“This is the weakness in the Sinn Fein position..”

As well as the suggested similarities to elsewhere, Malachi O’Doherty has some interesting thoughts about this “odd week”.

The argument against a new campaign is, roughly, this. The dissident republicans have no hope of achieving what the Provisional IRA failed to achieve in thirty years. We will understand what viable objectives the dissidents might have if we understand what is wrong with that argument. The Provisional IRA failed to achieve a united Ireland but succeeded greatly in the secondary objective of stalling all political compromise in Northern Ireland until it was ready to participate itself. No attempt at a settlement could work until they permitted it to work. Their campaign presented a veto rather than a demand.

Read the whole thing.
Another point Malachi makes

And what about those republicans who are now sceptical of power sharing but do not support the dissidents; those who have been with the peace process so far? Is there a danger that they will be disillusioned and will defect to support a growing dissident campaign? Well, they are miffed that Sinn Fein has been humiliated in its power sharing relationship with the DUP. And they surely can not be much impressed with the Sinn Fein claim to be providing a route to a united Ireland. This is the weakness in the Sinn Fein position; it actually has virtually no chance of uniting Ireland. Then again, neither have the dissidents, though they might aspire to scuppering the Sinn Fein project and see that, at least, as progress in the right direction.

As I said, there are legacy issues for Sinn Féin..

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  • “The threat has strengthened the centre.”

    The notion that the DUP and SF are in the centre is a weird one.

  • 6 County Prod

    insightful quote:

    ‘In a sense, our power sharing government now has an opposition, an armed opposition. First indications are that this has actually improved the quality of government.’

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    The Provisional IRA failed to achieve a united Ireland but succeeded greatly in the secondary objective of stalling all political compromise in Northern Ireland until it was ready to participate itself.

    or

    Unfortuntately it took the British 30 years to recognise that not only did there need to be reform of the Orange state but there also needed to be an abandonment of their policy of trying to defeat those who had opposed the Orange state and abolition of those who upheld the Orage state(RUC, UDR) before there could be peace.

    or

    there were 2 set of stubborn feckers who took far to long to make peace.

  • Mack

    I’m not an SF supporter, but I’m confused by this..

    This is the weakness in the Sinn Fein position; it actually has virtually no chance of uniting Ireland

    Is he saying, that SF can’t deliver a United Ireland? I agree, others need to drive that process.

    Or is he saying a United Ireland is unacheivable?

    If it’s the latter, I’m confused. Surely all need happen is that a referendum on that issue be won. Northern Ireland is undergoing incredibly rapid demographic change. Not only is the Ulster Catholic proportion of the population rising relative to the Ulster Protestant proportion (and the birth rates have not converged), but for the first time in perhaps centuries, the area is experiencing massive immigration. The economic collapse in Eastern Europe (which is an order of magnitude worse than in NI) will almost certainly accelerate that process. Additionally, if NI comes off less worse than RoI, expect to see some migration northward.

    Which should mean that the old certainties are gone. Is there a large bulwark, Ulster Protestant majority that will without fail vote to uphold the Union? I don’t think there is anymore.

    In future, I suspect, that if you want to maintain a constitutional position or bring about change, you’ll have to persuade a centre ground of your views.

    So how is there no chance of achieving a United Ireland democratically? And given that option, how is it even remotely moral for these other feckers to shoot people?

  • Sammy, all three are true.

  • Uriop

    So how is there no chance of achieving a United Ireland democratically? And given that option, how is it even remotely moral for these other feckers to shoot people?

    Basically because they are supremacists. They do not accept that unionists should have an equal say on the boundaries of states as nationalists, whatever way that can be worked out in practice. They are blud und boden merchants. Neither do much of Sinn Fein really, truth be told. They are supremacists fighting for inequality – a large part of the Provo campaign was always about that. They’re just a an extreme part of a bell curve running through Sinn Fein and even into non-Republican nationalists.

    They can’t accept democracy because it gives planters equal rights to natives basically. What it comes down to.

  • Dave

    “We don’t expect to see a camapign because we can see no point in it. There is no major grievance in the Catholic community to drive it.”

    I think he is right to depict the driving dynamic behind the nationalist community’s support for PIRA’s militant campaign as being essentially a demand for reform of British rule rather than being a demand for an end to British rule. As they are now considerably more satisfied with how British rule is being administered in Northern Ireland than they were before, there is now, correspondingly, considerably less support for militant opposition to British rule.

    “The argument against a new campaign is, roughly, this. The dissident republicans have no hope of achieving what the Provisional IRA failed to achieve in thirty years.”

    This is where he begins to contradict his own logic. He now switches to arguing the opposite of his previous statement by claiming that the driving dynamic is a demand for an end to British rule rather than for reform of it. In other words, he now claims that people support the ending of British rule but do not support violent means to that end. This is a very different statement than claiming that people support British rule and only truly supported reform of it, not an end to it. He needs to make up his mind about whether support for militancy is based on a desire to end British or to reform it.

    “We will understand what viable objectives the dissidents might have if we understand what is wrong with that argument. The Provisional IRA failed to achieve a united Ireland but succeeded greatly in the secondary objective of stalling all political compromise in Northern Ireland until it was ready to participate itself. No attempt at a settlement could work until they permitted it to work. Their campaign presented a veto rather than a demand.”

    Ah, so a demand for the end to a veto is the actual veto, not the veto that British nationalists – and their supporting sovereign state – hold over the Irish nation.

    So, if only PIRA’s campaign of organised violence had not arisen, then the nationalist community in Northern Ireland would have formally accepted the legitimacy of British rule and formally renounced their own right to national self-determination as members of the Irish nation much sooner than they did in the GFA. The slight flaw with this claim is that he produces no evidence whatsoever to support it. Indeed, the evidence all supports the opposite conclusion, i.e. that the leaders of the nationalist community in Northern Ireland remained vociferously opposed to the Unionist Veto before acceptance of it was made a precondition of the All-party talks process as set out in the Downing Street Declaration and an irrefutable outcome of them. That was a core demand of the British state since partition, and it was a core demand of the unionist contingent as a precondition to any talks process.

    It meant, of course, that once they had formally accepted the legitimacy of British sovereignty that they could never again declare it to be illegitimate that the British nation and the British state should hold a veto over the Irish nation or its state. So, they conceded that their own claim to national self-determination should be formally downgraded from the status of a right to the status of an aspiration that is subject to the discretion of those who are British. This isn’t, despite the euphemism, a “political compromise” but is in fact a complete surrender of their fundamental national rights. The “settlement” is the end of the territorial dispute between two sovereign states. Ulster is British and its citizens, like any other member of the EU, have the right to live, work, retire, etc, in Ireland and make it home.

  • Dave

    [b]Continued[/b]

    Now that the nationalist community in Northern Ireland have agreed that British rule is legitimate and are engaged in the process of normalising it, they must promote any lingering ‘unity’ desire they have solely on the basis of the extension of what they have already conceded in the GFA since those who are British and who enjoy the benefits of British sovereignty will not accept any diminution of their legitimised claim to British sovereignty. Culturally, the nationalist community in Northern Ireland may regard itself as Irish but it has signed up to a process that will require that it is inoculated by the State with a sense of loyalty and patriotism to Her Majesty’s sovereign territory of Northern Ireland and that is aimed at making them ‘Northern Irish.’ So, as they go down that road, unity will not be seen by them as unifying under a sovereign Irish nation-state (and this is already abandoned) but will be more carefully promoted as the extension of British sovereignty into the Republic, making them unionists on both a state and cultural level. In short, they’re Redmondites.

    “And they surely can not be much impressed with the Sinn Fein claim to be providing a route to a united Ireland. This is the weakness in the Sinn Fein position; it actually has virtually no chance of uniting Ireland.”

    The Shinners agenda is a United Kingdom. They have as much chance of uniting Ireland under British constitutional arrangements as a dehydrated midget has of extinguishing a forest fire by pissing on it.

  • picador

    Dave,

    Do you remember John Hume and his Single Transferable Speech?

  • KieranJ

    All of the above critiques on matters in the six counties at the present time failed to consider the fact that four of the six are virtually under the control of nationaists and the remaing two are very shaky at best.

    Those are the realities, like it or not.

  • Serial Plagiariser

    “Read the whole thing.”

    Nah, you’re okay thanks, I think I may have read it before many, many times.

  • The Impartial Observer

    “there were 2 set of stubborn feckers who took far to long to make peace.”

    The last 40 years boiled down into one soundbite!

  • picador

    Those are the realities, like it or not.

    You’ve started early on the green beer.

  • Dave

    Picador, actually, I’ll backpedal from that comment. It’s fairer to say that those leaders “remained vociferously opposed to the Unionist Veto” in public. That opposition was essentially posturing to their own constituency rather than rooted in any real nationalism, ideology, or principles. While in private, such as in Sunningdale, they had a different attitude. John Hume was probably the most important player in this undermining Irish nationalism and the Irish constitutional agenda, and in consolidating British nationalism and its sovereignty, but the Shinners provided the British government with the opportunity to link formal acceptance and endorsement of the legitimacy of British rule with a termination of PIRA’s murder campaign by making such acceptance a precondition to the termination (a camapign that the British state itself controlled via its intelligence agencies). The ease with which the nationalist voters’ endorsed the Unionist Veto in the GFA indicates that their earlier opposition to it was also tactical – aimed at securing concessions to improve the quality of British rule – rather than ideological. A demand for unity then was nothing more than a self-serving reserve option if their actual demands were not satisfactorily addressed.

  • Dave

    “there were 2 set of stubborn feckers who took far to long to make peace.”

    Except, of course, the ‘war’ wasn’t between the Shinners and the DUP. It’s wasn’t even between the Shinners and the British state, since it predates the Shinners. That is simply internal squabbling.

    I think, though, that the actual ‘war’ (i.e. between those who claimed they had a right to self-determination as members of the Irish nation and those who claimed they did not) is also over. When one side surrenders to the demands of the other, then that’s how it ends.

    So, now that is settled, it’s best policy to focus on internal politics and forget about any unity aspirations, since that would ultimately result in a new war between those who wish to impose British sovereignty on the Republic and undermine its independence and those who think we should build a nuclear power plant in Dundalk an ‘arrange’ an accident when the wind is blowing in a north-easterly direction (with, hopefully, just enough back draft to get rid of Dundalk too). 😉

  • Dave writes, quoting me: ‘“We don’t expect to see a camapign because we can see no point in it. There is no major grievance in the Catholic community to drive it.”

    ‘I think he is right to depict the driving dynamic behind the nationalist community’s support for PIRA’s militant campaign as being essentially a demand for reform of British rule rather than being a demand for an end to British rule. As they are now considerably more satisfied with how British rule is being administered in Northern Ireland than they were before, there is now, correspondingly, considerably less support for militant opposition to British rule.

    ‘“The argument against a new campaign is, roughly, this. The dissident republicans have no hope of achieving what the Provisional IRA failed to achieve in thirty years.”

    ‘This is where he begins to contradict his own logic. He now switches to arguing the opposite of his previous statement by claiming that the driving dynamic is a demand for an end to British rule rather than for reform of it.’

    Perhaps the line that begins: The argument against a new campaign is roughly…
    should, to be more clear, read: The Sinn Fein argument against a new campaign…

    It is Sinn Fein which says it has a viable route to a united Ireland. I do not agree that it does have such a route. I do not, however, think that their lack of such a route is a problem for most of their voters, but I think it is a problem for those in their support base who are traditional republicans.

    None of this is meant to suggest that the dissidents (who really should be called traditionalists)do have a viable route to a united Ireland, but they might have the means of protesting its need by vetoing any other settlement, the way the Provos did.

    On the question of whether a united Ireland is acheivable through demographic change, etc. Well, maybe, but I don’t think so. The hope that the Poles and Lithuanians will vote for it is a thin one.
    Many Catholics in the North will vote against it on the day, if they think it is going to be too expensive.

    There would also have to be a referendum in the south – and they might pass it on the first outing and then do a retake. They are unlikely to want it until their current economic problems are sorted, and they may never be.

    So what’s the answer? I don’t know, but we should start from a good assessment of the problem rather than a bad one.

    .

  • frustrated democrat

    Mack

    The sweeping ananlysis that – Catholic = support for a United ireland – is seriously flawed.

    If the immigrants had wanted to live in the RoI that is where they would have gone and all polls and referenda that have been carried out indicate a substanial number of indigenous Catholics do not want a United Ireland.

  • Scaramoosh

    Malachi

    You would do well to remember the words of Hanna Arendt;

    “Predictions of the future are never anything but projections of present automatic processes and procedures, that is, of occurrences that are likely to come to pass if men do not act and if nothing unexpected happens; every action, for better or worse, and every accident necessarily destroys the whole pattern in whose frame the prediction moves and where it finds its evidence.”

    Nobody predicted the journey of transition that the Shinners have undergone, and nobody predicted the transmografication of the DUP.

    The current solution does not copper-fasten the Union, it is an evolving process, but one that will take time. Many of the notion and certainties of the past have been disolved – can one honestly say, with the same resonance as one could have twenty years ago, that Ulster is British.

    It is not the Shinners that will lead us to a United Ireland, it is a/the process. Precictions are dangerous things; not least in N.Ireland.

    It is the backwoodsmen of the Real IRA who cannot see a way forward – do not fall into the same trap!

  • Mack

    Frustrated Democrat / Malachi

    The sweeping ananlysis that – Catholic = support for a United ireland…

    That’s pretty much exactly what I did not say!

    But I notice that both of you are complacently making assumptions about how other people will vote Unionist.

    Malachi said there was virtually no chance of achieving a United Ireland. I fundamentally disagree. I absolutely disagree that a United Ireland is inevitable. Arguments can, and in the future will be made. I suspect that the disidents share your flawed analysis too.

    As a nationalist however, I’m more than happy to encourage that complacency on the part of Unionists (so of course, please do believe that the non-Ulster Protestant majority in Northern Ireland will always share your identity and values and are not open to persuasion).

    Many Catholics in the North will vote against it on the day, if they think it is going to be too expensive.

    The expense would be an issue for the south, seeing as the north survives on a subsidy. Perhaps the lower taxes, higher wages, higher inward investment in RoI may swing voters. The better pensions and dole may even swing Protestants. The collapse of Sterling makes you cheaper everyday.

    Our economic problems absolutely will be sorted. We will return to growth, the north will almost certainly remain a soviet-style subvention economy and we can put forward strong economic arguments for unity in the future.

    The hope that the Poles and Lithuanians will vote for it is a thin one.

    They came to NI for work, not because they loved the place. There are huge numbers of their compatriots in the south. I suspect, they’d be happier living in a country at the heart of Europe, than in a stubbornly anti-European isolationist nation on it’s fringes.. Your assumption that they will vote Unionist, automatically is deeply flawed, but please do keeping making it to a Unionist audience.

    –>
    As to the surveys showing Catholic support for the Union. Sure, but I would regard those, given a nationalist vote currently of around 42%, as among the most persuadable of the electorate.

    Let’s face it, the Union has hardly been a glowing success for the NI economy, and whatever the current economic mess we face currently in the south, Ireland has been an order of magnitude more successful.

    NI was founded on a 70% Ulster Protestant majority. In 2008 18% of births were to mothers from outside NI. The old certainties are gone, bring on a decent debate!

  • frustrated democrat

    Mack

    You are living in the last century or even the one before, things have moved along.

    Northern Ireland will not remain an economic wilderness; many on all sides are working very hard in the background to ensure that the private sector returns to where it was in the 60’s prior to the 30 years of terrorism. With a polulation of 1.7 million (less than 3% of the UK population)it is not such a big fix in terms of money in the UK budget. It would be a lot less for example than rescuing a bank, and I suspect a lot better investment.

    It won’t be quick but then it won’t be too quick in the South either, the Celtic tiger came in with a roar and went with a whimper as its foundations crumbled – it will not return, normal growth will be more likely.

    So the choice is no longer economic – the current recession proves union with a large GB will ALWAYS be better – in somethings size does matter and the RoI will always be a poor relative in total wealth. The choice now is purely on a perceived culture and that will not put bread on many tables, people indigenous or immigrant will always vote with their pockets in the end and in that context there is no contest, regardless of whether they are unionist or nationalist in outlook.

    So we need have no concerns about the future of the North either in terms of economy or longevity, can you say the same for the South in its current state when more people became unemloyed in one month than the total unemployment the North?

  • Mack

    Frustrated Democrat –

    Come off it. My point is, you’ll have to argue your case and win – do you really disagree with that?

    By the way aren’t you a UU supporter? Your views seem very statist / socialist for a Conservative.

    e.g.

    it is not such a big fix in terms of money in the UK budget

    That’s exactly the problem!!!

    We’ll see how the economic position pans out, I’ll eat my hat if NI catches up with the south. But, you know I hope it does, I just think it’s got a better a chance of doing so outside of the UK.

    By the way, I’ve never, ever suggested a country can grow ad infitum at a much higher rate than almost all of it’s trading partners (trees don’t grow to the sky).

  • Ms S Dogood

    The Alliance Party Conference 2009 will be holding its 39th annual conference this Saturday, 21:03, from 10am in the Dunadry Hotel. As it appears likely that the dual dictatorship SF & DUP will anoint this party with the justice ministry I feel this will be a seminal moment.

  • hartshill

    Mack
    (trees don’t grow to the sky).
    Of course they do!

  • Mack

    Malachi

    we should start from a good assessment of the problem rather than a bad one.

    The assessment that a United Ireland is impossible is a bad one. Who’d have thought not that long ago we’d have a black man in the White House?

    Is féidir linn.

  • hartshill

    Just saw John O’Dowd on BBC N.I. he would not say that the ‘armed struggle’ of the provos was wrong. From the Sinn Fein point of view their opposition to violence is only tactical so why should ‘dissidents’ listen to them. David Simpson pointed out that McGuinness used to describe the 6 cos as a ‘failed state’ and is now a ‘minister of the crown.’ Simpson also pointed out that for McGuinness a United Ireland has been reduced to an ‘aspiration’.

  • frustrated democrat

    Mack

    I am a conservative by nature but realise that the cheapest solution to the £8 billion subvention is by fixing the problem.

    The problem being that successive governments used higher public service numbers as a means of creating employment during 30 years of terrorism, it was effective in what it achieved, but at a massive cost. Without government intervention we cannot fix the problem.

    It is the same as a company having an inefficient division it would either receive investment to make it efficient be closed or sold. We don’t have the last 2 options in NI, unless Russsia, China or a Middle East country puts in a bid,so the only other solution is an investment of say another billion a year for 10 years.

    Seems £10 billion to get rid of £8 billion per year is a good deal.

  • Mack

    Frustrated Democrat

    I’m not sure how it can achieve that (government spending). Because, even if they don’t spend it directly, but have a tender process for projects, or grants for businesses – how do you turn off the tap? What you end up with aren’t businesses with sustainable business models, but with businesses sustained by government aid. Just the type Maggie T. would have shut down. Perhaps providing more grants for setup costs for foreign multi-nationals could be effective, but I think that’s only a small part of any potential solution.

    I’d rather see the Irish model of low taxation. Let the business owners, who know how to create wealth keep more of their profits and encourage them to reinvest and expand. I did see something about the Tories supporting such an approach, with something akin to a special enterprise zone.

    The problem being that successive governments used higher public service numbers as a means of creating employment during 30 years of terrorism, it was effective in what it achieved, but at a massive cost

    It’s not neccessarily that terrorism destroyed the NI economy – Israel boomed under worse conditions, it was sanctions and not the ANC that brought South Africa’s economy to it’s knees. The policy of creating make-believe civil service jobs may have helped win the peace at the expense of a dynamic private sector.

    Or maybe not. The NI economy was largely manufacturing / industrial. British policy / German & Far Eastern competition led to those industries declining. In it’s place sprang up financial services in the City of London & North Sea Oil. Under recent British fiscal and monetary policies those old industrial heartlands in the UK, without the benefit of the kind of largesse NI recieves, went into severe decline. Clearly the UK economy needs to be restructured again, perhaps NI will benefit from the new policies that flow from that, but I’m sceptical.

    In control of your own destiny, free from tribal rivalry (I know a pipe dream!), you’d do much, much better..