A union of convenience…

BLAMING the Brits for Northern Ireland’s problems, teaming up with overseas separatists for mutual benefit, trying to pry Westminster’s fingers out of its claim on our taxes – no it’s not Gerry Adams, it’s Ian Paisley. The other day I asked if Paisley was a British Unionist or an Ulster Nationalist. Last night on Hearts & Minds Newtown Emerson answered: Ulster Nationalist. He said: “His unionism derives not from Ulster’s British identity but from its Protestant, or more specifically Presbyterian, character – and that’s where the confusion sets in, because there is a fault line through Ulster’s Protestant character, running right back to its separate English and Scottish origins… Paisley’s very Scottish anti-Britishness shows that the ancient fault line is still there and still clearly capable of shifting – although if Paisley really is, as the English say, “going native”, then it is still only as a native Ulsterman rather than as a native Irishman”.

  • Pól

    Very interesting piece by Newton last night. Suffice to say, things are not as they seem in unionism. They were united once by their desire for control, they by their hatred of republicans. Now that the first of these is gone and the second is reducigng anything can happen going forward.

    Anyone who says they know which way things are moving is a fool.

  • dub

    Big Ian has himself said: “you cannot be an Ulsterman without being an Irishman”.

    The Anglo tendency in Unionism expressed through the uup is dead.

    This is a massively important historical change.

  • Pól

    What is surprising as well is that the UUP have yet to pull him up on it – why are they not pointing out his Ulster nationalism which totally contradicts Unionism (as pointed out many times by David Vance)

  • Maybe Paisley’s approach suggests old Desmond Greaves was onto something (with due allowance for the language of ‘discovering Irishness’ etc):

    The Connolly Asssociation’s central insight was that the unionism
    of most unionists was not based on love of Britain or the Crown, but on being top-dog over nationalists and Catholics, and enjoying the small privileges that went with that, in a northern economy that was racked by backwardness and unemployment. Rule out such top-doggery by means of civil rights, said the CA, and political conditions would be created in which the rational basis for the unionism of most unionists could be eroded in a generation.

    That was why the Association and Irish Democrat opposed the call for the abolition of Stormont in 1971-72, for that would remove the local northern forum in which the process of dividing unionism and enabling some unionists to discover their Irishness could work itself out. (Irish Democrat)

  • Yokel

    Lad lad lads…

    Its all very simple, its not what they wanna be but what they don’t wanna be that matters.

    The vast majority of yer ulster nationalists, unionists and that related ilk know what they don’t want to be and thats part of the Irish Republic. Poll after poll…after poll….after poll…after poll…after poll has shown it.

    No amount of of intellectual positioning is going to get round it.

    No sale.

  • joeCanuck

    I agree dub.
    There are definitely interesting times ahead. The signs look good so far.

  • dub

    Yokel,

    Any spiritual person will tell you that what you not want to be is absolutely irrelevant.. by definition those negative thoughts come from reactivity to other people’s perceived thoughts.. it is not YOU… what is YOU is what you actually want…

    One of the many changes Paisley had made is he is saying what he wants.. a successful economy modelled on that of the South, the British to pay compensation for their woeful lack of investment, he wants the “squatters” (the direct rulers) to leave, he wants an Ireland without hedges, he wants a fruitful relatioship with the Dublin govt based on mutual respect, and he uses the word “Ireland” rather a lot, he also says he prefers watching rte to bbc…

    He is acting and not reacting. And he is therefore saying very interesting things as people always do when they are acting and not reacting.

    Greaves was right in the sense that a lot of traditional unionism was highly reactive. how many of us have heard unionists say things in private that they would never say publicly. Paisley is now saying those things publicly.

  • Shore Road Resident

    But will nationalists respond to the ‘ulster nationalist’ challenge of making partition work?

  • dub

    they will make the institutions work yes absolutely.

  • páid

    SRR,

    don’t forget (I won’t let you 😉 ) that in 1922 both Ulster and Ireland were partitioned.

    If you are talking about Ulster then you lose the Unionist majority, but you gain cultural and historical authenticity as a foundation for regional government.

    A region of where exactly is, for the medium term, disagreed.

    A number of us have previously commented on Paisley’s unFinchleyness. For example I wrote on 21 March here on Slugger…

    “Ian Paisley is a genuine living link to the Plantation, and the clash of cultures and values contained therein.

    Always struck me as fundamentally Irish in a way most modern Unionists are not.”

    I’m beginning to believe Mick’s propaganda about this site.

  • McKelvey

    Perhaps, Paisley’s perceptible Irishness is more of a reflection of those of his generation and his socio-economic background, whose rejection of any Irish identity is a relatively recent development. He was after all born only a few years after partition.

  • Reader

    páid: If you are talking about Ulster then you lose the Unionist majority, but you gain cultural and historical authenticity as a foundation for regional government.
    There’s no such thing as ‘historical authenticity’ in this context. Whatever your feelings about the plantation, it wrecked the continuity of Ulster identity (at least, looking from Bangor, it did). As for ‘cultural authenticity’ – well, what does that actually look like? Do you mean the accents?

  • Turgon

    I did not see the programme but do not worry this is not a rant against something I did not see.

    Emerson’s analysis is interesting but I think basing this on religious demonination is too simplistic.

    I have no objective data (I am unsure if any exists) but this demoninational analysis seems to be that CoI vote UUP and Presbyterians vote DUP.

    The following analysis of my own is also too simplistic I am sure but for what it is worth (probably not much) here it is. Amongst practicing Protestants (a minority, though a large one) I would submit there are actually four groups.

    The CoI who are percieved as more politically liberal. This is unclear. It is the group I know least about but most CoI people I know are politically about where the presbyterian church are. Originally many (most?) probably voted UUP but now probably vote DUP. Remember large numbers of working class practicing prods are CoI. One should not confuse the political position of church leaders with that of their members. Also CoI is a stronger denomination in the west of ther provience (something I will touch on in a moment).

    The Methodist church has traditionally been identified as the most politically liberal but again its distribution is similar to the CoI (both being originally one and both I guess English settlement).

    The Presbyterian Church (of which I am a member) was once called the UUP at prayer (a pirate of the CoE being the Tory party at prayer). Most presbyterians probably did vote UUP (except in North Antrim), they certainly did in Co. Londonderry where I was brought up. Most I would submit now vote DUP and have done so for a fair while (John Dunlop has lamented this on occassion).

    There are then the smaller evangelical demoninations (of which my dear Elenwe (Turgon’s wife) was one till I turned her). They are traditionally regarded as DUP to the core. Again this is a misunderstanding. The Free Presbyrterians may well be but the other groups are more variable. Some of the small house church group types would be Alliance or would not vote. The Brethern are an interesting group. In Co. Londonderry and Antrim they often claim a born again Christian should not vote, whereas Brethern friends I have from Fermanagh and Tyrone would be solid DUP. I would suggest that like the CoI and Methodists in the greater Belfast and other “safe” areas they would be UUP or Alliance with a harder line being taken with greater Protestant cohesion in the border areas.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with these voting patterns. I do suspect that Paisley’s support of the latest deal will loose him support amongst hardline evangelical groups first if indeed (as I hope) it does loose him support.

    To anyone who wants to critise this analysis that is fine. I have been moving in church circles (especially Presbyerian and smaller evangelical demominations for years) but that does not make me the font of all knowledge. Still for what it is worth there is my view.

  • dub

    turgon,

    that would be the presbyterian church in ireland that you are a member of… i thought you did not have even one iota of irishness about you. maybe they should change their name!

  • Turgon

    Dub,

    its IN Ireland not of Ireland. I accept that this land mass is Ireland . I just do not regard myself as Irish. And as I have said before Elenwe and myself are probably leaving the Presbyterian Church soon anyway.

  • Pol,

    It’s because the UUP are also Ulster Nationalists at heart. They and the DUP have, in my view, gradually morphed into this strange creature which feigns Britishness at the same time as it embraces an other-ness, a thing apart.

    It was interesting to hear Newton run his own variation on what I said on the same programme two weeks previously. My take is that augurs the death of unionism, others can argue for themselves!

  • dub

    turgon,

    how can you be born and bred into a family who were presumably born and bred in Ireland and not see yourself as Irish?

    as i said to you on a post before of course you entitled to see yourself as whatever you want but i mean how can you value and love the place you come from if you regard yourself as somehow being above it? surely it is good to value and love the glens and fields and valleys and townlands, parishes and baronies around you and all that has gone before in them? this does not mean being an irish nationalit…that’s a political viewpoint but not to see yourself as being of Ireland must surely mean to be uncomfortable in Ireland?

    just sad for you Turgon and can’t help feeling that if you got around Ireland more and met more Irish Protestants and Catholics you might feel a little more Itish. i would bet you a large sum of money that if somebody told your grandparents they were not Irish they would just have laughed… (i’m assuming you are of Irish stock)… how can you be a different nationality from your grandparents?

    why not read the memoirs of Carson, Craig and Andrews or look at the photos of the banners the Ulster Unionists used in the early 20th century with “Erin go Bragh” on them? believe me all this anti irishness is a very recent thing among northern protestants… or read Brian Inglis’ book on Casement where he contends that northern protestants did not even see themselves as British they were most resolutely loyal irishmen… i just think you are literally hacking off your own cultural roots and cant help thinking how Carson for one would have wept to see the results of his actions (though of course he disowned partition when it came about…)

    Enjoy your weekend.

  • Cruimh

    Dub – Ireland and Irish have as many meanings as America and American.

  • Tir Eoghain Gael

    Dub – Ireland and Irish have as many meanings as America and American.

    Posted by Cruimh on Jun 15, 2007 @ 10:17 PM

    Explain?

  • Cruimh

    Canada – USA. In most peoples minds American means USA – Canadaians might be Americans strictly speaking as in the land mass – but they don’t regard themselves as “American” in that sense.

    Look at de valera’s widely quoted speach about Ireland – If Ireland IS a catholic Nation, hen obviously NI is not part of Ireland in that sense.

  • Dub

    Cruimh,

    Agreed! Thst is why i not understand people like Turgon who do not regard themselves as Irish at all. of course there is no monlithic irishness… that is its strength and why for example the republic is such a formidably cohesive and happy state because all agree they are irish as a common denominator… from the Chuch of ireland organist to the irish speaking gaa fan, to the resolutely english speaking dub who regards gaa fans as some kind of genetic aberration.. all the way to Lord Henry Mountcharles. This is what the north has lost.

  • Cruimh

    Dub – is it what the north “has lost”? I think it would be better to say it never existed. It has come about in the ROI in part I suspect because the protestants left were not seen as any threat to the free state or republic – but would it have come about if there had been a 20+% hostile protestant minority? We’ll never know.

  • dub

    sorry that canada analogy is absurd…canada is a sovereign independent state with its own cultural institutions…. ni is not… it was carved out of the kingdom of ireland as a reaction to the majority of the population wielding their democratic rights… the divorce was not done on grounds of separate nationality.. at that time the unionists regarded themselves to a man and woman as Irish. many institutions of importance from the orange order to the gaa to all the churches, most sports remain all ireland bodies. many many northern protestants still regard themselves as irish to varying degrees and would do more openly i believe if there were not a fear factor around doing so. and there is the large nationalist community and ni is not sovereign or independent so a huge host of differences with Canada don’t you think?

    Believe me the one thing that loses unionists like Turgon ALL credibility in Britain especially and other countries is when they open their mouths and speak in a clear irish accent with little sayings directly translated from Irish like “so I am” at the end of sentence and “i’m only after doing such and such” and then they say they are not irish. this is the ultimate irish joke for british people who actually live in Britain.

  • Cruimh

    NI is not under Dublin jurisdiction and is even more culturally different from the ROI than Canada is from the USA.

    “the divorce was not done on grounds of separate nationality.. at that time the unionists regarded themselves to a man and woman as Irish. ”

    that is simply untrue. You need to go back before the devotional revolution and the rise of cultural nationalism which clearly stated that Irish = Gaelic and Catholic. As I said, Irish and Ireland has layers of meaning in the same way as America and American has layers of meaning.

  • dub

    yes it IS something the north has lost…protestants in the north once had a very very strong irish identity and played their full part in national life. protestants in late 18th century belfast single handedly rescued a very important pary of irish culture with the harpers festival… they did this to promote their idea of a modern assertive Ireland. you miss my point about the republic… there are many shades of irishness across all creeds and communities. the protestant/catholic divide is simply non esistent in a politically determining sense. the middle class blackrock boy who plays rugby is as irish as the kilkenny boy who plays hurling.. they are very different people but they are both irish. trevor sargent is an ardent green who speaks irish fluently whereas seymour crawford is a county monaghan farmer not known for eating muesli for breakfast..yet both are equally irish.
    you see i never mentioned the religion of the las two, guess why… it’s not relevant.

    i have met many many nothern protestants who see themeelves as irish… i have been in a pub in county derry where irish happy hour is on the wall, big farming types are sitting at the bar supping pints of guineess and reading the newsletter and somebody in the pub is singing the fields of athenry… and i have rarely seen a more irish atmosphere and yet apparently nearly all the customers were protestants. it is there in the north still especially in rural areas… plain simple non political cross community irishness. you can’t wish away a centuries old reality.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Yes, yes, but back to this challenge to nationalists to make partition work.
    That is the concluding point of the piece.
    Nationalists here can’t seem to get beyond some really rather gleeful sneering at the unionist identity.
    Isn’t that the exact opposite of the behaviour Paisley’s opportunity for nationalism requires?

  • Cruimh

    Sorry dub -we are talking at cross purposes – I thought you were talking about the 20th century.

  • Turgon

    Dub,

    I have worked in the south of England and briefly in Africa. I am afraid no one seemed to regard me saying I did not regard myself as irish as odd. They just seemed to accept it and move on with liking or disliking me as they felt fit. I seem to really annoy you by saying i do not feel Irish. Why does it annoy you? If it does not just get over it.

  • Cruimh

    And – there’s no such place as county Derry .
    There is a county Lndonderry 😉

  • Shore Road Resident

    I also have never experienced any problem or even raised eyebrow in England or elsewhere when describing myself as British, which I always do.
    Nor do I feel the need when elsewhere to crave popularity on the basis of my nationality. I find all attempts to crave popularity embarrassing – is this a Presbyterian thing, perhaps?
    See Gaskin’s latest drivel for a truly embarrassing example of the international republican need to be loved.

  • Turgon

    Dub,

    “i would bet you a large sum of money that if somebody told your grandparents they were not Irish they would just have laughed… (i’m assuming you are of Irish stock)… how can you be a different nationality from your grandparents?”

    You really do not understand evangelical Ulster Protestants do you? We do not do betting.

  • Cruimh

    “how can you be a different nationality from your grandparents?”

    So, Gerry and Martin are Scottish – as their grandarents grandparents grandparents were Scottish with names such as Adams and McGuinness ?

  • Turgon

    Shore Road Resident,

    Do not worry, this presbyterian makes no attempt to crave popularity. The craving of popularity thing is interesting. The Irish always report that they are beloved throughout the world, have no enemies etc. I have only been in a few African countries (all ex British colonies as it happens), the people there seemed completely unconcerned that I regarded myself as British. Quite a lot of them did not know where Ireland was or anything about it.

  • Turgon

    Cruimh,

    You beat me to it and said it more elegantly than I could have.

  • dub

    you mean the cultural revolution lead by those well known catholics Yeats and Lady Gregory, George A.E. Russell…John Millington Synge, William Orpen, John Lavery, Paul Henry and that well known Catholic founder of the modern Ira in Belfast Bulmer Hobson and his colleaue Denis McCullough. Casement of course too and Jack White, Francis Biggar… yes they all said you had to be Catholic to be Irish didn’t they??

    Check out J.M. Andrews’ tribute to Craig (James Edward) on his death… “A great Ulsterman and a great Irishman”.

    Thank god you have a leader of Paisley’s vintage who is aware of all these things… your unionist generation does not even know its own history.

    Slan.

  • Turgon

    Dub,

    “Thank god you have a leader of Paisley’s vintage who is aware of all these things… your unionist generation does not even know its own history.”

    He stopped being my leader a few months ago for reasons I think you can probably work out.

    Goodnight

  • Cruimh

    Turgon – it’s something our nationalist friends have to accept – they don’t have the right to force their identity onto us. Identity is a complex thing. It’s not just a question of where you are born – otherwise de Valera and Pat Doherty would be disqualified from being Irish.

    The ROI is slowly moving away from the shackles of 19th century nationalism which EXCLUDED our people. That’s great. Hope for the future. But they have to relise that the Irish are a multi-faceted hybrid collection. One size does not fit all – and they cannot expect us to assume their identity. They may not like what we are – bu hey have no business telling us we can no longer be what we are and have to become what they will allow us. The free state tried that social engineering and failed miserably. And it’s strengths these days are because it abandoned all that inward looking parochial protectionist malarkey – and it owes a lot of that down to outside influences – such as Whitaker’s education in London.

  • Cruimh

    Dub – we can go through that list – Jack White ?
    Hospitalised by Sean MacBride’s IRA thugs …..
    yes, there were a few protestants involved – hell there were two RCs in Larne convicted of UDA membership 😉

  • dub

    cruimh,

    i agree with the vast majority of what you are saying.. of course irishness is multifacted consists of differing political allegiances and many many other things… i am not trying to shove roi irishness (which is itself very disparate) onto anyone. having been in ni a lot and spent all last summer there i was struck by the fact that you guys have a chance at another nationbuilding exercise…ni has things that roi does not have… and i value those things… 2 states on this ialand does not bother me at all.. although without the hedge! i just find it frankly incredible when people like Turgon deny they are Irish at all… and i was using my own personal experiences and historial anecdotes to point out that even in the unionist community this attitude is 1. of fairly recent provenance and 2. not at all shared by many of the plain protestant people who (no disrespect) go places like the pub and the bookies (ie they do not in general say they are not at all irish).

    turgon sounds like a nice chap and of course he can be liked irrespective of his views on nationality. i just wish for his sake he could learn to like the country he was born in or the region or the part of the country he was born in or if you believe northern ireland is a country i wish he could learn to identity with the non directionally adjectival bit of that country’s name. how can a settler mentality be helpful? the great unionist statesmen of the past certainly did not have it.

  • PaddyReilly

    Dub, Sir John Lavery was in fact a Catholic. See Oxford DNB. He was though an Ulsterman and did however have a lot of Protestant relations. They are…shall we say, connections of mine.

  • The Dubliner

    “i just find it frankly incredible when people like Turgon deny they are Irish at all” – Dub

    You can’t use rational argument to alter that which is formed independently of rational argument. A sense of nationality is formed by emotion, not logic. He doesn’t feel Irish – and that’s how it is. I might convince you that there are better parents than yours, but can I convince you to swap your parents for the better examples? Nope, because the core dynamic is emotion, not reason.

    Instead of trying to convince people to feel that they are feel Irish, why not accept that people can feel British within Ireland? The ‘enforcement’ of an alien sense of national identity is a very real fear for those to whom it is alien. It’s also, self-defeatingly, a very convincing argument for separatism. When Irish unity becomes a realistic prospect (a few decades hence), Ireland will have numerous distinct ethnic groups, e.g. Polish-Irish, Chinese-Irish, African-Irish, etc. At that point – if the unity numbers add up – the Unionist community will just be one of many separate identities under the flag. I don’t think Irish dancing or conversion to ‘Popery’ will be mandatory at any point, do you?

  • Cruimh

    Amazing – I go off to watch a ghastly teen movie about a giant squid alien taking over a high school – with that weird looking hobbit actor – and I come back to find people agreeing with each ther and being reasonable! 😉

    It won’t last LOL

  • páid

    The Dubliner,

    Emotional intelligence is a much-prized quality these days, and you have it in spades.

    Reader,

    “Whatever your feelings about the plantation, it wrecked the continuity of Ulster identity (at least, looking from Bangor, it did).”

    I see where you’re coming from! But when I see Tyrone GAA upporters in action I think of Churchill’s remark about the dreary steeples.

    Did the plantation wreck Ulster’s identity?
    Big question reader, I hope you’ll agree.

    McKelvey, as for your post. IMO, it shows how quality defeats quantity in the words dept.

    Cruimh,

    “but would it have come about if there had been a 20+% hostile protestant minority?”

    You can take it from me that the Southern poliburo’s views on partition are as follows

    1. Partition was wrong.

    2. Partition was inevitable.

    3. We shouldn’t need the majority of a gerrymandered state to get rid of partition.

    4. We will need the majority of a gerrymandered state to get rid of partition.

    5. In the meantime, violence is completely counterproductive, we’ll all be dead by the time of any UI, so let’s try and get along in the meantime.

    Martin Mansergh, who has worked it all out, would state as much in a 3 hour speech, but you get the drift

  • Cruimh

    I’m still dealing with the giant squid thing – that at one point was walking around as a naked and nubile teenager páid. JB Murray would have been proud of me!

  • Phil

    Identity is indeed a complex thing that is entirely based upon ones emotional attatchment rather than geography or any political or social engineering. I cannot deny that I was born on an island called “Great Britain”, part of a state called “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, in a “county” called “Greater London” and a borough called “The London Borough of Enfield” but my emotional attatchments are to England, Middlesex and Edmonton despite the fact that all three have not existed as functioning political entities during my lifetime. To me Enfield is another town in Middlesex, not a part of my own “borough”. Croydon is a town in Surrey, not somewhere else in my “city” and Scotland is another country, not the northern part of my own one. I don’t dislike any of these places (except Croydon maybe? -)) I just don’t feel “of them”.

  • willowfield

    dub

    ni is not… it was carved out of the kingdom of ireland as a reaction to the majority of the population wielding their democratic rights… the divorce was not done on grounds of separate nationality.. at that time the unionists regarded themselves to a man and woman as Irish.

    Over-simplistic.

    “Nationality” was, indeed, a large part of it. While unionists, of course, regarded themselves as Irish – and many (most?) still do – they also regarded – and still do – themselves as British. Just as the English, Scots and Welsh regarded themselves as both English, Scottish or Welsh and British.

    When Irish nationalists started to define Irishness in terms of anti-Britishness, emphasising Roman Catholicism and Gaelicism, it became clear that the unionist’s identity of being Irish and British, and Irish and Protestant, was in danger.

    Of course there were other factors, such as economics, but there always are in such matters.

  • Dewi

    “Just as the English, Scots and Welsh regarded themselves as both English, Scottish or Welsh and British.”

    Less and less I think Willowfield – even in England where a nationality is re-emerging – which is a positive thing. Personally, I’m Welsh and European – Britain implies Wars, Conquest and Empire – days are numbered.

  • Turgon

    Dub,

    I am sorry I thought about the giant squid and decided although it is quite fun nonsense, (even Elenwe liked it, maybe she fancied the hobbit) to go to bed.

    I recognise that many Prods do feel irish in some fashion. I have no problem with that, its just not the way I feel.

    Could I suggest that sport may have something to do with it. I have only a passing interest in sport (I will watch sport on TV but would not go to a match). My prod friends who are into sports such as rugby have a thing to be Irish about. I well remember as a student watching an Ireland rugby match in a house with several prods of equal unionism to me. Myself and one other just could not get into supporting Ireland. The others, no less unionist (but more into sport) were supporting them. It was not that I passionately wanted Ireland to loose but I just wasn’t really bothered either way.

    When I watch NI playing football although not that into football either I really want them to win because I identify with the team.

    In terms of literature etc I accept that there are many great Irish writers. I do not pretend to be a culture vulture but I guess I have read a little bit. I liked Pygmalion a great deal. I quite like some of Yeats. I would like to read Ulysses (I know like lots of others I won’t finish it). I like these because I do and not because they are Irish (protestant or catholic). I also like Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights and Shakesphere (not because I am either English or homosexual). I really enjoyed Paradise Lost (but eventually gave up). One of my favourite books was The Heart is a Lonely Hunter which I read for O level English lit but that does not make me a racist from the Southern USA, or a black from the southern USA.

    I know you wonder how I like my local area and yet do not feel irish. Yes of course I feel part of it and yes it is the landmass of Ireland but that does not mean I feel irish.

    I know some may wish me to feel irish as part of an attempt to break down my unionism. I suspect you do not. My non Irish feeling is just the way I am, it does not mean I hate the Irish or Irishness, its just not me, Sorry

  • Ian

    I suppose an analogous situation is that everyone who lives on the continent of Europe should see themselves as European (as well as Irish or English or whichever part of Europe they live in). Many do not, especially in England where Euro-scepticism is widespread amongst the Little Englanders. This is because they are against Europe in the political sense, and are defining themselves in a defensive manner as to what they are against, as opposed to who they are. Similar to Irish Unionism?

  • You can’t use rational argument to alter that which is formed independently of rational argument. A sense of nationality is formed by emotion, not logic.

    I agree it’s a mistake to cast the issues in terms of identity if you need to win people over, as nationalists do. There’s no point trying to tell people who they are.

    Far better to put the argument in pragmatic terms: what’s the most democratic way forward for the North’s politics? What’s the most effective way forward for the North’s economy?

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>Just as the English, Scots and Welsh regarded themselves as both English, Scottish or Welsh and British.<

  • PaddyReilly

    A Dubliner once told me that Irish and Tinkers are different breeds. They may come from the same stock, but they have evolved separately, like dogs and wolves, he said. I see his point.

    My point is that the ‘British’ of NI and those of Britain are two different breeds. They may come from the same stock, but they have evolved separately, like Dutch and Afrikaners. We are talking about 1690 British and 2007 British.

    One of the ways they most differ is in religion. 2007 Britishers are the second most irreligious people in the world, after the Japanese. Very few go to church: of those who attend Christian services, Catholic is the most popular. Then there are various kinds of Buddhists, followers of Hindu gurus, Theosophists and Anthroposophists, Baha’is, etc etc. But representatives of the Protestant schisms and rivalries of the 16th, 17th and 18th Century? I won’t say I’ve never met any but I haven’t met any recently. Most of the ones I knew are dead.

    The 1690 British are on a completely different planet. “We are thinking of leaving the Presbyterian Church because it’s too liberal.” That’s the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, right.

    The tail thinking it can wag the dog, as usual. I’m sorry but there are quite a number of people throughout the world much closer in ethos and thought processes to the 2007 British, including the Southern Irish, than the 1690s are.

  • Turgon

    Prince Eoghan,

    I do not think the Irish are making me feel not Irish. I would not let others make me feel Irish, they could not make me feel it. Equally if I felt Irish I would not let the actions of other irish people stop me from being Irish, again they could not stop me from feeling it in that case.

    I have never blamed anyone for me not feeling irish as I do not feel it is a good or bad thing it is just how I am and who I am (or am not).

  • Prince Eoghan

    Turgon.

    Fair enough! I wasn’t particularly referring to your honestly held pov. However do keep in mind my last paragraph, the proof is in the pudding auld son. Live and let live and all that.

    Just to extend on the theme of you being outside of Ireland and being British. When I have been outside the UK I have came across hostility from Scottish people but never Unionist/Prods from the 6 counties, who always described themselves as Irish and bought into Irishness. Just my experience, however in your family is there no-one in your close family who would consider themselves Irish. And just for devilment Turgon, when my pal Alex Salmond finishes Britain as a political unit, what then?

  • Turgon

    Prince Eoghan,

    No sorry I do not think any of my relatives see themselves as irish though if they want to that is fine by me.

    In terms of Alex I won’t be holding my breath. I doubt he will finish that union but that is a debate for another day.

    Mind you we need to stop be so reasonable to one another. This is all getting a bit too civilised both here and over on the Limavady thread. Can no one say something really extreme to make us all have a fight. At this rate I will have to get up and do something useful in a minute.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Aw fuck off then if you can’t sit there like a civilized bastard and pass the time of day solving the problems of the world.

    >>n terms of Alex I won’t be holding my breath.<

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Well, Salmond’s in town on Monday, and I bet he’s more matey with Paisley than you might expect!

  • Turgon

    Prince Eoghan,

    Just before the usual sectarian mud slinging recommences I will point out that I had to look up your name on google (I had actually been taught about him and forgotten). Interestingly Prince Eugen (I am not sure how it is pronounced it may be similar) was a German heavy cruiser which was with Bismarck when she sank HMS Hood.

    Now I am sure secterian debate can recommence after this awful interlude of civility.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Cruimh

    “Ireland and Irish have as many meanings as America and American.”

    Sidestepping the debate about “America”, I would disagree and suggest that “Irish” has only one meaning. It means “of Ireland”. (“Ireland” being the landmass beneath our feet.) Beyond that, everything else is constantly up for grabs, in the perpetual debate among we, the Irish. (As in, the people who are of this island.)

    “NI is not under Dublin jurisdiction and is even more culturally different from the ROI than Canada is from the USA.”

    Tell that to people in south Armagh. Or Armagh city for that matter. Or south Down. Or Co Tyrone. Or Co Fermanagh. Or Derry City. Or south Co Derry. Or the Lough shore on its north, south or west sides. Or the Glens of Antrim. Or west Belfast.

    Actually, go to most places in “Northern Ireland” and you’ll find that culturally you could be in Connacht or Munster. Indeed there are only a handful of places on this island that feel genuinely like cultural enclaves from the rest of the island – Bangor and certain parts of south Dublin come to mind.

    “…the rise of cultural nationalism which clearly stated that Irish = Gaelic and Catholic.”

    Can you provide a source for this “clear statement”? I must’ve missed it. Who made this “clear statement”? Yeats? Gregory? Or some other notable Gaelic Catholic?

    “….Whitaker’s education in London.”

    Actually, Whitaker took a Masters from the University of London via correspondence, so he wasn’t actually “educated in London”. That was simply where the awarding body was. He did all his study right here in the isle of saints and scholars. Sorry, Britain can’t take credit for this one!

    The Dubliner

    “A sense of nationality is formed by emotion, not logic.”

    Actually in the overwhelming majority of cases, nationality is based on where you’re from. If a guy from, say, Moscow, says he’s Russian, he’s not really making any kind of big statement. He’s not saying he’s proud to be Russian or that he loves Russia – he might, but on the other hand he might hate it. However, being from Russia, “Russian” is simply what he is, right or wrong, good or bad. That’s all. Then, it’s up to him and his fellow Russians to define what “Russian” means, beyond “of Russia”. That debate is eternal.

    The rare exceptions to this rule occur in colonial and post-colonial societies, where identities are maintained in defiance of geographical reality. So people in the Falklands or Gibraltar or here in NI proudly proclaim their Britishness, though they clearly don’t come from Britain. They are entitled to do so, fair play, but let’s not pretend that they are the norm in terms of issues of nationality. They are the exceptions.

    “I might convince you that there are better parents than yours, but can I convince you to swap your parents for the better examples? Nope, because the core dynamic is emotion, not reason.”

    Er, no. That’d be biology. You can go through the legal channels and swap your parents for guardians, but they wouldn’t be your parents. Your parents would still be the same two people, even if you’d rejected them. That’s not something that is open to change. Some things simply ARE, no matter how much one might wish otherwise.

    Reader

    “Whatever your feelings about the plantation, it wrecked the continuity of Ulster identity (at least, looking from Bangor, it did).”

    To be honest, I’d say that within Ulster Bangor is a very exceptional place. It is probably the most genuinely “British” place in Ireland. However, it is rather an exception even within Ulster, and it’d be a mistake to look to Bangor for a sense of the broader situation across Ulster. It’s no microcosm.

    Turgon

    Would you consider yourself to be Northern Irish?

  • turgon

    Billy Pilgrim,

    I do not know wherther or not you have some cunning reposte to whatever answer I produce or if you are actually interested.

    I feel no need to justify my feeling of self and my nationality, regionality etc. As has been said on this thread these are emotional feelings and although you may be able to point out apparent (or indeed real) inconsistencies in my position: that on this issue as far as I am concerned is not relevant.

    I feel Northern Irish and British. Incidentally I asked Elenwe today and unprompted by me got exactly the same response. I do not feel Irish. With all this discussion of my nonIrishness I have thought carefully about it but I still do not feel Irish.

    If Northern Ireland or Britain cease to exist I suspect I will still feel as I do.

    Now as I said you are welcome to pick all sort of holes in my logic and everything else. That is fine. I have answered as honestly as I can and whether or not you believe me I do not have an agenda about feeling this.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Turgon

    LOL. My son’s name is Eoghan, when first commenting here last year he got a kick out of seeing his name in lights so to speak. There was a Prince Eoghan! He died in battle fighting for the Scots against the Angles in the 6th or 7thC, he wasn’t some German called Eugen ya numptie.

    BTW. You seem desperate for the sectarian mud slinging to start, are you the argumentative sort? Just go and pick a fight with Elenwe, that’ll sort ye out ;¬) I leave the sectarian bigotry upto the Orangemen, they are the experts!

  • turgon

    Prince Eoghan,

    Do not worry it is in full swing over on the Limavady thread.

  • The Dubliner

    “A sense of nationality is formed by emotion, not logic.” – The Dubliner

    “Actually in the overwhelming majority of cases, nationality is based on where you’re from. If a guy from, say, Moscow, says he’s Russian, he’s not really making any kind of big statement. He’s not saying he’s proud to be Russian or that he loves Russia – he might, but on the other hand he might hate it. However, being from Russia, “Russian” is simply what he is, right or wrong, good or bad. That’s all. Then, it’s up to him and his fellow Russians to define what “Russian” means, beyond “of Russia”. That debate is eternal.

    The rare exceptions to this rule occur in colonial and post-colonial societies, where identities are maintained in defiance of geographical reality. So people in the Falklands or Gibraltar or here in NI proudly proclaim their Britishness, though they clearly don’t come from Britain. They are entitled to do so, fair play, but let’s not pretend that they are the norm in terms of issues of nationality. They are the exceptions.” – Billy Pilgrim

    Your first paragraph states what is obvious, but more saliently, irrelevant to the topic under debate. If nationality was determined by geograpghy, then we wouldn’t be having this debate, would we? The unionists would be Irish because they were born in Ireland.

    Your second paragraph also misses the point and context entirely: the unionist sense of nationality is not ‘the exception’ to this debate concerning individual sense of nationality but is the crux of it. That sense of nationality is entirely emotional (see your first paragraph ).

    “I might convince you that there are better parents than yours, but can I convince you to swap your parents for the better examples? Nope, because the core dynamic is emotion, not reason.” – The Dubliner

    Er, no. That’d be biology. You can go through the legal channels and swap your parents for guardians, but they wouldn’t be your parents. Your parents would still be the same two people, even if you’d rejected them. That’s not something that is open to change. Some things simply ARE, no matter how much one might wish otherwise.” – Billy Pilgrim

    I can’t believe you actually took that literally, actually taking the time to explain why one cannot literally swap parents – and missing the point entirely. The obvious figurative point is that you can be persuaded that there are better parents than your own, just as you can be persuaded that there are better nationalities that your own, but you cannot be persuaded to sawp one for the other, i.e. you won’t be persuaded to feel Irish because Ireland has a lower tax rate or British because it has a better health service (nor will you be persuaded to vote to change your nationality on that basis).

  • The Dubliner

    “Emotional intelligence is a much-prized quality these days, and you have it in spades.” – páid

    Thank you. I’m loath to push my luck, but what about the other type of intelligence? Okay, forget that. I can work with one out of two.

  • The Dubliner

    “I agree it’s a mistake to cast the issues in terms of identity if you need to win people over, as nationalists do. There’s no point trying to tell people who they are.

    Far better to put the argument in pragmatic terms: what’s the most democratic way forward for the North’s politics? What’s the most effective way forward for the North’s economy?” – Tom Griffin

    I think that’s the key area where thinking in the Republic of Ireland will alter in the years ahead. There is a mindset that sees the solution to partition as being in convincing the unionist community that they are Irish. Once they accept that, then they’ll see the error of their partitionist ways and re-unite. It doesn’t see their sense of national identity as being valid – but as a flaw that can be corrected through re-education. I don’t believe that you can convince anyone to change his sense of national identity, so I don’t hold out much hope of success for that approach. In fact, it is more likely to have the opposite effect.

    But I think there is a growing understanding of divergent cultures in Ireland, mainly due to recent experience of them. We are beginning to understand that Polish people, for example, can make their home in Ireland and still be Polish. This will make it easier to grasp that those in the north who regard themselves as British, Ulster-Scots (or whatever), can still be British and Ulster-Scots within the Republic of Ireland. So, where the thinking is likely to change is in accepting the Britishness of the unionists as perfectly valid (and not regarding it as some sort of misfortunate colonial legacy).

    Essentially, it is separating national identity from national allegiance, allowing those few who might vote for unity because of economic reasons to do so knowing that voting for unity doesn’t mean voting to no longer be of British identity. True, a majority of unionists will always conclude that their sense of national identity is best preserved by staying within the union, but it doesn’t require a majority of unionists to vote for unity in order for it to occur.

    It’s a case of back to basics in terms of what the Irish tricolour represents. Of course, it won’t be just Orange and Green by the time any of this even becomes relevant; since, due to the Celtic Tiger, there are more than just Irish and British in the political equation – and its likely that the unionists will slip down the league of ‘other’ behind the Polish, the Asians, and the Africans. Unity sooner rather than later would be the smart option for unionists – which just shows that its more emotion than reason.

  • páid

    Hey Dubliner,

    Emotional intelligence is all you need, the other kind can be bought in.

    And with emotional intelligence on board, you can fake sincerity.

    You’ve made it 😉

  • Shore Road Resident

    “likely that the unionists will slip down the league of ‘other’ behind the Polish, the Asians, and the Africans”

    One more reason to maintain partition then.
    Republicans just aren’t getting it.

  • Sean

    Srr you don’t get it you are sliding down those same tables in your beloved union… especially as you seem to be the only ones who love it

  • Shore Road Resident

    Here’s the deal – Paisley is offering republicans an opportunity to accommodate unionist identity in an Irish context. The response here appears to be: “Yo! Fuck yis! Yis were deluded bastards all along.” This is not a constructive response. It suggests that provo-republicans are incapable of reversing the damage they have done, let alone going beyond that to building new bridges.
    At this rate, unbelievably, Paisley is going to go down in history as a man whose offer of compromise was spurned. Could the failure of the republican project be any more profound?

  • Sean

    srr
    why do you think only the nationalists have to be accomodating?

    That shows your belief that you are right and they are wrong.

    News flash both sides are right and both sides are wrong and both sides need to accomodate the other

    If you want the nationalists to accomodate you then you have to give a little as well.

    so in conclusion SRR paisley has no right to expect the nationalists to accomodate the unionists unless he is silling to be accomodating as well

    If he wants to fly what someone called his colourful tea towel then he should expect to fly theirs as well. Or conversly leave it in its box like a good wee lad

  • Shore Road Resident

    *sigh*

  • Hunter

    páid

    “don’t forget (I won’t let you 😉 ) that in 1922 both Ulster and Ireland were partitioned.

    If you are talking about Ulster then you lose the Unionist majority, but you gain cultural and historical authenticity as a foundation for regional government.”

    Utter nonsense. The borders of “Ulster” were an arbitrary invention. That they are older than those of NI doesn’t change that fact.

    Historical Ulster, Ulaidh etc. had borders for the greater part of it’s history that looked more like a repartitioned “Republica Prodska”.

    http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/maps/historical/map650.gif

  • willowfield

    DEWI

    Less and less I think Willowfield – even in England where a nationality is re-emerging – which is a positive thing. Personally, I’m Welsh and European – Britain implies Wars, Conquest and Empire – days are numbered.

    Possibly, but not in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which was the period under discussion (someone had claimed that nationality was nothing to do with unionists’ demand to remain in the UK at that time).

  • Hunter

    dub

    “how can you be born and bred into a family who were presumably born and bred in Ireland and not see yourself as Irish?”

    Speaking for myself I don’t see it as being any different from a Canadian who does not think they are an American but accepts that Canada is part of North America.

  • willowfield

    PRINCE EOGHAN

    the word missing here is SOME! should be third word in, even at that the numbers go down every day.

    In the late 19th and early 20th centuries very few English, Scots or Welsh did not regard themselves as British. It was an almost universal shared identity.

    It has been quite amusing reading the explanations that it was the Irish definitions of Irishness that is the problem. And not the instinctive anti-Irishness that comes across on this site day and daily. intriguing!

    “Anti-Irishness” on Slugger O’Toole in 2007 has no bearing whatsoever on unionist identity in the late 19th and early 20th century. There is no doubt that unionists considered themselves to be Irish at that time, and since. If they were “anti-Irish” then they were admitting to be against themselves. “Anti-Irish nationalist” is maybe what you’re attempting to communicate.

  • Hunter

    @dub

    “sorry that canada analogy is absurd…canada is a sovereign independent state with its own cultural institutions…. ni is not… it was carved out of the kingdom of ireland as a reaction to the majority of the population wielding their democratic rights… the divorce was not done on grounds of separate nationality.. at that time the unionists regarded themselves to a man and woman as Irish. many institutions of importance from the orange order to the gaa to all the churches, most sports remain all ireland bodies. many many northern protestants still regard themselves as irish to varying degrees and would do more openly i believe if there were not a fear factor around doing so. and there is the large nationalist community and ni is not sovereign or independent so a huge host of differences with Canada don’t you think?”

    No, in fact the analogy is excellent. Canada is nothing more than the British colonies in North America that remained loyal after the declaration of independence. Bear in mind that both the US and Canada have expanded their territory to the west since that time. Their borders were not static.

    Canada also has a sizeable minority who do not recognise the state. OK they’re not USA unionists but Canada still has a division, debates over language recognition etc.

  • Fraggle

    Thanks for the map Hunter. I, for one, wouldn’t mind a new border similar to that one, leaving unionists to rot as an outpost of britain, sponging off the english, letting the rest of us join the republic. I get the message, you don’t want to be part of the republic but why should nearly half the population be deprived?

    Remember that a clear majority of children in the school system come from a catholic/nationalist/whatever background and they are the future. The union is maintained by a majority consisting of pensioners.

  • Hunter

    “I suppose an analogous situation is that everyone who lives on the continent of Europe should see themselves as European (as well as Irish or English or whichever part of Europe they live in). Many do not, especially in England where Euro-scepticism is widespread amongst the Little Englanders. This is because they are against Europe in the political sense, and are defining themselves in a defensive manner as to what they are against, as opposed to who they are. Similar to Irish Unionism?”

    Similar to Irish nationalists rejecting their britishislesness?

  • Hunter

    @Prince Eoghan

    “>>Just as the English, Scots and Welsh regarded themselves as both English, Scottish or Welsh and British.< http://www.statistics.gov.uk/lib2001/viewerChart4919.html

  • Hunter

    “My point is that the ‘British’ of NI and those of Britain are two different breeds. They may come from the same stock, but they have evolved separately, like Dutch and Afrikaners. We are talking about 1690 British and 2007 British.”

    I think that rather than a historical comparison a good analogy for Ulster Prods would be the present day US. The Church of England has died because it was a stale state institution. This is happening to the Catholic church in the RoI as it did in many other European countries, it’s just that in the RoI (and Poland) this has been delayed for a few decades.

    In contrast a large chunk of Ulster Prod religion is, like in the US, diverse, noncomformist and taken seriously. A person of Ulster Prod background who doesn’t believe in Jesus will also tend to put himself down as “no religion” more than his Catholic mirror image. Because to an Ulster Prod religion means what you believe rather than what social club your parents attended on Sundays.

    Like in the US for an Ulster Prod if you go to church then you do it because you are a believer. For the RCC and the CofE a lot of it was based on what tribe you had your head sprinkled by combined with a bit of a social club.

    Religion tends to thrive more in places like the US where there is a denominational free market rather than a commie style established church.

    Ulster Prods also tend to be more pro-US than the English. For example on Iraq. This is due to a certain commonality of spirit.

  • Hunter

    “If nationality was determined by geograpghy, then we wouldn’t be having this debate, would we? The unionists would be Irish because they were born in Ireland.”

    Really? Does that mean that someone born in Auckland is a North Islander and is not a New Zealander and someone born in Tokyo is a Honshuan and is not Japanese?

  • Fraggle

    “Really? Does that mean that someone born in Auckland is a North Islander and is not a New Zealander and someone born in Tokyo is a Honshuan and is not Japanese?”

    No, but you’ve provided good examples of why analogys should be avoided.

  • Hunter

    Fraggle

    “Remember that a clear majority of children in the school system come from a catholic/nationalist/whatever background and they are the future. The union is maintained by a majority consisting of pensioners.”

    Sorry to break it to you but while those leaving school at the moment are about 50% Catholic community background those of Catholic community background are below half in the primary schools and in every primary school year from P1 up to P7.

    Your statement “a clear majority of children in the school system come from a catholic/nationalist/whatever background” is untrue. They are less than half even just in secondary schools.

    This doesn’t mean that I am opposed to repartition in principle. I don’t think nationalists have much of a case in opposing it in principle. Partition from Britishness due to cultural / religious difference was the basis of the Irish state just as it was when Pakistan divorced from India. The fact that there’s a water barrier between our “Kashmir” and our “India” does not make any difference to the morality of the situation. Nor does the modern international community accept “we were here first as a legitimate” argument as is shown abundantly by their attitude to the Serbs.

  • Hunter

    @Fraggle

    ” “Really? Does that mean that someone born in Auckland is a North Islander and is not a New Zealander and someone born in Tokyo is a Honshuan and is not Japanese?”

    No, but you’ve provided good examples of why analogys should be avoided.”

    The analogy makes a very good point. Nationalists assume the nationhood of the island of Ireland as axiomatic when in fact it is the matter under debate. Is it any wonder they have trouble understanding unionists?

  • Hunter

    “This doesn’t mean that I am opposed to repartition in principle.”

    I don’t think repartition would work though because the demographics don’t work unless there is resettlement and people wouldn’t stand for that. So we are going to have to live together permanently as a kind of Lebanon or Belgium or Bosnia Herzegovina or whatever.

    Unionists have had to learn that NI cannot be as British as Finchley. Nationalists will now have to start the painful process of realising that there is not going to be some unified all island with unionists happily seeing themselves as included. NI is always going to be a special case like the Lebanon.

  • Yokel

    Like the Lebanon indeed, with private armies and all..but sadly not the weather….

  • Charlie

    As an Ulsterman of Presbyterian stock who is proud to be Irish while also feeling kinship rather than antipathy to the Scottish, Welsh and English who also inhabit these islands (okay, I’ll admit this changes to fierce rivalry during sporting occasions!), I find people denying that they’re Irish when they’ve been born and bred on an island called Ireland hard to fathom and, to be honest, faintly ludicrous. But I’m all for freedom of expression so they are perfectly entitled to feel that way and can consider themselves Chinese for all I care. Let’s not forget that, on the other side of the coin, that there are also those who live in the North who cannot bring themselves to even say ‘Northern Ireland’ and stridently deny ANY British dimension to themselves whilst supporting Liverpool, having ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams played at their wedding, wearing Top Shop clobber, consuming traditional British nosh, watching ‘Eastenders’ etc etc…it all boils down to political posturing rather than having any basis in objective reality.

    But back to the original issue…Paisley’s acknowledgment of his Irishness as being an integral part of his ‘Ulsterness’ has to be a good thing and maybe other Unionists might follow his lead and realise that all the Union Jack-ery they’ve been indulging in to distinguish themselves from Republicans in recent years is all a bit desperate and doesn’t ultimately endear them to anyone apart from BNP voters…

  • Stiofán de Buit

    Like in the US for an Ulster Prod if you go to church then you do it because you are a believer. For the RCC and the CofE a lot of it was based on what tribe you had your head sprinkled by combined with a bit of a social club.

    Hunter

    Having lived in the US Bible Belt for the past seven or so years, I’m not sure this is true. A lot of it is due to peer pressure and wanting to appear to be a ‘good Christian’.

  • Sean

    My rule of thumb is the more they go to church the less honest forthright and true they are likely to be

  • Cahal

    Fraggle:
    “The union is maintained by a majority consisting of pensioners. ”

    Cut off the ards peninsula and there is no majority. Problem solved.