The TUV and Unionism’s options and opportunities (Part 4)

These threads try to engage TUV thinking around Unionism’s options and its future opportunities. In particular, it focuses upon the ‘Direct Rule’ alternative to the present devolutionary system. It aims to examine its morality and suitability for the interests of the Union and Unionist community. In the final part the conclusions are drawn.Previous thread

Conclusion

At the core of TUV’s critique of the St Andrew’s Agreement is its undemocratic nature and questions of civic morality of Sinn Fein in government. However, its immediate alternative has equal if not more undemocratic features while it does not have equal issues of immorality neither is it free from them. The presentation of ‘direct rule’ as a ‘pure’ form of governance or clearly in Unionism’s interests is a serious misrepresentation of it.

I would urge the TUV to reflect on the various arguments contained within Alienated and Unbowed to assess the course of action they presently advocate and reflect on the DUP’s and Unionism’s hard decisions. Decisions made in a situation that was not “simple or equitable”.

At the very least, I believe that the significant problems in their immediate alternative require the TUV to be explicit how and when they would achieve their preferred form of devolution. What risks and actions need to be taken? How will support be created to achieve the change they believe in? How long do they expect it to take and require ‘direct rule’ to operate?

The DUP’s difficult choice has made its answers clear. They prefer to work an imperfect form of devolution rather than the powerlessness of direct rule. They will take risks on the bona fides of the republican movement (Republicans I do not need reminded of what they did, I am fully conscious of that). They aim to use the opportunities of the process and access to power to achieve change. TUV should provide the Unionist community with its answers.

As for choosing devolution over direct rule I close this article with the final lines of Alienated but Unbowed:

“For most Unionists, however, the future after the Anglo-Irish Agreement must be more not less power into the hands of Ulstermen. Only by that means can Northern Ireland shape and control its own destiny and so guard against further Anglo-Irish catastrophes.” (Page 68)

  • willowfield

    FD

    It was arguably from 2001 when it set out a range of principles for devolution. However, the biggees were the 2003 Assembly election were they sought (and got) a mandate to negotiate a ‘fair deal’. As regards the other points shoud the Devolution Now document probably addresses most of them.

    The “fair deal” was supposed to be a “smashing” of the GFA and its replacement with something completely different. It turned out to be a few tweaks and additions to the GFA essentially after a review (which was provided for in the GFA anyway).

    The Provos refused and when the IMC says they did it in September 2005 the DUP did not agree to the return of devolution. They waited a further 20 months before entering government (May 2007). The failure to provide images had a political consequence.

    Of course, since 2002, Trimble hadn’t agreed to the return of devolution either.

    PADDYREILLY

    Well I am the descendant of (inter alii) “absorbed” Border Protestants and I can assure you it doesn’t hurt.

    Your assurances are unlikely to carry much weight in the unionist community.

    Sorry, I didn’t set this breeding contest up, nor did I wish it to be set up.

    I never said that you did. I just said that you were relying on it.

    Actually the breeding bit is over. We’re just waiting for the old folk to die off.

    And when they do it is not clear that there will be an RC majority. It is likely that neither Protestants nor RCs will have a majority.

    Contradiction here: if they are non-aligned and Liberal why would they worry about being “absorbed”?

    The non-aligned wouldn’t, but liberal unionists would.

    It is only those who are very much aligned and somewhat less than Liberal who would be bothered that their grandchildren are slightly different from them.

    I think all unionists, of all degrees of liberalism and conservatism, would be unpersuaded by the argument that their and their descendants’ identity would become “absorbed”.

    “Because you may want to persuade unionists of the merits of a “united Ireland”.”

    But I don’t.

    In that case – as I already said – you’re relying on the sectarian breeding contest, which is less likely to result in a “united Ireland” than a rational argument in favour of a “united Ireland”.

    Unionists, by definition, do not want a United Ireland. Why would I wish to sell one to them?

    Because some, less hardline unionists, might be persuaded by a rational argument, and because if you win them over you’re more likely to achieve a “united Ireland”.

  • willowfield

    Your inability to understand my point is maybe because of your narrow understanding of identity. When I refer to unionists, I use the term as an ethnic indicator – those from the “unionist/Protestant” community. They might not necessarily be committed unionists, yet they are unlikely to be enamoured of the prospect of being “absorbed”.

  • fair_deal

    Willowfield

    Your questions have been comprehensively dealt with, despite an obsession with perjorative terms. The degree of difference is a matter of opinion. Trimblites will try to minise, STAA supporters maximise it.

  • PaddyReilly

    So when you say unionist you actually mean Protestant. Fair enough. But those who are persuadable will persuade themselves. It doesn’t require any input from me. As for the sectarian headcount I am supposedly relying upon, what I have in fact done is observed that the Unionist voting majority has, in the last 30 years, come down from 300,000 to about a tenth of that. Whether this is due to more Catholics on the voting list or Protestants persuading themselves one cannot, in the context of a secret ballot, really say. I see no sign of this fall abating yet, so it seems to me that Unionism is heading for minority status with respect to Nationalists. It has already achieved minority status with respect to Nationalists plus Centrists.

    It seems to me though that you are relying not merely on a census of religious opinion, which does not necessarily correspond to political opinion, but to one which has not been filled in sufficently for it to have any meaning. When you say that it is likely that neither Protestants nor RCs will have a majority, what you mean is that the category “No religion or religion not stated” will hold the balance. Here one must ask how this particular category of people intend to vote. Looking at the data for South and North Belfast, South Antrim and North Down, it seems to me that the people with no religion stated are voting for SF, SDLP, Green and Alliance. (in the case of these last two, they are also giving their transfers to Nationalist candidates more often than not). In other words, the Unionist vote corresponds almost exactly to the percentage of the population that declares itself to be Protestant or other Christian.

    Not stating your religion may well be a hangover from the Republican boycott of the census. So counting these people as not Catholic, and even further from the truth, not Nationalist, is a miscalculation.

    Absorption as I delineated it, meant a change in voting patterns to fall in line with those in the Republic. It did not mean interbreeding. Though of course, when there is no Unionist majority to be preserved, restricting yourself to Protestant partners in order to maintain Unionist separateness will no longer have any point to it.

  • Reader

    PaddyReilly: Consequently, Unionist voters in a United Ireland would have the choice of voting for an irrecoverable past or moving on to other alignments.
    You think so? There would be plenty to work for, the problem would be to decide on a strategy that could build up a bit of momentum: Stronger east-west links; devolution; stronger local government; equality or neutrality in public life; north eastern regional identities protected like the Gaeltachts; exemption from the Irish language laws and education
    If you were able to visualise unionists as people like nationalists, only with a different identity, instead of as Martians, you could probably add to that list, instead of dismissing our future as Nordie Fine Gael.

  • slug

    Watchman, F_D, Willow, Turgon, Darth, et al:

    “If your enemies are plotting to get rid of you, on what basis can the devolutionary scheme they offer to you be any form of bulwark?”

    Perhaps the most interesting question. I think the answer is that it has a legitimacy based on local dempcratic legitimacy. Just as devolution to Scotland means that Westminster cannot implement policies there that are locally unpopular. And the powers devolved ARE significant; otherwise the West Lothian question would not be bothering anyone.

  • aquifer

    Until Unionists outline some positive political goals and values that can attract support outside their wee proddie enclave they are doomed to electoral decline, and when they define positive socio-economic goals their all-class sectarian alliance will fragment. Schism is less of a problem than it first appears, as the only time people need to vote ‘unionist’ en bloc is in a vote to dissolve the union, and if Unionism could not articulate positive political values, or even recognise that the cultural cold or uncivil wars of the last century were all ending in its favour, it is begging for oblivion anyhow.

  • “the rest of us on the island simply agreed about what happens when the 50%+1 is reached.”

    That was my understanding, George, but wasn’t the RoI electorate told it was voting for or against the Agreement?

    My proposal was for devolution under shared sovereignty with strong links to the rest of these islands and further afield – and no hiding place for fascists and mafiaists. This would IMO provide an excellent platform for folks to work together for the good of all; the 50%+1 pulls them apart and reinforces apartheid. Aspirations are important but lives much more so.

  • Cartouche

    Reader:

    You think so? There would be plenty to work for, the problem would be to decide on a strategy that could build up a bit of momentum: Stronger east-west links; devolution; stronger local government; equality or neutrality in public life; north eastern regional identities protected like the Gaeltachts; exemption from the Irish language laws and education

    Your point about Irish language requirements is an aspect of unification I hadn’t considered previously and your suggestion for exemptions certainly has merit. If/Once 50%+1 is reached the unionist population will have zero leverage to negotiate such concessions and the Republic will have no obligation to cede any.

    The GFA states that re-unification will occur once 50%+1 occurs, it does not prescribe the process, it does not require negotiations. Quite simply the 6 counties of Northern Ireland will be ceded by the British government to the Republic. There is no obligation for the Republic to alter the constitution, retain devolution at Stormont or provide any concessions or derogations to the population of the then former Northern Ireland.

    I understand that the items you listed would be important to the unionist community should re-unification occur – and others beside. Force the island to wait until 50%+1 in the north to obtain re-unification and you’ll find very few allies and support (if any) in your quest to obtain them. Negotiate re-unification prior to 50%+1 you will find allies and support in your quest, the tide on that potential support is ebbing and will continue to ebb unabated.

    It is a fantasy to believe that a re-unification referendum passes in the north and then unionists will have the opportunity to negotiate the nature of the unified island. Once that happens unionists will have no power beyond their representation in an Dáil, no veto on re-unification and no power to dictate the terms of the country that will be. The only leverage unionists have is the power to grant re-unification before nationalists have a majority. It is evaporating.

  • PaddyReilly

    The only leverage unionists have is the power to grant re-unification before nationalists have a majority. It is evaporating.

    Well I think it is completely certain that they will never use that power. No Unionist party, UUP, DUP or TUV would attempt to negotiate on such a basis, knowing that they would be electorally eliminated if they did. Besides, such leverage comes with no guarantees: as the Irish Republic is committed to democracy and majority rule, if a democratic majority demanded the removal of whatever concessions had been made to the Unionist minority, they would have to go.

    Equally, the whole idea that there is anything that could be negotiated to make Unionists happy in an United Ireland is a bit like thinking that a prisoner will go more readily to an electric chair if he has extra cushions with a nice floral pattern on them.

    As for Reader’s demands. Links between the Irish Republic and the UK are already, in the context of the European Union, absolute: the idea that the EU should be given greater powers has never been popular among Unionists. Devolution could only be to a Nationalist controlled entity, which would be less accommodating to Unionists, and more subject to SF influence, than a 32 county Dáil. “North Eastern regional identities” would be subjected to the same, nationalist majority control. Or are you asking for a special new Gerrymander? The Irish language is not compulsory in the Leaving Cert, so there is no reason why it should bother anyone. Enacting laws which say that no Protestant child would be allowed to study Irish would fall foul of Human Rights legislation.

    Equally, the TUV is subject to the same muddled thinking. If the GFA, supported by a large majority, agrees on a devolved Stormont with power sharing, then how are they going to force through direct rule from Westminster?

    If you were able to visualise unionists as people like nationalists, only with a different identity, instead of as Martians, you could probably add to that list, instead of dismissing our future as Nordie Fine Gael.

    The Fine Gael connection only works for certain with regard to Alliance voters.

    The problem here is that you are confusing identity with politics. A Irish Nationalist whose work takes him to England remains, probably, an Irish Nationalist from a cultural point of view, but in politics he can only be Labour, Conservative or Liberal, or whatever else is on offer.

    I suppose he could start his own Irish Nationalist Party, but it wouldn’t achieve any degree of power and would remain, in the middle of England, a bit of an absurdity. Perhaps as a meeting place for like minded individuals it would serve some social function.

  • Cartouche

    PaddyReilly,

    I think it is highly unlikely that unionists will take advantage of the power to negotiate a united Ireland while they have a veto. Although who knows what electoral realities will unfold as the old dinosaurs die off in the next 10 to 20 years. Certainly time will tell.

    The overall thrust of my argument was to expose the logical fallacy at the heart of popular unionist thinking (at least that espoused here) that should/when nationalists win a 50%+1 referendum there would then be a series of negotiations where unionists would achieve a laundry list of rights, concessions and derogations in the new united Ireland. There is no legal obligation on either the Irish or British governments to do so and having forced the island to wait as long as possible for re-unification there would be precious little support or sympathy for their requests. If these issues are important to unionists then they should trade for them while they have something to trade.

    Especially amusing to me is the belief that the compromises negotiated in the GFA for the Northern Ireland state will persist in a 32 county Republic post re-unification. When/If re-unification occurs the laws of the Republic will obtain and unionists will have political leverage commensurate with their representation in an Dáil.

    Given the history I think we would be willing to negotiate special understandings for the Northern and unionist populations to ease the transition to a re-unified Ireland, perhaps temporary in nature by sunset law, review or perhaps in some cases permanent. I believe that we would be magnanimous in “victory” as well as sensitive to the feelings of the unionist population that may feel corralled into a united Ireland. I also believe that any such spirit would be greatly diminished, if not completely eliminated, should unionism make us wait until the very bitter end of a 50%+1 vote.

  • Butterknife

    Who is Philip McNeill?

    Posted by Uncle Sam on Apr 02, 2008 @ 03:51 PM
    That would be me: this is my old pen name i went by 1998 – 2007 RIP. Why do you ask? I include a valid email if its important.

  • willowfield

    FD

    Your questions have been comprehensively dealt with, despite an obsession with perjorative terms. The degree of difference is a matter of opinion. Trimblites will try to minise, STAA supporters maximise it.

    I’m not sure what pejorative terms I’m obsessed with, or even what pejorative terms I have used?

    Of course there are opinions involved, but we should try to look at things objectively. After St Andrews the vast majority of the GFA remained in place: the only real changes that spring to mind were to do with how the FM&DFM;get elected (detrimental to unionism), the introduction of a procedure for challenging ministerial decisions (a positive change), and – also positive – the requirement that PSF support the police. Like decommissioning, however, the implementation of this has been problematic, with PSF failing to co-operate in respect of the Quinn murder and the DUP staying very quiet about it: if this had happened under the UUP’s watch, the DUP would have been calling for suspension.

    The rest of the GFA: including compulsory power-sharing, d’Hondt, cross-border bodies, police reform, early prisoner release scheme, bill of rights – all opposed vehemently by DUP, and unpopular within the unionist community – remained untouched. When the DUP criticised the GFA for all of these things, said they would “bury” the Agreement and negotiate a replacement, nobody thought that they were only concerned with election mechanisms for the First Minister and how to petition in the Assembly against a ministerial decision.

  • willowfield

    PADDYREILLY

    So when you say unionist you actually mean Protestant.

    Not strictly (e.g. I’m not thinking of, say, Protestant Nigerian immigrants), but essentially I mean Ulster Protestant, of course.

    But those who are persuadable will persuade themselves. It doesn’t require any input from me.

    Does this belief – there is no point in trying to persuade a person of something because if he is persuadable he will persuade himself – apply universally, or just to the question of a “united Ireland”?

    As for the sectarian headcount I am supposedly relying upon, what I have in fact done is observed that the Unionist voting majority has, in the last 30 years, come down from 300,000 to about a tenth of that. Whether this is due to more Catholics on the voting list or Protestants persuading themselves one cannot, in the context of a secret ballot, really say. I see no sign of this fall abating yet, so it seems to me that Unionism is heading for minority status with respect to Nationalists. It has already achieved minority status with respect to Nationalists plus Centrists.

    And I have already said that it does not necessarily follow that, even in such a scenario, nationalists will be a majority. Therefore nationalism needs to appeal to those “others”, who include, e.g. non-voting unionists/Protestants.

    When you say that it is likely that neither Protestants nor RCs will have a majority, what you mean is that the category “No religion or religion not stated” will hold the balance.

    Full marks for deductive reasoning.

    Here one must ask how this particular category of people intend to vote. Looking at the data for South and North Belfast, South Antrim and North Down, it seems to me that the people with no religion stated are voting for SF, SDLP, Green and Alliance.

    There are no data from which you can draw such a conclusion: we have a secret ballot.

    Absorption as I delineated it, meant a change in voting patterns to fall in line with those in the Republic. It did not mean interbreeding.

    I never said it meant “interbreeding”.

    CARTOUCHE

    The GFA states that re-unification will occur once 50%+1 occurs, it does not prescribe the process, it does not require negotiations. Quite simply the 6 counties of Northern Ireland will be ceded by the British government to the Republic. There is no obligation for the Republic to alter the constitution, retain devolution at Stormont or provide any concessions or derogations to the population of the then former Northern Ireland.

    Not quite the case. Section 1 of the NI Act 1998 provides that, in the event of 50%+1, “the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament such proposals to give effect to that wish as may be agreed between Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland [sic]”. So there is room for some negotiations.

    But, in reality, it is true that unionists will have virtually no leverage, and any concessions offered by the Southern government would be entirely down to goodwill.

  • fair_deal

    Willowfield

    Perhaps perjorative was the incorrect term but you appear to have some fascination with verbiage such as “smash” and now in this post with “bury”.

    This is pretty much a re-run of earlier arguments about the viability of a ‘fair deal’ and the issue of common characteristics. The car analogy became very common in those debates. All have four wheels steering wheel etc but there is still significant differences between models. Also I feel somewhat circumspect being asked almost for a full-throated defence of an Agreement I myself have criticised on here.

    I am not aware of the DUP manifesto promising they would put prisoners back in. I would presume you were a yes voter, if that is correct, if you are looking for someone to blame for that look to yourself and the rest of the 72% not the DUP. As the badges used to say “Don’t blame me I voted No’. If not I withdraw the comment.

    As regards Quinn, the DUP are now a full part of the structures. The rules of the structures are the IMC must rule on it before action can be taken. The DUP has stated its position of the difficulties it will cause if it makes a negative ruling. Are you suggesting it continue to be a party of perenial protest while trying to govern?

    The damage of police reform was done on the UUP’s watch so again look elsewhere for the blame on that. On the DUP’s watch, SF came on board for policing while achieving next to no more changes to the police and they certainly didn’t get their way on MI5 (as the SDLP pointed out with glee). Granted there was a significant element of luck in this good fortune as the RM had dug itself into a monumental hole with the Northern Bank and McCartney case.

    On cross-border bodies, I am surprised you raised that as it is the one area I am perfectly willing to accept negotiation success by Trimble. He’d learnt the lesson of Sunningdale but instead messed up significantly on the internal and paramilitary elements. The issue that needed to be sorted out there was accountability and it has.

    On the Bill of Rights we have yet to see what will happen. They are meant to be the product of broad societal consensus and when all the parties and sectors can only agree on a handful of proposals its future does not bode well.

  • willowfield

    FD

    Perhaps perjorative was the incorrect term but you appear to have some fascination with verbiage such as “smash” and now in this post with “bury”.

    That is not my language: that was the language of the DUP. Hence its relevance.

    I am not aware of the DUP manifesto promising they would put prisoners back in.

    Not explicitly, but in declaring total opposition to the GFA and in arguing for a renegotiation, it is implicit that such a renegotiation would naturally include removal of those aspects of the original agreement which are most offensive: the early release scheme being the most obvious.

    This point, of course, was made at the time – that it would not be possible to renegotiate the GFA, in any significant way – but such arguments were dismissed by the DUP. I think the DUP was proven wrong, given that all that was achieved at St Andrews was minor detailed changes (other than the policing declaration, but the DUP had not been arguing about that during its time as an anti-Agreement party).

    I would presume you were a yes voter, if that is correct, if you are looking for someone to blame for that look to yourself and the rest of the 72% not the DUP. As the badges used to say “Don’t blame me I voted No’. If not I withdraw the comment.

    But those who voted “yes” did so on the basis that a perfect world was not possible and that some unpleasant concessions would have to be made in order to get the Provos on board to a legitimate and non-violent political system. It was unrealistic of the DUP to pretend otherwise – which they did rhetorically up until around 2003 (and even afterwards, even though they had then moved into a pro-Agreement position). And, of course, the St Andrews Agreement was predicated on the early release scheme and all the other things the DUP said they opposed in 1998, but accepted from 2003 on.

    As regards Quinn, the DUP are now a full part of the structures. The rules of the structures are the IMC must rule on it before action can be taken.

    Indeed, but the IMC is another example of something which the DUP opposed when the UUP negotiated it, yet now they apparently support it.

    The DUP has stated its position of the difficulties it will cause if it makes a negative ruling. Are you suggesting it continue to be a party of perenial protest while trying to govern?

    No: I was making the point that, had the exact same situation arisen while the UUP were in the driving seat, the DUP would have called on the institutions to be suspended. The difference now – as you point out – is that the DUP is now the governing party, yet they do not collapse the institutions.

    The damage of police reform was done on the UUP’s watch so again look elsewhere for the blame on that.

    Again – police reform was necessary in order to attain the Agreement – which the DUP now accepts and operates. It was disingenous to declare total opposition to something yet seek an agreement which would be entirely dependent upon it.

    On the DUP’s watch, SF came on board for policing while achieving next to no more changes to the police and they certainly didn’t get their way on MI5 (as the SDLP pointed out with glee). Granted there was a significant element of luck in this good fortune as the RM had dug itself into a monumental hole with the Northern Bank and McCartney case.

    True, and that is the DUP’s major achievement. But there is no reason why this could not have been achieved by the UUP had (a) Trimble managed things better, and (b) the DUP had not put its own party interests ahead of those of unionism and adopted a position of total obstructiveness. And – relevant to this discussion – this DUP success was one of implementation of the Agreement and not in relation to the Agreement itself. It could be said that the DUP has shown itself more adept at implementing the Agreement than the UUP did – but it failed to renegotiate it in any significant way.

    On cross-border bodies, I am surprised you raised that as it is the one area I am perfectly willing to accept negotiation success by Trimble.

    Me, too, but it was one of the things that the DUP objected to in 1998.

    The above is perhaps clumsily written, but I am trying to be quick.

  • PaddyReilly

    There are no data from which you can draw such a conclusion: we have a secret ballot.

    The percentages are public: the census is public, and when we compare the two, we find that the % of Protestants on the census is broadly equal to the % of votes cast for the Unionist parties in the election. We cannot be certain that census Protestants are all voting Unionist: possibly many are not. We cannot be certain that not-staters are not voting Unionist: possibly many are. But when the votes are all in, the exceptions balance each other out.

    The equation Catholic = Nationalist voter and Protestant = Unionist can be shown to go beyond mere folklore: if you have an 80% Protestant majority in an area, you can be fairly certain that it will not return an 80% Nationalist majority. Or vice versa. But you can’t be certain with individuals, and the final score may be a few percentage points out from predictions.

    Does this belief – there is no point in trying to persuade a person of something because if he is persuadable he will persuade himself – apply universally, or just to the question of a “united Ireland”?

    Well if I offer a house for sale I will point out its merits to people who come round to view it, but will not be stopping people in the street to do so. But I’m not entirely certain that I have refrained from using persuasion, but only of a particular sort. If I point out that a Unionist second seat in the 2014 European Parliamentary election is not feasible, might I not be persuading people who might otherwise have gone out and voted Unionist to stay at home and not bother?

    Therefore nationalism needs to appeal to those “others”, who include, e.g. non-voting unionists/Protestants.

    But why do you keep telling me this? One thing is certain, you are not that non-aligned, Liberal Protestant waiting to be convinced, so it is pointless submitting my arguments to you. For Nationalist politicians there is a danger of slipping into an O’Neill syndrome, which means by showing too much consideration for the other side, you lose the unconditional support of your own. When the Captain was in power, did you tell him how wrong it was for Unionism to rely on having won a sectarian breeding contest, and he should be broadening his appeal to draw votes from liberal and non-aligned Catholics?

  • willowfield

    The percentages are public: the census is public, and when we compare the two, we find that the % of Protestants on the census is broadly equal to the % of votes cast for the Unionist parties in the election.

    Well, I haven’t done such an analysis. But I wonder if you are taking into account the fact that people under 18 years of age may not vote and that, when you remove them from the Census figures, the Protestant proportion of the electorate is greater than the Protestant proportion of the population. Anecdotally and intuitively, my feeling is that there are more Protestants than RCs who opt out of elections. I have no evidence for this, other perhaps than the lower turn-outs in Protestant-majority constituencies.

    Well if I offer a house for sale I will point out its merits to people who come round to view it, but will not be stopping people in the street to do so.

    So you wouldn’t use an estate agent and/or advertise your house? That’s very unusual and probably not a very effective way to sell your house.

    But I’m not entirely certain that I have refrained from using persuasion, but only of a particular sort. If I point out that a Unionist second seat in the 2014 European Parliamentary election is not feasible, might I not be persuading people who might otherwise have gone out and voted Unionist to stay at home and not bother?

    No, I don’t think so.

    But why do you keep telling me this?

    Because you keep saying that nationalism can rely on the sectarian breeding competition.

    One thing is certain, you are not that non-aligned, Liberal Protestant waiting to be convinced, so it is pointless submitting my arguments to you.

    I never said there would be any point in submitting arguments to me. I have specifically and clearly referred to non-aligned, liberal Protestant types!

    For Nationalist politicians there is a danger of slipping into an O’Neill syndrome, which means by showing too much consideration for the other side, you lose the unconditional support of your own. When the Captain was in power, did you tell him how wrong it was for Unionism to rely on having won a sectarian breeding contest, and he should be broadening his appeal to draw votes from liberal and non-aligned Catholics?

    I wasn’t alive, and, in any case, there would have been no need to tell that to Captain O’Neill, since that was already his belief.

    To sum up: it is your view that it is pointless for nationalists consciously to seek the votes of those who do not perceives themselves to belong to the Catholic/nationalist community because:

    (a) by doing so there is a risk of losing votes from within that community,
    (b) because demographic dominance on the part of that community is assured, and

    even if the latter does not come to fruition, a sufficient number of non-aligned and liberal Protestants will vote for a united Ireland without the need for any persuasion.

  • fair_deal

    Willowfield

    “That is not my language: that was the language of the DUP.”

    And? It’s called rhetorical flourish, it’s a common feature of speeches and campaigning. Protestestors were unlikely to go “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, please realise the social harm of your policies and change them appropriately” they went for “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Out Out Out”

    “Not explicitly, but in declaring total opposition to the GFA and in arguing for a renegotiation, it is implicit…”

    Nice try but no cigar. A party can’t be legitimately attacked for your personal imaginings of what you think they are promising rather than what they actually promise.

    “unpleasant concessions”

    Well you got what you voted for so don’t try and push blame about it onto others.

    “yet they do not collapse the institutions.”

    And I addressed this point already. ” The rules of the structures are the IMC must rule on it before action can be taken”. The IMC report is to come. Abiding by the default arrangements you agreed to even if it creates short-term difficulties is part of making a deal.

    “there is no reason why this could not have been achieved by the UUP had (a) Trimble managed things better, and (b) the DUP had not put its own party interests ahead of those of unionism and adopted a position of total obstructiveness.”

    a) Trimble had shown no ability to manage things better when given the opportunity.
    b)Also I don’t buy into the blame the DUP for everything stuff. There is an major element of denial to try and excuse the UUP for any of its own and obvious failings during that time. Also in the talks and after the fact the UUP was the sole Unionist should have been the source of immense strength within the process, one Trimble generally failed to utilise.

    ” this DUP success was one of implementation of the Agreement and not in relation to the Agreement itself. It could be said that the DUP has shown itself more adept at implementing the Agreement than the UUP did – but it failed to renegotiate it in any significant way.”

    I would remind you that the ‘fair deal’ promise was shaped in those terms for a reason. It was not a promise of glorious victory even if they foolishly tried to present St Andrews as it.

    If you sign up to instrumental deals (as the Belfast Agreement and St Andrews both are) then both a good initial deal and implementation are required. The first sets the pitch and the rest is practical interpretation of the rules of this new game. Trimble put himself on a dodgy pitch and developed into one of those useless whiny players that most fans would dream of taking up a back alley with a baseball bat.

    “the DUP objected to in 1998”

    IIRC they objected to unaccountable cross-border bodies and at the time of the referendum the exact number and role of such bodies hadn’t been determined (the agreement allowed for the option of 12).

  • George

    Nevin,
    That was my understanding, George, but wasn’t the RoI electorate told it was voting for or against the Agreement?

    They were asked on the ballot paper whether they were in favoure of amending the Constitution (alter Articles 2 and 3), nothing more. But if they were told anything it was “vote yes for peace”.

    My proposal was for devolution under shared sovereignty with strong links to the rest of these islands and further afield – and no hiding place for fascists and mafiaists. This would IMO provide an excellent platform for folks to work together for the good of all; the 50%+1 pulls them apart and reinforces apartheid. Aspirations are important but lives much more so.

    If were all Vulcans this idea might fly but on Planet Ireland it could go against the bottom line, Ireland’s right to self-determination. That is what the simultaneous referenda, north and south were about.

    How would you then be able to move from shared sovereignty to a united Ireland if that is the democratic wish of the people?

    The only way unionists would even countenance such a move would be for some kind of guarantee from Britain that it would never relinquish its joint authority over the region, no matter what % unionists made up of the population.

    Even then I find it hard to believe unionists would ever go for such a situation while they are still in the majority.

    But let’s say they did. What happens if a few years/decades down the line a majority north and south determine in a free and democratic vote that they wish to live in a unitary Irish state?

    Joint authority could only ever be a temporary solution and temporary solutions eventually lead to instability if you don’t know what the destination is. (Has joint authority ever worked as a permanent solution in a conflict region?)

    But I don’t think there is any way around this fudge for Northern Ireland. It was created as a fudge and is destined to continue as one.

    Even the GFA, while possibly indefinite in duration, has instability built into it as nearly half of the population refuse to see it as the final settlement.

    I honestly don’t see how you can get out of the 85-year-old zero sum game now merely because the figures now seem to indicate that the arbitrary zero sum game separation-driven border was drawn in the wrong place if it was meant to be permanent.

    And mafiosi and fascists thrive on instability.

  • joeCanuck

    From a purely mathematical point of view, if you count the ballots and find 50% + 1 and then recount them, you are likely to find 50% – 100 or 50% + 100.

  • willowfield

    And? It’s called rhetorical flourish, it’s a common feature of speeches and campaigning.

    It’s more than rhetorical flourish: the words have meaning, and “smashing” and “burying” an Agreement clearly means doing more than simply making some adjustments to it.

    Protestestors were unlikely to go “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, please realise the social harm of your policies and change them appropriately” they went for “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Out Out Out”

    Yes, but they did actually want Maggie out, hence the slogan was accurate, unlike the DUP promises to “smash” and “bury” the GFA.

    Nice try but no cigar. A party can’t be legitimately attacked for your personal imaginings of what you think they are promising rather than what they actually promise.

    I don’t think that’s fair. I think the implications of what they were promising were, at best, ambiguous and – logically – what I have presented. The DUP declared absolute opposition to the GFA and, in doing so, picked out the early release scheme as the single-most objectionable part of it. They said they would try to overturn the Agreement – which was an entirely legitimate position prior to the referendum. But after they lost the referendum, they continued to pose as the party that would smash/destroy it, and continued to object to the early release scheme – smashing it or destroying it implies more than making adjustments to it. They didn’t say: “look, we opposed this Agreement, unfortunately we failed to convince the electorate, but we still think we can improve on it, albeit we won’t be able to remove most of the things against which we were campaigning”.

    So my point is that the DUP position of outright opposition, and claiming that they could negotiate something completely new, was entirely disingenuous and cynical. They knew they couldn’t do that: you concede yourself that the real objectionable things could not be renegotiated. It was never going to be possible to do anything other than make some adjustments, yet – knowing this – the DUP posed as the party that would be able to do so, and won votes on that basis.

    Well you got what you voted for so don’t try and push blame about it onto others.

    Yes, of course we got what we voted for – and what we voted for was a comprehensive agreement which, by its nature included good things and bad things. That will always be the nature of such an agreement – a perfect deal for unionists was never possible. The DUP have succeeded in making some improvements to the Agreement, and in pushing the Provos towards supporting the police – and for that they deserve credit – but none of that would have been possible without the Belfast Agreement. It is not credible to think that the DUP could have, for example, persuaded the Provos to support the police had prisoner releases, police reform, etc., not happened. The DUP, therefore, owes its gains to the Agreement that it opposed.

    And I addressed this point already. “ The rules of the structures are the IMC must rule on it before action can be taken”. The IMC report is to come. Abiding by the default arrangements you agreed to even if it creates short-term difficulties is part of making a deal.

    Yes, but, as I said, the DUP opposed the IMC, while the UUP were in charge. Funny how they now support it. When did it become an acceptable mechanism and why?

  • willowfield

    a) Trimble had shown no ability to manage things better when given the opportunity.

    Yes, I accepted that. My point was that, had Trimble been capable of managing things better, he could have achieved what the DUP did, because the DUP’s achievements were built upon what had gone before in terms of implementing the Agreement. It is now clear that he wasn’t capable.

    b)Also I don’t buy into the blame the DUP for everything stuff.

    I don’t blame them for everything. I also blame Trimble for ineffective leadership and underestimating his own strength, I blame Blair for failing to back Trimble, and I blame the SDLP for failing to stand up to the Provos. I do, however, blame the DUP for their obstructive position both before, and immediately after, the GFA. This weakened unionism and strengthened the Provos. Instead of power-sharing with SDLP we now have power-sharing with Provos.

    There is an major element of denial to try and excuse the UUP for any of its own and obvious failings during that time.

    But I don’t excuse the UUP for its failings.

    I would remind you that the ‘fair deal’ promise was shaped in those terms for a reason. It was not a promise of glorious victory even if they foolishly tried to present St Andrews as it.

    Of course the DUP – or at least the leadership – knew the limits of what it could achieve, and what it was prepared to accept: my point is that it was essentially dishonest in its public position.

    If you sign up to instrumental deals (as the Belfast Agreement and St Andrews both are) then both a good initial deal and implementation are required.

    I agree. And we both agree that Trimble failed on the latter. On the former, I’m afraid that is something we can never know – I simply don’t know if Trimble could have achieved a better deal in 1998. And I don’t know if the DUP could have achieved a better deal in 1998 had they been so inclined. What I do know is that the DUP opposed any kind of deal (which was, in my view, the wrong position and they have had to do a volte-face on it). I also know that once the 1998 deal was done, there was an opportunity for those who opposed it to convince the electorate to reject it: that was an entirely legitimate thing to do. But the Rubicon was crossed after the referendum, and it was disingenuous and cynical to pretend that there was any going back – that is my essential criticism of the DUP.

    Regards

  • “Ireland’s right to self-determination. That is what the simultaneous referenda, north and south were about.”

    That’s a very selective and narrow reading of events, George.

    I’m not asking unionists (or nationalists) to go for my proposal; it’s offered to all.

    Shared sovereignty et al could last as long as an agreed percentage of the population here supported it, say somewhere between 60% and 70%. What better way to heal the wounds of the past and avoid the 50%+1 buffers?

  • George

    Nevin,
    That’s a very selective and narrow reading of events, George.

    Not at all. That’s exactly how it was sold to “nationalist” Ireland. Giving up the constitutional claim was predicated on the alternative being a decision made by all the people of this island. That’s why we had an all-island vote. That is the political reality.

    This fudge of “co-determination” that this 1998 vote was is the best that could have been hoped for because if you remove the self-determination you remove the island-wide nationalist consensus necessary for agreement.

    Shared sovereignty et al could last as long as an agreed percentage of the population here supported it, say somewhere between 60% and 70%. What better way to heal the wounds of the past and avoid the 50%+1 buffers?

    What makes you think there would be less headbangers and more stability with 60% than say 51%?

    Co-determination was a fudge. Partition was a fudge. So why fudge the fudge further by changing the rules for removing it because you are afraid of the consequences for the initial fudge?

    Telling the nationalists of Northern Ireland for 80 years that a minority cannot dictate the constitutional future of the majority and then turning around and saying the opposite once they are approaching a majority is a recipe for disaster.

    In reality, increasing the necessary number to end NI’s existence to 70% is the equivalent of building the asylum walls 50% higher.

    It’s the Repubic and GB locking the Northern Ireland door and throwing away the key.

  • Greenflag

    cartouche,

    ‘The GFA states that re-unification will occur once 50%+1 occurs, it does not prescribe the process, it does not require negotiations’

    Oh yeh? Sounds like a beautiful theory just before it’s murdered by the inevitable brutal gang of facts .

    ‘Quite simply the 6 counties of Northern Ireland will be ceded by the British government to the Republic. ‘

    Oh yeh . And you expect this from ‘perfidious’ Albion ? I’ll agree that Mother England would dearly love to wipe her hands of the SS (sinking ship ) Northern Ireland but she can’t afford to leave behind a Bosnia . Would not look good on the oul HMG resume ye see -too close to Finchley .And it would be yet another stain on the already overdone Anglo guilt complex re Ireland and the Irish ‘question’.

    ‘There is no obligation for the Republic to alter the constitution, retain devolution at Stormont —former Northern Ireland. ‘

    True but other than political junkies few in the Republic are worried about hypothethical what if’s, maybes and could have beens as regards NI. Remember we elected Bertie three times .
    Nowadays we like our politicans to deliver the goods . We gave up on the dreaming under Dev.Obviously the ‘dream’ mindset is still prevalent across both communities in NI.

    ‘It is a fantasy to believe that a re-unification referendum passes in the north and then unionists will have the opportunity to negotiate the nature of the unified island. ‘

    It’s even more of a fantasy to believe that Unionists will just turn over in their beds on the morning after the 50% plus 1 and ask Elizabeth or Iris to rustle up an Ulster fry to celebrate the ending of the Union and to please take down the picture of Queenie from the parlour wall and replace it with one of Bertie.

    paddyreilly,

    ‘The problem here is that you are confusing identity with politics.’

    Good point paddy and I would say the same in reverse i.e if an English nationalist were in Ireland however you are underestimating the extent to which politics defines identity in NI and vice versa . An Englishman can vote Tory, Labour , or LD and still remain an Englishman . It’s not that simple for NI Unionists.

    George,

    ‘Co-determination was a fudge. Partition was a fudge. So why fudge the fudge further by changing the rules for removing it because you are afraid of the consequences for the initial fudge? ‘

    Eh ? The GFA is a fudge George . It’s the biggest mountain of fudge since the brown stuff started rolling off the process line . But nice turn of phrase George . I’ll recommend it to FG/Labour for their next pre election fudge/sorry rainbow coalition.

    ‘In reality, increasing the necessary number to end NI’s existence to 70% is the equivalent of building the asylum walls 50% higher.’

    Quite. Some might want the asylum walls even higher to keep the inmates in . Some NI afflictions are best kept behind high walls -very high walls .

    ‘It’s the Repubic and GB locking the Northern Ireland door and throwing away the key.’

    Well that’s more or less what both Governments have done . I think Paisley realised it soon after he took office . The SF lads are learning the hard way as usual and Peter the ‘punt’ Robinson is just about to find out what it’s like to be a powerless eunuch in a walled in political harem.

    willowfield,

    ‘But, in reality, it is true that unionists will have virtually no leverage, and any concessions offered by the Southern government would be entirely down to goodwill’

    No leverage? What about Independence ? Repartition? Direct Rule ? Ulster Workers Strike ? Spongers Reborn Day of Remembrance ? Come on use your imagination -uh oh perhaps not . We’ll leave that to JA and his Transcendental Unionist Voodoomen 🙁

    On the other Unionists may after several years get used to the taste of fudge -I mean you would think it should’nt have taken this long but there you go there’s no accounting for taste . Pity Bertie won’t be around though . Biffo is much less of a ‘fudge’ provider although rumour has it that one of his siblings has been fudging his tax returns for several years .

    We’ll miss Bertie I’m tellin ye 🙁

  • PaddyReilly

    You’re relying on the sectarian breeding contest, which is less likely to result in a “united Ireland” than a rational argument in favour of a “united Ireland”.

    Silly me! But why are you worried? After all, I’m acting in your interest.

    However, we must ask ourselves how many of the existing votes for the Nationalist side were achieved by putting Fintan and Dervla through St Scrotum’s and how many by submitting rational arguments to Sammy and Billy. The point is that when you have a sectarian divide, it is physically dangerous not to confirm with those whom you live among.

    I might convince Sammy that a UI is desirable, and then have some idiot who holds that politics are infallibly predictable from religion throw a brick at his head. Or someone from the other side who considers him a Lundy do the same.

    But what you characterise pejoratively as a sectarian breeding contest may not be entirely that. It’s more a matter of general mixing. In the general course of things one would expect more Southerners to move North and more Northerners to move South, Unionists to move outside Ireland and people from abroad to move in. And all of them to intermarry.

    it is your view that it is pointless for nationalists consciously to seek the votes of those who do not perceive themselves to belong to the Catholic/nationalist community

    No, it is a personal choice. Anyone who wishes to don a SF rosette and knock on doors up and down the Shankill is welcome to do so. Party manifestos can be sent to everyone in the province and that for free. Web sites setting out the Nationalist arguments already exist. But when someone presents themselves to you saying effectively, I am a Protestant and you have to convince me to get a United Ireland, it is usually a waste of time arguing with them.

    I believe also that Nationalist politicians, particularly Sinn Féin ones, have expended some little effort to extend the hand of friendship to foreign immigrants, even Muslims.

    a sufficient number of non-aligned and liberal Protestants will vote for a united Ireland without the need for any persuasion.

    More likely they will not vote against it. Persuasion by polemical argument will not work: inducement might be a better tactic. Offering them better paid jobs might be an idea. That’s how England got the Act of Union (with Scotland, as well as Ireland) through, I believe. In 2009 we will know from the election results approximately how many are in need of inducing.

  • joeCanuck

    So, sometime in the future, there is a referendum and the vote is 50% + 1 for reunification.
    Next day, some members of the alphabet gangs go out and shoot 2 known SF members who undoubtedly did vote and voted for reunification. Aha, some say, it’s now 50% – 1.

    If we assume that some day there will be a 50% + 1 vote, when should the “unionists” start to think about negotiating terms? 10 years before, 5 years, two weeks, the day after?
    They do need to think about it now, I think.

  • fair_deal

    Willowfield

    Again it is rhetorical flourish. I accept the Thatcher one was a bad example. How about when Clinton talked about building a bridge to the 21st century? New Labour promising a ‘new britain’? Are we to demand to see the bridge or the new britain?

    “I don’t think that’s fair. I think the implications of what they were promising were, at best, ambiguous and – logically – what I have presented. The DUP declared absolute opposition to the GFA and, in doing so, picked out the early release scheme as the single-most objectionable part of it.”

    Again it is your assessment of the implications not what they said. (I also have a vague recollection that Robinson said in a speech that it wasn’t realistic that prisoners were going to be put back in but i can’t source it on the web so my memory may be inaccurate)

    The DUP declared absolute opposition then lost this rather important thing called the referendum. It also took it another 5 years to convince a majority of Unionists of the problems with the Belfast Agreement. They achieved that majority by seeking and getting a mandate to negotiate which they then did. It’s all in the 03 manifesto.

    “you concede yourself that the real objectionable things could not be renegotiated.”

    Dodgy work, damage gets done, not all can be fixed, don’t use the same builders as before, get someone new in. Pretty much what the Unionists did.

    “Yes, of course we got what we voted for – and what we voted for was a comprehensive agreement which, by its nature included good things and bad things.”

    We each made our own assessment Granted people may have not got what they expected in return for the objectionable parts when they voted in favour. However, trying to blame those who opposed it from the outset and highlighted how the expectations were mistaken I still consider unfair.

    “the DUP opposed the IMC, while the UUP were in charge. Funny how they now support it. When did it become an acceptable mechanism and why?”

    They objected to its lack of powers (which the DUP failed to get addressed). They accepted it when they accepted devolution’s return on the basis it was offered.

    “built upon what had gone before”

    This is were we diverge. I dislike instrumental deals, constitutive are much better. There was no need for the mess.

    “I don’t excuse the UUP for its failings”

    OK you try to mitigate them by blaming the DUP.

    “Of course the DUP – or at least the leadership – knew the limits of what it could achieve, and what it was prepared to accept: my point is that it was essentially dishonest in its public position.”

    They run on it as the central slogan and theme in one of the most tightly fought campaigns in years. I cannot accept the characterisation as dishonest.

    “This weakened unionism and strengthened the Provos”

    I disagree and it is something of a contradiction when you accept Trimble “underestimating his own strength”

    “I’m afraid that is something we can never know”

    Indeed.

    Sonse, Apologies it I have missed anything.

  • Cartouche

    Greenflag,

    Oh yeh?  Sounds like a beautiful theory just before it’s murdered by the inevitable brutal gang of facts .

    willowfield has quoted the relevant passage : “the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament such proposals to give effect to that wish as may be agreed between Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland”.

    Apart from your assertion to the contrary do you have any analysis, logic or facts to support your assertion?

    Oh yeh . And you expect this from ‘perfidious’ Albion ?  I’ll agree that Mother England would dearly love to wipe her hands of the SS (sinking ship ) Northern Ireland but she can’t afford to leave behind a Bosnia . Would not look good on the oul HMG resume ye see -too close to Finchley .And it would be yet another stain on the already overdone Anglo guilt complex re Ireland and the Irish ‘question’.

    At this juncture in the history between Ireland and Britain I don’t see much appetite or demographic in Britain that perceives any real or emotional value in retaining NI in the union. Already the British Prime Minister practically ignores NI when discussing union issues. There is no military, economic, strategic, political or emotional benefit to retaining NI within the union. So yes, when the referendum passes I expect Perfidious Albion to act in their own best interest (as always) and dump the place. Do you have any facts, analysis or rationale to support your suggestion that Britain will renege on the GFA? Your position is dependent on a history of behaviour during an imperial period that no longer obtains.

    It’s even more of a fantasy to believe that Unionists will just turn over in their beds on the morning after the 50% plus 1 and ask Elizabeth or Iris to rustle up an Ulster fry to celebrate the ending of the Union and to please take down the picture of Queenie from the parlour wall and replace it with one of Bertie. 

    True but frankly irrelevant. In the 50%+1 scenario unionism is the minority and the only way they could frustrate the democratic will of Northern Ireland would be to threaten or actually engage in terrorism. The likelihood of unionism opting for the violent path is likely to be determined by the level of fear they have on entering a united Ireland. A fear which I contend has diminished since the GFA and will continue to abate during the interregnum. In the 80s it was a rarity to see a northern registered car in the south – in fact it was so rare to see one in Dublin that if we ever did spot one parked we crossed the street in case it was a car bomb. Since the ceasefires and GFA the traffic between north and south has shot up. Investment from the south in the north has increased dramatically. Cross border bodies – both private and professional have been created from their northern and southern constituents. The level of travel, discourse and interaction between the previously segregated states on this island has risen tremendously and continues to rise. The cleric-ridden, rural Ireland of the 20s to 60s no longer exists and unionists visiting the south (or their friends returning from visits there) tell this story. The features of Ireland that gave fuel to the fears of protestant unionists have disappeared and as such will diminish the fears they would have of re-unification. This trend will continue as we draw closer to the 50%+1 scenario and I submit that this breakdown in barriers is the most likely path to co-opting protestant unionists to become protestant nationalists. The trite and naive allegory you portray of an extreme 180 flip of a protestant unionist family with a picture of the queen on the wall to one with Bertie on the wall does not and will not exist. It is likely that some will depart Northern Ireland to live in Britain, that some will never accept they live in a 32 county Republic – we had those in Dun Laoghaire/Kingstown.

    I want to make it clear and unambiguous to northern unionists – negotiate now for special consideration but if you force us to wait until 50%+1 you will receive none. I wish to thoroughly disabuse them of the notion that they will have leverage to negotiate special considerations post 50%+1. I will confess that this part is more emotional than rational and as such is open to change in the future – I don’t want to repartition my country – I want my country whole and healed, all 32 counties in a single Republic. Hiving off 2 counties as a unionist hinterland would permanently foreclose the goal of the last 500 years and I will not give up on that just to claim 4 counties slightly sooner.

  • Cartouche

    willowfield,

    “the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament such proposals to give effect to that wish as may be agreed between Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland”.

    You are correct and should the referendum ever pass it’ll be interesting to see what the SoS actually does. It has been sometime since I read the GFA and that wording leaves upon a veritable vista of opportunities for shenanigans.

    My greatest fear for any re-unification negotiations would be a constitutional convention that could potentially re-write the entire constitution. It is likely that such a re-write would be given a single up or down vote, be sold as a yes/no on re-unification and therefore pass regardless of the changes. Given the corrupt nature of politicians these days all sorts of civil liberties could disappear and corporate rights and benefits be added, to the detriment of the citizenry. If such a convocation were convened I propose it produce a series of a amendments to the constitution that would be voted on individually.

    I have read the constitution several times and apart from a few desired tweaks here and there I think it is a great constitution and do not want to open up its innards on the butchers block for a wholesale rewrite – incremental amendments, individually voted upon is my preferred path. Given the Euro treaty fiasco we should add one that requires a super-majority of 66% or 75% should the same amendment be offered to the people again within five or ten years of having previously being defeated. The govt should get to re-run referenda until they get their desired outcome.

    Which parts of the constitution would you suggest amending to safeguard protestant unionists in a re-united Ireland or address their real and hypothetical fears? BTW I am already of the opinion that the constitution should have nothing to say about religion apart from establishing a protection for each citizen to practice or not practice their own faith – from the pre-amble about God, Jesus and the holy spirit onwards.

  • Bigger Picture

    Turgon

    Was talking to a leading member of your faction who told me he would be quite happy to sit in the Dail in a UI rather than sit in NI with SF. Is this an overall TUV policy??

  • joeCanuck

    And tell us where he would then run to if SF became a partner in a coalition government.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Apart from your assertion to the contrary do you have any analysis, logic or facts to support your assertion?’

    No just Northside common sense which tends to prefer deeds to words and Bertie to Enda or that Gilmore gobshite !

    I mean just look a these words which I quote from your post

    ‘to give effect to that wish as may be agreed between’

    In my book ‘may’ is not the same thing as will . It implies a ‘may not’.

    ‘Do you have any facts, analysis or rationale to support your suggestion that Britain will renege on the GFA? ‘

    Naw just gut instinct and that Dublin northside common sense that you find difficult to comprehend 🙂 BTW Britain does not renege. HMG’s spin doctors will always find ways around the ahem ‘uncomfortable’ facts if necessary . I mean they’ve become world class professionals at what George calls ‘fudge’ over the past 40 years of DR in NI .

    ‘Your position is dependent on a history of behaviour during an imperial period that no longer obtains.’

    My position for what it’s worth is that the lion does not sit down with the lamb to enjoy a pleasant afternoon pre lunch conversation and to discuss assuaging their mutual hunger by ‘sharing’ the taste of grass after the rain.

    ‘So yes, when the referendum passes I expect Perfidious Albion to act in their own best interest’ (as always)

    Well so would I- IF- and I repeat IF there is ever a referendum . There may never be one well not this century (21st) anyway.

    ‘and dump the place.’

    Well perhaps but IF and I say IF we ever get to that stage -there will be ‘new’ circumstances and as you know circumstances alter cases and the case for a pull out may be drowned out by the cost of having to be dragged back in again to cantonise a post withdrawal Bosniaked province ?

    ‘I want to make it clear and unambiguous to northern unionists – negotiate now for special consideration but if you force us to wait until 50%+1 you will receive none.’

    Sorry but here is where human nature yes even Unionist human nature intervenes. Threats don’t work especially when those making the threats don’t have the wherewithal to carry them out . The Irish Republic does not possess the military power to impose itself on Northern Ireland and what’s more important even if it had the military power it does not have the political ‘will’ for such an undertaking . In any conceivable confrontation the Republic would settle very quickly for a manageable 30 county sized Republic than an unmanageable 32 county one .

    ‘ I wish to thoroughly disabuse them of the notion that they will have leverage to negotiate special considerations post 50%+1. I will confess that this part is more emotional than rational’

    Glad you qualified the part as more emotional for IMO you might as well talk to the wall around my orchard and ask it what it thinks the quality of apples will be in 2012?

    ‘I don’t want to repartition my country ‘

    I don’t either . Repartitioning Northern Ireland will do the job . We (ROI ) can probably buy the rest anyway in the sweet bye and bye if the notion takes us and the indigenes become less cantankerous of the idea of a UI.But I would’nt lose any sleep over it and I don’t think any further loss of blood would be a good thing either .

    BTW Cartouche a good post and I agree with some of your ‘rationale’ re growing contacts between people north and south leading to better relations etc etc . All I would say is that I travel frequently to England and I have many friends there most of whom would be English . I tend to like the English believe it or not however I don’t want our Republic to be ruled from Westminster . I suspect many Unionists may now or might in the future feel the same about ‘rule’ from Dublin.

  • “It’s the Repubic and GB locking the Northern Ireland door and throwing away the key.”

    George, that’s probably a fair description of the nimby approach adopted by London and Dublin at varying times. It’s given us ongoing fascism and mafiaism and the Brothers Grin – to be followed soon by the Brothers Grim.

    My proposal softens the boundaries rather than simply moving them; it also reduces the influence of the headbangers, unlike the current arrangement.

    What’s to fear in shared sovereignty? It gives the best of all worlds to everyone. BTW I first put these or similar ideas in print in the early 1990s when I realised that Hume’s 3-strand analysis had, er, left out the unionist aspiration 🙂

  • willowfield

    FD

    Dodgy work, damage gets done, not all can be fixed, don’t use the same builders as before, get someone new in. Pretty much what the Unionists did.

    Alternatively: Some unionists objected to the building being built in the first place and said they would demolish it. In reality, they knew it would not be possible to demolish it because the foundations were so strong, but publicly they still said that they would, because they felt – correctly – that this would help them to oust the unionists who supported the building in the first place. When they got the chance, rather than demolish it, they just took the old plaster off and replastered it, and tried to give the impression that it was a re-build.

    We each made our own assessment Granted people may have not got what they expected in return for the objectionable parts when they voted in favour. However, trying to blame those who opposed it from the outset and highlighted how the expectations were mistaken I still consider unfair.

    I’m not “blaming” the objectionable parts on those who opposed it from the outset; and I’ve already said that it was entirely reasonable to oppose the Agreement and campaign against it. The point I’m making is that – once it was passed by referendum – there was no going back, and it was disingenuous, if not dishonest, and cynical, to pose as a party that would re-cross the Rubicon and change all the bad things that could not be changed.

    They objected to its lack of powers (which the DUP failed to get addressed). They accepted it when they accepted devolution’s return on the basis it was offered.

    So UUP failure to get sufficient powers = opposition; but DUP failure to get sufficient powers = support.

    This is were we diverge. I dislike instrumental deals, constitutive are much better. There was no need for the mess.

    I don’t disagree. Our discussion is on the premise that an instrumental deal was done.

    OK you try to mitigate them by blaming the DUP.

    I think that’s fair to a degree – I think the UUP’s failings would have been less if the DUP’s position hadn’t been so hostile, and also if Blair and the SDLP had been more supportive.

    They run on it as the central slogan and theme in one of the most tightly fought campaigns in years. I cannot accept the characterisation as dishonest.

    But it was not clear exactly how far they were prepared to go – they tried to ride two horses, and without any credible anti-Agreement opposition, there was nowhere else really for voters to go. Actually, they didn’t try to ride two horses: they succeeded.

    I disagree and it is something of a contradiction when you accept Trimble “underestimating his own strength”

    Perhaps the Provos’ rise was inevitable, yes.

  • willowfield

    CARTOUCHE

    Which parts of the constitution would you suggest amending to safeguard protestant unionists in a re-united Ireland or address their real and hypothetical fears?

    Not sure that there’s anything. At that point, unionists will have been defeated and will have little appetite or interest in amendments to the Southern constitution. Alienation will be the order of the day.

  • “don’t use the same builders as before, get someone new in.”

    Did someone mention Seymour Sweeney? 😉

    Dodds and Foster made a right mess of that little bit of cronyism!

  • George

    Nevin,
    My proposal softens the boundaries rather than simply moving them;

    I think the co-determination rather than pure self-determination was as softening a boundary as you were going to get from the broader all-island nationalist family at the time while mandatory coalition and the principle of consent was as soft a boundary as was possible on the unionist side.

    it also reduces the influence of the headbangers, unlike the current arrangement.

    In the long term once things settled down maybe that would have been true especially if we lived in a rational world but look at the amount of headbangers who came out of the woodwork (Drumcree I-V, Omagh etc.) with the much less sacred-cow killing GFA fudge. I doubt the will was there in the Republic or Britain to hold the line for the implementation of joint authority.

    What’s to fear in shared sovereignty? It gives the best of all worlds to everyone.

    It’s an interesting argument, but I am wary of it. I can’t think of anywhere on earth where quasi-permanent joint authority has worked to create a dynamic and harmonious region where once there was strife. So it is untested.

    I also don’t see how you could convince unionists to accept joint authority in return for a guarantee that a full-blown UI wouldn’t happen unless there was a super-majority of say 66% in favour.

    Then there are the nationalists, who have to be convinced that, for all intents and purposes, joint authority is as good a deal as they are ever going to get.

    They would most likely smell a rat and simply see such an offer as only being on the table now because the time could be approaching where they would have the majority necessary to leave the Union completely.

    BTW I first put these or similar ideas in print in the early 1990s when I realised that Hume’s 3-strand analysis had, er, left out the unionist aspiration 🙂

    Funnily enough, I would say this idea would have got a greater degree of support from nationalists in 1993 but would have been dismissed out of hand by unionism.

    But in 2008, with Martin and friends up at Stormont the pendulum has probably swung. You might actually run into a few unionists who would contemplate the concept while the number of nationalists in favour would be down on 15 years ago.

    I don’t know if that makes you ahead of the times or behind them. Maybe you are a modern-day Cassandra, running through the Glens of Antrim with hair dishevelled.

  • fair_deal

    willowfield

    “Some unionists objected to the building being built in the first place and said they would demolish it.”

    Northern Ireland existed so the political agreements were about changes to the house not building a new one.

    “to pose as a party that would re-cross the Rubicon and change all the bad things ”

    Which they didn’t do. It’s what you consider was implicated.

    “But it was not clear exactly how far they were prepared to go – they tried to ride two horses, and without any credible anti-Agreement opposition, there was nowhere else really for voters to go.”

    I think you are referiing to the 2007 election. my reference was to 2003 Assembly election.

  • George, the EU already has a fair measure of ‘joint authority’ and the Irish government is likely to lobby for more during the course of the referendum campaign.

    Nationalist and unionist ‘politicos’ are likely to reject my proposal out of hand because each is addicted to the all-or-nothing line.

    The Athboy strategy and the reaction to it was an expression of a reluctance to share; apartheid rules ok. The fudge IMO is a recipe for rotten teeth – or worse.

  • willowfield

    FD

    Northern Ireland existed so the political agreements were about changes to the house not building a new one.

    Well, in that case, some unionists opposed the changes to the house and said they would reverse them, even though they knew they couldn’t. When they got the chance all they did was a bit of redecoration.

    Which they didn’t do. It’s what you consider was implicated.

    At best, they retained an ambiguous stance – riding two horses. At worst, they deliberately misled.

    I think you are referiing to the 2007 election. my reference was to 2003 Assembly election.

    What I said applies to both, and to all other elections after 1998.

  • fair_deal

    Willowfield

    Repetition does not make for an argument.

    You are judging them on the implications you have arrived at rather than what they said.

    “What I said applies to both”

    Well my particular point was about 2003.