Murphy’s law leads us into a cul-de-sac

I’m exploiting my privileges to rework my response to Pete’s interesting thread on Patrick Murphy’s article in the Irish News, “Irish history tends to be a rerun of same events .” Does Murphy’s honestly argued piece reveal wider disenchantment with the whole Assembly experience among thinking nationalists? I hope not. He makes a rod for his own back by overrestricting his definition of democracy and overplaying the role of history. He asks for instance:

Do nationalists benefit by having nationalist ministers? For example, would our roads policy be different if Arlene Foster replaced Conor Murphy as regional development minister?

With no disrespect to Miss Foster or Mr Murphy for that matter, most certainly it might, if you really believe history is fated to repeat itself. Protestant roads might go to Protestant places unless you have cross community responsibility for where they go. In the old days we used to call it “Government for Glengormley”

Murphy might look harder at what’s been achieved at the sharp end and instead encourage the fragile dynamic for progress: the long overdue disarmament of the loyalist paramilitaries, the successes in managing the marching season, the tacit agreement not to split fundamentally on dealing with the past. The next big test will be implementing the sensible agreement on the devolution of justice and policing if the DUP can nerve themselves up to do it. It is an illusion to think all this can be achieved in a back office deal between the FM and DFM. It needs maximum community support.

Murphy’s argument, if it goes anywhere, seems to point towards the dangerous zero-sum options of going all out for winner-take-all democracy like the old Stormont, or else abolishing the “ artificial ” state within which it operated. This is overplaying history with a vengeance. We surely passed those crossroads a long time ago. Perhaps Murphy is doing no more than letting out one long moan of frustration. For that I have some sympathy. Only now (perhaps) are the UDA and UVF disarming. But I would urge patience and more constructive thinking than dwelling obsessively on the past.

I don’t accept Pete’s assertion that the status quo necessarily or even actually retards the process of reaching enhanced democratic administration. This is jumping to conclusions. It’s a feature of NI life that we are better at criticism than prescription. Unfortunately perhaps, there is no system which can suddenly create your own nirvana. Instead, we are in for a long haul. One key question is: what’s the alternative?

1.Arend Lijphart, the theoretician of this form of powersharing would concede that it is not ideally democratic or technically effective.

2. One alternative is straightforward majority rule but with added protocols for cooperation and HR protection. Any takers?

3. Another is an AV (alternative vote) Assembly once mooted by our own Wilford and Wilson which compels a second choice vote, hopefully to strengthen the centre. But AV’s effects are not agreed by experts.

4. A variant of today’s system is the informal powersharing of 1973. With today’s inclusive participation, this might become the voluntary coalition of dreams, with a constitutional requirement for cross community government by inter-party agreement rather than by mechanism; an Assembly shorn of designations with a say, 70% weighted majority for key decisions, perhaps giving Alliance and other minorities leverage to break deadlocks. In practice, would it be so very different from what we’ve got? And what would make it happen, other than a transformation in voting and party behaviour? Do you really see the Tories renegotiating the Agreements to try to make it happen?

5. My further point I have argued before turns Murphy’s on its head. The system with all its checks and balances, watchdogs and supervisors, allows little room for sectarian victories except by blocking. That’s why blocking plus contests outside the Executive sphere still dominate what passes for politics. Inisde the Executive’s responsibility, there is great need for constructive politics to achieve win:win rather than zero sum victory or defeat.

6. There are signs – inconclusive I admit – of better cooperation ( post- Massareene, post- McDaid after a stumble and now with the UDA/UVF disarmament). The pressures of recession , so far partly deferred will require more effective government through painsharing, some unity in adversity and planning for a better tomorrow. Most political systems turn gratefully to thinking about better tomorrows, if they’re shown how to do it. This is a fruitful line to develop. It’s a big sub-theme, but I do not take any party’s visionary political rhetoric too literally. Does anybody?

7. The clincher is that if you look at the big picture, none of the main parties have any interest whatever in bringing the whole thing down. What they need is constructive pressure and specific advice to do better. In Churchill’s eloquent phrase, “we keep buggering on” and stop searching for idealised systems that will never happen.

8. Finally, after all this time and the waste of so much blood and treasure, we should resist the reflex appeal to particular versions of history and anecdote every time we discuss politics. It is self-defeating. Why so? Because it is a record of (in)glorious failure which is becoming about a relevant to our future as Bonnie Prince Charlie is to Scotland’s. (I exaggerate just a little). I’d just like to nail this two nations thing. I’m certain it overstates the differences. The obsession with founding myths and basic texts mirrors Paisleyite biblical fundamentalism and shies away from contemporary analysis – what about life NOW? There have always been numerous points of contact between the two sides and lots of shared experiences. Try two tests: whom does a Prod or a Mick more resemble: each other or a Cork person? Whom does a Brit looking on think they most resemble: himself or each other? Many commenters on Slugger who enjoy history (and I do too, believe me) over-exalt the politics of identity to the exclusion of almost everything else. At best, it might be a form of communication through swapping differences. But on its own, this search for stability through the prism of the past is doomed to failure. Without taking due account of changing lives and outside forces, it may breed pessimism, cynicism and helplessness and may have more to do with the characteristics of bloggers than anything else, who sometimes sound like a school of medieval alchemists arguing about how to squeeze blood out of a stone. Just a touch self-indulgent maybe.. no great harm done unless you take it too seriously? But why not set history in its own context and give the future a chance? There’s a universe of ideas and experience out there that isn’t contained in Bunreacht na hÉireann or the 1st Book of Kings. Sad to say, much of it in C20 passed Ireland by and must now be rediscovered.

.

  • Guest

    Are you fukuyama in disguise?

  • “One key question is: what’s the alternative?”

    Here’s one I made earlier:

    Dave Brian, NI is a patchwork quilt of ‘us and themmuns’ so that requires IMO shared sovereignty and the merger of strands 2 and 3 to maximise the accommodation between the two opposing aspirations. It builds upon the ‘common ground’ and would diminish the clout of the ‘hard men’; it should provide an opening for people of ability to become public representatives to get their snouts in the trough rather than ‘donkeys’ with flags on their backs.

    The lead for this will not come from London and Dublin as they are jointly determined to keep our problems contained to here. This means that they will ‘reward’ the likes of Gerry Adams and Jacky McDonald who in other parts of these islands would probably have spent a lot of time behind bars. These are just two of the ‘chosen few’ who must be kept sweet no matter what happens to the UUP-SDLP ‘centre ground’.

    President McAleese’s endorsement of the Finaghy Crossroads Group is just one outworking of that joint UK/Ireland policy. Civil servants from Dublin’s Department of Foreign Affairs will go with this flow but it causes great nervousness amongst those from the Department of Justice.

    PS I used one semi-colon to ‘sex-up’ that analysis 😉 (OOPS there’s another one)

  • Comrade Stalin

    This means that they will ‘reward’ the likes of Gerry Adams and Jacky McDonald who in other parts of these islands would probably have spent a lot of time behind bars.

    An analysis that, almost skilfully, appears to forget that it is the electorate here who have rewarded Gerry Adams. And on the other side of the coin, it is senior unionist politicians who reward the UDA and UVF leadership by holding talks with them and lavishing praise upon them for their “leadership”.

    There can’t be a long term solution which overlooks the fact that all of the communities here had a roughly equivalent role in perpetuating the conflict. That was the essence of one interesting note in the UDA’s recent statement that I found very insightful.

  • Guest

    Comrade.
    “There can’t be a long term solution which overlooks the fact that all of the communities here had a roughly equivalent role in perpetuating the conflict”.
    Very well said and enlightened.One of the most intelligent statements i’ve ever read here.
    Is unionism capable of coming to terms with this fundamental truth ?
    I dont think so.Unless of course they are made to accept it.and that changes everything.Unfortunately for them,including unionism.

  • Comrade Stalin, London and Dublin have been ‘rewarding’ the likes of Gerry and Jackie for quite a long time. If some of the electorate choose to insult the victims of paramilitarism more shame on them.

    “all of the communities here had a roughly equivalent role in perpetuating the conflict.”

    Oh dear. Parity of esteem for aggressors and their victims.

    My proposal is designed to accommodate the opposing aspirations in so far as that is possible and to reduce the power and control of the extremists.

  • The issue is no so much the system but the politics. More on http://www.oconallstreet.com

  • Guest

    “Oh dear. Parity of esteem for aggressors and their victims”
    Nevin.
    Could you please expand.
    Are you saying one community was an aggressor and the other a victim?If so,which and why if you’d be so kind.
    You are already implying that the police and army were neutral, which is to be expected, but are you also implying that subscribing victims to each communities is a majoritarian exercise in which the winner wins the right to blame the loser?

  • “The system can be reviewed till the cows come home but real change will come when nationalists and unionists start really sharing power and working together for the betterment of all. The DUP and SF seem unable or unwilling to do this. The question is whether the SDLP and UUP could?”

    Conall, the 1998 Agreement invited politicians to work together for the good of all but the 50%+1 constitutional section put unionists and nationalists at either end of a tug-of-war rope.

  • Guest, I’d argue that most of the aggression was carried out by the various paramilitary factions. Some of this was egged-on or connived at by politicians; not too many politicians were prepared to speak out about the risks of street politics and the allied confrontation.

    The police and army are agents of the state though in the case of NI post 1985, two states acting jointly. Some of the police and army aggression will have been politically directed, some of it where the political leadership had lost control. Sometimes both states allowed paramilitary attacks to progress; I presume this was done to protect the institutions of state ahead of the protection of Joe and Josephine Public.

  • Guest

    Thank you Nevin.
    insightful.
    I would agree to a large extent, but it still does not chime with your original comment concerning parity of esteem.Let’s face it, a victim of unionism and a victim of provisionalist republicanism will not ever vote for the same party,and therefore “community” means something entirely different than “aggressor” and “victim”.
    Its far more quantum in my view.
    As for Joe and Joesphine.I agree with your presumption.I would also agree that both states let paramilitary attacks go ahead.It was a dirty war.And still is.

  • Guest, my parity of esteem gibe was directed at Comrade Stalin’s broad-bush comment.

    My political proposal attempts to give parity of esteem to the two opposing constitutional aspirations so that folks can work together for the benefit of society irrespective of class, creed or colour.

  • guest

    Excuses Nevin.
    completely agree concerning the integration of the 2 nations into NI.But the shi$ is going to hit the fan when Cameron gets his hands on the British rule.I mean if i suggested Ni use the euro i’d be taken for a hatter.If i suggested that a nationalist living in the north might have the right to pay his taxes to the Republic i’d probably be dragged off.Unionism is not yet near that kind of understanding, and we’ll just have to keep reaching to them.ie;doing nothing.

  • Guest, your ‘excuses’ and ‘completely agree’ in such close proximity baffle me – and I’m not easily baffled 🙂

    I’ve mentioned money in the past. The £ and the € are already accepted on many premises. The UK and Ireland contribution to subvention funds could be calculated on some sort of pro-rata basis and tax-raising powers could be ‘delegated’ to the devolved assembly. Joint SoSs could regulate the subvention flow allied to the measure of agreement within the Assembly – less agreement, less money.

  • “less agreement, less money”, less salary, less expenses 😉

  • Guest

    “Excuses” that i did not understand you were refering to comrade’s broad bush.
    Agreement, in that you made some excellent points;
    “Joint SoSs could regulate the subvention flow allied to the measure of agreement within the Assembly – less agreement, less money”
    I cannot believe that this is so rarely discussed here.It is surely a logicial extension of Irish citizenship and just a matter of time.But suggeshis to a duper or uuper or con and they react as if its a declaration of war.It is not a loss that we agree but why won’t unionists even discuss?
    Of course, there would probably be need for a “fake” period;ie.non-economical funding of said agreement for the sake of peace.Eu don’t seem to have a problem with the principal.

  • guest

    by the way,my consistent use of the word ‘con’ has nothing to do with the french version.Nothing at all!!!!

  • Independent Orange Order

    Sorry to high-jack this thread Brian, but I’ve posted this 3 times on Slugger recently and no-one replied. Its to do with the Republicans in Rasharkin holding a ‘fun’ day in the playing fields that the Orange Order traditionally use for the 12th parade. Ballymoney Council supposed to have granted the field to the Republicans knowing full well the Orange Order use it every year. A Farmer in Rasharkin who rents a field off the Council said he would give the Orangemen his field for the day, but Ballymoney Council refused them permission. On what grounds were the Order refused on both occasions?

    anyone wish to take the issue up?

  • Guest, we’ll have to wait and see whether or not a unionist party member will inhale and would accept an early departure from UK only membership. Nationalists have accused me in the past of delaying tactics – a clever unionist stunt to put off a UI only membership for generations.

  • Guest

    Nevin,
    First of all you may discount me from those nationalist accusations.Unionists need time.Time is not a problem.And by extension,delaying tactics are fine.We get to know each other and that shall never be a problem for repubicans.
    Secondly,i’m intrigued by the “UI only membership” phrase.Whats the other option,presumably an UI with British links?
    15% of Irish people have caused all kinds of chaos in the 20 century.Imagine if 85% of them were aggrieved.We are not a people who lie down easily.

  • Guest

    “less agreement, less money”, less salary, less expenses 😉 ”
    that just about sums it up.Very good.

  • Dave

    Those who argue that consociational government is undemocratic miss the point of it. It is designed to be ‘undemocratic’ in that it is designed to frustrate the will of the majority. However, it is only undemocratic if it is used in nation-states (which, of course, is why no nation-state uses it). Since NI is a state that contains two nations of roughly equal size but of divergent cultural and political aspirations, it cannot use a system of government that is designed for a nation-state. Using a majoritarin system would exclude one of the two nations from a role in governing the state, leaving one of the two nations to be ruled by the other. Presumably, the much desired ‘opposition’ would be comprised of the marginally smaller nation – and the quality of that opposition would then be confined to what would be dismissed by the ruling nation as MOPEing. Because you have two nations, you need two majorities to have a proper democracy. Therefore, in states such as NI, it is majoritarinism and not consociationalism that is undemocratic.

    If the two nations are ever successfully engineered into one ‘shared’ nation of Northern Irish, then you will be able to have a system of government that is designed for such a one-nation state. In the meantime, it sucks to be you…

    The best policy is to think of Stormont as a sort of ‘reform school’ for your present generation of politicians. I’d suggest you elect a better lot next time, but, of course, people only elect the people that the parties nominate so it’s really a matter of persuading those parties to nominate candidates of a higher calibre – and good luck with that.

  • “Whats the other option”

    I suppose I’m thinking of a role reversal for London and Dublin vis-a-vis the governance of the ‘six counties’.

    In my proposal a change of status from shared sovereignty et al would require, say, a 70%+ endorsement by the electorate.

  • Guest

    Ok Nevin.You give me the impression that you’ve put this on paper or blog.Have you a link or can i give you an email address to send it to?
    Sounds vey good in structure anyway.

  • Guest

    ok.
    I presume we are then talking about a federal Ireland?Question if is 26 and 6 is justifiable?.To really cut the fecker up(excuse the french) shouldn’t we bury the old border and create a northern/western and southern/eastern link?
    Please discuss.

  • Guest

    “I suppose I’m thinking of a role reversal for London and Dublin vis-a-vis the governance of the ‘six counties’”
    pretty much the sdlp line that the agreement should continue to exist even after unity.a position that can be voted out if we go to the nerve but i wouldn’t consider it cancerous.Probably in fact necessary for a generation.

  • Guest, you can contact me via NALIL blog.

    I reworked John Hume’s analysis back in the early 1990s to include the unionist aspiration but I’ve not really gone much beyond the skeletal structure that I’ve just outlined.

    I’ll see if I can dig out a newspaper contribution from that era and put it up on, say, Flickr or Scribd. NALIL blog has links to a genealogy, history, culture and current affairs group so I feel a bit inhibited in what I post there.

  • Guest

    Understood Nevin.
    Send email tomorrow.
    Restricted aswell.
    actually distraught by how simple, it is for governments to “access” who we are.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Dave

    “[i]If the two nations are ever successfully engineered into one ‘shared’ nation of Northern Irish, then you will be able to have a system of government that is designed for such a one-nation state. In the meantime, it sucks to be you…”[/i]

    What about Ulster as the Nation identity Dave? Maybe the Nationalists would accept that as its only a few loyalists who conscribe to Ulster these days?

  • Guest

    email sent Nevin.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin,

    Oh dear. Parity of esteem for aggressors and their victims.

    Based on this comment, you obviously think that there is a clean, neat definition of who the aggressors and victims are. That’s a simplification for a start.

    You can overlook the issue here by dismissing it as an attempt to impose parity of esteem somewhere where you believe it isn’t warranted, but the fact remains that there is a culture in this place, largely confined to unionism, which says that the only people who were at fault were those pointing the guns and planting the bombs. This is demonstrably wrong.

    There are plenty of cases since partition, and certainly since 1969, where elected unionist politicians have very publicly presented themselves as de-facto political spokespersons for the loyalist paramilitaries. My opinion is that we cannot seriously move forward until there is acceptance of that from people like you who want to compartmentalize the blame into the paramilitary organizations and those with formal links to them – a very neat definition of the aggressor which very conveniently fits the republicans but not the unionists.

    It’s this compartmentalization which allows people like Jim Allister to operate. I think we are getting slowly but surely closer to this, especially given that Peter Robinson hasn’t been so careful to hide his talks with the loyalists (the absence of comments on this from Jim Allister are noted).

    My proposal is designed to accommodate the opposing aspirations in so far as that is possible and to reduce the power and control of the extremists.

    I don’t see how you do that given the fact that people keep electing extremists. If you look at our major political parties, they’ve all either got links or connections to the paramilitaries of some kind, or in the case of the SDLP, they cling to the belief that the paramilitaries need to be specifically accomodated.

    President McAleese’s endorsement of the Finaghy Crossroads Group is just one outworking of that joint UK/Ireland policy. Civil servants from Dublin’s Department of Foreign Affairs will go with this flow but it causes great nervousness amongst those from the Department of Justice.

    I don’t know if you have a source about this “nervousness”, but anyway. I remember canvassing for the forum elections in 1996. When canvassing in soft nationalist areas, we came across a lot of nationalist voters who said they would lend their vote to the UDP/PUP, believing that they were constructive voices inside loyalism that needed support. I think that these soft “lent” votes were a lot to do with the seats the loyalists obtained in the forum and in the 1998 assembly. My point ? I wonder if this is the kind of approach McAleese is taking, naively overlooking the problems in the belief that something useful can be attained.

    Some of this was egged-on or connived at by politicians;

    Actually I think almost all of it was.

    not too many politicians were prepared to speak out about the risks of street politics and the allied confrontation.

    That’s a load of old bollocks. Unionist politicians were never afraid to speak out about republican violence and a few of them were killed or had attempts on their lives. So I don’t accept that for one second.

    Sooner or later you are going to have to confront the reality that David Ervine described when he once responded to a statement by Ian Paisley : “Well, I’ve been in that house. I’ve seen that wallpaper”. And you must be mad if you think that people are going to believe that William McCrea stood there on Billy Wright’s podium because he was afraid of him.

    Conall, the 1998 Agreement invited politicians to work together for the good of all but the 50%+1 constitutional section put unionists and nationalists at either end of a tug-of-war rope.

    Fundamentally, that question is what the whole conflict has been about, and the agreement wouldn’t have been worth spit if it did not address this. And I don’t see any other way of addressing it. Changing it to 70% or whatever would be seen as a real sop to the unionists, moving the goalposts only when it looked like they were losing. You can’t build an agreement on that.

    The UK and Ireland contribution to subvention funds could be calculated on some sort of pro-rata basis and tax-raising powers could be ‘delegated’ to the devolved assembly. Joint SoSs could regulate the subvention flow allied to the measure of agreement within the Assembly – less agreement, less money.

    That idea is very constructive and it’s something that I feel quite strongly; that people here have no motivation to agree anything when it costs them nothing to remain at loggerheads. If people saw the consequences of the failure of their politicians to agree, more might get done.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    Some interesting points in a much needed conversation.

    And I guess my main point was that there are some who don’t want that conversation to take place at all.

    But I should just clarify something.

    “I don’t accept Pete’s assertion that the status quo necessarily or even actually retards the process of reaching enhanced democratic administration. ”

    What I had suggested, in the comments zone of my previous post, was that maintaining the status quo – by which I meant the “ugly scaffolding” of the current administration – could retard the “process of civilisation.”

    That process is not about the democratic nature of the administration per se. It’s about how we behave towards each other.

    As Michael Longley said, “peace is the absence of war: the opposite of war is custom, customs, and civilization. Civilization is custom and manners and ceremony”

    To repeat from my earlier post

    And, from what I recall, there wasn’t much reasoning in evidence in the responses to a previous suggestion that we should aspire to remove the “ugly scaffolding”..

    Regardless of the actual system of governance in use what is required is a processs of civilisation. [Happy Birthday Michael! – Ed]

    But if you don’t trust your compulsory partners in government, and you view the very state itself, which you are helping to govern, as being “sectarian at its core”…

    I hope that’s a little clearer.

  • Guest

    Pete,
    your “process of civilization” process is fascinating.
    I have on another thread said that what you mean by civilization is actually British rule,but am willing to it from zero again.And hope that logic wins through.
    And I guess my main point was that there are some who don’t want that conversation to take place at all.


    And that is a bad thing because?
    couldn’t be bothered going through all your hyperlinks as there usually crap.

    ” you don’t trust your compulsory partners in government, and you view the very state itself, which you are helping to govern, as being “sectarian at its core”
    yes.Newsflash to unionists.Republicans don’t want NI to work!!shock horror!!

  • Guest

    And Ian is a prod.in case you didn’t get it.

  • Pete Baker

    Guest

    I suppose I should wait until you’re sober and/or capable of typing coherently..

    But..

    “I have on another thread said that what you mean by civilization is actually British rule”

    Why, yes you did. And that was, and is, quite a leap from what I’ve actually said.

    “couldn’t be bothered going through all your hyperlinks as there usually crap.”

    Ah.. It was, and is, an ignorant leap.

  • guest

    Mr.Baker.
    sorry about the typing/syntaxe.We are not all anglo-phone.
    it was ,and is, an ignorant leap.
    Forgot a link by any chance?

  • cynic

    Is unionism capable of coming to terms with this fundamental truth ?

    Guest

    No an for a simple reason. On the one hand you have

    “Twenty years ago we gave that house to a Prod not you”

    and on the other

    “Im murdering you and your children for that”

    The two do not equate no matter how much you try. Hard line republicanism is wedded to and synonymous with murder. For some it was always their raison d’etre and over the years after 1922 this showed in the culture that led to links with the Nazis as a possible support in insurrection.

    It is underpinned by a specious theory of racial difference (superiority) and a denigration of the culture and rights of people whose families have lived here for many hundrerds of years and who are genetically identical with the ‘true Irish’ whose self declared representatives wish to destroy _ a right they claim as flowing from a Parliament that was prorogued over 90 years ago.

  • Guest

    Cynic,
    i enjoy when you comment, simply because I find you an extremely intelligent man or woman.etc.
    At the same time i’m finding it difficult to find a point in what you’ve said.
    i will however take your point concerning “hard line republicanism” and throw it out just as quick.You mean “provisionalism” and yes violence has been the muisc of Irish nationalism for a long time.Were we supossed to shut up?

  • kensei

    Pete

    Why, yes you did. And that was, and is, quite a leap from what I’ve actually said.

    Quite a leap, Pete? I seem to recall a fairly angry (for you anyway) post on people complaining about Armed Services Day as telling them they need to “start civilising themselves”. I’m sure you meant something wonderfully civilised. But it’s not a big leap to see how people might have thought differently.

    And given your seemingly complete hostility to big sections of people here, perhaps the need to examine opinions and behaviour cuts more than one way. Pining for the politics here to be “more civilised” or indeed the people to be different really isn’t qualitatively that different from other groups that want the constitution or people to be different in different fashion.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Violence isn’t the only option when not shutting up.

  • Pete Baker

    Ken

    “And given your seemingly complete hostility to big sections of people here”

    Feel free to give particular examples.

    Quotes with associated links, preferably.

  • guest

    yes pete.lots of examples,links,especially if they’re Hyper.

  • Dave

    “What about Ulster as the Nation identity Dave? Maybe the Nationalists would accept that as its only a few loyalists who conscribe to Ulster these days?” – Ulsters my homeland

    Well, whatever it is, it’s the basis for a permanent internal settlement. Once you become this new nation, you move further from the respective nations that you were formerly aligned to. The problems that exist in NI don’t exist in Ireland and won’t exist unless they are imported. Becoming a new nation of Ulsterman, Klingon, or Northern Irish is not the same thing as becoming Irish, so, as I said, we’d simply be importing the problem of how to deal with another nation that makes a competing claim to the state.

    The intellectual bankruptcy in all of this is that absolutely no one has any unity strategy that doesn’t involve a headcount. In other words, no believes that those who regard themselves as British will agree to live within an Irish nation-state or that those who are Irish will agree to renounce their nation-state and allow another nation to have a permanent veto over their right to national self-determination. In my opinion, those who are British would be absolutely nuts to vote to separate themselves from the sovereign state to which they are loyal (and that is loyal to them). In addition, you may persuade a man that there are better parents than his but you will never persuade him to swap his parents for the better examples, so these bonds between the nation and the state are emotional and not rational like the bonds between parents and child. That is why intellectual bankruptcy prevails – by necessity. And besides, we really don’t like you and don’t want to unify with your weird ilk. 😉

    And what about this headcount ‘strategy’? Even if one nation out-votes the other, that still won’t grant any moral legitimacy or practicability to one nation ruling another without the consent of that nation. The Irish nation simply won’t have any right to veto this other nation. And that other nation will not be morally bound by an agreement that was signed by a previous generation and not by them. Legality without morality may be freely disposed of, so they would (and should) assert their right to national self-determination in the unlikely event of a pro-unity vote by one of the two nations ever occurring. Therefore, even this headcount nonsense is a red herring.

    Why not cut the bullshit and go straight to the only workable solution of two nations competing for control of one state? That is repartition. Let the two nations separate, and make sure you get an absolute majority of one nation this time so that your new state is free to operate as a healthy nation-state, broking no interference with that right. That’s the only logical outworking of your present arrangement, anyway. Even Benjamin Netanyahu saw the wisdom of the ‘two state’ solution in the end.

  • guest

    Why not cut the bullshit and go straight to the only workable solution of two nations competing for control of one state? That is repartition.”µ
    I am looking forward to the unionist declaration that “republicanism” has been defeated and that 31-1 means that Ulster lives long;in the gold coast of course.

  • guest

    Is unionism capable of coming to terms with this fundamental truth ?

    Guest

    No an for a simple reason. On the one hand you have

    “Twenty years ago we gave that house to a Prod not you”

    and on the other

    “Im murdering you and your children for that

    i’m not trying to equate them.Please read.
    You’ve made a few grammamtical errors but i’ll be the last to care.Fundamentally,and anyway?the 20% who are caught up in another nation are doing just fine.

  • kensei

    Feel free to give particular examples.

    Quotes with associated links, preferably.

    Cannae be bothered with links bit stuff like “Supernaturalists”, “International representative for West Belfast”, “Start civilising yourselves“, you can’t always get what you want… and so on, it isn’t particularly hard to discern when you have palpable dislike for something. That’d be quite a lot. Are you serious, here?

    I’m not saying it’s necessarily personality but there is a fundamental dislike for what a big whack of people stand for. Most targeted at politicians. Posts drip with it. But who votes them in? Are you seriously saying that in fundamentals, they are immensely different from their voters? Nah, otherwise they would not be successful for long. The underlying desire is for different politicians, and ergo different people.

    Picking at the details and pulling people is all very useful. But it’ll only take you so far; even SF and the DUP are quite content to point up all the things they don’t like t’other is doing, even if it is jaundiced. If change is desired though, be it “civilisation” or just plain old “United Ireland”, then that requires engaging constructively with what’s there, rather that simply shouting at them for not being something else. Score on that count? Zip.

  • Guest

    “Cannae be bothered ”
    my voisine is scotish and fecking direct.There is nothing better.Would the english ever just f off.

  • Dave

    “I am looking forward to the unionist declaration that “republicanism” has been defeated and that 31-1 means that Ulster lives long;in the gold coast of course.”

    Well, you should watch what the Irish government are up to in the background due to the quisling antics of Bertie “I won that Sterling on the horses” Ahern. They gave sovereignty over the internal affairs of the Republic to Her Majesty’s government under the guise of the NSMC, passed in a treaty between the British and Irish governments (the British-Irish Agreement). These Trojan horses are embryonic and intended to bring joint sovereignty over Ireland in by the backdoor and by stealth. They are passed off to the Irish people as cross-border cooperation in mutually beneficial areas, but quite why control of canals in Dublin should be presented as matters requiring that sovereignty over them should be shared with the British government is not explained. In addition, they are presented as Ireland gaining sovereignty over the affairs of Northern Ireland but the reality is that they are Her Majesty’s government reclaiming sovereignty over affairs of the Irish state that it long ago lost and establish the principle that Ireland can be ruled by Her Majesty’s government. These bodies should be disbanded. Also, keep an eye of the mouthy maiden in the park. There are many quislings operating to dismantle the Irish nation-state from within.

    Because the British cannot censor Irish nationalism from without, they are encouraging self-censorship of Irish nationalism from within. Some Unionists play along with this campaign to promote self-censorship by claiming that the less Irish Ireland becomes, the less offensive they find the notion of Irish unity. It is not that they actually intend to unify even if Ireland becomes as British as Finchley, but rather they’re in favour of the demotion of expressions of Irish national culture and the diminution of a claim to national self-determination which they always maintained that the Irish nation was never entitled to, and so they encourage such self-censorship under false pretences. In regard to the NSMC, one of the areas of Irish sovereignty that is now shared with the Her Majesty’s government is over Ireland’s national language (via Foras na Gaeilge), a key part of the nation’s culture. This is now downgraded to equal status with a made-up dialect that passes itself off as a language (Ulster Scots). So, this ‘parity of esteem’ veto is already in operation in the Irish state, and acting to censor Irish culture as it is designed to do.

    Anyway, consociational government consolidates two nations (being designed specifically for them) and that in itself consolidates two states, so unity will never be an option. That’s all the more reason to remove the sovereignty over pivotal areas of the Irish state that was granted to Her Majesty’s government by the quislings in FF, and which the Irish people themselves are deliberately kept in ignorance of.

  • Brian Walker

    Pete and I aren’t too far apart – perhaps the difference is between the glass half full and the glass half empty. Much of the other comment is all over the place, as if we were still in a pre-1998 vaccuum. dave for instance reduces it all to his two nations approach. Much of this stuff plays to worse fears and hopes but has little focus. The anonymous and unaccountable writers spray out accusations of bad faith because they either don’t understand or do not accept that our world is moving on. For them the only game is the zero sum. Sorry to say it for I don’t like to be dismissive, but they have no traction in the real world and are simply a drag on development. The one excuse they have is the one Pete’s points to, that we have still to develop a convincing discourse for our common interests. Yet even here, there are signs of improvement which critics foolishly attack as signs of weakness. Many of them clearly have the ability to contribute more seriously but for their own reasons, choose not to.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    “perhaps the difference is between the glass half full and the glass half empty”

    I was always more of a Buster Keaton fan than of Mr Chaplin. ;o)

  • Guest

    Belfast Gonzo-
    “Violence isn’t the only option when not shutting up. ”
    And the GFA/BA/STAA would have been signed for another reason.
    I don’t think so.NI is a zero sum game for the British government.There unionist in nature ie;You have to make them move.

  • Comrade Stalin, I’m trying to accommodate the various constitutional aspirations but you seem to be fixated with unionists.

    I don’t see how you can so easily lump together gunmen and their victims. But there you go. Also, I’d drawn attention to politicians and their links to paramilitaries; you’ll be familiar with the terms pan-unionism and pan-nationalism.

    When I did my own analysis I looked at the roles of unionists, nationalists and socialists in the evolution of our more recent Troubles. IMO the socialist intention to foment a revolution that would lead to a Cuban-style 32 county Ireland helped to create the conditions that would drop us into the familiar unionist-nationalist tramlines. There was a huge need for reform, north and south, but the socialists, armchair and militant, used rights issues as a smokescreen. They seemed to have this curious notion that the gulls from the ‘working class’ spectrum would fly behind the starry ploughman.

    Can you name some politicians who highlighted the risks posed by the street politics of the likes of Hume and Paisley? Such confrontations historically were likely to set the mobs at each others’ throats and confrontation would be followed by rioting, stoning and eventually guns would appear.

    The London and Dublin establishments IMO elevated the paramilitaries (and affiliated parapoliticians) above politicians in order to protect the institutions of their respective states. President McAleese may be garrulous but she’s far from naive; she’s walking along a path mapped out by folks from the Department of Foreign Affairs. I’ve been in conversation with civil servants from the DFA and the Department of Justice ( and elsewhere) for about 15 years and I detected the differences between the two. If you think about it, it’s the Department of Justice that would have to pick up the pieces if or when paramilitary justice systems migrated to the south.

    You seem to have misinterpreted my shared sovereignty proposal and the 70% trigger. You call it a sop to unionists, others have said unionists wouldn’t buy into it. Can you both be right?

    My proposal fits with the philosophy of the 1998 Agreement, it puts the opposing aspirations on a par and it maximises the opportunities for folks to work together for the common good; the 50%+1 deal puts folks at eith end of a tug-of-war rope and if the rope breaks we could easily have civil war – IMO.

  • Guest

    Dave,
    Broadly agree that strand 3 has gone nuts, and seee the cameron rise as a very good thing.He’s too thick to keep it all hush-hush.
    Where I do disagree is that Irish people are not aware of whats happening.They are not bought by the British but by the international world.The shamrock:eurovision crap is thankfully ending.This same process in Britain has given them the rise of UKIP and BNP, in Ireland the vast majority are not yet enough out of pocket.sinn fein cannot replace that pocket and FF/FG are nothing more than overseers of the post 26 county victory.there will of course be an uprise of unknown parties.History has one beautiful trait-we rarely see it coming.

  • BonarLaw

    “My proposal fits with the philosophy of the 1998 Agreement”

    No it doesn’t- membership of the UK and consent are key to keeping the process going.

  • “No it doesn’t- membership of the UK and consent are key to keeping the process going.”

    Bonar, I think my proposal is superior to the 50%+1. Have a look at these quotes from the Agreement:

    “a truly historic opportunity for a new beginning .. we firmly dedicate ourselves to the achievement of reconciliation, tolerance, and mutual trust, and to the protection and vindication of the human rights of all .. We are committed to partnership, equality and mutual respect .. our continuing, and equally legitimate, political aspirations .. recognise the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland”

    My proposal gives equality to the two aspirations and to the two ‘external’ relationships; the 50%+1 deal doesn’t.

  • BonarLaw

    Nevin

    Your proposal removes Northern Ireland from the UK.

  • Bonar, it’s shared sovereignty so NI is part of the UK and the UI; it’s also part of the EU.

  • Greenflag

    Somewhat interesting thread and much of the ground has been covered but, and I hate to have to say it – when Dave states why not cut the bullshit and repartition I tend to agree -as long as the cartographers and administrators are from a neutral international agency.

    The ‘science ‘ of alchemy was mentioned in passing re squeezing blood from a stone . It seems to me that the history of the past almost 90 years in NI and particularly for the past four decades has largely been just that i.e trying to squeeze ‘normal democracy’ from a state which can never be a ‘normal ‘ democracy -not at least in it’s present format .

    Nevin’s joint sovereignty sounds reasonable in principle . In practice although he might well say that we have a form of JS already I can’t see it being practical longer term. The present convoluted ‘mess’ is just a natural outcome of what was already a convoluted mess to begin with . Focusing on the ‘origin’ of the mess does mean giving up hope for the future, or of not trying to make a go of what has been achieved in the GFA, but it should remind us ALL that what has been achieved like it or not was achieved over a mountain of dead bodies, traumatised lives , 40 years of on off violence, plus thousands of hours of direct intermediary effort by British , Irish and American politicians , envoys etc. We forget easily that the path to current ‘normality’ took so long and cost so much.

    As for the 50% plus 1 ‘timebomb’ . As this demographic seems a long way away, now is not the time to defuse it . There’s enough fudge within the present agreement to ‘deal ‘ with that eventuality should it ever ‘loom’ on some far horizon.

    Despite Cameron’s ‘unionist ‘ credentials if the Tories win a healthy majority I would guess that NI will rapidly fade into the background as per usual.

  • Greenflag

    above error ‘

    should read

    ‘Focusing on the ‘origin’ of the mess does NOT mean giving up hope for the future.

  • Greenflag, what we’ve had from 1985 is IMO more akin to Joint Direct Rule where the interests and needs of Joe and Josephine Public have had to play second or even third fiddle to the preservation of UK and Ireland institutions.

    2016 is just around the corner and the 50%+1 thingy is likely to energize the next generation of the ‘final solution’ merchants. Of course, much will depend on what else is ‘in fashion’ at that time.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Nevin: “2016 is just around the corner and the 50%+1 thingy is likely to energize the next generation of the ‘final solution’ merchants.”

    Not for nothing, but could you find another phrase?

    “Final solution” has something of a bad history where demographic issues are concerned…

  • Greenflag

    Nevin,

    ‘2016 is just around the corner ‘

    No it’s not – I make it seven years .

    In 1914 who would have predicted the 1920 temporary settlement ? In 1968 who would have predicted Sunningdale in 1974 ?

    I think you exaggerate the 2016 scenario . Most Irish ‘nationalists’ are not expecting a UI anytime soon if at all despite the auguries being soothsayed by the demographic projectionists .

    I note that none of our few remaining ‘rabid’ ultra republicans or ultra nationalists are blaming the Republic’s present economic woes on a either a) Partition or b) the lack of a United Ireland .

    As for ‘final solutions ‘ today Bernard Madoff got the full 150 year jail sentence from a New York court -Hanging would have been more ‘final ‘ and prefereable:(

    As for NI there are no final solutions – only everlasting and everchanging temporary ones which are and will be for a long time to come a pain in the proverbial.

    Call it a built in political design feature wired into the northern body politic- akin to a permanent haemorrhoidal condition which waxes and wanes with the lunar cycle 😉

    Trying to escape the condition will be as easy as the moon escaping it’s orbit of the earth:(

  • Greenflag, politicians sleep-walked into 1966 and it didn’t turn out too well.

    I’ll yield to your superior knowledge on haemorrhoids. Is it based on personal experience?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Dave

    Quite interesting comments made by you on page 2 post 22. Especially that the NSMC erodes Irish culture in the south and that some Unionists play along with this. I don’t necessarily agree that the NSMC is responsible for eroding Irish culture, actually I don’t think its being eroded at all in the South.

    I posted this on another thread recently that there needs to be two strategies which always must be used in conjunction with each other to bring about a sustainable change. The efficient and effective strategies are used the world over to solve many global problems and our problems are no different. The NSMC is a socio-efficient strategy (a top-down strategy) much like the GFA and the SAA. It sets rules, procedures and ‘efficiencies’;).

    For the socio-efficient strategy to work, there must also be a socio-effective strategy (a bottom-up strategy). The socio-effective strategy is more dramatic and demands behavioural change, change from the grass-roots, it calls for a breaking down of tribal attitudes and segregated areas within villages/towns/cities etc. Something which we’ve in common needs to be promoted and discussed at ground level.

    This socio-effective strategy has been slow to progress in N.Ireland and some might say it has even failed to start in certain areas. Its failure to deliver in N.Ireland is further proof that both strategies must work together if a sustainable change is to happen. For a pro-agreement person this must be disappointing to read, but unless the effective strategy picks up speed soon, the whole agreement could fail miserably.

    Regards your conclusion of post 22, page 2, I agree that there will never be Irish unity in the foreseeable future, but where you blame “consociational government” (British+Irish), I blame it on the lack of a socio-effective strategy in the South. 🙂

    There needs to be change from the grass-roots up, not just the top-down (NSMC). I see very little change in the South’s grass-roots to give me confidence that the changes made by the NSMC will ever be effective.

    Glad to see the loyalist paramilitaries getting rid of the weapons, the socio-effective strategy might just come to life in N.Ireland before its too late.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin,

    ‘politicians sleep-walked into 1966 ‘

    Some politicians are always asleep . IIRC Sean Lemass never slept much and Captain O’Neill did his best . But then history has a way of catching people unawares.

    I’m not fussed about 2016.

    ‘Is it based on personal experience? ‘

    For the body individual the cure is plenty of liquids – high fibre and keep away from the bacon and sausages and bob’s your uncle . Alas for the body politic the cure requires being reborn /born again and thus I refer you to the analogous Turgon for further education re this painful and embarassing matter 😉

  • Ulsters my homeland

    “[i]For the body individual the cure is plenty of liquids – high fibre and keep away from the bacon and sausages and bob’s your uncle . Alas for the body politic the cure requires being reborn /born again and thus I refer you to the analogous Turgon for further education re this painful and embarassing matter 😉 “[/i]

    Planning on writing a bible?

  • “I’m not fussed about 2016.”

    You don’t live here, Greenflag.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “No it’s not – I make it seven years .”

    Given the centuries that this socio-political soap-opera has covered, that’s barely a commercial break.

    Greenflag: “In 1914 who would have predicted the 1920 temporary settlement ? In 1968 who would have predicted Sunningdale in 1974 ?”

    Every over-wrought, ill-thought out drama needs a few plot twists, although it does seem to boil down to formula over time.

    Greenflag: “I note that none of our few remaining ‘rabid’ ultra republicans or ultra nationalists are blaming the Republic’s present economic woes on a either a) Partition or b) the lack of a United Ireland”

    They’ll get around to it, now that you’ve primed the pump… wasn’t it declan who thought that repartition was the answer to any thread?

    Greenflag: “As for ‘final solutions ’ today Bernard Madoff got the full 150 year jail sentence from a New York court -Hanging would have been more ‘final ’ and prefereable:(”

    Not really — cheaper to keep him, although I’m hoping for at least a medium security facility, as opposed to “Club Fed.” The SEC let him bargain out on the civil charges, tho…

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘You don’t live here, Greenflag.’

    For which boon I’d thank Christ if I was’nt an atheist. Location and timing are everything;)

    Northern Ireland is I know as many ‘natives ‘ insist on telling me a great place to be FROM . From as in no longer there . Still it ranks ahead of Kosovo , Uttar Pradesh and Baffin Island I hear.

  • Greenflag

    dread cthulhu,

    ‘Given the centuries that this socio-political soap-opera has covered, that’s barely a commercial break.’

    I expect a long commercial break with no interruption circa 2016 except for a brief celebration to commemorate the heroes of 1916 and our national economic recovery . Northern Ireland will or at least those of a Republican persuasion will also celebrate the 100th anniversary . We can only hope that Unionists will not be misled as they were in 1966 in opposing such celebrations by any up and coming preacher politicians as in the last time out !

    ‘wasn’t it declan who thought that repartition was the answer to any thread? ‘

    Perhaps – I don’t recall but when the ‘stupidity ‘ and utter inanity of what passes for politics in NI becomes so obtuse and inane as it often does, then ‘repartition’ could be an escape route for those who can see no end to extended political torture under ‘mandatory’ power sharing . And in particular with those whom they would rather not cross the road to spit at never mind shake hands with or agree a common political platform . After all if we cannot agree on the ‘final ‘ constitutional status of NI and we can’t agree to disagree or if any agreement to disagree leads to an inneffective , unworkable, and undemocratic administration within NI, then why not a fair ‘repartition’ ? . Nevin’s ‘patchwork ‘ quilt is not what it was 30 years ago and there has been in effect a ‘repartitioning ‘ of NI already .

    ‘They’ll get around to it, now that you’ve primed the pump’

    They did’nt do too well in the Euro or Local Elections and I haven’t yet heard a convincing alternative economic policy from the ultras or a political program that would attract the broad mass of Irish voters in a general election to make a radical departure from the three main parties .

    ‘cheaper to keep him (Madoff) , although I’m hoping for at least a medium security facility, as opposed to “Club Fed.” The SEC let him bargain out on the civil charges, tho’

    Well it would be cheaper if there was no court of appeal and once convicted Madoff was just taken out and strung up immediately. This case is not over yet -they’re still digging to find evidence of probable family complicity.

    As for the SEC ? The top echelons of that institution should be on trial too for criminal negligence . Even when they were warned ( eight times since 2000 ) that Madoff was running a fraudulent investment scheme they refused to take allegations seriously .

    Madoff’s sentence of 150 years was a mere blip compared to other recent USA based financial fraudsters where one sentence was for over 800 years and another for 350 years and more to come too 🙁 Stanford may even exceed Madoff’s jail term .

    All of these large scale financial crimes are just the inevitable result of lax regulation of the the shadow banking world which was instigated as far back as the 1980’s by the Reagan /Thatcher /Friedman schools of ‘laissez faire’ economics – small government (a useful lie ) and wars for oil as a means of imperial outreach and economic expansion 🙁

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “Well it would be cheaper if there was no court of appeal and once convicted Madoff was just taken out and strung up immediately. This case is not over yet -they’re still digging to find evidence of probable family complicity.”

    Come, come, Greenflag –that would be well-nigh summary execution of a minority! Couldn’t have that. The howls from Europe alone would be deafening… at least, they would be if consistency was a political virtue.

    Greenflag: “The top echelons of that institution should be on trial too for criminal negligence . Even when they were warned ( eight times since 2000 ) that Madoff was running a fraudulent investment scheme they refused to take allegations seriously .”

    Audit failure of the highest order — they trusted him because he was well-liked, well-connected and a former “Macher” at the SEC.

    Greenflag: “Madoff’s sentence of 150 years was a mere blip compared to other recent USA based financial fraudsters where one sentence was for over 800 years and another for 350 years and more to come too 🙁 Stanford may even exceed Madoff’s jail term .”

    The advantages of a plea deal… and it isn’t as if he’s going to get out of prison.

    Greenflag: “All of these large scale financial crimes are just the inevitable result of lax regulation of the the shadow banking world which was instigated as far back as the 1980’s by the Reagan /Thatcher /Friedman schools of ‘laissez faire’ economics – small government (a useful lie ) and wars for oil as a means of imperial outreach and economic expansion 🙁 ”

    Stuff and nonsense… or at least you’re over-reaching. The failure is even more basic than that.

    This is the result of people suspending their disbelief — nobody has perfect results of the sort that Madoff created. People bought — hell, some fought their way to buy into Madoff’s fund.

    Small government has little to do with this — there was a whole bureaucracy dedicated catching this sort of thing and suggesting that a larger bureaucracy would have caught this is speculative, at best.

    As for “wars for oil?” You’re just throwing mud up on the wall to see what sticks.

    Besides, the other extreme is just as corrupt and just as imperialist. It just doesn’t work as well on a day to day basis.

  • Brian MacAodh

    “trying to squeeze ‘normal democracy’ from a state which can never be a ‘normal ’ democracy”

    Spot on, summed up nicely. Makes sense, considering the state was not created with any regard to democracy or to Catholics