Do Bill of Rights proposals provide any route out of sectarian designations..?

TURGON’S post on the SDLP reminded me of the controversy stoked by Mark Durkan in September when he suggested that a strong Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland could mark the beginning of the end for the Assembly’s sectarian designation system. Now that we’ve seen the Human Rights Commission’s recommendations, does anyone who agrees with Durkan’s argument – that the “ugly scaffolding” of communal designation should come down in the future – see the report as one that could create a context for that to happen? Alliance, which has been most vocal in its opposition to designations, certainly doesn’t. Alliance believes these

[P]roposals further entrench the fallacy that everyone here must be pigeon-holed into two communities. These proposals would further entrench the flawed institutional structures of government, at a time when there is a groundswell of support for significant changes.

That’s slightly ironic, given that the Human Rights Commissioner who signed off the report, Monica McWilliams, was the leader of the Women’s Coalition, another party that refused to designate as ‘nationalist’ or ‘unionist’ (while it existed).

The SDLP itself has said virtually nothing (although Damian O’Loan was pessimistic ahead of the report); surely some in the party must be disappointed that the proposals failed to properly deal with their party leader’s important point? Or did Sinn Fein’s criticism of Durkan’s remarks lead to the issue being quietly brushed under the carpet?

  • KieranJ

    Let’s be honest for a change. Forget the politicians.

    The only thing that will sort out the mess that is northern Ireland is another war in that territory.

    All of the phony, fake and fraud postings to the contrary, that is the naked truth.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Fine, but let’s make it a proper war this time, and sort it out once and for all, eh? I expect you’ll be leading from the front.

    In the meantime, if anyone wants to contribute to the actual topic, please do so below.

  • Alan

    “another war”

    Well, precisely how many pitiful deaths would you find acceptable until we could all agreed that we had arrived at the same exhausted stalemate.

    On topic.

    As far as I am concerned the remedy already exists, without the NIHRC advice. It would require an MLA not to designate and to take it to court.

  • Turgon

    Unfortunately KieranJ claims to have been in the US military. This is frightening (if it is true) as most soldiers of my acquaintance do not really like the idea of killing people. Maybe the US army trains its soldiers “better.”

    Of course if we for just a second take his remarks at face value and leave aside the immorality in them we will see that they are absolute nonsense as well as immoral.

    Huge numbers of people died in the 17th century here and that self evidently failed to solve the problem. The 1641 rising, the aftermath with the Scots army being here, the wars during the Protectorate, the 1688-90 wars. All that and the conflict was unresolved.

    There is a way by which KieranJ could be right and that would be if a war ethnically cleansed (all right actually just murdered) the whole of one community: that would probably work. It would need to kill the whole community mind because if one looks at Rwanda if some get away they may still cause trouble.

    The other problem for poor KieranJ is that any war here would not be like his US wars: no overwhelming power on his side, no helicopter evacuation if he is injured. Now KieranJ if you really want to free an oppressed people why not take up arms and free the people of Zimbabwe or maybe North Korea?

    Sorry Belfast Gonzo: maybe we can now get back to the topic.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You’re all rising to his trolling and giving him exactly what he wants.

  • consul

    The wrong ideas and people have traditionally been promoted. The ones who didn’t or wouldn’t take any crap from the other side would always be painted as the heroes of their community. The ones who seemed willing even for a fleeting moment to take on board the viewpoints or concerns of the others would be dismissed as pushovers or even as agents for the opposing cause. Perhaps before this atmosphere was unavoidable but as time goes on maybe people will find the space to relax a little bit and start promoting those directly from the middle while marginalising the extremes. The task falls on the media of course, TV, radio and print. If the message is relayed consistantly for long enough attitudes won’t change overnight but over a longer period the old ways would be rejected.

  • Dave

    A common practice called ‘clientism’ in other countries translates as ‘sectarianism’ in NI, i.e. elected representatives promoting discretionary government investment in their constituency as opposed the constituencies of other elected representatives. In a nation-state, that is normal practice because the nation cannot discriminate against itself by favouring one constituency over another. In an abnormal two-nation state like NI, a different constituency can translate as a different nation and, ergo, as the practice of ‘sectarianism’ (i.e. promoting the interests of one nation over the interests of the other, where both nations are comprised of predominantly different religions). You can’t change that even if you had a Bill of Rights with just one additional supplementary right (to the existing UK set) that set a pro rata restriction on the distribution of ‘state candy.’ After all, the only thing that pigs really care about is how evenly the swill is distributed in the trough.

  • Alternativevoice.

    The Bill of rights offers nothing for unionists and is in favour of Radical Islam.

    The Hijab should be banned in Ireland, from the workplace at least as its a religous symbol ios offensive to woman and is associated with Islamic extremism and terrorism.