“the culmination of a shift in Irish Government policy..”

As well as his report on the Taoiseach’s farewell [?] tour, Stephen Collins has a companion article in the Irish Times Opinion section – “American eyes turn away as we return to normality.” [subs req] In it he identifies a part of the Ahern legacy which was implicit in the Taoiseach’s RTÉ radio interview noted here.

Ahern’s political legacy is that not only did he work tirelessly to bring the peace process to a conclusion over the past 10 years, but that, under his leadership, peace unequivocally replaced de Valera’s vision of Irish unity as the goal of Fianna Fáil policy.

Of course, the party is still committed to unity as the ideal ultimate outcome but, in practical terms, peace and an agreed Ireland have replaced it as attainable goals.

The abandonment of the territorial claim to the North in Articles Two and Three of the Constitution was the culmination of a shift in Irish Government policy that had been under way for a long time. Ahern, though, managed to pull it off with hardly a murmur of dissent from his own party. It was a remarkable achievement, considering that many in Fianna Fáil appeared to be attached to the two articles as if they were holy writ.

Ahern’s achievement as a politician was to build on the process begun by Albert Reynolds in the Downing Street Declaration of 1994, and to reformulate his own party’s aspirations. The achievable goal of a settlement based on equal respect for the two political traditions on the island of Ireland replaced the unattainable goal of Irish unity, and nobody in Fianna Fáil complained.

A little over a decade after Charles Haughey had rejected the report of the New Ireland Forum, because it dared to put forward options other than a unitary state encompassing the 32 counties of Ireland, Ahern adopted a policy based on consent in both parts of the island as the fundamental principles of a settlement.

The successful conclusion of that policy, beginning with the Belfast Agreement and the intricate negotiations that eventually led to the establishment of workable powersharing arrangements, is undoubtedly Ahern’s outstanding achievement. One of the key factors in the success of the Northern talks was that Ahern and British prime minister Tony Blair worked hand in glove. They established the good relations between the Irish and British people in a way that fulfilled at least one of de Valera’s ambitions, even if not in the manner he had envisaged.

As Ahern also suggested in the RTÉ radio interview, that civilising process is still needed here.

And that’s one point on which I would add a caveat to Stephen Collins claim, after he acknowledges “the poor turnout” for Ahern’s speech,

President Bill Clinton’s direct involvement in the peace process is well known and appreciated in Ireland. And to be fair, President George Bush has proved much more supportive than anybody anticipated. His envoy Mitchell Reiss played a crucial role in the final stages of the talks that led to the agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

The fact that Ireland no longer seems to generate that level of special attention from the world’s superpower is a positive development. It means that we are now a normal, stable democracy, not very different from other well off European states, and we no longer need American patronage to deal with our own problems.

The “normal, stable democracy” almost certainly applies to the Republic of Ireland. But here? In Northern Ireland?

As I attempted to indicate in a previous post, it’s far too soon to say.

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  • Dave

    Stephen Collins recognises that the Republic of Ireland abandoned its “territorial claim” to Northern Ireland as part of the process of bringing Sinn Fein into the political system in the United Kingdom, but he doesn’t quite grasp what that means:

    “The fact that Ireland no longer seems to generate that level of special attention from the world’s superpower is a positive development. It means that we are now a normal, stable democracy, not very different from other well off European states, and we no longer need American patronage to deal with our own problems.”

    The ‘American patronage’ applied to a part of the United Kingdom, not to the Republic of Ireland, reinforced by the referenced constitutional amendment, so the assistance helped the United Kingdom become “a normal, stable democracy” that no longer needs “American patronage to deal with [its] problems.”

    Even when he recognises that Northern Ireland is a British problem, he still can’t bring himself to chastise the United Kingdom, preferring to pretend that Ireland had sovereignty in the jurisdiction and responsibility for Stormont rule despite acknowledging that it did not have that responsibility in the same article.

    “The achievable goal of a settlement based on equal respect for the two political traditions on the island of Ireland replaced the unattainable goal of Irish unity, and nobody in Fianna Fáil complained.”

    Is he referring to Northern Ireland here and, if so, why does he state “the island of Ireland”? The applied ‘solution’ only applies in Northern Ireland because the problem only exists in Northern Ireland.

    I think most people in the Republic of Ireland recognised that the activities of Sinn Fein and the IRA served to polarise the communities in Northern Ireland, making Irish unity an “unattainable goal.” They were also fed the line by the Irish government that “violence fills a political vacuum” and so they believed that it was imperative to bring Sinn Fein into the political process in Northern Ireland (while excluding them from the political system in the Republic of Ireland), lest they reverted to violence. So, they understood that unity was a dead issue and the actual issue was how to stop Sinn Fein from restarting the violence. The Irish government applied pragmatic expediency to the issue of criminals in politics, urging the British government (who had the sovereignty) to do the same.

    However, supporting a quick fix to a British problem because we were sick of it should not be confused with a willingness to abandon Irish sovereignty, independence, self-determination in order to reunite the “the island of Ireland” under British rule which is what the application of the GFA to the Republic of Ireland would be, reverting it to its colony status under a form of Home Rule. Sinn Fein may have been willing to forsake the right to of their voters to self-determination by accepting the constitutional legitimacy of British rule (and the citizens of the Republic of Ireland may have been more than happy to let them do so), but that should not be confused with a willingness of the citizens of the Republic of Ireland to abandon their own right to self-determination, along with abandoning their own state and remodelling one of the world’s most successful countries in the image of one of the world’s most lamentable statelets. As the GFA imposes a legal obligation on the Republic of Ireland do exactly this subject to acceptance of it as a basis for unity, the Republic’s citizens will reject it once they understand that the quick fix has profound ramifications for them (which is something that they are most definitely in profound ignorance about).

  • George

    “As the GFA imposes a legal obligation on the Republic of Ireland do exactly this subject to acceptance of it as a basis for unity.”

    You’re egging the pudding a bit there Dave. There is no legal obligation on the Irish Republic to do anything of the sort. The only thing we voted for was the new Articles 2 and 3.

  • Would the old Fianna Fáil approach have made a united Ireland more likely than Ahern’s approach?

    Unless you think the answer is yes, then it doesn’t necessarily follow that Fianna Fáil has abandoned Irish unity, rather than adopted a more realistic approach to achieving it.

  • Dave

    George, I suggest you read the small print, paying particular attention to the term “rigorous impartiality.” The GFA is a treaty that imposes a binding obligation on the government of the Republic to exercise power with “rigorous impartiality” in regard to both British nationalism and Irish nationalism in any unified entity. It also means that every second decision that the state tries to make will end up in the courts.

    That rules out Irish self-determination because a government that is required to act with “rigorous impartiality” cannot be partial to Irish nationalism, the default value of the nation state, or any Irish national interests that conflict with British national interests. In effect, the British people will retain their nation state (the United Kingdom) while the Irish people will forsake their nation state for a joint British-Irish colony.

  • Dave

    Incidently, Tom, as a journalist, do you see a trick of interpreting the reasons for doing something in accordance with an agenda and then superimposing the interpretation as the actual reason so that it supports the agenda? For example, interpreting the reason why FF supported the amendment of Articles 2 & 3 as being support for an island that accepts parity of competing nationalisms rather than the rightly supremacy of the nationalism that represents the default value of the nation state? If the superimposed interpretation is accepted through repetition as the actual reason and lauded as progressive, do you think people believe it over time and come to accept it as being the progression position to adopt in relation to similar matters? It is where the journalist becomes a propagandist.

  • BfB

    Ahern de Valera…
    Spinning in grave….

  • George

    Dave,
    firstly it’s not legally binding. The UK isn’t legally bound to pass the legislation necessary to let NI cede to the Irish Republic either.

    Any why are you worried about the Irish State affirming that any new unitary Irish state will exercise its power with “rigorous impartiality” founded on respect?

    Nothing to be scared of there. About sums up the Irish Constitution as it is.

  • Dave

    “firstly it’s not legally binding. The UK isn’t legally bound to pass the legislation necessary to let NI cede to the Irish Republic either.” – George

    It is legally binding. It is in Article 1 of the Belfast Agreement under “AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND AND THE GOVERNMENT OF IRELAND.”

    [i](iv) affirm that, if in the future, the people of the island of Ireland exercise their right of self-determination on the basis set out in sections (i) and (ii) above to bring about a united Ireland, [b]it will be a binding obligation on both Governments to introduce and support in their respective Parliaments legislation[/b] to give effect to that wish;[/i]

    “Any why are you worried about the Irish State affirming that any new unitary Irish state will exercise its power with “rigorous impartiality” founded on respect?” – George

    Why do you substitute the applicable terms? All support equality of citizenship. That is a separate matter from equality of nationalisms. No nation state supports the granting of parity of its nationalism with the nationalism of another nation state.

  • George

    Dave,
    one thing I have learnt on Slugger is that in the UK, parliament is supreme and therefore they are under no “binding obligation” to pass the legislation.

    If you don’t accept that, maybe you could be so good as to let me know who would enforce said “obligation”.

    Secondly, the “binding” of which you speak refers to sections (i) and (ii) which state:

    “(i) recognise the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status,
    whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or
    a sovereign united Ireland;

    (ii) recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external
    impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.”

    Also, if you check Article 29.7.1 of the Irish Constitution, you will see that we have only consented to be bound by the British-Irish Agreement not the Good Friday Agreement.

    Any section of the Good Friday Agreement that is repugnant to the Irish Constitution cannot be legally binding on the Irish State.

  • Dave

    George, either the agreement is binding or it isn’t. If the agreement states that it imposes “a binding obligation on both Governments” and both governments have agreed to it, then its is reasonable to assume that it has the status of a treaty. I’m not a lawyer, so that one will have to be addressed by others. Secondly, the term “rigorous impartiality” has a political meaning that is applied within Northern Ireland to mean neutralisation of the symbols and identity of the state (it was used by Patten, for example), and if it is to be applied in Ireland, will likely be held by the courts to have the same meaning as it was intended to have by those who inserted it into the Agreement and implemented it within Northern Ireland accordingly.

    For example, Gerry Adams uses the term “rigorous impartiality” (as in the GFA) to mean that the “apparatus of government, the symbols, and senior management of the institutions of the state” should not be associated with the British identity in the context of Northern Ireland. Since the term applies to both Northern Ireland and to any unified entity, then it follows that he would argue that the Irish state and its government should also be stripped of its association with Irish nationalism:

    “In the Agreement the Irish and British governments committed to “affirm that whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be founded on the principles of full respect for, and equality of, civil, political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens, and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos, and aspirations of both communities.”

    However, the British government has not implemented with “rigorous impartiality” its responsibilities in respect of equality and “civil, political, social and cultural rights”‚ and it clearly refuses to accept that its policy of upholding the Union constitutes an obstacle to harmony and good relations between the peoples of these islands.

    British policy tolerates and perpetuates institutionalised inequality and consequently many in political unionism see no imperative to co-operate with their nationalist neighbours, or nationalist and republican representatives. This view is reinforced by the fact that the apparatus of government, the symbols, and senior management of the institutions of the state are predominantly unionist. British policy is also an obstacle to the practice and achieving of equality of treatment and parity of esteem.”

    This is why “rigorous impartiality” has a meaning that is the same as neutralisation of national identity and ethos, separating national identity from the management of the state and relegating Ireland to the status of a non nation state (oxymoron). It means that Northern Ireland should annex the Republic of Ireland under the same terms and conditions that currently apply in that jurisdiction. So Ireland would be reunited alright, but reunited under terms that destroy Irish self-determination, and the nation state. For example, anything by a government that promotes a sense of pride in being Irish would not be “rigorous impartiality” to those who are British, and so could be shot down in the courts. This is why the British government does not include Northern Ireland in ‘Proud to be British’ events – it is contrary to the binding legal obligation in the GFA under Article 1.

    The flaw of the GFA is that it does not provide a means to persuade those who regard themselves as British to accept that the Republic of Ireland has a right to exist and an independent and sovereign nation state and that its people have a right to self-determination and to celebrate their sense of identity and ethos within their nation state but, instead, it makes the promise that the Irish nation state will be disbanded and replaced with a replica of Northern Ireland. Instead of trying to sell what is, they’re trying to sell a blueprint for utopia at the direct expense of what is and at the expense of those who made it what it is.

  • I’m astounded this thread has got so far in so deliberative a tone.

    That said, I’m not sure that we should obsess over Ahern and recent public documents. Surely, the pragmatism of Dublin about partition has (by and large) persisted since Lemass:

    … this is a question which must be settled in Ireland and .. any form of international pressure would not alter the basic situation. …

    We have seen in membership of the EEC the solution of certain problems, including our commercial relations with Britain, our participation in European integration including defence, and the economic consequences of partition.

    Such, it should be recalled, was Lemass speaking, in June 1963, in the context of the JFK visit, and still in the shadow of (admittedly a failing) De Valera.

    Despite the occasional outbreak of the Balubas (for example, the Donegal mafia inside FF), ongoing engagement has been a bedrock of consistent Dublin policy over more than forty hard years. The policy of seeing the thirty-two counties in the European context goes far further back than Albert Reynolds, or the newly-sanctified Ahern.

  • Dave

    And by the way, George, the nation state is the sovereign territorial entity by which people express their right to self-determination. There is no such entity as a nation state that is not nationalist. You cannot separate nationalism from the state without forsaking the right to self-determination. In case you don’t know it, self-determination is defined is International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 1, as the right of a “peoples” to “determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” That means the right to be Irish, to celebrate being Irish, and to express the symbols and ethos of Irishness within the nation state. Anything that curtails that right is illegitimate. People will compromise and will respect other nationalisms if unity becomes something that Northern Ireland’s citizen’s want, but they won’t suppress their own in their own country. That is my single point.

  • George

    Dave,
    either the agreement is binding or it isn’t. If the agreement states that it imposes “a binding obligation on both Governments” and both governments have agreed to it, then its is reasonable to assume that it has the status of a treaty.

    I’ll put it another way; it’s binding but not enforceable. Also, you were incorrect to link the “binding obligation” to the s.(iv) you cited when it referred to ss. (i) and (ii).

    “rigorous impartiality” has a political meaning that is applied within Northern Ireland …likely be held by the courts to have the same meaning as…within Northern Ireland”

    That was an affirmation in s.(iv), the equivalent of an oath. The affirmation is also on the UK while it is running Northern Ireland and I don’t see any Irish Language Acts on the horizon or Irish flags over Belfast City Hall. Do you? Affirmations are not legally binding (and international treaties are generally unenforceable).

    Since the term applies to both Northern Ireland and to any unified entity

    Actually, if you read the Good Friday Agreement again, you’ll see it doesn’t. That affirmation refers to Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland alone.

    For example, anything by a government that promotes a sense of pride in being Irish would not be “rigorous impartiality” to those who are British, and so could be shot down in the courts.

    It wouldn’t because the GFA has no legal standing in the Irish Republic and denying a person the right to freedom of (Irish or British) expression is repugnant to the Constitution.

    The people of Ireland will decide their new Constitution, if and when that time comes, and if they do decide to “affirm” the “rigorous impartiality” then it will have the same legal standing as the current constitutional Directives on Social Policy laid out in Article 45: none.

    These are used for guidance but have no force in law.

    Aside:

    Nobody in the Irish Republic sees the GFA as having anything to do with them.

    We voted on Articles 2 and 3 and agreed to be bound by the British-Irish Agreement, which was passed into law by the Oireachteas in 1999.

  • Dave @ 10:31 PM

    the nation state is the sovereign territorial entity by which people express their right to self-determination

    As I recall, most of South America is comprised of “nation states”. That has not precluded umpteen US involvements to deny their “express[ion of] their right to self-determination”, ever since US troops “protected” US interests in Argentina back in 1890, or suppressed “nationalism” in Chile in 1891, all the way to unseating President Aristide in Haiti in 2004.

    Let’s not bother here to mention all those “nation states” created by the Post-WW1 Treaties. About the only survivor (at a quick and unscientific review) is Finland. Ironically, the only one that has persisted without outside interference was not, in full legal status, a “nation state” until 1948: any guesses which?

    Similarly, “Rhodesia” was a self-declared “nation state”, again, presumably, with a right to “self-determination”.

    Do Iraq, Iran or even Syria qualify as “nation states” with similar rights?

    I gather the odd (very odd) WW2 fort in the Thames Estuary has successfully declared itself a “nation state”. If so, by this argument, it has acquired greater rights than England, Scotland, Wales, or even NI.

    Beyond that legalistic quibbling, the one word that George @ 9.17 PM had that trumps any of Dave @ 10:31 PM‘s “nation state” arguments is “majority”. And the “majority” (in referendum terms at least) of the populace of the two main juristictions in the Archipelago have declared in favour of subsuming many of those prickly “nation state” rights into a wider European Union. So let’s get on with it.

  • Dave

    “I’ll put it another way; it’s binding but not enforceable.” – George

    So, you now agree contrary to your previous statement that it is legally binding. However, your objection now shifts to claiming that an agreement that is legally binding should be accorded the same status as an agreement that is not being legally binding because neither is enforceable. I see. Forgive me if I discard this claim as nonsense and remain of the view that an agreement that is legally binding will be accepted as the basis for negotiations about unity that are to be based on it.

    “Also, you were incorrect to link the “binding obligation” to the s.(iv) you cited when it referred to ss. (i) and (ii).” – George

    Again, this is nonsense. All that is listed under the legally binding section of Articles 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the “Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government Of Ireland” as set out in the Belfast Agreement is – and here is that term again – legally binding on both governments.

    “That was an affirmation in s.(iv), the equivalent of an oath.”

    It’s in (v) and not (iv) and it is not an oath: it is a legally binding obligation, given as a solemn declaration in the agreement. This is your habit of switching terms again, isn’t it?

    “The affirmation is also on the UK while it is running Northern Ireland and I don’t see any Irish Language Acts on the horizon or Irish flags over Belfast City Hall. Do you? Affirmations are not legally binding (and international treaties are generally unenforceable).” – George

    I don’t see Northern Ireland being included in the British government’s ‘Proud to be British’ campaign, do you? This is because it is in contravention of its legally binding obligation under (iv).

    These articles only apply to sovereign governments. Northern Ireland is not a sovereign state and it does not have a sovereign government that is other than the British government. The Executive is a devolved administration, so its obligations are specified elsewhere and the Irish Language Act is a devolved matter. Both governments must act with “rigorous impartiality” as specified.

    “Actually, if you read the Good Friday Agreement again, you’ll see it doesn’t. That affirmation refers to Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland alone.” – George

    Perhaps if you read it again (and the correct article this time), you will see that the legally binding obligation applies to any unified entity as I stated.

    “The two Governments… affirm that whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of …both communities.”

    There are only two choices: unity or not. It states that it applies to either choice and to whichever government gets the “jurisdiction”. Clear enough for you?

    This has profound implications for Irish self-determination since it directly converts the Republic of Ireland into a replica of Northern Ireland. It also makes management of the unified entity utterly impossible with “every second decision it tries to make ending up in the courts.” How can a sovereign government exercise “rigorous impartiality” between two competing nationalisms, British and Irish (as expressed in “parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos and aspirations of both communities”)? It can only do that when power is devolved and the sovereignty is exercised only in the role of neutral referee between two (still) warring tribes. No sovereign government that exercises power directly can operate with “rigorous impartiality” between two competing nationalisms, yet this is exactly what the Irish government has signed up to.

    Irish nationalism is the default value of the Irish nation state and it can never be otherwise. For the government to attempt to operate as a non nation state, granting parity to two competing nationalism, will have the effect of cancelling out each nationalism. What will the result of this treason be? The resurgence of Irish nationalism and the hurried repartition of the island. Those who are British already have a nation state wherein their right to self-determination may be exercised. The Irish will not and should not tolerate attempts to deprive them of their right to self-determination in order to facilitate those who wish to see Ireland return to its former status of a British colony.

  • Dave

    [b]Continued[/b]

    “It wouldn’t because the GFA has no legal standing in the Irish Republic and denying a person the right to freedom of (Irish or British) expression is repugnant to the Constitution.” – George

    Yes, but I am talking about the GFA being a basis for Irish unity. This is what it is touted as being. Obviously, the citizens of the Republic of Ireland will decide what their future is to be, and not the people of Northern Ireland. That is why, as I have said, they will “reject it once they understand that the quick fix has profound ramifications for them (which is something that they are most definitely in profound ignorance about).” The GFA must be rejected as the basis by which unity is to be attained, since it is disastrous for Irish nationalism and will prove tragic for all those who proceed on that basis (being brainwashed into it by a servile media and political class who are selling it as the basis for unity).

    “Nobody in the Irish Republic sees the GFA as having anything to do with them.” – George

    And why should they? They were not involved in negotiating an agreement that Sinn Fein and others are promoting as their “shared future.” However, it does have something to do with them, thanks to the Irish government signing up to a legally binding agreement that effectively dissolves the nation state. They should be aware of what “rigorous impartiality” means, least it is sold to them as meaning no more than ‘respect’ and they buy it. The whole agenda of the GFA is about “shared” and “parity” which is great in the Northern Ireland context as it applies to the two competing nationalism of roughly equal mass but in a Republic of Ireland context would mean the end of the Irish nation state (for about a decade until self-determination aggressively reasserts its supremacy over the imported British nationalism ). Ireland for the Irish, Britain for the British, and Europe for members the Alliance Party, and all that.

  • Dave

    By the way, George, don’t rely on Bunreacht na hÉireann to block the implementation of the requirement of the unified state to operate with “rigorous impartiality” between British nationalism and Irish nationalism as stipulated in the GFA, since the same people who will be brainwashed into voting for unity on the basis of GFA and its “shared future” will be voting to amend Bunreacht na hÉireann accordingly. It’s no more significant than showing “respect” for other traditions. 😉

  • Dave

    Malcolm Redfellow, does rambling about the fate that befell other nation states serve any purpose other than to make the reader aware that nation states are lost if they are not successfully defended? I don’t see any logic in your post at all, beyond asserting that ‘some buildings collapse, some are demolished, and some are remodelled, therefore don’t invest in property – live in a nomadic tent instead.’

    What does support for the EU have to do with forfiture of the nation state? I’m not aware that anyone who elects an MEP does so because he beleives that Europe should become a superstate at the expense of its member states. As for your claim that support for the superstate of Europe is the majority view, you’ll find that it is, in fact, very much in the minority view. People are being encourgaed to spport the Lisbon Treaty on basis that it does not mean a transfer of sovereignty to Europe. That is a lie that the Irish governmemt it telling to them, but they would not support the treaty if they beleived that it was a surrender of sovereignty. Your odd ‘logic’ here seems to be ‘some people support the commom market, therefore the Irish nation state should be disbanded.’

    And besides, old chap, if you think Europe means the end of the nation state and will not be a nation state then you really don’t understand the reality: all that it will be is a small state that accounts for about 8% of the world’s population, with 92% of the world’s population living in other nation states outside of the new nation state of Europe.

  • Dave @ 06:27 AM:

    if you think Europe means the end of the nation state and will not be a nation state then you really don’t understand the reality

    It’s not Groundhog Day, surely. So why is it déjà vu all over again?

    Ludwig von Mises argued, in the aftermath of that great achievement of the “nation-state”, WW1:

    every person must take his life and every nation must take its history as it comes; nothing is more useless than complaining over errors that can no longer be rectified, nothing more vain than regret…

    It is not the task of history to project the hatred and disagreements of the present back into the past and to draw from battles fought long ago weapons for the disputes of one’s own time. History should teach us to recognize causes and to understand driving forces; and when we understand everything, we will forgive everything.

    [In contrast] Germany has two approaches to history, the Prussian-Protestant and the Austrian-Catholic, which reach a common interpretation on scarcely a single point. From 1815 on, a still broader clash of views develops, the clash between the liberal and the authoritarian ideas of the state; and finally, the attempt has recently been made to oppose a “proletarian” to a “capitalist” historiography. All that shows not only a striking lack of scientific sense and historical critical faculty but also a grievous immaturity of political judgment.

    Clearly, Dave @ 06:27 AM belongs to the early-morning Germanic school.

    Are we now to repeat our occasional seminars on the “nation-state”?

    A “nation-state” is something more than a “State” (which latter itself is a geographical, rather than sociological term). It needs some binding homogeneity: this can arise from language; culture (which may derive from or embrace religion), and agreed borders. All of which suggest that “nation-statehood” succeeds best in a nice little, tight little island. Which, in turn, explains the hostility of “little Brits”; “Wee Oirish”, not to mention the even wee-er and tighter “Nordun Irish” to the concepts of extra-territorial shared sovereignty. By that standard, of course, the UK remains more of a “nation-state” than the RoI can be, if only because it has a currency, and therefore has some theoretical control of its finances. However, Europe, even if it achieves a unified currency and economic policy, can never be a “nation-state” because it lacks the other homogeneities.

    Of course, in a different direction, those of us who cling to “proletarian” historiography [vide supra] may feel that the flag-waving aspect of “nation-statehood” was atomised at 08.16.02 a.m., local Hiroshima time, on 6 August 1945. So, yes:

    some buildings collapse, some are demolished, and some are remodelled, therefore don’t invest in property – live in a nomadic tent instead.

  • dub

    dave (aka the dubliner),

    “The power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there…”

    This is the crucial phrase. The “there” refers to Northern Ireland, which will continue to subsist as a territory if the Irish Government beoomes the sovereign power. Perhaps you have not noticed, but at the moment the UK govt is the sovereign power, and that application of “rigorous impartiality” only applies to the territory of NI, that’s why they can have their “proud to be British” events in the rest of the UK.

    Same thing would happen after “unity”. Its just that you don’t get what “unity” means. Check out the original treaty from 1921. When NI opted out of Dail Eireann’s sovereignty, they opted out of being Northern Ireland under DE’s sovereignty, a point little appreciated by historians and lawyers.

    This is what Dev always meant by Irish Unity. So, as ususal, Stephen Collins is wrong and also so are you, The Dubliner.

    Regards,

    Dub.

  • dub

    And, The Dubliner, why don’t you check out the relevant article in Bunreacht which explicitly allows for subordinate assemblies under overall soverteignty of DE. Wonder why that was put in there, eh?

    I have challenged you on all this before and you went very silent. Perhaps we can look forward to a similar long silence until you come back with a different moniker and the same non-arguments.

  • George

    Dave,
    So, you now agree contrary to your previous statement that it is legally binding.

    Firstly, the binding relates to ss (i) and (ii) not (iv) as you claim. Can I get you to admit that you were incorrect in your claim that the “rigorous impartiality” section was “binding” when in fact it was merely an “affirmation?

    Forgive me if I discard this claim as nonsense and remain of the view that an agreement that is legally binding will be accepted as the basis for negotiations about unity that are to be based on it.

    It’s very simple, the parties have agreed to be bound by sections (i) and (ii) but the agreement is not legally enforceable. I ask you again: who will enforce it?

    Perhaps if you read it again (and the correct article this time), you will see that the legally binding obligation applies to any unified entity as I stated.

    That is simply incorrect as I pointed out earlier by citing the relevant sections (i) and (ii).

    We then come to the binding part. If the people of the island of Ireland exercise their right of self-determination on the basis set out in sections (i) and (ii) above to bring about a united Ireland, it will be a binding obligation.

    There is no “binding obligation” on the “rigorous impartiality” section.

    Also, to repeat myself again as you ignored this point too: The only agreement that the Irish State is constitutionally bound to adhere to is the British-Irish Agreement.

    Constitutionally bound = legally enforceable.

    To sum up, your argument is unsustainable because you are mixing up your sections and don’t seem to/want to understand the difference between agreeing to be bound by something (and not what are claiming anyway) and being legally bound by something.

  • dub

    I see that The Dubliner has once again been silenced.

  • Pete Baker

    Tom

    “adopted a more realistic approach to achieving it.”

    Indeed.

    Which is where Ahern’s reference, in the RTÉ interview, to the need for the adoption of Longley’s civilising process [my paraphrasing of his ‘opposite of war’ argument] here comes in.

  • Rory

    While there is enough in all of the above to get a young lawyer excited, I am no lawyer, nor yet considered young. I do however have something to add.

    It is clear to my mind, and,I believe, to the minds of all those who accepted the resolution of the GFA in referenda in both parts of Ireland and in parliament at Westminster that there was a deep understanding that if there were to be political unification of Ireland it could only come with consent.

    Now there may be a minority on the republican side who do not like this and others who do not like it but comfort themselves with 50%+1 (and presumably always eschew the use of prophylactics), but aside from those poor souls “who are always with us” the large Republican family is acceptant of this understanding.

    The simplicity – one well understood by Republicans – is that unity cannot happen unless it can happen– which is by overwhelming consent. Otherwise it would be less than unity and a recipe for future disaster.

    It is not as important which flags are raised or taken down in Magherafelt as is what health sevices and educational resources are universally available to all there regardless of attraction to a flag.

  • Pete Baker

    Rory

    The question is how any parties now seek consent – if they are actually seeking it, or even thinking about it.

    There is little evidence of any acknowledgement of the need for, never mind the adoption of, Longley’s ‘opposite of war’ approach by the political parties who make up the Executive.

    And it’s an approach that is not necessarily in their own party political interests.

  • Rory

    Well yes, Pete, that is self-evident. It may strike some (as it does me) that this failure is based on fear of loss of electoral base by the dominant parties.

    Re-unification of Ireland really is on the back burner. There is of course the possibility of a unity of purpose across sectarian political divides in defending against the excesses of the current economic cruelty and I rather doubt that such unity would find favour for its own sake among the great and the good. Whereupon the old trump cards will be played.

  • Pete Baker

    Rory

    “that is self-evident.”

    You’d think so. And yet most of the comments so far have ignored that element of the original post.

    “There is of course the possibility of a unity of purpose across sectarian political divides in defending against the excesses of the current economic cruelty..”

    That would also require the adoption of Longley’s ‘opposite of war’ approach.

    As you say, “I rather doubt that such unity would find favour for its own sake..”

    And, “Whereupon the old trump cards will be played.”

    For an example, see here.

    Although we also know the history of such comments.

  • Pat Hume

    Folk complained that they were tired of hearing my hubby’s single transferable speech.

    So you can imagine I was.

    The verbose Dubliner might care to ponder John’s take on the solemn, binding blah blah blah Anglo-Irish Agreement aka treachery on a grand scale to my srón-gorm neighbours.

    He said not to worry as the AIA would be replaced by something that would ‘transcend in importance’ the AIA.

    This was the GFA.

    Which will, I have no doubt, itself be transcended in importance in due course.

  • Dave

    “A “nation-state” is something more than a “State” (which latter itself is a geographical, rather than sociological term). It needs some binding homogeneity: this can arise from language; culture (which may derive from or embrace religion), and agreed borders. All of which suggest that “nation-statehood” succeeds best in a nice little, tight little island. Which, in turn, explains the hostility of “little Brits”; “Wee Oirish”, not to mention the even wee-er and tighter “Nordun Irish” to the concepts of extra-territorial shared sovereignty. By that standard, of course, the UK remains more of a “nation-state” than the RoI can be, if only because it has a currency, and therefore has some theoretical control of its finances. However, Europe, even if it achieves a unified currency and economic policy, can never be a “nation-state” because it lacks the other homogeneities.” – Malcolm Redfellow

    There are two issues here: what is a nation state and whether or not Europe can become one. Taking the second one first, you only have to cast a cursory glance at the evolutionary dynamics of how nation states emerge to see that it is by a process of disparate groups/tribes finding common cause (usually against a common foe) and making a claim to their common territory and the sovereignty, defending it against interests that are contrary to their common interest, and over time becoming less tribal and more attached to the common identity as defined by the nation state. This is paralleled in the emergence of the new nation state of Europe as the common identity becomes European, as opposed to the particular tribe (nation state), more people embrace the new identity and form a tribal bond with it at the expense of the old tribe. Those who promote the transfer of sovereignty from member states to the new super state do so by stressing “the other homogeneities” and common roots, identity, common causes, common foes, etc, of the people of Europe.

    Europeans are a predominantly white and predominantly Christian people whose political and economical systems are democracies and capitalist. They formed the EU to promote their common interests, culturally, politically, and most economically. So it is a tad nonsensical to pretend that the very commonalties that the EU is founded on do not exist or exist so loosely that Europeans they could not operate as a unified entity. Now, you claim that a nation state should have its own currency, and cite the fact that Ireland does not have its own currency as supporting the position that it is less than a nation state that the UK (which does have its own currency). Well, if a nation state must have its own currency, whose currency does Ireland have? That’s right: the currency of Europe. Of course, to avoid this contradiction in your logic, you then have to claim that the people of Europe have nothing in common, thereby rendering incapable of becoming a nation state – and nullifying the whole purpose of the EU, which is that they have plenty in common and should jointly manage the commonality.

    The basis of the nation state is very simple and expressed in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The nation state is the sovereign territorial entity by which that right to self-determination is exercised.

    I don’t think we need to ramble on about “homogeneities” when it is all in that simple definition under “peoples” and their common “economic, social and cultural” concerns. The plural “peoples” defines self-determination as a collective and not an individual right, so if the majority of the people of Europe want to merge their individual nation states into one super nation state then they are free to do that. The people of Europe certainly have enough commonality to qualify as a “peoples” and may “freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development” within a new nation state if that is their wish. Fortunately, it is not their wish. While there is minority support for both a federal Europe and for a fully integrated Europe (one sovereign parliament, one flag, one European nationalism, one army, one currency, etc, most people do not support the surrender of national sovereignty to those they regard as a separate people (despite the common cause and interests) and prefer to retain sovereignty within their own nation state as set out in Article 1.

  • Dave

    [b]Continued[/b]

    They agree to transfer a moderate amount of sovereignty in specific areas but only because they believe it is in their own best strategic interests as a nation state to do so and not because they are acting selfishly (and contrary to the national interest) for the benefit of other member states. This is where you dream of a selfless brotherhood of man falls flat on its arse. And it’s just as well that it does because the new nation state of Europe would seek to use its army to further its own selfish strategic interests and there would be nothing that the former nation states (duly stripped of their sovereignty) would be able to do to prevent it. Raving Pro-Europeans, of course, are so far up their own arses that they think they are incapable to doing anything other than the utmost good in the world.

    “Perhaps we can look forward to a similar long silence until you come back with a different moniker and the same non-arguments.” – dub

    I wasn’t aware that my absence was in any way related to any of your posts. And when the absence is again the actuality, I will also be blissfully unaware of any connection to your latest post. Now you seem to think that there is some evidence of Sherlock Holmes skill on your part despite remaining consistent in my analysis and, indeed, making mention of my fishing in Israel (or, rather, the illegality of) in a previous post. But give yourself a silver star for self-importance, kid.

    George, any chance of producing a link to support your claim that the “Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government Of Ireland” as set out in the Belfast Agreement is not legally binding?

  • Dave

    “Folk complained that they were tired of hearing my hubby’s single transferable speech” – Pat Hume

    My commiserations on your choice of spouse. If being a pro-European was contagious, John would be sitting arse-naked in a giant Petri dish right now.

  • Dave

    By the way, Malcolm, there are more official languages in the nation state of India than there are in the EU (and that isn’t counting more than 1600 regional dialects in India) and there are more than 168 languages in the nation state of the archipelagic nation state of the Philippines, so you’d be wise not to conclude, contrary to the evidence, that a diversity of languages is an undefeatable impediment to the emergence of a nation state, as you did in your example of language as a “binding homogeneity” that excludes Europe from becoming a nation state.

  • Dave

    “This is the crucial phrase. The “there” refers to Northern Ireland, which will continue to subsist as a territory if the Irish Government beoomes the sovereign power.” – dub

    Okay, Namesake, I’ve got the time so back to you. The designation of ‘there’ refers to Northern Ireland purely so that the two governments do not unwittingly give legally binding obligations of behalf of, say, the island of Japan. This is also the reason that they helpfully designated the territory in question as being Northern Ireland. See how language works? Notice they do not say “We propose a federal Ireland with the territorial borders and name of Northern Ireland remaining unchanged post-unity”? That interpretation of the word “there” as stipulating a federal Ireland exists solely in your mind and not in the text, and nowhere is it even hinted at elsewhere in the document or in proceeding or preceding documents. It is, son, a long eared rabbit that you pulled out of your propeller beanie cap.

    “Perhaps you have not noticed, but at the moment the UK govt is the sovereign power, and that application of “rigorous impartiality” only applies to the territory of NI, that’s why they can have their “proud to be British” events in the rest of the UK.” – dub

    You’re a laugh a minute, ain’t ya? You repeat an insight that you learned by reading my previous post and now you assert that the insight originated with you and is unknown to me. Here is what you are parroting back to your trainer, polly: “This is why the British government does not include Northern Ireland in ‘Proud to be British’ events – it is contrary to the binding legal obligation in the GFA under Article 1.”

    “This is what Dev always meant by Irish Unity.” – dub

    Bad news for ya, kid: Dev is dead. It won’t be decided by him or by any obsolete treaties.

    Now while it is pure fantasy on your part to read that meaning into the word “there” (which serves a grammatical functional and is and not a secret diplomatic code for a secretly agreed outcome that pre-empts the outcome unity negotiations), I’m of the view that this is the actual plan of the Irish government. As I posted on April 20 on the “I Have No Doubt About That” thread that Pete Baker links to in his post 3 above, “Incidentally, the working position of the mandarins within the Irish DoFA is that no solution other than a federal Ireland would likely be practicable. Essentially that means that Northern Ireland remains as British as it is but that the cost of financing that nationalist indulgence transfers to the taxpayers of the (Federal) Republic of Ireland.”

    As I said to George: “It also makes management of the unified entity utterly impossible with “every second decision it tries to make ending up in the courts.” How can a sovereign government exercise “rigorous impartiality” between two competing nationalisms, British and Irish (as expressed in “parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos and aspirations of both communities”)? [b]It can only do that when power is devolved and the sovereignty is exercised only in the role of neutral referee between two (still) warring tribes.[/b] No sovereign government that exercises power directly can operate with “rigorous impartiality” between two competing nationalisms, yet this is exactly what the Irish government has signed up to.”

    However, I’m still open to the opposing view that the agenda is not a pre-agreed (and hidden) federal Ireland but that they actually fucked up in agreeing to this nonsense of “rigorous impartiality” and that may yet bite them on the ass. At any rate, the Unionists will most certainly insist on “rigorous impartiality” between British and Irish nationalism in any unified entity since the Agreement that they signed up to makes that promise. So it is not a case that we can fudge this issue or renege on our promise as George might like to think. Unionists will look for the same deal they got under the GFA, so this rules out any solution other than a federal solution. In reality, it rules out any solution because nobody in the Republic is going to vote for a federal Ireland wherein everything remains the same except for bombs by loyalists going off in Dublin and a whopping great tax rise to raise the 10 billion Euros a year that will be needed to pay for the swap of jurisdiction.

  • Dave @ 04:46 AM:

    As they say in the trade: RTFM.

    Why do you think there are three terms: “nation”, “state” and “nation-state”? Only the sloppiest of thinking makes them precise synonyms.

    You persist in making a very narrow, pernicketty case: that is your prerogative. However, geography, linguistics, politics, economics, sociology, group-psychology and sheer bloody-mindedness rarely over-lap with any precision.

    A case-study: some years ago I stayed overnight at the town of Page, Arizona (where both versions of Planet of the Apes, Superman III and many more were filmed). I had escaped from several days of root-beer (uggh!) in Utah, and thought I was back in the land of alcohol. Alas! Page is in the Navajo nation; and the hotel was very definitely dry.

    So: here’s your starter for ten:

    Is Page in the nation of the Navajo People, in the State of Arizona, and what is the “nation-state” to which it belongs? And what about the Hopis, which form an island inside the Navajolands? It may help you if you recognise that two-thirds of the townsfolk are “white”, about a quarter are native Americans, but there is also a strong Latino contingent.

    Curiously, unlike the island of Ireland, and despite such ethnic diversity and a dozen churches of different denominations (serving a population of fewer than 7,000), Page gets by on just the one High School.

  • Ahern’s Boston speech

    Ahern’s script writers use ‘Ireland’ very loosely, perhaps deliberately. I suspect they wish to create the impression that he speaks for the whole island rather than just the 26-county state.

    They seem to have been very careful to get ‘deputy First Minister’ correct 😉

    I’ve spoken to a range of UK and IE mandarins over the years and those from the justice sector are a lot less sanguine about the side-deals with the ‘chosen’ loyalist and republican ‘mafia’ than their foreign affairs colleagues. The folks at justice have to deal with any mess that leaks from here into the rest of these islands.

  • George

    Dave,
    George, any chance of producing a link to support your claim that the “Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government Of Ireland” as set out in the Belfast Agreement is not legally binding?

    Article 29.6 of the Irish Constitution states:

    No international agreement shall be part of the domestic law of the State save as may be determined by the Oireachtas.

    And as I have explained a couple of times already, the only agreement to which the Irish State is constitutionally bound is the British-Irish Agreement, which was passed by the Oireachtas by means of the 1999 British-Irish Agreement Bill.

    There was no Good Friday Agreement Bill, passed by the Oireachtas.

    Therefore, we are not constitutionally bound.

    Remember: constitutionally bound = legally enforceable.

  • What do you make of the next section, George?

    7. 1° The State may consent to be bound by the British-Irish Agreement done at Belfast on the 10th day of April, 1998, hereinafter called the Agreement.
    2° Any institution established by or under the Agreement may exercise the powers and functions thereby conferred on it in respect of all or any part of the island of Ireland notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution conferring a like power or function on any person or any organ of State appointed under or created or established by or under this Constitution. Any power or function conferred on such an institution in relation to the settlement or resolution of disputes or controversies may be in addition to or in substitution for any like power or function conferred by this Constitution on any such person or organ of State as aforesaid.”

    Surely that gave Ahern permission to bind the state; it would also appear to indicate that Agreement bodies have powers to supercede those of the Irish state.

  • George

    Nevin,
    the Article 29.7.1 you quote there clearly states the “Agreement” refers to the British-Irish Agreement and any “institutions” allowed thereunder.

    If you read the British-Irish Agreement Act you will see that it relates to those cross-border bodies and institutions dealing with the things unionists agreed to such as waterways, food safety promotion etc.

    Link:

    http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/acts/1999/a199.pdf

  • “The only thing we voted for was the new Articles 2 and 3.”

    George, I thought you also allowed Ahern to sign the 1998 British-Irish Agreement on behalf of the state and its people ie to consent to be bound by all of its terms.

  • George

    Nevin,
    Mea culpa. In the name of total accuracy, “Only” should not have been in there.

    That comment about Articles 2 and 3 was in reply to Dave’s incorrect belief that we were legally bound by the Good Friday Agreement, even in the case of a united Ireland.

    Articles 2 and 3 were the meat in the sandwich in 1998 and due to its insignificance to the conversation at that point, I initially neglected to mention/forgot the ratification of British-Irish Agreement and its far-reaching powers over cross-border canals, health promotion and the like.

    When the need came to actually list what the Irish State is legally bound by to show it wasn’t legally bound by the provisions of the GFA like Dave thought it was, I added the British-Irish Agreement.

  • This is a bit confusing, George.

    7. 1° The State may consent to be bound by the British-Irish Agreement done at Belfast on the 10th day of April, 1998, hereinafter called the Agreement.

    There’s no mention there of any future retraction of what Ahern signed in 1998 and what he was mandated to sign by both the Oireachtas and those who participated in the southern referendum. 1° precedes the 1999 Act.

  • George

    Nevin,
    the 1999 Act puts the British-Irish Agreement on a statutory footing and met its requirements under Article 29.6.

    While civil jurisdictions follow a monist approach where any agreement signed is automatically law, Ireland has a dualist approach, meaning legislation passing any agreement is required and the Oireachtas can not be bypassed.

    Article 29.7.1 was also necessary to make it invulnerable to the argument that it involved a delegation of the executive powers of the State (like what happened with Crotty and the Single European Act).

    I’m not exactly sure what do you mean by “retraction of what Ahern signed” and what do you mean by “mandated” to sign by the Oireachtas?

  • Dave

    George, I’m far from convinced. However, I don’t think the issue of whether or not it is binding or enforceable is important. The important issue is that the Unionists will insist on “rigorous impartiality” between British and Irish nationalism in the operation of the unified entity because (a) that is what the signed up to in the GFA, and (b) because it is is their own best interests to demand that the unified entity is stripped of its Irish symbols and ethos in exactly the same manner that nationalists insisted that the Northern Ireland state was stripped of its British symbols and ethos.

    So, either unity means a federal Ireland wherein “rigorous impartiality” between British and Irish nationalism can be exercised by the sovereign government with a devolved administration in Northern Ireland, or it means integration of the six counties and power remaining in Dublin – which case the requirement on the sovereign government to act with “rigorous impartiality” between British and Irish nationalism will have the effect of converting the Republic into a non nation state with the two competing nationalism serving to cancel each other out. That, of course, would have disastrous consequences and unity would be very short-lived indeed if enough were foolish enough to vote for unity on that basis.

    The salient point is that Unionists will demand “rigorous impartiality” and that’s that. Unless Northern Ireland can be fully integrated into the Republicto acheive economies of scale etc, it will remain as it is: a financial black hole.

  • Dave

    “As they say in the trade: RTFM.

    Why do you think there are three terms: “nation”, “state” and “nation-state”? Only the sloppiest of thinking makes them precise synonyms.” – Malcolm Redfellow

    Malcolm, the manual was duly perused and quoted to you. Do you know what the basis in international law is for the establishment of a nation state? No? Well here it is again:

    The basis of the nation state is expressed in Article 1 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The nation state is the sovereign territorial entity by which that right to self-determination is exercised.

    Now, do you notice the word “cultural” in there? Do you notice also the words “economic” and “social” and “political”? Now, would you say that the latter words relate to the state and that the word “cultural” relates to the nation state? Good, so you can see that the right refers to the nation state? That is the basis by which it is granted to a “peoples”. What are a peoples? Well, they’re the collective who regard themselves a culturally and ethnically distinct group. Here’s a hint: Irish people, German people, English, Japanese, etc. They have their own culture and their own collective interests, and they have the right to “freely pursue” those shared interests within a nation state. So, you see that the people who are the indigenous to a sovereign region express their culture within their territory as opposed to expressing the culture of other territorial entities? This celebration of the shared identity is the basis of their nationalism and that nationalism is the basis of the nation state, as set out in international law under Article 1 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Any attempt to separate the culture of the indigenous peoples of a territorial entity from the operation of state of that territorial is contrary to principle of self-determination, which is the basis and purpose of the nation state under Article 1. In short, you may wish to separate nationalism from the operation of the state, rendering it into a non nation state (a nonsense as shown), but that concept has no validity whatsoever. Now, that wasn’t really that hard to follow, was it?

    That’s not to say that there isn’t a hidden game afoot to do just that in relation to the nation state of Ireland. If you wanted to weaken the hold of the indigenous peoples of a sovereign territorial entity on the state, seeking to destroy its indigenous nationalism, then a good way of going about it would to allow a record level of immigration that increases the non-indigenous population to 12% legally and to 18% of the population illegally within a decade, along with promoting a transfer of sovereignty to a foreign parliament (the EU), and promoting other expediencies that encourages the indigenous population to forsake their right to self-determination such as concepts of “rigorous impartiality” (between British and Irish nationalisms) and that old liberal, Irish Times pluralist agenda. Now if you can get your multi-ethnic population up to, say, 25%, and the pro-British population in Northern Ireland is around 15%, then you have 40% of the population who have no loyalty to the indigenous peoples and no attachment to the values of the nation state. You can always brainwash 20% of the indigenous peoples to support your hidden agenda, so that is enough to ensure that any change you want to make at a constitutional level will be voted on by a majority who are unattached to the original nation state, thereby easily wiping away its cultural and nationalist values. Not that we have such paid quislings among us, of course.

  • Dave

    By the way, Malcolm, can you name any state within Europe that is not a nation state (excluding the Vatican City)? You cannot because there are none. Yes, there are other concepts such as secular states in Europe but they include Ireland, wherein the church is separate from the state, and do not include your beloved United Kingdom, wherein its head of state is required to swear a constitutional oath to uphold the Protestant religion and wherein twenty-six clergymen from the Church of England have an automatic right to sit in its upper parliament as unelected members. Those who support the engineering of a nation state of Europe know full well that a state is meaningless without a nation and that there can be no viable or sustainable sovereign entity that is not based on the loyalty, pride and community of that nationalism. They also know that a nation state must be sovereign and must be territorial. However, they cannot persuade the member states to transfer sovereignty to the new super state unless they can persuade the member states that national sovereignty isn’t relevant to them and unless they can also persuade them that territorial borders are a similar irrelevance. Once they get control of the sovereignty and of the borders, then they have control of the fundamental basis of the nation state. And, of course, in order to retain that control, they must unite the people of Europe under a common nationalism. Ergo, Europe becomes a nation state. It cannot be any other way. The reason they pretend that they won’t be a nation state is because a large part of the propaganda to promote the engineering of the new nation state of Europe is dependent on persuading the people of the existing nation states that the concept of the nation state is outdated, retrograde, a cause of division, a cause of war, etc – in short, an old bad thing that should be swapped for the new good thing. As I pointed out to you a few posts back, the basis of the EU is shared interests based on commonality, so these shared interests – political, economic, geography, culture, etc – are expected to form the basis of the nationalism for the new nation state.

    Personally, I think those who support this engineering are deluded in the enterprise, since the majority of people do not support the abandonment of their national sovereignty (which is why the EU prefers to steal this sovereignty by stealth in its patented step-by-step approach) and will act to reclaim it once they are again cognisant of why it is that distinct groups of people should make decisions in their own best interests rather than allow others in different regions to make those decisions for them. Every empire, my erudite acquaintance, has returned into sand.

  • Dave @ 05:20 AM:

    Sorry: life’s too short to cope with paranoia, particularly when it involves neglect of the return key or sentence structures.

    Anyway, there’s an idiot’s guide here.

  • kensei

    This also misses the point somewhat. What the current Republic is and is not bound by is not necessarily what any new unitary Irish state will and will not be bound by. I’d say it is certain that what ever results from the process that occurs after positive referendums North and South would then be put to the Irish people as a whole.

  • George, it’s my understanding that Ahern signed up the 1998 Agreement in toto and that he had the authority of the Oireachtas and the electorate to do so. If that wasn’t the case then his signature was meaningless.

  • George

    Dave,
    The important issue is that the Unionists will insist on “rigorous impartiality” between British and Irish nationalism in the operation of the unified entity

    That is hugely different from your original position that the Irish State was legally bound. I take it you now accept it isn’t.

    Unionists will insist on lots of things just like Sinn Féin insisted on lots of things pre the GFA. Doesn’t mean they will get them.

    because (a) that is what the signed up to in the GFA, and (b) because it is is their own best interests to demand that the unified entity is stripped of its Irish symbols and ethos in exactly the same manner that nationalists insisted that the Northern Ireland state was stripped of its British symbols and ethos.

    You don’t know what Unionists will insist on come the “dreaded” day and it is pointless to speculate too much.

    Also, in the end any future state will have to have the support of the people of the Republic, who make up 70% of the island population, if it is to be truly stable and functional.

    Believe it or not, Britain would be happier with a stable and functional state on its western flank than a castrated entity seething with all-island resentment.

    The salient point is that Unionists will demand “rigorous impartiality” and that’s that.

    Maybe they will or maybe they will have more important issues on their minds, like guaranteeing their public sector pensions, free access to health at point of entry, an all-island solidarity tax to provide investment for the region, etc.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    George, it’s my understanding that Ahern signed up the 1998 Agreement in toto and that he had the authority of the Oireachtas and the electorate to do so. If that wasn’t the case then his signature was meaningless.

    Don’t treaties signed by the US President also have to be ratified by Congress (note that any treaty ratified could also be struck down by the Supreme Court if incompatible with the Constitution)? Is that not the same thing?

  • Kensei, I’d have thought that the treaty, in that case, would have been treated in toto.

  • George

    Nevin,
    it’s my understanding that Ahern signed up the 1998 Agreement in toto and that he had the authority of the Oireachtas and the electorate to do so. If that wasn’t the case then his signature was meaningless.

    His signature was as meaningful as Tony Blair’s was. After all, the UK also follows the dualist approach.

    But both sides will endeavour to live up to the spirit of the Agreement.

    When Ahern opens the Boyne Site heritage centre today with Paisley, it will done so with that in mind. There will be Ulster Scots and all that other “rigorous impartiality” stuff that Dave is so wary of.

  • George

    To Add:
    The only things within the GFA that the UK is legally bound by are those areas covered by subsequent legislation passed at Westminster.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    Kensei, I’d have thought that the treaty, in that case, would have been treated in toto.

    I guess it depends on what is within scope of “in toto”, which I think was what George was arguing. That wasn’t what you were saying, though: Ahern certainly was democratically elected and appointed by both people and Parliament and in a position to sign the treaty. But that does not change the need to be ratified. It doesn’t make the signature “worthless”, simply subject to further check and balance. What the legal status is between signature and ratification I’m not sure, perhaps George would know.

    The fact also remains that any provision of any treaty that is incompatible with the Irish Constitution ceases to be. Neither Ahern nor the Oireachtas has the power to alter that.

  • George

    Kensei,
    an international Agreement has no legal status unless passed into the law of the Irish State.

    Also, if it moves into the area of Executive Powers (like Crotty), a constitutional amendment is also required, hence the need for the Article 29.7.1 amendment to ensure the British-Irish Agreement wasn’t ruled repugnant to the Constitution.

    The British and Irish governments did not enshrine the Good Friday Agreement into law in April 1998.

    They subsequently passed legislation to give legal effect to their duties under the Agreement.

    The revelant legislation is the Northern Ireland Act in the UK and the British-Irish Agreement in the Republic.

    If it isn’t on the Statute Book or in the Constitution (in Ireland’s case), it isn’t legally binding.

  • willowfield

    DAVE/THE DUBLINER

    The “rigorous impartiality” provision of the GFA is merely there to tell unionists that in any future “united Ireland”, they won’t be discriminated against. That’s all. Nothing to do with “competing nationalisms”, flags, devolution or any other such thing. It’s a nice statement which does not translate into any kind of enforceable duty or right.

    The basis of the nation state is expressed in Article 1 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The nation state is the sovereign territorial entity by which that right to self-determination is exercised.

    You’re conflating self-determination with the establishment of a “nation-state”. But a people, through an expression of self-determination, may elect NOT to establish a “nation-state”. Further, the “nation-state” is a political, not a legal, term.

    By the way, Malcolm, can you name any state within Europe that is not a nation state (excluding the Vatican City)? You cannot because there are none.

    Arguably for various reasons Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Cyprus, Andorra, France, Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia.

    GEORGE

    If it isn’t on the Statute Book or in the Constitution (in Ireland’s [sic] case), it isn’t legally binding.

    Generally what you say in this thread is absolutely correct, but there are international treaties to which Southern Ireland is a signatory and which are legally-binding, e.g. European Convention on Human Rights, the EC Treaty and the UN Charter. This is because said treaties have established their own courts for the purpose of enforcement.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    Generally what you say in this thread is absolutely correct, but there are international treaties to which Southern Ireland [sic]
    is a signatory and which are legally-binding, e.g. European Convention on Human Rights, the EC Treaty and the UN Charter. This is because said treaties have established their own courts for the purpose of enforcement.

    Will all due respect, you don’t know what you are talking about on this issue.

    Firstly, Ireland was not and is not legally bound by the ECHR or its court.

    It is legally bound by the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 to put the Convention on a statutory footing. Even then, this Act is still subordinate to the Constitution.

    Secondly, the initial EC Treaty was followed, as required, by the Third Amendment of the Constitution Act 1972.

    So the ECJ is binding because the requirements of the Irish Constitution have been satisfied by (i) a constitutional amendment formally abrogating the Executive Powers the EC Treaty would then have and (ii) an Act passed by the Oireachtas.

    As for the United Nations Charter, I’m not going to go into that section by section but suffice it to say there are some areas that have been given legislative effect such as Criminal Justice( United Nations Convention against Torture) Act 2000.

    But this is not to say that the Charter itself or any Court they may set up has any legal effect in this jurisdiction.

  • willowfield

    Willowfield,

    Will all due respect, you don’t know what you are talking about on this issue.

    I do.

    Firstly, Ireland [sic] was not and is not legally bound by the ECHR or its court.

    It is.

    It is legally bound by the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 to put the Convention on a statutory footing. Even then, this Act is still subordinate to the Constitution.

    The 2003 Act to which you refer merely makes the Convention enforceable in Southern Irish domestic law, in the same way as the Human Rights Act 1998 makes it enforceable in UK domestic law.

    Notwithstanding said Acts, both Southern Ireland and the UK are bound by the Convention and by the European Court of Human Rights. The UK, for example, was taken to said Court on several occasions prior to the passing of the 1998 Act.

    But this is not to say that the Charter itself or any Court they may set up has any legal effect in this jurisdiction.

    But they do in the international jurisdiction, of which Southern Ireland is a part.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    It is

    I have clearly explained to you why it isn’t. Read any legal text book and it will tell you the same.

    The 2003 Act to which you refer merely makes the Convention enforceable in Southern Irish [sic]domestic law, in the same way as the Human Rights Act 1998 makes it enforceable in UK domestic law.

    Notwithstanding said Acts, both Southern Ireland [sic] and the UK are bound by the Convention and by the European Court of Human Rights. The UK, for example, was taken to said Court on several occasions prior to the passing of the 1998 Act.

    As I said, you don’t know what you are talking about. In fact, I am going to have to increase that to you haven’t a clue what you are talking about.

    Firstly, you obviously don’t understand constitutional law. The UK’s position is different to Ireland’s so the legal status of the 1998 UK Act is different to the Irish 2003 Act. You are ignoring the prime law of the land in Ireland: the Constitution.

    As for pre-1998, you are also completely incorrect. I will give you one example as I have better things to be doing than showing you that you don’t know what you are talking.

    If you look up the 1997 case of Saunders v UK, regarding the compulsory requirement to provide certain information which was used in evidence against him of insider dealing, you will find that the ECHR found in Saunders’ favour.

    However, the Court of Appeal ruled that as a matter of UK domestic law the European Court’s judgment was irrelevant.

    If you don’t mind, I’ll take the Court of Appeal’s considered view on this as well as the view of every legal text book you could pick up rather than your ill-judged, uninformed and lazy foray into the world of international law.

  • willowfield

    However, the Court of Appeal ruled that as a matter of UK domestic law the European Court’s judgment was irrelevant.

    But not as a matter of international law!

    So, while you are right [as I acknowledged at the outset] to say that international treaties are not enforceable in domestic courts, you are wrong to say that the ROI is not bound by anything other than the Constitution and its domestic law. The ROI is bound by international law, some of which (ECHR) is enforceable by international courts.

  • George

    Willowfield,

    So, while you are right [as I acknowledged at the outset] to say that international treaties are not enforceable in domestic courts, you are wrong to say that the ROI is not bound by anything other than the Constitution and its domestic law. The ROI is bound by international law, some of which (ECHR) is enforceable by international courts.

    You don’t get it do you? As I said, you haven’t a clue about this particular area.

    You initially said:

    Generally what you say in this thread is absolutely correct, but there are international treaties to which Southern Ireland [sic] is a signatory and which are legally-binding, e.g. European Convention on Human Rights, the EC Treaty and the UN Charter. This is because said treaties have established their own courts for the purpose of enforcement.

    The text I have bolded show why you haven’t a clue what you are talking about as regards international law. Please see my post subsequent to this statement for further details.

    The 2003 Act to which you refer merely makes the Convention enforceable in Southern Irish [sic] domestic law, in the same way as the Human Rights Act 1998 makes it enforceable in UK domestic law .

    This shows you haven’t a clue about constitutional law.

    Notwithstanding said Acts, both Southern Ireland and the UK are bound by the Convention and by the European Court of Human Rights. The UK, for example, was taken to said Court on several occasions prior to the passing of the 1998 Act.

    This shows that despite me explaining the situation to you, you still haven’t a clue about international law. Please see the subsequent post citing Saunders v UK for further details.

    But not as a matter of international law!

    So, while you are right [as I acknowledged at the outset] to say that international treaties are not enforceable in domestic courts, you are wrong to say that the ROI is not bound by anything other than the Constitution and its domestic law. The ROI is bound by international law, some of which (ECHR) is enforceable by international courts.

    This shows that you refuse to accept you are wrong.

  • dub

    willow,

    The ECHR can say what is likes in its court.. the judgements of that court have no enforcement mechanisms.

    Whilst I understand your reluctance to refer to the Irish State by its official name, Ireland, it makes you look stupid to refer to it by the geograpically absurd name of Southern Ireland. Why not refer to it as the Republic of Ireland?

    Best Regards,

    Dub.

  • willowfield

    GEORGE

    You don’t get it do you?

    Yes, I do get it. You are talking only about domestic law and domestic courts. But I am talking also about international law and international courts.

    As I said, you are right to say that international treaties are not enforceable in domestic courts, but you are wrong to say that the ROI is not bound by anything other than the Constitution and its domestic law. The ROI is bound by international law, some of which (ECHR) is enforceable by international courts.

    Simply saying that “I don’t get it”, doesn’t answer the point that the ROI is answerable to certain international courts. You cannot deny that.

    The text I have bolded show why you haven’t a clue what you are talking about as regards international law.

    It doesn’t. The first part of the text that you emboldened is correct: there are indeed international treaties to which Southern Ireland is a signatory and which are legally-binding. The second part of the text that you emboldened should have referred to “enforcement” rather than “legally-binding”, but otherwise is correct.

    This shows you haven’t a clue about constitutional law.

    It doesn’t: The ROI was bound, under international law, by the ECHR before the 2003 Act. The 2003 Act brought it into domestic law.

    This shows that despite me explaining the situation to you, you still haven’t a clue about international law.

    It doesn’t.

    Please see the subsequent post citing Saunders v UK for further details.

    I already responded to that. As you pointed out, the Court of Appeal ruled that as a matter of UK domestic law the European Court’s judgment was irrelevant. …. But – as I said – not as a matter of international law!

    This shows that you refuse to accept you are wrong.

    It doesn’t. On the contrary, it shows that you refuse to accept that the ROI is bound by international law. The fact that international treaties cannot be enforced in domestic courts does not mean that the ROI is not bound by international law.

    DUB

    The ECHR can say what is likes in its court.. the judgements of that court have no enforcement mechanisms.

    Expulsion from the Council of Europe is a remedy open to the Court, which could be considered as enforcement. But you are right, the Court cannot literally enforce a judgment. But the point being made is that signatory states are subject to the court, which can make judgments for or against signatory states.

  • Dave

    Willow, it’s Dave. And if you keep this up, I’ll use another moniker each time I return just to make you type longer forms of address. 😉

    George, some excellent posts there from you.

  • Dave

    [i]”The important issue is that the Unionists will insist on “rigorous impartiality” between British and Irish nationalism in the operation of the unified entity.” – Dave

    “That is hugely different from your original position that the Irish State was legally bound. I take it you now accept it isn’t.” – George[/i]

    Okay, last word on this before Pat Hume returns to complain about my single transferable speech (as Kensei said before). I hope that it isn’t, because if it is legally binding on the unified entity or if we ever make it binding, then it is the courts who will interpret the meaning of “rigorous impartiality.”

    I don’t think it is smart to play down the meaning of a key legal term as “There will be Ulster Scots and all that other ‘rigorous impartiality’ stuff that Dave is so wary of” when, as I said, “the term has a political meaning that is applied within Northern Ireland to mean neutralisation of the symbols and identity of the state (it was used by Patten, for example), and if it is to be applied in Ireland, will likely be held by the courts to have the same meaning as it was intended to have by those who inserted it into the Agreement and implemented it within Northern Ireland accordingly.”

    As the meaning will be acquired by the courts from a careful study of the context in which it is applied, here is that context again:

    Gerry Adams uses the term “rigorous impartiality” to mean that the “apparatus of government, the symbols, and senior management of the institutions of the state” should not be associated with the British identity in the context of Northern Ireland. Since the term applies to both Northern Ireland and to any unified entity, then it follows that he would argue that the Irish state and its government should also be stripped of its association with Irish nationalism:

    [i]“In the Agreement the Irish and British governments committed to “affirm that whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be founded on the principles of full respect for, and equality of, civil, political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens, and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos, and aspirations of both communities.”

    However, the British government has not implemented with “rigorous impartiality” its responsibilities in respect of equality and “civil, political, social and cultural rights”‚ and it clearly refuses to accept that its policy of upholding the Union constitutes an obstacle to harmony and good relations between the peoples of these islands.

    British policy tolerates and perpetuates institutionalised inequality and consequently many in political unionism see no imperative to co-operate with their nationalist neighbours, or nationalist and republican representatives. This view is reinforced by the fact that the apparatus of government, the symbols, and senior management of the institutions of the state are predominantly unionist. British policy is also an obstacle to the practice and achieving of equality of treatment and parity of esteem.” [/i]

  • willowfield

    Dave

    As George says, the courts won’t have any jurisdiction to enforce the Belfast Agreement.

  • Paddy

    Willowfield

    Is Donegal in Southern Ireland?

    *sniggers*

  • willowfield

    It’s certainly in the South, according to the Belfast Agreement.

    *sniggers*

  • Dave

    Willow, as I said “or if we ever make it binding.” Now, just to take issue with you this:

    [i]”The basis of the nation state is expressed in Article 1 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The nation state is the sovereign territorial entity by which that right to self-determination is exercised.” – Dave

    You’re conflating self-determination with the establishment of a “nation-state”. But a people, through an expression of self-determination, may elect NOT to establish a “nation-state”. Further, the “nation-state” is a political, not a legal, term.” – Willow[/i]

    You miss the point, Willow. The legitimacy of the state comes from the nation (i.e. its people). Do you notice that the right to self-determination is granted to the plural peoples and not people? The state cannot be other than a nation state because it is created as an expedient sovereign territorial entity for the nation, i.e. for a group who regard themselves as culturally distinct from other groups. Without that nation (those people), why would a plethora of states be mandated? They wouldn’t be. The state has no founding legitimacy other than as a nation state. Yes, nation states that were formed by distinct cultural groups have incorporated other groups over time, but few allow a level of immigration that threatens the indigenous peoples, thereby threatening the nation state, and all require loyalty to the state and respect for its predominant cultural values and way of life. It isn’t necessary to the commonality to be based on parameters such race or religion, etc, as the parameters that define the group in the evolved nation states shift to its nationalism, which can be based on the shared culture, language, history, sense of destiny, ect, or can be on pride, loyalty, sense of community, common cause, ect, on the achievements of the nation state. This nationalism is the most important dynamic that sustains the nation state.

    So, in regard to Europe, the nationalism will focus on the pride, loyalty, sense of community, common cause, ect, of being European. If it was engineered along federal lines, as in a United States of Europe, then its nationalism would be engineered to model American nationalism. America is a highly ethnically diverse sovereign territorial entity (much more so than Europe) and it still manages to produce one of the world’s most jingoistic and belligerent nationalisms, and Europe will become likewise if it becomes a nation state with its own army and continues its imperial agenda outside of its consolidated borders. So there pro-Europeans are a very deluded lot in believing that having 23 languages will disqualify them from ever becoming a nation state. Once you wave that Euro flag and call yourself European, you’re practicing nationalism and you’re in a nation state.

    Now, back to self-determination: it is a collective right and not an individual right. That means that if the majority of Irish people vote to become a British colony, transfer sovereignty to the emergent nation state of Europe, or vote to become America’s newest state, then that’s game over. There are those, such as Malcolm, who believe that a nation state is a country that is homogenised, having one language, one race, one religion, etc, so by that definition, then the Irish government allowing record immigration over the last decade has already rendered its nation state status null and void. In which case, what is all the fuss and fretting about?

  • willowfield

    You miss the point, Willow. The legitimacy of the state comes from the nation (i.e. its people).

    Yes: the legitimacy comes from its people. Whether or not that people regards itself, or is regarded, as a “nation” is not relevant in any legal sense.

    Do you notice that the right to self-determination is granted to the plural peoples and not people?

    All peoples have the right to self-determination, so of course it is plural! It would not make sense to say that only one people had the right to self-determination.

    Now, back to self-determination: it is a collective right and not an individual right.

    Of course: how could it be other when it is invested in peoples?

    That means that if the majority of Irish people vote to become a British colony, transfer sovereignty to the emergent nation state of Europe, or vote to become America’s newest state, then that’s game over.

    What “game” would be over?

  • Paddy

    So the northernmost part of the island is in the South? I know unionists are sketchy on Geography but this takes imbecility to a whole new level.

  • Dave @ 11:57 AM:

    There are those, such as Malcolm, who believe that a nation state is a country that is homogenised, having one language, one race, one religion, etc

    Hey! I’m no longer part of this logomachia: some time back it was obvious that one either switched off and copped out, or chewed off an arm in boredom. I find myself yearning for debate on importances, or counting the angels dancing on a pin-head.

    I refuse to get excited about the need to conflate two different terms: “state” and “nation-state”. I notice, though, that Ireland/Southern Ireland/Éire/Poblacht na h-Éireann and any other permutation thereupon has always been comfortable as a Saorstát or a Stát or a Poblacht. Nobody has greatly exercised themselves to invent an honorific to translate “nation-state”.

    As for “my” (actually that of too many political thinkers to count, all more eminent than my poor self) notions of “homogeneity”, I guess that is implicit in:

    In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

    Notice there that, through centuries of interference, occupation and suppression, the idea of “nation” survived, explicitly separate from, perhaps even superior to that of “state”.

    I demur at:

    The state cannot be other than a nation state because it is created as an expedient sovereign territorial entity for the nation, i.e. for a group who regard themselves as culturally distinct from other groups.

    That seems a very dodgy definition. It might, too easily, grant a cloak of respectability to the likes of Suid-Afrika, 1948-94. Does it, writ large, explain the way many “west Britons” were semi-unofficially but effectively hounded to emigration? Does it, writ small, give scope for Archbishop McQuaid’s attitude to Trinity, Dublin?

    Nor I am happy about the interpretation of some universal and eternal happy symbiosis between the political structure and its populace. Yes, for a “nation-state” to persist, that is, in my view, a sine-qua-non. For the most painful and profound exploration of this aspect, try the troubles of the American States (definitely not “United”) from the 1840s through to Lincoln’s Presidency and the (significant word, in this context) “Reconstruction”.

    Unfortunately, most peoples around this small globe have not, and never will be asked to sanctify the relationship. Indeed, I think many — perhaps, most — political structures (our own local ones included) contain groups who actively want out, or, at the very least, to renegotiate the social contract under which they are obliged to live. For one, personal, gripe: why am I a “subject”?

    My I tentatively recommend something worth reading, easy to do so, and quite profound on the topic at hand? It is the debate between Cauchon and Warwick in GBS’s Saint Joan? Try this for a taster:

    as a priest I have gained a knowledge of the minds of the common people; and there you will find yet another most dangerous idea. I can express it only by such phrases as France for the French, England for the English, Italy for the Italians, Spain for the Spanish, and so forth. It is sometimes so narrow and bitter in country folk that it surprises me that this country girl can rise above the idea of her village for its villagers. But she can. She does. When she threatens to drive the English from the soil of France she is undoubtedly thinking of the whole extent of country in which French is spoken. To her the French-speaking people are what the Holy Scriptures describe as a nation. Call this side of her heresy Nationalism if you will: I can find you no better name for it. I can only tell you that it is essentially anti-Catholic and anti-Christian; for the Catholic Church knows only one realm, and that is the realm of Christ’s kingdom. Divide that kingdom into nations, and you dethrone Christ. Dethrone Christ, and who will stand between our throats and the sword? The world will perish in a welter of war.

    That, of course, makes even more sense in the context of the play’s first staging, in 1924. In passing, how far is Cauchon from many Islamicists?

    I am hoping that we can now dethrone the Imperium, or all our petty facsimiles thereof. These “nation-states”, as Dave would define them, with the failure of religion, became the main substitute idols. What would be appalling, though, is the erection of Mammon as the single deity to replace Caesarianism:

    Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell
    From heav’n, for ev’n in heav’n his looks & thoughts
    Were always downward bent, admiring more
    The riches of Heav’ns pavement, trod’n Gold,
    Then aught divine or holy else enjoy’d
    In vision beatific.

    Which is why I hope I remain an internationalist and a socialist.

  • willowfield

    So the northernmost part of the island is in the South? I know unionists are sketchy on Geography but this takes imbecility to a whole new level.

    By your own definition, the ROI government is equally imbecilic, having negotiated the Belfast Agreement.

  • Dave

    Malcolm, you’re a very eloquent and scholarly writer. If there is an online equivalent to W.C. Fields exhortation to “never work with animals or children” it is ‘Don’t debate with a respected scholar.’ In regard to being an internationalist: that isn’t a quality that is incompatible with being a nationalist. We are all internationalists. Here is where I agree with Willow (for a change):

    “All peoples have the right to self-determination, so of course it is plural! It would not make sense to say that only one people had the right to self-determination.” – Willow

    That’s important because it invalidates the premise of those who promote full European integration, which is that its nation states should be emerged into a singular entity and that the right to self-determination should only apply to people, and not peoples.

    I think you have to focus on first principles, and Article 1 is a very fine first principle for human organisation. It “not make sense to say that only one people had the right to self-determination” because that would be tantamount to nobody having that right. A world with one government would leave the people with no way to defend them from the abuse by the State. Yet that Orwellian nightmare is the logical outworking of the internationalist. If you do not believe in one nation, then you are a nationalist. Can there ever be a ‘statist’? No, because the state must promote its own interests, and part of that interest, on a very basic level, is promoting its own survival, so it must promote loyalty to itself. It must also compete with other states, so it must put its own interests before the interests of other states. It must distinguish itself from other states, so it focuses on its differences, promoting them as advantages, thereby creating its nationalism. So it must be selfish, not selfless.

    Talk by the EU of being a selfless entity is nonsense (it’s members join to serve their selfish interests and that selfishness will be manifest in imperialism if the EU gains sovereignty). Talk by the EU of being a non nation state is nonsense. They claim the nation state causes nationalism which, in turn, causes war. America is not a nation state under their definition of the nation state, yet it still generates belligerent nationalism, so, even by their own logic, its nonsense to promote the nation state as being the cause of war. They talk that way to subvert the concept of the nation state in order to promote the EU enterprise. I see it as being destructive to peoples and their cultures. I also see it as being incapable of lasting since people will reclaim their sovereignty in due course, choosing to live in accordance with their own way of life rather than allow the EU’s way to be imposed on them. Local people, local power. Who respects difference and diversity the most: those who embrace it or those who try to impose uniformity?

    “Of course: how could it be other when it is invested in peoples?” – Willow

    Well, I threw this in to remind the Shinners that they had no right to use force to assert the right to self-determination where the majority (who had the legitimate right to self-determination) exercised that right by asserting that force should not be used.

    “What “game” would be over?” – Willow

    The game of defending the nation state from those who seek to subvert it from within (and from without).

  • terrorpin

    @willowfield

    Yes: the legitimacy comes from its people. Whether or not that people regards itself, or is regarded, as a “nation” is not relevant in any legal sense.

    All peoples have the right to self-determination, so of course it is plural! It would not make sense to say that only one people had the right to self-determination.

    There is an implicit contradiction there. In reality “all peoples” is being used as a euphemism for “all nations”. “All peoples” doesn’t literally mean all possible sets of members of the human race. It doesn’t mean, for example, that Star Trek fans, or the users of this website, have a right to self determinition does it?

    So in reality, whatever words you want to use to describe it, deciding who has self determination is a matter of deciding what groups of people are or are not nations.

  • terrorpin

    So in reality, whatever words you want to use to describe it, deciding who has self determination is a matter of deciding what groups of people are or are not nations.

    and in reality that’s what the divisions in the Balkans, Sri Lanka, Basque country, and indeed on this island / these islands have all ultimately been about. Rival claims of what peoples are nations and therefore what peoples have self determination, in particular that self determination that forces an unwilling minority of them to leave in a state that they do not recognise as their own.

  • All peoples have the right to self-determination … It would not make sense to say that only one people had the right to self-determination.

    My opening thrust, back when the world and this topic still had all their hair, was that the “nation-state” could only exist when “nation” and “state” were co-terminous. That is why Iceland is so frequently trotted up for inspection.

    I’m not going to follow you through endless legalistics. Were I to do so, I’d end up in the Hegelian distinction of Gemeinwesen, der Staat and das Allgemeine: the “community” the “state” and the “whole damn thing”. Actually, as the cartoon character has it, that would have been a better place than here from which to start.

    Even so, a couple of points:

    First: the modern “state” is commonly one of internal conquest: the West Saxons extended their power over the rest of “Engelalond”, just in time to be supplanted by the Normans, who put it up everyone else. It was explicitly a “conquest”, which never suppressed the nationalities (is Dewi still with us?). Similarly l’Isle de France became predominant across the area of langue d’oeil, and then over the Bretons and langue d’oc. Ditto the Castilians, who still have not fully impressed themselves on the Catalans, the Basques, the Andalusians and Galicians.

    Even at home, the alienation of Cork (and most definitely Tralee) from Dublin is more pronounced [sic!] than Belfast could ever be.

    Leaving aside those Icelanders (of whom I know little), the “nation” is more complex than any legal entity. It will comprise a whole mesh of cultures, communities, attitudes, religions, ethnicities.

    Let’s exempify that.

    Bosnia was the ultimate destructive-testing of the “nation-state” thesis. With a population of Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Bogomil heretics turned from Manicheanism to Islam, (not overlooking their various Roman, Cyrillic and Arabic orthographies) what else could happen?

    In that light, consider, too, that students in Ireland are still taught different scripts for Irish and English. Now, would anyone care to deliberate on the cultural sub-text there?

    Second: following from that, if “all peoples have the right to self-determination”, does that extend to the right of secession, of nationality-by-choice? If so, the 1918 Election happily justifies the First Dáil ratifying its Independence. Does it not, equally, — quibbles of the Boundary Commission apart — justify the Stormont Parliament? Does it validate the secession of slave-holding States from a Union apparently set on emancipation? [Yes, I know: but nobody, either side, had any intention of asking the slaves.] What view should we take of the fragmentation of the former USSR, the Balkans, the integrity of all those African entities the 1885 Berlin Conference so neatly delineated?

    The essential fallacy on which the “nation-state” argument falls is one of consensual property-rights. Who “owns” Ireland? [OK: that’s a hostage to fortune. Some smartarse is going to mention how Castlebar dclared secession from Lord Lucan.] Does the “nation-state” own its territory in the same way I “own” my little bit of clay and all that stands on it?

    Consider the “ownership” principle further, in the context of “nationality”. Does a child born in a “nation-state” thereby own a “nationality”? That is what British, Irish and American law has maintained. Not so in France: there the child is only a citizen if born to a citizen. In other words, “citizenship by consent”, not “citizenship by right”.

    Sorry: this is not a topic which slots neatly into Slugger’s little dialogue box. I’m sure it’s easier in Icelandic.

  • willowfield

    TERRORPIN

    There is an implicit contradiction there.

    There is no contradiction, implicit or otherwise.

    In reality “all peoples” is being used as a euphemism for “all nations”.

    If you consider “people” and “nation” to be synonyms, yes.

    “All peoples” doesn’t literally mean all possible sets of members of the human race. It doesn’t mean, for example, that Star Trek fans, or the users of this website, have a right to self determinition does it?

    I think it must mean “people” in the sense of some kind of coherent group who consciously consider themselves to form some kind of collective unit. Many – indeed, most – such peoples, of course, will consider themselves to be “nations”, but it is noteworthy that the declaration chooses not to use the word “nation”.

    So in reality, whatever words you want to use to describe it, deciding who has self determination is a matter of deciding what groups of people are or are not nations.

    In your view it is. But I note that the word “nation” was not chosen. And I would also point out that it is not clear who decides what a “people” is. The implication in your contribution above is that there is some kind of arbitrating authority: it would be my view that the only authority capable of “deciding” what a “people” is is the people itself.

    Rival claims of what peoples are nations and therefore what peoples have self determination, in particular that self determination that forces an unwilling minority of them to leave [sic] in a state that they do not recognise as their own.

    All self-determination – except in rare situations of 100% demographic homogeneity – “force” unwilling minorities to live in a state they do not recognise as their own. That is the case regardless of whether the people exercising self-determination regards itself as a “nation”.