Maurice Hayes at John Hewitt summer school

The BBC’s Arts Extra was from the John Hewitt summer school on Monday. I was driving past the Armagh exit on the M1 at the time and was sorely tempted to turn south. Elenwe would have gone mad, however; ah the problems of being married. Since I did not go to it I cannot comment much on the events. The Irish Times has an article about Maurice Hayes’ lecture on the peace process; entitled “A Game of Two Halves.”Dr. Hayes said (very validly in my view), “one thing that should not be allowed is the glorification in song or story of what was mean and nasty and dirty”. There is always a danger that with the march of time past violence can seem exciting and interesting rather than horrible and brutal. I have mentioned such things previously and indeed as an example Séan South is now seen in some quarters as a romantic hero instead of a foolish young men who attempted to murder people and only managed in the process to die along with a friend in a lonely shack on the mountain road between Fivemiletown and Rosslea..

Another part of his argument which I fundamentally disagree with is the suggestion: “…there is always the risk of the re-emergence of a cyclical pattern as a generation of young people who have not experienced the actuality, the horror and the cost of violence, react against the ineffectiveness of politics and politicians, their predecessors having been persuaded to turn away from violence on the promise that politics could deliver,”

This argument is quite a common one and I have discussed previously. If correct it condemns us to proceed “forwards” forever but since the two communities have fundamentally different envisaged destinations our political Flying Dutchman’s movement is likely to be random (even Brownian) and the need for movement could itself pull the whole ship apart, a bit like the MV Derbyshire.

Looking at idea of a return to violence itself, I find it a disturbing analysis. Who would do the returning to violence? Not the dissident republicans or rejectionist loyalists: they have not stopped so there is no returning to violence for them. They reject the whole process so its movement or lack thereof is irrelevant to them.

Alternatively one might argue that the implicit suggestion is that if they were annoyed enough the mainstream republican movement might recommence violence. If that is the case then everyone else should and possibly would leave the executive. If IRA violence “hasn’t gone away you know” and if Gildernew’s comments from the past about a future generation of republicans returning to violence are correct then we do not have peace, we have appeasement. In such a scenario democrats should run a mile from republicans.

The above of course is in part a TUV position and is the idea I have floated frequently on slugger. I strongly suspect that this is not what Dr. Hayes is suggesting. Instead I suspect he means something in the middle with the possibility that if politics is not working to deliver their agenda future republicans might gradually drift into supporting potentially violent positions and eventually a spark would re-ignite violence or it would simply ramp up. This would chime with his concerns regarding the glorification of violence. Again I find this a most disturbing analysis. Even if SF were not organising it: is Dr. Hayes really suggesting that if republicans do not get their shopping list delivered they may lose control of their more violently minded members / supporters? If republicans now get enough to placate them why would future republicans not demand more and again the implicit (if far off) threat of a return to violence would justify them getting what the want. The cycle could and logically would continue. As such Dr. Hayes’ suggestion of the danger of a cyclical return to violence is practically a certainty unless we give in to republican demands.

Again in all this the problem is the “peace process.” Rather than a single dichotomous position peace vs violence we have a process where it seems peace is never quite achieved but instead we have an “unpeace”. One day someone needs to say that republicans will not get anything more unless they can get it through wholly democratic means and that the British and Irish governments need to say that they do not care at all if a given thing (like P&J devolution) does not happen. The problem of course is the fear of unravelling the process. Clearly I am biased but to me this shows that this is a house built on sand and “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:27). I hope (but doubt) that Peter Robinson was able to delve foundations based on rock at St. Andrews.

  • Garibaldy

    As I read the article Turgon he was specifically talking about future generations who grow up not knowing what the violence was like, and so ready to use it without understanding the consequences.

  • Dec

    There are eleven ‘if’s’ in that piece, Turgon. Says it all really.

  • I don’t think you get it Turgon. This is not about a ‘republican’ shopping list. This is about sharing power. The DUP may think they’re the lords of the manor – but nationalists/republicans will not be lorded over anymore. That day is gone. Equality of treatment and mutual respect are required from the DUP – not this immature boasting about how they stymied the enactment of the likes of the Irish Language Act. They need to realise that their Talibanesque anti culture anti individual freedom attitude to government is out of place in the modern world and particularly, as the British Conservative Party pointed out to them recently, in modern Britain.

  • Rabelais

    ‘Rather than a single dichotomous position peace vs violence we have a process where it seems peace is never quite achieved but instead we have an “unpeace”.’

    Isn’t politics always the management of ‘unpeace’, the management of conflict. Peace suggests the absence of all social antagonism, a condition it is difficult to imagine us ever achieving. Perhaps the reason why sections of unionism and some republicans are so unhappy with the present political arrangements is because their political opponents are not rendered benign under them. For instance there is a kind of utopianism about rejectionist unionism, in that it wishes a world where republican ambitions are made absent. That would indeed be peaceful but it’s never going to happen. So to expect the current process to deliver ‘peace’ is to have inflated political expectations. ‘Unpeace’ is probably as good as it gets for all of us.

  • kensei

    Turgon

    Even if SF were not organising it: is Dr. Hayes really suggesting that if republicans do not get their shopping list delivered they may lose control of their more violently minded members / supporters?

    What exactly are they going to do to “control” them? I know it might not occur to you, but they aren’t animals.

    It is utterly and completely simplistic to talk in terms of a “shopping list”. People aren’t going to return to violence because they haven’t got an ILA. But paralysis in political institutions, mishandled government or policing and siren voices can lead to a vacuum and a drift. Given the right context, the social norms and inhibitions towards violence can break down. The most likely scenario is that there is a drift towards the dissidents, followed by something that causes escalation. I’d be surprised if it happened, more so if it reached anything like the depth of the past Troubles, because hopefully we’ve all learned a bit on how not to fuck up and why violence is counterproductive over the period. There is almost 0 chance of it coming from SF.

    I am heartily sick of you fantastising on Republicans return to violence: even more so on using your wish to justify a “Never never never” stance. In life you get no 100% guarantees. Sorry, you are just going to have to deal with it.

  • Does anyone have a link to the text of the lecture?

  • “If IRA violence “hasn’t gone away you know” and if Gildernew’s comments from the past about a future generation of republicans returning to violence are correct then we do not have peace, we have appeasement. In such a scenario democrats should run a mile from republicans.”

    If if if if if if….. not a great foundation to build anything on Turgon…..

  • Greenflag

    Turgon,

    ‘Clearly I am biased but to me this shows that this is a house built on sand’

    Then I am too 🙂 Biased I mean . I ‘ve been saying for years that NI State is a house built on sand . As the Stae itself is built on sand then it is at least consistent , logical and follows that it’s Assembly would also be built on sand .

    Kensei,

    ‘ In life you get no 100% guarantees.’

    In ‘normal’politics even less . In NI politics much less again . Somehow I can’t see the D’Hondt electoral results giving NI a succession of frequent government change as per Italian frequency levels .

    Rabelais ,

    ‘Unpeace’ is probably as good as it gets for all of us.’

    Indeed that’s it in a nutshell . I’ve no idea why Turgon seems to believe that the TUV can somehow change the status quo? Having gone down a 40 year long political cul de sac from UUP One Party rule 1960’s to Brian Faulkners brief ‘rational’ emergence, only to re-enter the political cul de sac a la Lord Molyneux’s almost two decades of ostrichism , to the recent 10 years of DUP /UUP competition for winner of the NI Most Unionist of Unionists Annual Contest ? And now he sees the TUV as ‘having ‘ the answer ?

    I’ve never doubted Turgon’s powers of imagination but on this one he has exceeded all known norms 🙂

  • Alan

    I’m afraid many unionist’s believe that some where down the line, the provisional movement will return to violence when the carve up of power at Stormont fails to produce the desired result.

    No one (myself included) believes that they have completely disarmed.

    I had to laugh when I read Alex’s Maskey’s comments that the police should go and get the loyalist’s gun’s. Is he calling for them to go and get the republicans’s weapons? If he did I must have missed it!

    Let me add that I believe that no one has the right to hold on to illegal weapon’s and the police should take ALL of them including the provo’s off the street’s before they are used again!

  • Rabelais

    Alan,
    You wrote:
    ‘I’m afraid many unionist’s believe that some where down the line, the provisional movement will return to violence when the carve up of power at Stormont fails to produce the desired result.’

    The republican movement will always have the potential to return to violence. Whether that would be the political astute thing for them to do I doubt it but the potential remains all the same. On the other hand unionists have the potential to tip Northern Ireland into the abyss each summer during the marching season. What stops them?

    There are few political movements that don’t have the potential for violence. Most countries and many political settlements are born in violence. Northern Ireland’s political accord is not unique in the violence and terror that preceded it.

    Violence is inherent in political systems, you just hope that you live in one where it is latent as it is here at the moment. That is as good as it gets. By simply bycotting the political process you are in all likelihood increasing the chances of a return to ‘hot’ conflict. Then again if a group’s political values and ambitions are too obdurate and puritanical then the mainstream political process might be better off without its involvement. I remember George Mitchell making the point that the Agreement was only possible because the DUP left, freeing the hand of the UUP.

  • The TUV may as well be renamed the JUV – the Jurassic Unionist Voice – for all its relevance in modern Ireland and Britain. I don’t see even the BNP making a pact with these loolahs

  • Turgon

    Concubhar O Liathain,
    That is just silly you could have insulted us much more easily and kept the T by calling us the Triassic Unionist Voice.

  • You’re right Turgon. I was giving the TUV too much credit – the Jurassic period is further along the evolutionary chain than the TUV.

    But then again I’m glad that at least one TUV member acknowledges that there was a Triassic period in earth’s formation and that it all didn’t appear in a puff of smoke during a week when God had nothing better to be doing.

  • Turgon

    Concubhar O Liatháin,

    “I’m glad that at least one TUV member acknowledges that there was a Triassic period in earth’s formation and that it all didn’t appear in a puff of smoke during a week when God had nothing better to be doing.”

    Ah now I am not so advanced as to admit any such thing.

    Actually my views on evolution vs. creation and God’s hand in all this have been documented at fairly tedious length usually in answer to Sam Hanna.

    In essence they can be summarised as: It does not matter at all to how we live and serve God or do anything else today. However, I have no problem agreeing that creationism is about faith whereas evolution (whatever its failings and imperfections) is scientifically based.

    Anyhow please let us not start another evolution / creationism debate. Raw sectarianism is usually more enlightening. I am happy to call you nasty names if necessary to ensure that we can have a proper sectarian argument and avoid a 2-300 post creation narrative.

  • It’s a tempting offer, especially given the many opportunities for sectarian counterattacks presented by the TUV under the leadership(?) and its apparent adherence to ancient unionist tradition.

  • Turgon

    Maybe I should deliberately do a blog called bigotry and we could suspend all normal rules of decent debate and just have everyone insult one another.

    I can remember many years ago standing orders being suspended at QUB Students’ Union (I forget why) and Peter Weir reading the paper out to waste time. Ah the days of my youth.

  • Greenflag

    Well lads here’s a Belfast man who almost seems to be hankering after the good old bad old days and does’nt mention either the TUV nor Republican dissidents . Inadvertently he may have pointed out at least one area from which a ‘renewal ‘ of more ‘unpeace’ (I like that word 🙂 might come .

    July 31 (Bloomberg) — Jim Kingham says the credit crunch is hurting his Belfast-area moving company more than the violence that ravaged Northern Ireland for 35 years.

    Kingham has fired nine of his 12 workers at A1 Shortnotice, based in Newtownards, as house prices plunge and sales dry up.

    “You can take me back to the days of the bombings,” says Kingham, who has run A1 for 40 years. “Business was better then. Five of my six lorries haven’t left the yard for months.”

    The credit-market rout is undermining the peace dividend for one of the U.K.’s poorest regions. Northern Ireland’s economy is stalling as house prices, which surged as violence came to an end, fall at the fastest rate in the U.K. and building reaches a 12-year low.

    “First-time buyers are now frozen out; the investors have packed up,” says Alastair Adair, a professor at the University of Ulster in County Antrim who helps compile the province’s main house-price index. “It’s a real problem for the economy.”

    Northern Ireland’s economy will grow 1 percent this year and next, less than half the rate in 2007, according to a forecast by Ulster Bank, a unit of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

    The province had expected an economic revival following the restoration of a power-sharing government between Catholics and Protestants last year. The accord settled a conflict that claimed 3,500 lives during a period known as the Troubles.

    Leading up to the deal, house prices rose at the fastest pace in Europe, data from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors show. They climbed 79 percent in the two years ending in the second quarter of 2007, according to Nationwide Building Society, the U.K.’s biggest customer-owned lender.

    “Properties would go on the market and the same day there was maybe 10 or 20 bids in,” says Desmond Turley, managing director of Ulster Property Sales in Belfast. “It was frenzied. Now it’s different. The level of interest just isn’t there.”

    On average, U.K. house prices fell 4 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to Nationwide. In Northern Ireland, prices plunged 19 percent.

    The credit crunch has deterred local buyers and investors from south of the border, real estate agents say.

    “The investors aren’t around any more,” says Stephen McCarron, who runs a real estate agency in Derry, in the northwest of the province.
    “During the boom nothing surprised me, and 40 percent of property deals in the city were made by southern investors.”

  • I wouldn’t want to keep you from your happy memories, Turgon, but I would like to point out that it is pitiful that you would describe as ‘sectarian’ any criticism of the TUV. I am equally as condemnatory of the Republican dissidents who don’t want to engage with modern realities. Some people, it seems, are far too quick to shout ‘sectarianism’ and it seems to me to be a way of avoiding debate. Perhaps when a commenter accuses someone else of sectarianism, as in this circumstance, he would be adjudged to fall foul of Godwin’s Law.

  • Turgon

    Concubhar O Liatháin,

    It was in jest: no offence was meant.

  • Pax. No problem. I was being a bit too blasé in my comments. Carry on the REAL debate…..

  • Rory

    ‘Dr. Hayes said (very validly in my view), “one thing that should not be allowed is the glorification in song or story of what was mean and nasty and dirty”.’

    Has it not occured to you, Turgon, that what Maurice Hayes said does not require your approval as a measure of its validity? Indeed he could have said something completely contrary which you didn’t like and yet it would remain valid. Thus if I say, “Jim Allister and all the TUV are a bunch of cretinous peckerwoods!” – it’s a perfectly valid statement whether it receives the imprimatur of Turgon or no.