Garret’s take on post-murders Sinn Fein

I know it’s nerdy but I had to retreat to the blog in exhaustion after Ireland’s squeaky triumph.. Not everybody reads the Life and Times survey in quite this way, but this is the clear conclusion of the statesman who developed the notion of southern partitionism in Towards a New Ireland , thanks to the damage done by the long IRA campaign . In the north, the campaign d put off unity indefinitely. He made his case after talking to to contacts “of a Unionist background” after the violent republican murders.

Given Sinn Féin’s past involvement with the IRA’s campaign of violence, I raised with my interlocutors the absence of public questioning of the consistency with that past record of Sinn Féin’s present stance in support of the Northern Ireland polity. But it rapidly became clear that public criticism of Sinn Féin along these lines was seen as unhelpful – because of the danger that it might destabilise the settlement by increasing the vulnerability of Sinn Féin to pressure from “dissidents

Of course, if you’re a determinist revolutionary, the results below the fold might make you all the more determined..
FitzGerald quotes

Another key aspect of Northern Ireland that is widely ignored – most determinedly, of course, by Sinn Féin – is the fact that polls there have consistently shown support for Northern Ireland remaining within the United Kingdom, not just by Protestants but also by an important minority of Catholics – shown by polls currently to be about 30 per cent. With 44 per cent of the population Catholic, and with virtually no Protestant interest in joining a united Ireland, this suggests that when today’s children become voters around the year 2025, support for a united Ireland could still be below one-third – and even if a Catholic majority of voters were to emerge in or after 2045, there could still be a large majority preferring to remaining in the UK.

Could the damage done to Northern Ireland by IRA violence ever be retrieved? Perhaps at some time in the future it might be – but until now there has been no sign of this happening. Of course, over a period of many decades all this could change. All we can say now is that the IRA campaign has pushed Irish unity much further into the future.

  • frustrated democrat

    There is nothing new in that information it has been obvious to all except the most rabid ‘head in the sand’ republicans who keep talking about 2016 for unification.

    Even SF have rowed back from that nonsense.

    The impact of Catholics who believe in the United Kingdom having a serious non sectarian group to vote for in future (CU’s) should be interesting.

  • Scaramoosh

    When I read pieces like this, I soemtimes wonder if perhaps the Irish people would be happier were N.Ireland to become like San Marino or Andorra;

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/31f7b634-0c50-11de-b87d-0000779fd2ac.html

  • Todd

    Catholics don’t give a flying f*ck for your united kingdom, they just want stability for there families etc. The advantage for unionists is that a certain % will vote for it in order to keep that status quo.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with Dr Fitzgerald. That’s an honest appraisal rather than the dishonest one given when persuading Sinn Fein away from violence (that it would help a united Ireland be brought about.) Sinn Fein will never lead us to a united Ireland and they would be better disbanding and stopping the antipathy gathering for unity.

  • frustrated democrat

    Todd

    You mean people will vote for the UK for their family’s financial security – that is really why most people vote in a particular way and is an excellent reason – much better than some swirling green cultural mists of history that put no bread on the table.

  • Mack

    NILT survey – 24% of Catholics opposed to Irish unity and 39% with a first preference for the Union. Those are astonishingly high figures (so much so – they are so completley and utterly disconnected with my own personal experience of reality that I have a great deal of difficulty in believing them).

    Link

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2007/Political_Attitudes/NIRELND2.html#religion

    I’ve no doubt some Catholics do oppose Irish unity – but I’m sceptical that 1 in 4 “Would not like it, but could live with it if you had to” and that 40% are unionists.

    That said, I agree with the general premise. Violence pushes the liklihood of persuading enough people to vote in favour of unity further and further into the future. But I disagree with those who argue it’s an impossible task. Even 20 years is a long time. 20 years ago the USSR dominated the East and China’s capitalist reforms were little known in the West. It’s a long time, and a lot can change. If we have 20 peaceful years and hard work and persuasian for Irish unity, who knows?

  • Todd

    FD,

    Yes I agree.

  • I think that the reality is a little less black and white than the former Taoiseach would admit. Sure the campaign of IRA violence over the past forty years has led to the postponement of a Uniteld Ireland but that’s not the whole story. The fact is that the failure of southern politicians to act decisively led to the formation of the IRA and the prevailing attitude over the years of the Troubles displayed by Irish political leaders, such as Fitzgerald, towards their fellow Irish people as they suffered under the oppression of a regime which was corrupt and morally without authority.

    When the likes of Fitzgerald attack SF the way they sometimes do, especially at times when the southern political establishment is found wanting and when people might be attrated by the ‘non establishment’ image of SF, actually reminds supporters and would be supporters of SF that if they want to give the two fingers to the establishment, all they have to do is vote SF.

    I think SF are disappointing in their effectiveness in achieving their goals – but they are working on it, I’d say. I don’t know whether they’ll achieve United Ireland by 2016 but I do think they[ll be the only party trying,

  • DC

    It’s just that well educated potential nationalists are in fact and in reality in the n irish public sector getting it easy with a vast array of unionist underlings helping them.

    The emigration of a disproportionate number of potential unionists to britain to be educated and not to return means a greening of the civil service, which is more tolerant to pooling of sovereignty as encouraged by the gfa.

  • Maybe if Walker could write a clear sentence in English I would have a clue what the feck he was on about.

  • Pentram

    I think SF are disappointing in their effectiveness in achieving their goals – but they are working on it, I’d say. I don’t know whether they’ll achieve United Ireland by 2016 but I do think they[ll be the only party trying,

    Even on present community background -> party political support ratios there’d still be very slightly more people voting first preference unionist party than first preference nationalist party in 2016. We know this because the voters were born by the 2001 census. Lop of a few oldies and add a few youngies in an excel file. Crossover should be at about 2018 / 2019.

    The proportion of Catholic community background decreases relatively in the younger age groups but even (say) feeding in a constant 51% Catholic input at the bottom would mean that nationalist parties won’t get 50%+1 of the vote until about 2037. Never mind a 50%+1 for a united Ireland.

    Too far ahead to really predict. What with immigrants and all sorts.

    However, looking at even what the British and Irish governments were thinking in their 70s secret papers now revealed, the hard part of getting a united Ireland was never getting the British to leave, it was always getting the unionists to acquiesce without a repartition naturally erupting. The governments realised this hence their “doomsday scenario” planning and the like.

    I still believe this is true. To people who want a united Ireland the hardest part won’t be getting the British government to agree, and it won’t even be getting 50%+1 in a referendum, the hardest part will be the “proddie lie down” part, getting unionists to accept that they did not and do not have the same rights of secession that Irish nationalists themselves exercised to leave the UK, and are merely an “ethnic minority”.

    This is number 1 on the list of what nationalists have to crack if they want a united Ireland. I don’t think the 50%+1 in a referendum will even likely come until it’s cracked and unionist acquiescence seems likely.

    Of course no united Ireland would be possible without some measure of terrorist campaign against the state. Realistically that would have to be accepted, but the big part would be making most unionists be comfortable enough with any arrangements that they would accept unequal rights for themselves in terms of self determination, in the name of cartographical related expediency in economics / social provision whatever.

    One thing’s for sure though, nationalists have a long time to do this before a united Ireland even enters into the picture realistically. Thirty years at least – a political generation.

  • barnshee

    ” their fellow Irish people as they suffered under the oppression of a regime which was corrupt and morally without authority”

    Shit man it was aweful –all that free health service, education, family allowance and dole money how we suffered under it— you have no idea— jesus man all we had was an extra vote if our daddy owned a business (like Pres Mary) No wonder we were revolting

  • frustrated democrat

    The more entrenched in Stormont SF become and the more they work to improve the NI economy the less likely a UI will be.

  • Maclk

    Pentram

    To people who want a united Ireland the hardest part won’t be getting the British government to agree, and it won’t even be getting 50%+1 in a referendum, the hardest part will be the “proddie lie down” part, getting unionists to accept that they did not and do not have the same rights of secession that Irish nationalists themselves exercised to leave the UK, and are merely an “ethnic minority”.

    Unionists have agreed to this under the terms of the 1998 Agreement, ratified by referendum in Northern Ireland (& supported under the St. Andrews Agreement).

  • Pentram

    @Maclk

    Unionists have agreed to this under the terms of the 1998 Agreement, ratified by referendum in Northern Ireland (& supported under the St. Andrews Agreement).

    A vote by fathers cannot bind son’s and it has never been proven that the majority of unionist’s supported the GFA. The reality, and I’m sure you realise it, is that results would be dictated by facts on the ground. The GFA was not a renunciation of separate nationhood (it was carefully crafted not to be) and some measure of one island – two nationalities will have to be there always.

    But my point is that this alienation of Unionists is what, by a slow process taking decades, a path towards a united Ireland would have to concern itself with. Primarily. Unionists feeling comfortable enough to share a single state with a nationalist majority. Which is what the partition of Ireland was always about anyway, unionist self protection, not British colonialism or Unionist supremacism.

    Saying “unionists agreed to it” won’t butter any parsnips. A pure republican ideology united Ireland enforced with a jackboot would only result in conflict, resistance and division. It would be like a forced marriage. There has to be a process whereby the two partners are on speaking terms and then even friendly terms to make it a reality. Indeed Bertie Ahern has made comments hardly differing that much from what I’m saying in substance.

    The thing I would say to the CIRA and RIRA is stop addressing yourself to the British government, they are not a barrier to a united Ireland. The barrier is unionists, in truth it always was. The IRA could not achieve a united Ireland because even if they got a piece of paper from the British government on unilateral withdrawal Ireland would not be united, as both governments well recognised in their secret papers from the 1970s as I pointed out.

  • Mack

    Pentram

    The GFA was not a renunciation of separate nationhood (it was carefully crafted not to be) and some measure of one island – two nationalities will have to be there always.

    I agree wholeheartedly. The implication being of course that two nations exist within the single state of Northern Ireland today. That makes, for example, the Belfast St. Patrick’s Day parade an equally valid display of national identity as that of Dublin’s, or the desire of some young footballers in the north to play for the FAI’s team not only legitimate but patriotic.

    The problem facing both sides is identical. This not just an issue for nationalists. You might argue that forcing a second repartition makes it nationalisms problem, but as it didn’t solve the problem the first time (and the same two nations would continue to exist in New Carsonia) and as it led to instability only in the north on that occasion, I respectfully disagree.