All For Naught

In the second article from Newshound today, Stephen King looks dismally upon SF’s electoral prospects down south in his review of Martyn Frampton’s book, The Long March. Sacrificing the political legitimacy of the hunger strikers for an apology in Stormont may be all for naught as SF’s gains down south continue to evaporate. Given the problems SF faces, King observes: “The question for delegates this weekend [at SF’s Ard Fheis], though, is: why should the leadership’s latest strategy be any less delusional than all the previous ones? Bombing the hell out of the northern bit of Ireland didn’t work: it brought the Brits in, not out.” As did the strategy of joining them in Stormont, eh? Quite. P.S. How will Mary Lou sell herself as the previously-Anti-Lisbon-candidate-now-politically-expediently-in-these-economic-times-Pro-Lisbon-candidate without it seeming as yet another u-turn by SF and still manage to retain her seat? Perhaps by rolling out the old TINA mantra? Lisbon: There Is No Alternative. Hey, it worked up here, didn’t it? Didn’t it?

  • veritas

    £50 for a book….

    we`re not Americans!

  • fair_deal

    “How will Mary Lou sell herself as the previously-Anti-Lisbon-candidate-now-politically-expediently-in-these-economic-times-Pro-Lisbon-candidate without it seeming as yet another u-turn by SF”

    Is such a flip proposed? King doesn’t argue they’ll be a flip rather that it is one of the few things she has in her bag that could help her (but less than prior to the crash)

    “She will have to milk her status as the strongest anti-Lisbon candidate for all it’s worth — at a time when being anti-Lisbon isn’t as fashionable as it was a few months back.”

  • Bombing the hell out of the northern bit of Ireland didn’t work: it brought the Brits in, not out.

    I think Steven will find that the bombing and shooting which brought the Brits in in 1969 was carried out by unionist paramilitaries and the RUC B Specials.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Apart from getting into government, repeal of the Govt of Ireland Act, getting all their prisones out, abolition of the RUC and UDR, mandatory coalition, removal of British symbols, compulsory all ireland ministerial council, defeat of British attempts to cirminalise them etc what did Republican violence ever achieve?

    re. the South – ministerial office will depend on vagaries of coalition(s) – Greens have far less vote and are in government.

  • Brian Walker

    Who knows what will happen in southern politics, with the(temporary?) imploding of Fianna Fail’s position? When the voters have caught their breath, I’d be surprised if Sinn Fein didn’t pick some of them up.. Consistency will hardly be at a premium.

  • Eh, Sammy. What from that list wasn’t available decades before the Provo ceasefire? As for getting into government – votes, not violence, as the fate of the UDP and PUP showed.

    I wouldn’t bank on this being a significant shift in Irish politics in the slightest. Let’s not forget how well FF did only 18 months or so ago. Brian, you’re probably right that PSF will pick up some of these voters – though from the rural FF voters if the current distribution of their seats and most likely success (Donegal) is anything to go by.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Garibaldy,

    You might have noticed ( hunger strikes were a clue here) that the British were trying to criminalise Republicans for “decades” . There was no indication for “decades” by the British that they would abolish both wings of their local militia (RUC, UDR)and let all the prisoners out nor were they indicating for “decades” that they would replace the Govnernment of Ireland Act with a new consitituional basis (the GFA)for Norn Ireland which removes the British right to determine the consitituional status of Norn Iron.

  • percy

    Sammy,
    Its also significant that your list above came about through the cessation of violence.
    Not sure where you are on your start-stop timeline?

  • ulsterfan

    Are they really serious about having a Conference?
    What will Gerry say about P&J;, when this time last year he said it would take place by May 2008.
    Perhaps he did not run this past Peter.
    Have we still got a date?
    I think he will postpone the Ard Feis to save his embarrassment.

  • Actually Sammy the Government of Ireland Act was superseded by the Ireland Act of 1949, which promised that NI would remain within the UK as long as its Parliament desired it. This was in response to the Free State changing its name.
    The RUC had already been disarmed, before being re-armed, so there was no reason to think that serious reform would not be part of any deal. And just as the B Specials had gone, the UDR was always likely to go too. As for the criminalisation thing, that was a response to the various terrorist groups on both sides refusing chances offered to engage in politics in the mid-70s.

  • fin

    haha, there you go Sammy, people forget what a beacon to civil and human rights and democracy NI was to the people of the world, meanwhile back in the real world the Ireland Act of 1949 copperfastened English rule in Ireland, wikipedia puts it nicely

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament_of_Northern_Ireland

    unionism did not not give an inch until the government was bombed to the negotiating table, everything today was achieved through the barrel of a gun, not something unionism likes to be told, but still the facts are the facts

  • dunreavynomore

    fin
    ‘everything today was achieved through the barrel of a gun’.
    Just what was achieved in republican terms? We demanded a timetable for British withdrawal and our glorious leaders settle for a revamped British administration in Stormont.
    Our glorious leaders brought us to vote for the GFA which copper fastens partition as long as the majority in the 6 cos wants it (no nonsense, please,about 50% plus 1)so that for the first time ever republicans accept British rule as legitimate in a part of Ireland.
    Our administration is dependent on the goodwill of Britain for its upkeep and its spending money which is a strange position for an Irish republican to be in.

    The only achievement of the erstwhile republican movement was to obtain permission to play their role as good ‘u.k.’ citizens, and they’re not even very good at that. Was it for this that men died?

  • Fin,

    If you are going to interject, at least try to understand what I’ve said. Sammy said the Government of Ireland Act was replaced by the GFA, when in fact it had already been superseded. Your point about it copperfastening partition was exactly the one I made. And lo and behold the condition it laid down – no unification without the consent of the people of NI – is still in place today, and lies at the heart of the GFA.

    Here are some questions for you – how was one man, one vote acheived? How was the housing executive achieved? How was an end to gerrymandering achieved? How was the RUC disarmed and the B Specials disbanded? When were the first discussions about powersharing inaugurated?

    And when you talk about people being forced you the table, you speak of unionism and the British government as the same. Are the two identical in your eyes? Sunningdale might suggest differently.

    To put what I’m saying another way, you don’t know your arse from your elbow.

  • fin

    dunreavynomore, there is a unhealty obsession with timetables and deadlines, firstly its silly to use the term ‘revamped’ regarding Stormont, it bares no resemblance (thankfully) to the parliment of old, republicans, as you know play the long game, for the first time ever, republicans/nationalists are recognised in the statelet and that recognition is the route to independance.
    I grew up in a border town with a lot of ‘we’ but in the end it was a small number of people who were at the cutting edge. I, like many others can see where the GFA is lacking, what I like is that it calls the ‘we’ bluff, the GFA created an environment for everyone to play their part in bringing about Irish unity.
    I suppose the choice is their’s but a lot of people didn’t do anything before the ceasefire and a lot of people didn’t do anything since, the world is turning we can’t stand still waiting for the people standing on the sidelines.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Gribaldy,

    “Sammy said the Government of Ireland Act was replaced by the GFA”

    That is a fact.

    The constitutional significance of the GFA was that Irish consent (North and South) is now required for change to the constitutional position of Norn Iron in practical terms this will rule out any fresh UU/Tory fantasies about integration – the Irish people will only be voting for one type of integration.

  • joeCanuck

    I believe there will be unification on our island eventually.
    But I don’t believe that it will be SF who will bring it about. They are destined to remain forever a fringe party in the South, probably never gaining more than 10% of the vote. Their only hope of government might be as a small partner in a coalition Administration.
    Still, I guess we’ll have to keep an eye on Africa to see if some leopards change their spots.

  • The Government of Ireland Act had already been replaced by the Ireland Act of 1949. The GFA made precisely no difference to the constitutional position. None. As for integration. Westminster can dissolve Stormont any time it wants, as has already been amply demonstrated. The GFA hasn’t changed that either. Westminster remains sovereign, and all the GFA meant was a new act of that Parliament.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Garibaldy,

    see below for details of Government of Ireland Act/GFA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland_Act_1998

    The siginificance of the GFA – which is now the constitution of Norn Iron – is that the soverignity of Norn Iron is no longer a matter for Britian but is now a matter for Irish people North and South to “exercise their right to self determination” – “without external impediment”.(GFA).

  • That is no different from the Ireland Act in meaning. No unification without consent.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Garibaldy,

    Crucial differnece – the constitution of Norn Iron is not covered by British law but by Irish/British law.

    So thanks to the GFA, misguided Unionist Tories (Posh Boy David Cameron for example) now have to seek the consent of Ireland if they wish to alter the constitutional position of Norn Iron e.g. full political integration with Britain – which is what all sensible secular Unionists would really want if given the choice.

  • The Brits can ask out of politeness. Or not. It’s up to them. You seem to be mistaking the presence of the local assembly for a change in the constitutional position of NI within the UK. It isn’t. Unless you think that the suspension or dissolution of the ASsembly would require an act by the Dáil as well as Westminster?

    I don’t know what is more desperate than clutching at straws, but this is it. And again, how did the violence rather than votes achieve all this?

  • Dave

    “The siginificance of the GFA – which is now the constitution of Norn Iron – is that the soverignity of Norn Iron is no longer a matter for Britian but is now a matter for Irish people North and South to “exercise their right to self determination” – “without external impediment”.(GFA).” – Sammy

    Article 1 of the British-Irish Agreement states that the two governments:

    (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;

    It is cleverly designed to generate the obfuscation that you are expressing. For example, the “island of Ireland” consists of two states, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, each with its own claim to self-determination. It does state, as you seem to think, that it means that there is no one state or one nation with one claim to self-determination. It declares the exact opposite to be the case. Notice too how it obfuscates with language such as “the two parts” to suggest unified whole rather than use the terms ‘Northern Ireland’ and ‘Republic of Ireland’ which declare separate states? And who is the “external impediment” who must not come between this matrimony? It is a completely fictitious actor if it does not refer to the British government who are the external impedient to national self -determination. Notice the nod to republican muppetry of “North and South” rather than ‘Northern Ireland’ and ‘Republic of Ireland’?

    So there are two separate acts of self-determination by two separate states which you have confused with one act of national self -determination. That, of course, is the same formal arrangement that would exist between any two states that might agree to merge, e.g. if Portugal wanted to unite with Spain, then that would be subject to a similar clause as would apply to all sovereign states where there are two nations and two claims to self-determination.

    This is a complete rejection of Article 1 of the Irish Constitution, which states: “The Irish Nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural in accordance with its own genius and traditions.”

    Anyway, the ‘Principle of Consent’ was part of the constitutional framework of Northern Ireland since partition, when self-determination was granted to its people. They always had the right to unite with the South if they wanted to and if the South wanted them. That was restated in the Ireland Act 1949 and in the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.

    There is nothing new about the Irish government’s formal acceptance of the PoC in the GFA, since they accepted it in the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1986. The Shinners, of course, squealed “sell-out” when the PoC was accepted then – but they stopped squealing that when they ‘sold-out’ 12-years later.

    As Margaret Thatcher, who negotiated that agreement said, “the minority should be led to support or at least acquiesce in the constitutional framework of the state in which they live.” They have now been “led” to do that.

    You got nothing by your methods, kid.

  • Dave

    Typo: “It [b]doesn’t[/b] state, as you seem to think, that it means that there is no one state or one nation with one claim to self-determination.”

  • Dave

    And one other point: Garibaldy is correct. Sovereignty resides with the UK so its parliment can repeal the Northern Ireland Act 1998 anytime it wants. In regard to the treaty between the British and Irish government: that isn’t worth the paper it is written on since it is not enforceable and amounts to no more than a formal understanding under international law.

    Not that any of that really matters since the British government have been consistent since partition in insisting that Northern Ireland is part of its sovereign territory unless it decides to change that status on the advice of its people. Unless you strike oil over there, I can’t see any reason for that to change.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    With regards to 9/11, my thoughts are that global terrorism actually defeated our local band of merry green men. Post 9/11, the days of the Ra blowing up towns and cities across the UK were long gone. Consequently, it was stormont or bust.

    The Ra did manage some ethnic cleansing in the boarder counties but politically they made their opponents stronger that actaully make any gains themselves. SF only gained popularity post murdering people. That said, as individuals, many of their members have accumulated vast sums of money over the past 3o years so I guess there are a few winners.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Davy, Gary,

    I take it we can all agree that the constitutional position of Norn Iron is as set out in GFA and the supporting legislation?

    Before that Britain could at will introduce various legal/palrliamentary bills to alter that postion as she saw fit without reference to the plain people of Ireland North and South. Now Britian has agreed that it for us, the Irish people to determine our own constitutional future, albeit exercised seperately North and South and the principle of consent now works both ways – as opposed to one pre-GFA.

    As to the argurement regarding what PIRA violence achieved – it is clear that there was considerable stubborness by the Provos and British and reluctance to reach a compromise (the GFA) as both seemed determined to explore other avenues first which were not in the best interests of the people of Ulster.

  • We can agree the first part, but not the second, as the 1949 Ireland Act already made clear any change would happen only with consultation of the people in the north. And de facto, that would involve consultation with people in the south as it would be them they would be voting to join.

  • fin

    Garialdy,
    “no unification without the consent of the people of NI – is still in place today, and lies at the heart of the GFA”
    Not true the 1949 Act was no change without the consent of the NI Parliment, which was a one party government, more or less closed to nationalists. The GFA replaced it with change to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland could only follow a majority vote of its citizens.

    “When were the first discussions about powersharing inaugurated?”
    More importantly when was powersharing introduced?

  • 1974. For hardline unionists to reject it, along with a lot of others, including many non-unionists. Which was a major mistake by all those who rejected it, with hardline unionists bearing overwhleming responsibility. They had however agreed to it by the late 1980s.

  • dunreavynomore

    fin
    ‘a majority vote of its citizens’ still means the unionists. the idea that the people of ireland as a whole will decide their future is still not allowed for with the result that the unionist population of the 6 co’s still have their veto. the people of the 26 co’s also have a veto but ‘we’ the republicans in the 6 co’s have no veto. this is the ‘achievement’ of those who used to be ‘the republican movement’.
    incidentally, i also grew up and still live in a border town as did my children and my grandchildren and during that time 6 co’s republicans used the term ‘we’ to mean republicans and their stated goal was a british ‘declaration of intent to withdraw’, you seem to believe it was a struggle or war for britain to ‘recognise’ republicans and nationalists, whatever that might mean.talk about revisionism!

  • Dave

    Sammy, I’m from the Republic of Ireland, so I never had an opportunity to endorse the GFA in a poll. Contrary to propaganda, we voted on the 19th amendment to the Bunreacht na hÉireann under the British-Irish Agreement and did not vote to we accept or reject the GFA/Belfast Agreement as you voted in Northern Ireland.

    Therefore, we voted on two separate issues in two separate states in two separate acts of self-determination. The trickery was that both polls were held on the same day to create the misleading impression that there was one act of national self-determination. There wasn’t.

    In addition, assuming we were to vote on the same issue and that a majority in the Republic of Ireland rejected it and a majority in Northern Ireland accepted it, what then? It would have been rejected by the majority of Irish people who voted on it but it would still be accepted because it would have been endorsed by the majority in Northern Ireland. How could a minority outweigh the majority if it was one act of national self-determination? It couldn’t. A minority of Irish/British people would hold a veto over the majority, so it is abject nonsense to present what occurred then or what may occur at some future point as an act of national self-determination.

    You were led by your own leaders to endorse the legitimacy of British sovereignty and to renounce your own right to self-determination as a member of the Irish nation, downgrading it to the status of a cultural aspiration. It’s about time you faced up to that and stopped trying to deceive yourself (or others).

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dave,

    “You were led by your own leaders to endorse the legitimacy of British sovereignty and to renounce your own right to self-determination as a member of the Irish nation, downgrading it to the status of a cultural aspiration. It’s about time you faced up to that and stopped trying to deceive yourself (or others). ”

    My point is this – the GFA has become the constitution of Norn Iron and the seperately expressed right of the Irish people to self-determination means that Britain has ceded their right to amendment of that constitutional status without Irish consent. This is important for 2 reasons – firstly it establishes the rights of the Irish people and secondly it prevents Britain from introducing legislation which would prevent the unification of the country.

    I have never suggested that this seperately expressed right of the Irish people to self-determination is a full or proper expression of self-determination but it is not a lot better than the uselss aspiration which was contained in the Irish constitution for which it was swapped.

    Post PGA I think a good comparison with Norn Iron would be Hong Kong pre 1997 or in property terms Britain now recognises that Ireland owns the Freehold for Ulster and the Irish people have agreed that the sitting tenants can retain their rights for the rest of their natural.

  • Dan Breen’s Revolver

    It’s a good thing that PIRA got their prisoners out and their struggle recognized as political before 9/11 changed everything.