What is the future for Irish Nationalism today?

It’s probably true that the main flow of people and commercial traffic within and between these islands has been for some time on an east west, rather than a north/south axis. Dublin London and Belfast London account for substantially thicker traffic flows than Belfast Dublin. In a survey conducted a few years back 84% of people in the Republic had visited London, whereas only 50% had been to Northern Ireland. Fionnuala O’Connor gets to the heart of a rather awkward matter: despite the pretensions of nationalists north and south, the quality of cultural relations between the two parts of the island is poor (subs needed):

The two jurisdictions have much in common: they are also strange to each other. What are VHI and the Mahon tribunal to scratchily peaceful Northern Ireland? Who in the Republic can sympathise with northerners insisting RTÉ Radio One keeps its time-honoured wavelength? Alienation, that’s the word. But mutual, and lack of passion can be a good thing.

Wishful thinking is not going to mend the tear of partition:

The two cannot be made one without a cost that nobody wants to pay, even without consideration of revived, potentially murderous, loyalist reaction, even if the Tiger gets its stripy legs under it again. The GAA is the only unifying agency on the island, though a mystery to most northern Protestants – and a few Catholics, it must be said. It is the experience the Irish in the North have traditionally craved, the feeling of oneness with the separated brethren down the road, ever harder to sustain. Sentiment rarely trumps economic self-interest, and the sentiment has been fading for a long time.

And the last year delivered yet another sobering reality check for Republicans:

Sinn Féin’s gunk in last year’s Dáil election was the sharpest revelation of distance for them to date, the nastiest contrast with Northern success. It does not really matter that the contest between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael relegated the smaller parties. Effect was more important than causes. Republicans are still struggling with the death of the “transitional” dream, of gradual reunification via North/Southery with SF ministers on both sides of the table.

Unionists may not know what to make of modern “Ireland”, the name most use for the neighbouring state. But then Northern nationalism is equally at a loss – and what is Irish nationalism today?

The first was the delivery of the results of the 2001 Census, in which, as Henry McDonald so memorably put it at the time: “…the straight-talking statisticians at the census office metaphorically ripped off Santa’s beard last Thursday and exposed the ‘Count the Catholics’ theory as a fake.” Or as Graham Gudgin put it back then (December 2002), “Sooner or later, though, there will have to be a re-assessment.”

Tom McGurk was more sanguine: “Partition in everything except as a line on a map was thereby [the Belfast Agreement] ended. Importantly, this was not by territorial acquisition, but by the creation of a new political superstructure whose very purpose was to eliminate the crisis originally created by the territorial imperative.”

In truth, much attention in the intervening period has been taken up in the management of various crises, so that there seems to have been little time or space given, publicly at least, to the questions thrown up by the census figures, or the sense of drift that has continued between proponents of Northern Irish nationalism and their counterparts in the Republic. Even the much speculated upon (and always prospective) merger between Fianna Fail and the SDLP, one suspects, is not likely to offer, of itself, any kind of magical formula.

  • Oilifear

    Ulsters my homeland,

    Do you have a link to the Dáil debate about smothering Northern Ireland in German gas? I’ve never heard of it and is at odds with De Valera’s “they were our people” letter to Hitler following the Belfast blitz.

    Jim,

    “Gasing Northern Ireland? Are you fucken delerious man?”

    LOL – he must have sniffed some of the stuff himself.

    —-

    Chekov,

    I don’t doubt your numbers, only your interpretation. Do you seriously believe that a third of a million protestants were chased out of the 26 counties either by pogrom or because they were so disheartened at the sight of green postboxes and the sound of the odd ill-pronounced cúpla focail?

    “Have you not read the original blog?”

    Yes, the original blog refers to fissures. I agree that these fissures exist, but not that these fissures are growing, as you wrote, or that these fissures have widened particularly in the last ten years, as you could be interpreted as implying.

    What I asked you was, how so? If anything, I would have thought the opposite.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘and that the executive of the British Empire was quite happy to bomb the Kurds for not paying taxes at around this time, not just one back-bencher.’

    the great and noble british also distributed blankets laden with small-pox among some native americans tribes during their jaunt to the new world. what an empire….makes you proud don’t it?

  • Flaming Lip

    The economy, yadda yadda yadda…

  • Greenflag

    C O’Liathain (I nearly writ Leviathan :))

    “we serve neithier king nor kaiser (cousins anyway!) but Ireland”.

    Not forgetting in 2008 AD – Brussels , Washington, the World Bank , IMF etc etc etc 🙂

    Just like everybody else mind you including even that poor Ulster is my homeland half wit.

  • PaddyReilly

    An Ceann Comhairle: This poison gas is not relevant to the debate

    Mr. Corry: I am speaking of the ways and means by which we can finish the job which we set our hands to in 1916.

    An Ceann Comhairle: The question does not arise.

    Mr. Brodrick: There has been a fair amount of poison gas during the last half hour.

    Mr. Corry: We had any God’s amount of it yesterday.

    Mr. Gorey: It is a gas bag we have now.

    Mr. Corry: Deputy Gorey has——

    An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Corry should not provoke interruptions.

  • PaddyReilly

    the great and noble British also distributed blankets laden with small-pox among some Native Americans

    Source? As a matter of fact the Americans (read Republicans) in their list of grievances against the “British” (actually King George and his administration) gave as one of their chief moans the fact that the Government would not allow them to eradicate the Indians, a project which they then undertook at great profit for themselves.

  • Oilifear

    Wow, Paddy. Thanks! Yes, a one-man show alright. I do like this reply:

    “I want to say this on behalf of Ulstermen, and I am one of them myself, that we have no terror of the Deputy’s poison gas, and I would not like to think that my Protestant fellow-countrymen would submit to such an insult as that, and the Deputy may take it that they will not submit to such an insult. That is not the way to take Ulster and Irish unity will never be achieved on that basis. It must be taken on a broader outlook and on a basis of goodwill and common citizenship and common heritage of an Irish nation. There must be no poison gas about it, and if there were, I, personally, would ask my Protestant fellow-countrymen of Ulster to resist it to the last man.”

  • George, there seems to have been an interaction between ‘events’ in Cork and Belfast, rather than Dublin.

    The Ne Temere decree is at odds with the 1916 Proclamation but it seems that ‘Catholic Ireland’ could live with the former.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Source? ‘

    wow paddy, you don’t have to provide sources, but others must. I’ll oblige you this once, read about Lord Jeffrey Amherst.

  • PaddyReilly

    Amherst, according to Wikipedia, discussed the use of smallpox against the Indians. It is not mentioned that this ever happened. Deputy Corry raised the issue of poison gas, but was told to shut up. I think these two incidents are comparable, though Amherst is more serious, as he was actually a Field-Marshall.

  • DC

    “The Ne Temere decree”

    Good point Nevin for Turgon’s post about a UI, I imagine the Ne Temere would pose a few problems for Protestant Unionists in any ‘inevitable’ united Ireland.

    Of interest the only country that precludes its worth is Germany, would Ireland have to follow suit?

  • McGinster

    “In a survey conducted a few years back 84% of people in the Republic had visited London, whereas only 50% had been to Northern Ireland.”

    Think that Mick makes too much of this point. Let’s not forget the relative dangers (real and imagined) that ‘going’ North posed for people with southern accents/number plates. I’ve a very Republican-minded friend from Limerick who still is apprehensive of going anywhere near Belfast city centre and despite having a brother living in Newry still hasn’t crossed the border (apologies to TAFKABO if that is too anecdotal).

    Also taking a truly global destination with a population of 12m, a city that can pull business folk /tourists /sports fans /concert goers/ day trippers/ job seekers/ people visiting family/ university students etc, etc, from New York to Paris to Tokyo and comparing ROI visiting numbers to Northern Ireland – a traditionally hostile provincial pariah with a history of civil conflict, seems a little unfair.

    I’d also guess (but can’t prove) that even taking a language barrier into account, a lot more English people have travelled to France and Spain than Scotland, for instance. If it were true I doubt that it would prove Anglo-French relations are stronger than Anglo-Scots ones. Just that one proves a more appealing destination for a whole host of reasons.

    Too much has also been made of ‘Santa’s beard being ripped off.’ Every statistic revealed in the 2001 census pointed towards an increasing Catholic percentage overall, an ageing Protestant population and a boom of young Catholics, all of whom will be eligible to vote come the 2021 census.

    I think the way forward for Irish Nationalism is not only to try and provide a soft as landing possible for those within Unionism in the context of a UI, and to create circumstances that some from this community would actually vote for it, but also to ensure that these young people born into the Catholic community continue to vote for Nationalist parties. It’s no good taking Protestant votes if young Catholics are convinced the Union is a better arrangement.

  • HeadTheBall

    “the great and noble british ….makes you proud don’t it?” (RepublicanStones)

    So, RepublicanStones, are you minded to offer an apology? You can’t just sit in the Spectators’ Gallery here. We are all in the dock on this one.

    Did Brendan Behan not remind us that the British Empire had little to do with the English but was “built on Scottish brain, Irish brawn and Jewish money”.

    My own maternal grandfather was an Inniskilling Dragoon and spent the best years of his young manhood chasing the natives up and down the hills of the Punjab, or wherever. Sure, sure he was a Prod and an Orangemen but he was first and foremost a proud Irishman, as were his Catholic fellow troopers.

  • Twinbrook

    What is British identity?

    With an ever increasing multi-cultural Britain, with devolution in Wales and Scotland both of which have a clear and growing separate identity and pride, with calls for an assembly in England, where does this leave those who still class themselves as British?

  • Greenflag

    Did Brendan Behan not remind us that the British Empire had little to do with the English but was “built on Scottish brain, Irish brawn and Jewish money”.’

    Brendan said many things -some of them brutally honest and some woefully inaccurate but good soundbites as they now say. Unlike many other famous and infamous Irish free thinkers of the time and earlier, Brendan stayed in Ireland rather than opt for ‘exile’ like O’Casey, Beckett, McGahern , Joyce etc etc. Pity he never stayed sober long enough !

    I suspect the bould Brendan may have agreed with the line from the ‘Recruiting Sergeant’

    ‘Let English men for England fight ‘
    ‘It’s nearly time they started O’

    Probably coined from the time mid 18th to later 19th century when 40% of the British Army was Irish . No wonder many believed they were fightin for Ireland .

    ‘My own maternal grandfather was an Inniskilling Dragoon and spent the best years of his young manhood chasing the natives up and down the hills of the Punjab, or wherever. Sure, sure he was a Prod and an Orangemen but he was first and foremost a proud Irishman, as were his Catholic fellow troopers.’

    Hang on a minute here . I mean I’m sure the old codger was just doing his duty and all that, just as some of my ancestors did as well in the ‘colonies’ -but I wonder if it ever dawned on him that the ‘Punjabis’ may have been equally proud and may have resented his chasing them up and down their native hills ? If I were a Punjabi I think I’d have been more than a little upset at the pale skins .

    Yes and we know the old stories of the Connaught Rangers lifting their kilts and charging bollock naked at the natives for a bit of devilment -but come on now should we be proud of that kind of carry on in this day and age ?

    In retrospect the British Army apart from it’s engagement in the Peninsular War/Waterloo era and the American Revolution had an ‘easy’ time of it chasing the powerless spear carrying natives away with rifle and later machine gun . Not until they were faced by the Boers in 1900 and the Germans in 1914 did they really have to face a ‘challenge’ . But had the Germans won in WW1 it would not have been the end of civilisation . Germany would have avoided it’s 12 year disastrous ‘experiment’ with Nazism and the 75 year totalitarian Communist disaster in eastern Europe would never have taken place . Israel would not have been created and all those high IQ Ashkenazi Jewish folk would have used their talents to enrich European countries rather than the USA .

    The fact that your ancestor or mine were ‘proud’ irishmen/englishmen/germans/punjabis in their day does not relieve us living in the here and now from using our ‘brains’ to decide how best to build a future so that none of our descendants have to chase ‘orange’ natives or ‘green’ indigenes up and down hills on this island or any other for that matter!

  • RepublicanStones

    Carl Waldman’s Atlas of the North American Indian refers to Amherst’s letters in which he writes of his desire “to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race.”

    and

    “Measures to be taken as would Bring about the Total Extirpation of those Indian Nations”.

    or

    “…put a most Effectual Stop to their very Being”

    i wouldn’t rely for all my info from wiki paddy.

  • Greenflag

    ‘where does this leave those who still class themselves as British?’

    I’d say along with those who may or may not as individuals choose to classify themselves in the following brief list of the possibilities

    British-Indian
    British West Indian
    British Welsh
    British Scot
    British English
    British African
    British Pakistani
    British Chinese
    British Polish
    British Jewish
    British Muslim
    British Bicycle riders
    Britsh Gobshites
    British Irish
    British British

    etc
    In Ireland it will of course be very different:)?

    Irish Irish
    Irish British
    Irish Polish
    Irish Lithuanian
    Irish Chinese
    Irish Latvian
    Irish African
    Irish English (new format)
    Irish Anglo ( ancient format)
    Irish German
    Irish Italian
    Irish French
    Irish Bicycle Riders
    Irish Gobshites
    Irish Northern
    Irish American
    Irish Scots
    Irish Welsh

    So to answer your what is British identity I’d be inclined to ask the same re What is Irish identity . The answers above seem to suggest there is no simple answer on either island .

    Perhaps the question is not worth asking ?

    People know what they are and what they’re comfortable with . Best to accept that.

  • PaddyReilly

    i wouldn’t rely for all my info from wiki paddy.

    I don’t. I am waiting for you to provide the actual proof. So far you have provided one man’s probably fantastic proposals, with which you wish to tar an entire empire. Stick to the bombing of the Kurds, it’s a much more tangible affair, and closer in time.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘actual proof’

    you want to touch one of the actual blankets, or you wanna read books which refer to it, and the mans own letters.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘with which you wish to tar an entire empire’

    i need not attempt tar the british empire, by reading about its past history and learning, its image is black enough already paddy old son.

  • PaddyReilly

    you wanna read books which refer to it, and the mans own letters.

    I don’t require blankets. I need to know if and when Amherst’s fantasies were put into effect. Otherwise they are much the same as Deputy Corry’s poison gas. If you can show that significant numbers of the population of Kilkeel died of a mysterious ailment on a particular night in 1938, we may be able to convict Corry, postumously, and arrange an apology.

    If you can tell me which tribe was wiped out by smallpox or even cite a letter which gives the actual order to try this method, we will be getting somewhere.

  • McGinster

    So, eh, native Americans and British Chinese aside, what is the future of Irish nationalism? Do we think it’s a lost cause, an inevitability or something that requires a lot of work??

  • HeadTheBall

    “….but come on now should we be proud of that kind of carry on in this day and age ?” (Greenflag)

    Of course not, but we cannot, like some posters on here, simply lambast the Brits for what happened in Imperial days. We were, as a nation, at the heart of the whole Empire enterprise, and, by the way, if you think I was bragging about my oul’ Granda, you were woefully misreading me. It’s just that I can’t stand the “my hands are cleaner than your hands” shite I see on here so often from the Little Irelanders.

  • RepublicanStones

    Paddy read about Pontiac’s rebellion, and Amherst’s attitude to the native americans, which he wanted to extirpate….’at the root’. itsistorical fact that infected blankets were given ou to some indians, now if you think the ‘noble’ british empire would never consider doing such a thing intentionally to a people they viewed as less than themselves and thus inferior, well, considering the activities of their forces in other colonial wars, theres no so blind…..

  • PaddyReilly

    I do not think that the ‘noble’ british empire would never consider doing such a thing intentionally to a people they viewed as less than themselves.

    However, I am not yet persuaded that they got any further than considering, rather like Deputy Corry.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Of course not, but we cannot, like some posters on here, simply lambast the Brits for what happened in Imperial days.

    True. Looking backwards when crossing a road is not conducive to a long life .

    ‘We were, as a nation, at the heart of the whole Empire enterprise, and, by the way, if you think I was bragging about my oul’ Granda, you were woefully misreading me.’

    True again . For the record I did’nt think you were ‘bragging’ . the way the ‘words’ appeared prompted my response.

    ‘It’s just that I can’t stand the “my hands are cleaner than your hands” shite I see on here so often from the Little Irelanders.’

    For what it’s worth neither can I. Most of them had they been alive back in Empire days would like most people have taken the line of least resistance and gone out to the colonies and done the same . That’s just the way it was for the vast majority of people in all countries at that time . The little Irelanders are just as ignorant as the little Englanders or little Serbians .

    BTW this whole historical my people are beter than yours kind of debate does have it’s hilarious side . On the day that’s in it this may seem profane but is not meant to be .

    In the desperately poor Dublin of the early 1900’s a young 16 year old Jewish immigrant from Russia /Lithuania came to the city and to make a living started to collect bottles, scrap metal old clothes etc etc and eventually became wealthy. He employed many locals among whom was a young Dublin woman lets call her Mary as his forewoman . Harry for that was his name had many a row with Mary but somehow always managed to make it up in the end. During one of these ‘rows’ Mary was heard by her sister shouting at Harry
    ‘ Yiz may have crucified Christ ‘ but yiz won’t crucify me .

    Harry Sive’s memorable reply was .

    ‘But Mary -that was’nt me that was me forefathers ‘

    Harry and Mary worked together until he retired and closed shop. By the time he died Harry was regarded by his Dublin neighbours , workers and friends as ‘one’ of our own.

  • HeadTheBall

    Greenflag,

    Fair enough. Harry Sive – God be good to him (I know you are an irredeemable unbeliever, but am sure you will echo the sentiment anyway).

    Regards,

  • Greenflag

    ‘I know you are an irredeemable unbeliever’

    Irredeemable no. Unbeliever in a personal deity yes. No real evidence ye see! I believe we may yet discover ourselves to be the only self aware ‘intelligence’ in this universe -although life will be found elsewhere . So given the above we should be as kind and helpful to our friends in the ‘swamp’ regardless of their faith , nation, colour or gender, mindful of course that humanity has a dark side which in certain times and under certain circumstances can shut out the light .

    ‘am sure you will echo the sentiment anyway’

    Indeed .Harry was a real Christian even if he was’nt if you catch my drift .
    regards .

  • DK

    Paddyreilly – you’re arguing with someone who posts youtube videos of himself walking down the shankill road interspersed with sectarian slogans. The man is eaten up with hatred and a lost cause.

  • PaddyReilly

    you’re arguing with someone who posts youtube videos of himself walking down the shankill road interspersed with sectarian slogans.

    Well we all need to have a hobby and I hate television. There seems to be an idea general on the Shankill that the British empire existed and the UK exists solely to benefit them. Presumably the Falls reciprocates by taking out on the UK/Empire the aversion they feel to the Shankill.

    I think there were plenty enough of my (Catholic) forebears who attempted to get what they could out of the British Empire, usually by taking the monarch’s shilling. Most though were assegaied by the fuzzy-wuzzies. We are all guilty of attempting to profit from the Empire at one time or another, though Protestants are more prone to making a religion out of it.

  • RepublicanStones

    DK it seems you like P&J;would like to stifle debate, and insinuate that i have no right or place posting here on slugger. I welcome all hits on my youtube page (thanks again P&J;for the advertisement). I am not ashamed of my beliefs, hence i use the same name here on slugger. It just makes me wonder what names the likes of yourself and P&J;troll through the youtube pages under, and what vids you make or choose as your favs…..i think it would be fairly easy to guess. Youtube is a noticibly more ‘gloves-off’ affair as regards debate. And i will engage with anybody on whatever level, wether you deem them to be unsavoury or not. its called free speech. Learn to live with it. I also enjoy slugger as it is a more civilised forum, so you and P&J;can take your desired little orwellian nightmare and stick it up where the sun don’t shine.