Nail in the coffin of MPs speaking rights in the Dail?

The hopes of many Northern Irish nationalist for political unification of the island rest with Sinn Fein. But, says Noel Whelan, they looked very isolated on the first day of the Dail. Unable to muster the support of one other TD at their loss of own representative’s speaking rights, their influence on this Dail session looks set to lessen considerable. Realistic prospects of gaining speaking rights for their MPs look even more remote than ever.

…the party tried to sweeten the pill for its followers by coating it in the promise of symbolic Irish unity.

It sought to assuage discontent among volunteers and supporters by leading them to believe that the party was on the verge of being in government on both sides of the Border, that someday soon the party’s Northern MPs would sit and speak in the Dáil chamber and even that Gerry Adams would be president of Ireland by the time the centenary of the 1916 Rising came around.

Now, however, reality has again brutally intruded on Sinn Féin’s new mythology.

Sinn Féin representation in the 30th Dáil is even smaller than what it was in the 29th Dáil, and the disintegration of the “technical group” of Independents and small parties means that opportunities for Sinn Féin TDs to speak in the Dáil chamber will be few and far between over the next five years.

The prospect of its Northern MPs doing so is now non-existent.

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  • Pól

    Any party that calls itself republican should support this. SDLP support it as well as Sinn Fein.

    This is the reason Fianna Fail do not get a number 2 off me. SF 1 and thats it until FF change their policy on this issue.

  • Pol,

    You are spot on. Fianna Fail’s claim to the Republican ‘legacy’ has always floundered when put to the test. Even Haughey frequently backed away when asked to doing anything remotely substantive. It has always been nothing more than an election slogan to Fiann Fail. 4 TD’s or not, Sinn Fein still represent the genuine, true Republican legacy on this island. Long may that continue…

  • Dewi

    Support which bit Pol ? Speaking rights in the Dail for MPs ?

  • Paul O

    Another article gloating on SFs performance in the general. By all means enjoy yourselves guys, this has still been a good year for SF (28 seats at Stormont! A rise in their vote in the 26).

  • Partitionist Twit

    Seems they don’t want a Nordie about the place; not even the ‘nice’ ones in the SDLP.

    So much for FF – “the Republican Party”.

  • Pól

    Dewi,

    Yes speaking rights in the Dail for MPs from the north.

    (that is all MPs by the way – not just SF ones)

    I would be in favour of full voting rights as well along with voting rights for those in the 6 counties for president but one step at a time I suppose. (though I cant see why anyone who was really republican would refuse those either).

    Macswiney – agree 100% with that.

  • Cruimh

    Times change – why should republican still have to equate with a 32 county ambition?

  • Pól

    On a side note, what a sad day for democracy when small parties are denied speaking rights in the dail and people gloat about it.

  • Dewi

    I know there’s to many of them for each MLA to have rights but isn’t it more important for Assembly members to interact with Dail rather than MPs ?

  • Pól

    Cruimh,

    Because FF, FG, Lab, PDs and Green party all aspire to Irish Unity (so they tell us anyway).

    Practical step they could take would be to invite representatives from all persuasions into the Dail to present their sides of the debates that arise from time to time.

    I agree with you in a sense that the republicanism of the southern parties stops at the border. What I am pointing out is that they will not admit this and seek to pretend to be working for unity.

  • Pól

    Dewi,

    That is like saying instead of unionists going to westminister they could interact with MPs at the east west ministerial councils.

    It is an important symbolic step for the southern establishment to listen to what northern representatives have to say after years of abandoning and ignoring the north.

    The place to do this is the Dail.

  • Mick Fealty

    Despite several warm noises from Ahern in the past, as party it is only SF that has ever publicly supported this policy in the Republic. The point of the article is that no one but SF voted for their TDs to retain ‘speaking rights’ in the Dail. It is surely a reasonable supposition that the Dail will also refuse to consider speaking rights for extra territorial members of another parliament, until the next election at the very least?

    Notwithstanding the party’s formidable electoral strength in NI, this issue south of the border looks, sounds and feels like a political dead duck, until and unless SF gathers itself stronger representation in the 31st Dail.

  • Cruimh

    That’s why I wrote that times change Pól. Realistically unification is off the agendum for a generation – and it’s sensible and responsible to let it lie – if for no other reason than it doesn’t make waves in the North. Lip service is fine, does no harm and keeps options open. Would be crazy – in a country that is still fighting the civil war – to do anything drastic – the Irish electorate are happy enough with the “let it sort itself out in it’s own good time” approach – and resoundingly rejected the only aggressive party at the May election. Most of the noise seems to be coming from a small minority amplified by outsiders abroad.

    We should have learned one thing by now – there will be no quick fix. Pushing and rushing is counter-productive.

  • carlosblancos

    A victory for those who wish to see unity in fact. Fianna Fail are strongly pro-unity, and the Greens have representation in the North & are in government in the South. There’s no indication that this will reduce the prospect of speaking rights in the Dail, although personally I think Seanad seats are more likely

  • Garibaldy

    Looks like the other parties are trying to kill off PSF as a serious electoral challenge in the south by any means possible. Now that the north is sorted out, they have no leverage and there is no incentive for FF et al to keep them happy after the last election result.

    The media profile that has driven PSF growth will wither even further without speaking rights. A clever move by FF and its dependents in the “independents” etc.

  • Pól

    Mick,

    I know you are saying the south but just to be clear this is fully supported by the SDLP as well – obviously they cant influence their friends in the southern establishment too much.

  • parcifal

    ahh stuff the Southerners .. bloody foreigners, what do they know about a united ireland 😉

  • George

    I’m sure Fianna Fáil are simply thinking that makes much more sense to have the cross-border bodies up and working, delivering what they are supposed to deliver for every citizen of Northern Ireland and the people of the Republic, before looking at the issue of Dáil speaking rights, which is being demanded by just one “community” at present.

  • Harry Briscoe

    It is sickening to hear members and supporters of Sisn Fein/IRA ask to speak in the Oireachtas (not Leinster House). You guys murdered a progressive Protestant senator of that Oireachtas.
    On a tactical note, it is better if you keep Adams chained and muzzled as he only puts his foot into things (a far away country of which he knows nothing.) The Sinn Fein stoogoes in the current and last Dail were awful speakers. How much travelling did Jack Crowe do again? He was more worried about helping the mercenaries sent to Farc to avoid justice than he was about his constituents. Good riddance.

  • kensei

    “The point of the article is that no one but SF voted for their TDs to retain ‘speaking rights’ in the Dail.”

    Why is the reasoning behind the need for a “Technical Group”? It seems scandalous in a democracy that any representative of the people is denied the right to speak.

  • jpeters

    i think there is a fundamental misunderstanding here about the legalities of the situation. GFA etc. has set in stone british sovereignty over northern ireland, the only way to change this is by consent. Any constitional political party cannot go beyond this, the view (and the correct one at that) of southern political parties is that the unity issue has been advanced as far as possible. Republicanism of any shade has reached its zenith as far as constitional politicans are concerned. SF will have to accept this as well

  • George

    Kensei,
    my understanding of the Dáil Technical Group is that it is akin to the policy in Westminster regarding who can ask questions at PM’s Question Time, for example, where the Lib Dems and Conservatives get a set number as they have a certain degree of representation.

    The Technical Group increases speaking rights such as allowing questions to be asked during leader’s questions in the Dáil, it doesn’t mean that those not in one don’t have speaking rights.

    jpeters,
    I think the opposite. The unity issue can only start to be advanced by democrats now that the gun has been removed.

  • jpeters

    George

    I agree only democrats can push forward unity, but it has to be understood a constitutional and Sovereignty settlement is now in place, speaking rights between NI & the Rep even if it ever happens is an irrelevence. Any further movement can only occur after a further British/Irish negotiation at the highest level and then perhaps a vote put to the population.
    Anything else is window dressing andmost of SF present attempts to gain rights in the south are mere window dressing

  • redhaze

    Harry Briscoe,

    “You guys murdered a progressive Protestant senator of that Oireachtas”

    Who?

  • George

    jpeters,
    a settlement has been reached on how any change to the constitutional position of Northern Ireland will come about. A constitional settlement has not been reached. There is a difference.

    But we are in a positive postition in Ireland where over 80 years of Cold War have finally come to an end but the healing will take time and there is absolutely no guarantee that this healing will result in a unitary island state.

    During this 80 years, Ulster has seen itself go from being the island’s economic hub to a place in desperate need of investment and innovation.

    It is in the interests of the Irish Republic that Northern Ireland and Ulster as a whole returns to its former industrial glory.

    If Dáil speaking rights would help, then they might be on the agenda but as you say, at the moment, such a gesture would merely be window dressing.

    What is needed is investment and the whole island economy pulling together for the benefit of all.

    Let’s see where that gets us because in the end unity will only come about when it is clear to all that it is in their benefit.

    Personally, I think any negotiations would have to be between north and south at the highest level, rather than between east and west. After all, the agreement reached means that it is for the people of Ireland and the people of Ireland alone to determine their future.

    Is this going to happen any time soon? No.

    Do we have enough substantive things to be getting on with on this island in the meantime, mending bridges, improving things on an islandwide basis etc? Yes and that’s what I hope the Irish Republic will do in the coming years rather than pandering to the window dressers.

  • carloblancos

    Harry excuse my ignorance but who are you talking about??

  • redhaze

    Carlosblancos,

    Me and you both pal.

  • jpeters

    George

    1. I will have to disagree with you on the constitional position, both RoI and UK have clear legislative positions on NI and where Sovereignty lies, they happen to agree

    2. I agree that UI and its benefits/disadvatages are totally unknown and i dont think anyone has made a proper economic study to see the consequences. RoI investment in the mean time will be very welcome especially as it is given a politically benign way.

    3. North South dialogue would be a practical way forward (but not neccessarily for UI discussions which should stay a dead letter for a good few years) but it will not move the geographical/constitutional position forward an inch given the powers of NI institutions

    4. I would question the logic of any government in RoI which would allow outside speaking rights even in cross border economic issues given the novice nature and limited budgetary powers of policitians in NI

  • Harry Briscoe

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

    Billy Fox, Protestant politician from Co Monaghan, murdered by the SFIRA sectarians who now demand speaking rights in the Dail, even though they don’t use their Westminster rights, funds excepted.
    Isn’t it sad how the fallen are forgotten and killers like Sands are eulogised?

    I hope this helps. Lest we forget.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Giving reperesentation to Non Iron MPs is arguably the only siginificant Republican policy open to ROI legislators – no suprise then that the Warriors of Corruption are going to go for it.

  • Times change –

    Posted by Cruimh

    Of course the whole point is constitutionally wise times have not changed, as partition, with the active help of FF and the SF leadership is as solidly set in stone as it has ever been.

    I also find it very arrogant to hear people telling Republicans what they must or must not accept, for if their forebear’s had accepted such advise there would be no southern State today.

    What happened with the likes of FF as far as this matter is concerned, was they put their toe in the water and panicked and used the failure of SF in the recent election to retreat back into the certainty of their mini southern statelet, Whereas they should have jumped in and splashed about; and in the process they may[or may not] have made new friends from the north. For I doubt if Ian Paisley could have resisted addressing the Dáil, perhaps that is what Berties boyo’s feared 😉

    As to SF sitting out this parliament in the wilderness, time will tell, but I would have thought the Green ministers will have to begin to show something for the sacrifices their membership have made, otherwise the momentum may grow within the party for withdrawal.

    What SF need on the south is some young [or old] firebrands to shake the political establishment up, after all it has tried the Statesman crap and nice middle class girlies without success.

  • “killers like Sands”

    ?

  • confused

    George

    There is a constitutional settlement with Westminster being the sovereign Parliament and devolving limited powers to the local Assembly.
    You also think problems can be sorted out by more North /South co-operation while at the same time ignoring the East /West axis. This will only have a small effect and in no circumstances will it impinge on the constitutional position of NI within the UK

  • George

    Confused,
    I never implied that any north-south cooperation would impinge on the constitutional position of NI.

    I merely stated that the constitutional position is not settled. The current position is agreed yes, settled no.

    What is settled is how this constitutional position can change.

    What greater integration of the island economy can bring about is a greater will to change what is the current agreed constitutional position to another deemed more advantageous to all the people of this island.

    Naturally, the work of the devolved Assembly and ongoing rule from Westminster could equally result in much greater support for the current constitutional position, thus moving Northern Ireland further towards the “constitutional settlement” position.

    But as things stand now with unionism still overly reliant on a contracting Protestant population (as a percentage) to retain the current constitutional position, nothing is settled.

  • confused

    George

    By saying that there is no settlement surely you are denying the reality of parties agreeing to Westminster sovereignity.
    Not all parties admit to this and that has been one of the mistakes made by nationalist Ireland, pretending that we are only at a transitional stage.
    What happens if this transition lasts for at least two or three generations?
    In that case our present arrngement looks to be a settlement and all evidence suggests it to be permanent.

  • CTN

    Why did SF not achieve an obligation for these rights amongst all the side deals in those backround negotiations that led to St Andrews instead of hoping to obtain them after an election in which they flopped in comparison with their predictions of seat trebling?

    It appears the nationalist community and republican Ireland have again been let down by the incompetence of the McGuinness/Adams autocracy rather than overly complacent southern parties like FF.

    Only when SF itself becomes a democratic party under an accountable leadership will northern nationalists see benefits in terms of progress towards re-unification.

    Mere de-militarisation in the context of IRA dissolution and a repackaged RUC are insufficient.

    After 40 years Adams/McGuinness have achieved very little- look what we had on the table in 1995- the Framework document with cross border bodies unaccountable to a Paisley led administration.

    To think that document was put together by John Bruton and John Major with the IRA at full blast and the nationalist community represented by 4 less MPs up north compared to now with the shambles that this McGuinness/Adams autocracy have became under Paisley’s thumb- 40 years of McGuinness/Adams- not much of a blow for Ireland….

  • ozy

    “But as things stand now with unionism still overly reliant on a contracting Protestant population (as a percentage) to retain the current constitutional position, nothing is settled.”

    Yup – which is why unionism needs new thinking to broaden its appeal and reach out to the middle-ground of people…

    Then again unionism is structured pretty much to shoot down any danger of new thinking on the spot!

    Therein lies the existential challenge… it also places nationalists in the funny position of hoping the fuddy-duddy traditionalists retain their stranglehold on unionism in order that they might further hollow it out and alienate the middle!

    funny aul’ world these days eh?

  • George

    Confused,
    “settlement” implies conclusive resolution and we certainly aren’t at that stage.

    We could well reach a position where there is a de facto permanent settlement along the current lines but as things stand now with over 40% of the vote going to unification parties the constitutional position of Northern Ireland is certainly not settled.

    It is understandable nationalists want to portray the current situation as a transitional one while unionists want to portray it as a permanent one.

    It will be a permanent one if unionism as an ideology can convince a significant number of non-Protestants to actively support the union going forward. At the moment I think there are zero Catholic unionist MLAs or MPs so they are starting from scratch on that one.

    Equally, it will be a transitional one if a significant number of northern Protestants can be won over to actively support the idea of a unitary Irish state going forward. I assume there are also in or around zero Protestant Irish nationalist MLAs and MPs.

    It is all to play for going forward as I don’t see things staying in two monolithic blocks as this only means stasis and stasis means falling further behind the Irish Republic and the UK.

    As these blocks begin to break down in the next 20 years will the people of Northern Ireland plump for the status quo or risk the unknown and join up with the rest of the island of Ireland. Time will tell.

  • Turgon

    Mickhall

    “I also find it very arrogant to hear people telling Republicans what they must or must not accept, for if their forebear’s had accepted such advise there would be no southern State today.”

    I hope you feel that telling Republicans they have to accept the rule of law and not killing people is not arrogant.

  • Turgon

    Funny old thing this rule of law, as the Finucane family found out only last week.

    Regards

  • The Dubliner

    Speaking Rights for the north’s MPs is just more farce from the Shinners: demanding to be allowed speak in a parliament where they are not elected while refusing to speak in a parliament where they are.

    Dail Eireann is a place for parliamentarians to represent the interests of constituents who elect them within its jurisdiction and to debate matters of state, and not a forum for time-wasting gimmicks, stunts, and propaganda spiels by those who have no democratic mandate to be there. It might be tolerable if the north’s MPs were orators of note (Ah, Enoch), instead of some of the most monotonous drones on the plant.

    Speaking Rights in Dail Eireann is also outside of the terms of the GFA and shouldn’t be entertained as simply a meaningless sop to the Shinners. If they actually have issues they want to raise with Irish parliamentarians, then there are plenty of existing mediums for them to do so.

  • The Dubliner

    *Planet* (It makes more sense!)

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    George

    “A constitional settlement has not been reached.”

    In fact it has been reached – ROI is given an institutional role ( via Ministerial council), Allin the affairs of Non Iron – and Nationalist given 50% representation. This is what the GFA was about. It was about changing the constituional position of Non Iron and getting people to vote that it would not change AGAIN without a majority.

    That why Bery will get to drive his German ministerial car into the occupied territories on official business.

  • Turgon

    Mickhall,

    “Funny old thing this rule of law, as the Finucane family found out only last week.”

    Yes but the question stands, do you support it and do you support not killing people.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dubliner,

    ROI has an official say in the affairs of Non Iron via ministerial council and via Engleze government. ROI is also spending money ( 1 billion ) in the occupied territories – all good reasons for Non Iron representation in ROI parliament. I’m afraid the old free state politics to which you subscribe are no longer relevant post GFA/STA.

  • JD

    Fianna Fail are not mugs like the SDLP when it comes to taking on Sinn Fein as a rival.

    Like the SDLP, Fianna Fail were happy to give credibility and political wriggle room for Sinn Fein for the duration of the peace process. However Fianna Fail like Sinn Fein plays a long term game and having seen how the Shinners bet them in the locals in Dublin in 2004 they have set out in a very determined and focussed fashion to prevent this happening again. The best way to day so is to comprehensively screw Sinn Fein once the North is settled.

    Bertie’s “Dolly Mixture” coalition was not only constructed to give Bertie a solid majority. By co-opting the Greens and Independents on side he crushed any hope of Sinn Fein forming a new technical group. Fianna Fail has already thwarted the ambitions of young bloods such as Mary Lou Mc Donald and Pearse Doherty and Fianna Fail won’t let them out of sight until they’ve finally seen them off.

    Fianna Fail would much prefare to be facing off an aging Labour Party than a “Republican Labour” Sinn Fein. Gerry Adam’s attempts to take the Fianna Fail stance on the economy to appeal to the aspirant working class are doomed to failure and a liberal soft left strategy by SF in the south will look incongrous with Sinn Fein’s Fianna Fail style catch all appeal in the North.

    Fianna Fail ain’t like the SDLP or Labour – Sinn Fein is now facing their most formidable opponent to date in Fianna Fail and they will loose because when it comes to getting votes Fianna Fail will more effectively appeal to the cynical, hypocritical bloc of the Irish electorate for more effectively than Sinn Fein can ever aspire to.

    And also when Fianna Fail screw Sinn Fein in the south they’ll wait a few years and then come after Sinn Fein in the North. Fianna Fail always steal their opponent’s clothes and they stolen Sinn Fein’s “long game” approach to politics.

    I write this as someone who despises Fianna Fail – their supporters are not idealistic republicans, they are cynical double-thinking republicans and Sinn Fein can’t beat Fianna Fail at that game.

  • JD

    “ROI has an official say in the affairs of Non Iron via ministerial council and via Engleze government. ROI is also spending money ( 1 billion ) in the occupied territories – all good reasons for Non Iron representation in ROI parliament. I’m afraid the old free state politics to which you subscribe are no longer relevant post GFA/STA”

    I think the fact SF are trapped in a partitionist straight jacket with all their oppenents operating on a partitionist basis. I’m afraid the old republican politics to which you subscribe are no longer relevant post GFA/STA.

  • CTN

    You certainly have done your homework on Bertie’s homework re SF JD.

    Indeed were FF to keep a clean sheet and work on a replacement for Bertie in DC or get him to run there as a former Taoseach, their attempts to strangle SF in the short and long grass will bear fruit.

    Perhaps it is Adams’s greatest mistake to have thought he was the only long-termist around….

  • CTN

    Hi JD, re- “when Fianna Fail screw Sinn Fein in the south they’ll wait a few years and then come after Sinn Fein in the North”

    Do you think they will convince the northern electorate with their “cynical double-thinking” type republicanism and would they still be “operating on a partitionist basis?”

  • Cruimh

    “Do you think they will convince the northern electorate with their “cynical double-thinking” type republicanism”

    An electorate prepared to support Adams and McGuinness are dumb enough to believe anything.

  • sean og

    Pól said ”SF 1 and thats it…” and I think that really describes the arrogance of the SF mentality in a nutshell!

    Macswiney squirms in quick support, saying ”Fianna Fail’s claim to the Republican ‘legacy’ has always floundered when put to the test.” Now I don’t doubt that macswiney believes this however it clear that SF arrogance is at play. FF is “The Republican Party” and SF hate the fact that FF has been returned with a mandate by the Irish people who clearly view them as THE Republican party!

    It is just crass hypocrisy by the Shinner to try and lecture anybody about Irish Republicanism. Mandates don’t count for them. SF represents the arse end of Irish Republicanism and it is no position whatsoever to attempt to slur the good name of other parties, suggesting their Irish Republican ideology ”..has always been nothing more than an election slogan…”

    ”Sinn Fein still represent the genuine, true Republican legacy on this island.”
    How arrogant! How stupid! The majority of people on this island don’t agree but such is the contempt that SF and it’s supporters view the democratic wish of the people. SF showed it is unable to represent the “true Republican legacy on this island” when it wrongly chose to support the treasonous Provo campaign which endangered the lives of innocent men, women and children. It must really anger SF that the people of Ireland voted for a party that has more in common with the SDLP than it does with SF. A couple of hundred thousand in the North still can’t see that they are massively out of step with modern Irish political thinking in the South!

    ”…opportunities for Sinn Féin TDs to speak in the Dáil chamber will be few and far between over the next five years…”

    The people have spoken and the SF die-hards should stop embarrassing themselves by insulting the rest of their countrymen who aren’t conned by SF spin.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Sean Og

    Republicanism is not about mandates – it is about principles – because FF are bigger than SF does not make them more Republican. If Republican means anything it means uniting the the 2 parts of the island – uniting the political institutions and the people. Many would argue that SF didvided the people but that comes down to Basil Fawlty rhetoric – regarding who started the ‘War’ – you started you partitoned the country etc. FF have an apportunity to introduce a genuine Republican measure ie speaking and ultimately voting rights for non iron. The fact that they are not taking this action – shows them clearly as a non republican party – even allowing for the fact that they march up and down ouside Bodenstown once a year.

  • CTN

    Cru- you’re an awful man altogether but I do agree the electorate are susceptible and you don’t have to be Einstein to get a vote from them.

    Where is this great campaigning movement that SF claim to be- why aren’t nordies and southern SFers outside Leinster House demanding rights that Michael Collins obtained and gave to them as far back as 1922 when northerners sat in the FS parliment?

    Probably to busy spinning the latest Adams flop….

  • barnshee

    “Equally, it will be a transitional one if a significant number of northern Protestants can be won over to actively support the idea of a unitary Irish state going forward. I assume there are also in or around zero Protestant Irish nationalist MLAs and MPs. ”

    With a further 3 generations of Prods wholly alienated from a UI by SFIRA and their fellow travellers in ROI they would be much better working on the 22% (Slugger Passim) of catholics who apparently support the union

  • JD

    “Hi JD, re- “when Fianna Fail screw Sinn Fein in the south they’ll wait a few years and then come after Sinn Fein in the North”

    Do you think they will convince the northern electorate with their “cynical double-thinking” type republicanism and would they still be “operating on a partitionist basis?”

    Yes – because Sinn Fein in the North is now practicing the same double think as Fianna Fail have being doing for the last 81 years in the South. There’s obviously a lot of people that support a cynical double-thinking type republicanism that are quite happy to operate on an indefinite partitionist basis.

  • Wilde Rover

    “If Republican means anything it means uniting the the 2 parts of the island – uniting the political institutions and the people.”

    So republicanism can mean anything?

    And if I were to animate hundreds of thousands of corpses and take over the entire island in a dictatorship where the zombies patrolled the streets looking for preppy types breaching the No Sweaters Draped on Shoulders Law, could I proclaim myself the greatest republican in history for uniting the island?

    Republicanism is about a system of government, any other definition is disingenuous.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Wilde Rover

    to replace the defintion ” If Republican means anything it means uniting the the 2 parts of the island – uniting the political institutions and the people. ” on the grounds of vagueness and replace it with “Republicanism is about a system of government ” smacks of the verbal dispute between the pot and kettle with the former accusing the latter of undue blackness.

    To add in a rider that that any other definition than this wooly little number is ‘disingenuous’ is not the most powerful or speicific arguement I’ve heard in these parts.

  • Cruimh

    “Cru- you’re an awful man altogether but I do agree the electorate are susceptible and you don’t have to be Einstein to get a vote from them. ”

    as one stalwart saud, pain a tricolour to a donkey and it would get elected 😉

    Entirely unrelated – has anybody a link to a picture of Catriona wearing a tricolour ?

  • Cruimh

    Correction
    as one stalwart said, pin a tricolour to a donkey and it would get elected 😉

    Hard to type and be an orange triumphalist at the same time!

  • sean og

    Sammy,

    “Republicanism is not about mandates – it is about principles…”

    That is self-evidently true however the difficulty comes when you want to affect social change based on those principles – that’s about politics and that’s “mandates”. SF is wrong to support the Provo campaign as it had little to no endorsement by the Irish people. A minority view being forced on the majority is facism. I agree that “If Republican means anything it means uniting the the 2 parts of the island – uniting the political institutions and the people.” SF is incapable of achieving this unity as it has alienated itself from everyone else on this island. The Unionists won’t go near them ideologically and the rest of the Irish electorate has rejected them. In short, SF is part of the problem and their arrogant, hypocritical rants only serve to propagate the situation. I am saying this not looking over my shoulder at the past and about “who started it” but rather where we are going. They continue to demonstrate massively poor judgment and to have got it so wrong in the past and showing no signs of getting it right in the future means SF could never get my vote. First and foremost, Irish Republicanism reflects the ideals of the Irish people. In promoting, supporting and aligning itself with the Provos, SF has demonstrated that it is incapable of reflecting the ideals of the Irish people and consequently, is only capable of represents the worst in Irish society.

  • peadiddy

    @George

    “But as things stand now with unionism still overly reliant on a contracting Protestant population (as a percentage) to retain the current constitutional position, nothing is settled.”

    However the primary school population is less than half Catholic “community background” so any change will have to involve convincement not just waiting out a demographic game.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally

    Sean Og

    “In promoting, supporting and aligning itself with the Provos, SF has demonstrated that it is incapable of reflecting the ideals of the Irish people and consequently, is only capable of represents the worst in Irish society.”

    Funny then that they get the vote of majority of nationalists in the North. Also the only reason Sunningdale, Anglo Irish agreement or GFA/STA were on offer from the Englezes was because of Republican violence.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    peadiddy

    Where did you get this fact about the priamry school chilcren – I dont think it is consistent with the census figures? I thought that the figures showed that all age groups up until about 20 were Fenians or whatever the term for Catholic/Nationlalist ( NatCats instead of UniProds) community is. But I maybe wrong.

  • Tiny

    Ironically Sinn Fein have more MPs than TDs, that can’t be right?

  • George

    Peadiddy,
    “However the primary school population is less than half Catholic “community background” so any change will have to involve convincement not just waiting out a demographic game.”

    And Protestants make up just 40% of children under five according to the last NI census. This all goes to show that neither side can rely on on the demographic game going forward.

    While some nationalists seek solace in the demographic game, there also seems to be a belief among many unionists that the demographics are in favour of their aim – maintaining the status quo.

    But the demographics are in favour of a knife edge situation where the ideology that can convince will eventually prevail.

    At the moment, neither side has managed to convince members of the “other community” to actively “switch sides” as evidenced by the zero Catholic unionist MLAs and the zero Protestant nationalist MLAs.

    The key word here is “actively” not woolly surveys.

    That said, unionism would appear to be in the more favourable position as it is much easier to convince waiverers that it’s better to stick with the devil you know.

  • Mick Fealty

    Not sure how we got to here from the story at the top, but it might be worth quoting a passage from A Long Peace? to demonstrate something George has said, though if truth be told, constitutional change seems less imminent than a prolonged period of constitutional purgatory. Anyway, the quote:

    John Hume is said to have reserved his harshest criticism for those who hoard grievance instead of working to transform their situation.18 The lesson is relevant to unionists today.

    The challenge they face is illuminated by a simple thought experiment. Imagine a referendum is to be held in 2020, where voters will be asked whether they wish Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom or to form part of a united Ireland. By some quirk of demographics, it is known that the referendum electorate will be split precisely between Protestants and Catholics. To a man and woman, there will be as many voters who might be expected to vote for the Union as against it.

    In a sense, the strange mathematics of this parity referendum renders traditional allegiances irrelevant. What will be decisive will be those who, for whatever reason, choose not to pass through their ‘home’ lobby. In theory, only one defection would be needed to swing the vote; one Protestant voting for a united Ireland, one Catholic voting for the status quo.

    In practice, apathy could be just as important as apostasy; the absent and swing voter both up for grabs. Voters would judge the Union on how successfully it performs against possible alternatives. They would be swayed by the relative performance of leaders associated with the unionist and nationalist causes. The attractiveness of Great Britain and the Republic as partners would also be compared.

    In the privacy of the voting booth, a number of questions would come into play but, as in peacetime elections across the world, ‘what’s in it for me and my family?’ would probably be dominant. And on the sofa at home, when deciding whether to go out and vote, something even more basic: ‘do I really care?’

  • The Dubliner

    Mick, I agree with that. The questions folks will ask on the long walk to the voting booth (and long before they leave the house) won’t be just big questions related to their sense of nationality: a lot of them will be little questions such as, “What will happen to my investments in UK saving schemes, stocks, etc, that are subject to UK residency, when I am no longer a UK resident?” In the end, it’ll probably all depend on the little questions.

  • sean og

    sammy,

    A majority of nationalists in the North is still a minority of Irish Republicans on the island and around the world. Give it up sammy, you’re starting to sound obsessive. SF represents the worst in Irish society. I don’t wish to be accused of whataboutery but I’m sure you can guess all the atrocities arrogantly and treasonously committed by the Provos in the name of Ireland. If you are able to ignore all of that and pretend it never happened, then it speaks volumes for the type of Irish Republican you are. Thankfully there are more of us on this island who don’t think that way and that is why SF remain in a minority part of the problem.

    ===============================================================================

    mick,

    I think the “what’s in it for me” question is going to become increasingly more relevant in future elections North and South. SF misjudged the Southern election because Southerners are more concerned about health, housing, policing etc than they are with constitutional reform. Sure, it would be nice if a UI came along without costing them too much financially but in the meantime, there are more pressing issues to be dealt with. SF didn’t get this and was caught believing it’s own spin. Reduced speaking rights in the Dáil for SF is simply more proof that a dog can’t serve two masters.

  • Cruimh

    “Funny then that they get the vote of majority of nationalists in the North.”

    questionable claim, unless you think that there are less than 400,000 nationalists in NI ‘It was Sammy Mc Nally’

  • The Dubliner

    Sean Og, I don’t think folks in the south are concerned about the short-term costs, understanding the long-term advantages of the increased economy of scale. Either way, I don’t think the cost matters that much. There is a sense of duty to the Irish who were separated from the south in 1922 that transcends all of that. It’s never been about the territory, anyway. Why else would they have stayed interested during three decades of unrelenting atrocities? Anyway, we’ll find out the state of play when it actually comes into play – whenever a referendum on unity is called.

    While I don’t see a ‘no’ vote in the south at any point in the future, a consenting vote from a majority of nationalists in the north shouldn’t be taken for granted. If the little questions aren’t answered to their satisfaction, they’ll figure a ‘no’ vote is reversible (subject to another referendum at not less than seven year intervals), whilst a ‘yes’ vote is final.

    The only certainty is that PSF willl continue to prostitute the issue for every last vote they can get out of it – with no regard to the damage they’ve done and do to it.

  • Cruimh

    “While I don’t see a ‘no’ vote in the south at any point in the future, a consenting vote from a majority of nationalists in the north shouldn’t be taken for granted. If the little questions aren’t answered to their satisfaction, they’ll figure a ‘no’ vote is reversible (subject to another referendum at not less than seven year intervals), whilst a ‘yes’ vote is final.”

    Interesing point.

  • Wilde Rover

    It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    I was merely trying to point out that under your definition any form of government, dictatorship, monarchy, etc, could be labelled republican if it united the island.

    If Gerry Adams proclaimed himself King of the island he would still be a republican under your definition. It seems to me that a republican king would be something of a misnomer.

    I think United Irelandism would be a more suitable definition.

  • Mick Fealty

    Just to add, despite some repeatedly fevered speculation here, the parity referendum is a very long way off. But earlier, we repeated Miyamoto Musashi’s advice that ‘In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.’

    It’s advice that was proffered directly to unionists at the time, but as with much of the book, it is just as applicable to any of the political players in Northern Ireland.

  • Cruimh

    I suspect, if we are going oriental, that Sun Tzu was the role model :

    Local spies, internal spies, double spies, dead spies, and living spies.

    When all five are used, and no one knows their Way, it is called the divine organization, and is the ruler’s treasure.

    For local spies, we use the enemy’s people.

    For internal spies we use the enemy’s officials.

    For double spies we use the enemy’s spies.

    For dead spies we use agents to spread misinformation to the enemy.

    For living spies, we use agents to return with reports.

    http://www.sonshi.com/sun13.html

  • sean og

    Dubliner,

    It is clear from the elections in the South that the electorate there are happy in their own skin. They are comfortable about their national identity and though they would like to see Irish unification, there are more pressing matters at the moment for them. I am not suggesting that tey don’t want a UI because of concerns about the short-term costs, rather, they are more concerned about health issues, local affordable housing, high taxes etc Now I agree that there is a “a sense of duty to the Irish who were separated from the south” but a key questions is how strong that sense of duty is felt in the South. Going off recent results, it’s not as strong as some of us might think! Let’s face it, it’s only SF that thinks it speaks for true “Irish Republicans” but the electorate thinks otherwise. How ironic that it’s now the SDLP that appears to be more in keeping with Southern Republican thinking than SF!

  • CTN

    Cru and JD- I accept your points FF could be viable in the teddys head.

  • Cruimh

    “in the teddys head”

    Eh ?

    I’d like to see FF organise up here

  • CTN

    Can’t see them organising there for a good while yet Cru.

    As this thread is now exhausted I won’t be making any further contributions and can’t reply to any comments on my blogs- over and out…

  • jpeters

    i agree would be nice to see a injection of new blood into the constitional nationalist ranks.

    then we could see if SF has a genuine appeal to its newest voters

    i have always thought (more accurately hoped) that there was something in SF being voted for as a measure by the electorate to keep them on the straight and narrow

  • lib2016

    The usual repetitive waffle about the need for a referendum ensuring continued unionist dominance doesn’t finish the argument.

    The UK is under huge stress and may not be around for much longer and in any case the North-South bodies will become the de-facto government of Ireland long before a referendum becomes necessary.

    The legal position was that the Brits claimed possession of Ireland, all of Ireland, right up until a few years ago when the 1920 Act was repealed. The facts on the ground were totally different as we all know.

    Who cares whether some nonentity resides in Hillsborough and calls himself Governor, Lord Lieutenant or Secretary of State? The border is vanishing and SF is growing steadily North and South.

  • Cruimh

    “SF is growing steadily North and South.”

    LOL!

  • lib2016

    Cruimh,

    I’ve been surprised by the extent to which the results of the last election have been a wakeup call. Several people have volunteered to me their intention to support SF at the next election, some of whom I really had written off as hopeless reactionaries like your goodself which made it doubly pleasant.

    It’s easy to check whether the overall SF vote has grown and of course it has as you well know. What is more important is the continuing emergence of committed young candidates at local level.

    The Greens and the PD’s were equally squeezed in the General Election. The real test will be in the next local elections when scare tactics about the national economy won’t work.

  • Cruimh

    lib – SF support can hardly be classed as having grown in the ROI – you lost a TD and the only reason your vote count increased slightly was because you stood a lot more candidates.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    The constitutonal issue is probably the biggest driver in determining the way people vote in non-iron. In the ROI it is the economy – with Republican issues currently off the agenda. The only party peddaling republican principles are clearly SF with a majority of Northern nationalist ( who vote ) voting for SF. The talk about their being another mysterious group of ‘real’ Republicans down south somewhere who take bugger all interest in matters relating to Non Iron and dont even favour the Non Ironers having voting rights in the Dail sounds like Engleze Labour party spin at its worst.