On that long overdue ‘Mea Culpa’ from a Catholic politician…

NR Greer, a political columnist with the Newsletter was kind enough to omit Slugger’s comment zone from a list of places where is there is still a commonplace perception that there are two sides to the Northern Ireland argument and one is blameless and the other to blame for it all

FOR decades a key publicity plank of Irish nationalism has been to act the “Mope” (Most oppressed people ever). It has been a successful tactic as the story has been swallowed internationally by a broad swathe of the politically correct liberal left. The Mope myth is reason that smug agitprop comedians feel entitled to make the kind of offensive remarks about Ulster unionists, that had they been made about any other ethnic grouping would have caused uproar.

It is why documentary makers visiting Northern Ireland seem capable of only seeing one side of the story, thus rendering their output little better than propaganda. Believing that all unionists are subhuman violent bigots, the human rights industry frets about the welfare of republican terrorists while turning a blind eye to the thousands that they killed or maimed and dippy Californian girls weep into their organic skinny lattes at the fate of the little Irish babies that the British Army continue to this day to throw under tank tracks. And so it goes on.

At the same time, Henry Kelly (who was Northern editor of the Irish TImes in the early 70s) picks up on Dawn Purvis’s criticism of mainstream unionism’s blind eye to the causes of the troubles and in particular to the parlous quality of living for it’s own Protestant working class:

“They (mainstream unionists) deny discrimination existed. They deny that all working-class people but mostly Catholics endured in slums, squalor, poverty and unemployment in order to preserve the power of the political elite . . . You continue to deny working-class children, Protestants, the right to a decent education by holding on and wanting to hold on to academic selection . . . I have to say to you, you are living in denial and have to start looking at what caused the conflict here…”

It’s a text book example of what Senator Eoghan Harris calls good authority (ie telling the truth to your own side). But Kelly goes on to ask a question too rarely raised within nationalism (in public at least):

…was the situation in Northern Ireland before 1968 so oppressive for the Catholic minority that they had no choice but to follow the road embarked upon by the civil rights movement later hijacked by the IRA? And was the Protestant working class all that much better-off, with their mothers polishing their doorsteps in case the Queen Mother would pass down their street while their children were going to school in “mutton dummies” – Belfast home-made paper shoes?

And finally:

Unless, however, we ask ourselves some serious questions about why what happened actually happened and whether we might not have been better led by our politicians, we might – just might – make the same mistakes again. Dawn Purvis has started a debate. It is to be hoped, though I won’t hold my breath, that others might join that discussion. Is there, for example, a Catholic politician who might hold their hand up and suggest that mea culpa might be a couple of words that could wipe a slate clean?

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  • Mick,

    Those are the kinds of routine hazards I have to run in doing what I am trying to achieve.

    What are you trying to achieve?

    That was a fairly blunt admission that this site has an agenda, and is not just a ‘dumb pipe’.

    Could you let us know what the agenda actually is (to avoid us jumping to conclusion, naturally)?

  • Mick Fealty

    Horse,

    Now you’re at the ‘let’s talk about something else game’. When did I ever claim it was a ‘dumb pipe’?

    TS,

    On another thread, in a different context, yes. Just not now and here.

  • kensei

    Mick

    The focus of the post is nationalism. The focus of the reaction, with a few honourable exceptions, unionism. It’s a common enough trait: “we don’t want to talk about us, we want to talk about themuns”.

    Which could have been avoided, as I pointed out earlier, by not mentioning themmums. If you didn’t get the responses in the direction you wanted, then the fault ultimate lies with your piece, and subsequent responses.

    From what I observe most of the unresolved angst and hatred is coming mostly from one direction. Maybe unionists are better at hiding it. Or they are finally cowed after a couple of generations being judged the defaulters on the post 1920 NI settlement.

    You said it. But apparently discussing it is a distraction.

  • Brit

    “it is not time for Unionists to stop the reactive denunciations and recognize that persons professing all religious creeds can legimately be Unionists, including those who conscientiously adhere to Catholic teaching on Protestantism?”

    Yes (to the extent that this hasnt yet been done).

    Given the level of religiousity in NI a Unionist politician ridiculing Protestantism (or a particular branch of it as that term covers, as I understand it, a multitude of superstitious beliefs and practices) would be cutting off a load of votes.

    But an inclusive secular Unionism is the best chance of saving the Union long term and it the only basis on which Unionism can be legitimately justified and advanced.

  • Mick,

    … you’re at the ‘let’s talk about something else game’ …

    I’m happy to talk about the topic too, but you reply to direct questions in an evasive and selective manner. That makes the ‘conversation’ rather difficult.

    Care to answer my Nov 09, 2009 @ 03:11 PM questions?

  • Mick Fealty

    Everyone is/should be selective in the questions they choose to answer. The answer to the Q TS posed is simple and straightforward, but I choose not to answer here for the reasons given.

    Can you link the second? I may have missed it.

  • The Spectator

    Mick

    On another thread, in a different context, yes. Just not now and here.

    Three words, Mick.

    Not. Good. Enough.

  • Can you link the second? I may have missed it.

    Page 1 of this thread.

  • RepublicanStones

    If its apologies people are after, shouldn’t they be done in chronological order?

  • Ulster McNulty

    “But an inclusive secular Unionism is the best chance of saving the Union long term and it the only basis on which Unionism can be legitimately justified and advanced.”

    But would that be unionism, if it wasn’t exclusively protestant and British? How would that work?

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Horse,

    There’s a lot of questions there based on what you think I’m thinking. Could you bring them down to something more manageable based on what I have actually said?

    There’s just not enough time in the day to answer based on things I haven’t actually said…

  • Erasmus

    Henry Kelly’s article actually illustrates an important point in contradistinction to Greer’s piece. That is the overwhelming pro-unionist bias of the southern media to the extent that I have to visit blog’s such as this to get the northern nationalist slant.
    Mr.Kelly,
    If you are reading this I have a few questions:
    Are you suggesting, and it appears to me that you are, that the N.I. Catholics in 1968 should have just put up, shut up, and gritted their teeth?
    If you are not what other non-violent options were open to them at that time?
    After the questions, a statement:
    A complete picture demands that you acknowledge the contemporaneous reality of an equally viscious loyalist sectarian murder campaign which actually not only straddled but preceded and outlasted, the PIRA offensive.

  • Mick Fealty

    E,

    I’d say hazy indifference was the actual southern media’s attitude to Northern Irish affairs, an attitude that is more than amply reciprocated by both communities in NI towards the south.

  • OC

    Erasmus: Which IRA offensive?

  • Erasmus

    Mick,
    You obviously don’t follow the southern media with any degree of diligence.

  • Mick,

    Could you bring them down to something more manageable based on what I have actually said?

    As I said before – evasion. I tire of your games sometimes, but I’ll play along for a little while.

    In this case you actually said very little, so it is easy to separate ‘your’ thoughts.

    You wrote the title: On that long overdue ‘Mea Culpa’ from a Catholic politician…, thereby implying that you think that ‘Catholic politicians’ owe some kind of apology.

    My first question therefore is: what should ‘catholic politicians’ apologise for? (And why specifically Catholic? Why not nationalists? Maybe you noticed my reference to Ivan Cooper?)

    You then go on to say that: “Kelly goes on to ask a question too rarely raised within nationalism (in public at least):

    …was the situation in Northern Ireland before 1968 so oppressive for the Catholic minority that they had no choice but to follow the road embarked upon by the civil rights movement later hijacked by the IRA?

    Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but is this what you want ‘catholic politicians’ to apologise for? For daring to ask for their civil rights?

    And you (approvingly?) quote Kelly, thus seeming to blame the ‘catholic politicians’ of the era for something that had not yet happened, and could not have been predicted. Very strange.

    So to recap – what exactly do you want ‘catholic politicians’ to apologize for? Please be as specific as possible – who, when, why, etc.

    [Ironic submission word: response]

  • Brit

    “If its apologies people are after, shouldn’t they be done in chronological order?”

    First apology from St. Patrick for introducing the decent pagans of ireland to that Christian nonsense. Given that St. Patrick is not with us (on this Earth) I think the Pope is best placed to give the apology.

  • Brit

    “But would that be unionism, if it wasn’t exclusively protestant and British? How would that work?”

    Its a Unionism which says NI remains part of Britain but with equal treatment for all citizens of NI irrespective of religion or ethnicity, and recognising the Irishness of both communities, particularly the Catholics. This would be reflected in certain all ireland bodies and involvement of the RoI.

  • Given that St. Patrick is not with us (on this Earth) I think the Pope is best placed to give the apology.

    But Brit, Ian Paisley told us that St P was really a Protestant …

    So who is his linear successor? Maybe IP himself, the Prod Pope?

  • Brit

    Joint press conference Pope and Paisely is the only way to cover all options.

    Next up the Vikings – perhaps Peter Schmeical (sp?) can give an apology on their behalf

  • dub

    Erasmus,

    I would not think that you follow the southern media too closely either. Let’s take the celebrated example of Eoghan Harris: he is not a unionist, has clarified many times that he remains a republican, believes in a united ireland and believes that in order to get this we have to seek to understand ordinary unionists and the tribal impulses within nationalism. I would not agree with him all the time by any means but what sticks in my craw is the way that so many people label him as pro unionist and anti nationalist. The Irish Times to take another example has for many years been a clear supporter of constitutional nationalism. The Examiner has been a bit odd recently (Stephen King has a column and one editorial recently seemed to suggest that PIRA were uniquely responsible for the troubles). RTE itself has pretty much always followed a similar line to the irish times.

    Mick,

    It has not been my personal experience at all that both communities in the north are hazily indifferent towards the 26, quite the oppposite in fact. Again one would question your ability to actually understand nothern ireland as it is rather than how you wish it were (part of the guardian reading bien pensant metropolis with all the local stuff cut out no doubt)

  • Ulster McNulty

    Perhaps truth & reconciliation powers should be devolved to Stormont – everybody would be thoroughly DNA tested and required to issue apologies accordingly…

    For example , if you are mostly Irish you would have to apologise for over-reacting to mildly oppressive unionist rule and starting the troubles.

    If you are mostly British you would have to apologise for the destruction of biodiversity (through the introduction of an unsustainable agricultural practices etc) – http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2009/1111/1224258553754.html?via=mr

  • Mick Fealty

    dub,

    Interesting, but some evidence would be good.

    There’s a basic existential reason for the divergence of interest between north and south: the belonging to two quite profoundly different tax bases. That’s not about geographic separation or indifference; it’s more qualitative than the difference between living in Leitrim and living in Sligo.

    As for your last comment, I see where you are coming from, but it is also evident where you are stuck. In my own defence, I’d cite Wittgenstein:

    “Don’t get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.”

    I’ve no pretensions of infallibility, but at least you can read my ‘working out’.

  • The Spectator

    Mick

    … but always take flight …

    Yep, that sounds about right.

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed TS. If the cap fits…

  • kensei

    “Don’t get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.”

    Which is not a luxury that is always affforeded. Large problems may also seem insurmountable and need split up into more manageable chunks. How many things do we have because people have solved parts of problems, or partially solved them? That’s a bizarre statement.

    I’ve no pretensions of infallibility, but at least you can read my ‘working out’.

    But just don’t question that bit of it. That bit is not for questioning.

  • Mick Fealty

    ken,

    Yes, but you need to glimpse the whole before you can cogently tackle the bits…

  • kensei

    Mick

    Yes, but you need to glimpse the whole before you can cogent tackle the bits…

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    observer

    >>Maybe Nelson will deduct some grant money from those culturally incorrect GAA types and pass it on to Slugger for finally coming out of the closet.<< Does Nick Griffen know? about Mick and the closet I mean. Ever since our spats of years ago Mick it was pretty obvious that you had *some* unionist sympathies, but there's nae haudin ye back noo. Still, it might make for an interesting time.

  • Brian

    What’s that saying that’s on the tip of my tongue? Something about shooting the messenger…..

  • Something about shooting the messenger…

    In the days when the messenger was an innocent (‘dumb tube’) that was certainly a bit excessive. But Mick now admits that he is both delivering a message and writing it. He is no longer neutral – he is a player and thus open to being tackled.

  • Mick Fealty

    horse, Prionsa,

    In case it escaped your notice we’re talking politics here (not about people who are talking about politics).

    Enough of this tedious rule breaking! Play the ball (if you can) or leave the pitch!!

  • Dave

    In regard to unionists in Ireland: far from being cowered into submission on equal opportunity practices by the Irish state after independence, the Irish state allowed the State’s ‘Ascendancy’ businneses to continue discriminating against catholics as they had done before independence. Guinness, for example, continued to discriminate against catholics by reserving white collar jobs such as clerical staff and management for protestants. Gay Byrne recently recalled that when he got a clerical job with Guinness in the 1950’s, there was outrage among Protestants at Guinness as they saw this as part of the changing times that would allow catholics equal employment rights to Protestants in Ascendancy busineses. The Bank of Ireland and the Irish Times are other prominant examples where top positions were reserved exclusively for Protestants. Unionists like to squeal about being discriminated against in the south after independence, but the real and untold story is that the actual discrimination came from their ilk after independence just as it did before.

  • Mick,

    Any chance of a reply to my questions (page 1 of this thread, and subsequently repeated at your request)?

    I’d prefer not to talk about you – I’d prefer if you’d actually play ball instead of running off the pitch!

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Mick

    >>..or leave the pitch!!<< Hatchet buried firmly in yir napper, metaphorically ;¬) I will now take your advice.

  • Dave,

    I am quite familiar with Guinness, and what you say is entirely true. There was even a ‘jobs pipeline’ to Guinness from certain of the Protestant schools in the south. The schools ‘recommended’ certain boys and girls, who were recruited. I think the same happened elsewhere (but my personal knowledge is limited to Guinness and the insurance industry – also previously Protestant-dominated in Dublin).

    There’s a story there that hasn’t yet been told – but most of those who could tell it are now retired or dead.

  • Mick Fealty

    Just a reminder of the original topic for those still struggling to remember what it was:

    “Unless, however, we ask ourselves some serious questions about why what happened actually happened and whether we might not have been better led by our politicians, we might – just might – make the same mistakes again. Dawn Purvis has started a debate. It is to be hoped, though I won’t hold my breath, that others might join that discussion.”

  • It’s not a struggle, Mick, but if you’d care to answer my questions (post 3, page 1, plus later at your request), we’d be back on track.

    Otherwise I see your comments as evasion.

  • kensei

    Sorry Mick — is that all you wrote? Both at the top and subsequently in the comments? Because I think you covered a fair bit more.

    If you wanted to keep the discussion narrow, then um, you should have kept the discussion narrow. If you are going to make wider statements, be prepared for the discussion to go down differnet paths. Being unable or unwilling to defend what you have said just pisses people off, and no about of moaning will push things back down the tangent you want.

  • Sean

    I guess I am a bad influence even if all my posts have been erased, for some reason people keep asking the same things I did but there posts stand

    You wanted a conversation but you won’t accept that it is the people involved in the conversation that decide its direction and not the originator. If you wanted a specific direction you should have been more active or narrowed your original post and the tone of subsequent posts.

    You have set this site up so any one(excepting me) can comment and then complain they choose to comment on and the perspective differences than you

    If you want a narrow academic discusion perhaps you should restrict commenting to people who can put the appropriate silly little letters behind their names

  • Mick Fealty

    Boyz, just calm down for a minute and take a deep breath. Now that I have you altogether, tell me this:

    When there is a thread asking searching questions about nationalism, why do want to talk about anything but the subject in hand?

  • Mick,

    Stop wriggling. The ‘subject in hand’ is “On that long overdue ‘Mea Culpa’ from a Catholic politician…“. Remember that? You wrote it. Its the topic – and you keep telling us to stick to the topic.

    So please stick to the topic, and explain what you meant. I won’t repeat my questions yet again – I know you’ve read them. Please either answer them, or tell us why you won’t.

  • The Spectator

    Mick

    When there is a thread asking searching questions about nationalism, why do want to talk about anything but the subject in hand?

    1. Is that question on topic, Mick? Or is it an ad hominem fishing expedition?

    2. Mick, the entire premise of your question, and NR Greer’s article can be summed up easily as “Catholics, when are you going to apologise for beating your wives?”.

    Then when people suggest “hey, actually, maybe we didn’t beat our wives!” you respond that the same people our not facing up to searching questions!

    Then when people say “Why do YOU think we beat our wives” it’s a distraction!

    Mick, hate to burst your bubble (actually, no I don’t, it’s about time it was burst) – but your question wasn’t ‘searching’ – it was simply loaded, and surprise, surprise, some people won’t play that game.

    So if you want to talk the subject at hand – here’s the answer (which is more than you were willing to give).

    Nationalists don’t accept the accuracy of the premise of the question.

    And either YOU believe that flawed premise, Mick, or YOU don’t. That’s the question you apparently consider a distraction. Which kind of gives the game away.

  • Erasmus

    Mick, in other contexts, has positively commented on the phenomenon of ‘thread drift’

  • Mick Fealty

    For reference, here’s Horse’s original questions:

    What do you think ‘Catholic politicians’ were guilty of? Asking for civil rights? Pointing out discrimination? Failing to point to Catholic Church failings? What precisely are you after here?

    Is this not another attempt at the ‘both sides were as bad as the other’ deception? Since ‘Catholic politicians’ had virtually no power in pre-1969 NI, what could they have been guilty of?

    Do you believe that ‘Catholic politicians’ (Ivan Cooper, maybe …) triggered the troubles with their incessant demands? Or smuggled guns? Planted bombs?

    Perhaps it was others, not ‘Catholic politicians’, who should admit culpability – so why are you trying to peddle a very disingenuous message of ‘Catholic political guilt’?

    Those are all fine rhetorical questions. All of them poetic extrapolations from a few spare lines from Kelly’s article (with a hint of added ‘when did you stop beating your wife’). In effect, you are asking me to account for what Kelly might have meant.

    But it should be pretty clear from post 22 on page 2 that I take it that, for the most part, he means the Republican campaign of violence. I could cite some instances of that, but I fear that would invite an avalanche of ‘whataboutery’.

    Let me say that most (though not all) of the victims I knew during the troubles (including members of my own family) were victims of Loyalist not Republican violence (though I had a friend of a friend who lost her leg in the Abercorn bomb.

    But Kelly’s point is simple. Did what Catholics had to endure in terms of discrimination before 69 warrant the degree of backlash that came. Now as I have pointed out before, there is a flaw here.

    Now on ‘the both sides were as bad as the other deception’, Catholics/Nationalists were no more responsible for the whole of the conflagration than were unionists. Yet as Greer points out that hasn’t stopped that particular view becoming commonplace amongst the liberal chatterati.

    And as I argued earlier (page 2, comment 22):

    I don’t necessarily believe a mea culpa is the best way forward for nationalism any more than I ever believed it was politically useful for unionists to make a public apology.

    If there is to be one, then it should not come as an expression of weakness, but arise from strength of its own convictions. [emphasis added for ease of comprehension]

    I thought I had made by MY underlying point in making the post clear. It is that nationalism, at this stage, is stuck with way too many legacy issues to face the future with any confidence.

    In short, apologies are inappropriate. The dead are dead and further insult would only be added to those injured.

    Nationalism isn’t about Unionism (any more than Unionism is about Nationalism). What it should be about (and I am pretty sure ken is with me on this) is redefining the project, its aims, its realisable objectives in a post Belfast Agreement era, and then setting about in a full blooded and unapologetic way attaining those objectives.

    That means getting over the past and getting on with the (albeit limited) business of this devolved administration. Otherwise it is going to die the death of a thousand satirical cuts as it flounders from self imposed crisis to the next.

    BTW, TS, next time you seek to speak on behalf of “Nationalists” can you warn me? I surely wasn’t expected that show of mass authority at this mature stage of the thread. 😉

  • The Spectator

    Mick

    1. I wasn’t speaking on behalf of ‘nationalists’. I was giving my own answer to your question on why certain members of this site won’t answer your loaded question the way you wanted. If I was speaking for anyone, it was Ken, Horseman etc, to whom for my presumption my most humble apologies.

    2. But Kelly’s point is simple. Did what Catholics had to endure in terms of discrimination before 69 warrant the degree of backlash that came.

    Actually, Kelly’s point is clearly NOT that simple.

    From his interview –

    Finally, let me pose a question: was the situation in Northern Ireland before 1968 so oppressive for the Catholic minority that they had no choice but to follow the road embarked upon by the civil rights movement later hijacked by the IRA?.

    It’s not aimed at republicans at all, Mick. this much is clear. it’s aimed at supporters of the CRM, and it’s more or less – “It (the NI catholic experience pre 1969) wasn’t bad enough to justify supporting the CRM given the violence that later happened” – as though the CRM supporters bear some responsibility for the outbreak of the violence.

    And since there are only two things in the see-saw, Mick, the point must be either the terribleness of supporting CRM per se or the not-all-that-bad-ness of the pre 1969 situation.

    So Mick, which is it?

    “its realisable objectives”

    And here we are back on the classic Fealty hobbyhorse. The call on Nationalists to stop being Nationalists – “You’ll never get it, so stop trying, and then unionisits might be nice to ye!!”

    Honestly, Mick, what’s the point?

  • kensei

    Mick

    But Kelly’s point is simple. Did what Catholics had to endure in terms of discrimination before 69 warrant the degree of backlash that came. Now as I have pointed out before, there is a flaw here.

    Yes. Yours. It is unlikely that anyone could have foreseen what happened in 1969. The question remains, was their cause just and their methods fair. That’s all they can stand account for. They can’t stand account for what others did later on. That’s a farcical premise.

    Second, this assumes that the PIRA campaign was a result of the abuses of the Stormont regime. This is only partly true. It was as much a reaction to the whole post partition settlement, both the politics and the violence – as has been pointed out the loyalist campaign predates almost everything else by some margin. But it was in a most major way a response to what happened once the marches got going. Communities were attacked. People were burned out of their homes, including members of my wider family. The army happened and curfews happened. Bloody Sunday happened. There was a sense of chaos, and the idea that actually, maybe they could get rid of the British Government.The thing fed on itself, and not simply in one direction.

    Are there mea culpas in there? Likely. Certainly the length of the campaign and the ever increasing brutality is hard to sustain. What there isn’t a mea culpa for however, is the idea that people had the right to stand up and say “We’re not taking this anymore.”.

    Now on ‘the both sides were as bad as the other deception’, Catholics/Nationalists were no more responsible for the whole of the conflagration than were unionists. Yet as Greer points out that hasn’t stopped that particular view becoming commonplace amongst the liberal chatterati.

    Any time I see the words “liberal media”, I reach for my gun.

    I thought I had made by MY underlying point in making the post clear. It is that nationalism, at this stage, is stuck with way too many legacy issues to face the future with any confidence.

    Legacy issues seem to loom large when you are stalled and do not matter when you are moving forward. Nationalism’s problem is it hasn’t figured out how to use the mechanisms it argued for to get the things it wants in the face of solid Unionist opposition. It’s only vehicle for connecting with the Southern polity is hamstrung by current rather than legacy realities. It needs to work out current problems and current narratives rather than worry about its own neurosis. I think you kind of say this in a round about way.

    Nationalism isn’t about Unionism (any more than Unionism is about Nationalism). What it should be about (and I am pretty sure ken is with me on this) is redefining the project, its aims, its realisable objectives in a post Belfast Agreement era, and then setting about in a full blooded and unapologetic way attaining those objectives.

    Not quite. The temptation when you start talking about “reasonable objectives” is to start talking yourself down from what you actually want. And the objectives are fair clear – the biggest one being a United Ireland, but also stuff like reaching out to the other side. Nationalism knows what it wants, at least. But SF in the early 20th Century gave a prescription and a vision for Ireland in that time and place. Where problems lay. What it meant to be Irish. What it was going to do. And with tweaks, basically SF stick to the same plan and the same script. But the world’s changed and much of it doesn’t work. They need to stop and think and do the same thing for Ireland of the 21st Century – with fundamental different economy, different poverty issues, the existence of the EU and tons of new Irish and so on. That is one plank. That comes from one end. They need to look at the other end too. How do we get votes in East Belfast? How do we draw people in. What changes do we need? What’s tenable, given the principles? How long would it take? There is a mix of better ideas and execution. It’s less about some fundamental redesign rather than taking your pot of ideas and getting something right for the times. That means shedding somethings, rediscovering others.

    None of it is easy. I don’t particularly think it’ll simply lurch from one crisis to another permanently, because there is electoral advantage in getting it right. That’s a big carrot. It might take a while, but as much as Unionists will contest this, Nationalism only needs to win the game once.

    Anyway, would have been easier in the first place without the wild stuff about Unionism. Ten minutes later the DUP says it’ll never serve under a Nationalist First Minister on rules it agreed. I mean, seriously? We all got issues.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    We CAN see the bit after the bold lettering TS. The rest is nonsense on stilts.

    Ken,

    No argument with most of that, except I probably need to say more about your historical fallacy point at the start.

    But it’s been a long night, and I’ve too many deadlines before I leave for Paris tomorrow evening.

  • The Spectator

    Mick

    The rest is nonsense on stilts

    How, exactly?

    We CAN see the bit after the bold lettering TS.

    I’m sure you can. But you don’t actually seem to be reading it. The question is clearly set to the ‘Catholic Minority’ about the action taken by them in following the road of the CRM. That’s why he used the words he used.

    The words after are clearly and bloody obviously a subjunctive phrase, describing what happened that movement. A hijack apparently. By the IRA. Not by the ‘Catholic Minority’ who set out on the road, and to whom the original question is addressed.

    In structural terms Actor A (‘the Catholic minority’)performed Action 1 (followed the road embarked upon by the CRM – which was marches and protests) ; Action 1 was later hijacked by Actor B (the IRA), who proceeded to do Action 2 (hijack the campaign – presumably by deciding to operate a campaign of terrorist violence, although Kelly does not articulate this last bit).

    Kelly is asking was the pre 1969 situation so bad that Actor A (‘the Catholic Minority’) was legitimated in taking Action 1 (undertaking a CRM campaign).

    You seem to have read him as asking whether the pre 1969 situation justified Actor A (‘the Catholic Minority’) in taking Action 2 (hijacking the movement).

    But by Kelly’s own words, he states that Actor A did not do Action 2, Actor B (the IRA) did. So why on earth are you expecting a mea culpa from Actor A for something Actor B did?

    What next, Mick, blood libels?

  • Mick Fealty

    You haven’t read a thing I’ve written have you TS?

  • The Spectator

    Mick

    O Contraire, Mon ami. I’ve read it all. And Greer. And Kelly. And Harris. And I think you know that. But you have developed a habit of going rather curt and cryptic when you want a conversation to cease.

    So again, please, in simple words, explain to me my “nonsense on stilts”.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Nope. I’ve done my best already. And life is too, too short TS.

  • The Spectator

    Mick

    You really don’t like answering questions youself, do you, Mick?

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    I run a website where people are free to comment and criticise anything I write. You have that right. I’m not in the least interfering with it.

    I am more than happy to engage with the time that I have with the people I feel are worth engaging with on a point worth engaging with.

    The context of the post was pretty clear. As is Kelly’s argument. So is what I have said. Yet you keep asking about things I haven’t said and ignoring what I have said.

    If you want to extrapolate beyond the bounds of reason to make it a ‘blood libel’ (invoking the political ‘ghost’ of ‘nationalists’ along the way), feel free.

    And I’ll feel free to call it ‘nonsense on stilts’. As for the final arbitration, I’m content to let others be the judge.

    Night.

  • The Spectator

    Mick

    the people I feel are worth engaging with

    Well, at least I know where I stand. O worthless me!!

    And I’ll feel free to call it ‘nonsense on stilts’.

    1. Mick, you’re free to call it jam roly poly if you want, but it doesn’t make it true. I asked for an explanation. I got a hurrumpf.

    The context of the post was pretty clear. As is Kelly’s argument. So is what I have said.

    1. I’m not awfully interested in ‘context’. It’s all too often a ‘flubbery word’ open to endless and pointless analysis, and worst of all, evasion. It’s always a mistake to conflate the pretty with the true, and the elegant with the wise. Or, to simplify, the more someone hides behind ‘pithy’, the more I think they’re bullshitting.’clever’ and clever are two different things.

    I’m interested in straightforward questions, preferably using an active, rather than passive tense, to aide understanding, and in the answers to those questions.

    For goodness sake, I initally sought only a yes or a no – and you ran away – what the hell am i supposed to do with that, Mick?

    2. As I described, I think you mischaracterised Kelly’s argument to make your own. So Kelly’s argument was not all that clear after all. Neither was yours.

    If you want to extrapolate beyond the bounds of reason to make it a ‘blood libel’

    Oh, for goodness sake, grow up, Mick. You’ve never empoyed hyperbole, or ‘reductio ad absurdum’ to make a point?

    Look, it’s entirely up to you if you take your ball and go home. No one can stop you, and I wouldn’t try if I could. I don’t care enough.

    You will know that I’m an infrequent enough contributor to this site. I’m certainly content to become more infrequent, as I’ve said before at other junctures. I’m generally more interested in spiking poorly constructed arguments than taking an obvious side in our passion play.

    But a series of sulks and humps is a poor return for spending effort trying to get to the heart of the argumental construction by questioning the columns on which the ediface rests.

    But before I leave, I’ll make a wee suggestion, Mick. There is a vast difference between argument and assertion.

    Greer’s piece was more or less pure assertion. No evidence, no logic, no ‘working out’ – just a stream of hyperbolic truisms his readers are invited to agree with. It sells papers, no doubt, and good luck to him, but it’s not conducive to debate on the issues.

    Unless “is not! is too! is not! is too!” is your idea of debate.

  • Erasmus

    Protestants are so few in number that they must be short of the critical mass needed to exercise themselves effectively as a political cohort in today’s republic.

    Subsumed into the innards of everyday irish cultural life. ,
    They are about 5% and rising; as opposed to a falling Catholic population. In the ROI’s PR democracy 5% would certainly by a highly significant, outcome determinative bloc. But that is the point: they are not a bloc. They see themselves, and are seen, as part of the general community and not as a community within a community.
    Please refer to the CSO website:
    http://www.cso.ie/census/census2006results/volume_13/volume_13_religion.pdf
    Scroll down to 24 to get general population stats and down to 114 to get a handle on Protestants’ disproportrionately high representation in managerial and higher professional classes.
    If Catholics in the north had been treated half as decently as Protestants in the south the original Stormont would still be intact and the decades of mayhem after 1968 would never have happened.

  • dusty

    Erasmus u are 100% correct. I don’t see what any nationalist pre 69 has to apologise for. I have worked in th ROI for 15 years and religion doesn’t even come up. I live in the north however where it always comes up.

  • Brit

    Whilst I accept, broadly, the basic nationalist line that Prods in the RoI are not discriminated against or seen as alien or foreign, that fact cannot be used to:-

    1. Make any direct comparision to the treatment of Catholics in NI which though unjustified took place in a very different politicla context; or

    2. Lead to the conclusion that in a United Ireland the NE Ulster Protestants would be treated the same way or adopt the same political allegiances as Prods in the RoI. Indeed there is a risk that anti Prod prejudice in the south could develop if northern Prods started “kicking off” in some way.

  • Brit,

    I think you (and others?) underestimate how embedded southern Prods are in their society. They are not a people apart – they are entirely integrated in everything bar the particular building a diminishing number visit on Sunday morning.

    Anti-Prod prejudice is so unlikely in the south as to be laughable. Quite apart from other things, the proportion of southern (ex-)Catholics who have a Prod parent or grandparent is actually quite high – the result of mixed marriages, and one reason why Prod numbers declined during the 20th C. So for anti-Prod feeling to ‘develop’ would involve people turning against their own parents, cousins, or friends. The only reason they’d do that would be if southern Prods start to ‘side with’ the recalcitrant northern Prods – and that won’t happen.

  • Brit

    “I think you (and others?) underestimate how embedded southern Prods are in their society.”

    I accept that they are well embedded and integrated. I have no direct and little indirect knowledge on the issue but I hvae no reason to dispute what you say.

  • John East Belfast

    “I accept that they are well embedded and integrated”

    that is because from 1921 to Pre Celtic Tiger they existed in a State that was Institutionally Catholic, Gaelic and inherently anti British. They had little choice but to join in or leave.

    There is no point referring to the current environment for ROI Protestants as the damage was long done. They are no longer a threat and have been largely subsumed into the traditional nationalist and republican view of Ireland so why would there be any tension ?

  • John East Belfast,

    I see you’re joining the ranks of the ‘others’ mentioned in my Nov 12, 2009 @ 12:10 PM post.

    Your’s is a common but incorrect unionist myth. The truth is much more complex than you appear to think.

    Southern Prods come in all shapes and sizes, including many who supported (indeed founded) the ‘nationalist view’ through politics, language, sport, and so on. Many others, though not particularly ‘gaelic-minded’ were not strongly opposed to such things (such opposition is a more recent northern growth). But more importantly, most southern Prods were not ‘oppressed’ and forced to keep their heads down, as you imply. They continued, post-1922 to run their businesses, farm their farms, go to TCD, own most of the big shops and industries, and live perfectly normal lives.

    Any subsumation that has happened has happened with the complete agreement and cooperation of southern Prods. Its called convergence, and it happened quite painlessly in the south. Pity the north cannot learn the lesson.

  • John East Belfast

    Horseman

    I wont deny the Truth is much more complex – including in NI – but I am not glossing over the fact that the post 1921 Republic was a cold house for former Protestant Irish unionists.

    I have made comments earlier in this thread about the institutionalised bias and posters like Erin explained how her grandparents were intimidated out of their farms.

    I dont see the need to repeat all of those.

    In my opinion there is ample evidence of what the ROI State was like post 1921 and if you were a Protestant and an Irish unionist it could not have been something you would have felt at ease with. To keep denying that is being unrealistic.

    We will all just have to agree to disagree then

  • John East Belfast,

    Firstly his/her pseudonym was Orin, and secondly, he/she provided no evidence whatsoever. He/she could have been a troll (it wouldn’t be the first time).

    I’m not going to be specific, but I did have Prod ancestors living in the 26 counties at that time, so I have a certain knowledge of the issue.

    You are narrowing the discussion, I see, to “former Protestant Irish unionists“. Not all southern Prods were unionists – in fact most were pretty apolitical, I imagine. Just because northern Prods now are mostly unionists you cannot extrapolate backwards – not without better evidence, anyway. How about comparing the unionist vote in 1918 with the known Prod % per constituency? (PS I’ve done that, and it doesn’t support your argument).

  • Brit

    I know that the IRA committed some purely sectarian anti Prod atrocities in pre partion Ireland.

    As for the views of southern Protestants on indepenedence I dont know what the figures are but I’m sure a far larger proportion were unionist that amonst southern Irish Catholics.

    However do reason do think that has any direct relevance to the position of southern prods in the 21st C.

  • HeadTheBall

    Genuine question: Are Prods disproportionately represented in the higher-income groups of the RoI because:

    a) Prods have done well out of the Free State/RoI; or,
    b) the wealthier Prods could survive the IFS/RoI, while the poorer had to cut and run?

  • Brit

    b) is probably the better of the two alternatives.

    Given that social class divisions are as entrenched in the RoI as in any other modern Capitalist society those born into an middle/upper middle class / upper class family are likely to remain in one – and that pass on the same to their children. Given that the Prods were mainly ruling elite, or succesful farmers, landlords then its no surprise they are still in the “higher” socio-economic groups.

    It doesnt neccesarily mean that the Prods didnt fell somewhat lost and marginalised post independnece (nor indeed that a degree of marginalisation and alientation amongst this minority group was not a legitimate price worth paying for Irish independence).

  • HeadTheBall

    Thanks Brit,

    In point of fact you are offering a third alternative, which is that the Prods were always better-off and just stayed that way, ie there never were many “lower-class” Prods (in the South). I am happy to accept such a hypothesis, especially as it could explain the proportional decline in the Protestant community after Partition in terms of its greater economic and social mobility, but other posters could usefully contribute some statistical evidence on this.

  • Brit,

    Sorry to disagree, but this is wrong: … the Prods were mainly ruling elite, or succesful farmers, landlords …“.

    In pre-partition times in the 26 (as in the 6) Prods were mostly small farmers, artisans, lower civil servants etc. Only a tiny proportion were ‘ascendancy’.

    My own 26 county ancestors were small farmers and shop-keepers (no RIC AFAIK). In the extended family as a whole there was not one member of the ‘ruling elite’ or a single ‘landowner’. The same is true of most other people I know.

    Dublin had a substantial Prod working class. Much of it has been subsumed through mixed marriages etc, and a lot emiograted (like their Catholic neighbours).

    If southern Prods are doing well it is because they had/have a very good education system, and had smaller families (more money to invest per child, etc). But there are still poor Prods, and Prod small farmers. You’d be surprised how many ordinary people, when you talk to them, will mention that their father (for example) was Protestant. The idea that Prods were/are all big-house horsey types is completely wrong.