Orange Marches safe in a united Ireland according to Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams becomes the first Sinn Fein leader to address the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Swansea this morning. He will use rational, pragmatic and economic arguments to urge them “to join in the historic endeavour to bring about the reunification of the people of Ireland” and promises that “Orange marches will have their place in a new Ireland albeit on the basis of respect and cooperation.He will say that “the Irish question as it has been described by some is not simply one for the Irish” but that “the peoples of Britain have a duty to themselves, to unionists in particular, to the Irish in general and even to the world to stand up and speak their opinion on the issue of the reunification of Ireland.”

Appealing to unionists, Adams will promise to…

“address the genuine fears and concerns of unionists in a meaningful way. We need to look at what they mean by their sense of Britishness and be willing to explore and to be open to new concepts. We need to look at ways in which the unionist people can find their place in a new Ireland. In other words it needs to be their United Ireland.”

He will eschew any notion of revenge or humiliation. He will say that…

“Sinn Féin’s vision of a new Ireland is of a shared Ireland, an integrated Ireland, an Ireland in which unionists have equal ownership; an Ireland in which there will be respect for cultural diversity, and a place in which there is political, social, economic and cultural equality. There is no desire on the part of Irish republicans to conquer or humiliate unionists. There can be no place for revenge in the thinking or vocabulary of Irish Republicanism.”

He also says that “Nationalists and republicans want our rights, but we do not seek to deny the rights of anybody else. The real distinction that we have always drawn is between justice and privilege. Justice for all and privilege for none.

The Sinn Fein leader will couch his argument in pragmatic terms:

“There are also common sense economic and social and environmental and health and many other reasons why Irish reunification makes sense over partition. The reality is that the economy of the North is too small to exist in isolation. The economies of both parts of the island are interlinked and interdependent. The delivery of public services is restricted and inefficient. There are two competing industrial development bodies seeking inward investment, with no coordination in supporting local industries. We have two arts councils and two sports councils and three tourists’ bodies. This is not efficient.”

The overall theme of the Assembly meeting in Swansea is tackling the recession and Adams will deny that this is a reason for postponing reunification:

“There are some who suggest that because we live in a period of severe economic difficulty that Irish reunification should be put off for the foreseeable future. In fact the opposite is the case. There is now a need, more than ever, for the island economy to be brought into being in the fullest sense, and for the political and administrative structures to be instituted with that in mind. Many in the business community, north and south, already recognise this fact. And all the indications are that the European Union also understands how the needs of Ireland can best be met by treating it as an island rather than as two entities on an island.

He will conclude that “Geography does not necessarily determine politics, but neither can it be ignored in assessing what is the most effective approach to meeting the challenges of economic development and satisfying the needs of communities.”

First thoughts
Gary Kent

The border can become irrelevant for most practical and commercial considerations and meet the practical considerations outlined above without necessarily being removed. We have, I hope, come a long way since an old left-wing friend, reflecting the poverty of thought at least on the British Left, argued that Ireland should be united because “it’s an island, innit.”

The geography of the island may lend itself to different arrangements for Northern Ireland, even as part of the UK. For instance, there have been suggestions that the rate of tax on fuel should be varied to bring them into line with the south and so take the profit out of (republican) petrol smuggling. There have been arguments for aligning corporate tax regimes throughout the island. Sometime back a unionist was quoted, at the then British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body that he opposed north-south co-operation as a unionist but welcomed them as a businessman.

From these extracts, there appears to be a great deal of work to do in the detail of how Britishness can be accommodated in a new Ireland. Some years back, at a meeting of the British-Irish Body, the then Labour MP Harry Barnes tackled this question by asking if it might mean a new constitution, flag and capital city – Armagh was, from memory, suggested. If there were a united Ireland, it would probably have to be more than Dublin plus.

I am personally neutral on the issue – I have no selfish strategic or economic interest so to speak – as long as it done by consent. But Adams will probably have to wait a long time before the suspicions and divisions engendered by the Troubles subside and will, in my view, have to address the need for greater unity within Northern Ireland before anything else becomes likely. I would also say, as a long-term supporter, that a key issue is integrated education as well as desegregating housing.

I wonder what impact the sort of non-triumphalist approach outlined above by Adams might have had a generation ago. Sunningdale for slow learners and all that. But we are where we are, politically as well as geographically.

  • Erasmus

    I’m an RC but I approve of the concept of female priests.

  • Rory Carr

    Right, Erasmus, that’s it – you’re excommunicated! Fuck off to Canterbury!

  • Greenflag

    Fabianus , Erasmus and any other doubting thomases the mysteries are all explained in this information piece by a lamented now deceased very very very very wise Dubliner of somewhat previous international renown .

    The ‘crux ‘of the Marian controversy is dealt with from 3 minutes in to about 4.30 or so .

    Erasmus ,

    If you do as Rory suggests don’t forget to bring your tail with you . The Canterbury Tales could do with some fresh material 😉

  • Fabianus


    Thanks for the link! Hilarious. Into the hole he goes, lovely.

  • Brit

    “To be born in any part of Ireland with a lineage stretching back 100s of years and claim not to be irish can only be described as a ‘colonial mentality’.”

    It all depends what you mean by Irish of course. If Ireland is defined as a coherent political and cultural entity, separate from the rest of Great Britain – then of course Unionists would not accept that they are Irish. By the same token did the Catholics who engaged in sectarian murder in 1798 consider their Prod brethren to be fully Irish? And does some of that thinking linger on two hundred years later?

    From this perspective their mentality is substantively no more “colonial” than the mentality of Scots and Welsh Unionists.

    The Unionists have been in Ireland AND BRITAIN for hundreds of years and have often acknowledged their Irishness, based on a different concept to that above. Pre-partition (and even pre-Union) the Unionists or proto-Unionist, thought themselves Irish and Irish loyalists. And even today the most British of NI-ishmen, from the Paisleyite fundies to the working class loyalists, acknowledge that they are peculiarly Irish to use the late Ervine’s phrase.

  • Democratic

    “Interesting, what will your identity be exactly once Scotland leaves?”

    Already answered that Prionsa – it won’t change my lineage whatsoever – I will still be a Northern Irish man of Ulster Scot descent – I take it you somehow disagree? England uber allies eh – nah not for me – but then again what if I did – what would your problem with that be – I have the required ancestral connections there too if neccesary.
    I would assume someone familiar with the “Glasgow Irish” label would be more sensitive to the working of national identity….

  • RepublicanStones

    I’ll say it again….you didn’t seem to grasp it first time Brit,

    To be born in any part of Ireland with a lineage stretching back 100s of years and claim not to be irish can only be described as a ‘colonial mentality’.

  • Brit

    Ditto RS. I’ll say it again shorter.

    Anyone who fits into the category you identidy and who says they’re not “Irish” is using shorthand for a form of Irisness which is based on being non-British, and which denies the Britishness of Ireland and, in particular, parts of NI.

    Those peoples mentality is no more colonial than that of Unionist Scots and Welsh.

  • Democratic

    I hear you RS and there is of course truth in what you say – however when the popular stereotype of being Irish in Belfast among the working class where I come from boils down to Catholic, Celtic shirt wearing, men-behind-the-wire singing, IRA sympathising, anti-British, Ireland-for-the-Irish, Bobby Sands supporters then wishing to deferentiate from that particular grouping is not seen to be an unreasonable request. Absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above of course provided you are one of the faithful but to those who aren’t then there has to be a box “B” to tick.

  • RepublicanStones

    I agree Democratic, however, there are unfortunately people who still refuse any element of their irishness, even when its not narrowlly defined to incorporate just those kunckle draggers you mention. Furthermore, for want of a better term, lets say the green-irish, refuse the label ‘british’, simply because we have never been British, not because we dislike certain lads up Sandy Row way who describe themselves as such also. It seems your saying some unionists refuse the label ‘irish’ solely because they don’t like a certain sub-section of people who use the term as well.

  • Democratic

    Yes RS – It certainly is the case that some Unionists (mostly Loyalists I would suspect) object to being called “Irish” because they see “the old enemy” in that grouping – There is no doubt about that at all. For many more it is more complex – but there is definately that rump.
    BTW – I would never call into question the right of Irish Nationalists to refute the “British” tag – they are very much legally and logically intitled to do so given their genelogy and loyalites.

  • Guest


    I’m probably just nit-picking,(apologies in advance)but why would they have to refute it.Who is foisting it upon them that they are in a position to refuse it or not.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Democratic @ 09:27 AM

    >>I would assume someone familiar with the “Glasgow Irish” label would be more sensitive to the working of national identity….<

  • Democratic

    “I have sympathies for all kinds of identities, especially for the ex-british Irish when Britain as a state no longer exists.”

    I’m sure your sympathy will be greatfully received Prionsa – provided we both both haven’t died of old age before it is called for.

    What was it I said during our last conversation?, something about being the flea on a lapdog of England.

    Did you – must have missed it then…..pity – such pearls of wisdom are in seldom supply these days!

  • Democratic

    “I’m probably just nit-picking,(apologies in advance)but why would they have to refute it.Who is foisting it upon them that they are in a position to refuse it or not.”

    Sorry Guest – on reading back RS’s post to me it may have been me understanding a point he made incorrectly. Apologies!

  • Prionsa Eoghann


    >>I’m sure your sympathy will be greatfully received Prionsa – provided we both both haven’t died of old age before it is called for.< >such pearls of wisdom are in seldom supply these days!<

  • Democratic

    “Apologies but I thought it was you we had the whole ‘sponging’ debate over on Brians thread regarding Empey’s speech at the Tory conference.”

    Not guilty I’m afraid Prionsa…..though I can imagine the tone of conversation I’m sure.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    >>though I can imagine the tone of conversation I’m sure.<

  • Rory Carr

    Why, I asked, is there no Northern Ireland entry for Channel 4’s cookery competition, Britain’s Best Dish?

    Because apparently such local delights as Ulster Fry and Ballymeeney Duck á l’Orange are considered to be Irish, not British, concoctions.

    So I’m afraid, Democratic, tasty Ulster-Scots lad though you may be, whenever you arrive here in the Big Smoke and enter a pub, as soon as you open your mouth and your dulcet Scots-Ulster tones come trilling out the barman will already be setting a pint before you with, “There you go, Paddy, Guinness isn’t it?”

    Dontcha just hate stereotyping?