United Ireland: work not quite in process…

Deaglán de Bréadún asks if 26 will ever become 32? (subs needed). Although he goes heavy on the caveats, even the formulation of the question hints at just one of many problems facing anyone wanting to build a politically unified Ireland. It implies an enthusiasm for expanding the Republic, that doesn’t currently exist in the southern polity. And as the first leader’s debate in last year’s southern election campaign indicated, the knowledge base amongst leading Northern Irish advocates of a united Ireland is lamentably poor.de Bréadún:

Theoretically, if a relatively small percentage of unionists broke away from the consensus within their community and made common cause with the vast majority of their nationalist neighbours, a united Ireland would follow.

In practice, the majority for unity would have to be considerably greater than that (ideally, there would be a strong majority in both communities) and it would have to be clear that the dissident unionist minority would accept the referendum result in a democratic spirit and refrain from violence, or at least be incapable of perpetrating more than a token level of violence.

Incidentally, at the time of writing, the two main unionist parties occupy only 54 or precisely half of the 108 seats in the Assembly. The remainder is made up of Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance as well as two Independents from the nationalist or republican “gene pool”, one Green and one Progressive Unionist. Given the continuance of the powersharing administration in the North, who knows how the unionist mindset might gradually start to shift and reassess the constitutional position? The functioning and performance of the North-South bodies could have a major influence in this regard.

The most obvious caveat to this is that whilst unionist turn out at elections is generally lower than those of nationalists, when there is a large set piece, such as the 1998 referendum it’s probably wise to add the odd 100,000-150,000 on the usual number. The other problem lies with northern Irish nationalism. Whilst there is no doubt that it has suffered political humiliation over the years, it is also clear that through the years of the troubles this has hardened into form of cultural contempt for unionists and unionist culture.

It makes Gerry Adams statement yesterday:

“We accept that we have to persuade the unionists of the merits of that. After all it is incumbent on us who have a republican view of the future in which citizens are sovereign to ensure that those citizens who are currently unionists have a sense of shaping that future, a real involvement in it.”

Except, there is little sign that this (post peace) process has as yet taken on much substance. In the past there is little doubt that Sinn Fein’s outreach has pre-dated any significant move in the other direction. But it has had little effect other than hardening unionist attitudes. Residual nationalist attitudes in Northern Ireland’s largest nationalist city Derry, still focus unremittingly on the democratic up to and including 1969, with little reference to the massive population shifts that took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

The growing bond between north and south is economic, rather than political. Farmers in the in south and west sell increasing amounts of their milk yield in the Republic. The Fivemiletown Creamery gained access to a high level retail market in Paris of all places, partly through the good offices of the southern government.

Critically all of the positives are genuine trust building exercises. There is no politics, directly, involved. Yet, as Frank Millar notes in the last lines of unionism in the newest edition of his book on Trimble, “they need not “expect Irish Republicans and nationalists to take and sustain the cross community initiatives necessary to stabilise and secure Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom”. Northern Irish nationalism, if it is serious about eventual unification, needs to find its own ways around the polarisation of the last forty years.

To do that, it needs more than fine or pretentious words. It needs to demonstrate its intentions with positive and visible actions.

  • PaddyReilly

    The balance of power will (ugh) be held by Alliance.

    As I already said, one thing at a time. The UUP has had its turn, perhaps the DUP, though only in coalition. Alliance also deserves a chance to make itself obnoxious to the electorate.

    We have achieved a Nationalist vote which on occasions has gone as high as 46%; and a Unionist vote which on occasions has fallen as low as 48%. How can you be certain that they have not now met in the middle? Or will not have done by the time there is another election? And if the Nationalist vote and the Unionist are both now 47%, how do you think the other 6% will react, if asked to make up their mind on Ireland’s future?

    Kensei’s figures are for the 1st preference vote in Assembly elections. There are so many other factors at work—Independents, weighted constituencies etc—that they do not give the most accurate idea of percentages. In the 1999 European Elections the joint SF + SDLP vote was 28.1 + 17.3 = 45.4%. If the vote for the same two parties was only 39.6 in 1998, then we have to bear in mind that the aggregate Nationalist vote can shoot up by 5.8% when there is a province wide poll. Why is this?

    At a guess, I’d say that tactical voting played a great part. Bear in mind that under multiple choice, few voters are totally identified with one party. One can vote for them all in order of preference. The Alliance vote is particularly volatile, moving from 2% to 6% depending on the circumstances. I would suggest this means that a significant proportion of those who vote for Alliance when it is doing well are favourable to the idea of a United Ireland.

    Whatever the case, you may think that a combined 1st preference vote of 41.4% is a disappointing result for SF + SDLP, but in South Belfast this was all that was needed (actually only 40%) to give them 3 out of 6 seats. It may be that in a multiple choice system with a significant number of non-aligned, 43% of the 1st prefs is a working majority.

    If I recall correctly, the 2003 election saw something 70% turnouts in SF wards compared to an average 50% in unionist areas.

    A fallacy this: there are no SF wards or Unionist areas. If the vote is low in so-called Unionist areas, might it not be that the nationalist minority there is not bothering to vote because they know they’ll lose? And if there is a high turn out in a so-called SF ward, might not the Unionists be turning out en masse in order to stop them? Here I think the census helps: if we assume that Catholics vote Nationalist and Protestants Unionist, then I can see no sign that either religion is more diligent about voting than the other.

    Some estimates suggest that between 150,000-200,000 unionist voters turned up for the Belfast Agreement referendum, who don’t commonly vote.

    Another fallacy: as the referendum did not concern parties, there is no reason to characterise the extra voters as Unionists. They turned up, and they voted for a settlement, which the Orange Lodge had told them was a Lundyite surrender. This suggests that the extra voters are more likely to be Pacifist compromisers than No Surrender Unionists.

    But here we are falling into the trap of basing everything on a single referendum. One thing at a time. First, Unionists must lose their majority with the electorate: they already have. Then, in the European Parliament and the Assembly. Then they become equal to the Nationalists in the Assembly: then less than the Nationalists. Finally, Nationalist representation in the Assembly reaches 50% or more.

    Irish reunification is best seen as something that we are continuously moving toward, and not a particular point in time marked by a 50% + 1 vote.

  • Greenflag

    Billy ,

    ‘Your entire repartition is based on the notion that this is possible, but it isn’t really.’

    If Partition was possible there’s no reason why Repartition can’t be possible . Look upon it as a repair job to the original poorly thought out first partition.

    ‘Secondly, what would a “fair” repartition be? How would you judge this “fairness’

    The present political minority in Northern Ireland comprising some 47% of the population would be replaced by an approx 10% Nationalist minority in a two county sized new Unionist State and the enlarged 30 county sized Republic would have a new ‘Unionist ‘ minority which would be approx 2.5% of the population or about a quarter of the total new immigrant population of the Republic . Approx 97% of the population on the entire island would be living in the political jurisdiction of their first preference and national identity. The number of politically disaffected would be reduced from 750,000 Nationalists in the present NI and even more from 850,000 Unionists in any prospective UI to approx 200,000 with half of that number on each side of a new border.

    ‘I asked you recently to suggest where you think a new border should go,’

    I’m not a cartographer or demographer but I would think a new Unionist State would take in North Armagh , North Co Down and Antrim. The rest of NI would be ceded to the Republic . West Belfast and parts of North and South Belfast would be linked to the Republic by corridor . East Belfast would of course be part of any new Unionist State. Belfast could be an ‘open city’ for the purposes of trade and commerce with both currencies being legal tender and costs of transport and public services being shared between both administrations on the basis of total city wide population. The ‘peace walls’ could remain in place or be torn down or extended based on whatever people felt made most sense in each area.

    As for being ‘fixated’ on a repartition solution I’m not . I’m happy to give the present Assembly a chance to ‘succeed’ . If it does -fine . Based on the past history of power sharing in NI, and on the inherent non democratic weaknesses of the GFA I don’t expect this forced ‘coalition’ to last it’s first term .

    ‘Any chance of the details? ‘

    The ‘repartition’ thread is in the archives . Just search for ‘repartition’ if you are interested in how the numbers were derived.

  • Garibaldy

    Ah, but Greenflag ironically, northern nationalists are committed to the 6 counties as an entity – it’s reunification with all or nothing. Don’t underestimate the psychology of not abandoning others they way they think they were abandoned. And what does a corridor to west Belfast actually mean? The M1?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GF

    “If Partition was possible there’s no reason why Repartition can’t be possible.”

    But this is my point. Partition was of course “possible” – but clearly it wasn’t a “solution”.

    Repartition might be possible, but a repartition that is fair, recognised by enough people as fair, and furthermore, seen as a final solution to our problems? That won’t be possible.

    Finding an agency that is neutral, and seen to be neutral by enough people, to draw the line? That won’t be possible.

    And again, what makes you think that the people who lose out in a repartition will give a damn that it was “fair”?

    “Look upon it as a repair job to the original poorly thought out first partition.

    The problem with partition was the idea that the divisions between the people of this island could be sorted out by a quarantine arrangement. Repartition would be predicated on the same principle, and would be just as doomed to failure.

  • Dewi

    GF – trouble is that it ain’t in your two counties of North Down and East Antrim the resistance will arise. IMHO they would regard a UI as a pleasant challenge. It’s Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry and North Armagh you would get the trouble.

  • Mick Fealty

    ken,

    I wouldn’t over emphasise it either. As you’ve said above the variables are all too hard to predict (Feeney has noted the dropping out of middle class Catholics in recent elections which in part explains that slow rise in the overall vote).

    Nationalists who don’t factor any variables at all (very common in these here parts) are not actually taking the ‘problem’ seriously.

  • picador

    ‘West Belfast and parts of North and South Belfast would be linked to the Republic by corridor’.

    LOL! Greenflag, have you ever been to Belfast? If so you would surely realise the nonsense you are talking. I love your idea for north Belfast of which I am native. Just think, I could travel to the Wild West through the Ardoyne ‘tunnel’. And what about getting into town – would the bus-routes be affected?

    Would if you mind if I came down to visit you with a few ethnic warriors, burned down your hous, ravaged yer wimminfolk and gouged out yer male relative’s eyes with a rusty spoon?

    Thanks to Vojislav Seselj leader of the Srbain Radical Party for the rusty spoon idea. A

    re you a real psychopath or just an Internet wanna-be, Greenflag?

  • Greenflag

    garibaldi,

    ‘Ah, but Greenflag ironically, northern nationalists are committed to the 6 counties as an entity’

    So what was all the hassle about for 40 years ?

    ‘it’s reunification with all or nothing.’

    Then don’t expect ‘reunification’ for at least another century or two if ever.

  • Garibaldy

    As an entity I meant for the purposes of reunification. As I thought was clear. I don’t expect reunification any time soon. But then again I’m not a norhern nationalist. By the way, I see you’ve moved from Antrim and Down to small parts thereof. At what point does this repartition plan become too fragmented to be at all plausible in your eyes?

  • Greenflag

    billy pilgrim,

    ‘Partition was of course “possible” – but clearly it wasn’t a “solution”.’

    Well it worked for Unionism for at least 50 years and despite the troubles the Union continues albeit with a few more political ‘rights’ for those who aspire to a UI.

    ‘Finding an agency that is neutral’

    The EU did a reasonable job in the former Yugoslavia . The UN ? . These are agencies of which both Governments are members . Either could do the job.

    ‘The problem with partition was the idea that the divisions between the people of this island could be sorted out by a quarantine arrangement.’

    Who’s talking quarantine ? There would be two states as now with small ‘constitutionally alienated minorities’ on both sides of a new border . The only difference between the situation today and then would be a new line on the map. People would still be free to travel across any new border just as they can with the present one .

    Repartition is not an attempt to find a perfect final solution . There isn’t any final perfect solution . Repartition recognises the ‘britishness’ of the unionists and the ‘irishness’ of nationalists and republicans and endeavours to ensure each ‘nationality’ it’s own political space . That’s all .

  • Greenflag

    Dewi ,

    ‘trouble is that it ain’t in your two counties of North Down and East Antrim the resistance will arise. IMHO they would regard a UI as a pleasant challenge. It’s Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry and North Armagh you would get the trouble.’

    Which is why a neutral international agency should draw up any repartition. There may be some truth in your point re East Antrim and North Down in any UI but in the context of repartition these areas would probably accept repartition easier than say those in rural areas.

  • Greenflag

    garibaldi,

    ‘I see you’ve moved from Antrim and Down to small parts thereof.’

    No I haven’t . North Down is overwhelmingly Unionist. South Down is overwhelmingly Nationalist . It would not make political sense to have all of Co Down in either the Republic or in a smaller NI. Again I’m no cartographer but given the de facto increased community segregation and separation over the past 40 years across NI – just look at Derry and Newry for example- repartition would be a lot easier to effect in 2008 than in 1960.

    ‘At what point does this repartition plan become too fragmented to be at all plausible’

    A smaller Unionist State comprising the areas mentioned would be twice the size of present day Luxembourg with a population of just under 900,000 of whom 100,000 would be Irish Nationalist by community background . The transferred area to the Republic would have a population of 800,000 approx of whom 140,000 approx would be of unionist community background .

  • Greenflag

    picador ,

    Please ask the moderator to delete your offensive post -rephrase your questions and you might get a reply . Otherwise you know what you can do with your rusty spoon! If you don’t might I suggest back of the neck past the base of your spine there’s a turd hole .

  • PaddyReilly

    Nationalists who don’t factor any variables at all (very common in these here parts) are not actually taking the ‘problem’ seriously

    I think we are dealing here with what is called the garden centre prod argument. This is presumably based on the data which is obtainable on Nicholas Whyte’s site

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fref98.htm

    showing that the 1998 GFA referendum attacted a much larger vote in Eastern constituencies than the Forum vote did. The number is given as 145,000.

    The disparity in turnout in the various constituencies is caused by different individual circumstances. Mid Ulster which has the highest had Martin McGuinness as a candidate, and so the Unionist opposition brought out their secret weapon: the Garden centre prods, a class of normally non-voting persons. As a result, the Republican side had to do the same, and still won the election. North Down has never been in such a position, and so traditionally has a very low turnout.

    Personally, I don’t see that an increased turn out will alter the results. I suspect that 145,000 will break down into 50,000 Unionist, 50,000 Nationalist and 45,000 unconcerned. As seen from the above, the high turnout in Mid Ulster is just as much a high Unionist turnout as a high Republican one.

    But if I am wrong, then we have to face a future in which Nationalist candidates hold the majority at Stormont (under the lower turnout for Assembly elections), but are unable to obtain enosis by a referendum, where higher turnouts apply. This should be fun. Obviously then plan C will consist in making the six counties such a Republican hellhole that the Unionist population will consider a United Ireland where SF are a small minority a great improvement. In fact, I have heard this opinion voiced by Unionists already.

  • kensei

    Paddy

    But if I am wrong, then we have to face a future in which Nationalist candidates hold the majority at Stormont (under the lower turnout for Assembly elections), but are unable to obtain enosis by a referendum, where higher turnouts apply. This should be fun. Obviously then plan C will consist in making the six counties such a Republican hellhole that the Unionist population will consider a United Ireland where SF are a small minority a great improvement. In fact, I have heard this opinion voiced by Unionists already.

    Mutual veto will hold the most serious outworkings of that strategy in check, just as the six are prevented from reverting to 1952 now. but assuming that was possible, why do it? Surely it is much easier and more desirably to convince even a slither of the Unionist population that a United Ireland offers them benefits and opportunities.

    There are any number of opportunities to segment the Unionist electorate in a way that offers at least hints of how you’d have a go at offering things that might appeal: business environment, free third level education, lack of abortion. Can every current Unionist be reconciled to Unity? No. Can none of them? I suspect the answer to that is also no. If you are truly a Republican then you believe in a straight argument with Unionism, Republicanism is stronger argument and will ultimately prevail. If the numbers are as tight as you suggest, then you don’t have to convince an awful lot more people to win that argument.

  • PaddyReilly

    Surely it is much easier and more desirably to convince even a slither of the Unionist population that a United Ireland offers them benefits and opportunities.

    All right, Plan D it is. I would say that convincing a slither of the Unionist population would be more than possible, when Nationalists are seen to be the majority. Before that event, you can forget it. As I have already said, It’s like thinking that a prisoner will go more readily to the Electric Chair if you offer him fluffy cushions with a nice floral pattern on them and soothing background music.

  • kensei

    Paddy

    All right, Plan D it is. I would say that convincing a slither of the Unionist population would be more than possible, when Nationalists are seen to be the majority. Before that event, you can forget it. As I have already said, It’s like thinking that a prisoner will go more readily to the Electric Chair if you offer him fluffy cushions with a nice floral pattern on them and soothing background music.

    Balls. We need to stop treating Unionists as if they are from Mars (even if listening to them you start getting that idea :P) and start treating them like another set of voters like everyone else.

    Does the British Nationalism and cultural differences act as big barrier? Yes. Is it the be all and end all of their existence? No.

  • Paul

    I’m delighted to read Unionists write about ‘repartition’. Using the long-term view they are slowly starting to realise the game is (will be ) up ! Unfortunately for Unionists there will be no repartition, it’s all or nothing, as Nationalists we will happily wait for the all..

    You can join the rest of the island as equals or go off to ayrshire, personally i dont care.

  • George

    Greenflag,
    Well it worked for Unionism for at least 50 years

    The problem is that it didn’t work for Northern Ireland. Building a “state” on a single foundation such as Protestant unionism is doomed to failure.

    Unionism might have fiddled happily for 50 years but Northern Ireland’s system of government collapsed because of the inbuilt instabilities of the arrangement.

    and despite the troubles the Union continues albeit with a few more political ‘rights’ for those who aspire to a UI.

    The Union continues but is it working? Northern Ireland has gone from being the economic hub of Ireland to being the economic backwater in a landscape scarred by segregated communities.

    Even its current economic progress is predicated on greater synergy with the rest of the island.

    As for your two state solution, who will pay for it?

    Neither the Irish Republic nor Great Britain needs a rump unionist state, created by forced population movements and that requires huge subsidies to survive but containing people loyal to no one but themselves.

    That’s a lose-lose situation I’m afraid.

  • PaddyReilly

    Balls. We need to stop treating Unionists as if they are from Mars (even if listening to them you start getting that idea :P) and start treating them like another set of voters like everyone else.

    Your idea not mine. The one thing that might convince a prisoner to go to the chair is a rejection of his appeal by the Supreme Court. Sending the chaplain in to persuade him of the merits of the other world “You will be happy in heaven, my child. There is no abortion there” in advance of the rejection of his appeal, is not my idea of useful strategy. If he had not wanted to expand his lifespan, he would not have appealed in the first place.

    No that’s the way NI was set up: there is one class of persons who consider themselves beneficiaries of partition and another who don’t. Are there not more useful ways you couls spend your time: like going to the Holy Land and persuading the Jews that they are not the chosen people and they should give the land back to the Palestinians?

  • Greenflag

    George’

    ‘The problem is that it didn’t work for Northern Ireland.’

    I made the point it worked for ‘Unionism’. It did’nt work longer term for Northern Ireland because the NI State included too many Irish Nationalists from the beginning. Had Unionists settled for a smaller Unionist State in 1920 then it’s politics could have developed along normal democratic lines . Sectarian politics were exacerbated by the demographic imbalance in the State between the mainly nationalist south and west of the province and the predominantly north and east.

    ‘ Building a “state” on a single foundation such as Protestant unionism is doomed to failure’

    Not necessarily .Did building a State on the basis of Chinese Communist or German Federalism or Irish Nationalism end in failure ? The reason these latter States survive and prosper is because they have the broad support of the vast majority of their citizens not 55% or 60% . Their basic constitutions are not in question by half their populations . In a smaller Unionist State that condition i.e having the support of 90% plus of the State’s population would apply.The same would apply in an enlarged Republic.

    ‘The Union continues but is it working? Northern Ireland has gone from being the economic hub of Ireland to being the economic backwater in a landscape scarred by segregated communities.’

    Depends on what you mean by ‘working’ . It’s true that NI’s relative economic position has declined in relation to the rest of the Republic but it appears to have increased it’s ‘position’ recently against some other UK regions.

    ‘As for your two state solution, who will pay for it?’

    The Irish Republic would be responsible for those areas brought into the Republic . Unionists would be responsible for their State . If the British Exchequer continued to ‘subvent’ the smaller state that would be a matter for Unionists and HMG to decide .

    ‘Neither the Irish Republic nor Great Britain needs a rump unionist state’

    True- but they need the present set up even less . It’s an even bigger financial drain on the Exchequer with no end in sight.

    ‘created by forced population movements’

    As I said a fair repartition would not require forced population movements . I do not foresee a 100% Unionist State nor do I see any enlarged Irish Republic being exclusively Nationalist .

    ‘and that requires huge subsidies to survive but containing people loyal to no one but themselves’

    So what’s the difference between that situation and the present. The fact that unionists are loyal to the UK does nothing for the English taxpayer and the fact that Northern Ireland nationalists and republicans identify with a 32 county Republic that does not exist, gets us exactly where ?

  • Greenflag

    george,

    ‘That’s a lose-lose situation I’m afraid.’

    Not at all. For the Irish taxpayer it would reduce the potential financial burden of paying for a ‘full’ UI . For the British taxpayer assuming HMG agreed to continue financing the smaller Unionist State on the present basis it would also mean a reduction in taxes.

  • paul

    Greenflag please stop dreaming, there will be no repartition, BELIEVE IT. Unionism had it’s chance and the Union has had it’s day.

  • picador

    picador ,

    Please ask the moderator to delete your offensive post -rephrase your questions and you might get a reply . Otherwise you know what you can do with your rusty spoon! If you don’t might I suggest back of the neck past the base of your spine there’s a turd hole .

    Greenflag,

    You, advocate of re-partition (i.e. ethnic cleansing on a mass scale) find my post offensive!? I find that hard to believe.

    Did you also say that the EU did a good job in Yugoslavia?

    I gather that you live far away from where any ethnic cleansing, rape and murder would actually take place and are thus unlikely to be affected by it unless, of course, you would bus it up to take part in the battle for what I will derisevly call Greater Fenianland.

    Do not attempt to take the moral highground for you are nothing less than a fascist and I make no apologies for pointing it out.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Paul,

    “Unionism had it’s chance and the Union has had it’s day”

    Many would agree with you and then again many would not – as mentioned above the veracity of that statement could be evaluated if some academic fecker analysed the last census results and calculated projectec community population changes.

    Picador,

    I think the quareone herself Mrs Thatch considered re-partition as a way of getting shot of the trouble in South Armagh. It would only ever be considered again if there was extensive communal strife as the risks of provoking violence would be too great.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Sammy

    “I think the quareone herself Mrs Thatch considered re-partition as a way of getting shot of the trouble in South Armagh.”

    Yep. But she also made it conditional on RoI ceding the northern half of Monaghan to the UK. She also spoke to her civil servants about looking to Cromwell for example, in terms of how to execute population transfer. (Conscious use of verb.)

    Which goes to show how much Mrs Thatcher knew about Ireland. And how much regard she had for the lives of Irish people.

    GF

    Aside from all the other objections I have to the idea of repartition, there is no way you can get around the fact that it would involve a real possibility of widespread crimes against humanity. For all your talk about some mythical “neutral agency”, it would be impossible to guarantee to the satisfaction of everyone that there wouldn’t be genocide in north Belfast or Dunloy or Castlederg or Markethill. The logistics of the thing, and the price that would be paid if things didn’t run as smoothly as you seem to assume, are terrifying.

    I wish you would apply your obvious intelligence to a wiser course and forget about the unconscionably dangerous idea of repartition.

  • George

    Greenflag,
    Not necessarily .Did building a State on the basis of Chinese Communist or German Federalism or Irish Nationalism end in failure ?

    German Federalism involved all strands of German society. German communism didn’t. One collapsed.

    Chinese Communism killed tens of millions and created a situation of mass starvation – in other words failure – before realising it needed to open up its eyes a bit more.
    The Irish Republic, while not in the GDR league, also had to take a long hard look at where it was in the 1950s with its closed views.

    but it appears to have increased it’s ‘position’ recently against some other UK regions.

    As it realigns itself with the greater island economy and everyone knows the rules for constitutional change, its fortunes are improving. In other words, the more foundations it puts down, the more stable it becomes.

    True- but they need the present set up even less. It’s an even bigger financial drain on the Exchequer with no end in sight.

    Why rush for the partition map? The island is stable. Why pay for a rump state that can’t survive on its own and more dangerously owes its loyalty to nobody?

    As I said a fair repartition would not require forced population movements.

    Yes it would, by force of circumstance at the very least. You are naive to think otherwise.

    So what’s the difference between that situation and the present.

    The present is stable and the future agreed. Yours is neither.

  • George

    It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it,
    I think the quareone herself Mrs Thatch considered re-partition as a way of getting shot of the trouble in South Armagh.

    But only in return for an equal-sized tranche of north Monaghan. I kid you not.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    George,

    Although not a fan of re-partition myself but I think we should consider any reasonable offers ( perhaps a couple of good Fermanagh lakes )for Cavan.

  • Greenflag

    billy pilgrim,

    ‘there is no way you can get around the fact that it would involve a real possibility of widespread crimes against humanity.’

    With EU or UN troops on the ground and with both being supported by HMG’s forces and the Republics any such possibility would be minimal .

    ‘For all your talk about some mythical “neutral agency”,’

    There’s nothing mythical about the EU or the UN . They both exist . A UI does not exist. And although there has been effective ‘repartition’ within NI it’s political expression has not yet been recognised formally . But then in NI it’s always been traditional to recognise the facts of political life usually 40 years after the reality has taken place.

    ‘ it would be impossible to guarantee to the satisfaction of everyone’

    It’s also impossible to guarantee that all unionists will be completely satisfied in any prospective UI or even in the present set up. It’s a fact of life that some will always be ‘dissatisfied ‘ be they unionist or nationalist and even more so in NI given it’s history of sectarian and constitutional division.

    . What repartition would achieve would be to reduce the number of people who would be ‘constitutionnally’ dissatisfed to the minimum number practically possible given the present demographic distribution of both communities within NI. Thus from 850,000 dissatisfied Unionists in a UI to 700,000 dissatisifed Irish Republican/Nationalists in the present 6 county NI you reduce the level of dissatisfaction to a total of approx 200,000 which would be split up into two on either side of a new border. Now that is what I would call an improvement .

    Certainly a whole lot more practical than depending on ‘rabbit politics ‘ of the 50% plus 1 variety to trundle Unionists into a UI at some indeterminate date in the far future . BTW paddy reilly is absolutely correct in his analysis re the futility of trying to persuade Unionists of the benefits of a UI . Just as productive I would add of trying to persuade me of the benefits of belonging to the UK . Although the UK is one of the better States in the world to be a citizen of in terms of democratic and human rights , I prefer Ireland or as much of it as possible to have it’s own parliament . I’m not averse to closer economic and cultural ties with the UK or even sharing defence matters across these islands . We have a lot in common in terms of values and there are many familial and social connections between both islands across all levels of society . None of that would change under either a UI or the present ‘solution’or following a repartition of NI.

  • Greenflag

    George ,

    I’ll concede your points re Germany and China .On reflection I should have used the USA /France or Holland and Japan as examples . The Irish Republic was able to take a cold hard look at it’s situation in the 1950’s because it had that underlying broad support for the ‘independence’ experiment .

    ‘Why rush for the partition map? ‘

    I’m not rushing for any map merely pointing out that ‘repartition’ is a possible solution in the event of the collapse of the present ‘experiment’.

    ‘The present is stable and the future agreed’.

    Is it ? You might think that but I look at the political history of NI over the longer term and while I would agree that the present is relatively stable, I don’t see the parties agreed on the ‘future’ either in terms of economic policies or in constitutional destinations . The frog is not even in mid stream and the scorpion on his back is already priming his poison claw.

    ‘Yours is neither.’

    Did I say it was ?

    Again I would reiterate that a fair and agree repartition solution would be a better deal for Northern Ireland’s nationalists than say another 40 years of protracted ‘negotiations ‘ following a collapse of the present forced power sharing government .

    BTW I was never fond of Waiting for Godot . In my experience Godot never arrives . Those depending on the 50% plus 1 to deliver their UI are Waiting for Godot . I always preferred a bird in the hand than hoping there might be two behind the next bush .

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GF

    “With EU or UN troops on the ground and with both being supported by HMG’s forces and the Republics any such possibility would be minimal.”

    Wishful thinking. How many troops do you think would be needed on the ground? There are 200,000 odd in Iraq presently. How’s that working out? There were 30k in NI during the early 70s and there was still anarchy. How many troops do you think the EU/UN/UK/RoI would commit to ensure your repartition idea worked?

    I reckon that in order to guarantee the safety of all, there’d have to be at least 100,000 troops on the ground. Good luck with that.

    “There’s nothing mythical about the EU or the UN. They both exist.”

    Yes but your assumption that they would be “neutral international agencies” capable of guaranteeing security and overseeing an orderly repartition is based on blind faith and a complete disregard for the consequences (which would be unthinkable) if things didn’t go quite as smoothly as you insist they would.

    “It’s also impossible to guarantee that all unionists will be completely satisfied in any prospective UI or even in the present set up.”

    I meant it would be impossible to guarantee the safety of all.

    Let me ask you: if you thought there was a chance that, in the course of a repartition, Kilkeel was burned to the ground and every man, woman and child in Ardoyne was butchered, would you still go ahead with it?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    The interesting thing about repartition (which as mentioned above, would only be a runner when the likelyhood of violence from doing nothing exceeed the likelyhood of violence from the repartiton ) is that Unionists probably would agree to get rid of some bits – South Armagh, South Down and Derry as it would reduce the impact of rabbit politics/demographics. They unlike Mrs T would probably let them go for nothing in return as better headcountery would mean a longer Union.

  • Greenflag

    ‘There are 200,000 odd in Iraq presently. How’s that working out?’

    There are 25 million Iraqis . NI has a population of 1.7 million. Iraq has oil . NI has none.
    As to how it’s working out ? Partition has been suggested as a possible solution given the animosity between Sunni’s, Shiites and Kurds just as it was in NI in 1920.

    ‘Let me ask you: if you thought there was a chance that, in the course of a repartition, Kilkeel was burned to the ground and every man, woman and child in Ardoyne was butchered, would you still go ahead with it?’

    Here’s one for you :

    Let me ask you : if you thought there was a chance that in the course of establishing a 6 county Northern Ireland that hundreds of nationalists and unionists would be killed and thousands would have to flee their homes and there would be an uncertain political future for generations ahead would you still go ahead with it

    Or an alternative foolish question

    Let me ask you : if you thought there was a chance that in the course of a republican campaign for a UI that 4,000 people would be killed , tens of thousands injured , thousands maimed for life , and billions of pounds worth of property destroyed would you still go ahead with it ?

    None of us can tell the future . We can only make the best judgement based on what we see in the here and now and what we surmise might be the future .

    I don’t believe it’s outside the bounds of possibility that the present forced power sharing administration will sooner or later fail . It’s also not outside the bounds of possibility that ‘repartition’ will be looked at as a future possible solution and particularly if effectively repartition is already an established fact of political life within NI.

    PS . It’s not the 1970’s.

  • Greenflag

    sammymcnally,

    ‘Unionists probably would agree to get rid of some bits – South Armagh, South Down and Derry as it would reduce the impact of rabbit politics/demographics. They unlike Mrs T would probably let them go for nothing in return as better headcountery would mean a longer Union’

    Indeed -that was the reason why Unionists adopted a ‘longer term ‘ 6 county NI in 1920 instead of the 9 county Ulster they could have ‘grabbed’ .

    Now in 2008 the present 6 county NI has almost the same demographics as the 9 county Ulster had in 1920 . So despite the fact that forced power sharing has changed the political equation -in the matter of headcountery (nice term ) Unionists in 2008 are effectively back to the same demographic bind they last visited in a 9 county Ulster in 1920.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Greenflag,

    I dont think we ( Nationalists ) can have it both ways – it was a bad idea the first time and didn’t work out and it could be even worse second time round – but it would be interesting to hear unionists views on this. Publically they would never admit to wanting to get rid of part of their territory but the next time I am attending a tie collectors convention or an Ulster Resistance meeting with Robbo I will pop the question.

  • RepublicanStones

    Pick us up a tie to go with my new red beret Sammy, will ya please?

  • Greenflag

    ‘but it would be interesting to hear unionists views on this.’

    It would but they won’t cross this bridge until it’s welll and truly burnt behind them 🙂

    ‘Publically they would never admit to wanting to get rid of part of their territory’

    It’s not a question of ‘wanting to’ more of eventually ‘having to’ to keep a part of the present NI within the Union. They can’t debate this ‘solution’ publically for if they did there would be 3 new Unionist parties in the west of the province tomorrow apart from revolts within their present ranks and SF would be certain of the FM seat at the next election.

    ‘but the next time I am attending a tie collectors convention or an Ulster Resistance meeting with Robbo I will pop the question.’

    Do and if you survive I’ll send a get well card
    to the Victoria 😉

  • George

    Greenflag,
    Unionists in 2008 are effectively back to the same demographic bind they last visited in a 9 county Ulster in 1920.

    But this isn’t 1920. The other 26 counties of Ireland aren’t in a vicious and bitter War of Independence with Britain where towns and villages are being razed and both sides are suffering losses.

    We don’t have a few hundred thousand armed unionists ready to kick off at a moment’s notice to protect what they perceive to be their national interests.

    Partition was done out of desperation rather than master-planning and that type of potential desperation simply isn’t there in 2008.

    We are as agreed about our future as we have been for centuries. Even the dreaded 50%+1 scenario would be a walk in the park compared with what Britain and Ireland would have had to deal with 85 years ago.

    Where are the militias numbering in six figures? Who will arm them this time around?

    Sure people are nervous that it might be rocky going forward especially as the final destination is unknown (no perpetual guarantees for either side this time) but it sure as hell ain’t 1920 and solutions from that time should be consigned to the bin of history.

  • Greenflag

    George’

    ‘But this isn’t 1920’

    Full marks for the obvious. Give it a few weeks and NI will be back to 1690. I was referring to the demographics of the province not to the political situation.

    ‘Partition was done out of desperation rather than master-planning’

    True .

    ‘ and that type of potential desperation simply isn’t there in 2008’

    It was’nt there in 1968 either . Forty years later the format of the present political fix is testimony to the fact that the ‘potential’ for desperation is still there . Or as many NI commentators put it ‘they haven’t gone away’!

    ‘We are as agreed about our future as we have been for centuries.’

    So the NI parties are in full agreement over the fundamental constitutional direction of the NI State? Pull the other one .

    ‘.but it sure as hell ain’t 1920 and solutions from that time should be consigned to the bin of history. ‘

    Eh ? History repeats itself and nowhere has that been more evident than in Northern Ireland.

    They say if you don’t know where you are going you’ll end up someplace else. I suppose that could just as easily apply to States as to companies or individuals.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GF

    “There are 25 million Iraqis. NI has a population of 1.7 million. Iraq has oil. NI has none.”

    Indeed. I’d say Iraq would probably require a couple of million troops to bring about a genuine security. Though of course, every occupation becomes part of the problem eventually. But as you say, even Iraq – strategically crucial and oil-rich as it is – only has 200,000 troops in it. NI isn’t nearly important enough to hope to have the kind of security presence that would be needed to prevent crimes against humanity.

    “Partition has been suggested as a possible solution given the animosity between Sunni’s, Shiites and Kurds just as it was in NI in 1920.”

    Which just goes to show that some people never learn.

    “Here’s one for you:”

    As for your first one – of course not. Partition was an injustice and a disaster. Possibly the worst thing to have happened to Ireland since the Great Famine. What, you think I’m a defender of partition?

    And as for the second: again, of course not. The IRA campaign was wicked and stupid and insane and counter-productive and disastrous. So no, the IRA campaign was no more a good idea than was partition.

    “It’s not the 1970s.”

    If, by this, you mean that the days of people killing each other can be assumed to be over, and that our present peace guarantees that there will be no return to murder in the future, then all I can say is that you’re being very naive.

  • Greenflag

    billypilgrim,

    ‘NI isn’t nearly important enough to hope to have the kind of security presence that would be needed to prevent crimes against humanity.’

    It doesn’t have to be important . It’s geographical location is such that no British or Irish Government is going to stand idly by if a major ‘war’ breaks out between both communities in NI. Both sides know that . HMG has kept the lid on for 40 years . And the Irish Gov has worked to ensure the lid stays on.

    ‘Partition was an injustice and a disaster’

    Sometimes in history that’s all the choice believe there is 🙁 From a Unionist perspective in 1920 the Irish independence ‘experiment ‘ would have looked like economic ‘insanity’. Imagine the reaction of people today in the Republic to any suggestion that ROI should leave the EU !

    ‘The IRA campaign was wicked and stupid and insane and counter-productive and disastrous. ‘

    True especially from the perspective of all the victims and their families . From a purely political perspective would NI have power sharing today had there been no IRA campaign ? A question I’m sure we’ll never be able to answer nor want to I suspect.

    ‘If, by this, you mean that the days of people killing each other can be assumed to be over’

    No that’s not what I meant . However the political and demographic landscape of NI has changed and continues to change and in this new situation people in both communities have I believe a new perspective on the futures they have both lost.

    Still they have the present and past to look forward to 🙁

  • kensei

    Jumping back slightly (or dextriously ignoring repartition deadends… you decide) to the point of inevitability, I am reminded of an excellent quote from the excellent No Country For Old Men, which ran along the lines

    “What you doin’?”
    “Lookin’ for what’s comin'”
    “Ain’t nobody sees that”

  • picador

    Do not feed the re-partition troll.

  • Greenflag

    Kensei ,

    Good one 🙂 And a good film .

    Picador,

    Found your turd hole yet? I realise you may be female in which event my sincere apologies for being so explicit but it’s the FIRST hole from the back of the neck down ! Use a long rusty spoon and you’ll be fine !