From fear to policy

Alex Kane argues that the devolutionary settlement means that fear as a motivator for voters will be greatly reduced. This will require Unionist parties to broaden their appeals through legislation with a positive effect on people’s lives and:

To attract votes—and I don’t just mean from the Protestant/unionist community—the unionist parties have to champion relevant, practical, effective and costed policies…they have to prove that the devolution they have demanded for decades is actually worth having.

  • Bob Wilson

    Classic Kaneism – comes logically down the stairs and vaults over the bannister at the last moment.
    Not a mention of the fact that this new dispensation is firmly in a Union at which Westminster will have huge sway over our lives – a Westminster that can only be influenced from within the Conservative and Labour parties. Not a mention of the possibility that pro Union people who want to develop more relevant, practical policies ought to consider moving to the left – right politics of the UK.

  • Fear of a United Ireland has gone. Fear of being booted out of the United Kingdom has gone. Fear of the “other side” has gone

    If that’s truly the case, then why do we need parties whose primary, or, actually, only raison d’etre is “to save” the Union?

  • Richard James

    The problem here is the structures of the Assembly preclude the development of ‘bread and butter’ issues. With d’Hondt ensuring virtual an executive seat with 10% of the vote and mutual vetoes it is impossible to elect a government with an agenda for radical change, the parties are left to timidly legislating on minor issues where there is a consensus.

    Like the Stormont Parliament of old we will see them tamely copying any legislation of significance from Westminster. Look at how PFI was rammed down the Shinners throats, or the upcoming introduction of water charges. The only difference is the quality of the Ministers executing the legislation is far, far lower.

    Nor is Kane likely to see the provision of an effective opposition, which is essential for the politics he desires. Empey prefers the scraps of office from the DUP/Sinn Fein table to making the UUP an effective force again. And sadly as the authority to go into opposition is vested with a group of tired, unimaginitive old men in the Assembly team (for all the UUP’s much vaunted ‘democratic’ structures neither the UUC or its executive have any say on this issue, or the other significant one of Empey’s leadership, the PUP/UVF pact) it is unlikely he will be forced to act in his country’s or the party’s interest. Any wonder the polls are saying he has slashed the vote he inherited from Trimble by half?

  • Ignited

    Oneill hits the nail on the head – in my opinion the statement is false, the next logical step on the constitutional question will be a push over the next decade for a referendum. That makes unionism and nationalism relevant.

    It is therefore necessary for unionism to start articulating the case for the union – not just reverting to type and playing to base fears. NHS, educational provisions, rates etc etc are the battle grounds.

    The DUP need to show competence in government (Sweeney affair will not help). The UUP needs a direction – possiblly a merger (but with the Tories). Stormont needs a funded opposition to encourage the electorate that when they vote they can change the government. All this will help towards ‘securing the union’.

  • Dave

    “Look at how PFI was rammed down the Shinners throats,”

    That one seems to have slipped by me, maybe the author Richard james to explain how PFI was rammed down the Shinners throats.

    It is time for parties to meet with the people and put the pros/cons for staying with the union.

    I haven’t made reference to a United Ireland due to the fact that SF no longer have that aspiration. SF now seek a united people, surely voting to remain within the union would do just that (unite the people).

  • Alex. Kane

    Bob,

    With all due respect, that is your problem. I have never had any problem with Conservative or Labour organising here. But until the moment that either, or both, is in a position to make an electoral impact in Northern Ireland, we have to work with what we have. Let’s face it, Bob, it’s almost 20 years since Laurence Kennedy and Co won the right for the Tories to be recognised and organised here. I appreciate the points you make about left-right big picture politics, but you really do need to start winning seats.

    Richard,

    I wouldn’t write off the “Opposition Option” just yet. There is movement in the undergrowth, of which you are probably unaware. Our biggest problem, of course, is that there is no such thing as “Opposition” in this Assembly’s structures.

    Best wishes,

    Alex.

  • Richard James

    Dave,

    Martin McGuinness, for example, used PFI to build new schools in the last Assembly.

    Alex,

    I’m aware of many people at grassroots level who are in favour of opposition. Unfortunately Empey has made it clear that they are not to have a say in the issue, and that the decision lies with the Assembly group who seem to favour a fudge of opposition within government.

    While there are no structures for an opposition within the Assembly I don’t believe that is a good enough reason to deny the electorate a choice of government. Official provisions for an opposition aren’t going to appear until there is a demand for them. While the party will lose some money from not being in government the £70,000 OCA each MLA recieves would be more than enough to run an effective opposition if it were properly spent (I’m sure you know the problems I’m refering to, and I’m also sure the upcoming review will do nothing to address them). The Alliance party manages to run far more effective campaigns than the UUP does with its limited budget.

  • The Dubliner

    “And sadly as the authority to go into opposition is vested with a group of tired, unimaginitive old men in the Assembly team…” – Richard James

    “Stormont needs a funded opposition to encourage the electorate that when they vote they can change the government.” – Ignited

    You both mention the need for an opposition at Stormont in order to secure a radical agenda, but Richard James also shows why an opposition is irrelevant:

    “With d’Hondt ensuring virtual an executive seat with 10% of the vote and mutual vetoes it is impossible to elect a government with an agenda for radical change, the parties are left to timidly legislating on minor issues where there is a consensus.”

    In short, all that an opposition party can do is talk about a radical agenda but it can never implement it if is elected to the office of First Minister since it is then subject to the same paralyzing arrangement that is accurately described above. The system, folks, is designed to promote consensus, not dynamic agendas.

  • The Union doesn’t work

    Hardly a filling station within 20 miles of the border and now more pain at the pumps, farming in crisis, business tax rates wrong, economic infrastructure poor, elections at the wrong time and no worthwhile peace dividend from tight-fisted Gordon. The list goes on, but why should the government across the water care? And if people in Britain have virtually no interest in us, why should we have formal links, other than through the European Union?
    Certainly Gordon Brown isn’t exactly full of gratitude for his predecessor’s achievements here. The canny Scot sprinkled his hour-long speech to Labour’s recent conference with references to British this and British that (no fewer than 80 mentions) but carefully avoided any mention of the neighbouring island except for a perfunctory reference to Blair’s work on the agreement.

    The trouble for unionists is that they’re loyal to a Britain that doesn’t exist. It hasn’t existed for many years. Their emotional attachment is to a mono-cultural nation with old-fashioned values where the Protestant monarchy is almost universally respected. But just last week the Commission for Racial Equality painted a picture of a deeply-divided society in which ethnic minorities suffered “persistent, longstanding inequality”. They said Britain’s different social and ethnic groups were increasingly segregated, leading “parallel lives that never meet”.

    Cambridgeshire’s chief constable told us that 83,000 migrant workers had arrived in East Anglia in the last two years. Julie Spence said as many as 90 languages were being spoken in her area and her force had an annual translation bill of £800,000. Meanwhile people here are hung up about a possible Irish language act!

    Unionists travelling to Great Britain used to be disappointed by the level of ignorance or indifference they encountered about Ireland, North and South. Some even used to get a nasty shock to discover they were regarded as “Paddy” in the days when such nicknames were less politically incorrect.

    Of course, many in England, Scotland or Wales have never given Ireland a thought. Why should they? Many don’t know Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and many don’t know the Republic isn’t – despite the name. This is particularly true when Irish people do well in sport, when they’re quickly adopted as “British”.

    But it’s a particularly unionist trait to naively believe that people elsewhere are interested in them. Louis MacNeice, an Ulster exile who felt a deep but not uncritical
    attachment to his home country, caught this notion perfectly in his long poem, “Autumn Journal” (written in 1938):

    “I hate your grandiose airs,

    Your sob–stuff, your laugh and your swagger,

    Your assumption that everyone cares

    Who is the king of your castle.”

    It’s not that people in the rest of Ireland are preoccupied about what happens here. Clearly they’re not and there’s a good deal of “partitionism” around in the Republic, but Ulster Protestants could have far greater influence in Dublin. They could make a major contribution to a more truly diverse and pluralist society. If partition had never happened, would the cosy culture of politicians getting brown envelopes and even briefcases stuffed with cash have developed?

    I sense the penny is finally beginning to drop with thinking members of the unionist community. The success of the Irish economy has opened up new possibilities.

  • bob wilson

    Nice try Alex but as you reply to Richard suggests you think the UUP should try to be the opposition but you fail to explain why we need six county parties. Even your headline belies this:
    ‘Both Unionist parties need to broaden their electoral appeal’
    You used to be able to think outside the box. Could it be the two unionist parties are part of the problem – they with teir tribalist past are keeping us from real politics.

    The reason the Conservatives have failed to make a break through here is due to the fact that so many cling to the old ways. You, admittedly having been once biten, seem afraid to back the Equal Citizenship argument anymore and knowing that the UUP has no answers are increasingly writting whingeing articles – or sneering at people like Cameron – rather than suggesting a way forward.

    One thing is for sure six county so called unionists who prefer an ‘ourselves alone’ mentality are on a hiding to nothing

    oh – ‘The Union doesnt work’ Yawn. You lost.

  • RG Cuan

    FOLKS

    The vast majority of people here, nationalist or unionist, have no interest in the parties of Great Britain and would hardly even consider voting for them if they did happen to opperate here. Fianna Fáil however is a different matter…

    BOB WILSON

    oh – ‘The Union doesnt work’ Yawn. You lost.

    Wonderfully articulate response to a poster who did raise some very valid points.

  • Richard James

    Bob,

    I think most Unionists would welcome the demise of NI Unionist parties in favour of national ones (the very existence today of the UUP, which was meant to be a temporary alliance, is testament to it’s failure).

    The problem you face is Unionist unease over the constitutional question, splitting seats, and distrust built up by things like the Anglo-Irish Agreement (I believe the Tories would have taken seats off the UUP, and perhaps even surpassed them if it wasn’t for that).

    You could neutralise the vote shredding fear if a future Conservative government were to take up T.E Utley’s suggestion and have a seperate ballot at each general election where the voter can indicate whether they wished to maintain the Union or have a united Ireland. Thereby freeing voters to choose on socio-economic issues. Also I believe you actually have a chance of winning over pro-union Catholics, unlike the UUP which cannot due to the baggage it carries.

    Publicising Cameron’s voting record on Unionist issues would help you overcome distrust, as I believe it is quite strong. Pledging to nominate a NI MP as Secretary of State, if one is elected for your party, would give the voters the option of voting for real power over their affairs. A high profile candidate put into the right seat may be enough to swing things your way (North Down has a habit of electing individualist MPs). Making it clear that while cooperation with the RoI in areas of mutual interest is beneficial, the internal governance of NI is solely a UK matter would with a stroke remove anxiety about the constitutional question (and contrast with the failure of the UUP and DUP on this issue).

  • FlamingLip

    “oh – ‘The Union doesnt work’ Yawn. You lost.”

    Everybody gather around. That’s some deep shit right there.

  • Dave

    Richard James

    “Look at how PFI was rammed down the Shinners throats,”

    “Dave,

    Martin McGuinness, for example, used PFI to build new schools in the last Assembly.”

    I still don’t see how this equates to “Look at how PFI was rammed down the Shinners throats,”

    Unless your are prepared to explain the above statement I would suggest that people might just take a pinch of salt in relation to what you write.

    So? explain please. How PFI was rammed down the Shinners throats?

  • The Dubliner

    The failure of Stormont isn’t likely to work to the advantage of Unionism. And it is also the opposite of the stated aim: more efficient government for NI. There can never be opposition within Stormont because the system is designed for agreement, not the dissent that is the basis of opposition. Since nationalists agreed to the PoC as a trade-off for power-sharing, then all bets are off if power-sharing fails then. Nationalists will simply reassert their right to self-determination and Unionists will demand greater integration of the NI into the UK, making the polar opposites of constitutional demands the central issue again. If both governments have to return to that issue, then they won’t do so with the aim of inputting another 13 years of effort into negotiating another unworkable solution. They’ll go straight to the core issue and settle it between them – which is probably why Paisley is in there keeping the union intact by the only means available to Unionists: consensus politics.

    PSF, being a de facto partitionist party, are in there for the same reason. 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    Bob, what you have to deal with is the fact that no political parties here which operate outside of the sectarian tribal tunnel-vision approach have ever been successful, perhaps with the exception of the Alliance Party. The Conservatives aren’t successful because people are too scared to split the tribal vote. Labour would be a failure for the same reason and that’s why the Labour Party for so long have avoided organizing here.

    It is clear that the current executive is stuck in some kind of rut. I would give it another year or so, but unless it starts making a real impact on people’s lives, I think people might start actually looking for people better able to make the system work than the present incumbents.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dubliner, I agree that Stormont going down would hurt the unionists more than anyone else. It is the unionists who have the most to lose, and I agree with what you’re saying, in that Paisley has realized that (and I think a lot of other unionists have too).

    I don’t agree that unionists have historically been concerned with closer integration into the UK. Throughout the troubles, most unionists wanted Stormont back in it’s pre-1972 form. I’ve always thought that the closer-integrationist people (like Bob McCartney and the fUKUP) are insane; why would you want to give away decision-making to people who have since the beginning of time shown themselves to be very bad at it ? I see it’s in the papers today again about Churchill’s backhand proposal to Dev offering reunification in exchange for support in WW2.

  • Greenflag

    And how exactly does Unionism broaden it’s appeal to non unionists in Northern Ireland ?

    By shooting itself once more in the foot /head ?Delete as appropriate . The recent attitudes displayed towards the Irish language in comparison to say Scots and Welsh attitudes to Scots Gaelic and Welsh show Unionism/Unionists in true light . Unionism has nothing to offer the people of Ireland or indeed of Northern Ireland except it’s legacy of sectarianism , ignorance ,political stupidity and 70% public sector dependency .

    Unionism is stuck in a rut and can’t be dug out.

    ‘If both governments have to return to that issue, then they won’t do so with the aim of inputting another 13 years of effort into negotiating another unworkable solution ‘

    13 years ? Pardon my French but IIRC the Northern Ireland political ‘crisis’ /suspension /troubles have been on the boil since 1969 i.e 38 years and it’s been 35 years since Stormont was abolished/suspended by British Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath .

    When the present Stormont sham exercise in futility ends then Repartition will present itself as the inevitable and long overdue solution to the long running political sore of Unionism in Northern Ireland .

    Irish Nationalists and Republicans need to accept that the British Unionists in Northern Ireland have the same right to self determination as ourselves . Which is why a neutral international organisation such as the UN or EU should be tasked with drawing up and implementing a new border .

    Greenflag

  • Elvis Parker

    Richard James
    ‘take up T.E Utley’s suggestion and have a seperate ballot at each general election where the voter can indicate whether they wished to maintain the Union or have a united Ireland. Thereby freeing voters to choose on socio-economic issues.’
    I hadnt realised T E Utley had suggested that. I did once get the chance to meet him however.
    How the mainstream parties counter vote splitting is of course a discussion for Scotland and Wales as well.
    My own idea – for what it is worth:
    As soon as a General election is declared the mainstream parties finance and organise a pre election election,
    Every voter is mailed a choice of Conservative/Labour/Lib Dem,
    They chose who they would like to represent their constituency/form the next Govt,
    The winner of this poll runs the only candidate for the main 3 parties.
    E.g. maybe a Conservative in North Down maybe Labour in North Belfast.
    Not perfect but it could I believe eventually eradicate separtists of all varities.
    It is certaintly technically feasible.

  • Nevin

    “the devolutionary settlement means that fear as a motivator for voters will be greatly reduced.” .. Alex Kane

    Will it survive further revelations re. the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre debacle and related issues?

    2016 is just down the road and the Unionist/Nationalist gap continues to narrow. Have a look at YouTube and Bebo, in particular the loyalist and republican related bands, to see how the new kids on the block are shaping up, not least in areas subject to paramilitary control. You might think that the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) would be doing something to protect the kids …..

  • Greenflag

    ‘Not perfect but it could I believe eventually eradicate separatists of all varities. ‘

    Might work if the inhabitants of Northern Ireland were ants . Rumour however has it that despite some evidence to the contrary the inhabitants of Northern Ireland both tribes are classified as belonging to the family Mammalia and the order of Primates and are also generally included in the species Homo Sapiens even if the linkage with the Sapiens suffix is tenous to say the least 🙁

    Which is why separatist thoughts both pro British and pro Irish will remain part of the political climate within the territory that is Northern Ireland until such time as the Andaman Islands defeat Russia in the final of the World Ice Hockey Championship. Northern Ireland is not Finchley nor is it Dumbarton or Merthyr Tydvil or Cork .

  • Nevin

    Yeah the prospect of normal Uk politics gaining a foothole here really scares the BeJesus out of nationalists like you Greenflag doesnt it. You know large number of Catholics are perfectly happy living in the UK and you fear that as life here becoems more normal there is a real danger that people might abandon tribal politics and then your nationalist goose would be well and truely cooked!

  • MacAedha

    Yeah, dead on Nevin,
    though the O’Neillist/Molyneaux idea that nationalists are only interested in survival from british government handouts is perhaps a little dated, and wrong, just as Unionists wish to remain within a United Kingdom so Nationalists (do not believe all you hear in media sponsored surveys)have a similar wish to be reunited with our Nation.
    The consociational system of government we have means we can all prosper and, as time goes by we can decide whether UK/Irish Republic is our best option for the future of our people, or a joint sharing of soverignity in the long term.
    I do however share with ‘Ignited’ in his wish to see some system of opposition to scrutinise executive decision making.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Yeah the prospect of normal Uk politics gaining a foothole here really scares the BeJesus out of nationalists like you Greenflag doesnt it. ‘

    Not at all. I’m also not scared of the tooth fairy or the boogeyman .

    ‘You know large number of Catholics are perfectly happy living in the UK’

    I would’nt doubt it . Saw them myself in Chelsea as they trundled in to pray for Queenie and Co . Nice people English Catholics . Is’nt terrible that Northern Irish Catholics are not more like them 🙁 Shame really . But then I suppose that Northern Proddies are about as Unenglish you can get outside of Bradford or Auchtermuchty .

    I’m actually all for abandoning ‘tribal’ politics in Ireland . This however ipso facto requires that the ‘English ‘ tribe abandon it’s direct political involvement in Ireland thereby allowing the Unionist and Nationalist people of Ireland to redraw the border within NI to approx where it should have been drawn in 1920 .

    If by normal democratic politics you mean having a religious cleric as First Minister sharing power with ex IRA men in a stitched up power sharing Assembly without a proper opposition then all I can say is that your definition of ‘normality’differs markedly from mine .

    But then there are many who would say that the above ‘normality’ is the only practical choice left until such time as the ‘monstrosity’ eventually collapses under the weight of it’s inherent contradictions .

  • MacAedha

    sorry, should have read ‘Republic of Ireland’

  • Richard James

    “Unless your are prepared to explain the above statement I would suggest that people might just take a pinch of salt in relation to what you write.”

    Sinn Fein opposes PFI, its Ministers have to introduce it. Of course, the alternative view is Sinn Fein simply lies to the electorate (not that I would say they wouldn’t).

    Now I’m sure that is simple enough even for someone with your comprehension skills :o)

  • Richard James

    Elvis,

    He suggested it in ‘Lessons on Ulster’.

    I believe your option would be viable. Another alternative would be the party which garners most votes at the Assembly election (where vote splitting is less likely to be an issue) running for Westminster.

  • JD

    “If by normal democratic politics you mean having a religious cleric as First Minister sharing power with ex IRA men in a stitched up power sharing Assembly without a proper opposition then all I can say is that your definition of ‘normality’ differs markedly from mine.”

    Just as under Stormont’s previous incarnation (1920-72) there was a permanent government and permanent opposition we now have Northern Ireland returning to such an inert system of goverment.

    Given that the party system will undergo some form of rationalisation in the next few years (FF/SDLP and UUP/DUP mergers) Northern Ireland will have a permanent government for decades of SF/FF/Unionists just as there was decades long UUP rule. The opposition will have small governmental fragments a few Greens, Tories, Labourites for those who don’t fit in to the tribal carve up of SF/FF/Unionists and there be the Alliance Party of course.

    There’s no reason why such an alignment won’t last as long as the one that existed for 50 years before 1972.

    Normality Northern Ireland style

  • sportsman

    Unionist / Nationalist politics will never go away in NI. Somebody said that many Catholics are happy to be part of the UK. Hmm. But they still vote en-masse for anti-partition parties dont they?. Why do they not all vote Alliance? The “you lost” Unionist mentality seen here is simply ignoring reality. Whatever your views on partition it is an inescapable fact that 40-45 % of the population of NI vote for parties whose prime objective is the destruction of NI. Drumcree, Holy Cross simply reinforce the division. The high number of attacks on Orange halls over the last few months also indicate a society ENTIRELY based on sectarianism and the politics that must go with it. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/images/maps/2001religionwardsni2.jpg Look at this map. There is the reality. Or this one.http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/images/maps/map10.htm Repartition looms. I dont want it. Nationalists dont want it. But its coming.

  • sportsman
  • Dave

    FAO Greenflag

    “Might work if the inhabitants of Northern Ireland were ants . Rumour however has it that despite some evidence to the contrary the inhabitants of Northern Ireland both tribes are classified as belonging to the family Mammalia and the order of Primates and are also generally included in the species Homo Sapiens even if the linkage with the Sapiens suffix is tenous to say the least :(”

    You what! I’m glad that I don’t know you.

    You have just insulted everyone born in Northern Ireland. So what does that make you?

    I suppose we will just have to bow to your superiority and higher intelligence.

    Tell us, the people of Northern Ireland, how do we resolve this situation to the benifit of all concerned.

    waiting…..

  • Nevin

    The ‘Bejasus’ Nevin #22 is not to be confused with the real thing <:)

  • Dave

    FAO Richard James

    “Sinn Fein opposes PFI, its Ministers have to introduce it. Of course, the alternative view is Sinn Fein simply lies to the electorate (not that I would say they wouldn’t).

    Now I’m sure that is simple enough even for someone with your comprehension skills :o)”

    Thank’s for the insult!

    SF oppose PFI?? then inplement PFI. so.. SF say one thing and do another, hows my comprehension so far?

    Would the above hold true of SF statements on say the decommissioning of weapons? or an Ireland of equals?

    PFI was not rammed down SF throat’s as stated by you. SF could have opposed PFI but chose not to.

    SO my comprehension of this leads me to the conclusion that SF the political wing of the IRA are a bunch of lairs and should not be trusted by those would may be swayed by theirs lies to vote for them? is their anything else that SF oppose but will implement humm!

    So you rally can’t back up your statement, can you?.

  • Greenflag

    ‘You what! I’m glad that I don’t know you.’

    You’ve made my day 🙂

    ‘You have just insulted everyone born in Northern Ireland. So what does that make you?’

    An honest man 🙂 Others stab yiz in the back in front of yer face .I do the opposite . BTW lighten up .

    ‘I suppose we will just have to bow to your superiority and higher intelligence. ‘

    I’m not Japanese so your bows will not be appreciated nor reciprocated.

    ‘Tell us, the people of Northern Ireland, how do we resolve this situation to the benifit of all concerned”

    Shure it’s starin yiz all in the face . It’s called Repartition so that approx 96% of all the people on this island can live and work and be citizens of the State of their first preference .

  • MacAedha

    Greenflag
    ‘Shure it’s starin yiz all in the face . It’s called Repartition so that approx 96% of all the people on this island can live and work and be citizens of the State of their first preference .’
    What makes you think repartition will work any better this time?
    Repartition now would leave swathes of unhappy nationalists in north Down, Antrim, north Antrim who would be equally discriminated against as were their forefathers, so begining the cycle again.
    Working together to resolve differences, and reuniting the people rather than repartition may solve the national question.
    Any chance we might give it a go?

  • MacAedha

    Oh, and what do we do with the unhappy Unionists in the 31 71/2 counties/

  • MacAedha

    sorry 7 ought to read &

  • Nevin

    “Shure it’s starin yiz all in the face . It’s called Repartition …”

    Now where have I read this ‘solution’ before ……? 🙂 Is it being advocated by anyone of significance?

  • Greenflag

    ‘What makes you think repartition will work any better this time? ‘

    The last time 1920 it was implemented by Unionism and was a botched operation . Next time around a neutral international agency such as the EU or UN should be assigned the task .

    ‘Repartition now would leave swathes of unhappy nationalists in north Down, Antrim, north Antrim who would be equally discriminated against as were their forefathers, so begining the cycle again.’

    These would presumably be balanced out by the swathes of unhappy unionists in Fermanagh , Tyrone , Derry, Armagh etc . In total both ‘tribal swathes of unhappy people would amount to approx 200,000 or 11% of the present population of Northern Ireland . On an all Island basis the 200,000 would amount to approx 3% of the total of 6.2 million . As these 200,000 would be divided almost equally between both new States then you would have just 100,000 disaffected Unionists in the larger Republic and 100,000 disaffected Irish Nationalists remaining in the new Unionist State .

    With both ‘new minorities’ having dual citizenship and freedom to relocate then over a period of time one would expect that many would choose to relocate to the area /state where the people whom they consider themselves to be constitute the vast majority .

    This is essentially what has happened within Northern Ireland over the past 40 years so why would it not continue happen in the aftermath of a fair repartition .

    ‘Working together to resolve differences, and reuniting the people rather than repartition may solve the national question.’

    Which ‘national question’ ? The one facing the Irish people of Ireland or the one facing the British minority in the North East of Ireland ?

    Some differences cannot be resolved . For instance I could never be persuaded to accept Queenie & Co as my Head of State so why should I ever expect a British Unionist in NI to accept President Mc Aleese as their Head of State ?

    I’m all for cooperation across the border , closer economic ties , educational exchange, labour mobility etc etc . But that’s it . I’ve no desire to see 800,000 or more British Unionists trundled into the Republic .

    ‘Any chance we might give it a go? ‘

    Every chance especially the two known as fat and slim -chances I mean . Having wasted 40 years /80 years take your pick by farting around in ever decreasing circles why not waste another generation or two before facing the inevitable ?

    After all it’s well known that everybody in NI has a life expectancy of 200 🙁

  • good grief

    OK, let’s briefly indulge the one trick pony here.

    Care to name a political party aligned with your fantasy solution ?

    If not, how might we democratically display popular support, bestow any kind of legtimacy or indeed (and i think this is my favourite part!)make the request of the UN mapdrawing team to spring into action ?

    Internet warrior get thee behind us.

  • MacAedha

    Greenflag
    ‘With both ‘new minorities’ having dual citizenship and freedom to relocate then over a period of time one would expect that many would choose to relocate to the area /state where the people whom they consider themselves to be constitute the vast majority .’
    I take it from this you are a typical town dweller, you cannot understand that people have a more than economic attachment to their land.
    For me, and a great many others, the problem with repartition, which you espouse, is that I would soon starve to death, i.e. what would happen my wife, one of the unionists who has been together with me for 20 years, is she, and my children, to live in a new state, which is in any event economically unviable and not appealing to the British taxpayer.
    My advice, beidh caél agat.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I take it from this you are a typical town dweller, you cannot understand that people have a more than economic attachment to their land.’

    I’m well aware of this world wide phenomenon which is several million Zimbabweans are now on the verge of starvation and 25% of the population of 12 million have fled the country because their leaders decided that people have more than an economic attachement to their land .

    Anyway why would a new Unionist State be non viable ? It would be twice the size of Luxembourg with a slightly greater population ? Nobody accuses Luxembourg of being non viable ? Or is Luxembourg viable because it’s citizens are 95 % Roman Catholic whereas a new Unionist State being 90% Protestant would not?

    ‘?what would happen my wife, one of the unionists who has been together with me for 20 years, is she, and my children, to live in a new state’

    How am I supposed to know ? Both new minorities in each of the new States would have the best of both worlds and dual citizenship. Whether they choose to remain where they have always been or move is their own business . All that a fair repartition would do is to move the border line further north and east from where it is now . People would still be free to travel, work , intermarry , socialise , shop etc etc on either side of any new border .

    Repartition would eliminate the prospect of political instability in the Republic by ensuring that 750,000 Unionists remained outside the political jurisdiction and likewise a new Unionist State would enjoy greater acceptance and political legitimacy by having the support of at least 90% of it’s population .

    That’s all .

  • Greenflag

    ‘Care to name a political party aligned with your fantasy solution ? ‘

    Where’s the fantasy . Repartitioning has been at work in NI for the past 40 years . A look at any map of NI between 1969 and 2007 broken down religious/political affiliation shows that both communities are now more widely segregated than they ever were .

    NI political parties are past masters in evading/avoiding /taking action /or saying anything which could be construed as breaking faith with the particular tenets of their tribal followers . They’ve always avoided the harsh political truth which is why they have been running around in ever decreaing circles for the past 40 years and are on course for repeating the same for the next 40 !!

  • Aquifer

    The UUP may have to move from being an all-class sectarian alliance to being a political party with social economic and environmental policies. Welcome to the world of political work.

    Does this mean you will take down those union flags with the raggedy sides please?

    They are doing your fading fluttery image no good.

    Have you considered the resources that a modern political party would need to develop its own policy base?

    ‘Not an inch’ turned out to be a bit elastic, but it was at least cheap to maintain.

  • Nevin

    So you’re a member of a fantasy party that has this fantasy solution, Greenflag …

  • Dave

    Green flag

    Repartition means you would like to see nationalists living in the republic of Ireland, anyone who has a wish to do so could have done so many years ago. So repartition is not what you are after,is it ? You want three of the six counties of Northern Ireland to be taken over and administered by the Government of the ROI.

    When exactly would you want the other Three counties?

    The following are viable solutions:

    The status quo.
    Independence

    There is no other solution.Repartition.. why not just build a wall?

    Repartition is nothing more than a clusterfuck of an idea.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “I’m well aware of this world wide phenomenon which is several million Zimbabweans are now on the verge of starvation and 25% of the population of 12 million have fled the country because their leaders decided that people have more than an economic attachement to their land .”

    Feh. There are several million Zimbabweans starving because the head-crook in charge of the country can’t wrap his head around the notion that breaking up productive farms into a combination of subsistence plots and rewards for his cronies was a rum deal from the get go. By the statistics of the two states, they had a better life back when the place was called Rhodesia. At least then, there was food to eat and export.

    Greenflag: “All that a fair repartition would do is to move the border line further north and east from where it is now . People would still be free to travel, work , intermarry , socialise , shop etc etc on either side of any new border . ”

    Now pull the other leg, GF…

    Not that I haven’t pointed all this out before, but…

    A) This notion does not satisfy either parties mythology, meaning that, until or unless there are some sea-changes of Shakespearean proportions, it’s a non-starter. SF won’t push for it, since it would be an admission of defeat, whilst the DUP won’t push for it, as it conflicts with their “not an inch” stance.

    B) Assumes Ireland wants the portion of NI you want to shave off.

    C) Assumes the UK is willing to give up the portion of NI you want to shave off

    D) Is largely a pipe-dream, in so far as you have yet to come up with some good answers on the transfer costs — infrastructure will have to change hands (hospitals, etc.), border checkpoints and the like moved, etc. Likewise, what historical sites cherished by the Unionists will be on the other side of the lines

    E) The silly notion that getting the UN or the EU involved is laughable — this collection of incompetants can barely handle Kosovo and you want to plunge them head-long into this minefield?

  • Greenflag

    The following are viable solutions:

    ‘The status quo.’

    Is already running out of steam . The cracks are already appearing in the Executive . It’s only a matter of time .

    ‘Independence ‘

    A smaller Unionist State could be viable

    ‘When exactly would you want the other Three counties?’

    Who said three counties . Any redrawing of the border is likely to approximate an East West divide of NI .

    ‘why not just build a wall?’

    Why would that be necessary ? It isn’t necessary now. Again your ’emotional driven childish reaction is blinding you to facing the obvious ! You know the history of NI and you know what has been happening there for the past 40 years . Why not admit it !

  • Greenflag

    ‘Now pull the other leg, GF’

    Just as soon as take your head out of your a**e!

    ‘This notion does not satisfy either parties mythology,’

    I’m not a fan of mythology or astrology . Just the numbers and facts .

    The costs of Repartition would be many times less than the cost of a UI and would result in greater political stability for the smaller Unionist State in the North East and for the larger Republic .

    If the notion of getting the UN or EU involved is ‘laughable’ then I’m sure you must have laughed your b***ix off for most of the past 40 years as a dozen or more Secretaries of State and British Prime Ministers not to mention NI Unionist and Republican politicians put on a virtuoso display in incompetence to finally come up with a political solution that provides a so called ‘democratic’ solution without an opposition and puts a fundamentalist cleric in as First Minister ?

    Now pull the other one !

  • Dave

    Greenflag

    Your a gem, if only you would stand for election.

    The only thing that has changed in Northern Ireland this last forty years…let think… Hmmmm
    Nothing.

  • sportsman

    I think Greenflag has a good argument. I dont understand the negative reaction. At least discuss it.It is to me obvious that ceding Fermanagh, Tyrone , S Armagh, S Down and most of Co, Derry to the ROI would give most people what they want. As he said Luxembourg survives. In fact per capita it is the wealthiest nation in Europe. The ROI is second with 4 and a bit million people. I am sure Protestant east Ulster with almost a million and 80% Prod could do as well as these two Catholic states given the chance and a bit of confidence. I vote UUP. Somebody asked which mainstream party would advocate repartition. We will in 20 years. We gave up Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal from neccesity. Why struggle to keep Newry or Strabane?

  • sportsman

    What has changed Dave? The IRA in government. The ROI government and its bodies involved in the admin home and abroad of NI. The Celtic Tiger above all. Lots of things.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Your a gem, if only you would stand for election. ‘

    Nah there’s no votes in that 🙂 People don’t want to hear the truth . If ye tell people that there’s incontrovertible scientific proof that smoking kills them they still smoke . Tell them they’re setting fire to 250,000 Euros over the course of a lifetime by smoking and you’ll be looked at as if you have just arrived from the planet Neptune ! You can’t tell people they’re fat because they keep stuffing fried mars bars into the hole in their face neither can you accuse them of being work shy or bone lazy . On this basis I’d lose all the votes of the latter categories and being an atheist I’d not get the vote of Catholics nor Protestants .

    Nobody likes the numbers and particularly in regard to anything that’s too close for comfort like ‘creeping repartition’. They’d much rather look forward to an eternity in heaven/paradise forever adoring yer man in all his glory and kept busy trying to track down their 8 grandads and grandmamies and their 16 great granddads and 16 greatgrandmamies etc etc etc and so on and so forth for eternity . Presumably at some point in the eternal re acquaintancing NI’s First Minister and Deputy First Minister will discover they have a direct ancestor who hung out of the same tree back in the good old savannah days 🙂

    Perhaps on reflection what passes for politics in Northern Ireland could be seen as a necessary pre eternity training module for the hereafter 🙁

  • re-draw the line

    Greenflag is correct. The soluton of repartition is very compelling if it is done the right way – the least offense to the least number of people – unlike in 1920. The issue most likely will be re-visited down the road in about fifteen years’ time.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I am sure Protestant east Ulster with almost a million and 80% Prod could do as well as these two Catholic states given the chance and a bit of confidence. ‘

    Exactly and you put your finger on the missing ingredient -that old Mr Con F Dense 🙂 I would not overemphasise the Catholicity of the two States mentioned other than the historical association . These States have become prosperous because of the aptness of their economic policies over a long period of time and not because of their religion. Any new Unionist State will have to find economic policies that work and are appropriate for their conditions . Protestantism/Britishness in and of itself is insufficient as an economic policy 🙂

    ‘I vote UUP. Somebody asked which mainstream party would advocate repartition. We will in 20 years. We gave up Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal from neccesity. Why struggle to keep Newry or Strabane? ‘

    Why indeed ? What ‘s the point ? particulary given the fact that 90% of the people in both areas favour joining the Republic . There’s nothing to be gained by trying to do a Serbia i.e trying to pretend to the world that Kosovo is part of Serbia

    ‘We gave up Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal from neccesity.’

    Had Unionists given up Tyrone and Fermanagh and border areas around Derry city /Sth Armagh and Sth Down the recent ‘troubles’ would probably never have taken place.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Greenflag is correct. The soluton of repartition is very compelling if it is done the right way – the least offense to the least number of people – unlike in 1920.’

    Of course why have 900,000 alienated Unionists in a 32 County Irish Republic or 750,000 alienated Nationalists in a 6 county NI when you can just have 100,000 alienated of each tribe on either side of a new border .

  • DK

    Repartition: How would you decide which bits would go to the Republic? Presumably a vote, that Sinn Fein would boycott on ideological grounds. So the most republican areas would remain in the New Northern Ireland while the apparently lukewarm interest in Catholics for a united Ireland (see every Life & Times survey ever – some 30-50% are uninterested) means that you would be looking at very little support from ANY area to be joined to the Republic. So what’s the point?

    Anyway, if trends continue people saying they don’t have a religion will outnumber protestants at the next census in 2011 and they will outnumber both protestants and catholics by 2021. Plus heavy immigration will have a whole new bunch of people with no interest in the squabbles of yesteryear in an increasingly united Europe where all that divides us is the exchange rate.

  • Sean

    I know I dont get a vote but I vot full independance!!! its the surest way to a united Ireland!!!

    Think of January 1, 2008 Independance day for nIreland(might have to think up a new name though)anyways back to the show. Independance on January 1 and an attempted return to 1966 on January 2. Except this time the croppies aint be laying down and they have the technology, financing, know how and international backing to stand up and say “bollocks you lot”

    So of course January 3 heralds the begining of the great civil war!

    Now Brown Bag Bertie is a little nervous, he doesnt like civil strife going on at the neighbours as it comes right through the thin walls what seperate. So bertie Phones up papa Gordie and says “get control o’your yunguns” but papa Gordie denies all knowledge of the wee pissing match. I mean after all they moved out of his home, they arent his problem anymore.

    So BBB asks papa if he minds if he has a go to straightening out the fracas whats keeping him awake at night. Papa hems and haws for a week or 2 but then the little pishers try and spread the pissing contest to his shores and he relents and agrees to turn a blind eye.

    So bertie wakes up the buouys wit the rifles and uniforms and sends them for a camp out. they nonchalantly wander across the border and in places they are greeted as liberators and others not so much. they eat up a few counties of the once proud nIreland until the reach the less hospitable lands of the big house prods.

    They pause for a wee smoke and then threaten to huff and puff and blow the whole straw house down. Now these house proud prods know there house can stand because its backed up with the stiff back of their protestant fore fathers and they know they only have to wait for the rescue mission from the motherland. They know with a dead cert that even right now 10 million englishman are clamouring on every row boat, dingy and canoe fighting for the opportunity to rescue them from dem derty feenians

    and to cut a long story short et voila United Ireland, Pity about what happened to them poor norther Republicans on the night of the long knives

  • DK

    Sean,

    Interesting scenario with some flaws in it.

    1. It ain’t gonna happen
    2. Anyone in power in 1966 would be …. er, say 40 plus 42 years…. that’s quite old. Probably too old to get anyone to lie down except themselves in their bed bath.
    3. The governing structures have changed a lot, so they won’t go to some simple majority rule. Plus who would enforce it – the PSNI?

    More likely scenario:
    1 Jan 2008 – Independence
    2 Jan 2008 – Beg for money off Gordie
    3 Jan 2008 – Beg for money off Bertie
    4 Jan 2008 – Beg for money off EU
    5 Jan 2008 – sit back and count the cash, cos all 3 will cough up out of fear/loyalty/stupidity
    6 Jan 2008 – Real/Continuity/Hooligan burn down an Orange Hall
    7 Jan 2008 – X Factor auditions held
    8 Jan onwards – zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • The Dubliner

    “Of course why have 900,000 alienated Unionists in a 32 County Irish Republic or 750,000 alienated Nationalists in a 6 county NI when you can just have 100,000 alienated of each tribe on either side of a new border .” – Greenflag

    Greenflag, you’re as seasonal as Easter with this repartition angle. Your argument is essentially about the manageability of disenfranchised social groups. At the moment, partition is a working solution in terms of the manageability of the disenfranchised social group (i.e. nationalists), so there is no need to repartition. All you would be doing is creating a problem of manageability where no problem currently exists (i.e. violent sectarianism is well below ‘acceptable’ levels). That cancels out your own imperative, doesn’t it?

    But let’s say that violent sectarianism rose above an ‘acceptable’ level and that repartition is considered as a solution to what would then be a problem regarding the manageability of disenfranchised social groups: wouldn’t the risk of civil war in that renewed context be much greater if the status quo of sovereignty was disturbed by forcing groups of people into different sovereign states against their will? There is intense solidarity between the members of the social groups which would likely extend to using force to protect their kin, friends, clansmen, etc, in other parts of the state from being injected into another jurisdiction. That would add a level of instability that would make civil war inevitable and extremely violent, resulting, in all likelihood, in more deaths in one month than resulted in 25 years of successfully contained sectarian violence.

    After all, northern nationalists have persistently resented and berated their southern counterparts for abandoning them to foreign rule, so would they now agree to abandon 100,000 of their number to foreign rule as the greater bulk were ‘liberated’? They’d be utter hypocrites if they did. And assuming that there was no extra violence as a result of the repartition process, why would a disenfranchised social group of 100,000 in a two repartitioned states be anymore manageable than a disenfranchised social group of 900,000 in one unified state in a context where those who organise into violent groups never number more than a few hundred? Indeed, what could violent organised groups from the unionist community achieve when they go from being pro-state to anti-sate without the support of the state to arm, train, and provide them with intel and OOBs orders in which to operate? They could never unring the bell of unity so their campaign would be utterly futile. On the other hand, as long as two states exist in the one dynamic, then there will always be violence aimed at switching between them and preventing the same.

  • Greenflag

    ‘How would you decide which bits would go to the Republic? ‘

    I would’nt decide anything . The decision would be made by a neutral international agency such as the UN or EU following the next collapse of the temporary power sharing executive in NI . Both British and Irish governments would agree to support the deal on the basis that another 40 ? 80 ? 120 years ? of throwing good money after bad in an attempt to find a permanent political solution within the present borders of NI is not acceptable to the voters in both countries and the waste of taxpayers money won’t be tolerated!

  • Greenflag

    ‘But let’s say that violent sectarianism rose above an ‘acceptable’ level and that repartition is considered as a solution to what would then be a problem regarding the manageability of disenfranchised social groups: wouldn’t the risk of civil war in that renewed context be much greater if the status quo of sovereignty was disturbed by forcing groups of people into different sovereign states against their will? ‘

    That’s why the UN and EU should be involved and not just both Governments .

    ‘ why would a disenfranchised social group of 100,000 in a two repartitioned states be anymore manageable than a disenfranchised social group of 900,000 in one unified state in a context where those who organise into violent groups never number more than a few hundred?’

    For two reasons . 100,000 is IIRC a lot less than 900,000 and is also less than 750,000 and although what you say may be correct re the ‘violent groups’ never numbering more than a few hundred although ( I’d say a few thousand) the fact is that these ‘violent groups’ got the support or at least the quiescense of their background communities .

    In a newly repartitioned NI the Unionist minority (2%)could not look to any group within the Republic for support and the Nationalist minority (10 -15%) of the new Unionist State would be in a similar situation. A smaller Unionist State would be easier to ‘manage’ from an overall security point of view and the larger Republic would not tolerate ‘violence’ within it’s borders or across the border in NI which would jeopardise it’s new found economic prosperity .

    20 or 30 years ago your argument against Repartition would have had greater validity . But given that so much unofficial ‘repartitioning’ has taken place anyway -think depopulation of unionists in Derry , Newry , etc and the decline of the Nationalist population in areas such as Castlereagh , Newtonards etc etc .

    Also there is the psychological factor at this point . There must be many Nationalists within the present State of Northern Ireland who realise that there will be no UI without a major change in the demographics of NI and no such change appears likely within the next century . Similarly there are many Unionists who realise that the fiction of pretending that Londonderry is just like East Belfast and that South Armagh and South Down are as British as Ballymena is a load of cobblers.

    Repartition will arrive not with a bang but with a whimper and as a fait accompli .

    I’ll admit that the present dispensation within NI has brought a kind of peace and that perhaps if it lasts long enough new political dynamics may emerge from within both tribal groupings .

    However the inherent ‘contradictions’ within the power sharing agreement will eventually surface and the NI parties will be back to square one . At which point a fair repartition will emerge as the optimal political solution given the circumstances .

  • IJP

    I like Alex, but when is he going to learn that Catholics simply aren’t going to vote Unionist, and Unionists are never really going to be bothered by this.

    If he wants to “reach out”, he should join a party designed to do so!