    Billy, do you have any idea how you come over? Grandly denouncing others for their lack of manners, and then after you’ve accused, utterly wrongly, someone of sock puppeting, not even a hint of an apology? You’re a real turn, and how sad I am that you haven’t managed to stick to your concordat and rise above the folk you smear. Please, please, please try and stick to it better next time. If nothing else, your smearing fingers could do with a rest.

    Soupy, zero idea who this ‘Donal’ of yours is, but God knows, telling you that is hardly going to stop you from banging on about it. So join in and smear away.

  • Whatever Next

    Dewi, as the wife has just called me a variety of all too accurate unpleasant words for not being in bed, I really do have to go, but what do I want in relation to Sinn Fein claiming they want ‘reconciliaton’? Sincerity. And there ain’t any of that when they won’t address precisely the thing which has left the rest of us so unreconciled to them – all the people they murdered.

  • PaddyReilly

    If Sinn Fein are *genuinely* interested in reconciliation, then they need to address they thing that has left most people unreconciled to them – namely the fact that they murdered so many people.

    Here we have an interesting question. How much guilt does an organisation bear, and when is it wiped out? And what is Sinn Féin? The answer is that it is a political party, which some people associate with the Provisional IRA. Very few of its voters, or even its members, were in the PIRA, an infinitesimally small number, though quite a number of its candidates were, but by no means all. One was even in the RUC. Several are so young, they could not possibly have been involved in this conflict.

    I think therefore the answer is that guilt is best assigned to individuals. Are we guilty of the bombing of Dresden, or the activities of Bomber Harris? If you are an angry German, looking to take out your aggression, you may wish to pin the blame on anyone who speaks English, but I can’t see that that is right.

    (Apologies if I posted this elsewhere but it seems to belong here)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GLC

    “Your 9:59 post forgot to include an answer.”

    I felt no need to defend SF. However, since my point was about understanding those who do vote for that party, I’ll suggest a few ideas: an anti-establishment vote; putting reunification on the agenda; one party in government north and south, perhaps with corresponding ministries; the Irish republican narrative; progress in the north; a break from rightwing economics; the promise of a fairer distribution of the spoils of the tiger.

    Now, I wouldn’t have voted for SF last week, but I can understand why people did, and why many more might have if they had done their homework more convincingly. The biggest one of all, to be honest, is their claim to the republican mantle – it’s a much-obscured truth that the republican narrative is still a powerful force in Irish life. Fianna Fail know it, and that’s why a) they are always the biggest party with the most loyal base, and b) they, and only they, had what it took to put SF in their place.

    The narrative of last week was “It’s the economy, stupid”, but the over-arching narrative of the Republic is “It’s the republicanism, stupid.”

    “What you’re saying is that I (and Unionism) can’t effectively oppose SF because I don’t like them.”

    No, no, no! That’s as far from what I’m saying as it’s possible to get! I’m saying you can’t effectively oppose SF without understanding them. Not like, understand. I’m not asking you to become an Irish republican – I’m asking you to try to put yourself into the shoes of an Irish republican. Empathy must be the watchword. Do you think unionism is up to that challenge?

    “So onto the FF angle. Bertie stated on many occasions in the last year or so that he wouldn’t enter a coalition with SF, but gave the impression at times that he just might if things went the wrong way.”

    That’s just politics, grown-up style. Bertie’s strategy was vindicated. End of story.

    “Additionally, the fact that Paisley was prepared to sit down with SF in Stormont made his protests seem rather hollow.”

    FF said their objection was on grounds of economic policy – the policy (or lack of) which seems to have been SF’s greatest achilles heel last week. FF – they’re clever, aren’t they?

    “Other than that prevarication, what exactly did FF do to stymie the poor shinners Billy?”

    See above. Basically, they knew their electorate, they knew SF’s electorate and they knew where they edges were between the two. They played a shrewd game, whittlig SF’s vote down to the core and winning back those who had been flirting with SF. And they didn’t do it by declaring SF unclean (as everyone else does) – they knew that would only increase SF’s vote. Instead, they treated SF with as much courtesy and respect as they would any other political rival – and then ate them for breakfast on policy. SF, stripped of their usual victim card, had nothing to hit back with. Checkmate. Feckin genius.

    “Could it be the case that no-one actually destroyed SF’s chances other than themselves?”

    That’s partly true. But the key point (and one unionists miss, time and again) is that no-one dug them out of the hole by making martyrs of them. FF sensibly kept the campaign civil. Without the usual smokescreen of division, rows and recrimination, SF were left only to talk about policy, and they were exposed as threadbare. Lessons there for everyone, most of all SF.

    “… could any of these things have had any bearing? Was it really FF’s doing?”

    They all did. And FF had the wit to let them hang themselves. (As well as getting on with their own hugely successful campaign, of course.)

    “You asked if there was a lesson here for Unionism. The only logical one is ‘refuse to share power with SF and nobody will vote for them.’ Didn’t work up here sadly.”

    No, it’s that if you stop treating SF like lepers and behave with a bit of civility, then you’ll be removing the thing that insulates them – ie unionist hostility.

    “I mentioned earlier that FF / FG organising in NI could disipate the SF vote. You didn’t respond to that either. Where’s this debate you’re looking for?”

    I would love to see FF and FG organise here – particularly FF, but that’s just a personal choice. Do you think either FF or FG could have the potential to appeal to a section of what is today the unionist community? Perhaps the soft, rarely-voting North Down/South Belfast, rugby-following “unionist”?

  • The Real Miss Provo

    SouperSoupy, your hyperlink on post #21 Page Two was tremendous!

    Billy, your thoughts on integrating healthcare were well worth the reading.

    Everything else can be sorted by putting more cute pandas and koalas on the border.

    http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/55756

  • kensei

    “Southern voters however see absolutely no reason to ‘votail Sinn Fein’ and why the hell should they? You tell me.’”

    It’s the thing all parties must answer at every election. Except, the election was last week, so now the parties that didn’t do so well be it SF or the Greens or the PDs or even to an extent Labour and FG, are in a period of reassessment to try and give a better answer to the question so they do better next time. With the exception of possibly the PDs, it’s not the end. In broad brush strokes the position of SF on the political map is fairly clear, anyway. So what’s your point?

    You can ask it as pejoratively as you like, but we still won’t be in a position to say if this is the end of SF’s project or not. All that can be said for the time being is 1. it’s a setback and 2. the response of the party members here has been a hell of a lot more sober than the detractors.

  • SuperSoupy

    TRMP,

    The hyperlink was easy, if you copy it you can replace whatever.next with anything you like and it will generate the same piece with a new ‘mighty’ one.

  • SuperSoupy

    TRMP,

    btw you can get others from aninote.com

  • [i]”What a load of crap Bob, and I’m surprised noone else has pulled you up on it. The best figures available (on CAIN) show PIRA as being responsible for 1707 of 3524 Troubles-related deaths, or almost exactly 50%. All republican paramilitaries killed 2057, or over 58%. All that said, 1 death was too many.”[/i]

    I’m very much afraid that it is your post that is a”load of crap”. The figures are for “murders”, not “killings” or “deaths” as you seem to think. Killing a combatant during a war is NOT murder. And, that difference makes your counts of deaths in place of murders completely immaterial. Ooops, it seems that it is you who is posting the crap.

    For your information, then, the PIRA killed 517 civilians and the other republican groups killed about 220 for a grand total of 737 MURDERS by republicans.

    On the other hand, the security forces MURDERED 192 civilians or a little more than 50% of all those directl;y killed by those forces.

    The unionist/loyalist paramilitaries MURDERED 873 cvilians, about 85% of all their victims. And of those 715 were MURDERED because of their religious belief or because the MURDERERS mistook their religious belief.

    Seems that the figures I posted 2 for 1 and 4 for 3 are essentially correct from tha actual counts.

    [i]”Now you know the true figures, and going by your own logic, I take it then you accept PIRA/P O’Neill/SF “owe the first apology for their murders” ?”[/i].

    Now that I have pointed out your error to you, I hope you will withdraw your previous erroneous statements.

    [b]But, I’m not holding my breath.[/b]

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Bob McGowan exists because death CAN be reduced to just numbers.

  • Whatever next

    Bob McGowan exists because he and his sad little bunch of mates know better than the rest of us what counts as murder and what doesn’t count as murder. Supporters of Sinn Fein = those who think that there was a ‘war’ and that the provos weren’t a bunch of sordid sectarian killers. Those who think that the IRA were murderers? A majority in every poll ever taken north and south; the British government; the Irish government; every other government in the EU; the American government; the protestant churches; and, the Catholic church. But Bob knows best.

  • Suilven

    Bob McGowan – the true face of republican outreach.

    All the RUC men & women, British soldiers, contractors, MPs, Gardai, TDs, alleged informers killed by the IRA (and other republicans) aren’t even worthy of being seen as people in Bob’s squalid little world.

    Sad sad sad.

  • Pounder

    Bottom line is you can’t reduce sentient lives to numbers on a score card. Even one murder is wrong, 1000’s of dead are a tragady. BOTH sides are wrong to do what they did yet neiter side seems to be able to say sorry.

  • Whatever Next

    Pounder, you keep spinning that ‘both sides are as bad as each other’ line as much as you want, but other than with republicans, it ain’t gonna fly. Martin murdered; Paisley didn’t, Durkan didn’t, Empey didn’t, Ford didn’t. Martin *is* worse than the other four.

  • Pounder

    Paisley may have kept his hands clean but he whipped up enough frenzy to get others do do the dirty work for him. Do i really need to bring up Vanguard or Paisley’s involvement with the UDA?

  • Whatever Next

    You can bring it up, but it won’t do you any good. Paisley didn’t murder anyone, Martin did.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    OK Billy now we’re getting somewhere.

    Firstly, regarding your reasons why the ROI electorate might wish to vote SF. You gave seven possible reasons — 4 of these were to do with the NI issue, which is way down most southerners agenda. Two others were the left agenda, which is firmly off the menu and the last was a protest vote. Not very convincing and not much to build on for next time.

    As you say, the FF ‘republican-lite’ version appears to work just fine for most southerners, so there’s little mileage there either.

    ‘FF said their objection was on grounds of economic policy – the policy (or lack of) which seems to have been SF’s greatest achilles heel last week. FF – they’re clever, aren’t they?’

    Billy — I appear on Slugger as Gerry Lvs Castro, not Gerry Lvs Semtex. There’s a reason for that.
    I’ve been plugging away for several years on this board, ostensibly about the dangers (to the whole Irish economy) posed by SF and their loony left flirtations. For FF to rubbish SFs economics is rather like rubbishing Graham Norton for not having a girlfriend. It’s bloody obvious.

    The problem hereto facing Unionism has not been SFs economic policy. No-one on either side is interested. Virtually all the NI electorate vote along tribal lines — ‘real’ issues are virtually irrelevant. SF have had no real govt power in NI and continue to do so in the expensive local council called Stormont.

    As I pointed out earlier, SF and the DUP need each other to survive. If the likes of FF / FG organised here, we could see a major fracturing of the SF vote (and maybe a few lapsed Unionist voters too as you suggest). Otherwise we’re set for another 30 years of face-off.

    ‘if you stop treating SF like lepers and behave with a bit of civility, then you’ll be removing the thing that insulates them – ie unionist hostility.’

    As everyone knows, NI is a ‘special case.’ SF won’t find electoral success in the ROI anymore than the DUP would in England. The irony is that neither party are wanted by the very constituencies they cling to.

    Treating SF with civility is going to achieve what exactly Billy? SF have a goal — destroying NI and creating a UI. They have no interest in working NI as a seperate entity. Being civil won’t change their minds, any more than patronising Unionists with ‘outreach’ bombers will make them want to leave the UK.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GLC

    “You gave seven possible reasons…”

    Not an exhaustive list, just a few ideas. You’re right, they weren’t much to write home about from a southern perspective, and the electorate confirmed that. However, looking forward, I can certainly see an opportunity for SF if they can develop some sensible, costed and throught-through centre left policies dealing with, for example, public transport or the environment or housing or healthcare. There is room in Irish political discourse for a party that’s going to talk about, say, new or upgraded commuter railway lines (affordable ones) into Dublin/Cork/Galway/Limerick – would play well with the M50 zombies presently spending 20 hours a week commuting. Or policies that make it easier for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder, and less easy for speculators to get rich by buying up the housing supply. (Not talking about punishing those who’ve already bought, just drawing a line under it.) Or policies designed to bring healthcare more within the public service ethos, with healthcare free at the point of delivery.

    Now, how these things are achieved should be the work of a think tank of experts, but only a left-leaning party would be interested in trying in the first place. These are not Soviet/Castro style ideas, they’re more Nordic. However, a move to a Nordic model must be incremental, and the wannabe revolutionaries of SF have a lot to prove in terms of being patient enough to bring this about sensibly.

    All of which, married to a republican narrative could be the road to relevance in the south for SF. (I can see, for example, the line in the Declaration about “cherishing all the children of the nation equally” being milked for all its egalitarian worth and referenced in relation to provision of healthcare or housing – much better than Adams’ tired emphasis on “rights”.)

    “As you say, the FF ‘republican-lite’ version appears to work just fine for most southerners, so there’s little mileage there either.”

    SF aren’t going to overtake FF. Ever. Period. But they might have some success nibbling at their left flank.

    “For FF to rubbish SFs economics is rather like rubbishing Graham Norton for not having a girlfriend. It’s bloody obvious.”

    But you miss my point: it’s NOT so obvious in the north. Why? Because all talk of policy is drowned out in the shouting and recrimination. SF are insulated from the weakness of their policies and are protected from their own electorate, and protected from being treated like any other party – and by what? By unionism’s refusal to treat them like any other party. It’s crazy, but there you go.

    “The problem hereto facing Unionism has not been SFs economic policy. No-one on either side is interested.”

    No-one’s interested because we conduct our political discourse like a bar room brawl – and I have to say unionists are vastly the greater offenders in this regard. (Though this is simply due to nationalist politicians generally recognising that it’s counterproductive to come across as a frothing-at-the-mouth bigot.) But let’s not dwell on that. Point is, the reason no-one’s interested in policy is the same reason why two guys engaged in a screaming match usually aren’t interested in logic, or even the substance of whatever started the argument. Doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, onlookers just see two fellas arguing and letting themselves down.

    Politics is the same. FF have shown the way. You want to talk about SF’s policies? Then don’t give them cover by screaming at them and shrieking that they’re unclean. Don’t trade in petty insults and overblown analogies. Speak quietly but forcefully. Demonstrate why SF shouldn’t be trusted with responsibility in terms of competence, not morality.

    Conversely: keep shouting and SF keep winning / the shouters keep losing. (Of all those who have revelled in being a bete noire to SF, who has prospered?)

    “Virtually all the NI electorate vote along tribal lines—‘real’ issues are virtually irrelevant.”

    And my point is that the way to break through that mould is simple: civility.

    “As I pointed out earlier, SF and the DUP need each other to survive.”

    Indeed. They both thrive as a result of incivility. But SF is not republicanism and the DUP is not unionism.

    “If the likes of FF / FG organised here, we could see a major fracturing of the SF vote (and maybe a few lapsed Unionist voters too as you suggest).”

    I’d say the SDLP would disappear. SF would remain, but would face a serious challenge. ‘Twould be interesting, especially if the face-off broke out of the nationalist ghetto and some erstwhile unionists joined the fight, within the ranks of FF/FG.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “SF won’t find electoral success in the ROI anymore than the DUP would in England.”

    In fairness, SF have four TDs. Not insignificant. And it’s way too soon to write them off down south. After last week, it’s all a question of whether they are able to learn hard lessons. Time will tell. The DUP could never win a seat across the water. The two are not exact matches.

    “Treating SF with civility is going to achieve what exactly Billy?”

    A different atmosphere.

    “SF have a goal—destroying NI and creating a UI.”

    Why use the verb “destroy”? It’s misleading and very unhelpful. Words matter. Civility matters. No-one could back “destruction” but one could back “change”. No-one’s calling for the bulldozing of City Hall. A UI is about building, not destroying.

    “They have no interest in working NI as a seperate entity.”

    If they think it’d lead to reunification, I think they will. Either way, they will try to make these six counties work as best they can, in preparation for reunification. (That’s the way they would see it.) Conversely, unionists want to make NI work as best they can, as an end in itself. Either way, everyone wants this place to succeed. I think the republican attitude presently is: let’s just get on with it, and see where it leads. Can unionism do likewise, even if there is no guarantee it won’t lead to reunification?

    “Being civil won’t change their minds, any more than patronising Unionists with ‘outreach’ bombers will make them want to leave the UK.”

    I think if everyone tries to be civil to each other, it’ll make incivility far less rewarding. In a much calmer atmosphere than we’ve been used to, we can start trying to make decisions for good reasons, rather than just reacting. Let the chips fall where they may, I say.

  • I note that the unionist posters who line up to condemn the PIRA for “thousands” of murders tend to get all upset when the actual body counts show that their hyperbole is really false.

    All of a sudden, they start downgrading the use of actual numbers in place of propaganda. It’s easier to demonize if you ignore the facts, BUT it seems their “facts” are simply NOT facts.

    Sorry, but their postings display a mindset that makes peace impossible. NI was, whether you like it or not, a terrorist state and so, by extension, was HMG which not only encouraged the terrorism of state agencies but also encouraged those same agencies to provide arms, training, critical and confidential intelligence information, cover and immunity for the murderous terrorist campaign waged by their allies, the unionist/loyalist paramilitaries, i.e. murder gangs.

    Open your eyes and understand that the biggest and bloodiest terror campaign in NI was run by Her Majesty’s Government, the very same government that you insist should continue to govern NI.

    BTW, if you check the facts, an armed rebellion is a war covered by the terms of the Geneva Convention. HMG was in violation of the restraints it voluntarily agreed to observe. On the other hand, the PIRA was NOT obliged to observe the restraints of the GC since it was never a signatory to the Convention. And yet, the PIRA did a far better job of observing the GC than HMG.

  • Suilven

    Bob,

    ‘I note that the unionist posters who line up to condemn the PIRA for “thousands” of murders tend to get all upset when the actual body counts show that their hyperbole is really false.

    All of a sudden, they start downgrading the use of actual numbers in place of propaganda. It’s easier to demonize if you ignore the facts, BUT it seems their “facts” are simply NOT facts. ‘

    It seems to be you who have problems with cold hard facts, my friend. I’ve given the accepted ‘body counts’ (in your words) above, but you choose to attempt to write some of these out of existence, with typical republican ‘it was a war (but not when they were shooting us)’ claptrap. Who made you judge & jury (& executioner?) of which deaths were ‘justified’ or otherwise?

    I repeat again, ONE death was too many.

  • darth rumsfeld

    I think it’s a shame Bob McGowan wasn’t invited to launch the charter at Stormont. Then we would all have realised that we were the terrorists, and it’s only the noble generosity of Gerry and Martina to stop culling us that brought us the brave new world we now live in.

    Bob could have helped us come to accept we are war criminals with his unerring calculator factoring in the different values some human lives are apparently worth, so that we would see that 302 policemen’s families are insignificant compared to one IRA volunteer’s.

    He could have opened our eyes to the hitherto concealed gallantry of IRA/INLA volunteers in blowing up restaurants, church meetings and dog shows.

    Finally he could have brought the house down ( not literally, obviously-he’d leave that to Sean Kelly) with a drunken duet with his big brother Shane of “The Ould Triangle”.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Billy:

    Regarding SFs southern prospects — the points you make regarding bread & butter issues — transport, housing, healthcare etc are valid, but it’s worth looking to the new Labour style of govt in the UK. The Tories have been out of office for 10 years now, and every time they come up with a decent policy idea, Labour pinch it. This is an extremely smart ploy and one which could easily be adopted by FF / FG in the future to stymie any bright ideas SF might have of getting a major mandate.

    Breaking into govt in a modern, capitalist democracy is an extremely tough ask, and now that the southern electorate have tasted real prosperity, they’re not about to throw it away. To put it more crudely, they’re going to go with the party most likely to feed their wallets.
    In this respect, SF are about 10 years too late in going for their ‘big breakthrough.’
    Realistically, it’s going to take a major seachange in southern thinking to give SF any chance.

    ‘No-one’s interested because we conduct our political discourse like a bar room brawl’

    Agreed Billy, but unfortunately NI is an entity constantly on the brink. Unionism has feared a UI since the day NI was born, and has maintained it’s electoral momentum through constant production of the bogey man. In this regard, it has misled it’s constituency as the position of NI within the UK has never really been in serious jeopardy.

    SF on the other hand has maintained momentum through a rather nasty tendency to treat it’s own electorate like idiots. If they were honest, they’d admit that outside of demographics, they’re no nearer to a UI now than they were in 1972.

    ‘And my point is that the way to break through that mould is simple: civility.’

    Face it Billy Unionism & Republicanism are polar opposites. One wishes to remain in the UK at all costs, the other wishes for a UI at all costs.
    Being civil to each other is merely window dressing. Neither is going to persaude the other out of their position and the SF mantra of engagement and dialogue has begun to sound remarkably like John Hume.

    What SF need to accept is that NI is going to remain part of the UK for a very long time. The only way it’s going to leave is through a border poll. So they are more than entitled to their aspiration of a UI, but their current policies of crass patronisation, rubbishing of all things British / Unionist and glorification of terrorism are merely going to keep the pot boiling.

    Civility works both ways and from a Unionist perspective, all I see coming from SF is the above policies — Martina Anderson as ‘outreach to Unionism’, Republican ‘shrines’ and huge SF signs springing up all over the countryside, hunger strike theme park in the proposed Maze development, constant pushing of the Irish language agenda, refusing to utter the words ‘Northern Ireland’ … do any of these things suggest civility to Unionists? Do they suggest civility to you?

    ‘Why use the verb “destroy”? It’s misleading and very unhelpful.’

    Billy I’m not going to indulge in the ‘what about the troubles’ rant that some have been practicing on this and other threads, but it cannot be argued that SFs military wing did it’s level best to destroy NI as an entity for 30+ years and only stopped because they weren’t succeeding.
    SFs aim has not changed, merely the method.

    ‘A UI is about building, not destroying.’

    A typical republican comment. Unionists do not want to ‘build’ a UI. They don’t want one at all. This is because they wish to remain part of the UK. Hence the term Unionism.

    You do have to forgive me if a party whose military wing spent decades blowing NI and it’s citizens to pieces have some way to go to convince that they’re not destructive.

    ‘I think the republican attitude presently is: let’s just get on with it, and see where it leads. Can unionism do likewise, even if there is no guarantee it won’t lead to reunification?’

    That’s what they are doing. It’s called the Stormont executive.

    ‘In a much calmer atmosphere than we’ve been used to, we can start trying to make decisions for good reasons’

    I hear what you’re saying Billy and in an ideal world you’d be spot on. Unfortunately this is Northern Ireland and none of the usual rules apply.
    What we have at the moment — relative peace, decent prosperity and a grudging respect is as good as it’s ever likely to get.

    What I would personally love to see is SF shelving the UI notion and the constant ‘greening’ agenda and allowing normal issues to dominate.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GLC

    “…every time they come up with a decent policy idea, Labour pinch it.”

    That’s just politics. It’s certainly no reason why SF shouldn’t be trying. They have to play the game, accepting that the opposition aren’t there to make them look good. That’s life!

    “Breaking into govt in a modern, capitalist democracy is an extremely tough ask…”

    That’s the balance that any centre-left alternative needs to strike in a successful economy – to be able to say: “We’re not going to mess things up, we’re just going to tweak things so they work better, and your life gets a wee bit easier. Because we care, unlike those other heartless bastards.”

    “Agreed Billy, but unfortunately NI is an entity constantly on the brink.”

    True, it is. Again though, I’ll have to scold you on your needlessly melodramatic language. “On the brink” of what? Entry into a real democracy and a world-class economy? Heaven forfend! Seriously though, you’re right. NI has been in existence almost 90 years and still hasn’t secured a foundation of moral legitimacy among the people who live here. Perhaps when we reach a centenary of instability, some of its supporters will start asking: “what is all this for?”

    “Unionism has feared a UI since the day NI was born”

    Why fear? I mean, I can understand the attachment to the UK, but I honestly cannot fathom why, in this day and age, unionists still talk about their “fear” of the rest of Ireland. Whatever about the past, what’s the “fear” today?

    “Face it Billy Unionism & Republicanism are polar opposites.”

    No reason why unionists and republicans can’t behave in a civilised manner toward each other. The mayhem of the last century is the reason why they MUST start trying to be civil.

    “Being civil to each other is merely window dressing.”

    It’s not. It’s the beginning of mutual respect. Indeed, it’s the beginning of self respect.

    “Neither is going to persaude the other out of their position…”

    I’m not talking about changing each other’s minds. I’m talking about not demonising each other for our differences. I’m talking about being able to live with each other’s differences. That process begins with civility, which in turn leads to genuine respect. (In any mature democracy it’s quite common for political opponents to respect each other, even to be friends. I don’t accept that we in NI must hate each other, and I condemn any politician, party or movement that views hate as a legitimate political tool.)

    “What SF need to accept is that NI is going to remain part of the UK for a very long time.”

    Republicans need to accept that NI might remain part of the UK for a very long time. Unionists need to accept that it might not. I can accept these realities. Can you?

    “The only way it’s going to leave is through a border poll.”

    Something that is agreed by every significant player on this island.

    “Civility works both ways and from a Unionist perspective, all I see coming from SF is the above policies….”

    All true, I don’t disagree. However, SF are still ahead of unionism when it comes to behaving with civility towards their opponents. Why? Simple. They don’t shout at unionists any more. Depressing, I know, that even something as simple as this would be a big deal, but there it is. Unionists are still shouting and shrieking and screaming at republicans. They haven’t even moved beyond that.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    (contd)

    “A typical republican comment. Unionists do not want to ‘build’ a UI. They don’t want one at all.”

    I’m talking about building Ireland, north and south, for the benefit of everyone who lives here. I hope that means as part of a unitary state, but if not, well, I still want it. I want prosperity and peace here, and I think we can achieve it. I think this is where republicans across the island are at. Would unionism accept peace and prosperity if it was as part of a reunified Ireland? Or would unionists prefer relative poverty for their children, as long as they were poor within the union? (I suspect many different unionists would have many different answers to that one.)

    “You do have to forgive me if a party whose military wing spent decades blowing NI and it’s citizens to pieces have some way to go to convince that they’re not destructive.”

    I’m not talking about SF. I’m talking about Irish republicanism – the dominant part of which is the Republic of Ireland. SF are the black sheep, the gangly kid brother. Unionism needs to stop obsessing with SF and realise they’re bit part players in what is the only real game in town.

    “I hear what you’re saying Billy and in an ideal world you’d be spot on. Unfortunately this is Northern Ireland and none of the usual rules apply.”

    I don’t accept that. I think people can be civil to each other here, if only the will exists. (I can understand how during the troubles, things were different, but in the new era, there’s no excuse for boorishness and emotionally cynical posturing. We need to show some civility and indeed generosity to each other – otherwise it’ll be our children who pay the price.)

    “What we have at the moment—relative peace, decent prosperity and a grudging respect is as good as it’s ever likely to get.”

    I have higher hopes. But then I’m a republican. If unionism means that the above is the best you can hope for, why on earth would anyone want to be a unionist? Someone asked me recently why I wanted a reunified Ireland. I thought about it, and then it hit me: Matthew 25: 13-30. That’s why.

    “What I would personally love to see is SF shelving the UI notion and the constant ‘greening’ agenda and allowing normal issues to dominate.”

    Well that isn’t going to happen. So, since you can’t fix the rules, you might as well just join the game and try and win it, eh?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Billy:

    ‘Or would unionists prefer relative poverty for their children, as long as they were poor within the union?’

    Billy national identity isn’t necessarily about financial gain. Remember the ROI was on the breadline for 60+ gruelling years — there was never any serious talk of rejoining the UK despite the relative prosperity of their northern neighbours.

    ‘They don’t shout at unionists any more.’

    I’m not actually aware they ever did. They tended to prefer shooting or bombing them. A tedious point I know but it needs to be made.

    ‘That process begins with civility, which in turn leads to genuine respect.’

    Like it or not, Unionists don’t see any respect for their culture or national identity coming from the other side. SF seem determined to undermine everything remotely British and steamroller in everything Irish. That isn’t ‘respect’ — it’s merely an example of forked tongue — ‘reaching out’ with one hand and pushing away with the other.

    ‘Whatever about the past, what’s the “fear” today?’

    I obviously can’t speak for all of Unionism, but I’d say loss of identity, loss of culture, loss of UK citizenship and it’s accompanying ethos, complete lack of empathy with such institutions as the GAA, Irish language and Catholicism, loss of ties to a proven and reliable economy, tax thresholds for small businesses, alienation from Irish ‘sacred cows’ such as 1916, Michael Collins etc and of course the unknown influence of radical republicanism in any future state.

    ‘Unionism needs to stop obsessing with SF and realise they’re bit part players in what is the only real game in town.’

    Heh heh try telling them that Billy. They’re the rightful govt of Ireland don’t cha know.
    You can hardly blame Unionists for obsessing — SF are the biggest ‘nationalist’ party in NI and with the charisma free SDLP as opposition, they’ll soon be the only one. Unless….

    ‘Well that isn’t going to happen. So, since you can’t fix the rules, you might as well just join the game and try and win it, eh?’

    Highly depressing Billy. What you’re saying is that we’re condemned to another 30 odd years of ‘partition politics.’ Rather than focusing on the issues that the electorate SHOULD be caring about, like health, education, crime etc, we’re going to be treated to the same old ding-dongs about parades, Irish language rights and flags.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we need the southern parties to organise here. The Tories and (highly belatedly) Labour are pitching in — why not FF & FG? If nothing else it will be a pleasant change from all the crap that SF and the DUP are coming out with. In the last week alone we’ve had a convicted bomber assigned to Unionist outreach and Ian Jr spouting off about gay people. Same old same old.

    To be honest I’ve been itching to join a political party for some time now, but none of the local options appear remotely attractive. You never know maybe FF or FG could persaude me.

  • Reader

    Billy Pilgrim: A UI is about building, not destroying.
    Well, if you can see a way to create a UI without destroying NI’s constitutional position as part of the UK, then tell us how.
    A unionist would certainly see “destroy” as exactly the correct verb to use about the hidden half of any UI proposal we have seen so far.

  • james

    Were the majorty of IRA members roman catholics maybe victims of the IRA should seek an apology from the pope

  • [i]”It seems to be you who have problems with cold hard facts, my friend. I’ve given the accepted ‘body counts’ (in your words) above, but you choose to attempt to write some of these out of existence, with typical republican ‘it was a war (but not when they were shooting us)’ claptrap. Who made you judge & jury (& executioner?) of which deaths were ‘justified’ or otherwise?[/i]

    Usual unionist claptrap. In the first place, whether you like it or not, the PIRA campaign was a war according to the terms of the Geneva Convention, an armed rebellion or civil war, just as our American Revolution, our Civil War, and the campaigns of the various resistance groups in Occupied Europe in WW2. Sorry, Suilven, but that’s the plain and simple truth of the matter. If you can’t quite understand that, I suggest you do some studying so that you will know what you are talking about.

    Furthermore, even in a war, “terrorism” means deliberate attacks on non-combatants i.e. civilians. Attacks on military personnel, political police and guerilla forces supporting the State are NOT terrorism, NOT murder. Look it up yourself and learn something the propagandists didn’t bother to tell you about. BTW, the Nazis called the various inderground groups terrorists, just like you do. So, that makes HMG a supporter of terrorism because the British — and American — armed forces certainly supplied the guerrillas with a good bit of military equipment and support.

    Now, from darth rumsfield:

    [i]”Bob could have helped us come to accept we are war criminals with his unerring calculator factoring in the different values some human lives are apparently worth, so that we would see that 302 policemen’s families are insignificant compared to one IRA volunteer’s.

    He could have opened our eyes to the hitherto concealed gallantry of IRA/INLA volunteers in blowing up restaurants, church meetings and dog shows.”[/i]

    Darth is great at repeating the time-worn unionist complaints about the killing of RUC paramilitaries who, alas, were combatants by decision of HMG. And, of course, he firmly closes his eyes to the appalling evidence of RUC Special Brance collusion with the unionist/loyalist thugs who murdered some 873 civilians, 715 of them for their religious beliefs and the British security forces who killed more civilians than combatants. Darth shrugs his shoulders and dismisses it all as meaningless. Of course, the problem is that if he recognizes the truth of the matter, all his objections to Sinn Fein are shown to be meaningless. Too bad, darth, but unless and until you face up to the FACT that the bloodiest terrorist operation during the Troubles was run by HMG, the very people you choose to continue governing NI.

    And, of course, while he complains about the unionist dead being ignored, darth completely ignores the nationalist dead at the hands of the security forces and their hired thugs, the unionisty paramilitaries. None of his concern, sez darth.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Bob McGowan
    STILL the undefeated heayweight champion of whataboutery, and MOPEry!!!

    I crawl away, bowed by your unerring knowledge of the Geneva Convention-greater even than of…er the Irish Government, the British Government, The European Court ofHuman Rights, the European Court of Justice, the German courts, the American courts, indeed every other court your lame argument has ben advanced, unless I’ve missed some case in Iran or North Korea.

    And then there’s that great sleight of hand, that classic Shinner whine “Of course, the problem is that if he recognizes the truth of the matter, all his objections to Sinn Fein are shown to be meaningless”
    Well let’s just say that -for the sake of never having to waste a second of the life of any other sluggerette reading your drivel- I temporarily suspend all critical and moral judgment, and buy your loopy statistical analysis. Guess what Bobby? It wouldn’t actually show my objections to be meaningless. Cos your provo heroes would still be down in the slime, just with a few more people for company.

    On another thread you actually managed to snap out of your sub-Noraid addiction for a brief instance- OK OK it was all about the role of the RC church, so not exactly a healthy outlook mon life, but a start. Why not get a sense of perspective-it’ll amaze you how different the world looks- we’ll all try to help. Let me start off. Did you have a unhappy childhood? Have you any friends? Have you..er.. ever been to Ireland? We’re not exactly dying to know, but puhlease post something other than your one track post