No Irish need apply – SDLP

The SDLP’s attitude to Unionists seems to have taken a bit of a step backwards under Ritchie.  A few weeks ago Conall McDevitt stated:

“The question tonight is whether UUP and Conservative policy is that no Irish person should seek to represent people in this part of Ireland, and if they do will they be opposed at all cost?”

Which clearly contradicts the long held nationalist view that Unionists are equal members of the Irish nation.  Today the SDLP manifesto contains the following phrase:

“a Conservative government could be persuaded to appoint a unionist as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland”

This forgets the principle that a Conservative Government would be a Unionist Government, no persuasion is necessary, the next SoS will be a Unionist.

I believe what the SDLP are getting at here, is that no Irish need apply.

  • Conall is portraying Irish people as Irish nationalists and therefore people who wish to terminate NI’s membership of the UK.

    Why would Unionists vote for such people other than to assist the SDLP against SF?

    Thanks to such SDLP antics the possibility of SDLP candidates being elected is being reduced. Does Conall speak for the SDLP or is this a solo run?

  • USA


  • Keithbelfast

    absolutely USA, you make a pertinent point. this whole debacle is becoming very [i]testing[/i]

  • Comrade Stalin

    Also testing.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m glad that Michael regards the party of the Anglo Irish Agreement as one which is entirely compatible with the aims of the UUP. At least some things change ..

  • Mack

    Nevin –

    Per Michael’s article –

    “Which clearly contradicts the long held nationalist view that Unionists are equal members of the Irish nation. ”


    “Conall is portraying Irish people as Irish nationalists and therefore people who wish to terminate NI’s membership of the UK.”

    Do you see the contradiction? Irish in this case means part of the Irish nation – wouldn’t someone who regards themselves as part of the Irish nation by definition be an Irish nationalist?

    The Irish constituition affords the right to be part of the Irish nation to any Northerner who wants it – but doesn’t force it on them. They still have the right not to be Irish. But if we’re all part of the Irish nation does that mean that the Irish electoral franchise should extend northwards?

  • union mack

    The AIA is gone Comrade, is that not part of what 1998 was about?


    ‘The Irish constituition affords the right to be part of the Irish nation to any Northerner who wants it – but doesn’t force it on them.’

    So you’re saying that you cannot be part of the Irish nation and a unionist? I know many who hold dual nationality.

  • Mack

    Not quite no.

    But if a Unionist geniunely regards themsleves as part of the Irish nation, by definition they are also an Irish nationalist.

  • emanonon


    Both Thatcher and Cameron have said that it was a mistake, and was it done on the advice of the NIO.

    The Conservatives admiit their mistakes will you you when your leader discovers he is a lackey to the DUP and SF.

  • Mack, that can’t be true. Surely being a nationalist suggests that you believe in the political, er, march of a nation. But you might regard yourself as being a member of a nation, say in a cultural sense, or even a semi-detached associate member of that nation without having political aspirations for it.

    Semantically it’s a little bit like – and I seriously don’t intend anything snide here – the difference between seeing yourself as a member of a race and being a racist.

  • Mack

    Ciarán –

    It is probably possible for an Englishman to be an Irish nationalist, but I think it would be difficult for someone who regards themselves part of given nation to then decide the, er, boundary on the march of that nation.

    Chances are, given that these are abstract concepts, said person doesn’t really identify themselves as being full members of that nation – perhaps identifying only with aspects of it.

    This sounds pretty similar to what you’ve just written – so it can be true surely?

  • Mack

    This is a good article detailing some of the problems of factionalism within a notional nation (Iraq as it happens)

    In the aggregate or on average Unionists aren’t Irish otherwise they’d have no right to divide the Irish nation in two.

  • Mack, I thought the long held SDLP view was that Unionists are merely a tradition on the island of Ireland; the Unionist aspiration (that NI remains part of the UK) is not recognised.

    The 1998 Agreement offers NI folks the choice of being Irish, British, both and, presumably, neither. Conall is hogging the IIrish label for nationalists and, presumably, for Irish Catholics with all that ‘sectarian’ finger pointing.

  • Mack

    Nevin that might well have been / is there position. But I’ve read enough opinions condemning the view that Unionists are just misguided Irishmen to know that many find it insulting.

    The word Irish can take on many meanings (island, nation, state). One meaning the Irish nation has commandeered for itself is the use of that term to describe itself.

    With regards to Connall’s comments – I think they are fair – I don’t see how a member of the Irish nation would object to the SDLP taking a seat in South Belfast – even if they prefered the Union with Britain – given that the Union with Britain is not currently under any real threat. In addition while some Unionists may genuinely identify with and belong to the Irish nation, it is simply untrue to say that they all do – or that position is particularly representative of Unionism.

  • Oracle

    Who really gives even the briefest of thoughts to anything the SDLP says, not even their own party faithful care anymore.

    They are a dead party with neither aspiration or hope, in a political landscape where everything falls in their favor, historical nationalism, limited political upheaval, sectarianism, discrimination and manageable civil unrest all in a state with a vastly higher public service to private employment ratio than anywhere else in Europe the idea environment for a political party with non confrontational policies who’s core voters would be regarded as falling in the upper working class lower middle class zone.
    So how is it possible for a political party with all these golden nugget advantages not to have votes surging out of the ballot boxes at election counts like a Tsunami on Steroids, why is the SDLP election machine stumbling and bumbling through election after election in such a state of abject despair that they can make a Portsmouth fan’s future look cheerful.
    Is it because the SDLP were to busy saying and doing NOTHING to the point were the nationalist electorate decided their was just no point in voting for NOTHING.

    The SDLP had a press conference in West Belfast, was it to tackle Sinn Fein head on for the hearts and minds of those voters who have one in West Belfast, was this going to be the SDLP growing a spine and standing up for itself.. Were we going to be treated to pictures of the SDLP leadership standing outside Connelly House on the Andersonstown road canvassing passer’s by?
    Ah um err no they went to a small packaging company in an industrial estate out of harms way and public view…. Jesus H Christ and they want people to vote for them.

    While the Nero’s of the SDLP have fiddled as their party has burned Sinn Fein ripped through their base at a speed that made the Large Hadron Collider look like it was on tranquilizers, the very area the SDLP were in yesterday used to be a SDLP stronghold Andersonstown road, Stockmans estate, Mooreland, Owenvarragh, Riverdale, Ladybrook, Orchardville, Brook, Willowvale, and Suffolk…. All completely and utterly gone.. gone S/F that is, and why well because the SDLP are seen as balless and absolutely gutless for a fight, when their opponent kicks them in the balls they retaliate by writing a dreary letter of complaint to a newspaper… yeah that’s impressive! S/F at their weakest in twenty years and the SDLP shy away like a virgin at an orgy preferring to watch from a distance and hoping something nice will happen to them… yeah well they will get screwed that’s for sure!

    The SDLP need to take the bull by the horns and admit that it is a failed entity and needs restructuring if not realigning with FF and it needs doing now before it’s curtains completely.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Again, this is a problem of terminology due to southern Irish Nationalists like Conall calling the Republic of Ireland just “Ireland” in its official constitution. This idea that the Republic of Ireland is somehow the “Irish nation” is complete balderdash. I’m sure I’m going to anger some southerners here, but I’m afraid to break the news to you that Republic of Ireland is NOT the “Irish nation” – it is more accurately the “southern Irish nation”. There is also another northern Irish “nation” to the north. Together we are both Irish, and any nationalists who take the “Shared future” concept seriously should realise that our shared Irishness (both Irish Unionist and Irish Nationalist) can only be enhanced in this way without this nonsense talk of”nations”.

    It is an shame that a northern Irish pro-Ireland (all-island) party like the SDLP are allowing this southern propaganda to be spread by a southern member – should they not educate the southerners when they join? Ironically, I think this is an issue that both northern nationalists and unionists would agree on!

  • Cynic2

    I am a Unionist and I am Irish ( and a bit British too). That’s my choice and the SDLP’s desire to annex my Irishness is a breach of my right to self -determination guaranteed by ECHR.

    However I am not surprised as under Margaret’s ‘leadership’ it seems to have dived into the sectarian swamp. I have to just ask again because no-one ever answers. Just how many of the SDLPs elected members are Prods? Are there any? Is it not just a sectarian nationalist rump?

  • Cynic2

    As a side issue, when posting the above Microsoft spell checker didn’t like the word ‘Irishness’ and offered me a number of alternatives


    Any advances on that?

  • sammaguire

    So I live in the “southern Irish nation”??? Some people don’t seem to understand the difference between a State (a political and legal entity) and a nation (a collection of people with a common history, culture etc). The farmer in Cavan is part of the same nation as the farmer across the ditch in Fermanagh despite living in a different State.

  • I suppose, in theory anyway, it is possible to be Irish and to wish to continue, or even resume, being part of the UK. Such people may be a tiny minority but it is possible.

    As for the SDLP if they are changing their stance it is because Ms Ritchie is chasing votes. It maybe she thinks she is more likely to get them from dissatisfied Shinners than unionists.

  • Reader

    Pippakin: I suppose, in theory anyway, it is possible to be Irish and to wish to continue, or even resume, being part of the UK. Such people may be a tiny minority but it is possible.
    Well – you have seen two of us on this thread – Cynic2 and myself. How big your ‘tiny minority’ is depends on how many Unionists will still call themselves Irish after what the Provos did.

  • Mack

    Cynic2 –

    Why would an Irish person want a pact to specifically exclude the SDLP in South Belfast – given that Alisdair McDonnell holding the seat is no threat to the Union?

  • Reader

    I must apologise, I was not really referring to unionist voters, but those who would normally be considered nationalist and those on this side of the border who may secretly hanker for the UK.

    I know there must be some, if only because when the BNP members list was leaked, one of its members was in Dublin!

    There has been provocation and great harm done. In the past by the protestants, and in more recent decades by both sides.

  • Cynic2

    I don’t. I think that Paula can unseat him though.

    He may be no threat to the Union (as you allege). Until recently I respected him and would have voted for him if I lived in SB. However his disgraceful sectarian comments around the time of Hatfield have changed my mind.

  • Cynic2

    Any time we have run a referendum there have been quite a few of them – Catholic Unionists and (many fewer) Protestant nationalists

  • Cynic2

    …. not unless he feels himself to be so.

    He has a right to self determination. Republicans don’t get (or refuse to recognise that this cuts two ways)