Ex-UUP councillor and army officer signs up to republican party…

THE Irish News reports it “likely” that businessman Harvey Bicker is the first ever unionist to join a republican party, after the former Ulster Unionist councillor from Down District confirmed to RTE that he had joined Fianna Fail. (Of course, serial defector Lord Ballyedmond has already been associated with both parties, before joining the UK’s Conservatives – perhaps businessmen’s first loyalty is to who is seen to be best for business.) A former military man, RTE reported that Bicker ‘said he felt the climate was now right to join Fianna Fáil as he was now spending a lot of time in the Republic influencing and networking on issues of reconciliation and military heritage. He said it was time for him to move into that environment and hopefully to represent the views of his community to people in that party.’ As FF begins to organise on an all-Ireland basis, the republican party seems to have found an ex-British Army soldier it can do business with. Will the move attract others? ElBlogador wonders if unionists are starting to recognise the benefits of a united Ireland.

  • Truth & Justice

    It can only happen to the UUP how can a Unionist join a United ireland Party its embarasing for the UUP

  • Garibaldy

    Eh the Irish News is talking nonsense (as usual). Whatever historical examples we could pull up, the most immediate example from today is Billy Leonard (not by the way that I consider either FF or the Provos as republican but there you go).

  • aquifer

    “It can only happen to the UUP”

    Having someone who knows and understands them being politically engaged in another jurisdiction?

  • Mayoman

    Another tiny bit of weight to what Walter Ellis has previouly said in a RTE radio interview. That there is an appreciable number of middle-class prods that see beenfits in a UI. How many more will emerge as the mutual hatred disappears and pragmatism takes over??

  • Michael Shilliday

    As someone I spoke to yesterday said, “he’s not representing my views”.

    His statement is strange. It almost sounds like he is a Unionist who wants to represent Unionist views from inside FF. Which is surely impossible – one would have thought that to join FF he would have had to sign up to their aims and objectives which I’m willing to bet are contradictory of Unionism.

  • Eddie

    Maybe he just feels himself to be an Irishman; and he also just happens to be pro-British as well. There are a fair number about, but it suits some Republicans to characterise all Protestants as being anti-Irish.

  • DM

    Maybe he wants to pursue an all-island unionist agenda, and reclaim the lost 26…

  • Turgon

    Mayoman,
    “That there is an appreciable number of middle-class prods that see beenfits in a UI. How many more will emerge as the mutual hatred disappears and pragmatism takes over??”

    Yes they might exist. However, I, as a middle class unionist with mainly middle class unionist friends have never heard this suggested. Clearly you and Walter Ellis and others know so many more unionists than I do; hence, I must just be wrong.

  • DM, that made me laugh out loud.

    As it happens I met HB a number of times at Military History do’s around the country in the 1980s. An interesting and gregarious character…

  • foreign correspondent

    I think it´s a good development. There may be few Protestants in the North in favour of a United Ireland at present, unfortunately, but I would hope that this will make more of them look favourably at the prospect.

  • Michael Shilliday should be aware that FF’s stated aims and objects are very far removed from their overriding mission, to stay in power and to use power to feather their own nests. In that sense unionists of all hues and FF would be most comfortable bedfellows.

  • Greenflag

    ‘A former military man, RTE reported that Bicker ‘said he felt the climate was now right to join Fianna Fáil as he was now spending a lot of time in the Republic influencing and networking on issues of reconciliation and military heritage. He said it was time for him to move into that environment and hopefully to represent the views of his community to people in that party.’

    Sounds like a pragmatic chap so where else for him except into Ireland’s premier ‘pragmatic’ party .

    ‘and hopefully to represent the views of his community to people in that party.’

    Somebody needs to be looking out for the longer term interest of the unionist people of Northern Ireland . It’s clear to me that both Unionist parties can only deliver short term solutions which don’t really do much more than stick a band aid on a deep wound .

    Congrats to the brave Mr Bicker anyway 🙂 BTW- he won’t be the first ex British Army man to have joined FF .

  • joeCanuck

    he won’t be the first ex British Army man to have joined FF

    I wondered where Ingram went.
    Ding ding.

  • Greenflag

    ‘ ElBlogador wonders if unionists are starting to recognise the benefits of a united Ireland. ‘

    No need to worry . They will recognise the benefits but only when it’s too late !

    dong dong

  • Mark McGregor

    Joe,

    There was an article in the Village a few months ago about how MI5 and British Intelligence had supposedly stood down their anti-SF black-ops as a result of the StAA. Around the same time Ingram stopped posting on all websites and deleted his blog – go figure.

  • joeCanuck

    I always did believe that he was black-ops, Mark.

  • Mark McGregor

    Joe, I doubt one of the multitude of journalists using him as source material has felt the need to re-examine their relationships with him and to try and find if they too were possibly being used by the British as unwitting tools in the conflict.

  • One less quisling inside Unionism – a good result. I wonder should Paisley not follow him?

  • lib2016

    Where else is there to go for a sensible unionist? Retreating into Nevair! Nevair! Nevair! isn’t really on. Turgon’s posting has been a real treat for us all but selfpity and abusing your opponents doesn’t make a political strategy. The Brits are leaving and taking the memories of 40,000 armed troops unleashed against the civilian population with them.

    The Palestinians and the Jews are making up, the French and the Germans did it half a century ago, the GFA has to come, both sides have to forgive each other, and it is equally hard for us all to forgive and forget. Time for a ‘group-hug’ anyone? Good Night!

  • BonarLaw

    David Vance

    Quisling was my initial reaction, but on reflection “tube” seems more fitting.

    He wants to “influence and network”? Surely by nailing his colours to the FF mast his ability to influence and network with others outside his Republican Party is diminished?

    He wants to represent the views of his community? That would be a community of one. Because as pointed out above he cannot be a Unionist and be a member of FF. Perhaps someone could ask Mr Bicker which way he would vote in a referendum to test his newfound fondness for the party of de Valera, Haughey, Reynolds et al.

    As I said, tube.

  • Turgon

    lib 2016,
    This may shock and distress you but I agree on one point and am unconcerned on another.

    I agree that the TUV need to develop policies. However, they are only starting. We need to tear down this agreement before we can set up another; as such starting by opposing the current arrangements makes good sense. New policies will I trust be revealed in the forthcoming months. If I remember your friends in SF started opposing things at first.

    On the second point. One of your oft repeated theses is that a united Ireland is inevitable (indeed your nom de plume sort of implies that) and that unless unionists make a compromise in the north they will not have their own regional parliament in a united Ireland. Now if you are correct and there will be a majority in Northern Ireland for ending partition then presumably there would be a nationalist majority. In that scenario you presume the largest party would be SF. Now if all these events pan out as you want rest assured I would rather be in a united Ireland ruled by Dublin that in a united Ireland with SF ruling me from Belfast. As such even if I believed your dire warnings I am not going to heed them as the last thing I want is terrorists ruling me and my family’s future.

  • Eh

    “Eh the Irish News is talking nonsense (as usual). Whatever historical examples we could pull up, the most immediate example from today is Billy Leonard (not by the way that I consider either FF or the Provos as republican but there you go).”

    Eh no, Nilly Leonard was in the RUC not the UUP or even DUP.

    He was a member of the sdlp briefly before moving to sinn fein.

    Try again…has any unionist ever joined a republican party?

  • Garibaldy

    Well we can safely assume that a member of the RUC and especially of the loyal orders (which I believe Billy Leonard was too) is a unionist. I missed the part where this said unionist = member of a unionist political party. And depending on whether we accept the SDLP’s claim to be republican (and why not if we accept FF and PSF) then there is at least one example from the Young Unionists who ended up in the SDLP. Namely Ivan Cooper.

  • George

    I don’t know what the fuss about Bicker’s move is all about. He is now living in the Republic and has a few projects he wants to see furthered.

    Fianna Fáil is the party he thinks that will best serve his interests. He also says he wants to represent the views of the community from which he comes, not the community itself.

    He is in a different jurisdiction where there are no unionist parties as such but where work can be done on the issues of reconciliation and military heritage that are of interests to some unionists.

    Turgon,
    “Now if all these events pan out as you want rest assured I would rather be in a united Ireland ruled by Dublin that in a united Ireland with SF ruling me from Belfast.”

    Fianna Fáil and the rest of middle Ireland are banking on it because they are as horrified at the prospect of a united Ireland with an unreconstructed Sinn Féin at its core as you are.

  • lib2016

    BonarLaw,

    “..he cannot be a unionist and be a member of FF…”

    The whole point of the Unionist Party and certain gentlemen named Carson, Craig etc is that they had to settle for what they could get – they all opposed Partition for a start!

    Turgon,

    There’s absolutely no certainty about how much support Sinn Fein will gather. It’s a simple observation that they have the people whereas the SDLP are left with the chancers. That could change anytime.

    The Agreement is solid and those who oppose are becoming a part of history. They don’t have the time left to find a new political narrative but thank-you for listening. It is appreciated but you won’t find it so easy to get three different soverign governments to listen to you. The deal’s already done.

  • PaddyReilly

    Now if you are correct and there will be a majority in Northern Ireland for ending partition then presumably there would be a nationalist majority. In that scenario you presume the largest party would be SF.

    An anti-partitionist majority in the 6 counties does not mean a SF majority. The DUP may come out with their “We are the majority of the majority” nonsense, but should this argument be thrown at them from the other side, they, and everybody else, would immediately see the logical fallacy in it. A majority of the majority is a minority.

    As for Harvey Bicker, the hardest pill to swallow is not that he is a Protestant, not that he is an ex-Unionist, but that he is an ex-British Army officer. I am certain that there are many on the Republican side who will feel that this is not exactly kosher. It seems that FF is turning itself into a notational variant of the British Conservative Party. I’m trying to think of any ex-Wehrmacht officers who ended up in the Conservative Party, and I can’t name any. It is a rather odd metamorphosis.

    It is interesting though that Ulstermen feel able to join both of the major Irish parties: there is already the case of a (Protestant) Alliance party member who moved South and became involved in the Fine Gael party. This did not cause any eyelids to be raised: it seems to be understood that Fine Gael is just Irish for Alliance.

  • Mark McGregor

    Gari,

    While they maybe don’t exactly fit the model above there are numerous Republicans that were members of the British Army, diplomatic corps and even aristocracy. Their journeys are slightly more interesting than the shifts of a small businessman to a bigger brown envelope.

  • Garibaldy

    Mark,

    Surely. I couldn’t agree more. But I picked someone whose name is in the public domain to fit the model above to make a point about the quality of journalism in the report.

  • Mark McGregor

    And while a former Cllr or a current Cllr’s shift is presented as interesting, I’d contend within the history of Republicanism the shift of entire wings/parties to establishmentarism (is that a word?) is a bigger and more regularly repeated phenomenon.

  • “The Agreement is solid”

    Hardly.The Executive could run into the sand at any time – and 2016 is just down the road.

    I shouldn’t imagine that the governments you mention will be overly concerned about the continuing malign influence of paramilitarism just so long as it is mainly restricted to here.

  • Garibaldy

    If anti-disestablishmentarianism is a word, then I guess that’s a word too. We might differ over what exactly constitutes or has constituted acceptance of the establishment, but it’s definitely an interesting question. I think there’s definitely a lot in the argument that electoral politics cannot long co-exist with a commitment to an armed campaign.

    If we look at 1921, 1925 and the current development of PSF, I’d say in each case what we see is the search for power by a rising middle and lower middle class, first in the southern part of the island, and now in the north. In that sense as much if not more than any other, PSF is FF mark II.

    What marks the Republican leadership of the 1960s and following out is the commitment to the socialist transformation of society. The change to a party there was influenced by the need for an appropriate vehicle for revolutionary struggle – a party of and for the working class.

    So the RSF’s of the world may see it all as the same thing. I would say there were different class forces at work, represented in different ideological programmes.

  • Eh

    “There is at least one example from the Young Unionists who ended up in the SDLP. Namely Ivan Cooper.”

    Eh no, try again my friend.

    The story says the first unionist to join a republican party – sdlp ain’t republican….

    At least make sure ur not talking shite when you come across all scathing.

  • Garibaldy

    Well as I said, I don’t consider FF or PSF republican either. If FF is counted as republican, then why not the SDLP? Both are constitutional nationalist, and have opposed violence throughout the northern Troubles. The SDLP defines itself as republican these days, and has being doing so for at least a decade if not longer. See E. Hanna’s article in the book The Republican Ideal (1998). So its credentials are at least as good as FF’s.

    I note that you have ignored the pointed about unionists not meaning members of unionist political parties, as well as the historical examples like Erskine Childers. I’d have thought that that was a well-known enough example to make this statement a silly one.

    Are you still maintaining Billy Leonard was not a unionist by the way?

    As Mark points out, there are other examples of unionists joining republican parties from the recent past (say Ronnie Bunting) but those names are always not in the public domain.

  • Eh

    Fianna Fail are a republica n party regardless of your opinion, the words republican party are their bloody logo.

    The SDLP is not a republican party, they are defined and define themselves as a nationalist socialist party – clue is in the name.

    Billy Leonard was never a member of a unionist political party.

    So therefore it seems Harvey Bicker is the first member of a unionist party to defect to an Irish republican party.

    Thus not poor journalism, now i’d advise you to retract your arrogant bullshit statements before Mick gets slapped with a libel because of you.

  • Mark McGregor

    Gari,

    I think it could be filtered down to an even more basic level – while many will repeat the mantra ‘political strength is not dependent on electoral strength’ once you join an electoral field they seem to be inevitable interchangeable and the only way of judging your political strength will be based on votes.

    To me, while disagreeing with them, I see a political strenght is RSF’s rejection of electorialism.

    What encouarages me about left politics is a recent realisation, despite the workings of the party in the south, that many greens see capitalism as the major factor in the exploitation of the earth. Just as socialists have long recognised how it impacts on people.

  • Greenflag

    ‘We need to tear down this agreement before we can set up another’

    It’s taken 40 years to get this agreement. What makes you think it won’t take another 40 years to get another one ? Unionists who could’nt countenance power sharing with the SDLP in 1974 eventually had to settle for power sharing with SF in 2007? Another 40 years of the same carry on and Unionists won’t have anybody to share power with because they’ll be clinging to a one and a half county entity perched between the sea and a hard place . Get real .

    ‘starting by opposing the current arrangements makes good sense’

    Of course it does . That way you upset HMG, the Dublin Government , the USA , the EU and every would be potential foreign or domestic investor in Northern Ireland . Brilliant 🙁 Any more genius ideas ?

    ‘ New policies will I trust be revealed in the forthcoming months.’

    You can have all the new policies you want but if you don’t have an Assembly (by definition a power sharing one ) or the powers to implement your policies, then you might as bark up a tree . The current partnership is already barking up a tree -why would the electorate need another dog doing the same ?

    ‘If I remember your friends in SF started opposing things at first.’

    Just because it worked for SF in the past does not mean it will work for TUV or anybody else now or in the future . Different times . You might at least aspire to some originality of thought !

  • Garibaldy

    It said unionist. Not member of a unionist party.

    And if FF call themselves republican, and the SDLP says it is republican, then it has an equal claim, if we are taking that to be the definition of republicanism.

    Now if you can’t keep a civil tongue in your head, I have no interest in talking to you.

    Mark,

    I think the interest in sustainable economic development can certainly bode well for left politics if the debate can be turned that way. I would hold out less hope for convincing people currently involved in Green politics.

    On the electoralism thing. That is definitely a massive danger, and is partly such a problem in our political culture because of the depoliticisation of other areas of social and cultural life, so there is less chance to flex political muscles or influence developments outside formal political structures.

  • Greenflag

    ‘the hardest pill to swallow is not that he is a Protestant, not that he is an ex-Unionist, but that he is an ex-British Army officer.’

    That may be a Northern Republican viewpoint but From a southern nationalist perspective the hardest pill of the above three to have to swallow is the ex unionist IMO.

    Soldiers are soldiers be they British , Irish or anything else -they tend to be mostly apolitical and are usually pragmatic in terms of what is best for the security of their ‘people’. Many of the officers of the Irish Free State Army were ex BA . This did not prevent them giving their allegiance to the Irish Government of the time .

    Protestants were the founders of modern republicanism/nationalism in Ireland back in the 17th/18th and 19th centuries . Thomas Davis , John Mitchell, Wolfe Tone ,,Emmet Molyneux , Grattan and Flood being the most famous/infamous .

  • PaddyReilly

    Protestants were the founders of modern republicanism/nationalism in Ireland back in the 17th/18th and 19th centuries . Thomas Davis , John Mitchell, Wolfe Tone ,,Emmet Molyneux , Grattan and Flood being the most famous/infamous.

    You may find this difficult to believe, but I had actually heard of them. I don’t think any of them were officers in the British Army though. I suppose though, George Washington at least applied to join the British Army, so there is some precedent for changing allegiance to Republicanism. (Just remembered one: James Connolly. But he wasn’t an officer.)

  • aquifer

    ‘One less quisling inside Unionism’

    No more Lundys then? Great that Unionism has at least modernised itself into the middle of the last century. But I still sense that it lacks the capacity and ambition to convert others to its view. In an age of migration mixing and mobility, ‘not for export’ politics means terminal decline.

    Then there is the failure to recognise that the major divide in politics is between democrats including FF and the rest.

    If political stupidity is terminal decline, when does ignorance become political suicide?

  • Garibaldy

    Thomas Russell, founding United Irishman later hung for his part in 1803, was an officer in the British army. Tom Barry served in the British Army in WWI.

  • Katinka

    So did Emmet Dalton.

  • Dewi

    Don’t think Ronnie Bunting was a Unionist and I suspect HArvey Bicker isn’t either.

  • PaddyReilly

    So did Emmet Dalton

    Him I had not heard of, but found a mention of him in Wikipedia. His role was inauspicious, he was an enthusiastic participator in what looks suspiciously like a reinvasion:-

    The Free State’s forces took the south and west of Ireland with landings from the sea. Seaborne landings were the first proposed by Emmet Dalton and then adopted by Michael Collins. Their plan was to avoid the hard fighting that would inevitably occur if they advanced overland through republican held Munster and Connaught. To this end, they commandeered several civilian passenger ships to transport troops. They were escorted by British naval vessels

    Thomas Russell was interesting, he only resigned his commission because of financial difficulties. Like George Washington, he wasn’t rich enough to be British.

  • Blooper

    “Don’t think Ronnie Bunting was a Unionist and I suspect Harvey Bicker isn’t either.”

    Join the UUP – the Unionist Party for non-Unionists!

  • Paul

    There is nothing out of place at all about a unionist joining FF – it should actually be encouraged. In most other places around the world there are a lot more important political issues at hand than simply the unionist/ nationalist/republican in Northern Ireland.

    And, believe it or not, an aspiration for a united Ireland is NOT out of place within unionist thinking. Most of our problems were after all caused by the south leaving the union in the first place. The only way we can get the 26 to come back to their senses and re-join the union is to have influence from within!

  • PaddyReilly

    Dewi, there were 2 Ronald Buntings, a father and a son. The father’s career was a bit inconsistent, and involved forays into the SDLP I think, as well as following the Rev Ian Paisley. The son was consistently, even violently, Repblican. It is thought he was responsible for the death of Airey Neave.

    Harvey Bicker was, as you would know if you had read the introduction, an “Ulster Unionist councillor from Down District”.

  • URQUHART

    this is a very positive development. And it shows why the SF project is in dire straights – FF can actually deliver an all-Ireland political movement, in Government north and south, that can build the trust of people from a Unionist background and advance the national interest.

    Where does SF go from here? Oh yes – organising parties to commemorate Mairead Farrell in Stormont.

    Phew.

  • Llamedos

    The defection to Fianna Fail of Colonel Harvey Bicker opens up a veritable can of worms. He currently holds the Queens Commission and is also a Justice of The Peace. In both offices he has sworn an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors.

    However Mr Harvey Bicker has presumably defected and given his loyalty to another state namely The Republic of Ireland but it is impossible for any one man to be obeisant to two sovereigns. The aforesaid gentleman is a member of The President of Ireland’s Council of State and now a member of an Irish political party which is the equivalent of the British Labour Party. This course of action defies logic surely his natural home would have been Fianna Gael. Informed commentators believe that there is however an ulterior motive in his choice of the party currently in power; this might well be his appointment to the Senate.

    This would cause problems and Mr Bicker is left with some hard choices if he has any positions in Her Majesty’s Land Forces he surely would have to resign them. Further more it is frightfully infra dig to use a rank that you have not earned in the Regular Field Army. Secondly we would not want a Justice of the Peace to be a member of a foreign legislature.

    It is now time for Mr Bicker to decide which side of the fence he is on; currently he is being ambivalent and falling for President MacAleese’s no doubt highly overt attempt to interfere into the affairs of another nation state. The Irish State enjoys sharing several treaties with the United Kingdom and is also bound by the Treaty of Rome not to interfere in the affairs of another member state. Furthermore it is also a signatory of the United Nations Charter. I am appalled at this unseemly course of action. It is reminiscent of certain pre war aristocrats,Mosleyites, politicians and others. Grant you De Valera ,the Spanish American Irish civil war hero, went to sign the book of condolence at the German Embassy in Dublin, whilst the UK was still at war, for that vain glorious fascist Herr Schickelgruber who was so appositely named.

    We do not mind doing business with other nations but do not want them to not covet our territory. We are happy to be a member of a major world power with one of the world’s leading economies and a permanent seat on the Security Council; Mr Bicker’s former fellow citizens are sick and totally fed up with this combined assault on our national sovereignty
    .
    It is ironic that Mr Bicker started his career in the Irish Army no doubt he could return to his old rank there what ever that was and he could use that as a title to project himself. The world is full of social climbers, every one of us who is upwardly mobile and is ambitious can be accused of this trait, however such social mountaineering on an international scale is slightly unpalatable.

  • Dewi

    “Dewi, there were 2 Ronald Buntings, a father and a son. The father’s career was a bit inconsistent, and involved forays into the SDLP I think, as well as following the Rev Ian Paisley. The son was consistently, even violently, Repblican. It is thought he was responsible for the death of Airey Neave.

    Harvey Bicker was, as you would know if you had read the introduction, an “Ulster Unionist councillor from Down District”. ”

    Paddy – I assumed the reference was to the son, the INLA operative, not to his cudgel wielding Dad.
    Harvey Bicker was a Unionist Councillor – he is now, it appears, a nationalist. He must have changed his mind – it is allowed.

  • kensei

    We do not mind doing business with other nations but do not want them to not covet our territory. We are happy to be a member of a major world power with one of the world’s leading economies and a permanent seat on the Security Council; Mr Bicker’s former fellow citizens are sick and totally fed up with this combined assault on our national sovereignty

    I love how anyone who does this ignores the fact that at least 40+% of the population isn’t happy and are actually quite content with the erosion of sovereignty.

    And “major world power”. Not that I’ve ever understood the appeal of that anyway, but hush.

  • Greenflag

    ‘You may find this difficult to believe, but I had actually heard of them.’

    What you heard must have been in passing otherwise you would not have made the comment here below .

    ‘I don’t think any of them were officers in the British Army though.’

    Actually I never said they were !. They were however in one form or another Irish patriots who’s views ranged from greater access to English markets for Irish products (Molyneux 17th century ) to Wolfe Tones late 18th cntury ‘breaking the political connection with the source of Ireland’s misery’, to Davis’s 19th century Young Ireland nationalism .

    ‘so there is some precedent for changing allegiance to Republicanism. ‘

    There is a precedent for soldiers (including officers) to change their political allegiance . Normally this takes place at the end of a war/conflict for obvious military discipline reasons . Changing allegiance in the middle of war is usually rewarded by firing squad if you find yourself captured by your former colleagues . This applies to all armies and as I said above soldiers are usually above all loyal to the army they fight with during a war .

    Roger Casement was a brave man but his understanding of ‘soldiery’ was way off the mark when he tried to win over a couple of thousand Irish P.O.W’s in German prisoner of war camps . Many of those P.O.W’s later returned to Ireland after WW1 and enlisted in the Irish Free State Army -some even joined the post treaty IRA.

    So being a former British soldier or officer does not disqualify anyone from joining FF or FG or Labour . I can understand why it might be a bridge too far for SF to accept such recruits in NI at this time .

    There may be some forward looking people of unionist background within Northern Ireland who may have come around to the belief that it is in the best interests of the remaining unionist population in Northern Ireland to accomodate to the future in the overall interest of better and closer relations between Britain and the Republic.
    That viewpoint may see longer term economic and political stability in all of Ireland as being a more secure deal than the present ‘shaky’ power sharing Assembly. You could I suppose call this viewpoint ‘Unselfish Unionism’ 🙂 Perhaps Mr Harvey Bicker is just one of this new thinking brigade ?

  • King Crisps

    We are happy to be a member of a major world power with one of the world’s leading economies and a permanent seat on the Security Council
    A permanent seat on the security council?? At the moment, you can’t even vote on the Lisbon treaty OR for which political party whom will run the whole of the UK. Does NI get a vote on that council, or do you normally go with whatever the English go with? (Do you even get asked??) The only major thing you have a vote in is the UK’s X-factor, and there seems to be more micks than prods in that these days anyway!!
    One of the world leading economies?? Surely you mean that the south-east of England has one of the worlds leading economies. Getting approx £5,000m in subvention is hardly ‘being part’ of a leading economy.
    If your security council seat were to dissappear tomorrow, how worse off would you be in your daily life? Maybe you should be worrying about the high reliability on the public sector within NI’s economy, rather than your security council seat!

  • Greenflag

    Seems like Mr Bicker is not the only islander who believes that using one’s mind to think differently should not be feared in the ‘new’ Ireland .

    From today’s Indo comes a case of an individual exercising his right to think for himself and make his life’s decisions accordingly .

    ‘A former Catholic priest has been appointed Church of Ireland Dean of Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral, a senior and high-profile post in Irish Anglicanism.

    Dermot Dunne, currently archdeacon in the diocese of Ferns, becomes the cathedral’s first Dean since the 16th century Reformation to have received his theological education in a Catholic seminary.

    The new Dean succeeds the Very Reverend Desmond Harman, who died last December.

    His surprise appointment was announced yesterday during worship in Christ Church by the cathedral’s Precentor, Canon Adrian Empey, and he will be formally introduced today by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill, at a news conference in the cathedral’s Chapter Room.

    The Dean-elect will be accompanied by his wife, Celia, a member of the RTE choir, whom he met while studying psychotherapy in London. He resigned as a priest of the diocese of Cork and Ross to marry.

    After applying for entry into the Anglican ministry, he completed his studies in a record one year, being dispensed from the normal three-year course on account of his previous BA Honours degree and diplomas in both theology and philosophy at at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the Catholic Church’s national seminary.

    Account was also taken of his considerable pastoral experience while serving as a Catholic priest. He will be instituted into his new post in Christ Church on May 30.’

    Wonder how long it would have taken him to become a Presbyterian Minister or a Methodist ?

  • Dewi

    But has he become a Unionist Greenflag??

  • Katinka

    I think Emmet Dalton also won the Military Cross in WW1. However, the highest ranking officer in the BA to become a republican must surely be Major-General Eric Dorman O’Gowan, formerly Dorman-Smith. He was the military advisor to the IRA 1950-54.

  • Greenflag

    The only reference to the state of ‘slavery ‘ is that re matrimonial union with a certain Celia:).

    Whatever his politics he knows now who’s really the boss 🙁

    His mother in law !

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Bravo Mr Bicker!

    Mayoman

    “That there is an appreciable number of middle-class prods that see beenfits in a UI. How many more will emerge as the mutual hatred disappears and pragmatism takes over??”

    Indeed, as in any other group of people, the vast majority of people in the unionist tradition are reasonable, decent people who want the same thing anyone wants – peace, security, dignity and the best possible future for their children. The fact that the kind of republicanism we see south of the border, and best represented by Fianna Fáil, is obviously the best political route to all of this, is something that must surely be noticed within unionism. It is to be hoped that as time passes and mutual hatred, bitterness and suspicion are replaced with mutual respect, regard and indeed deepening co-operation, that the frozen logic of religion-based or tradition-based politics can seriously be challenged.
    And the fact that Fianna Fáil is ahead of the game (and so far ahead of northern parties that it’s just not funny) will throw up interesting new developments in the future.

    Michael Shilliday
    “His statement is strange. It almost sounds like he is a Unionist who wants to represent Unionist views from inside FF. Which is surely impossible – one would have thought that to join FF he would have had to sign up to their aims and objectives which I’m willing to bet are contradictory of Unionism.”

    Contradictory of dusty old unionist shibboleths, perhaps, but did you ever think that he wants to try and represent PEOPLE, rather than getting bogged down in dogma? Indeed your post is a great example of the kind of pedantic, navel-gazing, reactionary and sectarian (in the literal sense) thinking that he’s clearly trying to get away from. I guess he has decided that he’d rather be in a serious, grown-up party that is trying to build the best possible future – and happens to be a republican party – than staying in the grindingly defeatist, blinkered, soul-destroying Toytown of unionist politics.

    Turgon
    “Yes they might exist. However, I, as a middle class unionist with mainly middle class unionist friends have never heard this suggested. Clearly you and Walter Ellis and others know so many more unionists than I do; hence, I must just be wrong.”

    People would often surprise you. Your own views would be regarded within the unionist community as extreme. (I won’t say how they appear to a non-unionist!) Maybe your friends simply know you and would be loath to cause a scene by airing views that they probably think you would regard as treasonous? After all, the defining political characteristic of our self-respecting middle class types has been to insist (lyingly) that they have no interest in politics at all!

    OC
    “Michael Shilliday should be aware that FF’s stated aims and objects are very far removed from their overriding mission, to stay in power and to use power to feather their own nests. In that sense unionists of all hues and FF would be most comfortable bedfellows.”

    Yeah, those terrible gombeen men of Fianna Fáil, what have they ever done for Ireland? Apart from the Peace Process and the Celtic Tiger and generally turning the Republic into arguably the best place to live on the planet. Apart from that, what have they ever done?

    My God, how badly we need a party as flawed as FF up here to save us from the purists!

    Meanwhile Bonar Law, our resident soccer hooligan, as usual offers only jeers and insults. I’m sure your contribution has only reinforced Mr Bicker’s conclusion that unionism ain’t the future.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Apart from that, what have they ever done?”

    Well,they did arm the Provos.
    Plus they have an inspiring track record of dodgy leaders that many a South American junta would reject as too grotesque bizarre , un believable, and the other one beginning with “u” that I can’t remember

    And I think Turgon and I probably know more middle class Unionists than you, Billy, and our views are actually more rounded and moderate than many of them.
    If you don’t believe us, cast your mind back to 1974, and 1985, not to mention the strong middle class support for the Drumcree protest. It’s just that most of the time they’re too nice to show their true feelings

  • Valenciano

    “As for Harvey Bicker, the hardest pill to swallow is not that he is a Protestant, not that he is an ex-Unionist, but that he is an ex-British Army officer. I am certain that there are many on the Republican side who will feel that this is not exactly kosher. ”

    I don’t see why. In the early days of the conflict quite a few PIRA volunteers would have served in the British armed forces pre 1969. There’s also the precedent of John Turnley http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Turnley an ex British army officer who was a leading figure in the National H Blocks Committee. So there are precedents.