Unity Won’t Solve Ireland’s Two Major Problems

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin]

I believe that in the present circumstances of continued deep communal division in Northern Ireland and deep economic crisis in the Republic, Irish unity is not on the political agenda, nor does it make sense to put it on the agenda any time soon.  I have not heard advocates of rapid moves towards Irish unity put forward any convincing arguments about how political unity would help solve either of these massive problems or the social problems of sectarianism, inequality, poverty and the dangerous marginalisation of young people that accompany them.

I believe that in the foreseeable future most of the intelligence and energy on the island should go into finding solutions to these two problems. I believe the way forward lies in doing as much as possible of this difficult work together on the small island that we all – unionists, nationalists and others – call home. That is why I echo the British and Irish governments, the European Union and the US government in placing so much emphasis on cross-community cooperation in the North and cross-border cooperation on the island. These for me are the elements in the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements which, if worked properly, can become the building blocks for eventual reconciliation – whatever form that takes – on the island of Ireland.  When we manage to cooperate to build a shared society within the North and to build a shared economy on the island that will benefit people of all allegiances, only then – when the benefits of unifying people around common aims and interests become clear – does it make sense to begin to talk about Irish unity in political terms.

Those key elements of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements haven’t been worked properly yet. Cross-community cooperation often works well at grass roots level. But the valiant efforts of the community and voluntary sector to bridge the sectarian divide have not been backed by any coherent policy from the main two parties in government in the North, Sinn Fein and the DUP, to reduce sectarianism by building a shared society: through shared housing, shared schools, shared public spaces and so on. Maybe this will begin to change in response to the demands of Alliance leader David Ford as part of the deal to bring him into the Executive as Minister in charge of policing and justice.

Cross-border cooperation has been one of the quiet success stories of the post-Good Friday Agreement period.Inter-governmental relations – both between the British and Irish governments, and between the latter and the Northern Ireland Executive –  are closer than at any time since partition. The work of bodies like InterTradeIreland has seen North-South trade rise by nine per cent every year for the past decade.  In areas as varied as infrastructure, energy, higher education and research, tourism, health, agriculture and spatial planning the levels of cooperation are unprecedented. 23,000 cross-community and cross-border projects have been funded by the EU. Perhaps 200,000 children have crossed the border on school and youth exchanges in the past decade and a half. This explosion of cross-border activity must give real hope that in the future much of the fear and suspicion that have poisoned relationships on our island for centuries will be dispelled, and that our children and grandchildren will be able to forge harmonious new relationships undreamt of in the past. But it must continue and expand, and continue to be funded, and there must be real doubts about that happening as EU money dries up and the two governments wrestle with huge financial problems.

It seems to me that there are two elements which are vital in the next 5-10 years for moving towards a just, prosperous and reconciled society in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and neither of them involves any moves towards Irish unity. The first is the hard task of beginning to build a fairer, more equal and more trusting society within Northern Ireland.  We have to work to ensure that working class people in Belfast can lose their fears enough to allow the so-called ‘peace walls’ to come down between them and their neighbours; we have to make sure that there is equal access to education and training for everyone, particularly those in the most disadvantaged areas (who suffer particularly badly at the hands of the North’s class-divided, grammar school-driven education system); and we have to make sure that  people can move around our cities and towns to work without fear in order to provide the mobility of labour without which major job-creating investment will not come to Northern Ireland. In particular, there is the extremely urgent task of finding jobs for young, unemployed people, who, if they are not given any hope for the future, will find the arguments of dissident republican groups and their loyalist counterparts for a return to violence increasingly attractive.

The second element is more North-South cooperation, and particularly cooperation to move the island of Ireland to the next stage of economic development :  a stage of seamless all-island infrastructure and transport , closely linked knowledge-based industries (including green industries) and more integrated social insurance, tax and higher education systems (and of course, both jurisdictions using the euro).  Economic cooperation since the mid-nineties has been a classic example of how practical cooperation for mutual benefit can persuade even the strongest unionist of the virtues of doing business on an all-island basis. That visionary business leader, Sir George Quigley, says that through economic cooperation “North and South in their relationship have left the segregation model further behind than Northern Ireland itself has. People are now engaging and interacting freely, doing things together and getting to know each other to a degree which would have been unthinkable 30 years ago.”1

There is an interview with the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, on North-South cooperation in the 2010 Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland, which will be published next month. In it, he suggests that the ultimate destination of the Irish unity political project will be something for a future generation to decide. He goes on: “We have to make the here and now a better place. We have to do it on the basis that we have devised a political culture that is less suspicious and fearful than ever before, that is more open to recognise the common interests that we have together whilst respecting that we are in separate jurisdictions. We should be concerned about what it is we can do together.

Let’s work together to make the island of Ireland, with all its contradictions and complexities, a more just and prosperous society (or societies): to make the here and now a better place. That’s a sensible and unifying rallying-call for all of us in the foreseeable future.

Andy Pollak

1 Lecture at North/South and Cross-Border Public Sector Training Programme, Dundalk, 3 July 2008

  • Coll Ciotach

    No – lets not. These new preconditions that somehow everything has to be sweetness and light before reunification is just deniers running scared and throwing up roadblocks. There is only one precondition and no amount of obfuscation can blind us to that. 50% +1. That is it.

    We are not interested in shared futures in any partitionist settlement – the only shared future we are interested in is within an all-Ireland basis. There can be no reconciliation with the border.

  • aquifer

    Yes lets keep the kids divided and bring them up in mono-cultural laagers so that irish national culture can be kept pure for the great day of victorous irish national unity when the Orangies pack up and leave.

    We may have to apply the armed struggle cattle prod once or twice but if that is the price of final victory then so be it. I’m fed up with those whiney Ballymena accents and those snotty Anglicans.

    We can than decide whether its back to subsistence farming or have the multinationals back.

    Oh, we might keep Ikea, this will be a modern forward looking natural wood and primary colours only republic.

  • Mrazik


    It’s called commonsense and reasonableness. Qualities that are far too rare around these parts.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    The abscence of Irish Unity has not removed both of these problems.

    Can the Island of Ireland afford this farcical border.

    Has the two state farce healed the divisions of the communities on the Island.

  • Mrazik

    Can the island of Ireland afford the island of Ireland? I think not, and anyone who thinks otherwise in the current circumstances is bonkers.

  • BryanS

    Ahwell whatdo you expect from the usual suspects?
    Thank goodness we beat the English at a real game today. Well done that monaghan boy from the Royal school armagh.

  • Coll Ciotach

    no – it is not reasonable to expect me to accept a border and get on with it – were is the commonsense in that?

  • Turgon

    It is interesting that Mr. Pollak celebrates the increase in cross border trade and also promotes shared use of the Euro: a typically disingenuous and dishonest line.

    As someone who works (and maybe lives?) near the border Mr. Pollak must be aware that much of the most recent increase in cross border trade has been precisely because we do not have the same currency and the recent relative weakness of sterling has promoted RoI shoppers to come to NI. The extraordinary business of Enniskillen’s ASDA being a classic example. It may be the post Christmas lull or due to a slight fall in the Euro (probably the former) but this has been a bit less apparent recently.

    The different currencies seem to offer no deterrent to trade and may well actually increase it.

    However, Mr. Pollak do not let silly things like facts deter you from your ideological quest: funded I think by a cross border quango are you not?

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Coll: ‘50% +1. That is it.’

    Good luck with that Coll. Sure you can get back to us when you get there…

  • Munsterview

    I have have referred elsewhere to the fact that all during the worst of the troubles some prominent Unionists could be seen at the R.D.S. and other cultural activities in the South often rubbing shoulders comfortably with their Southern Political counterparts, yet some of these same individuals were back across the Border the same week giving ‘Not an Inch’ , Ulster must be saved, fire and brimstone speeches and presenting the South as a primitive god forsaken society!

    For people of certain classes the border may have existed politically, but in financial, business, cultural and other terms where it suited a border mentality of ‘us and them’ just did not exist.

    At one stage I was on a sporting committee, the membership of which included the late Maureen Haughey, the Late Bell Walton, and a member of the Ard-Comhairle of Sinn Fein. The rest included a handful of Southern Anglo-Irish background and some Northern Unionists. There were regular differences on voting issues but on issue by issue basis and never along ‘traditional groupings’

    Why do we not hear of the interface of the Northern farmers with the Southern Governments E.U. offices which have been ongoing over decades or the help given in regard to fishery supply contracts etc. In this regard the Southern Government has been content to quietly build up and bank goodwill, while the Northern beneficiaries of this assistance do not want to be embarrassed at being seen to do business, of rather relying on the ‘Free State’ for support and assistance from the South that was not fore-coming from U.K., E.U. offices, who did not same open doors or goodwill available, given their own Governments anti-E.U. attidutes

  • Lugs Brannigan

    “the late Maureen Haughey”

    She’s still alive as far as I know.

  • Mack

    Turgon –

    It may be the post Christmas lull or due to a slight fall in the Euro (probably the former) but this has been a bit less apparent recently.

    Factor in significant price falls in the south and price rises in the UK & the cost of travelling. It’s still cheaper north of the border, but not so much that it’s worth spending a day shopping and paying tolls, petrol etc to travel a couple of hundred of kilometres.

    Currency fluctuations provide temporary advantage (the next batch of Chinese imports cost more) – differentials in cost structures and taxes provide more stable comparative advantages. E.g. In the UK low paid workers get free medical care, where is in the South visits to the Doctors and health insurance must be paid for. In the south retailers bear the cost of providing health care for minimum wage workers through a minimum wage that is significantly higher than north of the border. In the UK that cost is borne across society thus providing northern retailers with a natural advantage over their southern counterparts. There are other factors – e.g the old Groceries Order, rents, electricity costs etc. (And there are other areas, arguably more important ones where this relationship is reversed)..

  • lamhdearg

    they get a mention above,there was a peace wall built on the oldpark road in the 80s to split the non irish nationlist torrens estate from the much larger irish nationlist ardoyne, after the people of the torrens area where intimidated out (by stealth)there has been a hole cut in this peace wall and homes are being built on the site of the old school that once served the people of torrens,these new homes are for irish nationlists,and this is why the non irish nationlist people of north and west belfast do not want to see the “peace walls” come down, SIMPLES.

  • David Crookes

    Yes: exercise goodwill, and don’t be too prescriptive. Whatever we call ourselves today, we must not expect the future to conform to some vision or notion that particular people had a hundred years ago. Our great-great-grandfathers must not be allowed to bind our great-great-grandchildren.

    Is there any point in talking about 50% plus one? Last time we held a referendum to determine how many people wanted a UI, quite a lot of people chickened out. I reckon that the same thing would happen if we had a referendum next month.

    The GFA has put the constitutional question to bed for what is going to be quite some time. Let us all be as friendly as possible with each other, and see what happens. And let us get some new blood into the Stormont assembly. A few imaginative MLAS with no memory of the Troubles would freshen the atmosphere wonderfully.

    Many thanks to Andy for his posting.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    “I have have referred elsewhere to the fact that all during the worst of the troubles some prominent Unionists could be seen at the R.D.S. and other cultural activities in the South often rubbing shoulders comfortably with their Southern Political counterparts, yet some of these same individuals were back across the Border the same week giving ‘Not an Inch’ , Ulster must be saved, fire and brimstone speeches and presenting the South as a primitive god forsaken society!”

    Posted by Munsterview on Feb 27, 2010 @ 10:22 PM

    Yes and I ignored it once, twice is a bit much to ask.

    I’ve seen U2 in both Dublin and Paris. I got on well with my Dublin neighbours but had a bit more fun with the Parisians I met at the French concert. I found the city of Paris more interesting than Dublin and the French ladies more attractive than the Irish girls. I also speak a lot more French than I do of the formerly-dead-but-recently-reincarnated Irish language.

    What’s your point???

  • Mrazik

    no – it is not reasonable to expect me to accept a border and get on with it – were is the commonsense in that?

    Posted by Coll Ciotach on Feb 27, 2010 @ 09:04 PM

    I agree Coll; you have absolutely no commonsense whatsoever.

  • Chris Donnelly

    after the people of the torrens area where intimidated out (by stealth)


    How do you get intimidated out by stealth? Those ‘Irish nationalists’ who resided in Torrens prior to Drumcree ’96 certainly weren’t intimidated out by stealth….

    I can understand your perspective but to say people should not be attempting to raise the matter of Irish unity is a nonsense. Those of an Irish nationalist/ republican persuasion are entitled to raise the matter and engage in discussions about the pros and cons of such a scenario, including listening to the perspectives of those like yourself.

    I find it strange that you would suggest suppressing the nationalist identity and silencing discussion regarding its ultimate objective is a precursor to developing a shared society in the north. That suggests that the ideal shared society you desire is to be built on shaky foundations indeed.

  • PaddyReilly

    Is there any point in talking about 50% plus one? Last time we held a referendum to determine how many people wanted a UI, quite a lot of people chickened out. I reckon that the same thing would happen if we had a referendum next month.

    Yes, there is a particular electoral effect whereby if it is known in advance what the likely outcome will be, the margin of victory will be exaggerated because voters do not see the point of turning out to support a lost cause. In systems which are less than perfectly ethical democracies there is a further effect whereby people are loathe to vote for the losing side: I found that in Chicago no-one wanted not to vote for the winning mayor, because it meant your precinct’s roads would be left full of potholes from then on.

    The last referendum was boycotted because it was meaningless: as the winnng side had already determined who the electorate would be, it is hardly surprising if they themselves won.

    In order for a referendum on unification to succeed, it would need to be preceded by some blatant demonstration of a Nationalist majority, such as a win of 2 seats for the European Parliament, or, much less reliably, a majority of Nationalist seats at Westminster. If, at Stormont, the number of Nationalist held seats exceeded the Unionist held one, the outcome would be less than certain because Alliance 2nd prefs are slightly more likely to go the Unionist side than the Nationalist one.

    50% + 1 will never happen: firstly because it is unlikely that the election will happen at precisely the point when the electorate reaches that point, but also because of the two above mentioned effects. When the time comes, it’s more likely to be 60:40.

    As to the vexed question of when that will be, I can only suppose that the currently evidenced Unionist preoccupation with thinking up reasons why it should not happen means that it is going to be soon. By my calculations, as of the last election, there were an average of 14,000 Unionists and 13,000 Nationalists in each constituency. But of course these are only the numbers of those who turned out to vote, who presumably were subject to the above mentioned effect.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks a lot, PaddyReilly (#18). It is unpleasant to contemplate any kind of UI that would involve a ‘payback’, or the notion that one side’s day had come. If a UI was going to work it would need to be seen in terms of everyone’s day having come. Otherwise the original NI problem would write itself in larger script, and the UI would be troubled with a large recalcitrant minority.

    People need to be imaginative. The bygone-days-of-gore doctrines won’t help. It worries me that some old-fashioned hardliners on the unionist side are toying with the idea of repartition. When such people talk about ‘democracy’, they mean the ascendancy of their own side.

    Unionists and republicans in NI should be working for a harmonious future, even if they are unable to imagine its exact form. What A and B wanted in 1912, or what C and D wanted in 1916, is now worse than trivial. A, B, C, and D are dead, while you and I are living in such a world as none of them could ever have imagined. Whatever we think we owe them, we don’t have to live political lives of which they would have approved.

  • Henry94

    There is no contradiction whatsoever between advocating Irish unity and also advocating maximum cross-border cooperation. Nor is their any contradiction between unionim and cross-border cooperation.

    It make make the border obsolete or it may make the debate on the border obsolete. Either way let’s get on with it without asking anybody to change their political views in advance.

  • David Crookes

    (#20) ‘It make make the border obsolete or it may make the debate on the border obsolete.’

    Bravo, Henry94. Maybe in time to come a couple of linguistically qualified MLAs will attend the Nordic Council as observers, in order to see how good neighbours get on with each other. At the same time, SF MPs might attend Westminster as observers, and a number of MLAs might occasionally attend the Dail as observers. No one needs to change his political views in advance, but all of us can be good neighbours, welcome in each other’s houses.

  • BryanS

    Is there not a blog site where those deluded sentimental dreamers who dont realise that a UI will not happen in their lifetime could spend their time and save us their rantings?

  • Coll Ciotach

    appears not Bryan – damn shame those fenians just will not shut up

  • Lugs Brannigan

    Maybe in time to come a couple of linguistically qualified MLAs will attend the Nordic Council as observers, in order to see how good neighbours get on with each other.

    Posted by David Crookes on Feb 28, 2010 @ 12:54 PM

    If everyone starts behaving well and respecting each other perhaps the NI Assembly may in time become known as the Nordie Council!

  • Munsterview

    Re Maureen Haughey……. slip of the pen, thanks for picking that up, the reference should have been to another person. Profound apologies To Mrs. Maureen Haughey and to the Haughey family

  • PaddyReilly

    Some Southern Protestants tell me that as late as 1947 they still regarded themselves as living within an unaltered British Empire, praying for the King and Empire at school and in Church. Possibly others still regard themselves in this way. I have heard in England of vicars who learnt the Anglican Liturgy in their youth and never altered it to acknowledge the accession of Elizabeth II Regina. The choir would always have to muffle their titters when Vicar X said the prayers for King George. In one Anglican establishment I know the prayer book has not been replaced since 1937, because the congregation (of approximately four) are not interested in change: so Edward VIII is still king.

    It does make sense to pull the carpet out from under the Unionists gradually, so that they can delude themselves that nothing has changed. Obviously a lot has changed already: Fair Employment was the biggest step; Sinn Fein finally in government is a significant milestone: the next will come when the Unionist bloc loses a further two seats and is unable to exercise much of a veto.

    This referendum malarkey is a bad idea. A sovereign assembly should be making small but significant moves towards unity: a unified NHS would be the first step, followed by a Customs Union and a Police Union, so that 10 years into an effective United Ireland your man could be still quoting his opinion poll results and saying it’s never going to happen.

  • Munsterview


    “I have have referred elsewhere to the fact that all during the worst of the troubles some prominent Unionists could be seen at the R.D.S. and other cultural activities in the South often rubbing shoulders comfortably with their Southern Political counterparts, yet some of these same individuals were back across the Border the same week giving ‘Not an Inch’ , Ulster must be saved, fire and brimstone speeches and presenting the South as a primitive god forsaken society!”

    You ask what is my point; it is not a very complicated one, if you will kindly bear with me.

    We are currently living in a world where the concept of the ‘Global Village’ is an increasing reality, people, capital and goods move cross frontiers with scant reference to national borders. It is in fact easier and cheaper to take a break in Southern France, from anywhere within fifty to seventy miles of Shannon than it is to travel to Belfast. I have availed of it, but not as often as I would have liked!.

    In previous centuries this freedom was restricted to the Ruling Elites as in the main only they could afford the costs involved. The World was their oyster and they had a tans-national perspective.

    Here in this island after partition the same applied, most of the Northern Ruling Power Elites continues to have an all Ireland perspective; time and again over the course of ‘The Troubles’ I have encountered people of this background enjoying themselves in Killarney, Kilkenny and elsewhere as well as the R.D.S and similar environs.

    Admittedly they were glad of the border……. to be on the bloody Southern side of it for a break that is !. They were of course perfectly entitled to be in the South and welcome.

    These people had an all Ireland perspective, they knew the thinking of the South yet for local political expediency their political classes presented an entirely alien and contrary image that fueled the fires of suspicion and hatred in the Loyalist working class ranks that found in expression burnt out homes and sectarian murders. This was inexcusable and morally repulsive stance. That is my point !

    As to Paris: yes I fully agree with you on that! As to the French Women, well I will not be ungallant by making comparisons with home. However next time I would suggest that you do more than look!

    However do bear in mind that France is still by in large a Catholic country, be sure to check out the religious aspect first, may take a bit of searching but you will still find the odd one of Huguenot or Palatine descent. I would not like to think of your night of pleasure soured, or even thwarted altogether by the sight of a couple of religious medals when it got to the underwear stage!

    If your thoughts do stray in that direction could I also suggest that you look up some of the romantic and love poems of your fellow clansman, Sir Samuel Ferguson, such Chean Dubh Deilish,( Dear Dark Head) that are still beautiful, and dare I say useful in such an encounter, even if hundreds of years old and translated from what you see fit to refer to as a dead language.

    That Language was very much alive to me growing up when I was taught to appreciate Sir Samuel Ferguson and other protestant poets such as Alfred Percival Graves by a Catholic Teacher in rural two room school controlled by a Catholic Parish Priest.

    I could suggest a few more of Ferguson’s works but with a such a closed mind against a two thousand year or more culture, I have a sad feeling, that, by your stated values, you would probably derive more benefit from a perusal of the written works of another Ferguson, his tractor operation and repair manual that is!

  • Paddy

    “I have encountered people of this background enjoying themselves in Killarney, Kilkenny and elsewhere as well as the R.D.S and similar environs”

    Such bullshit. Is it possible to enjoy Kilkenny aka Smithwicks? I believe good queen Vic, the Famine Queen, visited Killarney.
    An interesting plaque in Muckross to two brothers: one died when in the IRA; the other on terrorist operations for the Brits in West Africa.

    Killarney is a sleebheen town. Shudda brought the Orangies to Ballyseeedy when in the neighbourhood.

  • Alias

    “This referendum malarkey is a bad idea. A sovereign assembly should be making small but significant moves towards unity: a unified NHS would be the first step, followed by a Customs Union and a Police Union, so that 10 years into an effective United Ireland your man could be still quoting his opinion poll results and saying it’s never going to happen. ”

    It’s the other way around, old sport. The process is designed to re-integrate Ireland into the union as a contingency to protect British national interests should the unthinkable occur and the unionists decide that they wish to become the 15% British nation in a larger bi-national state rather than remain as 55% British nation in a smaller bi-national state.

    These cross-border bodies are presented as co-operation between separate sovereign jurisdictions – or, more accurately, between the mythical political entity referred to as ‘the island of Ireland’ – when the reality is that are a simple transfer of sovereignty over institutions of the Irish state to the British state.

    It is not necessary to give sovereignty over national affairs to a foreign state in order to co-operate with it. Indeed, co-operation implies that sovereign actors are working together toward a mutually beneficial objective. When the sovereignty is given away, then the actor is not sovereign and so he cannot be said to be co-operating since, rather obviously, he no longer has the sovereignty to decide if he should co-operate or not or to access whether or not the party to whom he has given his sovereignty is operating it to mutual benefit or simply to the other party’s benefit.

    At any rate, it is remarkably stupid for a state to allow a foreign competing state to determine its internal affairs, and that blatant stupidity is why the Irish government deemed it expedient not to inform the Irish nation that sovereignty over vital cultural and economic institutions of the Irish state was given to the UK in a treaty between the two states (the British Irish Agreement). It is also why the British state uses its media and its touts to promote the language of “co-operation” rather than to point out that the Irish constitution requires the Irish nation to give their sovereignty away via amendment and that is what the 19th Amendment duly did.

    A would guess that less than 0.1% of the Irish nation are aware, for example, that the United Kingdom now has sovereignty over the welfare of the Irish language, and that of that 0.1% only 0.001% would be aware that the purpose of granting the United Kingdom such sovereignty was to harmonise the Irish nation with the British nation by undermining aspects of Irish culture that is distinct from British culture.

    What is not in doubt is that the Irish nation (and not the self-serving tossers in NI who have renounced their national rights) would not support political engineering that is aimed at destroying it and converting it into a non-sovereign nation if they were made aware of purpose of the Whitehall-designed process rather being misled to believe that it is an indigenous Irish process aimed at promoting Irish national interests rather than British national interests.

  • Munsterview


    Before starting on the Vicars, take a look at the Roman Catholic Lot. Was it not a fact that up to and including, nineteen thirty seven, that every Irish ordained Roman Catholic priest staying at home had also to take An Oath Of Loyalty to the British Crown? If in conscience a priest refused to do so, he was dispatched to the Foreign Missions, and some where that the fag end of The British Empire was not still smoldering at that!

    This meant that in 1992 a Republican going to confession to a seventy-five old priest, filling in for others in the parish ( and nothing unusual in that) was dealing with someone whose political loyalty was pledged, not to their country or even to The Vatican State but to The Current Head of the British Royal Family.

    Most Irish Historians know the history of Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beara, and of his political assassination in Spain where he went for refuge after the 1600’s Wars, by English Crown spies. To add insult to injury his private family fortune went to the Irish Exile Catholic church and this was used to found Manooth College.

    Any one using Manooth library in current times must first pass a one and one third lifesize white marble statue of King George that has been there from the foundation of the college lest anyone in their use of the library forget where Roman Catholic Church Loyalties lay!

    No statue however to Donal Cam, the man who made it all possible. There is a dark portrait with little to draw attention to it, to the man it represents, to his hounding out of his own country, to his murder at the hands of Crown agents or to the fact that his monies made it all possible.

    Lets hope that his Ghost found a last refuge too in the Sunny Lands Of Spain or the heather hills of his beloved Beara and not on that gloomy landing gazing on the statue of King George!

  • Marcionite

    but what if 50%+1 vote for UI but would there be a right of recall ? Would it possible to reverse the decision and if not why not? A referendum like this is destabilising and actually calls into question the validity of the state itself even if such a vote is for keeping the state

    It’s like saying your youngest child can stay in the family as long as a majority of it’s siblings wish it. It is not democratic but debilitating to the entity/(or child in my analogy) having it’s status in the family put to the vote every now and then

    such a referendum or threat if one leads to thinking of NI only in the short term. What longterm plans can be made if it’s belonging/existance is periodically called into question

    referendums on issues like EU membership or voting systems are fair enough but a referendum on the very existence of the state itself is such a fundamental thing that a simple majority would not be morally sufficient. Such a fundamental change surely would need a 85% majority.

    Let’s put it like this, if France was asked if it should remain independant , you can guarantee a 99% vote in favour

    Westminster should declare NI part of the UK forever and even remove it’s legal status and incorporate it as part of English jurisdiction. This would render nationalism impotent and futile and force them to work for making NI a better place.

  • Munsterview

    Posted by Paddy on Feb 28, 2010 @ 07:19 PM

    Paddy….. in my book you are not too different to the likes of Stephen Ferguson or his ilk. Intolerance stinks no matter whether it is bright orange or dark green. If wee Joe Devlin had not poisoned the political climate with that same self serving drivel in the fifteen years before 1916 we may be looking at a far different Ireland To-Day.

    As to the Ballyseedy and the people that were brutally blown up and machine guns there, where is the glory in the fact that one group of former Volunteers who had fought a joint war with the volunteers here and then so foully murdered them? There is none in my book, none a tall!

    As you seem to like graveyards so much you may be also interested to know that remains of one of the Auxies killed by Tom Barry’s Men in Kilmichael ambush is buried in a small graveyard outside Macroom, near Cookstown. Why do you not look it up, get a shovel and head off down there on your next free time. I am sure that you could think of a few creative things to do with his bones that will help the cause of Irish Freedom!

    General Lucas when held by the North Cork I.R.A. was allowed to escape because as a fair minded English man he was more use to the Irish cause alive that dead. As to his captivity, he said that he was treated as a gentleman by gentlemen, later he was one of those responsible for preventing Sean Moylan’s execution and after in the mid-twenties the same General Lucas had Moylan as his guest for a stay in England.

    Yes Paddy, all bull shit to you and people like you, others, and thankfully most others at that would see and respect the mutual respect between former foes who each at different stages had each others life’s in their hands. There could be a few lessons in that for anyone interested.

  • Marcionite

    I think Paddy only posts after he’s had a few jars. Notice his postings are late evening and wee small hours? Perhaps he’s a student who’s returned to Jordanstown having come off the Culchie-Ballyshitkicker Express having spent a weekend of mammy washing his GAA tops and sexual frustration of coming home from Mickeys Bar hand in hand with a gravy chip

  • Alias

    Marcionite, you would still be in the union so there would be no need to exit it. Remember that a Confederate Ireland within the UK already existed (albeit only for 9 years). You should view the NSMC as an embryonic government of the ‘island of Ireland’ wherein “rigorous impartiality” can be exercised between two non-sovereign nations. The principle that Whitehall seeks to establish here is that the veto that one nation holds over another can be extended to another state. So just as the British state designed the process to ensure that the catholic tribe in NI would accept the legitimacy of the other nation’s veto over it, that is now extended to the Irish nation in Ireland by that nation voting in the 19th Amendment to allow the British state to hold a veto over the sovereign institutions of its state while being told that such transfer of sovereignty from the Irish nation to the British state was merely ‘cooperation in mutual interest that no sensible person would decline’. If, however, they were told that they had voted to allow the UK to reclaim sovereignty that it lost in 1921, then they would not of course have voted for it – hence the lies that are told to them in order to get them to transfer their sovereignty to the foreign state.

  • lamhdearg

    what irish nationlists where put out of torrens in 96,did you make this up,there where none,i know that irish nationlists have suffered and lost there homes in ulster and i feel for them just as i do the non irish nationlist people,my own family moved home twice because they felt intimidated,by stealth means the every other day stone through your window,being cursed or spat on when you leave you street,untill you think this is not the place you want to bring your kids up and move, what i was trying to point ont in my post was that the people who are calling for the peace walls to come down do not live under there shadow.

  • Marcionite

    Alias, are you deliberately being opaque and unclear in your postings? If you have points to make on the legal obscurities of sovereignty then please make them in a more clear and less obscure fashion

  • wee buns

    Alias I would be interested in a honed version of your points as I think they merit that.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    “in my book you are not too different to the likes of Stephen Ferguson or his ilk. Intolerance stinks no matter whether it is bright orange or dark green.”

    Posted by Munsterview on Feb 28, 2010 @ 08:18 PM

    Sorry, but I find this very harsh Munsterview.

    Why do you associate Unionism with intolerance? Have a look through every post I’ve made on this site in the past few months and you will not find a single comment you could describe as intolerant. You seem to think my desire to remain living within the UK is somehow a hatred of all things Irish. I post using my real name (whilst you don’t) and stand by every comment I’ve made. There’s not an intolerant bone in my body.

    I’ve many catholic, Sinn Fein voting friends (some of whom have no problem reading what I say on this site – Hi Paul and James!) and many other catholic friends of a lighter shade of green. I’ve had more catholic girlfriends than protestants over the years – including one who came from a family with enough Sinn Fein members they could have created their own local cumann. In my younger, more politically active days I campaigned for weeks on end to help secure a Yes vote for the GFA in my local community and harassed Paisley’s ‘No’ campaign like a one man band of Apache Indians.

    I vote Ulster Unionist but would prefer a party a little less ‘Orange’ (ie Basil McCrea in the driving seat) – you may wish to look up my posts on the UUP/DUP pact to see my reaction to those talks. I have also been a member of a marching band (and I mean a proper one which taught written music, played hymns and military marches and had it stated in it’s constitution that catholic members were welcome to join) and have, in the past, marched on The Twelfth and then went home to a catholic girlfriend.

    Unionism does not = sectarianism, despite what Sinn Fein may have brainwashed you into believing.

    As for the Republic of Ireland, it is a beautiful country where I have spent many weekends camping in Donegal and chasing women in Dublin, but I don’t want to live there.

    That is not intolerance.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    “I have a sad feeling, that, by your stated values, you would probably derive more benefit from a perusal of the written works of another Ferguson, his tractor operation and repair manual that is!”

    Posted by Munsterview on Feb 28, 2010 @ 07:11 PM

    And as an unashamed ‘townie’ I have never driven a tractor in my life. That’s almost as hurtful as the intolerant comment! 😉

  • Munsterview


    First off I was obviously wrong to bracket you personally with the intolerance that I took issue with Paddy on and I have no hesitation at expressing my regrets for having done so. And no, I do not take it that somebody of Ulster Unionist background is necessarily sectarian in outlook, ‘by their fruits you shall know them ‘etc and I will take any individual, group or organization at face value until proven to the contrary!.

    I am a newcomer to this site; I signed up specifically as a pre 69 person to give my support to Ms Cahill and prior to that Slugger was something that I delved into occasionally as I am no longer involved in the nuts and bolt of politics. Consequently I am not as informed on the backgrounds and views of the various contributors as I should perhaps be.

    I took a strident approach with Paddy as, while some of what he writes may be ‘tongue in cheek’, never the less, such things can be and are seized on by individuals with a certain mindset and what started as a ‘wind-up’ ends cited as indicative of National or Republican policy and attitude.

    My initial comment still stands however, intolerance is the same to me whether it comes in ‘Bright Orange or Dark Green’ I have more than a few Masonic friends that I meet frequently at conferences across the water and they are horrified that any elements or associates of their organization could be involved in something like Drumcree.

    I also meet a few Unionists at these gatherings where we have to make common cause explaining ( and defending) ‘The North’ to the English to the extent that the latter are perplexed as to what all to fuss is about between the two traditions. We save the arguments for when the Seassanach are not around!

    As I outlined, Irish to me is very much part of a living tradition, four times as long in this Island as the centuries since the Flight Of The Earls and the end of the Elizabethan era! A Munster poet of the 17th, cen. described the then English Language as being ‘ but fit to sell pigs in’ Along with Shakespeare collected works I have several books of Winston Churchill and Enoch Powells speeches on my library shelves also, not for their political views but for their command of the language.

    I will admit that while delighted at the extent of the current use of Irish in the North, I am also saddened that it has become politicalized and something of a political football! That also happened in similar circumstances in the South in the 1916…. 22 period and the pride and place of the Language was accordingly damaged. It has not still fully recovered down here from the Faine/Pioneer Pin/ Opus De exclusively Catholic image. Ironic given that the Anglo/ Irish were the driving force of the 19cen revival.

    I again repeat what I said previously, but now seriously and not tongue in cheek regarding Sir Samuel Ferguson, Yeaths described him as Ireland’s finest poet and that he probably was in the English Language. I now respectfully suggest that if you are not familiar with his work that you do give it a perusal as it is indeed delightful and it also gives a good insight into the unseen bedrock culture not alone of this island but of much of Scotland also.

    In his own words…….

    Imperfect in an alien speech / When wandering here some child of chance / Through pangs of keen delight shall reach / The gift of utterance.

    And gazing on the Cromlech vast / And on the mountains and the sea / Shall catch communion with the past / And mix it self with me.

    Child of the future’s doubtful night / What’ere your speech, who’eer your sires / Sing while you may with frank delight / The song your hour inspires!

  • CongalClaen

    Hi all,

    The way the Euro is going could throw up interesting questions for the Republic and certainly test the republic’c “Europeaness”. It’s looking more likely that for the Euro to succeed that monetary union means fiscal union. So, no more el cheapo corporation tax, etc. That will be a BIG decision. I personally think the Republic is more or less the same as the rest of the British Isles and sees Europe as a free trading zone. Ceding fiscal policy to Brussels will be the biggest decision since independence. Who knows, the Republic may rejoin the UK and Ireland will be united once again… (more a hope than expectation)

  • Mack

    Hi Congal,

    Glad to see you are hopeful about a united Ireland!

    Yes the Euro may throw up some interesting challenges and who knows what might happen to the Eurozone in the medium term.

  • Munsterview


    Two issues arise from your speculation, first the situation with sterling; Gordon & Co. have been spending money that they do not have like drunken sailors and will have to keep doing so until after the next U.K. election. The Labour Trade Union associates and base are not fools; they know there must be a reckoning at some stage but not in the immediate future, they still have sufficient muscle to get enough pledges to ensure that the spending continue and pay back is deferred in the event of a Labour or is more likely a collation government.

    The international money markets will note that and a downward plunge of sterling is inevitable! Can sterling stand alone ? In these circumstances England may have to bite the bullet and in any event Europe as a whole are finding Britain’s ‘one leg in, one leg out’ a bit tiresome. Ironically Britain may find itself in the same position re the E.U as Scotland did V England at the ‘Union Of Crowns’ when the financial affairs of the ruling class in Scotland left the latter with no other choice!

    As to Ireland and the E.U. despite the Anti-EU vote of recent years, which had much more to do with giving the government a good kick up the behind, Ireland is pretty well cemented in to the E.U. and as such has more influence than may be immediately apparent. I would not be all too sure that there will be immediate insistence of financial uniformity on all aspects including the elimination of favorable tax breaks.