Pat Doherty: unionist outreach and profile raising

The approach of a general election always seems to bring politicians out to speak. Pat Doherty the abstentionist (from his constituency as well as Westminster) MP for West Tyrone made the opening address to the Irish unity conference in London today (already mentioned by Brian).

To be fair to Doherty he pretended some recognition of the position of unionists:

“Of course, unionists have a different perspective.
They want to maintain the union.
For this reason some elements of political unionism are opposed to this new dispensation.
They seek to minimise, to dilute and to delay its potential or to oppose it entirely.
And that is their right.”

One meaningless gem from Doherty was this: “We need to look at what they mean by their sense of Britishness and be willing to explore this with them and to be open to new concepts.” If it were true it would of course be laughable: being British means exactly that and being a unionist means exactly that; wanting to maintain the union. Even Doherty may, however, understand that.
All this niceness does sit rather ill with Doherty’s alleged IRA army council past. Maybe he has worked out that supporting murdering unionists is a rather ineffective strategy to make them enter a united Ireland. For him to attempt unionist outreach is, however, possibly even more ridiculous than Martina Anderson; though the real reason for outreach is to increase the “outreachers” profile and considering Doherty’s invisibility a bit of profile raising before the election is useful.

Other parts of Doherty’s speech unfortunately contradicted this supposed interest in unionists’ views. Trying to get the British government and the Irish diaspora to “directly influence a British government and to persuade British political leaders of the imperative of facilitating Irish reunification.” makes remarkably little sense when since 1949 the Attlee doctrine has held that the constitutional future was in the hands of the people of Northern Ireland. Doherty seems to have been converted to this position from that of his support for the IRA murdering their way to a united Ireland rather late in his career.

Doherty’s speech also holds to other views which seem to conflict with the idea of unionists having a veto on unity: “It is this denial of the Irish peoples’ right to self-determination, freedom and independence which is the core outstanding issue which must be resolved.” Of course that is not the case: the outstanding issue as Doherty noted elsewhere is that unionists want to remain within the union.

Jim Allister has noted that Doherty regards: “The Good Friday Agreement is a key part of this. It is an accommodation – not a settlement.” A further example of this is “…the agreement on transfer of powers on policing and justice, which will take power from London back to Ireland” – not quite what the DUP might have wanted him to say. Potentially more sinister, however, especially in view of Doherty’s past were his comments that “For unionists, a new Ireland offers a real hope of stability.” For Doherty to offer unionists “stability” if they agree with him is fundamentally threatening, implying as it clearly does that to disagree will result in instability.

Most laughable were it not so insulting, however, is “Nationalists and republicans want our rights, but we do not seek to deny the rights of anybody else.” For Doherty to come out with a comment like that three days after the anniversary of the La Mon House Hotel bombing shows how little republicans understand or care about unionists. Which rights for republicans required the napalming of the Irish Collie Club? and what care did he ever have for their most fundamental right: that to life? Oh yes the IRA army council, the true legitimate government of Ireland, decided to end that right as was their “right:” is that not so Doherty?

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Posted by Rory Carr

    ” 25.Turgon’s horrified reaction to the possibility that nationalists might obtain a united Ireland by simply outbreeding unionists, apart from its intolerance of the kind of majority rule democracy which Jim Allister claims is his main concern, totally ignores the simple fact that it was the breeding habits of unionists in six north-eastern counties that allowed them to deny the democratic wish of the Irish people as a whole. ”

    Excellent reposte there Rory.

  • Driftwood

    Munsterview.
    You didn’t include the most natural option. The ‘Isle of Wight’ option where Northern Ireland is governed from the mainland in the same manner as the IoW. Cheap and effective.

    Very few people of a ‘catholic’ background (we’re all mostly agnostic/atheist now want a politically united ireland more than their nice treasury funded public sector non-job.

    The £8 billion subvention rules out any UI or ‘joint authority’.
    Sure be happy we get RTE showing us extra Champions League football and enjoy life.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Posted by Driftwood

    ” The £8 billion subvention rules out any UI or ‘joint authority’. ”

    As a token of good will on our part we the Irish nation would allow the British Islanders to pay for the shebang for 10 years or so.

    The money boys on the British Isle would bite our hands off for that deal.

    Unionists,Loyalists,Republicans and Nationalists in the North have no qualms about the British Islanders paying for the Shebang at the moment.

    You had better watch out those money boys in the New (??) Tory party may want to cut a deal for their long term macro economics.

    It was Maggie Thatcher that established the Anglo-Irish Agreement afterall.

  • DerTer

    The tone of this thread has deteriorated very badly, with rationality, as so often, departing out the window.
    Turgon: I know I’m a bit late saying so, but your original post was interesting post as always, and it’s hard to disagree with a lot of it – though a bit more polemical than your usual stuff, which might be part of the explanation for the deterioration.
    On a factual matter, you are wrong about what you call the Attlee doctrine. What caused a huge furore in 1947 (or was it 1948?) was that Attlee effectively took the right to determine NI’s future away from the people of Northern Ireland (something that they had under the Government of Ireland Act – can’t remember, once more, whether it was 1920 or 1921) and granted the right to determine the constitutional future instead to the parliament of NI.
    The NILP’s position on this was interesting, and implicitly critical of Attlee: Bob Getgood MP said in a debate at Stormont that because of the way the Unionists gerrymandered constituency boundaries, the only satisfactory way to determine the will of the people was by a plebiscite – in other words a border poll. Indeed, it was this whole issue – of apparently being let down by a Labour government – that began the sad process of fragmentation of the left in NI.
    Coll Ciotach: Unionists would form over 20% of the population of a united Ireland. Why would it not be just as legitimate to say in that putative context that “you cannot force [the unionist] 20% of the population to accept their division from the rest of their nation [the UK]”?

  • Framer

    I think you are quite wrong, DerTer, to say that Attlee in 1948 took away the people’s right to determine NI’s future, giving it to Stormont.

    According to Wikipedia, “The main provision of the…Ireland Act 1949 was the acceptance that the declaration of a Republic of Ireland had meant that that state had “ceased to be part…of His Majesty’s dominions” and thereby left the Commonwealth…However the Act also declared that the Republic of Ireland was “not a foreign country for the purposes of any law” in the UK and its territories…The Act also clarified the status of Northern Ireland…giving a statutory guarantee that Northern Ireland…would remain part of the UK so long as the Parliament of Northern Ireland so desired.

    This was the first such legal guarantee given to the region.”

    It therefore was not so given in the 1920 Act.

  • DerTer

    Framer
    Thanks for that. However, rather than bow to a Wikipedia interpretation, look up NI Hansard Vol XXXII, 30-31 Nov 1948, Cols 3641-3670. As you will see there, the NILP was in no doubt that a significant change had taken place. In the meantime I will have a look at the 1920 Act to see whether the NILP were right!

  • Mack

    Alias

    e government of any unified entity is required under the GFA to act with “rigorous impartiality” between the two nationalisms. Any government that is required to be impartial between two nationalism cannot, rather obviously, be partial to Irish nationalism

    Exactly! Belgium not France or Holland, Switzerland not Austria, Italy, or France.

    That’s ultimately a reflection of the reality in that region – that it is populated, in roughly equal measure by British and Irish people.

    There is little appetite (read none whatsoever) for turning monocultural Ireland (south /26C) into a bicultural Belgium style amalgam so the easiest way to unite Ireland is to contain the amalgam in a devolved Northern Ireland.

    Which has the advantage in that the same structures can remain as those created for NI within the UK, so you’d think the locals could focus more on the core problem (which isn’t national sovereignty) – figuring out how live together so they can create a prosporous society they all enjoy living in…

  • slug

    “you’d think the locals could focus more on the core problem (which isn’t national sovereignty) – figuring out how live together so they can create a prosporous society they all enjoy living in… ”

    I think on the whole they are doing. I think society there is moving on gradually.

  • Munsterview

    marcionite feb 21 2010 @ 05:29

    “………….. ..De Valera then made a speech describing the Dail as a Cathloic parliament for a Catholic people. This naked sectarianism shocked the Unionist establishment who still held an olive branco to the RC people but all this including the RC church telling it’s sheep not to take part in NI civic society led to Clark making the Protestant Parliament speech which was really in a spirit of exasperation………. ”

    New one on me ! Long Fellow could have, not discounting that……. references for speech please ?

  • PaddyReilly

    You live in the world of sentimental dreamers of a United Ireland.

    Sentimental dreamers? A United Ireland is the obvious practical scheme for ruling the island. It was daft sentiment that divided it. Or do you imagine that the Isle of Wight would be better off divided into three parts, one of which was aligned to Norway?

    you insult your fellow catholics by assuming that they will all support a united ireland

    Remind me how many votes the Catholic Unionist Party got in the last election.

    you assume all protestants are orange parading bigots.

    Not at all. There are comparatively few orangemen and only a handful of contentious marches. However the Portadown bunch do seem to have the DUP rooting for them.

    The thought of a million hard nosed prods

    The Protestant population was never a million and has probably fallen below 800,000. And this includes the comatose and incontinent, and weans who cannot even speak. In the last election the DUP vote was on 88,000 and TUV on 66,000. This as far as I can see is the extent of the opposition that is liable to turn violent. Given that the Garda were able to foil all the IRA plots against the Free State in the 1920s when the the insurgents had the good will of nearly half the population, I don’t see that it would be beyond them to deal with Unionist Opposition.

    When the old order goes, people accept that it is never coming back. How many white South Africans belong to terrorist anti-state organisations? How many Unionist counter-revolutions did the Free State have to deal with?

    people like yourself seem to confuse a catholic majority with a majority voting for a United Ireland.

    I do not work from religious figures. I can click through my Facebook Friends over a substantial swathe of West Belfast but can find no enthusiasm for the Catholic Religion whatsoever. If uptake of sacraments is the opposition then the Union is safe. I work from election results.

    If you read a few books on the impact of Ulster immigrants in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other former colonies you would realise they were central to the development of those countries and the success of the British Empire at the time.

    Ulster people immigrating to the USA kept the Empire going? I wonder how that works.

    There were important contributions to the Empire from people who were Protestant and from Ulster: Lord Macartney’s mission to China springs to mind.

    But note that these are Ulster people and not, as I said, NI Unionists. The Unionist party represents the stay-at-home bunch, those who think that the British Empire exists to benefit them, not vice versa.

    You want to forcibly remove civil servants and unemployed people to other parts of the country. What’s next?

    What indeed. I recall the gloom in two outfits of Civil Servants in London in the 1980s when they were told their offices were being transferred to Swindon and Taunton, respectively. Most of them went though, and now their children have wurzel accents. If you could possibly bring a case at the ECHR (Ferguson v UK) it may be possible to rule out such abuses and they will never happen.

    This poll shows that in 2008 less than half of catholics in NI wanted a United Ireland

    What you have is an acceptance of the will of the majority in the 6 county area for as long as that majority is conspicuously pro-Union.

    What you are trying to market it as is enthusiasm for that Union.

    My own opinion is that the last election showed that there are apparently still 20,000 more Unionists in NI than Nationalists. Therefore, there should not be a United Ireland, or even a border poll—today. At some future date, when it becomes apparent that the majority is Nationalist, that opinion will change.

  • PaddyReilly

    You live in the world of sentimental dreamers of a United Ireland.

    Sentimental dreamers? A United Ireland is the obvious practical scheme for ruling the island. It was daft sentiment that divided it. Or do you imagine that the Isle of Wight would be better off divided into three parts, one of which was aligned to Norway?

    you insult your fellow catholics by assuming that they will all support a united ireland

    Remind me how many votes the Catholic Unionist Party got in the last election.

    you assume all protestants are orange parading bigots.

    Not at all. There are comparatively few orangemen and only a handful of contentious marches. However the Portadown bunch do seem to have the DUP rooting for them.

    The thought of a million hard nosed prods

    The Protestant population was never a million and has probably fallen below 800,000. And this includes the comatose and incontinent, and weans who cannot even speak. In the last election the DUP vote was on 88,000 and TUV on 66,000. This as far as I can see is the extent of the opposition that is liable to turn violent. Given that the Garda were able to foil all the IRA plots against the Free State in the 1920s when the the insurgents had the good will of nearly half the population, I don’t see that it would be beyond them to deal with Unionist Opposition.

    When the old order goes, people accept that it is never coming back. How many white South Africans belong to terrorist anti-state organisations? How many Unionist counter-revolutions did the Free State have to deal with?

    people like yourself seem to confuse a catholic majority with a majority voting for a United Ireland.

    I do not work from religious figures. I can click through my Facebook Friends over a substantial swathe of West Belfast but can find no enthusiasm for the Catholic Religion whatsoever. If uptake of sacraments is the opposition then the Union is safe. I work from election results.

    If you read a few books on the impact of Ulster immigrants in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other former colonies you would realise they were central to the development of those countries and the success of the British Empire at the time.

    Ulster people immigrating to the USA kept the Empire going? I wonder how that works.

    There were important contributions to the Empire from people who were Protestant and from Ulster: Lord Macartney’s mission to China springs to mind.

    But note that these are Ulster people and not, as I said, NI Unionists. The Unionist party represents the stay-at-home bunch, those who think that the British Empire exists to benefit them, not vice versa.

    You want to forcibly remove civil servants and unemployed people to other parts of the country. What’s next?

    What indeed. I recall the gloom in two outfits of Civil Servants in London in the 1980s when they were told their offices were being transferred to Swindon and Taunton, respectively. Most of them went though, and now their children have wurzel accents. If you could possibly bring a case at the ECHR (Ferguson v UK) it may be possible to rule out such abuses and they will never happen.

    This poll shows that in 2008 less than half of catholics in NI wanted a United Ireland

    What you have is an acceptance of the will of the majority in the 6 county area for as long as that majority is conspicuously pro-Union.

    What you are trying to market it as is enthusiasm for that Union.

    My own opinion is that the last election showed that there are apparently still 20,000 more Unionists in NI than Nationalists. Therefore, there should not be a United Ireland, or even a border poll—today. At some future date, when it becomes apparent that the majority is Nationalist, that opinion will change.

  • BryanS

    Paddy
    Sorry you couldnt sleeep and a pity you cant read as well.
    I did not say there were 1 million hard nosed prods
    I said there were a million hard nosed prods and bitter taigs here who would not be wanted in an all ireland state.
    there are another 6 or 7 hundred thousand reasonable people.
    Your selective analysis makes a nonsense of and rational debate.

  • PaddyReilly

    Thank you for your solicitousness: I slept very well, having fallen asleep at 8 PM.

    I find your awarding of hard nosed, embittered or reasonable status to be entirely personal and subjective and not based on any reliable survey of the population’s attitudes. Presumably though, the formerly embittered Taigs would be less so after reunification: one would expect them to be jubilant. So I don’t see them as a problem.

    To state that the people in the 26 Counties do not want those in the wee 6 really misses the point: they are still on the same island. In a United Ireland Derry and Belfast would be just as close to, and just as far from Dublin as they were before reunification. The troubles in the 6 were perceived as Irish troubles by outsiders: they devastated the Irish Tourist Trade, while leaving the British industry unscathed.

    If you declare your foot to be legally someone else’s, it’s not going to stop it giving you gyp if it’s broken.

    So it would help to have the whole island under one government, so that Irish solutions can be brought to bear on Irish problems.

  • Munsterview

    Bryans,

    During the 70’s and 80’s quite a bit of my leisure activity involved attending events at the RDS and shows in other locations. The activities involved a cross-section of all the peoples on this Island and our adjoining one.

    In this activity time and again I see Unionists mixing and socializing comfortably with their Southern Counterparts, a natural and unremarkable part of these events. However some of these same people were equally comfortable back across the Border at giving Ulster-Under-Threat fire and brimstone speeches that were total contrary to their Southern experiences.

    If English Tory leaders are adept at playing ‘The Irish Card’ then middle class middle aged, ex Trinity Unionists were equally adept at playing the ‘Border Card’ and fostering division for naked, opportunist, political expediency !

    It is impossible to keep lives compartmentalized in Ireland, I was on committees etc with people of Unionist background and for every example I encountered of ‘bloodymindness’ I can also give a dozen others where I could socialize and was as welcome in their circles as they were in ours.

    Some months back I shared a car ferry journey with a Retired C Of I. Minister and we caught up on past times. In the early seventies we were in the same Southern City. After Interment and Bloody Sunday etc when The Cannon appealed for funds to re-roof his parish church, the first donation he got from a political party and indeed the only one from such sources for quite some time afterwards, came from my Sinn Fein Cuman.

    Rigid Cultural apartite never existed in this Island for middle and upper classes. Our President, with her open door policy at the Aras, has shown that it need not exist for Loyalist working classes either !
    It is well past the time to have a meaningful dialogue and exploration of what the true history and shared cultural of this island is as distinct from the usual skewed distortions trotted out to suit particular and passing political agendas!