Republican way forward

A few days ago one of our regular commenters, Pancho’s Horse; asked me to analyse the current situation from a Republican perspective. At the time I though that it might be an interesting intellectual challenge but I have tried to look at this sort of thing before and have been attacked by republicans for not understanding. Anyhow here goes again. Complaints should also be directed to Pancho’s Horse.

For those who complain my blogs are too long a brief summary: In my view the there are short and medium term opportunities and potential pitfalls. The long term cannot be predicted.
Since the resumption of power sharing republicans have not had a litany of successes to crow about. Ruane has removed the 11 plus but it may come back from the dead; a sort of undead 11 plus. The other SF ministers have been relatively undistinguished, I mean that not as an insult but their departments have not had especially dramatic things to crow about possibly excepting Conor Murphy’s road building plans. They have, however, managed to avoid making an overt mess the way Ruane, Poots, Paisley junior and McGimpsey have.

Part of the problem is that day to day politics is just not as exciting as the negotiations were. The republican faithful may get bored with what they see as the administration of British rule (actually just normal government). This has been partly to blame, I suspect, for the resignation of Gerry McHugh; although as I have suggested before I always get the impression that republicans in Fermanagh are the most hard line and ideologically committed. I doubt the assorted new republican parties can make that much headway and I doubt that in the short term dissident republicans can create an organised terrorist campaign; whether or not the IRA itself will return to violence is a question I cannot answer from a republican position. Most regular readers will know what I think.

The assorted potential malcontents do, however, need to be kept happy and there have been a number of strategies: the cavalcade for Londonderry (okay I will call it Derry since it is a blog on republicanism), the episodes of symbols in Limavady and Banbridge. The recent episode over Farrell can be seen in a similar light but it was actually much cleverer than that. By now raising the issue of unionist symbols at Stormont, this opens up a whole new front in trouble making and hence, in things to demand to be changed. If acquiesced to this would reduce the general “Britishness” of Northern Ireland and even if the demands are not met other concessions might be gained instead. It was a well thought out idea and I guess if it benefits republicanism Ms. Farrell would be pleased whatever her views on Stormont. It gains media coverage for another youngish republican woman Jennifer McCann, it also keeps the appearance of momentum. Again, however, there is always the short term danger that some expect every republican wheeze to produce a victory. From a republican view point it is better to see themselves as besieging the castle of unionism. Each little attack may weaken the wall a little more and indeed weaken the defenders resolve (I actually disagree with both those points but I suspect it is a good way to analyse it as a republican). Using a similar analysis, republicans can point to the DUP dumping Paisley and the emergence of the TUV as examples of the fact that unionists are unhappy with republican gains. They can also present it as the danger of unionists rolling the process back unless vigilance (and the SF vote) is kept up.

In the short term then there are problems and opportunities. In the medium term it is the same. There is always the danger of the supporters loosing heart. What is needed is a way to ensure that republicans feel they are gaining more than unionists and yet keep alive the sense of being outsiders; still needing to push on towards the final goal. They need to be seen to work the system, use the system, benefit from the system yet not be of the system.

If McGuinness or any other Sinn Fein member became First Minister that would be a great boost yet care would need to be exercised to ensure that did not lead to the executive being collapsed by unionists. Maybe a case for magnanimity, letting a unionist be First Minister and repeatedly reminding them that you allowed them that? Maybe a rotating First ministership?

All this of course ignores the RoI. I cannot comment on it but I do think that they need to hold their current support yet dump some of the socialist baggage. That might loose less support than they think. Much SF support comes from the border regions and I doubt Monaghan, Louth and Donegal farmers are that wedded to socialism. I accept in Dublin it would be more of a problem.

In the longer term who knows. Maybe there will be an RC majority in Northern Ireland and maybe that majority will vote for a united Ireland. I think anyone who claims to be able to answer that question is deluding themselves. There are too many variables. Maybe also republicans will go back to violence. Even if current republicans were committed to non violence (something I personally do not believe); I have always maintained that the hatred and what are to an extent ethnic divisions (though I know we are all ethnically the same) will make violence resurface. If you do not believe me: look at Yugoslavia; look at how violence here has recurred frequently. In my view to say that future generations would never resort to violence is folly. Our children may well think of the romance of the rebellion and not the horror of its out workings (and yes that applies on both sides).

Overall I think the republican leadership have played their hand pretty well. They achieved a great deal from violence and even more from its ending. They may still gain concessions from disbanding the army council. Being nice to Paisley has bedded Stormont in and if it is collapsed it is unlikely that they will be seen as solely or even mainly responsible; they might well be seen as the innocent parties.

Can all this achieve their goal? Well it depends on what that is: demographics might do it for them. Of course as The Dubliner (I hope you are enjoying Israel) always observed they may want a lot more than merely a united Ireland and I very much doubt a 32 county socialist republic is possible. To get more concessions for their own side is probably possible. However, to make unionists want a united Ireland; I think is impossible for the current generation of the republican leadership. One of our family friends is about 10 years older than me and Elenwe. He is a border Protestant who maintains that but for the IRA there might well have a united Ireland. He may be correct. However, any chance of getting unionists to accept it, if by chance that was what republicans had wanted; that died when the IRA started their campaign. I genuinely think that when Adams talks about unionists being willing to accept a united Ireland may not understand that his friends killed that possibility when they started and I need not list the names by which they confirmed that idea’s death. As I said in another blog: much too long the memories of Adams, McGuinness and their and their friends’ pasts; much too long the dark nights for unionists in the likes of South Fermanagh to recall what they had done, much too recent the pain and much too significant for unionists throughout Northern Ireland.

Well Pancho’s Horse I tried my best. There you go.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Pretty much what I expected and it makes for grim reading.But will require a (or several) re-reads. Thanks for the effort. You can now lie down with a damp cloth on your brow.

  • Mark McGregor

    Clearly SF are the main factor at present and Republicans rebuilding outside that party have a long and difficult, potentially hopeless task ahead of them, but that’s a discussion for elsewhere so I’ll give my view on your views of SF.

    I think the main thing you miss is the ‘broad-church’ nature of SF and how the denominations within that church have shifted. SF have definitely moved onto the ground of constitutionality, the final step being acceptance of the legitimacy of British law and policing in Ireland. That move was gradual and while it was being made I don’t feel they ‘Republicanised’ their new supporters but moved to ground more appealing for them. While the broad church is managing to hold at present with those who see themselves as socialists, pure-green Republicans and the stoop-at-heart wanting the strongest front against Unionism – can it hold together in the long term?

    Will the Socialist Republicans stay on board as PPP, strikebreaking, welcoming non-Unionised employers, selling off public assets and dodgey US investment continues?

    Will the dark green vote stay as the cosying up to the DUP continues, no real gains are made on blurring the border and the cops make no impact on crime?

    Will the stoop-at-heart have any reason to stay loyal as they didn’t ever buy the core messages if FF or the SDLP give an alternate credible home?

    For me things are stable at present for SF but trying to hold together such a disparate group of voters will become increasingly difficult and it inevitably leads to further dilution of any core values.

    Though, to me those slowly working across a number of areas putting down the roots to provide for a regrowth of Socialist Republicanism are my hopes for the future. But I’m a dreamer…..

  • slug

    Mark regardless of voters do you think Sinn Féin will lose a lot of activists?

  • Mark McGregor

    No, I can’t see a major loss like that in Dublin. I could see them suffering from attrition as Stormont beds in and the actual real difference an activist can contribute to becomes limited beyond election time but I reckon the DUP will experience the same and if the UUP and SDLP had any they’d be losing them too. That’s just an inevitable consequence of Stormont.

    but I’m no expert and it’s just gut feeling.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Turgon,

    “He is a border Protestant who maintains that but for the IRA there might well have a united Ireland. He may be correct.”

    This statement may be true or it maybe designed to suggest what is most unpalatable to Republican ears – they were trying too hard – all they had to do was to sit on their hands and hey presto it would be a United Ireland.

    This is extremely unlikely as the anti-ROI, anti-Catholic prejudice is an integral part of the Unioinst identity. The idea that anything would be given to the enemy without a fight is a nonsense. Extreme Unioinist’s rhetoric has softened AFTER 30 years of violence and only after their veto was removed from the equation by the British – the only reason the British did that as Bob Mc Cartney rightly points out is because of the big bombs in London.

  • Steve

    Every political party in the real world represents a varried contigent with in its ranks and swings from side to side as real world conditions change. Most people who join a party are fairly pragmatic about what it represesents and bide their time until political sensibilities turn in their favour.

    Few if any people feel one party represents their entire political views and pick the one party that represents the biggest part of what they expect

    Having said that I think SF could swing more to the right away from socialism as long as the economic picture of its constituents improve. Money in pocket speaks louder to most then political ideals.

    I dare say that the centre left socialism of the UK such as socialised medicine would carry well into the republic but pure socialism is a pipe dream.

  • Garibaldy

    Any loss of activists no longer matters. All they need is an election machine. People will turn out for the elections, but the PSF game is now almost completely council and Stormont centred. The shift towards that has been obvious for years, most obviously in the northern universities, where there has been a deliberate shift to basically one big event (Hunger Striker centred usually) and quiet normal activism as opposed to screaming and shouting, protests etc.

    There will be enough of a protest culture kept going to appear active, and added to commemorations, but the old style of politics has gone completely.

    Much of the same could be said of the DUP.

  • p

    Turgon, is it not a bit disingenuous of you to suggest that if the Provisional Alliance had not launched their ‘campaign of terror’ that the colonial types would have been bursting themselves to throw up their privileged position and rush madly into a United Ireland or at least a settlement with the natives? If the white S Africans/Rhodesians could have avoided democracy, they would have.You can’t seem to grasp (or maybe you can) the fact that once the planters start to mix with the planted and grant them equality in their own country, then the show is over and a return to the mainland (sic) is the only option.THis imagined racial/religious/linguistic superiority is the colonial raison d’etre and if it is removed then all is lost.

  • Mark McGregor

    Gari,

    Agree completely. For those sitting in the leather seats with more as priority activism will hold little appeal beyond set pieces.

    Though, good old fashioned left wing protest, broad front too, got a result this week. A small victory but one that relied on the combined action of Unions, SP, éirígí, anarchists, IRSP and others.

  • Twinbrook

    as I`ve said before..

    SF`s core support especially in the rural areas is socially conservative and any reference to “socialism” is merely window dressing…
    SF will continue to dwell, grow or stagnate in the large urban centres, Dublin, Cork, etc…as the FF and FG ARE the social conservative parties and as past Southern elections have shown, SF will struggle to eat into this vote and its a vote they need if they are to become a relevant political force….

    From those SF activists and supporters I`ve spoken too, there is a sense of dissatisfaction (hence the growing number of commerations and marches, to re-enforce SF`s Republican credentials!)and a growing realisation that their voice and concerns are routinely ignored. Hence a growing momentum of doubt..

    Do SF have a coherent direction or is at the whim of the current leadership cloaked behind the facade of democratic centralism!!

  • joeCanuck

    From the sounds of the comments, Turgon, you made a pretty good try for an outside analyst. Congrats.
    Maybe they’ll offer you a job!

  • slug

    “Any loss of activists no longer matters. All they need is an election machine.”

    Was the loss of activists in Dublin related to their vote drop there?

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘that died when the IRA started their campaign.’

    I doubt if unionists would ever agree to a united Ireland, and the fact that their acceptance is not a necessity for it, means their approval rests on the ‘in a perfect world shelf’. Unfortunately Turgon, your post seems to try and lump the blame for the start of the violence with republicans, and as history is well aware, this was not the case.

  • Garibaldy

    Slug,

    I seriously doubt it. That was more to do with the TV performance of Adams and the aggresive work done by FF’s own electoral machine. In the battle of the populists in the south, there is only going to be one winner. Whereas I suspect any contest in the north would go the opposite way.

    Mark,

    Great to see progress, and I wasn;t suggesting that activism should be abandoned by the left. Just that it has been abandoned by PSF and DUP as they no longer need it. It would be a hindrance rather than a help. So spats at Stormont over symbolic and irrelevant nonsense while working hand-in-glove.

  • kensei

    Sammy

    This is extremely unlikely as the anti-ROI, anti-Catholic prejudice is an integral part of the Unionist identity.

    I think this is unfair. While there is undoubtedly a lot of that floating around Unionism,(and even more so in the past), while reading McKay’s “Northern Protestants” (not popular among Unionist here, I know), I was struck by how there was the odd flash of curiosity in Gaelic culture and a United Ireland. And a cursory glance at Irish history will reveal a large number of Protestants (even the odd Ulster Protestant post 1798) that have been involved with Nationalism.

    I’m not saying that is typical: it clearly isn’t. But it is likely possible to create a political party to encourage that. Enough for as United Ireland? Probably not. But we are getting to the point where small swings could top it, and we’d be in a better position where Protestant identification as Irish is apparently in negative figures.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Turgon

    Firstly, fair play to you for attempting to extricate yourself from the unionist prism you normally look through.

    As I’ve said before here, it is truly fascinating learning how others see us (I don’t just mean that in a unionist/ nationalist context, but in a broader sense.) It provides an insight into one’s thinking, but also exposes preconceptions, prejudices and blindspots that we can’t see simply because they have been an integral part of the narrative we have experienced/ bought into/ prefer from our tenderest age.

    A couple of weeks ago, I took a series of lessons with my Primary 5 class, introducing the concept of prejudices and stereotyping initially through differences they observed between ‘boys’ and ‘girls’, before moving onto ‘catholics’ and ‘protestants’ and, finally, introducing the class to Islam.

    It was a very enjoyable series of lessons, and if you have experience of working with young children, then you’ll know that the candour and carefree attitude they bring to such discussions is refreshing and revealing.

    All of which brings me to your observations.

    First, let me address an apparent contradiction in your thinking. You concede that republicans had “been nice” to Paisley in order to bed in Stormont.

    You do this without stopping to think about either why that was done, nor how difficult it must’ve been for republicans at both a leadership and grassroots level.

    You’re not alone in recognising the existence of a Sinn Fein strategy to hold tongues and allow Paisley- and various loudmouth DUPers- to fire off the odd provocative and offensive salvo without retaliation- all in order to give Paisley room to bring his party into the power-sharing arrangements.

    Of course nationalists were incensed by the demeaning usage of the ‘Deputy’ term by Paisley and his (false) assertions in a number of interviews that he called the shots and was in charge.

    And how do you think the long line of unionist MLAs queueing to have a go at the Irish language- not to mention catholic education (that’d be Sammy and Michelle) -went down with many republicans?

    The reason for holding fire was clearly to give the DUP time to stabilise the party within the administration- hardly conducive to a strategy of seeking to divide unionism.

    Secondly, the unionist interpretation of republican initiatives always seems to contextualise such happenings within a darker strategy to ‘con the Prods’ when, in truth, often such occurences are the product of no such ‘strategising.’

    Take the Derry cavalcade. As far as I can see, that was a fairly spontaneous initiative by an energetic MLA- certainly not the product of long-term scheming to ‘keep the troops silent.’

    Similarly, Martin McGuinness’ honest assessment of his feelings in the immediate aftermath of Bloody Sunday- sentiments which would’ve been naturally shared by many within his community at the time.
    (contd below)

  • Chris Donnelly

    And, perhaps most ironically, the decision to hold a Mairead Farrell commemoration at Stormont was undoubtedly taken to emphasise to the nationalist/ republican community that the shared institutions of government bought into through the GFA/ SAA ushered in a new era in which there would be equality for both traditions- though the Parliament remains sited at the location of unionist domination for 50 years, complete with statues and emblems clearly identifiable with only one community, a concession which always seems to evade unionists.

    Dismissing the desire to have the nationalist identity afforded equal legitimacy with that of unionism as ‘trouble-making’ kinda sums up where unionism has gone wrong with this entire issue.

    I believe there is a job of work in this for the leadership of unionism. Rather than accusing republicans of ‘stoking up trouble’ by daring to seek an accomodation over the display of political and cultural items identified with only one community, unionist leaders should be educating their community about the need to respect expressions of the nationalist identity- with all that entails regarding not just flags and emblems from civic buildings, but also the Irish language, bashing which (sadly) seems to have replaced coat-trailing parades as the best measure of ‘Superprod’ status amongst the angry pin-stripers.

    Consider this: why is it that nationalist-controlled local government councils, which as a rule practice proportionality in the allocation of civic posts (a practice not reciprocated on most unionist-controlled councils, by the way) have not raised the Irish national flag, preferring to adopt policies emphasising the need for neutral working environments? Could it be because they are demonstrating the type of equal respect for the unionist tradition that nationalists are demanding from unionists at Stormont and on various other local government councils?

    From a nationalist- never mind republican- perspective, the exclusively British and unionist trappings of the northern state since partition served as a reminder of the alien status of the nationalist community in the northern state, divorced from the ‘Free State’ and the rest of our country as a result of partition.

    Therefore, given that a political accommodation has been secured between the two traditions in the six counties, it is only logical- and indeed perfectly justifiable- for nationalists to demand equal expression of their political and cultural identity to that of unionism, whether that take the form of displays at civic buildings at local government level or at Parliament Buildings, where a statue remains to a notorious gun-runner/ unionist statesman (delete appropriately…)

    Lastly, the republican way forward, as intimated by others like Mark on this thread, will undoubtedly be marked by the friction between a desire to work the institutions and to maintain a radical edge, particularly given that our political system provides for permanent government for the main parties. I have my own thoughts on that, which Mick has asked me to put together for a forthcoming thread ( so I’ll not bore you all now…..)

  • Twinbrook

    Maybe, if all the southern political parties decided to organise in the North, this could address the fears and concerns of Unionists…

    Surely on social issues the major Unionist parties would fit quite nicely into FG or maybe go along with them and form a new grouping?

    Fanciful maybe but anythings now possible.

    As to a United Ireland, it will never occur unless theres an accommodation of some sort with Unionists….

    What we need are politics which cross the divide and unite the working class in Dublin and Belfast…

  • slug

    kensei

    Thanks for making that post. I am neither anti-Catholic nor anti-Irish and in fact I do identify with much Irish culture and take a pride in it. I was going to reply but then I revoned this is not a thread about unionism :). As for whether this will grow I think it would. But then again there is a lot of pride in being British for me too, and in being distinctly Northern Irish as well.

  • Turgon

    kensei,
    Well argued and I suspect quite close to the truth. I doubt it is possible to get any significant number of Protestants to be truly nationalists; those who might be seen as part way there like John Dunlop are largely regarded with contempt by most unionists.

    What might be possible with a lot of time and effort might be to make an adequate number of unionists acquiesce to it. That might be a reasonable ultra long term ambition for nationalists / republicans. However, I suspect it would involve doing a lot less of the Farrell, Limavady etc stuff which is probably more useful in the short, medium and even relatively long term.

  • kensei

    Chris

    The reason for holding fire was clearly to give the DUP time to stabilise the party within the administration- hardly conducive to a strategy of seeking to divide unionism.

    I think time is running out on that strategy as people are beginning to get annoyed. The presumption on the news tonight any stadium will be based in (East) Belfast because the DUP wants it there irritated. Though the suggestion that they could somehow make a viable stadium without the GAA amused, considering the amount the Maze figures have to rely on it.

    Turgon

    Well argued and I suspect quite close to the truth. I doubt it is possible to get any significant number of Protestants to be truly nationalists; those who might be seen as part way there like John Dunlop are largely regarded with contempt by most unionists.

    Actually, I disagree. I think we need to get to the point where people aren’t treated with disdain for supporting it. Or Catholics on the Falls supporting Unionism, for that matter.

    You might think me mad, but when Howard Dean took over the Democratic Party, he announced he was going to run with a 50 state strategy. They were going to organise in “red states” and build, slowly from the bottom up. What Republicanism need in the North is a six county strategy (realistically, they are attempting that to an extent in the other 26, before anyone starts).

    Rather than engage in “Unionist outreach”, SF need to open an office on the Shankill. And the Village. And the loyalist areas of Derry and the rest. Then they need to soak up the outrage, the inevitable threats and attacks and work as hard as they can manage for at least ten years. The first step in a long road to any Unionist considering a United Ireland is a Unionist considering voting for a Nationalist candidate because they were there and did something useful while the Unionist wasn’t. That to my mind, is the only way anyone is going to make headway with Unionism; suggesting otherwise is suggesting that it’ll come about by doing nothing.

  • Dewi

    Good post Turgon – much too long as usual but got your message pretty quickly. Personal view that is hardening every day is that people like yourself will be “persuaders” for a United Ireland very quickly. But let’s see what happens eh!

  • Dewi

    And Kensei – couldn’t agree with you more.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    I don’t think we want people in a United Ireland who have been forced, outbred or sullenly acquiesce.We’ll wait for the enthusiasm.

  • Garibaldy

    Kensei,

    The WP used to run mobile advice centres in unionist areas in the 1980s and early 1990s. But I think the tolerance for that type of thing would be gone, and certainly not for the Provos.
    A nice idea though. More importantly, I’m not sure the Provos actually want to put that effort in.

  • kensei

    Pancho

    I don’t think we want people in a United Ireland who have been forced, outbred or sullenly acquiesce.We’ll wait for the enthusiasm.

    No, we bloody well won’t, or I want joint sovereignty now. I don’t want to be in the UK, I acquiesce to it because of a lack of a majority., No, no more changing of the rules.

  • Turgon

    kensei,
    Your first post impressed, the second more so. Such a plan would not be radical, it would be visionary.
    I am profoundly impressed.
    There are, however, problems:

    I think you underestimate the relevance of what is in a way ethnic culture and an ethnic conflict

    Currently and for the forseeable future it would be coat trailing. Memories of the Shankill bomb are much too recent.

    Sinn Fein do not have anyone who could carry this off, and I cannot see the circumstances in which they could get such a person.

    I think you tend as many republicans do to romanticise the Protestant working class and see them as people you can reach out to. You forget that they are not usually that keen on reaching out to you or your reaching out to them. They have long memories. You also forget that you are not discussing the Protestant working class but a small very disadvantaged minority of them. Disadvantaged to a large extent by the malign influence of loyalist paramilitaries and the failure of unionist parties to help them. You perceive in their disadvantage an opportunity for outreach. I suspect there is none.

    The rest of the Protestant working class will also be disinterested and they are the majority.

    You make no allowance for the unionist middle classes. Not necessarily folk like me who are essentially irredeemable but also the lower middle classes and the urban ones. They will not flock to you whatever you do.

    Finally you have folk like me. People like me do exist outside the music halls of slugger and as can be seen recently we do have a certain voting weight.

    Still radical thinking and to be roundly commended.

    In 50 years time your plan might be possible and might work but that is the kind of minimum time scale we are discussing.

    Dewi, Never forget that beneath the polite veneer and references to literature I have a heart made of unionist adamant. Every now and then people see it and it has not changed in blogging here. It was forged at QUB Student’s Union in the early 1990s largely by republicans.

    Pancho’s Horse,
    Well said but I fear you will end up waiting for my grandchildren at the earliest. Still when I am gone it matters not to me how my children run the country. I would never bind them to an oath to oppose nationalist forever; poetic as such a thing might be.

  • Mark McGregor

    No offence Turgon, as with OSF, anyone that learned their politics at Queen’s should have got an edumacation instead.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Yup, Turgon, I agree with all you say and most people on this thread, I suspect, do too. This horde of prods awaiting salvation is pie in the sky. But you won’t bind your children – never mind your grandchildren.

  • Quiz Master

    “I doubt it is possible to get any significant number of Protestants to be truly nationalists; those who might be seen as part way there like John Dunlop are largely regarded with contempt by most unionists.”

    Turgon

    Speaking personally as a southerner I personally already see theses links you seem to think dont exist beginning. Especially now with the decline in religious practice in the south. I personally have a close relative who is hapilly married an ex-RUC officer, I have family members working alongside border protestants in Dublin. I know of two catholic men from the south married to protestant women in the North.

    Funny story about one of them . He was visiting her family and his car being a southern reg got scrached by some local boys… the mother offered to get them seen to by the local loyalists but he declined the offer.

    I have friends from the south of mixed religious background some with links to the OO. They all quite hapily vote for and some of them are even members of Fianna Fáil(A republican Party). I also have many friends up here in belfast that have moved up from the south who are very likely to stay up here permenantly. Give it 20 years when the political landscape has changed again we may well see a United Ireland of Green and Orange. The sooner Sinn Féin go the sooner that is likely to happen. The future is unpredictable but I do see the possibility of a UUP reemergance and Fianna Fáil emerging as realpolitik takes hold up here.

    These are just some of my personal observations. Id be interested to get a response …

    By the way well done Turgon I think youre starting to show some understanding of the other side. Well written piece even if I dont think youve got your finger on the button exactly

  • Turgon

    Mr. McGregor,
    Fair point but as I suspect fair_deal would confirm since I believe he knows who I am; I went to QUB rather liberal, certainly the child of liberal parents. Had I not failed the family and gone to Cambridge as my parents wanted, I would have ended up very liberal. But then the music hall villain that I am here on slugger would never have existed. Think Mr. Donnelly can warn his P5 children about monstrous unionists that he has to do internet battle with. How much less colourful would my life have been without QUBSU. I guess I owe a dent of gratitude to those republicans who shouted me down and humiliated me when I first tried to make a speech there.

  • slug

    Turgon

    Did you get an offer from Cambridge?

  • Garibaldy

    Turgon,

    Experience of sectarianism and nasty politics made you the man you are today.

    What I fail to understand then is how you shifted from the UUP to the DUP, especially after Daphne Trimble was kicked outside meetings. Never mind some of the more, eh, colourful activities of the DUP both before that and the time. Such as appearing at anti-agreement rallies with people who would shortly be convicted of sectarian bombings.

    I can understand your scepticism towards the Provos. But I think you (and many unionists like you) miss the misbehaviour of many unionists. As you move from party to party according to their position on sharing power with the Provos, perhaps you may reflect on that. Already it has been alledged on here that a member of TUV was seen in interesting company on the TV.

  • Turgon

    Quiz master,
    Maybe and if such happened I of all people would not start a war over it.

    Do not underestimate, however, the capacity of Prods (and others) to lie. I know of several very liberal, middle class Protestant girls who are so liberal in public and in mixed company. In private it is very different.

    Also never forget the outside Belfast factor. Middle class belfast prods have a veneer of liberalism, some many even be liberal. Go to Fermanagh, South Londonderry etc. and it is very different.

    As I say who knows. I am and I am sure will remain a unionist. What others do is for them. What I would never do is fight against a united Ireland. I might be grumpy and a bit difficult, I might leave (but am essentially too thran) but I would not support, counsel, let alone use violence to stop it.

    I am sorry about the Dunlop thing but he is to me an archetype of what lots of nationalists want to believe middle class unionists are. In reality he represents very little of the Presbyterian Church and no one else despite his ability to be a rent a quote for the media and get onto some panel to decide that calling the people, who blew up Omagh terrorists was one sided.

    slug,
    Yes got offer did not get A level grades. It was the making of me. I realised I was not that clever, worked really hard and got a half reasonable degree. Had I got in I would have believed I was clever, coasted and failed.

    Garibaldy,
    I was never in DUP and am not now. I was in UUP, then nothing and have now joined Jim’s happy band.

  • Gerry lvs Castro

    A very good piece Turgon, and one which I think most Unionists could concur with.

    Reading the subsequent comments, nationalists / republicans still remain mired in the notion that Unionists will someone willingly jump on board the UI bus, if only we can somehow be persauded.

    Turning the argument on it’s head, what would it take to persaude ROI citizens to join the UK? How many takers would there be?

    Precisely. Unionists wish to remain in the UK. That’s why they’re called Unionists. The only way a UI is going to ever happen is when a majority in NI vote for it. At the moment, that looks like being decades away.

    So why can’t SF just accept the fact? Are we going to have to endure year after year of tedious wrangling over emblems, flags, language, commemerations etc etc, making absolutely no difference to the overall outcome, or is there any possible chance we could focus on issues such as health, education and housing that actually affect people’s everyday lives?

  • Garibaldy

    My mistake Turgon. Thought you had given your support to the DUP. But if TUV people are going to keep company with loyalists in protests, does that raise questions in your mind?

    Totally agree with you on the reality of middle class sectarianism. On both sides. Insidious, highly irresponsible and very dangerous.

  • kensei

    Currently and for the forseeable future it would be coat trailing. Memories of the Shankill bomb are much too recent.

    I have no doubt it would be incredibly tough. I think ti would probably entail some physical risk in some circumstances. I could easily see any offices being burnt repeatedly. As for the Shankill Bomb, I think that SF should publicly apologise for it; even if it had have hit its intended target, it was 100% guaranteed to kill passers by. Even by SF logic it was wrong. The message is simple: rather than placing efforts into destroying the area, effort will be put into building it up.

    Sinn Fein do not have anyone who could carry this off, and I cannot see the circumstances in which they could get such a person.

    The party would need to change. Because if you want an office on the Shankill, you have to ask what type of office could succeed there. I’m an Irish Republican and don’t apologise for it, and don’t believe the party should hide its politics. But the paramilitary trappings would have to go. And if you have them on the Falls and not on the Shankill then it’s hypocrisy. But anyone in the party could do it. It simply requires both moral and physical courage.

    I think you tend as many republicans do to romanticise the Protestant working class and see them as people you can reach out to. You forget that they are not usually that keen on reaching out to you or your reaching out to them. They have long memories. You also forget that you are not discussing the Protestant working class but a small very disadvantaged minority of them.

    I’m not. Maybe my post wasn’t clear: I’m suggesting a 50 state strategy. That means everywhere. I think that Left politics might play better in more disadvantaged areas, but both deeply felt Unionism and potential attack from loyalist paramilitary would probably make those places harder to win.

    Disadvantaged to a large extent by the malign influence of loyalist paramilitaries and the failure of unionist parties to help them. You perceive in their disadvantage an opportunity for outreach. I suspect there is none.

    I think that both those groups have done a bad job for those communities. Anywhere that happens there is opportunity. I don’t expect big gains: but if a Republican Party could reach 10% of people in 25 years that would be a revolution.

    The rest of the Protestant working class will also be disinterested and they are the majority.

    I’m not interested in selling Nationalism. If the island was United tomorrow, would that mean we’d reached the True Republic. Obviously as a Republican I believe that to be a superior situation. But with so much disadvantage and division around, I don’t think anyone could claim that it was the ideal Republic.

    So no, my aim would be to build the true Republic where I can: I believe it as important for those on the Shankill as those on the Falls. Acquiescence and more favourable attitudes to Uniting the country would hopefully fall out of that.

    You make no allowance for the unionist middle classes. Not necessarily folk like me who are essentially irredeemable but also the lower middle classes and the urban ones. They will not flock to you whatever you do.

    If you follow any of my posts on SF here, I’ve continually argued for SF to transform from a “Socialist” party to a true compassionate “Social Democratic” one modelled on Nordic lines though perhaps a little to the right of that. I think there is space for that among middle class Unionists. Indeed there is a gap on that side.

    Again it would require hard work, and smart policy.

    Finally you have folk like me. People like me do exist outside the music halls of slugger and as can be seen recently we do have a certain voting weight.

    I have little hope for you, Turgon, but I’m not aiming to hit everyone. I am aiming to end stigma and gain some small acceptance and some small increase in vote. Though I would be targeting you and your friends on abortion and the truth we could keep it off the island for at least another generation if there was a United Ireland.

    There is of course, nothing stopping Unionism from pursuing a 50 state strategy. Neither side has the balls or the vision to attempt it. My key test for any support I’ll give to FF is whatb they do in this area. I’m not hopeful for anyhing other than token moves.

  • Dewi

    “I have a heart made of unionist adamant.”
    Nice phrase – but means nothing unless has some purpose – and that’s what you lot ain’t got.

  • Alan

    Turgon,

    A well written piece and insightful. I think this whole idea of Sinn Fein reaching out to Unionism is patronising. More importantly, it’s pointless.

    Even if in their heart of hearts most people of Unionist background were curious about a unified Irish state and how it might make their lives better, they still would never VOTE for it in a referendum. Unionists are proud and won’t ever willingly vote for a unified Ireland because of their ancestors political beliefs.

    That being said, if there was a nationalist majority and a unified Irish state came about, I firmly believe after the initial bedding in, most normal people in Ulster of Unionist background will be glad it’s all over.

    Because they’ll realise then that things won’t change much at all. Ulster will still be Ulster. The land and the accents won’t change. Britain and Ireland will stlll be closely linked because of history and culture and people will be relieved that all the citizens of Ireland can have a normal country that isn’t scarred by partition which perpetuates ancient differences that have no place in 21st century multicultural Ireland.

    A new anthem, a new flag; and an Ireland at ease in the European state along with Britain and the rest. A normal Ireland at peace with herself and all her people of whatever colour or creed. This is the future we could all be content in.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Only a relatively small percentage of Prods would need to vote for a UI for there to be a majority. Sinn Fein’s problem is that it is actively putting those Prods off doing so, and I think there’s an element of truth in Turgon’s (apocryphal?!) border story.

    It’s why things are going to be more interesting if Fianna Fail ever organises here in a serious way. They’ve already paid for a few roads that provide tangible benefits, they’ve paid respect (and funding) to Orange culture and so on. All without the stunts of SF.

    Maybe – a few decades hence, when the Prodiban are but an embarrassing memory (present company excepted) – unionists will eventually be bombed into a united Ireland by republicans… but they will be love-bombed and the party will be FF!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Though, good old fashioned left wing protest, broad front too, got a result this week. A small victory but one that relied on the combined action of Unions, SP, éirígí, anarchists, IRSP and others.

    Mark,

    You’re way overstating the mark on the involvement by the assorted motley crew of unelected chuckie elements; and in any case, you have to ask yourself, are the interests of workers really served when they have people like the IRSP, whose friends put young children down manholes as part of their own “community policing”, out supporting them ?

  • willowfield

    They have, however, managed to avoid making an overt mess the way Ruane, Poots, Paisley junior and McGimpsey have.

    How has McGimpsey made an overt mess?

    though I know we are all ethnically the same

    How do you define ethnic? It doesn’t mean physically different, you know. I think, clearly, there are ethnic (which essentially means cultural) differences in NI between “the two communities”.

  • Turgon

    willowfield,
    I agree re ethnic but people do define it sometimes as in physical racial characteristics which do not exist here. Culturally of course they do.

    In terms of McGimpsey: well lets see. No real decisions on health at all. I agree one board a good idea but he took his time and implementation very limited.

    No decision of substance on any hospitals. No attempt to address the problem of the South West hospital in a sustainable fashion. The Omagh community hospital is non viable and unsafe yet he persists with it. The new Downe the same.

    No decision re Lagan Valley and the Trust ends up having to close Maternity. No decision re Mid Ulster.

    Complete failure to meet waiting list targets; instead new targets produced and not even proper targets they are aspirational.

    I could go on and on. In fact you have given me an idea for another blog.

  • Rory

    I am trying to envisage this Sinn Féin office on the Shankill with a big banner out front proclaiming:

    SINN FÉIN – PROTESTANTS ARE US !

    Might work.

    The Catholic Truth Society so encouraged might also open an office with a catchy slogan:

    LUTHER IS THE NEW COOL – OFFICIAL !

  • willowfield

    Turgon

    I agree re ethnic but people do define it sometimes as in physical racial characteristics which do not exist here.

    If people do that, they are wrong – so don’t pander to be people who are wrong by pretending that you agree with them, when you don’t.

    Re. McGimpsey, I don’t think anyone considers him to have made an “overt mess” – at best, you could say he has been slow to make decisions, but he’s hardly in the same league as Ruane.

  • “within a darker strategy to ‘con the Prods’ when, in truth, often such occurences are the product of no such ‘strategising.’”

    Chris, ‘divide and rule’, and its variations, is an ancient strategy well known I’m sure to students of local history.

    You can see it in the working out of the Athboy and ‘Stepping Stones’ strategies as well as in the earlier Civil Rights smokescreen. Just look at the number of liberals from the pan-Unionist families who at one time or another have been conned. I think there have been too many examples for it to have been a matter of coincidence.

  • The hind tit

    Turgon
    A thoughtful and well expressed analysis. You’ve certainly proved me wrong in my earlier analysis of you as negative and consistently bent on seeing only the worst in the opposition. My excuse is that I am new to Slugger.
    I do have some comment on parts of what you said and I trust you will be sensible enough to at least consider them.
    – ‘republicans can point to the DUP dumping Paisley ‘. I don’t think the DUP dumped Paisley any more than the FP church dumped him. The DUP trotted after him when he grasped the unthinkable nettle of power sharing and the FP church IS Paisley. He was the totem that attracted a huge membership to something that was just another fundamentalist church. He was their creator, guiding light and agenda setter. I see what happened as simply an old man retiring having achieved most of the objectives he had set himself – SF a part of British administration; IRA disarmed; SF recognition of police force etc.

    You refer to ‘a border Protestant who maintains that but for the IRA there might well have a united Ireland……. that died when the IRA started their campaign. Adams …… killed that possibility when they started’
    Unionists disposition towards a united Ireland should not be predicated entirely on the behaviour of SF (and the past behaviour of the IRA). As you seem to recognise SF would be no more attractive a party in a united Ireland than they are currently in the republic. They attract such a large vote in the North because they are seen as a means to an end viz a united Ireland. Nothing in their political agenda is of any attraction to the citizens of the south. They get the small vote that they do there only from people who would also like unity, let’s face it they are the one party on the island who are making any attempt whatsoever to achieve it.
    So, Unionists should assess solely any potential synergies and shared benefits from political union with the south. Both SF and whatever might be left of the IRA would wither away once that union had occurred.

  • Turgon,

    Just because you have the visceral dislike of Michael McGimpsey shared by many rural unionists does not mean he has made a botch of his department. He has not.

  • Sorry. I see this has already been discussed. I had not yet looked at the comments.

  • Mayoman

    Turgon: “I doubt it is possible to get any significant number of Protestants to be truly nationalists; those who might be seen as part way there like John Dunlop are largely regarded with contempt by most unionists.”

    Are you admitting that part of the reason why there are not more unionist ‘nationalists’ (yes, an oxymoron, but just to make the point)might not be becuause of their lack of desire to be nationalist, but their fear of comtempt (and perhaps worse) from within their own community? And, if this is so, how quickly could this disappear in a truly peaceful north not restricted to slavishly conforming to their own sect’s beliefs through fear, or being branded a ‘traitor’ or worse?

  • Alan

    “If you follow any of my posts on SF here, I’ve continually argued for SF to transform from a “Socialist” party to a true compassionate “Social Democratic” one modelled on Nordic lines though perhaps a little to the right of that. I think there is space for that among middle class Unionists. Indeed there is a gap on that side.”

    I simply don’t see this happening. SF without its socialism is like a bird without its feathers, it won’t fly.

    Equally, and disappointingly for SF, in order to justify participation in the current political compromise they have to retreat from their socialism as well as their nationalism. The future for the party, however, depends more on its nationalism ( because of the ludicrous and divisive voting systems )than its socialism, so it is inevitable that it will prioritise nationalism.

    In case you might think that I am arguing for some version of SF lite ( al la SDLP ), I am not, because the communities that SF depend upon will not countenance such a flaccid politics.

    SF’s dilemma, and the reason I feel that it will ultimately fail is that that internal contradiction is too deep and unapproachable to maintain a coherant Party, even given the party’s apparent acceptance to date of contradictory or even myth-laden stances.

  • Reader

    Mayoman: And, if this is so, how quickly could this disappear in a truly peaceful north not restricted to slavishly conforming to their own sect’s beliefs through fear, or being branded a ‘traitor’ or worse?
    Um, right. Let’s decommission the terms ‘traitor’, ‘Lundy’, ‘West Brit’ and ‘Castle Catholic’. And I suppose, ‘Stoop’, while we are at it.
    You may be right that that sort of tribal thinking will fade over the next few years, if only the tribal champions (SF and DUP) would give-over thinking and talking in those terms. The problem is, they only care about party fortunes. The benefits to the middle ground from a more open form of politics are a real disincentive to that lot.
    And the *net* effect on the numbers game may be approximately zilch, if that’s what was on your mind.

  • kensei

    Alan

    I simply don’t see this happening. SF without its socialism is like a bird without its feathers, it won’t fly.

    I disagree. I think SF need to be decisively a party of the Left, but a modern centre left one, especially if they want to get rid of transfer repellence in the South. I think that transformation can be completed and what they lose in old-style Communists will be gained at the other end.

    Equally, and disappointingly for SF, in order to justify participation in the current political compromise they have to retreat from their socialism as well as their nationalism.

    They don’t. Even those who believe in a mixed economy have to concede that 75+% of the economy in the public sector is not a mixed economy and cuts in the size need made.

    The future for the party, however, depends more on its nationalism ( because of the ludicrous and divisive voting systems )than its socialism, so it is inevitable that it will prioritise nationalism.

    I disagree. FF will be able to play the Nationalist card as effectively. they can’t credibly claim to be a party of social justice, and that is as important to SF’s future as Nationalism.

    In case you might think that I am arguing for some version of SF lite ( al la SDLP ), I am not, because the communities that SF depend upon will not countenance such a flaccid politics.

    I’m not arguing for that either. I am simple arguing they put their machine and their efforts to building a Republic that matches the rhetoric.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I don’t think we want people in a United Ireland who have been forced, outbred or sullenly acquiesce.’

    I’m surprised you have to even think about this ? The IRA’s campaign to force ‘unity’ down unionist throats has probably perusaded more people in the Irish Republic that a UI is not worth the cost in lives lost and property damaged. The effect on Unionists of this campaign has been explained truthfully by Turgon.

    An agreed repartition of NI would in my mind be prefereable to a UI brought about by a 50% +1 vote.

    ‘We’ll wait for the enthusiasm’

    You can also try ‘Waiting for Godot’ and be just as successful .

    Never underestimate the latent power of political inertia and the tendency of the status quo to reassert itself once the ‘storms’ have passed over !

    We may be moving into such a period . But it’s early days yet in the post Paisely era !

  • Mayoman

    Reader: what you say may be true, but as so often happens in unionist/nationalist disucssions, you are assuming equal forces at play in both communities. That maybe isn’t the case as many people from what would be characterised as a ‘nationalist’-centric pool freely express their wish to be remain united with Britain. Maybe Turgon can answer me if every ‘unionist’ that dares to make nationalist-centric utterances faces contempt? And if so, why? Surely that person should be free to hold his own opinion without fear of such extreme reactions as contempt? for example, is Harvey Bicker now held in contempt? Its a very harsh word and just, may just, suggest some very rigid social controls on thinking, thats all I’m saying. (And lets not confuse this argument with the TRUE nil equation of the constraints on people within communities at either extreme of the divide).

  • Alan

    I simply don’t see this happening. SF without its socialism is like a bird without its feathers, it won’t fly.

    I disagree. I think SF need to be decisively a party of the Left, but a modern centre left one, especially if they want to get rid of transfer repellence in the South. I think that transformation can be completed and what they lose in old-style Communists will be gained at the other end.

    And the difference here is that SF will therefore lose the constituency that sustained it for so long, a point I made further down. Without appealing to the old nationalist ghettos how will SF fare in the North?

    Equally, and disappointingly for SF, in order to justify participation in the current political compromise they have to retreat from their socialism as well as their nationalism.

    They don’t. Even those who believe in a mixed economy have to concede that 75+% of the economy in the public sector is not a mixed economy and cuts in the size need made.

    You either want them to retreat or not, I had assumed from your desire for Social Democracy that you did.

    The future for the party, however, depends more on its nationalism ( because of the ludicrous and divisive voting systems )than its socialism, so it is inevitable that it will prioritise nationalism.

    I disagree. FF will be able to play the Nationalist card as effectively. they can’t credibly claim to be a party of social justice, and that is as important to SF’s future as Nationalism.

    My point is that SF is locked into a sectarian voting system at the Assembly that rewards nationalist intransigence ( on both sides ). SF will inevitably have to prioritise nationalism in those circumstances. My view is that claims for social justice will ring increasingly hollow when the Executive is seen to skate smilingly over the needs of the people that SF currently court.

    In case you might think that I am arguing for some version of SF lite ( al la SDLP ), I am not, because the communities that SF depend upon will not countenance such a flaccid politics.

    I’m not arguing for that either. I am simple arguing they put their machine and their efforts to building a Republic that matches the rhetoric.

    I think you very clearly are arguing for SF-lite, it is just that you want to replace their rhetoric with your own – a very laudable but, I believe, self defeating exercise.

  • kensei

    And the difference here is that SF will therefore lose the constituency that sustained it for so long, a point I made further down. Without appealing to the old nationalist ghettos how will SF fare in the North?

    I don’t believe the Nationalist working and middle class is wedded to Socialism.

    You either want them to retreat or not, I had assumed from your desire for Social Democracy that you did.

    No, I don’t want them to retreat on anything. I want them to adopt Social Democratic principles and act on them. It is entirely consistent to argue for public spending decrease in the North and increase in the South base don the same principles.

    My point is that SF is locked into a sectarian voting system at the Assembly that rewards nationalist intransigence ( on both sides ). SF will inevitably have to prioritise nationalism in those circumstances. My view is that claims for social justice will ring increasingly hollow when the Executive is seen to skate smilingly over the needs of the people that SF currently court.

    On a lot of issues the only really “Nationalist” or “Unionist” different is that nationalism here is historically to the Left, and Unionism historically to the Right. That pattern does not always have to remain thus.

    I think you very clearly are arguing for SF-lite, it is just that you want to replace their rhetoric with your own – a very laudable but, I believe, self defeating exercise.

    I am of course, an idiot and freely admit it. Sinn Fein are arguing for “Eire Nua” and an “Island of Equals” and cite Tone. they also seem to be trying to shift away form “Socialism”, especially in the South. I am simply asking them to fulfil those promises, which I believe would not make them SF-lite but SF++ considering the difficultly in such an undertaking.

  • FraserValley

    There is another Protestant point of view on a United Ireland on Big Ulsterman this week–well worth the read.
    http://bigulsterman.blogspot.com/

  • Reader

    Mayoman: That maybe isn’t the case as many people from what would be characterised as a ‘nationalist’-centric pool freely express their wish to be remain united with Britain.
    The ‘nationalist’-centric pool being defined how, precisely? For your examples to match the Harvey Bicker case, they would have needed to be ex-SDLP councillors. Have you got a list? Would it be wise to publish it? For instance: SDLP councillors have been given a rough ride for joining policing boards without permission from SF, and the SDLP got loads of abuse as soon as Hume mentioned the term ‘post-nationalist’. In neither case had anyone actually crossed-over.
    I suppose Turgon may answer you himself concerning the ‘contempt’ word – I never thought he meant it to represent his personal feelings. The list of names I gave surely point to intolerant sentiments on both sides.

  • Mayoman

    Reader: if they hadn;t crossed over, then what’s your point? That’s usual arguments over the length of a piece of string! Apples and oranges I would contend. I will withdraw the nationalist-centric part (clumsy argument!), and leave you to answer the plain question: is it right to hold someone who changes opinion in contempt?

  • Rory

    Thank you, FraserValley, for the link to Big Ulsterman. Now his reflections on the new dispensation really were refreshing and managed to combine hard-nosed realism with hopeful inspiration.

    I do not expect though that his message will play well in the unionist boondocks but really it is his clearheaded realisation that Unionism is now a beaten docket that I should like to see addressed by Turgon and other unionist commentators who still cling to the dying vestiges of that stop-gap accomodation to reaction against the progress of the Irish nation which is all that Unionism was or ever thought to be even by its founding father, Edward Carson..

  • Reader

    Mayoman: if they hadn;t crossed over, then what’s your point?
    Because they were given a hard time without having even gone so far as to cross over. But you still haven’t named any of the “many” who *have* crossed over and had an easy time – Gerry Fitt (not really crossed over), John Gorman (nationalist-centric pool?)
    Mayoman: is it right to hold someone who changes opinion in contempt?
    Of course not. I tend to move them up a single notch in my estimation for thinking for themselves. But whether it’s one of your un-named “many” or just Harvey Bicker, it doesn’t make them right. After all, I thought for myself and remained a Unionist. So that’s 2 notches up…

  • Democratic

    “Thank you, FraserValley, for the link to Big Ulsterman. Now his reflections on the new dispensation really were refreshing and managed to combine hard-nosed realism with hopeful inspiration.”
    Yawn – was this not just because he said a UI was inevitable and he’s a prod and because he reckons Unionism is defeated – nothing new on show there – Been hearing this line for donkey’s years – maybe
    its the prod saying it part….still balls though – no matter whether it’s Sinn Fein or Big Ulsterman doing the talking…..

  • If Big Ulsterman had actually presented his thoughts in a methodical and thorough fashion they would be possible to take seriously. As it is they’re just a counter-factual rambling mish-mash.

  • RG Cuan

    An agreed repartition of NI would in my mind be prefereable to a UI brought about by a 50% +1 vote.

    Sounds like a good idea to me. If certain communities would like to remain part of the UK let them. The new statlet would probably be called North Eastern Ireland.

    And although i understand that Turgon’s surmising that Republicans may return to violence is genuine, it clearly illustrates that Unionists’ fears do not reflect the reality of the current situation. Apart from less than a handful of a few idiots on both sides, i would say nobody is even thinking of such action.

  • FraserValley

    I think BU’s main point is not that Unionism has been defeated, but rather, that it has become irrevelant. From my own point of view, if the main thrust of Unionism is only to increase my sense of “feeling British” then it certainly isn’t relevant–it is probably moribund.

  • The hind tit

    ‘An agreed repartition of NI would in my mind be prefereable to a UI brought about by a 50% +1 vote.

    Sounds like a good idea to me’

    You can’t continually resegment countries in order to satisfy the wishes of particular cultural groupings and demographic changes in same. If you applied this throughout the UK then Birmingham would be part of Pakistan and the East end of London would refer to the Carribean as the ‘mainland’.
    NI is the ultimate example that attempting this trick with countries that have been socio-cultural entities since the time of the vikings is a non-runner (or ‘beaten docket’ as another contributor described it).
    The unionist negotiating position will deteriorate steadily in the future and they would be much better opening negotiations with the Republic from a position of relative strength rather than continuing to whistle No Surrender. Look at protestants there. Are they screaming about being deprived from mother England – and remember they had no negotiating position at all when the free state was created!
    Surely it is also plain that the South is joining the rest of Europe in growing out of religion – so there must be hope that we can too.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “From a nationalist- never mind republican- perspective, the exclusively British and unionist trappings of the northern state since partition served as a reminder of the alien status of the nationalist community in the northern state, divorced from the ‘Free State’”

    Ah, but did it? Don’t forget the Republic is still stuffed full of trappings of Britishness, from the Crown over Monaghan courthouse to the Royal Dublin Society’s grounds to the war memorial in Cork. Granted, attempts were made to airbrush it out- like blowing up Nelson’s Pillar, and renaming streets and railway termini after IRA members plus the illfated attempt to rename Donegal Tyrconnell, but these were largely unsupported by the public.
    And most of the republic was and is generally well disposed to the UK- certainly more than SF and Jackie Healy Rae style FFers would claim. Though naturally they want England to be stuffed at all sports- but thenm, who doesn’t?

  • Greenflag

    ‘And although i understand that Turgon’s surmising that Republicans may return to violence is genuine,’

    I can’t see republicans returning to violence . They have made too many political gains . They haven’t got their objective i.e a UI but they have learned that the gun and bomb will not bring about a UI-in fact they have brought about the contrary.

  • Greenflag

    ‘so there must be hope that we can too.’

    Winston Churchill was in two minds on this one –

    “Then came the Great War: Every institution, almost, in the world was strained. Great Empires have been overturned. The whole map of Europe has been changed. The position of countries has been violently altered. The modes of thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have en countered violent and tremendous changes in the deluge of the world. But as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world. (1922)

    Earlier on in his political career the younger Churchill was a little more positive .

    “Half a province cannot obstruct forever the reconciliation between the British and Irish peoples.” (1912)

    Wonder what he would say in 2008 if he could .

    Perhaps something along the lines of

    ‘This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.’

  • Turgon

    Greenflag,
    I am very baised by Elenwe but I really like thise dreary steeples of Fermanagh.

  • Greenflag

    ‘but I really like these dreary steeples of Fermanagh. ‘

    And long may you continue to do so. Some might say that Churchill’s last quote above is a reference to rainfall in Fermanagh 🙂

    IIRC a tourist once asked a 10 year old in Fermanagh.

    Does it always rain here?. I’ve been here for 2 weeks and it’s rained every day ?’

    ‘I would’nt know sir , I’m only 10 years old .

  • Turgon

    LOL,
    Thank you for that Greenflag