Mr Adams: Unionists are not going away, you know…

We’ve more videoed interviews coming from the BIPA, but I thought this was worth flagging up as a reaction to Gerry Adams’ extended hand of friendship there on Tuesday… It’s what I take to be the editorial in yesterday’s Newsletter… and it is, to some extent stating the ‘bleedin’ obvious’, but possibly missing the point of the Adams pitch… But first, the point that most liberal nationalists (north and south) seem to miss about the problem unionists have with Mr Adams himself:

Mr Adams often quotes Irish history, but he clearly needs reminded that it was republican terrorists, many of them known to him, who murdered 60 per cent of the people who died during the Troubles. The survivors of what was often a campaign of ethnic cleansing will find his remarks offensive. They will have real difficulty understanding his view that republicans were not trying to conquer or humilate unionists. In fact many believe republicans were trying to wipe unionists off the face of the map of the new Ireland they were trying to achieve.

Republicans will give you another argument, but the Newsletter is not wrong about the practical effects of that campaign, particularly out in the west of Northern Ireland… The trouble here is that Adams’ message (and it was welcomed from the floor by the Crossbench Peer Lord Bew) is right his call for a more serious local dialogue, as opposed to the negotiation by proxy with the ‘old colonial master’ in hopes they’d sell their loyalist (and I mean that in the traditional, not the latter day pejorative sense btw) fellow citizens birthright the party has traditionally fallen back to in previous periods of impasse.

The other complication here of course is that just as nationalist and Catholic are interchangeable in terms of what is often meant by politicians in Northern Ireland, so too are unionist and Protestant… So far only the Conservatives have been straightforward and up front about what they mean (and they have taken a lot of disingenuous flak for it from other supposedly non sectarian parties which nevertheless persist with profoundly sectarian bases.

Mr Adams would have been clearer if he’d suggested upfront he wants Protestants to join his cause. That outreach is in fact to people not other political parties whose long term objects he will never share. But if he really did mean that he might get the Unionist parties to turn their tanker round then the Newsletter perhaps has a point when it says:

There are four main unionist parties – the Democratic Unionist Party, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Traditional Unionist Voice and the Progressive Unionist Party. All four parties have the word ‘unionist’ at the their core and it is there for a reason.

Unionists do not want a united Ireland. Any concept of a united Ireland is contrary to everything they stand for. Mr Adams can bleat on all he wants about his vision. The truth is that the unionist population in Northern Ireland and many people in the Republic of Ireland do not share his concept of the future.

Mr Adams – unionists are not going away, you know.

Quite. But as we pointed out six years ago, unionists should play their politics as though each election held the constitutional status in a fine balance. Their aim should be to increase the numbers of people with whom the Union with Britain is a genuinely popular project (as both Craig and Carson told them to at the beginning of Northern Ireland’s history).

It’s worth noting too that whilst Adams made that statement in August 1995, eleven years later that organisation substantially ceases to exist… Unionism’s long term weakness may lies in its apparent long term strength (ie, incumbency and the slowing of historic demographic trends)… Like him or loathe him, Cameron is demonstrating the kind of leadership those early Unionist leaders commended but were unable to provide…

Perhaps the reason that most other local players (on both sides of the sectarian divide) seem reluctant to follow is that it might require at some level the acknowledgement at some point the sectarian basis for much of their political progress… Or probably more importantly, they fear that in shifting the provenance of their political appeal the wheels would simply fall off the cart they currently have.

Either way, it is sheer fantasy that the Union can be maintained or breached with the support of just one community set. That argument will be won or lost by winning the confidence what passes in Northern Ireland for the middle ground as it is in every other western democracy…

Let’s hope it doesn’t take another political generation for our political leaders to realise it…

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  • Guest

    We will have to agree to disagree as per usual.I will just make the point that throughout the thread an underlying argument of mine has been that the English don’t differentiate between “english” and “british”,and that is a symptom of the imbalance in the Union.
    That they do not vote as “English” is entirely natural as all UK law is effectively English law.Once again,the do not differenciate because they do not have too.I believe that the near abroad problem in relation to the Republic is also a symptom of that imbalance.

  • Brit

    In any event I’m from London which, apparently, is not British.

    I think we should declare independence: ourselves alone (although the English loyalists can retain south London as part of the sectarian English statelet)

  • Sean

    Brit has to be extremely young or have the most “pollyannesque” outlook on the world I have ever seen

  • Fabianus

    RoC

    You’re getting hung up with accents; they’re not really relevant to the discussion. I met a charming Polish lady yesterday who speaks with a Dublin accent. She remains a Pole.

    How’s the fishing on Inishmore?

  • Guest

    Brit,
    “In any event I’m from London which, apparently, is not British.

    I think we should declare independence: ourselves alone (although the English loyalists can retain south London as part of the sectarian English statelet) ”

    I just declared independence in my back garden.Built up a lovely fence for the occasion.
    ..Now the neighbours are sure that I am insane.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Fabianus,

    Per chance she was a Pole because she was born and reared in a part of Poland? Were you born and reared in the northern province of Ireland or England, Scotland, Wales?

    Unless, of course, a Scotsman with a Scottish accent can be British but not Scottish; or a Welshman with a Welsh accent can be British but not Welsh; or an Englishman with an English accent can be British but not English. Sounds very like self hatred of one’s origins; similar to what was seen among many subservient natives in colonial India.

    I think John East Belfast summed himself up wisely as an Irish Unionist; which means he is logically Irish by geographic birth and heritage and also British by cultural and political allegiance. You would be wise to end your self hatred and follow his and other Unionists lead towards the light of common sense.

  • Fabianus

    RoC

    You would be wise to end your self hatred and follow his and other Unionists lead towards the light of common sense.

    No, mate, the hatred is all in YOU, as your every comment shows. I’m quite happy to be a Brit but you seem to resent my Britishness. Poor you.

    Deal with it, although please not in the way the IRA did. We wouldn’t like a repeat of all that, would we?

  • Republic of Connaught

    I didn’t contest you were British, Fabianus. You seem very sensitive about it. I said you are also an Irish Unionist if you are actually born and reared in the north of Ireland. Deal with it, son, without spitting the dummy.

  • Fabianus

    RoC

    Not so fast. So called me a loon with self-hatred. Now you’re calling me an Irish Unionist.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again: you’re the one with the hatred in you, otherwise you’d have no need for insults. I’m quite content within myself and have no need for hatred.

    And you didn’t comment on the fishing off Inishmore. Or do you live on a different Connaught island?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Don’t take it so personal, Fabianus. I’m not from the north so I regard anyone there denying their Irish heritage as loons. Same as I would regard a Scottish person calling themselves British but NOT Scottish as loons.

    You are British by virtue of your culture and allegiance; and Irish by virtue of your geographic birth and, presumably, accent.

    As for the west of Ireland, I never said I was from the islands. But I have drank out on the Aran islands.

  • Brit

    NI has geographically been part of the UK since 1801. It has never been part of the RoI.

    Fabianus was born in my nation RoC, not yours.

  • Guest

    Brit,

    That would be Fabianus’s choice.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Brit, stop acting like an interfering David Cameron cheerleader talking shit. An Englishman from London encouraging a Protestant in the north of Ireland to deny his Irish identity is a real throwback to the colonial days of disgusting English interference in Ireland.

    Ian Paisley has said he is Irish. David Trimble said he is Irish. George Best. David Humphries. C.S Lewis. Tim Collins. Most if not all of Ulster’s finest Protestants. Are you going to tell them they’re wrong, Brit?

    Being Irish doesn’t immediately make them citizens of the Republic, or nationalists. It makes them native inhabitants of the island of Ireland; hence Irish.

  • Brit

    “Brit, stop acting like an interfering David Cameron cheerleader talking shit. An Englishman from London encouraging a Protestant in the north of Ireland to deny his Irish identity is a real throwback to the colonial days of disgusting English interference in Ireland.”

    Interfering in part of the UK, by the English, God forbid! As an internationalist, rather than a petty nationalist or sub-state nationalist, I express views on matters accorss the globe. My political horizon extents to the Americas, middle East, Asia and Afria.

    Funnily enough, I seem to remember a certain nation laying constitutional claim to a part of another nation until quite recently.

    But I wasn’t trying to tell a Protestant from Northern Ireland what his identity is or whether he is Irish. Just saying that he and I are fellow citizens of the UK and that you are a foreigner. I’m a Labour Party member btw so please don’t associate me with that Etonian twat.

    “Ian Paisley has said he is Irish. David Trimble said he is Irish. George Best. David Humphries. C.S Lewis. Tim Collins. Most if not all of Ulster’s finest Protestants. Are you going to tell them they’re wrong, Brit?”

    Not sure Mr Paisley qualifies as one of Ulster’s finest anything except sectarian scumbag, but of course (and as I have said before on this blog) Ulster Protestants from the NI are Irish in a sense, but it’s a definition of Irishness which is fully consistent with Britishness, as opposed to the nationalist/republican definition which has always defined Ireland from something which is other than, distinct from and separate from Britain.

    If the Protestant community suddenly realised or discovered that they were Irish in the nationalist/republican sense then I would be perfectly content and wish them good luck. Its not me who tries to tell them who or what they are, its the Republicans who historically have variously describe them as foreigners, outsiders, sectarians, uncle toms, pied noirs, and sufferers of false consciousness who are not really British and just don’t realise thatn they are Irishmen, like any other.

    “Being Irish doesn’t immediately make them citizens of the Republic, or nationalists. It makes them native inhabitants of the island of Ireland; hence Irish.”

    You need to get over the island = nation thing. There are two nations on the island of Ireland. You can legitimately call both nations Irish (ie Green Irish and British Irish) but being born in the same landmass doesn’t make them of the same nation (as any Portugeezer could tell you).

  • Guest

    Brit,
    “You need to get over the island = nation thing”
    And you need to get beyond Newtonian bullshit.

    Article 2.. It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.

    Once again,it is the individuals’ choice.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Brit,

    I didn’t define any narrow notion of what an Irish identity is; I simply said anyone born and reared on the island is a native of the island and hence Irish. The fact Unionists are also British I didn’t deny.

    That most significant Ulster Protestants readily attest to the intrinsic Irish aspect of their identity speaks volumes. Unfortunately many other Unionists belongs to the Sammy Wilson or Nelson McCausland school of thought; and they are usually not the most progessive in society.

    As for me being a “foreigner” about issues pertaining to any part of Ireland, well I’ll just smile at that one.

    I wonder how the Scots will react to Englishmen interfering in any independence referendum in Scotland; although I can imagine 🙂

  • Brit

    The problem RoC is that the word Irish stands for both the Republic and the island of Ireland.

    So for a Paisley, a Best or a David Ervine to say that they are “irish” is analagous to a Portuguese saying that they are Iberian.

    In the latter case (because different terms are used) there is no question that they are saying that they are Spanish, although of course they share the Iberian identity with Spaniards.

    In the former case you should understand that they are using Irish in a very very different sense to those with an irish passport who fly the Irish flag and support the Irish football team. They are a different nation which shares the same landmass with a separate but overlapping identiy.

    As for the Scots independence referendum, I’m sure the majority of Scots who are Unionists would welcome the support for their Unionist position from their fellow Brits from England.

  • Guest

    Brit-
    “The problem RoC is that the word Irish stands for both the Republic and the island of Ireland.

    So for a Paisley, a Best or a David Ervine to say that they are “irish” is analagous to a Portuguese saying that they are Iberian.”

    No.Follow the logic of your first sentence.
    So for a Paisley, a Best or a David Ervine to say that they are “irish” is analagous to a Portuguese saying that they are Iberian.And also analogous of an Iberian saying that he is portugeuse but not part of the portuguese nation.
    Very different.

  • Republic of Connaught

    I would personally say that a Portuguese and a Spaniard saying they are Iberian is the equivalent to a Scotsman and Englishman saying they are British. Except the Iberian nations are not in a political Union and don’t commonly use the Iberian identity. And the language difference, of course, although a Glaswegian and a Cockney accent are almost different languages 🙂

    British is a generic term, I have only noticed used abroad by “Brits”. I have never met a Scots or Welshman in the UK who told me they were British; they had no need to. They were simply Scots or Welsh with British being their umbrella identity.

    As for the Scots Unionists welcoming English involvement in their independence vote, well it would be a brave Englishman that would go up to Scotland campaigning for the Scots to reject their own independence. I wouldn’t encourage any Irish Nationalist or Unionist from NI to get involved in what is, essentially, a matter for the Scots themselves to decide.

    If Frenchmen and German politicians had been out in Dublin campaigning for the Lisbon treaty they would have been told where to go. Despite them being fellow EU-ers with a “technical” right to be there. I’m sure they’d get the same in London.