Sinn Fein must learn to lower expectations

Liam Clarke, never a republican apologist, takes the alarmist line on Sinn Fein’s future if it sticks with Gerry Adams. No surprise that he describes a party moving away from the old stalinism. A new southern strategy he reports, is not only needed on its merits but to counteract fears of instability in the north.

The DUP political leadership appears less committed to equality and partnership in government; unionism overall is fractured and directionless; and the political institutions are becoming increasingly unstable.” Paring down the rhetoric, it is clear that Sinn Fein finds the DUP hard to deal with and can’t count on being in government in the north indefinitely

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Pessimism like this is bound to follow the shattering of illusions after its electoral debacle in the Republic .

Any other party could spin this as a case of swings and roundabouts, but Sinn Fein has sold itself as a national movement, not just another political party. In an image used by commentator Ed Moloney, Sinn Fein appears like a shark which will die if it cannot keep moving, eating and growing.

If Sinn Fein remains dazzled by a self-image like this, then indeed it could hasten its own downfall. It must lower expectations and learn to accept that it has become just another nationalist party, currently the leading one in the north. That’s the logic of the political settlment.SF can derive encouragement from the fact outside the cellular world so beloved of zealots and journalists alike, its voters can digest the dream like a religion they no longer take too literally. More important than the old battles is the fact that unionism needs a stable opposite number to make it respectable and keep the powersharing show in the road. The SDLP would at this stage be uncertain beneficiaries of a SF “collapse.” SF must buck up. Revisionism is advancing in the direction of democratic politics. The one argument that will never play again is that more concessions are needed to help the SF cause. No more crying wolf, just in case you’re tempted, guys. Welcome to the level playing field.

  • Ulick

    Somehow I can’t see SF being dazzled by anything coming from either Liam Clarke or Ed Maloney, though the talk of the inevitable SF ‘downfall’ and ‘collapse’ is amusing – haven’t heard the likes of that since, erm before the last time they topped the poll.

  • Erasmus

    I am by no means a Sinn Féin supporter however I think reports of their impending death are greatly exaggerated.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brian Wlaker,

    re. “The one argument that will never play again is that more concessions are needed to help the SF cause. No more crying wolf, just in case you’re tempted, guys. Welcome to the level playing field. ”

    Slight misreading there Brian, as long as the Englezes continue with the (correct) view that violent Republicanism will probably re-emerge if they dont honour their committments in the GFA/STA e.g. implementation of Police and Justice and cooperation with the ROI then what many Uninoists call ‘concessions’ to SF will continue.

  • dunreavynomore

    Indeed, Erasmus, they will be around for quite a while, mainly in the 6 cos, and will be a bit player in the 26. Where will that take them? Their trouble is that it is not possible to be a real ‘all Ireland’ party while part of the administration in either as this brings conflicting policies into play. Thus, they can’t shout, ‘hard left’ in the 26 while enforcing Thatcherism in the 6. For the younger generation Sinn Féin are starting to become ‘the establishment’ and that brings its own problems for the shinners.

  • kensei

    If Sinn Fein remains dazzled by a self-image like this, then indeed it could hasten its own downfall. I

    Apparently you are reading the article wrong. It doesn’t appear to be SF that are dazzled by their own images.

    It must lower expectations and learn to accept that it has become just another nationalist party

    Start treating them like one then. This is mostly swings and roundabouts, and the final peeling off of the elements to SF’s right. The ones the concessions were designed to stop peeling off for as long as possible.

    The SDLP would at this stage be uncertain beneficiaries of a SF “collapse.”

    Well, that’s one, reasonably friendly option, Brian. Unfortunately it is the least likely one in a lot of working class nationalist areas.

  • Jemimah T

    Nice to see you indulge in your passion for self pity again there, USA. However, while you incorrectly believe that people who have the audacity to criticise your compatriots’ comments simply because of your shared nationality, you continue to ignore the fact that such vitriol actually stems from the fact that ‘oldruss’ and Kathy Collins have recently been involved in posting ill-informed, vacuous nonsense and, in the latter’s case, nonsensical tirades e.g. “Gerry Adams should resign because he represents a constituency that is overwhelmingly Catholic but recently said that he admires the Methodist Church” [Kathy Collins] or “you can’t criticise my comments because the US spend a lot of blood and treasure in helping kick Hitler’s ass back in WWII so shut up” [oldruss].

    Not exactly top-notch scholarship and analysis, is it? Furthermore, your snide comment to the effect that anyone who disagrees with the content of this site’s American contingent’s viewpoints has the ability only to “inadvertently” contribute a worthwhile argument doesn’t make you seem condescending or arrogant at all, does it?

    Still, the points which you make in your “arguements” seem a lot more “relevent” than theirs, so good luck to you. A little self wallowing in one’s self pity and you could go far.

  • the joxer

    In the South, there is plenty of work to do. In the North, however, they’ll continue to grow, against most Slugger commentators’ hopes and expectations.

    I recently spoke to a committed SDLP activist in Downpatrick which has been bedrock SDLP territory since Eddie McGrady was an altar boy. His view was that the SDLP will continue to cede losses and plenty of council seats in 2011 to the Shinners within the town. Before that, maybe the ultimate scalp of Eddie’s seat. Why? The hard slog on the ground and the daily hassling of gvt. agencies on bread and butter issues by SF compared to the once a week exertions of the SDLP-namely the Wednesday dander to the corner shop by the former Council Chairman to see if his mug-shot has made the Down Recorder for the 200th time in a row.

  • Joxer,

    I can’t see Ruane defeating either McGrady or Margaret Ritchie. Who is the alternative candidate for PSF who might do so?

  • gimpy

    My Italian friend, nowadays northern Catholics will vote for a 7 foot turd if it’s wearing a green rosette and mutters something about “mandating all-Ireland institutions”. The SDLP are now beyond a joke. Have a look at the embarassing catastrophic collapse of their vote in West Tyrone since 2001, especially at the 2007 election and on Strabane Council: coming to a green area near you.

  • the joxer

    Garibaldi, Willie Clarke has a strongish base if an alternative was chosen this time around. Next time, Cllr. Micky Coogan shows great promise. However despite the media demonisation of Ruane, she is well-thought of locally and you can always rely on the local electorate to vote for the Party, not the candidate.

    As for beating McGrady or Ritchie, SF has a much better chance of beating the former but Eddie has already signalled his intent to run again.

  • Erasmus

    To USA et al,
    Ignore the crass xenophobia. AFAIC all views from across the pond are welcome.

  • Gimpy,

    They tend though to vote for the green rosette that’s in place. Which McGrady is. The Assembly elections were quite close, but at the last Westminster election, McGrady walked it. I don’t see any reason for that to change.

    Joxer,

    I wouldn’t underestimate the extent to which Ruane is viewed with contempt by the Catholic middle classes whose conversion has been a vital element to PSF’s overtaking of the SDLP. I don’t think they’ll vote for Ruane after all this stuff over the 11 Plus. As for those other people, I don’t think they have the profile to take the seat. South Down seems like the one place the SDLP have made a sensible decision in terms of planning to keep the seat.

  • Mr Schultz

    ‘South Down seems like the one place the SDLP have made a sensible decision in terms of planning to keep the seat. –

    Garibaldy-What’s the sensible decision? Allowing McGrady to run at the expense of Ritchie? McGrady is anonymous on a day to day basis and like the late Harry Patch, John Hume and Paisley Snr, he is wheeled out now and again for the benefit of tourists and photographers. The disdain felt by the middle classes towards Ruane will not be the deciding factor in the election.That will be the day to day performance of the 2 parties over the last few years.

  • gimpy

    [i]They tend though to vote for the green rosette that’s in place.[/i]

    Fair point. I suppose as an outsider it’s best to leave the speculation alone until we receive more accurate information from Catholics in south Down. Although I would add that, living not quite close to Derry myself, I can’t see any way that Durkan’s going to lose his seat. Derry ‘wans’ make sheep appear independent-minded.

    [i]I wouldn’t underestimate the extent to which Ruane is viewed with contempt by the Catholic middle classes whose conversion has been a vital element to PSF’s overtaking of the SDLP.[/i]

    Again, fair point. I’m a middle class Catholic and she really riles me. She has a fantastic propensity to annoy all, regardless of race, religion or class. But it begs the question: why are middle class Catholics voting for a left-wing political party that’s no friend of the bourgeois?

  • Schultz,

    At least people know who Ritchie is, and she has been given a responsible job to make her own reputation. Which I think she has done fairly well so far. As for McGrady, what you say may well be true. But it is clear he is immensely popular. And that I think will be the deciding factor, much more than work on the ground. That seems to me to be the lesson of most of NI’s politics for its existence – it’s very hard to get an incumbent out, especially if he has links to local people in the area going back years.

    Gimpy,

    If we didn’t speculate this site would be very empty! I’d agree that Durkan is safe. McDonnell will depend on unionism, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he takes the seat again.

    As for why the Catholic middle classes vote for the Provos, unlike a lot of their southern members, they know the left-wing stuff is pure window dressing.

  • The Joxer has not been paying attention in south Down. McGrady said he would run again when it looked as though Brown was going for an early general election in 2007. It didn’t happen, and there very few people who believe that the sitting MP will be on the ballot paper next time round. As for Ruane being well regarded locally, no doubt she works hard at her job. However, she was entirely unknown in south Down before she was sent in by her party and has still never lived in the constituency. These things matter.

  • LURIG

    I have often wondered who has been pulling Sinn Fein’s strings from the mid 90’s on. I firmly believe that they are highly infiltrated at the top by the British Security Services and that the ultimate aim of Britain is NOT the Peace Process but the defeat and humiliation of Sinn Fein and the Provos. It’s a combination of unfinished business in the North, Colonel Bogey colonial mindsets and a cementing of the Union. Sinn Fein are now firmly a British party administrating British rule in the North and a lot of their members are now starting to realise that. Sinn Fein’s northern Executive politics are very very right wing as they are totally involved in the butchering of public services and the introduction of private companies to carry out these services. They have embraced an anti-trade union, pro-privatisation, low paid call centre job mindset in the Executive and are now despised by the Northern trade union movement. As a Nationalist I shed no tears for their problems as they are a party which has surrendered it’s core principles and beliefs for the power of devolved British ministerial office. In the South they are no different from Fianna Fail or Fine Gael and that’s why most working class people there voted for Labour and Socialist candidates.

  • Brit

    “the ultimate aim of Britain is NOT the Peace Process but the defeat and humiliation of Sinn Fein and the Provos.”

    Paranoid, parochial shite. The British government (and the vast majority of the British public on the mainland) do not give a flying f@ck about NI or Sinn Fein. It is not in the top 20 items on the political agenda. The British have no strategic interest in whether NI remains part of Britain or secedes to join the Republic.

    The British government only have two concerns. Firstly they want peace. Second they want no consitutional change without consent. On everything else the British state (and people)are neutral/disinterested.

    Do you blame “the Brits” when you lose on the horses or when you get a flat tyre?

  • frustrated democrat

    Brit

    You obviously do not follow politics in NI very closely; Cameron, who hopefully will represent the ‘British State’ including NI very soon, is very clear on his plans for the UK as a whole.

    You may want to go and read some of his speeches on the subject – he has clearly stated he has a ‘selfish’ interest in maintaining the UK and representing all of it!

  • elvis parker

    USA
    ‘SF hold the levers of power in a semi autonomous power sharing assembly.’
    You greatly over-estimate the influence of our wee Assembly.
    Sure it gave a great impression of power when it first started – in contrast to direct rule local people had power and the Westminster Govt was on a spending spurgle that made all govt depts look powerful.
    However Gordon Brown’s chickens have now come home to roost and the Assembly is going to spend the next ten years implemented ever tightening public spending decisions.
    ‘Semi autonomous’? In their dreams

  • Brit

    Frustrated democrat,

    I confess I am not familiar in detail with the policies of Mr Cameron (who no doubt witll be next PM though perhaps with a smaller majority that some anticipate). However if in 5 years time the large majority of Unionists/Prods suddenly realised that SF had been right all these years and they were actually Irish and not British, then the British state / government led by Cameron would not stand in the way of the seccession of the 6 counties into the Republic.

    I should make it clear that my own instinctive position is a Unionist one and I think that the 6 counties will remain part of Britain for a long time to come. However if a large majority in the NI wanted this a and there was no threat of terrorism I would not argue against it.

    The thrust of my comment above was really directed to exposing one of the fundamental flaws of modern Irish nationlism/Republicanism – which is to see the obstacle to unification, and the cause of their problems, as being the British state (or sometimes the English) when in reality it is the Ulster Protestants (who are British but not recognised as such by SF).

    Conversely I think Unionism should strongly attempt to reach out in a determinedly non-sectarian way to try to persuade the Catholics that they can fully express their version of Gaelic Irishness in a democratic, multi-national and non-sectarian British state.

  • the joxer

    old hack,

    I can assure you that Eddie McGrady intends to run at the next Westminister election. It would take a brave Selection Committee to refuse to nominate him.

  • fin

    Frustrated Democrat, the problem Brit has and also myself, is although you say Davey has a strong interest in NI outside of the Conservative website I can’t find any mention of his gra for NI, could you point me in the direction of articles or interviews in the MSM where conservatives have spoken about NI?

  • Greenflag

    Brit,

    ‘I think Unionism should strongly attempt to reach out in a determinedly non-sectarian way to try to persuade the Catholics that they can fully express their version of Gaelic Irishness in a democratic, multi-national and non-sectarian British state.’

    You might want to think again . You might also think about asking the waves to stop moving towards the shore or you could try persuading the Orange Order to reduce it’s ‘exclusive ‘ celebrations and 3,000 parades every summer for three months or you might want to wait until the UK Head of State i.e Queenie no longer by law must be Protestant and cannot be a Catholic , before you even ‘approached’ ordinary Irish nationalists to consider ‘unionism’ in a favourable light never mind to ‘convert’

    The Republic of Ireland does not bar Protestants from becoming Head of State and in fact two Anglicans (COI not COE) Douglas Hyde and Erskine Childers were elected the latter by a considerable margin of votes over a ‘conservative’ Catholic rival.

    The British ‘Constitution’ continues to maintain it’s bar against RC’s sitting on the throne . As an anti monarchist anyway it’s not a matter of great concern to me personally but there you have it . Imagine the outcry in British media tomorrow if the Irish Government were to pass a law barring Protestants or any other religious or ethnic minority from becoming Head of State or a member of Parliament ?

    ‘The thrust of my comment above was really directed to exposing one of the fundamental flaws of modern Irish nationlism/Republicanism – which is to see the obstacle to unification, and the cause of their problems, as being the British state (or sometimes the English) when in reality it is the Ulster Protestants (who are British but not recognised as such by SF). ”

    What you write above is correct or I should say was correct up to perhaps 15 years ago and earlier . If that view is still held it may be held by a tiny minority of republican dissidents within NI or an even tinier minority of activists in the Irish Republic . However the vast majority of Irish nationalists/republicans are fully aware that the major impediment to achieving Irish Unity continues and will continue to be the political views held by the Unionist community within Northern Ireland .

    This is why Irish nationalists/republicans generally tend to get on with their British ( England/Scottish/Welsh counterparts but less so with NI Unionists . The last thing two businessmen from the Republic and England ever talk about when they meet is Northern Ireland or it’s politics , history etc . The first thing Irish businessmen have to assess when they meet a businessman from NI is which side of the fence the latter digs with so as a) not to cause offence and b) to prevent any business deal going sour because of ‘demonstrated’ political incompatability.

    Northern Ireland simply cannot be a non sectarian State . It was constructed on that foundation base ain it’s present 6 county format. You cannot break down that foundation without first dismantling the building that rests atop the foundation.

    NI will continue on it’s mandatory power sharing path as a shaky compromise -resting on uneasy foundations for as long as it continues to exist. It’s a choice between that or another 40 years plus of widespread sectarian conflict etc etc .

    And none of us want that do we ?

  • Brit

    Greenflag,

    Thank you for your comments which were much more cogent and civil than those of some of the others I have had from within “your” camp. Unsurprisingly, however, I dont agree with much of what you say.

    The whole thing about the King/Queen having to be Protestant is a stupid historical aberation – but it is there for reasons to do with political inertia and the establishment of the Church of England. It has nothing to do with oppression of Catholics, still less oppression of Irish nationalists (who are typically Catholics). Given that the role of the Monarch is an unimportant symbolic one this is hardly an important issue and one that in practice doesnt really effect anyone. The Jewish and Muslim minorities in Britain who would rightly be outraged if there where political, judicial, trade union or other positions closed to them on account of their race/religion are relaxed about the Protestant Monarch. I look forward to seeing the dismantling of the monarchy and the disestablishment of the Church of England but lets not see anti-Popery where there is none.

    I’m no fan of the Orange Order but it is a religious organisation, in part, and can exclude non Protestants lawfully. Perhaps if the Prods British identity had not been under threat, such violent threat, for so long the OO would not have the grasp on Unionst working class / rural culture that they do. Perhaps in a non-sectarian bi-national NI they would slowly decline and fade away?

    If you tell me that Irish nationalists / republicans beef is not with the (mainland) Brits I believe you but its certainly not what I have experienced moving in leftwing circles in a historically very Irish part of London. The ultimately colonial/imperliast analysis which I understand was central to the Republican agenda sees the basic issue as the imperialist British state as the agressor and cause of the problems.

    Why can NI not be a non-sectarian state? Britain is, by definition, multi-national. The English and Welsh and, to a lesser extent, Scots are all British but the have different and even antagonistic national identities. If the police force represents all, if the British army is off the streets, if the Gaelic Irish population has full rights to express its cultural and national idenity, to live free from disenfranchisement and discrimination -and all of these things are on the way to being achevied, why not? The alternative is persuading / forcing the majority community to give up being part of a state which they have been part of since records began and states existed? My understanding was that there is a small, but not insignificant group of Catholics who are soft Unionists (ie not partisans for the Union but quite happy to remain in the Union as things current stand).

    There will be no significant sectarian violence unless and until SF/IRA and their constituency revert from trying to persuade the Prods that they’re not actually British to murdering them into accepting the fact. Its up to them.

  • PaddyReilly

    Have a look at the embarassing catastrophic collapse of their vote in West Tyrone

    The (1st pref) SF vote in the recent European elections declined by 0.3% with respect to that in the elections 5 years ago, and the SDLP percentage of the vote increased by 0.3%.

    The Ulster Conservative and Unionist vote was up 0.5% on the UUP vote 5 years previously, but the UUP had in the meantime joined forces with an Ulster microparty, the Conservatives, who probably did account for around 0.5% of the vote.

    It is hard to see these micro-fluctuations as of any psephological significance.

    So the SF, SDLP and UCUNF vote are all rock solid: we have no reason to expect any substantial increase or decrease in their support. Any person who expects this is, quite frankly, away with the fairies.

    The one political change registered in the last election is the loss of support for the DUP and gain for the TUV, and this is the only place where one would expect movement in the near future.

  • PaddyReilly

    My understanding was that there is a small, but not insignificant group of Catholics who are soft Unionists (ie not partisans for the Union but quite happy to remain in the Union as things current stand).

    This definition I think would cover almost all Catholics in NI not currently in jail. The point is though, once it becomes apparent that there is no longer a working Unionist majority in NI (at present the overtly Unionist vote is around 49%, with another 2% or so of the votes coming to them as second preferences from parties which are not primarily Unionist, so you must realise that this is going to happen sooner or later) the soft Unionist stance is likely to disappear and be replaced with the legitimate expectation that the will of the new majority will prevail.

  • Greenflag

    brit,

    ‘ lets not see anti-Popery where there is none.’

    I agree that anti popery is virtually non existent in mainland UK but that is not the case in NI where you have institutions such as the OO who are anti Catholic in a manner which is offensive to almost half the population of Northern Ireland. As an atheist it doesn’t bother me personally but I’m sure it’s a factor for hundreds of thousands of NI Catholics .

    ‘I believe you but its certainly not what I have experienced moving in leftwing circles in a historically very Irish part of London’

    Well if you moved in left wing circles what else would you expect ? The whole anti imperialist -anti capitalist -anti monarchical – militant tendencies would attract Irish Republican activists . Most Irish people however i.e the vast majority of Irish voters in Ireland do not vote ‘left wing’. They are probably the most conservative voters in these islands next to your typical Tunbridge Wells tory in South East England . SF are aware of the phenomenon which is why they get about a third of the vote in the Republic in percentage terms that they get in Northern Ireland . Their vote in NI is a strong anti unionist vote and will remain so imo.

    ‘Why can NI not be a non-sectarian state? ‘

    As I said above because that is the NI State’s birthmark . It was carved out of Ireland on the basis of a sectarian headcount. As long as the NI State exists in it’s present format i.e 6 counties – elections will be de facto sectarian headcounts. PR may soften that harsh political reality over time and may help a drift toward the centre but at the first sign of a change in constitutional status or a change in the present uneasy power sharing deal, then it’ll be back to square one.

    ”Britain is, by definition, multi-national. The English and Welsh and, to a lesser extent, Scots are all British but the have different and even antagonistic national identities’ ‘

    This is irrelevant to NI even though technically it’s part of the UK.

    Antagonism is one thing but revolt , revolution and a recent history of conflict is quite a different matter. The Irish historical experience is different from that of the Welsh who last revolted in the 14th century, and the Scots who last revolted in the mid 18th century . Neither ‘nation ‘ was partitioned and both nations generally flocked to the ‘new ‘ religion. They also benefited to a much greater degree than Ireland did from the largess carved out by the Empire in earlier times .

    ‘The alternative is persuading / forcing the majority community to give up being part of a state which they have been part of since records began and states existed? ‘

    Well that’s one alternative and not one that I support in any way considering it to be largely a waste of time . Still if it helps to keep people away from guns as a solution then it’s better to waste time than to waste lives say I! I prefer a ‘repartition’ solution to the NI political impasse -carried out by a neutral international agency -in the event that mandatory power sharing breaks down . In such an eventuality I know that Direct Rule has it’s supporters and would probably work short term as well .

    I don’t see any point to telling people they’re not British or not Irish or can’t be both . If people are happy to be both British and Irish or just one or the other that’s ok by me . I’m Irish and consider the Brits to be our ‘cousins’ . I’m not anti British and there is much about Britain that I admire and respect . I’ve no time for the monarchy but then that’s a British tradition and as long as the majority favour it then if I was resident in the UK I would accept the status quo.

    Had the House of Lords at the time listened to Gladstone on the Home Rule Bill -All of Ireland would today probably be part of the UK. Had the Hanoverians ’emancipated ‘ Irish Catholics in 1803 instead of 1829 the ‘re awakening ‘ of Irish Nationalist political awareness might have gone down other paths than separation ?

    Anyway we have to deal with what it is we have now and move on from here .

    There’s no going back . We can only work with what the past has left us and try to make the best of it whether an eventual UI or no .

  • Greenflag

    paddy reilly ,

    ‘This definition I think would cover almost all Catholics in NI not currently in jail.’

    LOL 🙂 So you have been released at last 😉

    On a more serious note have you changed your statistical predictions since the June elections result ? I agree largely with your political party analysis in post 3 above -Jul 27, 2009 @ 10:00 PM.

    ‘once it becomes apparent that there is no longer a working Unionist majority in NI’

    Not sure your point here is as significant as you seem to make out . I would have thought that there hasn’t been a working unionist majority since 1972 ( it no longer being permissible courtesy of Mr Edward Heath back then and ever since by his successors ). Is this not why NI has gone through the failed Sunningdale experiment, several Trimble Mallon attempts at power sharing, several near collapses of the present dispensation and is even now shakily trying to find a new equilibrium with the DUP & SF going into what will be a ‘rubicon ‘ election for some of the local NI parties. Under mandatory power sharing even if SF attain the FM position how would/could /should the absence or presence of what is termed the ‘soft unionist stance ‘ impact on the future direction of NI politics ? The shifting of demographics from a small unionist majority among voters to a small nationalist majority has I think already been built into political expectations generally I’d have thought ?

    As I see it the ‘rutted’ grave has been dug for all parties . That rut is deep and narrow enough to prevent any party from either side of the constitutional divide from clambering out without risking their political future or worse breaking an uneasy peace . In the midst of economic recession with the spectre of major cutbacks on the way, two scenarios seem possible . The ‘bottom’ may either fall out of the traditional orange v green squabble or alternatively the squabble (battle a day etc )may be exacerbated to a point where Assembly failure will be inevitable ?

    Any thoughts ?

  • oldruss

    Jemimah T – Post 7, page 1, “you can’t criticise my comments because the US spend a lot of blood and treasure in helping kick Hitler’s ass back in WWII so shut up” [oldruss].

    First, I never posted that. Notwithstanding your use of quotation marks, Jemimah T, that is NOT anything that I have posted.

    In the context that American opinions are not welcomed, I suggested that while American opinions may be unwelcomed, certainly the British ought to remember the blood and treasure that America did provide in defence of His Majesty in WWI and WWII.

    Second, Jemimah T, you were a tad OTT in the additional criticism you posted above, again in post 7, page 1, “‘oldruss’ and Kathy Collins have recently been involved in posting ill-informed, vacuous nonsense….”

    I’m not sure how intellectually honest it is to attack posters on a particular thread such as this one, on which neither of us had posted when you made your attack.

    Jemimah T, you may disagree with the opinions I post, as well as those which “Kathy Collins” makes, but it would be more far more appropriate to attack those opinions on the threads on which the offending posts were made, instead of this kind of back-door attack.

    (I’ll probably post something actually related to this thread’s topic later, but did not want Jemimah T’s unwarranted and inappropriate attacks to go unanswered.)

  • oldruss

    It seems as if there are only two choices ever placed on offer, the present status quo, and a united Ireland. I’d suggest that a third option is far more likely to evolve in the short run, i.e. not being in violation of the Rule against Perpetuities.

    That third option, not to be confused with the third rail on NYC subways, would be for a complete devolution of all local powers, not unlike those enjoyed by the Holyrood Parliament.

    An expansion of the cross-border provisions of the Good Friday Agreement should include representation in the Dail Eireann for the six counties, just as the six counties enjoy representation in the Parliament at Westminster. Passports are issued by both the British and Irish governments to everyone requesting them, who are living in the six counties as it is, so an extension to the people of the six counties of representation in the Dail would be a logical extension of that Irish citizenship right.

    The Local Assembly would continue to function, such as it does, representing the local interests of those living in the six counties. As long as the British government maintains sovereignty over the six counties, even with a devolved local government, the British government would necessarily remain responsible for funding the operations of the six county government, to the extent that locally raised revenues should fall short. With every privilege goes a responsibility.

    Is any of that original? I highly doubt it, but that kind of middle ground, while not a united Ireland, would be a better arrangement than the present status quo with its direct rule always hanging just outside the door like a Banshee.

    The trick will be to convince Jim Allister and Peter Robinson and Reg Empey that they’ve nothing to fear, and that the ultimate decision on maintaining the formal union remains with the people of the six counties.