Is Sinn Fein the prospective meat in Bertie’s sangwich?

There is little doubt that Bertie Ahern has set the cat amongst the pigeons with his announcement that his party will look to organise in Northern Ireland. I’ve laid out a few extended thoughts on Comment is Free. Paul thinks that cross border developments of all kinds on and between these islands are good (and inevitably limited) and that Sir Reg should probably ‘chill’, or even seek out his own East West partnerships. And in AOB, Mitchel McLaughlin still wants his northern mandate recognised in the south (a measure of how unprepared they were for this change of tack?).

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  • The Dubliner

    “If there were peaceful means to pursue a two state solution with a redrawn border then I would agree that violence would be unnecessary. If there were no such avenue then violence would be necessary to ensure a just arrangement.

    As I said, a Bosnia or Belgium type of arrangement outside a united Ireland is a possibility I might accept. Of course I would want things to be as peaceful as possible.” – FiniteDrone

    It is, as I said and as you agree, a requirement that violence with the aim of self-determination should only be used in the absence of a peaceful means. It is, however, also a requirement that you first establish that you have a valid claim ethno-political to self-determination which would warrant the creation of a nation state. You have failed to do this.

    To do this you must establish that you are (a) an ethno-political group with a distinct culture and identity (b) that you do not have a nation state, and (c) that your claim to a nation state does not conflict with an existing claim by the indigenous people to the territory wherein you declare your nation state to be. If you claim to be British, you will find that your nation state already exists; and that, ergo, your claim is invalid. If you do not claim to be British but claim to be some other ethno-political group (such as Ulster-Scots), then you will find that the indigenous people have a prior claim to the territory.

    So, it’s a case of your claim having no legitimacy whatsoever; and any violent means you wish to use to peruse it will simply be violence used to serve a demented, self-serving agenda – and will be treated as such in law (both local and international).

    “FiniteDrone introduced respectable research data from NILT which demonstrates that NI Protestants dislike UI intensely and that tolerance for the Union, even after all NI nationalists have been through, is unexpectedly high amongst Catholics. Simple enough. Not conclusive proof of any future outcome, but definitely that Nationalism has a popularity problem outside its own ranks, in a way that Unionism does not.” – Mick Fealty

    Or else it demonstrates that people become complacent with the status quo, rather than with the concept of unionism. The Principle of Consent was introduced in the GFA, but it is a fallacy to assume that the Act that legislates for it cannot be repealed by parliament were the Irish and British governments to decide to unite the country at some future point (such as the breakup of the Union or the UK taxpayer no longer wishing to subsidise it) as both governments would be within their democratic rights to do that. I saw unity coming about by agreement between both governments as it properly should have done, rather than by ceding the decision to an illegitimate entity. But that, of course, wasn’t what the two nationalist parties (of that generation) decided to do.

    So, although the PoC is the current dynamic, it is a mistake to confuse its status with static. Unionists got lucky with the GFA negotiations due to a weakness in PSF’s and the SDLP’s political skills in conceding it. It may well be that the PoC is the factor that ensures that Northern Ireland remains British for the foreseeable future, perhaps permanently. If so, then it will merely serve to obscure the underlying reality that one tribe in the north has a legitimate claim to self-determination and the other does not. And that will come back into play in due course as another generation doesn’t feel obliged to be bound by the expedient actions of the proceeding one. So, in reality, there is only one solution which is workable; all others are periods of peace between sectarian strife. If unionists can’t be persuaded to unify within a generation, then they’ll just have to be unified by governmental action.

  • you all have it comming
  • Mick Fealty

    Obj,

    “…the partisan nature of some of your interjections.”

    When someone is clipped, that is nearly always cited as the ‘defence’. It’s an easy allegation to make but, even it were true, it is also a poor one when it’s made by or or on behalf of people who are in flagrant breach of the site’s cardinal rule: play the ball and not the man.

    All I am asking for is civility and application to the job of taking on one’s opponent’s views fairly and squarely to task. Calling someone a thug because they earnestly feel they would go back to war under certain circumstances, is a clear breach of that rule: whichever way you cut it.

    Note there has been no talk from me of Yellow Cards. But rather it seems to me that too many people just don’t understand what an ad hominem argument (i.e. an non argument) actually is.

    Everyone who posts on here is a guest and they are all of them welcome, regardless of their politics (thuggish or otherwise). Too often I’ve seen commenters try to enforce political norms or consensuses by ridiculing their opponents (rather than their opinions), or, as in this case claim that the persons politics are so far beyond the Pale is it okay to suspend the rule and attack him personally.

    More often the offences are just too minor and trivial to draw down ‘the wrath of Mick’ directly, but the cumulative effect of such systemic incivility is to dissuade people with specific knowledge sets out and lock the ‘one opinion for everything’ barflies in.

  • willowfield

    What does FF actually stand for?

    What motivates anyone to join it – I don’t mean those with political ambitions, but “average Joe” members in the constituency parties?

    I pose the same question about FG.

    I can understand what Labour stands for, and the PDs, Greens and Provos, but not FF and FG. What relevance does the Civil War have in Southern Irish politics today?

  • Diluted Orange

    [i]To say that 50%+1 is too simple to be an accptable solution but to insist that nationalists live every day in defeat under such a formula is hardly a recipe for stability or for convincing your opponents. [/i]

    When did I say this? I agree with the principle of consent – I was pointing out that I don’t think that we’ll ever get to a position where there will be a 50-50 split, along the lines of half want to remain in the UK and the other half want to amalgamate with the RoI, not just because of the plain demographics not being there but also because of other numerous factors which all point to more people wanting to maintain partition rather than abolish it.

    By the way, I’m still waiting for you to provide me with some facts which prove that plenty more Catholics emigrated from NI than Protestants did.

    Folk have, wrongly, claimed IMO that if people vote with their wallets in mind then it would be for a UI. What absolute folly. If people vote for a UI, they’ll be voting for uncertainty, which is on the whole an irrational way to act. In short peple know when they’ve got it good, so why change?

  • willowfield

    THE DUBLINER

    GEORGE: Today, in 2007, if a majority of the people in the Republic voted in a free and democratic election to join the UK then those who advocated violence to prevent such an eventuality would be terrorists, plain and simple.” – George

    THE DUBLINER: Totally disagree, George. Self-determination is an inalienable right to every citizen

    You don’t seem to understand literally what self-determination is. It means a people determining for itself how it should be governed and within what state. If the Irish people self-determine to be part of the UK, then that is the expression of their self-determination. It is entirely their choice to make that decision – having that choice is the whole point.

    And self-determination is not a right “to every citizen”: it is a collective, not an individual, right. Individual citizens cannot determine for themselves separately and distinctly from the general will of the people of which they are merely an individual member.

    This doesn’t contradict statements that the will of the 50+1 % of NI voters should be respected since there is no opposing claim to self-determination made by unionists that is valid. Those who identify themselves as British already have a nation state, i.e. Great Britain. The actual claim made by unionists is invalid because it is actually a claim for a second nation state – a home away from home, if you like. 😉

    Nonsense. Self-determination means just that: determining for oneself. Every people has the right to determine whether it wants to be independent or to belong to a new state or to continue to belong to an existing state or whatever. Peoples have as much right to determine AGAINST independence as for it.

    It is, however, also a requirement that you first establish that you have a valid claim ethno-political to self-determination which would warrant the creation of a nation state. You have failed to do this. To do this you must establish that you are (a) an ethno-political group with a distinct culture and identity (b) that you do not have a nation state, and (c) that your claim to a nation state does not conflict with an existing claim by the indigenous people to the territory wherein you declare your nation state to be.

    You’re making up (b) and (c). Under (b), there is no basis for nationalists in NI to self-determine to become part of the republic, as there already is an Irish “nation state”. Also, under (c), there is no basis for nationalists in NI to self-determine to become part of the republic, because such an assertion conflicts with another indigenous people in the territory.

    READER

    Others, on pro and anti sides of the fence, may see FD’s two-nation argument as less convincing than a two-state argument based on ‘identity’, which I think is a more realistic term than ‘nation’ these days.

    Correct. “Nation” is just a more assertive way of describing a people with a common identity, loaded as it is with a presumption of cultural superiority (and hence the exclusive possession of the right of self-determination) over a people not so described, who are presumed to be less “legitimate” than the people described as a “nation”.

  • willowfield

    HARRY

    And more, what suits you does not suit us. Unionism – whether of old or in attempts to repartition – is not in our national interest. Our national interest is to unite our country, even if it means defeating you. Sorry if that doesn’t suit you – it suits us.

    You won’t be surprised if the unionist reaction to that is “fuck off”. Unionists don’t care about your so-called “national interest” – they care about their own interests and they take the same attitude to Southerners wishing to “defeat” them, as Southerners did to the British wishing to “defeat” them in the British “national interest”.

    I have never rally understood why unionists seek to cast everything in terms of religion.

    They’re just being honest and recognising that the ethnic division in Ireland is one essentially based on religious affiliation. Of course there are many individual exceptions, but in essence and in general terms it is true.

    It suits nationalists to pretend that it is otherwise, but in reality nationalism (in NI) is a movement of Catholics and its aim is to further the interests of the Catholic population (notwithstanding the fact that they now refer to them as the “nationalist population”).

    I believe unionists are a national minority who have been pampered for centuries into believing they are entitled to nationhood at the expense of the much greater numbers of people around them.

    Um, unionists are a majority among the people around them!

    1. I do not assert that unionists suffer from ‘false consciousness’ as some would say.

    2. I believe unionism is a poison which has been injected and sustained in the body politic of this island by a british state which sought to use it as a proxy for achieving its aims on this sialnd.

    You’re contradicting yourself.

  • Harry

    I don’t care willowfield if unionists tell me to fuck off. It’s hardly surprising is it? An entirely predictable reaction from a bunch of bullies who have been molly-coddled by a larger power into evading treating their neighbours with the respect they deserve. Unionisms smugness and aggressiveness has got less to to do with its legitimacy than it has to do with being armed to the teeth and being able to push people around. A colonial story to be seen the world over. Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for your children and grandchildren) those days are coming to an end.

    the ethnic division in Ireland is one essentially based on religious affiliation
    No its not. It’s based on colonising gaelic ireland via anglicisation. It is british guns and british money which sustains the ethnic division of ireland; religion is the demarcation along which this occurs but it is not the base cause. Religious sectarianism suits the british agenda but it does not suit the republican one. Because it suits the british the unionists therefore cling onto it as a form of self-justification. At base unionism’s hatred of catholicism is a sleight of hand that could easily have worked out in a different way if the context had been other than colonial.

    What we have is an argument over land. Unfortunately for you lot these particular indians weren’t forced back onto reservations (though you tried). Your efforts at colonisation have failed. Your hatred based on fear and supremacism are nakedly clear. The illegitimacy of your claims are evident to all except yourselves. You are a minority, one which attempts to assymetrically pervert the proper course and life of our nation through waving guns about, encouraged in this by a colonial guarantor who uses you to keep our country weak for fear we may compromise its power by being allowed to develop freely.

    As for Diluted Orange – I foresee an ever increasing nervous breakdown as he realises his rationalisations are progessively falling apart.

  • Turgon

    Paddy Reilly,
    “Equally, in the (hopefully wholly fictitious) scenario of you being found wandering round Vilnius is a state of schizophrenia”

    It is pretty clear that you have little understanding of schizophrenia. Making childish insulting remarks about people with mental illness is pretty low. Do you want to laugh at people with cancer as well?

    Also since I have a British passport one might assume in your hypothesis that I would be send to Heathrow.

    Turning back to the substantive point it remains a rteality that many many unionists feel British. Some also feel Irish some (such as me) do not.

    I have travelled a fair bit in Europe and Africa and have yet to find anyone in other countries concerned or disbelieving about my being British and living in Northern Ireland. The reality of course is that most foreigners have little interest in our affairs and usually have the courtsey to accept a persons self identification of belonging.

    Harry,
    I am concerned about your Mugabe like language. Since the majority of the poeple in NI and RoI have accepted the principle of consent I find these biazzare comments about land worrying. In your United Ireland niavarna do you intend to throw unionists off their land? Which bit of the blessed soil of Ireland have you earmarked to take for yourself?

    These comments sound like those of the worst of the cheerleaders for IRA terrorism. I trust you can confirm your opposition to murder and violence?

  • willowfield

    I don’t care willowfield if unionists tell me to fuck off. It’s hardly surprising is it? An entirely predictable reaction from a bunch of bullies who have been molly-coddled by a larger power into evading treating their neighbours with the respect they deserve. Unionisms smugness and aggressiveness has got less to to do with its legitimacy than it has to do with being armed to the teeth and being able to push people around. A colonial story to be seen the world over. Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for your children and grandchildren) those days are coming to an end.

    You epitomise the chauvinistic nature of Irish nationalism. A determination, borne out of a culture of self-pity, to assert cultural superiority over a people you neither respect nor understand, and have no desire to understand. You don’t even see that the “aggression” is coming from you, with your language of “defeating” unionists, your dismissal of their legitimate identity and attitude of superiority. At best you represent a mirror image of the “smugness and aggressiveness” that you condemn.

    ”the ethnic division in Ireland is one essentially based on religious affiliation “
    No its [sic] not.

    Yes, it is. There is an almost absolute correlation between religious affiliation and ethnic identity in NI. To deny that is preposterous.

    It’s based on colonising gaelic ireland via anglicisation. It is british guns and british money which sustains the ethnic division of ireland; religion is the demarcation along which this occurs but it is not the base cause.

    The cause of division is two separate ethnic groups with competing political and “national” wills. That is the reality today and people today have the right to their identity, their right to maintain a common identity and the right to determine their destiny. What happened 400 years ago and more does not alter that. You have no right to dismiss and “defeat” another people on the basis that you believe your ancestry to be longer established than unionists’ ancestry.

    Religious sectarianism suits the british agenda but it does not suit the republican one. Because it suits the british the unionists therefore cling onto it as a form of self-justification. At base unionism’s hatred of catholicism is a sleight of hand that could easily have worked out in a different way if the context had been other than colonial.

    Now you’re conflating an acknowledgement that the ethnic division cuts along religious lines with sectarianism.

    What we have is an argument over land. Unfortunately for you lot these particular indians weren’t forced back onto reservations (though you tried). Your efforts at colonisation have failed. Your hatred based on fear and supremacism are nakedly clear. The illegitimacy of your claims are evident to all except yourselves. You are a minority, one which attempts to assymetrically pervert the proper course and life of our nation through waving guns about, encouraged in this by a colonial guarantor who uses you to keep our country weak for fear we may compromise its power by being allowed to develop freely.

    Listen to yourself: “Land”, “colonisation”, “the illegitimacy of your claims”, “the proper course and life of our nation” … You belong in a different century.

    People living today cannot be denied legitimacy and rights on the basis of your attribution of blame on them for events for which you believe their ancestors of hundreds of years ago were responsible.

    Yours is a campaign for ethnic “victory” based essentially on hatred of the “other”. Your language gives you away.

  • willowfield

    Above directed at Harry.

  • Harry

    Turgon: “I am concerned about your Mugabe like language…In your United Ireland niavarna do you intend to throw unionists off their land?”
    Cop yourself on. Your characterisation of the things I have said is the least interesting, the least accurate and (unsurprisingly) the least generous you could give. I have engaged throughout this thread with a plethora of ideas and perspectives. Your response is dull and mean. Same goes for willowfield and his deliberate and overwrought misunderstanding. It is clear that unionists will not give the steam off their piss intellectually speaking to any claim by nationalsim even after 4 centuries until they are forced to do so through political strength. Hermetically sealed and self-serving, as ever.

    wiffowfield, the single largest religious group in Holland is catholic, yet it is a country with a significantly protestant ethos. Are they two separate ethnicities? In France the catholic church keeps its head down in matters of politics ever since their bishops were strung up during the revolution – is it a catholic country politically?
    Religion by no means necessarily equates to ethnicity though it may be a useful demarcation by a colonial power when attempting colonisation. Take a look at Iraq as we speak, where the anglo-american murderers are attempting to create a religiously sectarian society as a means to divide and rule. Ireland too falls into this category and it is no coincidence that the british keep talking about using n. ireland as a template for conceptualisng (read colonising) Iraq. As Billy Pilgrim said, context is everything.

    Now go and get some work done you eternal waffler.

  • slug

    Reading this discussion and the negativity shown towards my tradition reminds me of how happy I am to remain in the UK.

  • Harry

    yes, another self-serving answer that disregards the culture and political rights of those 800,000 irish people corralled to this day in n. ireland. Do any of you have anything intelligent or more wide-ranging to say other than “I’m glad i live in the UK” or “you’re an IRA apologist ((grr, grr)”?

  • CTN

    All necrolantrists should be aware that the mere sacrificing of their own lives will not guarantee the preferred political outcome for which they aspire to be martyred.

    Many fallen loyalists couldn’t prevent “Sunningdale for slow learners” being implemented, nor has republicanism’s fallen dead yet achieved unity…

  • Diluted Orange

    [i](the ethnic division in Ireland is one essentially based on religious affiliation) [/i]

    [i]No its not. It’s based on colonising gaelic ireland via anglicisation. It is british guns and british money which sustains the ethnic division of ireland; religion is the demarcation along which this occurs but it is not the base cause.[/i]

    Anyone who tries to argue that divisions in Ireland are not ultimately down to a straight fight between Catholicism and Protestantism is deluding themselves.

    Ours is not an ethnic conflict – there is and has never been an ethnic differential between Unionists and Nationalists. Do you think that all those Lowland Scots just started to come over when James I clicked his fingers and decided to clear the way for a few plantations? The fact is that the Irish and Scots are ethnically and culturally almost identical, if you don’t believe me have a good look at the Irish Gaelic and Socts Gaelic languages and note the remarkable similarities. Nevermind considering the common aspects of traditional music and dance. They are essentially the same band of Celts that were driven northwards and westwards from what is now known as England by the Romans and the Angles. The North-East of Ireland has always been strongly linked with the West coast of Scotland due to its proximity and migration and trade between the 2 points was common-place in ancient times.

    You contest that Ireland was a ‘nation’ for millennia before the ‘colonialism’ came – this is just a ridiculous myth. Ireland, like Scotland, was a cultural back-water, the only loyalties people had were individualistic and towards their own clan, there was never a colective sense of nationhood – only a collective sense of defiance once the Plantations happened.

    Then religion was added to the mix as Ireland became the next frontier between Catholicism and Protestantism. The plantations were a delayed reaction by James I and Elizabeth I to instill a Protestant ethos into the Irish but by this point the battle had been mostly won. Roman Catholic monks and missionaries who had been sent from countries such as Spain to convert the ‘natives’ had been around not so long before the English came to town. The rest is history and our conflict right up until the present day just plainly manifests itself as a tussle between competing religious ideologies.

  • Mick Fealty

    Civility guys, civility! Your feelings are besides the point, it’s your thoughts that most interesting to the outside reader.

  • slug

    “yes, another self-serving answer that disregards the culture and political rights of those 800,000 irish people corralled to this day in n. ireland. Do any of you have anything intelligent or more wide-ranging to say other than “I’m glad i live in the UK” or “you’re an IRA apologist ((grr, grr)”?”

    Actually I didn’t say the second of those.
    Corralled, eh?

  • willowfield

    HARRY

    wiffowfield, the single largest religious group in Holland is catholic, yet it is a country with a significantly protestant ethos. Are they two separate ethnicities? In France the catholic church keeps its head down in matters of politics ever since their bishops were strung up during the revolution – is it a catholic country politically?

    No, in the Netherlands there is no ethnic division based on religion, and no-one said that there was. No-one said that ethnic division is always based on religion, just as no-one said it is always based on language or anything else. Nor did anyone say that where there exists more than one religious group that therefore there must be an ethnic division between those religious groups. But in Northern Ireland, there is an ethnic division. Just as there is no ethnic division in Spain based on religion. But in Bosnia, there is.

    Religion by no means necessarily equates to ethnicity though it may be a useful demarcation by a colonial power when attempting colonisation.

    Nobody said it necessarily equates to ethnicity. In NI, however, it does: not “necessarily”, but because those who are Protestant generally perceive themselves to be culturally (and therefore ethnically) distinct from those who are RC, and vice-versa (even if the latter are less inclined – but only less so – to use a religious label). And you cannot separate that cultural distinctiveness entirely from religion, because religion was one of the causes and features of the distinctiveness.

    DILUTED ORANGE

    It is an ethnic conflict: ethnicity is about identity and culture, of which religion is an important element. It’s not about race or genetics or DNA.

    Objectively, there may be little for an outsider to distinguish culturally between Protestants/unionists and RCs/nationalists, but what matters is how these groups perceive themselves: and they perceive themselves to be different and cling on to those differences as being very important.

    “Racially”, there is little difference between Croats and Serbs, but it would be ludicrous to say they are not ethnically separate.

    You perceive the conflict as a tussle between two religious ideologies: it would be more accurate to describe it as a tussle between two religious groups, as it was about more than theology. Each religious group, however, had and has different cultural attributes which were and are as important in terms of identity as religion. These cultural attributes (including religion) amount to ethnicity.

  • Forecast

    ‘Now go and get some work done you eternal waffler.’

    Surprised that he has got time for any work what with all his oppressing and being a brutish coloniser and part of a sectarian proxy war.

    Must fit in stemming the font of pure gaelic industriousness, culture and holding back the Irish nation from its glorious unified potential whilst on his lunch break I suppose.

  • Harry

    Another profound point made. Nationalism is a form of ‘catholic extremism’, founded on ‘self-pity’, etc. etc. Let me try to guess the next alleged truism to pop up – catholics don’t study science and engineering perhaps, just the arts?

    Your insights are fascinating.

  • Turgon

    Harry,
    “Cop yourself on. Your characterisation of the things I have said is the least interesting, the least accurate and (unsurprisingly) the least generous you could give. I have engaged throughout this thread with a plethora of ideas and perspectives. Your response is dull and mean.”

    No I simply want an explanation of your claims that we have taken your land. Do you want to drive people off the land? Do you support killing unionists as a means of driving forward your “national agenda” if they refused to accept the place you deign to give them? Do you accept the principle of consent? A simple No to these questions would suffice. Instead we have had an aviodance of the issue and bringing in alledged analogies to the Netherlands.

  • Dewi

    Enjoyed that Willowfield, interesting analysis. It’s tribal and the symbols, identities, languages, religion and indeed loyalties of tribes change over time.

    A vibrant, capitalist United Ireland seems to fit in well with the ethos of your lot, a better fit perhaps than to the needs of the Falls Road.

    What does absolutely bewilder me, however, is this British thing. What does British mean ?

  • PaddyReilly

    It is pretty clear that you have little understanding of schizophrenia. Making childish insulting remarks about people with mental illness is pretty low.

    This scenario did actually happen to someone I know, a barrister who was visiting the Philippines. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which subsided after a few weeks. My comment was that since he only had the one episode, it was probably caused by an inflammation of the brain resulting from a bite by a tropical insect. My remark was not intended to be insulting, such things can happen to anybody. If this does not satisfy you, substitute amnesia or aphasia for schizophrenia.

    Also since I have a British passport one might assume in your hypothesis that I would be send to Heathrow.

    No, in my imaginary scenario the passport has been lost or stolen. This, you may find, is a common occurrence. If there was a chance you might have to walk home from the airport, would you prefer to do so from Dublin or London?

  • Harry

    No I simply want an explanation of your claims that we have taken your land.
    Are you really so clueless as to not understand the territorial nature of this conflict – indeed of most conflicts? From street to street, constituency to constituency, arguments over state borders to the political writs of state parliaments – it’s about land. Britain is over there but it wants to intervene and have the right to influence events over here – why? Because of the strategic position and political potential of our land. The european union is uniting all the countries of europe but is not includinh Chile in this process, at least not for the time being – why? Because the countries of europe are geographically contiguous – land is central to the political and economic consderations of the EU. Israel and Palestine are fighting – why? Over land and the question of whose political writ shall run over what areas, not to mention the geographical importance of areas containg water for questions of economic development and poltical security.

    Land – it is central. And no, it doesn’t mean kicking people off the land they occupy, it means changing the poltical status quo. But then you already knew that, or should have if you have a shred of intellectual honesty.

  • George

    Dubliner,
    Self-determination is an inalienable right to every citizen; and, as such, isn’t subject to the whims of the majority. In other words, if 50+1 % of Mexicans voted to become Chinese, adopting their politics, economics and culture, etc, their vote wouldn’t overrule the inalienable right of indigenous people of Mexico to express their culture and to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The Mexicans who wished to retain their culture would still be entitled to self-determination (a nation state) under international law.

    Naturally if the determination of the majority was to obliterate the culture, economy etc of the minority then all bets are off.

    But if it’s a case of moving from one democracy, with all the attached political, economic and cultural freedoms, to another that will attempt to cherish equally these political, economic and cultural freedoms, then that’s a different story.

    I feel like I have been ruled by FF all my life and want something different but the Irish people have determined that fate for me, just like Ireland’s ever closer links with the EU etc.

    You can’t cherry pick democracy and voting for the obliteration of a minority culture would not be democracy.

    If the plan of a unified Irish state was to launch an all-out assault on the Protestant culture of Ulster then we would not be looking at democracy in action.

    If, however, the plan is to create a modern, pluralist, vibrant democratic Republic where the rights and cultures of all are cherished equally then we would.

    Equally, if the Irish people freely determine in future that their political status should be as a member of a federal British and Irish Republic, for example where the Irish were free to pursue their economic, social and cultural development then who am I to take up arms against them?

    This doesn’t contradict statements that the will of the 50+1 % of NI voters should be respected since there is no opposing claim to self-determination made by unionists that is valid. Those who identify themselves as British already have a nation state, i.e. Great Britain. The actual claim made by unionists is invalid because it is actually a claim for a second nation state – a home away from home, if you like. 😉

    I will try and formulate an answer to that one although I will be putting myself in someone else’s shoes:

    Unionists are not asking for a second nation state, they are asking to remain in the one they are already in, the one they feel “freely determines their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”. They are part of what they consider the British nation.

    In my view, the departure of the majority of the Irish nation and the resultant partition of the island has left us in a bit of a mess as the UK looks to draw its strength from being a union of nations – constituent parts rather than a single whole.

    While the English, Scottish and Welsh are still happily English, Scottish and Welsh members of a British nation, unionists, in order to justify their continued membership of the British nation although the rest of the Irish nation/population of Ireland have either left or want out, have been forced/have decided to leave Irishness behind them and try and forge a new simply Britishness.

    But as Dewi asks, what does British mean? Is it a means of protecting your English, Scottish and Welsh culture or is it the culture itself?

  • willowfield

    Harry

    Another profound point made. Nationalism is a form of ‘catholic extremism’, founded on ‘self-pity’, etc. etc. Let me try to guess the next alleged truism to pop up – catholics don’t study science and engineering perhaps, just the arts?

    I’m not sure at whom this comment was directed, but speaking for myself, I never stated or implied that nationalism generally was a form of Catholic extremism. I do, however, hold that the form of nationalism put forward by you is merely a form of ethnic chauvinism and, yes, I do believe it is founded, at least in part, on self pity: your posts reveal to me that your views and attitudes are formed with reference particularly to events of centuries ago by which you perceive your ancestors suffered and were humiliated and from which partly you derive your own sense of self. Further, you attach blame for these historical events to those living today whom you perceive to be the ancestors of colonisers. The language that you use when discussing these events and the people today whom you blame does, sadly, indicate a hatred.

    Britain is over there but it wants to intervene and have the right to influence events over here – why? Because of the strategic position and political potential of our land.

    Britain (the island) is “over there”, but the UK is here. NI is part of the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, by the consent of its people.

  • Turgon

    Paddy reilly,
    “If this does not satisfy you, substitute amnesia or aphasia for schizophrenia.”

    That is fine I accept amnesia though if I had aphasia and had no passport how would I tell someone where I was from unless I could write in which case UK or Northern Ireland would seem to suffice. If I had amnesia how would I know whether I was British, Irish or anything else. I suspect people from the Phillipines would have difficulty making distinctions on the basis of accent.

    In terms of walking. Had I managed to get to either Dublin or Heathrow one presumes I could make it to Belfast from either using a more rapid form of transport than walking.

    Harry,
    So you have accepted that unionists need not be thrown off their land. I note however, you make no comment about the validity of consent as accepted by the people of RoI and NI (are you one of those or an outsider telling people what to do from a distance)? More worryingly I am still waiting for you to assure me that violence is not a legitimate way of “defeating” unionists.

  • Sean

    Turgon
    A great deal of the posts on this thread are about loyalists or atleast one loyalist who threatens to take up violence because he does not accept the validity of consent if the results arent what he wants. So there would be no need to assert his acceptance of the validity of consent as most nationalists have already agreed to the validity of consent

  • Harry

    Two unionist responses that can be characterised as dull and deadening rather than vibrant and engaging. Telling. Therein lies much of the tone of unionism – it seeks to keep us back and hold us down rather than move forward. It must do so as an inevitability, for conservatism and refusal to budge from the status quo is the best guarantee it feels for the maintenance of its position. This is true across the island as much as it is for unionism – Fianna Fáil are profoundly conservative and even now choose carefully where they will be radical while remaining determinedly conservative in many, many things. Indeed Fianna Fáil are frequently radical where they should be conservative and conservative where they should be radical. They are radical in a level of immigration that is almost unsurpassed anywhere in the world – interestingly the multi-culturalism resulting from this immigration will be carried on in the lingua franca of English and will constitute a definitve anglicisation of southern society. Funny how those who rule the south find no problem in being radical when it comes to pursuing objectives favourable to and traditionally associated with British objectives on this island but remain staunchly conservative in their approach to anything gaelic or republican – just imagine if a fraction of the radical change experienced via immigration were implemented in the realm of revitalisng the Irish language. Strangely enough (or not) we see no such radicalism by the southern government in the pursuit of revitalisng the language. Lip service and precious little else, as usual.

    Partition is the ground and cause of the conservatism and deadening impulse north and south, amongst northern unionists and southern conservative nationalists. Partition stunts and thwarts our potential but gombeens like Fianna Fáil and their counterparts in Whitehall don’t care, for they pursue their objectives and their advantage regardless of the damage it does island-wide.

  • slug

    “While the English, Scottish and Welsh are still happily English, Scottish and Welsh members of a British nation, unionists, in order to justify their continued membership of the British nation although the rest of the Irish nation/population of Ireland have either left or want out, have been forced/have decided to leave Irishness behind them and try and forge a new simply Britishness.”

    Interesting but totally at odds with my experience. NI unionists have always felt distinctive from other elements in the UK, i.e. I don’t know any NI person who feels that their identity is reducible to Britishness; there is a clear NI element which is perhaps for many the primary identity. I think people value this aspect of the UK set up: as it allows the NI identity to have its own place within a larger union of related identities. It works really well for us.

  • Erasmus

    You contest that Ireland was a ‘nation’ for millennia before the ‘colonialism’ came – this is just a ridiculous myth. Ireland, like Scotland, was a cultural back-water, the only loyalties people had were individualistic and towards their own clan, there was never a colective sense of nationhood – only a collective sense of defiance once the Plantations happened.
    This is not quite true. A sense of national identity was in operation as in pre-unification Italy and Germany. There was one language. There was one legal system , the Brehon Law, which was quite advanced for its time in terms of rights afforded to women and which gave the world it’s first documented copyright ruling (‘to every cow its calf, to every book its copy’)
    The Brehon Law was so complex that it took 19 volumes to translate it into English.
    There was a system of High Kingship – as per Brian Boru and Roderick O’Connor. This was democratic and meritocratic by the standards of the time in that the High King was chosen by regional monarchs and not via primogeniture as was the general system in Europe.
    In other words Ireland was well on the way towards evolving into a conventional European nation state.In fact things were going swimmingly well until the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169.
    Sorry, but the idea that the native Irish were factionlised non-civilised savages before the Anglo-Norman enlightenment is a Finkelsteinian myth.

  • barnshee

    “Sorry, but the idea that the native Irish were factionlised non-civilised savages before the Anglo-Norman enlightenment is a Finkelsteinian myth. ”

    Not really the Irish “kings” were a bunch of back stabbing bastards, jockeying to be “top dog” in a tribal society. The classic case is “the oneill” (not to mention strongbow -who asked him in) he
    played hokey kokey with the the english to become top dog- overreached himself by association with the Spanish who were at war with England and antagonised the the English so much that it produced the plantation and the arrival of the irascible stubborn prod– bring the whole thing down round his (and subsequent irish leaders)heads

    “In other words Ireland was well on the way towards evolving into a conventional European nation state” aye surely

  • Erasmus

    Barnshee,
    Go back to school and learn some basic Irish history.

  • Sean

    Not really the Irish “kings” were a bunch of back stabbing bastards, jockeying to be “top dog” in a tribal society

    Thats a description of every monarchy that held power any where in the world since the dawn of time

    In particularily the english and russian ones

  • Erasmus

    Better still take a trip down to Newgrange then to Triners to see the Book of Kells and to the National Museum to cast your eyes on the Ardagh and Derrynaflan chalices etc.

  • Diluted Orange

    Erasmus

    I can’t see how you seriously can claim that [i]“Ireland was well on the way towards evolving into a conventional European nation state”[/i]. If we contextualise the vision of a conventional state, with regards to what passed as a ‘country’ at the time, then you’re probably not far off as very little in so far as what could be termed as national identity existed – anywhere. Ireland was certainly no Ancient Rome and the Norman pillage and conquest, of the sort you speak of, in 1169 was unfortunately just part of the way of life. Ironically, it was the Normans that brought with them the concept of land ownership and private property – so for Nationalists, or ‘natives’ as they like to be seen in this argument to whinge about being denied governance over their own lands is in itself a fallacy. So if the people at the time didn’t abide by the mantra of land-ownership how was the ‘Irish nation’ demarcated, other than by historical revisionists, who look back with hindsight and proclaim that the rudimentary boundaries of ‘Ireland’ were defined simply by its coastline?

    You talk about a legal system which merely existed in the minds of a small number of scholars and noblemen at the time and had little to no effect on the average Irishman’s way of life. Legalities in reality came down to who could win in a fight. Also the High Kingship, just as it was in Scotland at the time, was just a title, it meant nothing. The King’s remit was limited to areas in which his men could exercise their might over the local populace.

    The ‘regional monarchy’ you talk about just enforces my early point that the average man’s loyalty was not to the ‘nation’ but to his clan. ‘Regional monarchy’ is just codeword for ‘clan elder’ and as these positions of power developed over the subsequent centuries the Earls, monarches or elders seemingly had no qualms about sacrificing the greater good of the ‘Irish nation’ for a few pieces of silver or some other clan’s lands in return for their acquiesence in the English domination of their people.

    [i]A sense of national identity was in operation as in pre-unification Italy and Germany. There was one language.[/i]

    I’ve already agreed that there was one language and that that language was specifically Celtic, not Irish. The Scots and the Irish travelled frequently across the North-Eastern channel and shared the same heritage, clan system and music amongst other cultural aspects. So, given this shared history, why does Irish Nationalism simply stop at the coastline of Ireland? It’s to do with religion, as I’ve outlined in previous posts.

    Nationalists do not accept the fact that eastern Ulster has always been distinct from the rest of Ireland, owing to its close ties with the Scots, which have existed for as long as the island of Ireland has been inhabited. Nationalism has no right to stake a territorial claim to the entire island when the supposed ethnic differences between Nationalists and Unionists, are on the whole, non-existent and can be merely defined by an ancestor’s choice several centuries beforehand to follow one religion or the other.

    The problem and thus our conflict cannot be neatly resolved into a ‘natives’ vs ‘planters’ stand-off. The margins between these groups are blurred by a shared Celtic ancestry and inter-breeding, let alone, the continual inter-migration between Ireland and Scotland in the several centuries that pre-date the Ulster Plantation.

  • patrique

    #

    FF and Bertie have overseen an economic miracle in the ROI. Prosperity is a powerful political magnet. I suspect many in NI would be attracted to the proven economic ability of FF, especially since the border is no longer a priority issue.
    Posted by New Yorker on Sep 19, 2007 @ 06:18 AM

    As a developed country, The Republic of Ireland has the second greatest level of poverty, the good old US of A being top in that category. Prosperity my rectum.

    And I do not know how mant posters live in so called republican areas, but FF were Dev’s party, and even he couldn’t win West Belfast. FF are detested in these areas.

  • Reader

    Erasmus: Better still take a trip down to Newgrange then to Triners to see the Book of Kells…
    And what, exactly, does Newgrange prove? National identity? Mastery of the lever?
    As for the Book of Kells – from Wikipedia:
    “The Book of Kells is the high point of a group of manuscripts in what is known as the Insular style produced from the late 6th through the early 9th centuries in monasteries in Ireland, Scotland and northern England and in continental monasteries with Irish or English foundations.”
    Great Stuff. So this “Insular style” – would you hang a national identity on it? Unionists might try…

  • hovetwo

    “What does FF actually stand for?

    What motivates anyone to join it – I don’t mean those with political ambitions, but “average Joe” members in the constituency parties?

    I pose the same question about FG.

    I can understand what Labour stands for, and the PDs, Greens and Provos, but not FF and FG. What relevance does the Civil War have in Southern Irish politics today?”

    Now there’s an interesting set of questions. The only relevance of the Civil War is hereditary – something like 30% of current TDs are relatives of previous TDs. With STV, name recognition counts for a lot.

    It’s often been said that the vast bulk of (southern) Irish political opinion could be accommodated quite happily in a European Christian Democratic party. Part of the reason why FG and FF exist is because they have to in order to make representative democracy work – you can’t have a democratic government without a loyal opposition to hold it to account.

    I read that many of the Founding Fathers after the American War of Independence agonised over whether to become Whigs or Democrats after the dust had settled. In the same way, many GAA stars decided on their political allegiances based on which party was the first to approach them to run for election (allegedly including Jack Lynch).

    Fianna Fáil were traditionally the left of centre party of the working class and the small farmer. Fine Gael were the right of centre party of the big farmer. Garret FitzGerald was a Fianna Fáil sympathiser in his youth because of their left of centre stance. In practice both parties eschewed class politics in favour of a populist approach that united people across class lines, offering a broadly similar vision of what independent Ireland should be like. Both groups gathered energy from the desire to be the party that built the south into a modern European nation – that energy may dissipate if the gains of the Celtic Tiger hold firm.

    I know some FG voters who consider FF to be amoral red-necks led by a scruffy northsider, and some FF voters who think FG is full of insufferable prigs with WASPish neuroses.

    If you were to give positive reasons for joining one or the other, you might argue that FG have always been the party of decency and high standards in public office, and FF have been the party of pragmatic innovation and social cohesion.

    Alternatively, you could adopt Seán Lemass’ aphorism to explain the difference between the parties: “We’re in (power), they’re out”

  • Objectivist

    Mick,
    You will be familiar the ‘Incitement to Hatred Act’. Here we have a poster who advocates blowing the hands off or even murdering elected representatives (by means of letter bombs) if a referendum in N.I. delivers a result he does not like and is then acted upon.
    This in my book is incitement to hatred which is a million times worse then ad hominem name-calling (‘sticks and stones’ etc).In fact the epithet in question here is quite an accurate description.
    In refusing to rein in this ‘incitement’ you are effectively acting as an accessory. Your moral responsibilities here simply cannot be fudged.
    In terms of ‘partisan interjections’ you hopped in very forcibly on one side of the very emotive issue of political demography – not what one would expect of a neutral referee.

  • New Yorker

    Patrique

    “As a developed country, The Republic of Ireland has the second greatest level of poverty, the good old US of A being top in that category. Prosperity my rectum.”

    You don’t know what real poverty is. Ireland has a social safety net, papers and websites are full of job openings. What you are talking about are people who want material things beyond a roof and food and who have not figured out how to make enough to purchase them. If you want to find out what poverty is, go to Africa. Or read your own history of the 19th century and early 20th century.

  • Briso

    Thompson: So would Sinn Fein be political partners or rivals?

    D Ahern: Oh, rivals. They’re a Marxist party.

    🙂

  • barnshee

    The painful truth is slowly dawning on SF they NEED partition– in a UI they will be well and truely fucked by FF and FG.
    Sorry lads

  • Erasmus

    DO,
    You are putting words into my mouth ,up to a point.
    Firstly it must be said that that the Brehon laws were a lot more complex than you suggest – check out the following:
    http://www.irish-society.org/Hedgemaster%20Archives/brehon_laws.htm
    http://www.woodlandleague.org/info/info/brehonlaw.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brehon_Laws
    The High Kings occasionally had real power , like Brian Boru, and were on other occasions purely symbolic. But even the existence of symbolic High Kings points towards the crucial concept of the *existence of national consciousness*. Given the contextually advanced nature of the sytem of High Kingship and the Brehon laws I believe Ireland would have evolved into a nation state and that democracy and what later acme to be termed the European Enlightenment would have taken precocious root.
    While eastern Ulster may have had its own local idiosyncrasies I don’t buy the idea that it was distinct to the point of seperateness from the rest of Ireland. Obviously because of its geographical proximity to Scotland there would have been maritime coming and going just as there was between south eastern Ireland and south Wales but that of itself does not prove anything.
    A case could be made , as you seem to hint at, for the existence of a panceltic Irish/Scottish nation up to about the sixteenth century but this effectively invalidates your point as eastern Ulster/ south western Scotland would then have been just a geographical interface, like a modern county boundary, between two parts of the national territory (for want of a better term).
    I keep geting the impression that some unionists conjure up the myths of uncivilised, fissiparious native Irish and of a separate eastern Ulster in order to salve an ancestral guilt complex about the initial plantation.
    Don’t get me wrong BTW. I don’t think the dubious morality of the original plantation delegitimizes the position of its progeny 400 years later.

  • Dewi

    Erasmus – just accept it – you were Welsh outposts – defending our borders against the Vikings….