Is unionism more nationalist then Irish nationalism?

Here’s one to ponder this bank holiday weekend.

Is Unionism now more nationalist then Irish Nationalism?

Here are a couple of areas in which I think this is arguably so.

1- Attitude to currency. All nationalist parties support the Euro even though it led to the loss of an Irish national currency

2- Attitude to Europe. All nationalist parties support Europe even though it has impacted on Irish economic and political sovereignty

What do you think?

  • Glencoppagagh

    (1)SF weren’t very enthusiastic about RoI adopting the Euro. They only support it now because it happens to be the currency of RoI and not the currency of the UK.
    SDLP are traditional Europhiles in deference to the Blessed John Hume.

    (2)Europe is still seen as a source of handouts. Who cares about sovereignty when there’s cash on offer?

  • Certainly a large swathe of Unionism is little more than dressed-up Ulster Nationalism, but I don’t see that it easily translates into attitudes to Europe. Could it be that Unionism takes more of its political cues from the (famously anti-European) UK press?

  • It is debatable that all Irish Nationalists are less ‘nationalistic’ on those particular issues but, moving into the abstract for a while, there is a strong argument that Irish Nationalism and Ulster Unionism are nothing but a competing set of nationalisms ie. Irish Nationalism and a form of British Nationalism unique to Northern Ireland. Moreover, within the wider loyalist fraternity there is a current of Ulster Nationalism which the Ulster British People’s Party share (despite their confused name), along with the UDA/UPRG since the Common Sense document and the formation of the UDP.

  • Nordie Northsider

    You might add attitude to immigrants to that list.

  • Reader

    Conall: Is Unionism now more nationalist then Irish Nationalism?
    In EU terms it always was. For Irish nationalists the EU and USA have always been cultural counterweights to the gravitational pull of the UK. Unionists don’t want any counterweights.

  • Greenflag

    Conall:

    ‘Is Unionism now more nationalist then Irish Nationalism?’

    YES by an Irish mile .

    And also more xenophobic generally.

    This should not come as a surprise . It arises from minority status on the island as a whole , approaching minority status (albeit a large minority) in NI itself, it’s local political history , and the still extant trappings of the ‘imperial’ mind set from days of yore. There be also a sizable minority amongst them of the tribe of the geologically ignorant i.e those members of the largest Unionist Party the believers in a 6,000 year old earth. There also be the shakers and jerkers and speakers of tongues who are in direct communication with a non earthly being called Jehovah or some such . What a pity Mark Twain is not around to write an essay on this lot .

    Other than that Unionists are just like everybody else i.e wondering what’s going to happen to the economy or what will be left of it when the Cameroonians have finished with it !

    Anyway Conall Irish nationalism in the Republic has matured a great deal in recent decades . Unionist ‘nationalism ‘ was just beginning to crawl when the legs were cut out from under it by the GFA . Now it’ll remain a stunted dwarf forever tied to it’s identical twin i.e it’s opposite number across the sectarian divide in NI . Both destined to accompany each other in eternal political and economic disappointment 🙁

    But hey it could be a lot worse ;)?

  • RepublicanStones

    Perhaps, but i think some, not a majority, but some unionists (esp the old partition era kind) have or had a superiority complex. For some, hell would freeze over before they would live under any legislature run by lowly green irish, hence the ignoring of the democratic will of the vast majority of the irish people and demand for their own statlet. Ditto for Europe, no way are the dagos or anyone else gonna influence their lives, and the stiff upper lipishness adopted from the english regarding the euro, sterling is much better dear boy, its got the queen on it 😉

  • John East Belfast

    Conall

    No I dont think Ulster Unionists are more nationalist than Irish Nationalists. If anything I could argue they are less so due to their belief in a union of several nationalities.

    However keeping to your European points.

    Currency
    I am against the Euro because I believe the UK should maintain control of its own Monetary policy because I think it is in its interest to do so.
    Irish nationalists in the 26 counties are pro Euro because they had little choice and to have kept with the Punt would have been a disaster. Although it could be argued that outside the Euro it might not have had the property and credit boom.

    Irish nationalists in NI are pro Euro because it is the currency of the ROI and hence their motives are pure Nationalist and not pro European.

    Regarding being Pro Europe – I am not sure what you mean.
    I believe in a Europe where there are no barriers to trade and also where poorer nations are given a leg up by the others as it is in everyone’s long term interests that they prosper. However I still believe in competition between member states and I am opposed to a leaking of sovereignty to the centre – but that is more to do with my mistrust of large corporate entities and a desire to keep democracy at the lowest level.
    Once again I dont think that makes me more or less nationalist than those who probably feel the same way about Dublin.

    Therefore I feel you are reaching a conclusion out of wafer thin points.

  • alan56

    Unionism is about recognising different nationalities with a union. This is not the sort of nationalism that one encounters when listening to irish nationalists.
    Also I think irish nationalism is challenged by the EU defence policy where it asserts its ‘neutrality’ with great vigour. Essentially I don’t think comparing the two is comparing like with like. Yes there are some unionists who are narrow ulster nationalists but I think they are increasingly in the minority.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Unionism is about recognising different nationalities with a union.’

    How do you go about that?

  • alan56

    meant ‘within’ (sorry RS)

  • RepublicanStones

    Ahh, that must explain unionisms support for a certain indigenous langauge 😉

    Also you must be a big fan of the European project so?

  • alan56

    I am a fan of the European Project, alas I cannot claim the unionists would agree with me. However I think they are less anti-european than they were some years ago. With regards to the indigenous ‘language’ I think you are referring to well…… its a joke.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Although it could be argued that outside the Euro it might not have had the property and credit boom.

    John, there’s been a property boom going on in the RoI since the early 1990s, long before the Euro.

    And Euro membership was hardly a prerequisite for the UK’s property and credit boom, was it ?

    Irish nationalists in NI are pro Euro because it is the currency of the ROI and hence their motives are pure Nationalist and not pro European.

    Careful with that broad brush, John. Someone might accuse you of being a bigot. There are lots of reasons to be in the Euro. Membership of an international reserve currency is one. Easy trading with the European bloc is two.

    When the dust settles from the current economic turmoil, we’ll see who comes out the winner between the Euro and sterling. My bet is on the Euro.

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    1- Attitude to currency. All nationalist parties support the Euro even though it led to the loss of an Irish national currency.

    As opposed to Unionist parties who support the English pound!

    2- Attitude to Europe. All nationalist parties support Europe even though it has impacted on Irish economic and political sovereignty.

    Bar Sinn Fein of course who always seem to urge a NO vote in referendums concerning Europe. The Lisbon Treaty being the latest.

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    However, Unionists could be perceived as “Irish Nationalists” or “Northern Irish Nationalists” or “Ulster Nationalists” as they are concerned after all about the interests and welfare of Northern Ireland within the UK.

  • Jo

    About 15 years ago I travelled between Belfast and France – by air and by car.

    I arrived by diversion – in a small town called Maastricht. There, I bought some guilders. I then changed these for some Belgian Francs – then some French ones. Now, I may use Euros from a bank either opposite the City hall in Belfast or anywhere else that sees sense.

    The £ is dead. The history of the mark, frank, lire and guilder was ended without war. Why and so life threatening should the end of the £ be so fucking important as it was presented to be? The Euro is the future – and I’m happy to tramp the dirt down. Soon

  • John East Belfast

    Comrade

    “John, there’s been a property boom going on in the RoI since the early 1990s, long before the Euro”

    The entry to the Euro provided Irish Banking to easier access and without exchange risk to much greater sources of wholesale funds for the ROI property boom. Then the Euro Interest Rate was at a level to suit the post German unification hangover in a period when the ROI needed higher rates. Hence credit was too cheap.

    There were other factors of course (immigration for instance) but I dont think that anyone would argue too strongly against the fact that entry to the Euro providing access to a large supply of cheap funds helped fuel the ROI Property bubble.

    “Irish nationalists in NI are pro Euro because it is the currency of the ROI and hence their motives are pure Nationalist and not pro European.

    Careful with that broad brush, John. Someone might accuse you of being a bigot”

    I cant see how any thinking person would consider what I said to be biggoted ?

  • noel adams

    Were is the heads up from either uniomist or nationalist parties on help with the credit crunch.
    The EU has sett aside 100 milliom Euro and hopes to get 400 million Euro for low intrest lones for start up business.Decision taken in June roole out to begin Jan 2100 this move has been welcomed by Irish chambers of commerce and Unite the trade union.
    As N.Ireland is the only region with a full time office in Brussels it irks that DETI and DARD are not hightlighting this.ON a proportional basis our share of this loan fund would be about 2 million Euro.
    Having problem at my end getting the document onto slugger but if its of use to any of you if you do a yahoo serch for EU progress microfinance facility the programe is on the first page
    Less flagwaving lets make europe work.

  • David

    Getting back to the OP. Is unionism more “nationalist” than nationalism?

    The answer to the question largely depends on how “nationalism” is defined. If “nationalism” means reluctance to sacrifice sovereignty of an existing state to the EU, then yes. Nationalism is rarely defined this way however.

    In general terms, “nationalism” usually means a political theory which believes that the population (not territory) of the world is divided into units called “nations” and that each of these “nations” has a right to self determination. In other words the “nation” logically precedes and gives legitimacy to the “state”. Irish nationalism is certainly nationalist in this sense, in fact a non-nationalist version of Irish nationalism is impossible. Unionism on the other hand has both nationalist and non-nationalist varients, furthermore the non-nationalist versions are the predominant ones (which unionist politician talks about “national self-determination”?) so in any normal sense unionism is less nationalist than nationalism.

    Many nationalist groups in Europe are supportive of the EU, as it allows small “nations” which would not be viable as isolated nation states a measure of independence.

  • Greenflag

    John East Belfast,

    ‘it could be argued that outside the Euro it might not have had the property and credit boom.’

    A relative of mine bought a property for 12,000 , sold it for 30,000, bought another for 29,000 and sold it for 85,000 all very close to each other . And that was over a 10 year time span AND before the Euro . Access to cheap credit post euro did help to further inflate the already inflated property bubble . But it was also allowed to get out of hand by ‘dopey’ politicians and economists who should have known (some did but weren’t listened to )better.

    ‘However I still believe in competition between member states and I am opposed to a leaking of sovereignty to the centre – but that is more to do with my mistrust of large corporate entities and a desire to keep democracy at the lowest level.

    There will be competition between the member states even if Europe became a fully fledged Federation tomorrow . London & SE England will vie against Frankfurt for banking predominance (Frankfurt to win ), Paris will vie against Milan for fashion . Whoever wins won’t bother me .

    As for your mistrust of large corporate entities the EU is doing a much better job of bringing some of these multinational giants to heel than say the USA or any individual european state . Read up on some of the problems Microsoft & Walmart & Dell among others have been having with Brussels

    Smaller countries like Ireland , Belgium , Denmark, Portugal are virtually powerless against the forces of ‘international capital ‘. Even the USA is hard pressed to maintain it’s dollar sovereignty in the face of Chinese and other East Asian holdings of it’s securities (i.e dollar support mechanism )

    The UK will sooner or later hopefully sooner become part of the Euro along with the other dozen or so countries lining up.

    ‘and a desire to keep democracy at the lowest level.’

    Shure isn’t that what the struggle for Irish independence /home rule 1870-1922) was all about ?. And the same for the other small nations of Europe pre and post 1914-1918 ?

    There are some issues in todays world which cannot be ‘handled ‘ at the county council or district or provincial or even national level .So in that sense the EU is an attempt to reduce ‘national friction’ in those areas where issues could otherwise quickly escalate to hostilities etc . It’s just over two generations since europeans killed each other by the tens of millions .

    Harry Patchett’s recent demise should have been a reminder to those of us who have forgotten .

  • ardmajell55

    conail. unionists seem to settle on a line to take on this and other matters, only after having worked out which option would wrongfoot republicans or even nationalists generally.
    They wouldn’t want to be seen to give any comfort to ‘themmuns’ so if ‘themmuns’ think it’s a good thing, it must be bad for unionists.
    this doesn’t seem to motivate nationalists to such a degree.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I cant see how any thinking person would consider what I said to be biggoted ?

    John, well, let’s turn it on his head. If I said that you have no real objective opinions on the Euro and you’re only in favour of the pound because of your historic association with the Eurosceptic right wing of the Conservative Party, you don’t think I would be guilty of prejudical thinking ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The idea that closer ties to Europe will somehow interfere with competition between member states is hogwash. The United States do not have this problem, read the papers there whenever a large company is considering locating a factory somewhere, different states and regions have different sets of pros and cons.

    Europe needs to trade with the world as one voice. We can’t hope to compete against the large trading block that is the USA, and the other large trading blocs in the far east, as individual states.

  • Greenflag

    Comrade Stalin,

    ‘We can’t hope to compete against the large trading block that is the USA, and the other large trading blocs in the far east, as individual states.’

    Precisely -Unless of course we had ‘control’ over some scarce natural resource like oil e.g Norway or Saudi Arabia or had a 500 year long tradition in banking to the rich of the world who fear their own governments and sanctuary to the world’s tax evaders i.e Switzerland . Alas lots of grass , and plenty of water as well as a literate population and a temperate climate can be replicated in a dozen and probably more smaller countries . We are not as unique as we thought we were . But then nobody is 😉

  • oisineire

    Absolutely pointless…

    Unionism is insular and parochial, Nationalism accepts the realism of these situations.

  • congal claen

    Who have reinstated an essentially dead language as the official language of their country?

    Who votes for parties with names such as “the warriors of destiny” and “party of the gael”?

    Who can’t even create a sporting body without it being wrapped up in nationalism? Can you think of any other sporting body, anywhere in the world, that forbids “foreign” sport?

    Within NI, which block of voters vote for a party with a terrorist wing that has killed hundreds of their fellow Irishmen for Nationalistic reasons?

    “Unionism is insular and parochial”. You mean like “ourselves alone”?

    Yip, it’s obvious the prods are the more nationalist as they oppose the Euro!!!

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    So Congal

    Let’s go through the timeworn “whatabouteries” (I love that word) and stereotypical arguments that have been regurgitated again and again here on the Slugger…….

    Who opposes the recognition and the saving of one of the oldest languages of this and these islands?

    Who votes for parties that endorse a London government, an English Queen and all the trappings as head of state?

    BTW, Do NI Unionists even have a sport unique to them?…but only the sectarian NI soccer team.

    Regarding the block of voteres who vote for a party with a terrorist wing that has killed hundreds of British for Irish Nationalistic reasons?….well that’s the tragedy and sad consequence of Irish history that Unionist folk wish to whitewash away today!

    Unionism is not all embracing, international and cosmopolitan.

    The Irish State participates far more on the world stage than our Unionists brethern up north who let Westminster and Mammy Liz do it for them.

  • Eliezer Ben‑Yehuda

    ‘Who have reinstated an essentially dead language as the official language of their country?’

    I pity your philistine mind.

  • congal claen

    Hi Greagoir,

    Nice one. You couldn’t make it up – Nationalists don’t like being termed nationalistic!

    As for your other madness…

    I have no probs with the saving or promotion of Irish gaelic. I just think trying to get everyone to speak it is a bit over the top and doesn’t reflect the international reality that is the increasing use of English as the world language.

    London government? Do you mean the lord mayor Boris Johnson? If you mean Westminster that’s the British parliament. And even tho you keep forgetting, Lizzie is the British queen – by the grace of god queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, etc, etc. Oh and sure she’s German anyhow. How’s that for cosmopolitan?

    I don’t think unionists have a sport unique to them. Would that not be nationalistic anyhow? Which would be countering my own argument. Having said that, Gaelic football is just a bastardisation of football and hurley a derivative of hockey which is originally Egyptian. However, keep pretending it’s indigenously Irish if it makes you feel more cosmopolitan!

    As for your paragraphing starting “Regarding…”, I’ve read it several times and can still make neither head or tail of it.

    Hi Ben,

    I’ve no problem with the Philistine tag. But then I know it’s mostly used by people with an over inflated view and arrogance of themselves.

  • DaveT

    Hogwash! The zeal of Irish Nationalist bloggers on sites such as this and large Irish Nationalist turnout in elections, contrasted with the widespread sense of Unionist apathy towards politics, would suggest the complete opposite as to what the original poster was hypothesising.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Congal Claen – I don’t suppose that there’s much point but’s let’s try one more time to nail this mistranslation of Fianna Fáil to ‘Soldiers of Destiny’. ‘Fál’ (or ‘Inis Fáil’) is simply a poetic name for Ireland popular in older literature. It has bugger all to do with destiny. Warriors of Ireland is silly enough without any need to exxagerate.

  • congal claen

    Hi Nordie,

    You need to let Fianna Fail know…

    http://www.fiannafail.ie/content/pages/eamon-de-valera

  • Nordie Northsider

    Sadly, Conghal, FF are no experts in Irish. That the website describes ‘Fianna Fáil’ as being ‘Old Irish’ is ample testimony to that fact. You could probably get a Shinner to say that ‘Sinn Féin’ means ‘Ourselves Alone’ when of course it doesn’t.

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    “Having said that, Gaelic football is just a bastardisation of football and hurley a derivative of hockey which is originally Egyptian. However, keep pretending it’s indigenously Irish if it makes you feel more cosmopolitan!”

    Ah yes, that was a “hockey” stick Cuchulainn (aka Setanta) carried in the tall tales of yore as himself & co participated in the game of “hockey”. Must be a typo error in the “Tain Bo Cualigne” and some misunderstanding of the sports of “Taitleann Games.”

    So, the all embracing and cosmopolitan British Nationalists – the Unionists, in the cold house up north, where poor Papist Paddy was made feel unwelcome, and as members of the immigrant community get it in the neck now.

    No wonder we gladly left the UK. There was never a welcome on the mat for us.

    BTW, scourging Papists could count as a Unionist sport I suppose.

    “As for your paragraphing starting “Regarding…”, I’ve read it several times and can still make neither head or tail of it.”

    And pardon the pidgeon English school teacher, but I ain’t English so I wouldn’t have a good command of it, unlike yourself of course!

  • fin

    I think you meant to say ‘American English’ is increasingly becoming the world language, English English is rapidly dying out paticularily in spelling.

  • Brit

    “Unionism is insular and parochial, Nationalism accepts the realism of these situations.”

    Shorter “you are small minded sectarian bigots, we are fighting for feedom and equality of Protestant and Catholic Irishmen alike”

    Shorter still “F… youse dirty Orange / Proddie bastards”

    Unionism in NI is a form of British nationalism and sub-state 6 county Ulster nationalism. Like most nationalisms it is defined by, and derives importance from, what it is against, what it is not and the perceived threats that it is subject to. As someone else said it is a competing form of nationalism as against Irish nationalism – although the competition is all played out via inclusive democratic political structure which tries to be both Irish (in the nationlists sense) and British – although constitutaionally is British.

  • kensei

    CC

    Who can’t even create a sporting body without it being wrapped up in nationalism? Can you think of any other sporting body, anywhere in the world, that forbids “foreign” sport?

  • Mike

    GOF

    “BTW, Do NI Unionists even have a sport unique to them?”

    What a wierd question to ask from someone who’s trying to show that unionism is more “nationalist” than Irish nationalism. Especially one who goes on to claim…

    “Unionism is not all embracing, international and cosmopolitan.”

    By the way…

    “but only the sectarian NI soccer team”

    So a team that contains, as it always has, players from both sides of the “sectarian divide” in Northern Ireland, and that plays in Irish emerald green with a badge of a Celtic cross and four shamrocks, is “sectarian” according to you. Insular and blinkered worldview, much?

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    “So a team that contains, as it always has, players from both sides of the “sectarian divide” in Northern Ireland, that plays in Irish emerald green with a badge of a Celtic cross and four shamrocks, is “sectarian” according to you. Insular and blinkered worldview, much?”

    Ha ha, on paper it looks very rosy, but in reality the antics over the years of the predominantly Unionist supporters and IFA officials at the top, including Orangemen tell a different story. (But there have been efforts lately to change, give credit where credit is due).

    But still your contibution is another example of a Unionist trying to whitewash the actual facts of history!