‘Catholic’ politicians?

In October last year I asked ‘Just where is Irish Republicanism at these days?’ with some thoughts on what defined being a republican. Of course, what gave rise to the question was pondering if many of those claiming the identity were either compatible with the term or altering the definition to fit their own ideology. Over on the Pensive Quill a similar topic has generated comment which resulted in a blog from Anthony on why he is using the term ‘Catholic Politicians/Party’ to describe Sinn Féin (I‘ve never seen him use it about the SDLP tbh). Like me, Anthony has clearly been pondering (and probably for a hell of a lot longer) if SF can currently be described as a republican, socialist or revolutionary organisation and while I lean towards describing them as constitutional nationalists, Anthony has decided to go with a much more direct and potentially inflammatory description of what is at the heart of SF these days. So, ‘Catholic Politicians’ – you buying Anthony’s logic or does it look like something designed to annoy?

  • Pearse

    Republicanism today is dead, we now need a warrior, we need a revived Pearse, someone who’s willing to put this country forward for war. We need a revived IRB

  • Pearse

    Pearse loved war, he loved sacrifice, “bloodshed is a cleansing and a sanctifying thing, and the nation which regards it as a final horror has lost its manhood.”

    regards WW2 he wrote: “The last sixteen months have been the most glorious in the history of Europe. Heroism has come back to the earth…. The old heart of the earth needed to be warmed with the red wine of the battlefields. Such august homage was never before offered to God as this, the homage of millions of lives given gladly for love of country.”

  • fin

    Laughing(Tory)Unionist that must be your favourite bit of prose in the whole world (or your only) cos fuck me you repeat it every 5 minutes,

    PS

    Why are you now posting as Pearse?

  • John O’Connell

    Sinn Fein can only be regarded as a Catholic party in perverse and twisted logic that defines Catholism as partly anti-Christian.

    Sinn Fein is a party that has Old Testament values which give rise to a strong sense of masculinity and are underscored with the law an eye for an eye. Militant republicanism is still there in Sinn Fein and therefore the Old Testament tag still holds. It also holds that the patriot is the ideal human being, which has OT origins, rather than the man or woman with a social conscience.

    The Universalism of Catholicism rules out this patriotism, and the consequent masculinity, and renders man emasculated in these matters. If it didn’t the world would be perpetually at war in every land border, each nation asserting their national rights ad infinitum, and at the expense of peace. That is why Christ is known as the Prince of Peace.

    That is why one can never describe Sinn Fein as a Catholic Party only if one is trying to gain Christian credibility for a party that has always rejected Christ.

    And I reject the notion that Catholic is just a label. For many it is a religion.

  • I wonder if all the stuff about “a strategy of touting to the British” isn’t a little bit disingenuous from someone who was billed as sharing a platform with the Staff Counsellor to the Security and Intelligence Services at Policy Exchange last year?

  • Brian Walker

    Mark, In the 70s when bliss it wasn’t always to be alive, we got a lot of stick for referring to to the “mainly Catholic” SDLP. How dare you, we’re socialists, they’d say. What d’you mean MAINLY,the Prods would jibe. With the stress still on civil rights to start with the SDLP wern’t all that nationalist anyway and Catholic seemed an OK social generic if somewhat over confessional. Mutatis mutandis, you could say something similar is happening to Sinn Fein today. In both cases, the term passes a judgment on them they may not like. The question is, is it to be left to groups and parties to define themselves or are the rest of us to be allowed to have a crack at it?

    To be honest, I find the present debate a longer re-run wiht more ammuntion of an old debate, still using as essential reference points the events and ideas of the early years of the last century, as if little has happened in the rest of the world since. To put it politely the debate is somewhat self-referential. The danger is that it reduces right down to charges of betrayal, with highly undesirable consequences. I hope they can avoid that. On the other hand, some of SF’s biggest detractors are not the heterodox but those who most wanted them to leave their former physical force, fundamentalist past behind. That ias at least ironic and maybe worse. It will always be tricky for a millennarian party to remain convincing as the millennium as it were, draws near and nothing much happens. Yet over all, the ferment is both a goodish thing and anyway inevitable. Any fermentation is interesting so long as the result isn’t too bitter.

  • anne warren

    “Pearse loved war, he loved sacrifice. . .”
    “regards WW2 he wrote . . .”
    Was he a fortune teller? Clairvoyant? Seer? The Irish Nostradamus? Tea-leaf reader? Tarot aficionado? Remote viewer?
    He was executed in 1916
    WW2 ran from 1939 to 1945!!

  • Driftwood

    poor Sir John Gorman

    Batting for the wrong sort of unionists.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    More political masturbation from the boy Ant.

    Simple defintion of a Republican – someone who works* against partition.

    *may include the use of force – when not counter productive.

  • kensei

    Republican doe snto equal socialist, kids, ni matter how many times Mark repeats it.

    SF are and remain a republican party. The SDLP, are certainly in principle republican too.

    This fucking stupid game of you’re not republican enough and intolerance of any strain of pragmatism is a good contributor why Mark’s favoured flavour of republican socialists have never had any influence and can snipe form the sidelines.

  • Mark McGregor

    Tom,

    I expected this thread/topic to eventually be derailed by people that just can’t stand listening to anything Mackers has to say but I really don’t understand you raising, as if it is an issue, the fact he is willing to sit on a platform with opposing views (and in this case british intelligence views, giving a pro-‘process’, shinner sympathetic position) and challenge them.

    Surely you aren’t suggesting debate with those you disagree with makes one suspect? If so, the entire Slugger team and all commentators are dammed.

  • Mark McGregor

    Kensei,

    I’m assuming that FF would be a republican party to you and Labour and FG and……….. well according to your pretty lose defintion of what republicanism means and that goes for Sammy too.

    Republicanism means whatever we/you/they/them want it to?

  • Dave

    John, religious denomination has an accepted usage in Northern Ireland as a political designation. For example, the Patten report uses the terms catholic/nationalist and protestant/unionist interchangeably. It is not a precise label (some nationalists are Jews, Protestants, etc, or atheists) but it is perfectly legitimate in its general use.

    Not all Shinners (party hacks – assuming the hacks actually vote for their own party – and voters) are Catholics, but all Shinners are excluded from being either Irish nationalists or Irish republicans by exercise of their voting franchise.

    A unionist is anyone supports the constitutional legitimacy of the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The GFA is an agreement wherein all signatories agree that the constitutional legitimacy is acceptable to them. Every voter in Northern Ireland who voted for the GFA and votes for parties that support the GFA and use that document as their blueprint for their politics is a unionist.

    It is not the case that so-called Catholics/nationalists/republicans merely agreed to change that constitutional status by non-violent means but did not agree that the constitutional status was legitimate. They agreed that it was legitimate, and they now find themselves in the impossible position of pretending to change that which they have declared to be perfectly legitimate. They have now formally renounced their former right to national self-determination as members of the Irish nation and they have also formally repudiated their former right to live within an Irish nation-state. Therefore, they are not Irish nationalists. Sorry, but if you’re broke, you don’t fit the definition of a millionaire.

    Since they have signed a document that concedes that British rule over the Irish nation is legitimate (and they now assist in the administration of British rule), they are not Irish republicans either. In fact, their blueprint for unity is merely an act of proffering the Whitehall-devised terms of their own surrender, hoping that the Irish nation in Ireland will also agree to allow another nation to hold a veto over their right to unfettered national self-determination and agree to replace their nation-state with a replica of Her Majesty’s dominion of Northern Ireland.

    Now, unless they join the Church of Ireland, I’ll assume they still Catholics, but they are most definitely neither Irish nationalists nor Irish republicans.

  • skullion

    Surely Sinn Fein’s stance on abortion can dismiss them as being a catholic party in the truest sense.As for being a revolutionary party don’t make me fuckin laugh.

  • Weepublik-e

    I am not sure Sinn Fein can claim they abide by the principles of republicanism they are by choice an elitist party who wish to own the sole rights to republican ideology.

    Republicanism

    An ideal of government that emphasizes the role of the active, participating citizen in government, often looking back to the role of the citizen in ancient Rome or Athens. Institutionally it aims at checks and balances to prevent the emergence of faction and majority tyranny, but also to the town-hall politics whereby decision-making has a bottom-up rather than a top-down structure.

    (1) The belief that one’s country ought to be a republic rather than a monarchy;
    (2) specifically, in Ireland, support for the militant (armed) branch of Irish nationalism.

    After the only British experience of a republic, the Commonwealth of 1649-60, republicanism did not have its own party. Nevertheless, republican
    sentiment was common among British radicals in the late 18th and 19th cents. Supporters of the American and French revolutions and admirers of Thomas Paine were usually republicans, as also were the plebeian radicals of the 1820s and 1830s, notably the followers of Richard Carlile, who published the Republican from 1819 to 1826. Some chartists were openly republican, as witness two late chartist journals, C. G. Harding’s Republican (1848) and W. J. Linton’s English Republic (1851-5). Periods of monarchical unpopularity stimulated republicanism. This was so during the Regency and again in the late 1860s and early 1870s, when a group of Liberal MPs, including Sir Charles Dilke and Joseph Chamberlain, revived there publican cause, fuelled by Queen Victoria’s withdrawal from public life. At the same time popular republicanism was spread by Charles Bradlaugh and the secularist movement; and a short-lived journal, the Republican, appeared in 1870. The labour and socialist movements of the 1880s and 1890s were republican in principle. But republicanism was only one of the constituents and not a major part of the programme.

  • kensei

    Mark

    re⋅pub⋅li⋅can

    –adjective
    2. favoring a republic.
    –noun
    5. a person who favors a republican form of government.

    I’m not creating any loose definitions. That’s what a republican is. I don’t agree with many of the policies or politics of FF, FG or Labour but they have as much right to the “republican” tag as you. And given the fact you favour Marxism, with all its wonderful democratic notions, perhaps a wee bit more.

    The fact the word doesn’t actually mean what you want to mean is not my fault. Try picking another term to describe yourselves. I suggest “losers”.

  • Kensei’s altered ego

    Losers is a fitting term after all we lose to the British time and again perhaps Kensei you should pick your words better oh wait I forgot you are just touting the party line no one is right only Sinn Fein.

  • Dave

    That’s funny. As if the Shinners pulled their definition out of the Oxford dictionary and not out of Irish history. Words, of course, derive their meaning from the context in which they are used.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mark,

    if FF worked for Irish unity e.g. argued for rather than against proper Norn Iron representation in the Dail then they would earn the right to call themselves ‘Republican’ – other wise no.

    Sitting in a darkened room wearing his tricolour knickers and re-writing the same rehashed, self indulgent anti-SF articles means the boy Ant probably doesnt still qualify as a Republican using the simple but reasonable definiton above – “someone who works against partition”.

  • kensei

    Oh, those barbs might hurt, if I had an connection to the Shinners or any other political party. But since I don’t, and I am actually 100% right, oh noes, I don’t give two figs.

    And please Dave, give me another 4 post continued marathon of self righteous windbaggery so I can ignore it.

  • Dave

    “(2) specifically, in Ireland, support for the militant (armed) branch of Irish nationalism.”

    Incidentally, there is a major difference between using force in the absence of alternative means to secure a right to national self-determination and using force where alternative means were available to assert a right to national self-determination which had already been attained by the Irish nation (and therefore had no legitimate basis for the assertion) and wherein the Irish nation had exercised its right to national self-determination to assert that force should not be used.

    Since the right to national self-determination is a collective right, all members of the Irish nation are bound to accept the legitimacy of the democratic will of the majority and to be bound to oppose their will only by democratic means. That is not an optional part of being a republican. If you do not accept the will of the majority, you cannot be a republican.

    The Shinners did not accept the democratic will of the majority to seek unity by exclusively democratic means and nor, indeed, did they even accept the right of the Irish nation to freely elect its own government. Therefore, it is utter nonsense to include the militant Shinners under the definition of republicanism.

  • Mark McGregor

    kensei,

    Maybe the SF education programme has changed since my day but correct me if I’m wrong – Irish Republicanism is not about an OED definition of a ‘republic’. The two terms aren’t interchangeable? That Proclamation of our independence is now over-ridden by a google dictionary?

  • Weepublik-e

    Kensei quick to deny the Sinn Fein angle?
    Why bother if you don’t support them yet seem to argue for them?

  • “(and they now assist in the administration of British rule)”

    Dave, I presume you haven’t read the two documents I’ve linked to on the Devenport Diaries or the Mowlam amendments to the 1998 Agreement.

  • Dave

    Weepublik-e, a lot of party hacks pose as impartial commenters.

  • dunreavynomore

    “Simple defintion of a Republican – someone who works* against partition”
    it was sammy……

    No Sammy, that’s a nationalist, a republican demands a specific kind of state to replace the two states while a nationalist is not that fussy what kind of state emerges.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Nevin,

    are you suggesting that Mo’s contribution is outside the scope of the GFA?

  • the dog

    ant is still a provie hu agreed with all their bootin n lootin he was in the nick most of adult live were he learned to read n write cause hes out of the loop now were supposed to listen to him anybody jumped on the bandwagon was him

  • Pete Baker

    Weepublik-e

    All are free to argue in favour of, or against, any position without being labelled as a supporter [or member] of a political party which advocates that position.

    Dave

    “The Shinners did not accept the democratic will of the majority to seek unity by exclusively democratic means and nor, indeed, did they even accept the right of the Irish nation to freely elect its own government. Therefore, it is utter nonsense to include the militant Shinners under the definition of republicanism.”

    True. Although they claim to now “accept the democratic will of the majority to seek unity by exclusively democratic means”.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Dun,

    of course, lets be honest it is simply a matter of opinion as to who has the right to claim a very emotional term in Irish politics/history but a Nationalist is someone who accepts the current situation without working to ensure unification.

  • John O’Connell

    Dave

    Now, unless they join the Church of Ireland, I’ll assume they still Catholics, but they are most definitely neither Irish nationalists nor Irish republicans.

    I think you’ll find that they sold out on Catholicism long before they sold out on republicanism.

    Perhaps you should call them sinners or massgoers or people who really don’t understand words except when they refer to us or me. Egomaniacs is another word that describes many of them.

  • Wasn’t the whole point of the Provisionals that they were the defenders of the Catholics? Hence why you can find their early Derry OC boasting in Eamonn McCann’s book that all their Volunteers go to mass on a Sunday, the implication of course being unlike them godless communist stickies.

    I’m always amazed when people get surprised at the suggestion the Provisionals deliberately seek to represent the interests of those who can be loosely defined as Catholics in NI. It’s just that their language has moved to try and hide this fact. Surprised too that McIntyre says that them being the representatives of the Catholic interest in NI is somehow going against what their programme originally was. I’d have said it was exactly in line with it.

  • Weepublik-e

    I read the Catholic Politician article on The Pensive Quill.
    Very interesting reading does a good job of destroying the myth of Sinn Fein making a good argument as to how Sinn Fein have become a Catholic party.
    Before the slap happy brigade attack try reading the article.
    I made a few attempts at finding a loophole in his argument.
    Maybe the Party would have better luck.

  • Mark,

    I don’t know, as the event was over-subscribed, according to Stephen King, but I suspect the neocons at Policy Exchange found McIntyre’s views anything but challenging, given Dean Godson’s own view that the British could and should have militarily crushed the IRA:
    http://tinyurl.com/mezucp

    McIntyre is entitled to speak where he likes but Policy Exchange are right-wing propagandists and to me a panel of McIntyre, Ed Moloney, Sir John Chilcott, Henry Patterson and Lord Bew looks skewed to reflect their prejudices.

    In fairness to McIntyre, he declined to go along with Godson’s propaganda line about Martin McGuinness being an MI6 agent.
    http://tinyurl.com/ndwt3l

    Nevertheless, when you are the Henry Jackson Society and Policy Exchange’s favourite republican surely you’ve gone wrong somewhere?

    http://www.henryjacksonsociety.org/stories.asp?id=273
    http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/news/news.cgi?id=142

  • “are you suggesting that Mo’s contribution is outside the scope of the GFA?”

    Not necessarily, Sammy, but it means that the 1998 Agreement was amended without reference to the electorate.

    It’s my understanding that East-West linkages will be under the direction of NSMC and so it’s likely that Belfast will play second fiddle to Dublin in the development of such linkages. I could be wrong but it looks like bad news for Belfast and worse news for west of the Bann..

    The objective will be the generation of a co-ordinated transport and logistics plan for the island in the context of East-West linkages to Britain and Europe, including strategic cross-border roads and Trans European Networks (TENS) routes. To that end, under the direction of the NSMC, the authorities in both jurisdictions will be working together to identify and promote joint projects within this important area.

  • “to seek unity by exclusively democratic means”

    Pete, the PRM’s organised crime wing is probably still functioning ….

  • brickwall

    Nevertheless, when you are the Henry Jackson Society and Policy Exchange’s favourite republican surely you’ve gone wrong somewhere?

    Absolutely, it is not like he is on the steps with the Chief Constable calling republicans traitors or being a Minister in Stormont or hosting Irish Unity conferences in the halls of Westminster

    BURN THE HERETIC

    FFS Wise up Tom

  • kensei

    Mark

    Maybe the SF education programme has changed since my day but correct me if I’m wrong – Irish Republicanism is not about an OED definition of a ‘republic’. The two terms aren’t interchangeable? That Proclamation of our independence is now over-ridden by a google dictionary?

    Once again Mark, your confusing me for a member of SF. I have no idea what SF’s definition of “republican” is. I know mine. That’d be the most open one possible. Strictly, if you are an Irish republican, I can’t see how you can argue in favour of partition, though.

    I’d rather everyone’s republican bona fides accepted, even if they differ in ideas on how to get there, or what it would look like. Diversity is always and everywhere a strength in politics rather than a single voice. FF can reach people you can’t. And vice versa.

    Weepublik-e

    Kensei quick to deny the Sinn Fein angle?
    Why bother if you don’t support them yet seem to argue for them?

    Dave

    Weepublik-e, a lot of party hacks pose as impartial commenters.

    I find the idea of this as hilarious. I can guarantee you Dave that I have never been a member of any political party or campaigned or wrote any literature for one. Full disclosure: Chris Donnelly here asked me to give him a little help with somehting he’s writing,a nd I said it wouldn’t be a problem. He has not got back to me though. I find the thought I’m a party hack posing as anything hilarious.

    I am not “impartial”. SF are closer to my politics than many other parties though it’s far from a perfect fit and I can recognise a lot of the stuff they are doing badly. But I find a lot of what is written on them godawful and thus it gets my WTF reflex.

  • Mark McGregor

    Tom,

    That’s a straw man argument and to be honest beneath you. Deal with and counter McIntyre’s points if you have problems with them. He isn’t any more responsible for the points of those he shares a platform with than you are for my contributing to a blog where I give opinions you may disagree with.

    Seems like a terribly and unexpected censorious mindset from you.

  • latcheeco

    Maybe Northern Home Rule Party might now be a better term than Catholic Party as theology has little to do with it (albeit most members are taigs).

    Mark,
    I don’t know if Tone or Emmett,or Lord Edward Fitzgerald would have been socialists but it’s hard to argue that they weren’t Irish Republicans.

    The problem with socialist workers’ republics is that usually to have one, one needs to have workers in the first place, and to have workers one needs capitalists to create businesses. You can’t have workers rights without workers. Else it would be an unemployed workers republic. Sometimes when you live in an economy that runs without factories and is paid for by government subscription it’s easy to lose sight of economic reality in favor of utopian dreamland.

  • Wasn’t it Ed Moloney who suggested that Gerry Adams had endorsed the Redemptorist ‘stepping stones’ ‘Brits Out’ proposition on the grounds that the Catholic Church had more political leverage than the PRM? If it didn’t work out the PRM would return to its old ways, the Tactical Use of Armed Struggle.

  • dunreavynomore

    “a Nationalist is someone who accepts the current situation without working to ensure unification” it was sammy…

    But, Sammy, read or listen to any s.f. statement from the last couple of years and you’ll find that they speak about ‘the nationalist people’ and ‘nationalist Ireland’ all the time while barely using the term ‘republican’ unless in the context of ‘dissident republicans.’ so what does that tell us in terms of your definition of nationalism?

  • John O’Connell

    If it didn’t work out the PRM would return to its old ways, the Tactical Use of Armed Struggle.

    Or the tactical use of human suffering. Another reason for them not to be referred to as Catholic in any religious sense.

  • John, you mustn’t have been reading the news recently. Abuse in Catholic institutions? And not limited to that faith group.

  • Dave

    Pete, that’s where I disagree with McIntyre that ‘dissidents’ are republicans, whereas the Shinners are not. In McIntyre’s world, the Shinners were republicans when they did what the dissidents continue to do. In my world (where the direction of gravity is a matter for science to determine rather than self-serving semantics), both the dissidents and the Shinner are excluded from being republicans for the reasons outlined.

    It is true that the Shinners now accept that they were wrong to use force for political objectives contrary to the democratic will of the majority and that they have taken a vow that commits them to exclusively peaceful means, so that impediment to republican philosophy is no longer there.

    However, they have signed up to an agreement that requires British constitutional structures as a condition of unity, so that support for monarchy is a new impediment that excludes them from being republicans. Under the GFA (Article 1 of the British-Irish Agreement), one million people will not be required to assume Irish citizenship if the constitutional status of Northern Ireland changes. How can a sovereign state operate on any inclusive basis with such a large percentage of its population not being its citizens and having no duty of loyalty to it? For example, there would be no way to employ these people in areas of the State that require an oath of loyalty to it or that require citizenship (judges, political office, etc). Because the GFA as a blueprint for unity requires that Ireland rejoins the constitutional structure of the UK, British sovereignty over Ireland is being processed by stealth under the guise of the Ireland/United Kingdom [North/South] Ministerial Committee. That’s the emergent status quo.

    If hidden support for monarchy wasn’t enough to disqualify them from being republicans per se, there is also a new impediment that specifically excludes them from now being classified as Irish republicans – their formal acceptance via the GFA that the Irish nation in Northern Ireland does not have an inalienable right to national self-determination but rather has an aspiration toward it that is now legitimately subject to the discretion of another nation. It is also subject to the discretion of another sovereign state to which that other nation owe their allegiance since the SoS alone has the discretion to call a border poll and the UK parliament may repeal the Northern Ireland Act 1988 at the sole discretion of that sovereign power. There is no donning of a tin-foil hat there (to speculate about the hidden agenda of British constitutional structures): it is verifiable fact. British sovereignty over vital political, cultural and economic institutions of the Irish state is also verifiable fact.

    So, not only have they consolidated British rule in Northern Ireland, they have extended British rule back into the Irish state by passing it off as innocuous-sounding ‘cross-border co-operation.’ British rule in Northern Ireland is now passed off as Irish rule in order to extend that British rule into Ireland. A power-sharing Stormont doesn’t mean that Stormont isn’t British rule.

    Now, back to self-determination being a collective right. There could be no militant republicans after the nation had attained its right to self-determination and exercised that right to pursue its political aims via politics. Anyone who used force after the establishment of the Irish nation-state against the will of the Irish nation is excluded, by definition, from being a republican. To worm their way out of that logic, the Shinners claimed that the Irish nation had not attained self-determination because part of that nation was excluded from self-determination by partition. True, part of it was excluded by partition (and forever will be now that that part has formally accepted the constitutional legitimacy of partition), but that part was a minority that would not have altered the collective will of the majority even if it was included in the exercise of its self-determination. In other words, even if that majority had a magical right to vote in Ireland, the collective will of the majority as expressed through the laws of its parliament would have prevailed. Since they could not alter the will the majority by any means, they simply ignored the will of the majority, showing their abject contempt for the principle of self-determination and thereby excluding themselves from being republicans.

    They may now be constitutional democrats, but they are British constitutional democrats. The SDLP were always praised for being constitutional nationalists, but it was always expediently overlooked that the constitution that they were abiding by was the British constitution (which held that Northern Ireland was British) and not the Irish constitution (which held that Northern Ireland was Irish), so they could not have been Irish nationalists.

  • joeCanuck

    I’m not at all sure that all, perhaps most, of supporters of Sinn Fein even understand what the Party stands for. Sammy’s definition above comes very close to the mark, I believe.

  • It is a growth fuelled by greater numbers of Catholics not opposed to the British presence per se but who feel the British can be made to run the Northern state more fairly so that Catholics can improve their chances within a British political system.

    I have no doubt that the structural constraints that described by McIntyre exist. But what is striking is the extent that neither Sinn Fein nor the nationalist/republican community has bowed to them. If they wanted to the maximise their position within the British political system, they could have five valuable votes in the House of Commons, but they choose not to exercise them, and the nationalist community has supported that all-Ireland strategy over that of the SDLP.

    I think most nationalists have shown themselves to be pragmatic republicans over the past two decades. It seems it would suit a lot of people to close the down the possibility of such a category, Maybe they will get their way, I hope not.

    The neoconservatives are one of those groups who have been hostile to the peace process, particularly because they fear pressure for similar settlements elsewhere, notably Israel.

    It’s pretty clear from the Blanket’s role in publishing the Danish Mohammed cartoons, that it’s not simply a matter of dialogue, but that McIntyre goes along way with the neoconservative worldview.

    The Blanket published a manifesto with the first two paragraphs:

    After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.

    We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
    http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu:81/MAN0503061g.html

    That is neoconservatism in a nutshell, applying the cold war template to a new bogeyman, Islam, to split the left and enforce right-wing intellectual hegemony.

    Note that the Henry Jackson Society themselves regard him as being on board:

    In this context, McIntyre’s real struggle is not so much against Islamist theocracy as the trajectory of old allies on the Left: those who would see violent protests against the cartoons as an understandable reaction to the apparent depredations of the West, and recoil at the ‘imperialist’ notion of projecting democracy and human rights across the planet. The Blanket thus, makes a formidable addition to a dynamic dissident movement being mobilised within leftist ranks; a ‘hidden continent’ of opinion as Paul Berman puts it, perturbed that the rush to condemn excesses of Western power is forcing the surrender of Western virtues – or, at least failing to apply liberal standards outside the Anglo-American sphere of controversy. In Britain, its literary expression can be found in Saturday, Ian McEwan’s meditation on conflict, intervention and indifference; the idea has since been galvanised by the Euston Manifesto. Common to all is the appeal to the conscience of liberal politics to restore Enlightenment values against terror and intimidation; an appeal that has been central to the work of The Henry Jackson Society since its foundation in March 2005.
    http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu:81/GG2206065g.html

  • Jimmy Sands

    It is provocative to describe it as catholic as it has had precious little to do with religion. I find celtic and rangers far more accurate descriptions of sectarian divisions than using theological terms to describe individuals who regard the commandments as mild hints rather than ethical imperatives. I’ve never much cared for the term republican as descriptive of them either, implying as it does a respect for liberal democratic institutions which they certainly never displayed. If PSF’s violent revanchists/ultra-nationalist ever had an ideology to abandon it was fascism.

  • chants

    Republicanism

    An ideal of government that emphasizes the role of the active, participating citizen in government, often looking back to the role of the citizen in ancient Rome or Athens. Institutionally it aims at checks and balances to prevent the emergence of faction and majority tyranny, but also to the town-hall politics whereby decision-making has a bottom-up rather than a top-down structure.

    (1) The belief that one’s country ought to be a republic rather than a monarchy;
    (2) specifically, in Ireland, support for the militant (armed) branch of Irish nationalism.

    The only political organization that would be Republican to that definition would be Republican Sinn Fein, by reading about their political policy documents in particular Eire Nua

    http://rsf.ie/eirenua.htm

    and saol nua

    http://rsf.ie/saolnua.htm

    I think it would make interesting reading an interview with Des Dalton explaining what their politics and policies are and then contrast these with Adams’ SF regards Republican foundation/basis. In particular since they are often not permitted to explain what they stand for.

  • I can offer an alternative definition for republicanism in Ireland to number 2 there.

    belief in an independent, democratic secular republic achieved through forging the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.

    And I’m sure we could all offer our own to suit our own beliefs.

  • Scaramoosh

    What they really are, of course, is reformed terrorists, on a path of transition. A path that consists of mostly having to deal with unknown knowns and failed grand narratives.

    One of the great ironies regarding Sinn Fein, is that they are purely a nationalist phenomena, kept in their lofty perch by Unionist intransigence, and failure to rid themselves of the notion of existential death. If the Unionist were prepared to embrace the inevitable and to start to strategise for their own roles within the context of a United Ireland, Sinn Fein would become the meaningless rump that they actually are. Sadly, all shades of Unionism are bereft of radical thought and they actually need Sinn Fein, to underpin their policies of outright negativity.

    I think that the same argument also applies to the so called “loyalist terrorists.” Whist the present impasse pertains, these guys are going to get nothing more than the crumbs of the table. They would actually be better off, and probably be given greater respect, in a United Ireland.

    The old grand narrative that spoke of the grey skies of the Irish Republic, is of course a nonsense; as revealed by Sinn Fein’s voting record there.

    The problems that you suffer from are the problems that you make.

  • underwood

    “It sticks in the craw to confer the status of republican on anyone who would endorse touting, no matter how useless, self-referential, abhorrent or counterproductive the actions of physical force republicans.”

    Does McIntyre apply this rule on “good” republicanism to the 26 counties as well as to the 6? If so, is he not confusing republicanism with gangsterism and anarchy? If not, then he should come out and state that he sees nothing wrong with informing on dissidents within the 26 counties.

    He is right about SF being a catholic party. They are deeply sectarian. They deliberately set out to speak for, represent, and pitch for votes from only catholics. Even their language is interesting in this regard, you often hear SF people speak of catholics and the catholic community, but only ever of unionists never protestants.
    But does McIntyre himself not do exactly the same thing. Is he not every bit as tribal as SF?

  • Gael gan Náire

    “you often hear SF people speak of catholics and the catholic community”

    I cant recall that, can you give a link.

    I know that Antony McIntyre is not a politican nor does not stand for election but does anyone know if he has set out his current ideology anywhere or if he suggests a political program / strategy?

  • Brit

    Interesting to me as an outsider, these labels. As a British social democrat I am simultaneously a Republican and a Unionist (and an atheist) – although perhaps using different definitions.

    Im Republican in that I reject as utterly inconsistent with democratic and liberal norms the existence of a Monarchy. I am however, intensely relaxed, about the British Royal family and their position given that it is powerless symbolic position. If the majority like the Royal Family and its good for tourism industry then I’m not going to lose sleep over it. I look forward to the day when we quietly dismantle the royal family.

    I am instintively Unionist as someone of Scots, Welsh and English (and Irish both flavours) heritage and as someone who, as a progressive, is distainful of nationalism and the use of myths of nation and oppression as a political organising tool. The SNP and Plaid Cymru may have some decent policies but organising your political party on the basis of your national identity seems ridiculous when there is no campagin of opression of Scots or Welsh.

    For similar reasons I am happy to see Northern Ireland part of Britain so long as the Catholic minority have equal civil legal and cultural rights.

    I guess the word Catholic and Protestant in this context is primarly about ethnicity/nationhood rather than a dispute about theology. Catholic in NI means Irish Irish identifying with the Republic / island of Ireland and not the British. Protestant means British Irish or Uster Scots or whatever, not identifying with the Republic and rejecting the notion of a unified Irish nation in the island. These differences are not about the position of the Pope but of nationality.

    Finally I know that Irish Republicans routinely trot out the “there were loads of Prod Irish Nationalists” but the number of Protestants (in the ethnic/nation sense) who support SF must be absolutely miniscule.

  • otto

    You can tell them by their shopping habits.

    Republicans are people who, if they’ve got money, buy posher trucks (if they’re American), or swanky MPVs (if they’re French). Monarchists dream of Bentleys.

    Republicanism = democracy, universality and anti-elitism. If you want you can be both socialist and republican. Tony Benn for example, who’s preferred route to socialism is ever-expanding democracy. You can even be Christian and republican (Tony again and all those co-operative society founding Christian socialist types).

    You can’t be clerical and republican. That why the AOH stick out like a sore thumb, turning up everywhere like whining party poopers in the US. Clericalism has its own political agenda and it isn’t republican.

  • Rory Carr

    Insisting that those who call themselves (and who are known to the world as) Republicans are not really republicans but rather Catholic Nationalists, McIntyre then goes on to insist that those who insist of not being known as Catholics are in fact Catholics whether they like it or not.

    Faultless logic, as the Queen of Hearts* might think.

    * In Alice in Wonderland the Queen of Hearts insists to Alice that “a thing is whatever I say it is, nothing more, nothing less.”

  • otto

    Correction.

    You can, like the younger Garrett Fitzgerald, be as clerical as you like and republican, provided that you keep your religion and your politics separate.

    If you can’t, and insist on infesting your politics with your dogma, like FF, you’re not republican. You’re a git.

    What this has to do with Sinn Fein I don’t know.

    Anyone else do a double take when Bairbre DeBrun referred to “the UK mainland” on the news yesterday? I think she’s spending too much time with that Nicholson fella.

  • “precious little to do with religion” Jimmy Sands

    The institutions of church, state, party et al have been intertwined for so long, Jimmy, that the joins can be almost seamless. Even the members may not be conscious of any value in separating out the varying aspects, conflicting or otherwise.

  • John O’Connell

    Nevin

    19.John, you mustn’t have been reading the news recently. Abuse in Catholic institutions? And not limited to that faith group.

    There is a difference between describing an organisation which sets out as its prime aim to inflict suffering and one that has inflicted suffering as a side effect of its lack of supervision by the state primarily as Christian or Catholic. The prime aim of the Church is to help Christ save the world and the prime aim of Sinn Fein/IRA was to inflict suffering – or the tactical use of human suffering.

  • Cladycowboy

    Brit,

    “As a British social democrat..”

    and

    “and as someone who, as a progressive, is distainful of nationalism..”

    You’re a British Nationalist. Back to the drawing board.

  • “lack of supervision by the state”

    Not just the state, John, unless you mean the Vatican state. I don’t think the ‘tactical use’ qualification would bring much, if any, comfort to the victims. The MSM’s use of the ‘sectarian’ qualification IMO falls into a similar category.

  • Brit

    “You’re a British Nationalist” Cladycowboy

    I am a supporter and member of the British Labour Party. British nationalism has nothing to do with the current or historical platform or programme of that party.

    My Britishness is an accident of birth and does not have any political signficance to me. I am an internationalist and a univeralist. Thats why I think the sub-state (political) nationalism of Scots or Catalan nationalists is a pathetic basis for a political programme. These movements, which try to cloak themsevles in progressive language, pedle a the myth oppression by “other” and prioritisation of nation which is typically a feature of the most reactionary Nationalism.

    In terms of culture I am British and sort of patriotic I suppose, although I probably feel more English than British and being a Londoner is much more important to my identity then being either.

    Given the above on what possible basis do you conclude that I am a British nationalist?

  • Cladycowboy

    “Thats why I think the sub-state (political) nationalism of Scots or Catalan nationalists is a pathetic basis for a political programme”-Brit,

    So, British Labour Party is ok but Scottish or Catalan Labour Party is pathetic?

    “In terms of culture I am British and sort of patriotic I suppose”

    The patriotic internationalist, indeed.

    “Given the above on what possible basis do you conclude that I am a British nationalist?”

    You seem to be happy, content with and politically operatational within the British State. You have not called for the abolition of the British state and the immediate formation of a global government. That is the basis on which you can be labelled a British Nationalist.

    Being a British Nationalist is totally fine but it’s no superior, nor less “pathetic” than being a Catalan Nationalist in any way.

    As it stands your claim to be universalist has about as much substance as the current British Labour party’s claim to be a party for labour.

  • Brit

    Cladyboy – you’re talking shite and I think you know if.

    “British Labour Party is ok but Scottish or Catalan Labour Party is pathetic” Wrong.

    Scottish Labour Party is the organisational division of the Labour Party that operates in Scotland. The Scottishness simply sets out where it operates but not the basis, or certainly the principal basis for its politics or approach. Similarly the organisational divisions of the Spanish socialists in Catalunya or the Basque territories are not nationalists.

    “The patriotic internationalist, indeed.”

    Yes thats right. I am fundamentally an internationalist, I believe all people are fundamentally entitled to equal civil and human rights and that our obligations as humans to others extent beyond the artibrary boundries of our nationstate. It is a political philosophy.

    Absolutely nothing about that political stance which does not say that my culture and identity cannot be particularist and local. I support the British athletics team that doesnt mean I am not or cant be an internationalist. I am a passionate Spurs supporter – that is part of my cultural identity (a central part) but has absolutely nothing to do with politics.

    “You seem to be happy, content with and politically operatational within the British State. You have not called for the abolition of the British state and the immediate formation of a global government. That is the basis on which you can be labelled a British Nationalist.”

    On this basis the The Socialist Workers Party is British nationalist. I have not called for the abolution of the Swedish or Argentinan states and am quite happy for them to be politically operational – does that mean I am a Swedish or Argentinian Nationalist. Nelson Mandela must be a big British Nationalist as well as he has never called for the abolution of the British state.

    So no I am not a British Nationalist. Never have been and never will be.

  • underwood

    Brit
    Don’t be drawn into a debate with that half-wit. He doesn’t care what your politics are. You’re a Brit, that’s enough for him to hate you.

  • Cladycowboy

    Brit,

    I’ll try and fight my way through the straw men..

    Being a British Nationalist doesn’t equate to being a BNP supporter.

    You call Welsh and Scottish Nationalist parties ridiculous [This is in despite of the fact that if these parties were to be successful in realising independence from the UK, the countries would still want to be part of the EU].

    So, you can be a pathetic, ridiculous ‘sub-state’ nationalist and still be an ‘internationalist’.

    Q. Would you be happy, as a British citizen and follower of British culture, if the British state was to disappear tomorrow?

    If no, then you are a British Nationalist.

    “I am a passionate Spurs supporter”

    Having lived on White Hart Lane for a year i’ve developed a soft spot for Arsenal.

  • Cladycowboy

    Underwood,

    Why don’t you crawl back under it?

    There’s a good lad.

  • Brit

    “Would you be happy, as a British citizen and follower of British culture, if the British state was to disappear tomorrow?”

    If no, then you are a British Nationalist.”

    Brillant argument – you’ve got me there. I am a big old British Nationalist – who knew?

  • kensei

    Brit

    Apparently not you, while you were castigating Irish Nationalists who could well hold very similar views to you.

    It’s nothing aprticularly to be ashamed of. he cognitive dissonace, however, a touch embarassing.

  • Cladycowboy

    “Brillant argument – you’ve got me there. I am a big old British Nationalist – who knew?”

    We seem to be divided by a common language. I’m not setting out to wind you up.

    You described being born British as an accidence of birth. You like most of the world’s people were born under a nation state that you could readily identify with. Happy days. You can take for granted that it was British Nationalism [not a dirty word, i repeat] that created the state you were born in. A Nation state for British people.

    An Irish nationalist would not be happy if the Irish state was to disappear tomorrow.

    It’s a simple question on whether you as a cultural British person wants a British state.

  • Brit

    Kensei “while you were castigating Irish Nationalists” – you have a vivid imagination there. I didnt mention Irish Nationalists let alone castigate them. Maybe you a suffering from some sort of persecution complex.

  • Cladycowboy

    “I didnt mention Irish Nationalists let alone castigate them”

    C’est vrai. However, you did mention Scottish and Welsh nationalists and you are on a NI website frequented by Irish nationalists-it’s not big stretch to smell some implication..

    Kensei’s point still stands that you can be a Catalan, Scottish or Basque Nationalist and hold all the internationalist, universal empathy and Human rights views that you do. So what’s the problem with them wanting indeppendence?

  • John O’Connell

    Nevin

    Not just the state, John, unless you mean the Vatican state. I don’t think the ‘tactical use’ qualification would bring much, if any, comfort to the victims.

    I mean the Irish state in respect of the Ryan report.

    “Tactical use” simply implies that they did it because they were meant to do it. Clergy were not meant to do it, the Provos, etc, intended to create suffering because that is what it said in their constitution.

    It may not bring any comfort, and that is disputable, for the victims of child abuse to know that these people were breaking the rules too and some are now paying a price, but it is no comfort at all to the victims of our troubles to know that some people actually believe that the tactical use of human suffering delivers results.

  • Brit

    A Catalan, Scots or Basque nationalist is someone who despite living in a region which a clear cultural identity and signficant political autonomy, where they are free to speak their language, express any aspect of their culture, decides to put their political engergies first and foremost not into the economy, crime, health, unemployment, drug addiction but into gaining independence.

    Why? Because they are wedded to irrational myths of the glorious history of the Catalan, Scots or Basque nation linked by blood and suffering and dislike of the awful Castillians or English. It is mixing up identity with politics and making politcal capital out of prejudice and parochialism.

    If the majority of people in these regions want independence they have the right to it – but its pathetic reactionary irrational identity politics. What I most hate is the attempt to wrap up their reactionary rubbish in the language of the progressive or the democrat.

    If a group is oppressed, subjugated, discriminated and denied any expression of nationhood, like the Tibetans, then political nationalism is a very different story.

    The Irish question is, I am well aware, much more complex given the existence of the free state and the large Catholic minority in the 6 counties.

  • JoeBryce

    For a number of years those who styled themselves “Republican” sought to achieve Irish unity by trying to kill me and my neighbours.

    Now they are committed to try to persuade me that Irish unity may be a good thing.

    Which tack do you think is most likely possibly ultimately to change my mind?

    “The Armed Struggle” set back Irish unity by 50 years. Compare Scotland, where purely peaceful nationalism now rules a Home Rule Parliament.

    I think the Shinners are now more republican than they were in the days when they sought to burn the Orange out of the tricolour.

    “The Armed Struggle” was ethnic cleansing, nothing more and nothing less, and besmirched an ideology that has much that is admirable in it and whose long term viability required its cessation.

  • kensei

    Brit

    Why?

    Because they sincerely believe those things are better tackled in an independent state, and will produce better outcomes in the long run.

    Please don’t project your prejudices.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JoeBryce,

    Well thats what happens when you set up a grubby little sectarian statelet and you then send in the army to shoot the people protesting about it off the streets.

    Republican violence continued until the Englezes decided to treat that violence as a legitminate insurgency – you should be directing at least part of your displeasue at the circumstance you had to endure at those across the water and the shocking sectarian behaviour of the Unionist community.

    Sociological tip for the future. Dont fuck people about – especially in their own country – they dont react very well to it.

  • Dave

    “Sociological tip for the future. Dont fuck people about – especially in their own country – they dont react very well to it.” – Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    More to the point: don’t establish a Stormont regime that excludes working class Catholics and working class Protestants from Stormont, since middle class Catholics and middle class Protestants both prospered under the old Stormont regime, whereas working class Catholics and working class Protestants were left to provide for their own needs and failed to do so. If you do, then those who are excluded will use violence to seek redress from the state.

    Hang on a second…

    Working class Protestants are still excluded from Stormont, so they’re the only remaining ‘taigs.’ That must be why loyalists are expressing solidarity with them by walking though their ghettoes en masse.

    Good luck to them. If working class Catholics are rewarded for violence aimed at securing political inclusion, then there is no reason not to reward working class Protestants for doing the same. After all, mass murder is now a perfectly legitimate political tactic for securing internal political reforms that one social group desires.

  • HeadTheBall

    “I look forward to the day when we quietly dismantle the royal family.”

    Totally agree. There is no need for tumbrels or guillotines, of course, but a British Republic is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

    Like my father before me I am a life-long republican, though of the Oliver Cromwell/Tony Benn variety rather than the Padraig Pearse kind. My family was always contemptuous of monarchy, but equally so of the “wrap the green flag round me” crowd.

    CladyCowboy suggested that:

    “An Irish nationalist would not be happy if the Irish state was to disappear tomorrow.”

    I agree with him, and that’s why I am no nationalist. I am as proud of being Irish as anyone but if the circumstances were right (ie, not a foreign invasion or involuntary submergence in a globalised economy, etc) I would happily bid the Irish state a fond (genuinely, for it has achieved much) farewell and move on to any better arrangement for the Irish people (preferably all of them, NI included). In light of the globalised economy, this might be a very helpful turn of events.

    I wish I could remember to whom I owe the quote, but it seems to me that nationalism (any kind) is “forever suspended between an imagined splendid past and an imagined splendid future”.

  • Dave

    You might be surprised to discover that the so-called “globalised economy” is merely a set of free-trade treaties between sovereign states (220 such treaties were signed in the last 15 years), so it is not in any way an alternative to the sovereign state.

    However, globalization is now stalled and showing signs of a serious reversal. Trade flows, for example, are expected to fall at 4 times the rate of global GDP in 2009. Tariffs are also rising in the global economy, and many countries are increasing their immigration restrictions. Financial globalization has been an unmitigated disaster with problems in one state spreading uncontrollably to other states through increased linkage among the world’s markets.

    A minority of internationalists would like a world government but the majority of them simply advocate greater co-operation between sovereign states. They may well like such a government, but not a single one of the world’s nations shares that sentiment.

    There is no alternative to the state (only 12 million of the global population are stateless), so what you are really advocating is that the Irish state is dismantled so that another state may take over the government of the Irish nation. I wonder which state that would be? Japan or the United Kingdom?

    A republican who doesn’t believe in the state? How will the people have self-government without a state? Through the looking glass indeed.

    Irish republicans acted to secure a right to self-government (self-determination) for the Irish people, i.e. to secure a nation-state. The Provisionals, on the other hand, had an entirely different agenda of securing reunification. They could not, of course, have had the aim of Irish republicans since those Irish republicans had already secured an Irish nation-state.

    That allowed the British state to use the Shinner touts to define reunification as the end in itself rather than the means to an end. So, rather than reunification having the objective of extending Irish national self-determination into Northern Ireland, the new objective of reunification is that the Irish nation in Ireland should renounce their right to Irish national self-determination in exactly the same pitiful way that the Irish nation in Northern Ireland were led to do. In other words, they should give up their state and replace it with a replica of Her Majesty’s dominion of Northern Ireland.

    These party hacks are more loyal to their own self-serving party than they are to the Irish nation and its state. Tragic quislings. 😉

  • JoeBryce

    Sammy McNally, I don’t disagree with you about the circumstances in which partition took place. I think Unionism made a huge historical mistake in rejecting Home Rule from the 1880’s on. Prnell might, I suppose, have been Ireland’s Donald Dewar. Just perhaps that might have avoided much horror.

    You don’t seem to disagree with me about The Armed Struggle. It was counterproductive, as well as wrong. Tell me honestly, where do you think a purely peaceful republicanism / nationalism – or at least nationalism – might have got to by now?

    1967 – Scotland’s first SNP MP.
    2007 – Scotland’s first SNP Government.

    1969 – NI Civil rights movement
    2009 – Powersharing in a traumatically polarised community.

    Compare, contrast, and give me your honest view.

  • HeadTheBall

    JoeBryce,

    Everything you said.

    Dave,

    Thanks for your very informative and well developed response. I agree with much that you say, but:

    “A republican who doesn’t believe in the state?”

    No, I believe in the state, fair enough, just not forever the same state or a state enshrouded in some kind of moral imperative.

    This “national self-determination” kick, though. Didn’t do the people of the Balkans a lot of good, did it?

    Validation word is “europe”, BTW. ironic or what?

  • Brit

    “Republican violence continued until the Englezes decided to treat that violence as a legitminate insurgency”

    1. Firstly the English (with limited exceptions such as myself) do not give a flying f*ck about Northern Ireland, nor do they have any understanding about it.

    2. It is the British government, the British government not the English government.

    3. Most importantly Republican violence stopped because IRA/Sinn Fein surrendered (yes I am being deliberately provocative). It gave up violence when it realised that it would not be able to bomb and murder the 6 counties into seceding from the UK against the will of the Unionist communinty – the majority in those 6 counties.

    “Dont fuck people about – especially in their own country – they dont react very well to it.”

    British soliders acted in a despicable way on Bloody Sunday but it was a one off, not sancioned by the state. It does not, in any way, legitimise the terrorism of the IRA. Furthermore it was no worse that the murderous acts of violence repeatedly carried out by Republican and Loyalist terrorists.

    Republicans f@cked about with the Unionist/Loyalists in *their* own country – and they didnt react too well either.

  • Serpent

    @Pearse

    Republicanism today is dead, we now need a warrior, we need a revived Pearse, someone who’s willing to put this country forward for war. We need a revived IRB

    Republicanism, when stripped to it’s core was and is the philosophy that the Irish nation had a right to self determination to exercise sovereignty over the island, whereas Irish unionists were not the equals of Irish nationalists and did not have those same rights of self determination, therefore a compromise based on a maximisation of the consent of the governed for the government such as partition (though other compromise possibilities might theoretically be possible e.g. Bosnian style extreme federalism) is necessarily an injustice.

    For all it’s patina of being “progressive” this defining characteristic of Republicanism is a concept for an age past, a time when you could win the Nobel peace prize for ethnically cleansing Greeks and Turks,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fridtjof_Nansen

    In many ways Irish republicanism ended when NATO bombed Serbia. That was the signal from the international community that in Europe the genocide, population transfer or even just forced assimilation that would be necessary to realise Republicanism’s pipe dream would simply not be tolerated, at least not in Europe. Hence Northern Ireland has become a kind of petri dish for wider EU political structures, not a glorious closing chapter on the process of decolonisation as many lefties thought it would be. In truth, the dream of Republicans for a 32 county Gaelic sovereign republic will never be allowed to come about whatever a referendum result. Consociationalism or some other newer scheme will be tried before that is tolerated.

    Ironic how the Republicans whose “progressivism” citing Marx (remember him?) and decolonisation ended up being followers of anachronism. In fact unionism, in that it stated that the rights of an Irish unionist are equal to the rights of an Irish nationalist, and a compromise must be arrived at between those rights which weighs them equally, however shoddily implemented and whatever the individual injustices along the way, was it seems at it’s philosophical core the more progressive of the two philosophies as judged by history. Who can doubt that the idea of sovereignty based on consent and contract, not races or histories is the wave of at least the immediate future.

    Indeed the EU itself is based on the concept of sovereignty rights being tradable, far from being inalienable. Unionism can actually cope with that much better than Republicanism in my view. Unionism doesn’t need discriminatary housing executives, ratepayer franchise or gerrymandered council districts. It doesn’t need Protestants to be wealthier than Catholics. What it needs to win is for unionists to have equal rights of self determination to nationalists. Take that one thing away and it loses, accept that one thing and it wins. In contrast without the concept of the inalienable majority right of self determination of the inhabitants of a historically or geographically defined bounding set of persons called Ireland Republicanism is indeed dead.