Peter Robinson, the DUP and Admiral Nelson

When the dust settled on the Battle of Trafalgar the Royal Navy had destroyed its major enemies, beginning a rule at sea which was to last almost unchallenged for 100 years. However, in the process the admiral who had brought them the victory of Trafalgar was fatally wounded. Like Nelson before him Peter Robinson has seen his party destroy its unionist opponents and leave itself the only unionist party at Westminster; yet in the process Robinson himself has been severely, maybe fatally politically wounded. After Nelson’s death his popularity, already massive, soared to become that of an almost mythic hero. Peter Robinson whether or not he has been politically fatally wounded is unlikely to have that level of hero worship accorded to him.

The triumph the DUP has achieved is scarcely believable when one thinks back only a year when Diane Dodds limped in third (though with the second highest number of first preference votes) at the European elections. The European debacle followed a year of highly damaging revelations about multiple jobbing, huge expense claims involving luxury pens, food bills which would shame minor royalty, and the impression that the DUP’s leading families regarded themselves as tribal chieftains with the ability to distribute political patronage and the financial rewards of it to whichever of their family members or hangers on they wanted.

Vastly worse was of course to come: I maintained at the time, that the revelations of an affair by Iris Robinson were not the most damaging issue but rather her financial impropriety: worsening as they did the already major issue of the Swish family Robinson. The appearance was created of an individual comfortable with dishonesty and an appallingly in your face nouveaux riche lifestyle funded entirely at the tax payers’ expense.

In spite of all that in seat after seat the CU challenge withered and the TUV one died. Clearly in many constituencies both the opposing parties had less high profile candidates: only Jim Allister for the TUV, Reg Empey, Danny Kennedy and Mike Nesbitt for the CUs could really be described as being equal in public profile to their DUP opponents. However, with the exception of Danny Kennedy all were heavily beaten. In Nesbitt’s case it was becoming clear a number of weeks ago that the voters of Strangford were content to stick with the DUP after Iris’s removal. The celebrity status of Nesbitt may have been less attractive after the flawed celebrity of Iris Robinson, whilst the possibly slightly boring but utterly hard working image of Jim Shannon, presented a welcome return to a normal slightly staid political representative.

Elsewhere the DUP were even less troubled: Sammy Wilson, Gregory Campbell, Jeffrey Donaldson and even David Simpson were never in significant danger albeit party due the little known status of their opponents as mentioned above.

Jim Allister’s defeat by Ian Paisley junior was probably for a number of reasons: some of the star dust of the father seems to have clung to the deeply flawed second generation; Paisley junior’s scandals had faded somewhat from the public consciousness; Allister had less of a party machine. However, although the undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the current dispensation demonstrated by many unionists in 2009 at the European elections probably remains, it seems that for the meantime at any rate they are unwilling to pursue a radical renegotiation of the whole agreement.

William McCrea’s defeat of Reg Empey was in some ways even more crushing a symbol of the DUP’s dominance at least at this Westminster election: a member of parliament who had never convincingly gelled with the constituency, had a less than ideal record in his support for the likes of Billy Wright and who lacked a reputation for overwhelming consistency work still managed to defeat the leader of the UUP. That defeat sealed not only Reg Empey’s fate but also the triumph of Peter Robinson’s tactical vision of defeating the UUP. Ironically at the moment of victory the victor was himself vanquished.

The reasons for Peter Robinson’s personal defeat are of course many and complex. I have heard it argued that looking back a number of years the DUP discouraged transfers to the UUP in East Belfast and this helped the growth of Alliance. In addition of course the UUP put up one of their minor celebrity candidates in East Belfast and Trevor Ringland lacked the political traction to appeal to many unionist voters who simply switched to Long.

All the above of course ignores not the elephant, but more the Blue Whale in the room (rather like the one in the National History museum) which was the issue of Peter Robinson’s personal financial dealings. Robinson can argue that he was exonerated over his wife’s wrong doings and he may well be correct: certainly carping at him over attending to his work shortly after his wife had allegedly attempted suicide was unfair. However, his suggestions that his food bills were reasonable and his comments: “I think if MP’s slept on a Park Bench and starved themselves that would still be too much for some people” smacked very much of Marie Antoinette’s infamous (though maybe unfairly attributed) “Let them eat cake” comment. Robinson’s claims to have effectively been whiter than white over expenses looked at best crass and his continual refusal to accept even the appearance of sharp practice over the £5 land deal looked extremely ill judged. When he then proceeded to conduct a series of extremely ill tempered media interviews it became clear that a man who once had a pretty good understanding of the public mood had retreated into a neverland of his own political fantasy. As an aside it is interesting that is was a property row / scandal which brought Robinson down: a most Irish of scandals judging by recent RoI political history for the most determinedly unIrish of political parties.

It seems that Peter Robinson has functioned as a sort of lightening conductor for the DUP’s woes: he has taken the anger of the voters upon himself and probably unwittingly managed to protect his party at the expense of his own Westminster humiliation.

In the immediate aftermath of the election it looked possible that Robinson would resign as leader, possibly after a suitable interlude to make his removal more seemly. However, in more recent statements emanating from DUP land there seems no hint of this. It has been suggested that Robinson may stay on and that both that decision and his one to fight the Westminster election against his own better judgement were brought about by advice from his own inner circle.

I have consistently argued that Peter Robinson is tactically superb yet strategically flawed and these decisions seem again to reinforce that analysis of Robinson himself and his inner circle. Robinson has brilliantly masterminded the destruction of the UUP over a number of years: moving from the position where it held a dozen seats to where it is now with none. Robinson has also managed to move his party into the unionist mainstream and indeed to become the unionist mainstream, yet if this month’s results are anything to go by, hold onto the vast majority of hard liners. However, these hard liners both in the party and the electorate seem to have held with him through very gritted teeth if the reported rows over P&J devolution and Jim Allister’s European election results are anything to go by. In addition Robinson’s move onto the old UUP ground and acquisition of the majority of their old electoral support may have come close to uniting unionism but has also not made the unionist parties politically united. Although the DUP gained the likes of Arlene Foster, Jeffrey Donaldson and Peter Weir; Robinson has failed to unite the parties and is far from popular within the UUP and even at times one suspects not that popular within the DUP, certainly not with the aforementioned hard liners.

Part of Robinson’s problem is of course that having masterminded the destruction of the UUP he is never going to be that popular within that party. However, in addition although he is said to be personally charming and affable he has always come across as austere and somewhat stony: he has never conveyed anything like the personal charisma of Ian Paisley; yet also lacks the appearance of even handed consensual leadership which would have allowed a less personally charismatic leader still to be a unifying force. Peter Robinson is neither a Winston Churchill nor a Clement Attlee figure.

Moving forwards the DUP may have difficulties finding a suitable replacement as leader and as such the siren voices telling Peter Robinson that he is vital to unionism might have a point. One could suggest that Peter Robinson is the DUP or even unionism’s Tony Blair and that any replacement leader would be doomed to go down to defeat like Gordon Brown. Such a suggestion is, however, nonsense. Peter Robinson has been a successful tactician plotting the rise of the DUP and it is fair to say that the obvious potential replacements all have their own imperfections. However, Peter Robinson has very many of his own and now if unionist unity is to be considered he is much too divisive a figure, probably within his own party and certainly within broader unionism, to unite its disparate strands.

Increased unionist cooperation and possibly unionist unity has frequently been suggested in recent days (though with many against as well as for). However, although the UUP was destroyed in Westminster terms they are still very much alive in the context of Stormont and local councils. Even if in the long term their wounds are fatal they have not gone away you know and any unity under Peter Robinson is unlikely to be any more than a political pact and one with significant misgivings especially on the UUP side as any unity would look like the DUP gobbling up the UUP. In addition a united unionism might attract some of the remaining TUV support and that is unlikely to be possible with Robinson as leader.

Peter Robinson has been a significant figure within unionism for years. In many ways unionism has benefited from his political cunning and negotiating skills. Now, however, after only a brief period as the leader of unionism and having almost completed the destruction of the UUP he would actually be wiser to leave. The problem has always been for both Robinson and, one suspects his inner circle, seeing the difference between what is best for Peter Robinson, for the DUP and for unionism. The inability to see the differences between those has led to Robinson’s worst flaws and mistakes and his defeat at Westminster. Unless he can see that, a united unionism, apparently his cherished goal, will prove either impossible or if by chance achieved, a forced marriage rather than the two becoming one flesh.

  • padraig

    Voters in Ireland are very conservative in their voting habits. If they voted for a rubber duck in the past they will vote for him in the future, even if he has beaten up Mrs Rubber duck and sold the family jewels. Better still if they have voted for rubber ducks father and grandfather before him.

    The war here caused many shifts, but sticking with rubber duck is part of both communities political inheritance. There are exceptions , but, essentially if you grab a seat here you’ll have it till you drop.

  • HarryJ

    Turgon we listened to your rants about how the TUV were going to do soooo well during the election campaign, lets face it, you and your party are a busted flush

    Time to drag yourself into a dark corner where you jim and vancey can share in your collective bitterness

  • lover not a fighter

    Politicians rarely quit when they are ahead (probably already gone past that point for Robinson)

    Its just not part of the make-up of most politicians.

  • Turgon I take it you are no longer a member now of the TUV.????

  • just to add turgon I hope the penny has now dropped with you and its coming out loud and clear the unionist community which I also come from are crying out for our politicians to work together.

  • joeCanuck

    The DUP Slugger is undergoing a facelift. Please have a look around and report any bugs or buggers you come across.

  • The DUP Slugger is undergoing a facelift. Please have a look around and report any bugs or buggers you come across.

    The only bugs are your mentor GA lmao. more to the point the debate is underway on the future direction for unionism and it seems some politicians are finally realizing that the overwhelming desire of the unionist community is that we want our politicians to work together I hope turgon now respect the peoples wishes.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Apart from the hyperbole about Elections/Trafalgar and Robinson/Nelson (although who exactly Emma Hamilton would be is open to conjecture)……the DUP did reasonably well.
    Lets not forget that as well as Turgon…a lot of members of the Journalistic/Overclass and Bloggerati were predicting melt down for the DUP in January.
    It didnt happen.
    Any defections to TUV (Simpson McCrea etc) didnt happen as they understood their seats were best kept by staying DUP.
    This has of course relegated TUV to being the UKUP or whatever of our decade. And Jim Allister the Bob McCartney.
    An irritating party and an irritant in charge but close looks at their actual vote shows they will probably pick up a few seats next year in a proportional representation election, particuarly if some of the double jobbers stand down leaving some TUV faces at least as well known as the DUP Second XI.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    It was a great election for the DUP with party damage confined to their leader and with their main rivals in Unionism sent packing. As long as the DUP believe that that they will still return 3 seats in EB in the Assembly elections then Robbo’s position should be safe and as he is unlikely to be standing in EB at the Westminsters then he could continue for quite a while.

    Poterntial problems might be if, as now seems unlikely with no sign of life in the TUV, SF become the biggest Stormo party and Marty becomes First Minister or the new Parades body dreamt up by SF and the DUP fails to get any concessions for high profile Orange marches.

  • Re-engaged

    Harry we listened to yours as well – the only difference is Turgon’s input (even if flawed) at least showed soundness of mind!

  • pinni

    Some good analysis, Turgon.

    Couple of thoughts:

    – I don’t understand your ‘even David Simpson’ comment, with its attending insinuations. David Simpson was never under any threat from the Elvis impersonator dude. He has worked tirelessly for people from both sides of the community in Craigavon and Upper Bann for many years in a variety of public roles. The subliminal pejorative ‘even‘ does not remotely apply to him.

    Allister had less of a party machine. More accurately, Allister was the party machine. He was a one-man-band with a few rag-tag guys hanging unto his coattails hoping for a return to former glory, or, as in the case of the Vance guy, hoping for delivery from decades-long political ignominy.

    – Referring to PR you commented: he is said to be personally charming and affable</ As much as I like PR and think he is a great politician I really don’t think the words ‘charming’ and ‘affable’ are appropriate adjectives for him!

    – Another one of your phases, however, does sum PR up quite well: In many ways unionism has benefited from his political cunning and negotiating skills.

    Maybe not quite a Nelson, but I certainly wish there were a few more like him!

  • Munsterview

    Looking at things from this remove, it seemed that the D.U.P had every thing including the kitchen sink thrown at them by the UUP and the TUV, they still did the business and by any standards had a good election.

    Dear Leader Peter is a trained lawyer and that informs his thinking, in fact they are taught in training that they are the elite of thinkers, when the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker are in trouble are they not the ones who do their thinking for them? When things are normal no problem with their cool, detached, I am in control approach.

    However once under pressure just like our own Solicitor Taoiseach down here, they cannot cope with not being in control and become irritable and waspish. The press have had a field day with a media cottage industry in ax grinding. However it was obvious in the lead up to the election that much of what was predicted for the D.U.P. by political ‘experts’, Turgon included, had much more to do with wishful thinking than objective analysis.

    Perhaps there is a historical analogy that Peter would well to take on board and act on regarding the UUP and TUV from the Napoleonic period, is not from Nelson and Tralafgar but from Wellington and Waterloo; it is the Dukes curt instructions to his troops when the French Guard began to retreat to ‘ see them off the field ‘ .

    Peter is also reputed to have learned a bit of humility in the past year; if so then perhaps he will after all, as leader of the winning party on the Unionist side, not be adverse to taking advice on how he should conduct the affairs of his party in the future from the leader of one of the biggest loosing ones!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon, that was a good article. I have to hand it to you as well for not allowing your TUV membership to cloud your political judgement too much. I thought the point was well made about Robinson acting as a lightning rod. The other candidates, even Paisley Jnr, did not seem to be unduly harmed.

    This all comes back to something I keep banging on about, which is that increasingly elections are being decided based on the candidate’s constituency work. I think when push comes to shove nobody will take the chance of losing a local representative who they may not agree with all the time, but who is there for them when they need a housing problem sorted, need representation over planning, or need their drains unblocked. There is a lot of carping coming from across the water about how the role of an MP as a caseworker is somehow damaging parliamentary democracy. Maybe that’s true but I don’t see the appetite for voting along those lines waning.

    fitz, speaking personally I did not think the TUV would do real damage to the DUP but I assumed the threat was more serious than it eventually turned out to be. I thought N Antrim would be really close, much closer than it eventually was, and likewise I thought it would be the TUV votes that would really drag Robinson down. Happily though, history repeated itself – if David Vance joins as a party and stands as a candidate, then you know their days are numbered.

    I think this all reaffirms, if it was not already clear to people, how voters are inclined to use the European elections to send a wakeup call to established parties, believing that there are fewer consequences to taking a risk at the poll.

    At the end of the day, Jim Allister is no Ian Paisley. Hearing his boring, gravelly voice ranting away on Nolan just made me want to turn the radio off.

  • The Robinsons, and the Adams, have over Christmas 2009, bottled down to one thing; anal assault, and any other sin, is wrong. Both families have formiddably taken these issues head on in the public eye. For years the security services in England have resorted to these measures to force their schizoid judgement. A colloquial phrase was: ‘you unite Ireland’ I have seen a pan-cultural Ireland admit to how evil without effort and I will never forget this.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Comrade Stalin,
    like you I over-estimated the TUV strength.
    To give you some idea of how badly I got it wrong, I publish the figs
    East Belfast 5% (my prediction 13%)
    North Antrim 17% (29%)
    East Derry 7% (13%)
    now in fairness to myself I have to say that I was within 2% in all of the other constituencies but I called it way wrong in places where I thought the TUV were putting up personality candidates (Vance, Ross & Allister). Oddly I called Harbinson in Lagan Valley at 9% and was right and Morrison at 6% in East Antrim.
    The assumption therefore is that 6-9% is the true TUV level of support. Vance probably lost out on a couple of percentage points because of the “moderate” attack from Ringland and Long galvanised hard core for Robinson.
    On those figures only Allister looks a cert for the Assembly.

    But Id presume two things. Proportional Representation will give a boost to the TUV. I dont think its likely Ross will stand again but Harbinson, Vance and Morrison might be in with a shout.
    And will DUP MPs all stand…..if double jobbing is an issue and they dont stand, they lose a few percentage points.

  • Good post, but must we always have some historical allegory to go along with it?

  • Granni Trixie

    Turgon: in view of your TUV connection (I am presuming here) it is refreshing to find that what must be for you a disappointing result, you are not asserting how well the party did. (never ceases to amaze me that in the face of awful results politicans still put the best face on it instead of putting their hands up and telling it like it is,a better strategy looking to the future,lessons learnt blah,blah …).

    I too think that portraying PR as a ‘lightening conductor’ is insightful although why apparently overlook possiblity of Arlene Foster as DUP leader material? (though come to think of it PR also underestimates her potential,as evidenced by him handing over to her temporarily in dire circs, not Dodds. Some say she is still perceived in DUP as a blow in from UU but she impressively performed
    despite difficult circs..Her performance, demeanour and analysis on telly since were also impressive.(but then I have APNNI sensibilities,not DUP’s).

  • madraj55

    Turgon. I think the DUP was let off the self inflicted hook they had slung on themselves by Empey’s unbelievably credulous linkup with the Tories. Therefore it’s no guide to the futureshare of votes among Unionists. Once Reg is out of the way, the UUP will be free to recover their ground from before the Trimble gamble, and with a new leader [possibly Basil McCrea or one of the other liberal figures] and will then be once again in a fit state to get their position in Unionism restored.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Agreed, Arlene is quite exceptional in my view. I particularly enjoyed hearing her destroying Jim Allister live on the Nolan show about a year ago, and I think she performed well when standing in for the First Minister. And despite it all, she still seems to work well with Michelle Gildernew when the crunch comes, as it did with Quinn Direct a short time ago.

  • “The reasons for Peter Robinson’s personal defeat are of course many and complex.”

    Crikey, and there was me thinking they were one and simple, ….because the electorate recognise him as crooked and corrupt. Thanks for the heads up on there being many other reasons more complex, Turgon.

    Oh, and letting Iris take all the blame for dodgy dealings which he is bound to have known about certainly, didn’t help him in the eyes of the smarter sex either, I’m sure.

  • Turgon

    Granni Traxie et al, This is a bit off thread but I thought I should clear it up.

    In no way do I overlook Arlene as leadership material. Indeed if you look at my blogs likening her to HMS Warspite it is always high praise. For someone into military ships to liken Arlene Foster to Warspite is high praise: the most elegant, high tech ship of its time and one which fought with extreme distinction in both World Wars: it is a travesty that she was scrapped. I hope Arlene is not scrapped for a very long time.

    Actually I think Arlene would be the best leader for the DUP. Personally I would like her to soften her image a little. I am not being petty but I do think the cropped hair and quite harsh suits are a little over powering. However, as a politician I rate her very highly.

    Incidentally on the UUP side I would probably go for another Fermanagh person: Tom Elliott. Then again I am not really in any position to propose anyone.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Apparently, the tallies didn’t show numbers that high in the European elections on the individual boxes in those parts of the country, Nick Whyte has implied that Allister’s vote was about half the estimated vote he got in N Antrim in the Euros. A spike might have been expected if unionists had wished to demonstrate their opposition to the handling of policing and justice and I anticipated there would have to be some sort of blowback.

    I suspect that none of us really saw how after all these decades, hardline “NO” unionism apparently could just up and disappear like a fart in the wind. Changing times. I remember a few years ago hearing people say that if Paisley backed a deal, the hardliners would all fall into line – and it appears that that is what has happened.

  • madraj55

    Now that i think of it, Arlene appeared during the campaign alongside Nelson McCausland in one of those suits you mentioned, and looked positively butch, and taller than him, although this may be an erronious impression due to camera angles, but none of it helped Nelson.
    I think Dodds or Jeffrey would be more realistic option for DUP than Foster. Misogyny would be too rife still in that party to allow a woman as leader, plus, she is UUP still for many of the backwoodsmen.
    . McCrea or Elliot should get Reg’s job. As for Jim Allister?
    A seller of lemons might be his forte. The TUV is history already.

  • pinni

    something wrong with selling lemons?

  • madraj55

    Nothing rong with selling lemons in itself. I was alluding to his bitter outlook. It would suit Jim down to the ground, and he must have more spare time nowadays.

  • Granni Trixie

    It would be funny humorous were you not being serious – about Arlenes appearance that is. I do not judge say Sammy Wilson for being untidy a lot of the time, or expect men in politics to dress like my favourite, Grayson Perry) . And though its probably experience as a busy mother with family to see to as well as a job , that I assumed that Arlene has a kind of uniform to (a) save time selecting every morning (b) no distraction to the men in suits.
    Reminds me of something |I read – think it was Martina Purdy asked Iris about Arlene’s style to which Iris replied something like, “think she has one nice wee outfit but don’t think she could beat me on most of mine”.

    My main point however is that it is breathtaking how lacking in self awareness sluggerites are to bring up Arlenes appearance,given her undoubted talents.

  • Granni Trixie,
    I know where you are coming from. Sadly in the current age it seems style matters: it seems at least as important as substance. One only need look to our new PM for an example. Politics may be show business for ugly people (not that Arlene is ugly) but the style, appearance and other visual cues do matter. Remember the infamous Kennedy / Nixon debate if you doubt me.

    I often wonder if her harsh image is because of the misogynistic tendency to see women as soft etc. and in a pretty socially old fashioned party like the DUP, she has overcompensated.

    However, I agree politics is much more important (though style is part of it).

    Arlene has few failing as a potential leader. Had the TUV done well then there might have been a problem that she is an old UUPer and as such mistrusted. However, if the DUP can keep the TUV dead that concern is no more.

    She is apparently popular in the DUP but I wonder if some of the original members will still baulk at her as old UUP though the above issue on the TUV relates to that.

    Her only other potential failings are that she is not part of any family dynasty but if the DUP are to progress they need away from that: I am unsure if they understand that although they have won a huge victory this month they have not quite won the war (within unionism) yet.

    Finally she is quite young but she would compare well in age to the current mainland politicians and as such would steal a march on the other parties.

    Overall then yes I would suggest their best option for leader for a whole series of reasons. The question is will the DUP see that?

  • Munsterview

    your cousin 23 May 2010 at 5:03 am
    “..Good post, but must we always have some historical allegory to go along with it?…..”
    * * * * * * *
    But of course he should !

    Without looking to far off battles, in far off times, in far off lands and seas, of his ‘ Mother country’, the only history left to a Planted and Colonizing people are the deeds of their Ancestors against the Native Populations they dispossessed and suppressed by ethnic cleansing and genocide!

    If such things are admitted, then that would dictate a realistic re-evaluation of their present situation and perhaps a re-think of the future……… the very thought of it !

    So keep on banging the Lambegs, living mentally in the Boyneside encampments and looking to past glories while contemplating, completing your remaining journey through the last quarter of the 20th, century.

    Meanwhile here in the 21th, the descendants of those suppressed natives are making the best of the best of it. I recently had occasion to contact a technical service facility by phone, it was located in Belfast, did not take too long to establish my contact was from Old Irish stock ( no need for funny handshakes, or rolling up trowser legs, damm awkward that, even if webcams have made it easier ) we use verbal clues!

    This chap of around twenty seven was University Bound this fall, just a few years away from his degree and his own B.M.W., Nice new house and nice rewarding job and good suit by his early thirties. However do not let this overly concern you, when he has made that journey from the back streets to his new life, your side can always point the finger and mutter darkly about massive bank raids etc.

    So To Hell with the future and live in the past, may God in His Mercy look down on Belfast etc. ( and it was not one from our side wrote that) !

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I dont actually have a lot of time for the Ark site to be honest.
    I think there might be a reality check going on in unionism…the expenses scandals and double jobbing as well as a distaste for property developers has made people think.
    I would think most DUP voters are chastened by the fact that a few halos have slipped and can “accept” the realpolitick without and staying DUP…..and shunning the madness that is TUV.
    They are accepting that the high moral ground is not quite as high as it used to be.

  • madraj55

    granni. I wasn’t necessarily being serious. I don’t doubt Arlene Foster’s administrative talents, and referring to her outfit isn’t automatically disrespect.

  • argosjohn

    Good analogy. One eyed Nelson was an adulterer. As was one Iris Robinson

    (I think that is funny myself – I – eye – Iris – Irish : much funnier than the post)

  • Clanky

    “Without looking to far off battles, in far off times, in far off lands and seas, of his ‘ Mother country’, the only history left to a Planted and Colonizing people are the deeds of their Ancestors against the Native Populations they dispossessed and suppressed by ethnic cleansing and genocide!

    If such things are admitted, then that would dictate a realistic re-evaluation of their present situation and perhaps a re-think of the future……… the very thought of it !2

    Why would it? The deeds of the past are done, just as Unionists shouldn’t be refusing to look to the future because of the much more recent atrocities of the various republican factions, Nationalists / republicans should not be gazing back in time singing songs about the famine and keeping the old hatreds burning instead of working towards a better future for both sides of the community.

  • DJ Horatio

    SF become the biggest Stormo party and Marty becomes First Minister

    Not on the sort of figures we saw in May they don’t!

  • Munsterview

    Iris was not the first woman to hit a midlife crisis and do a few silly things, nor will she be the last! As for the male side of the equation of similar activity, cannot speak for the Six Counties but plenty of it down here and has been since I became aware of these things in late teens.

    Iris was however an elected political public representative, different standards are requires and unfortunately for anyone in the public sphere, what should be a matter for the individuals concerned becomes a public farce. I am glad to say, aside from the usual suspects, there was not any gloating in mainstream Republican circles on the issue.

    There are much more mature and tolerant attitudes to sexual indiscretions in the Continent; in France for example when the French ambassador came home rather chastened and admitted that he had been victim of a Soviet ‘Honey Trap’ with a young KGB female agent. De Gaul dismissed the incident with a simple “So Maurice, I heard you have been on the couch”?

    And that was it, no lengthy public investigations and the ambassador kept his job and presumably having learned from his mistake, his trousers around his waist rather than his ankles when young females giving him the ‘come on ‘were around!

    Public finances however are another matter if misuse of these these were involved.

  • Munsterview

    Boy Oh Boy are you lot not half ready to join up seamlessly with Fianna Failure should a United Ireland ever come about !.

    What took you sixty-six words to express, they can say in six…….

    So practice this in front of a mirror, a poker face is essential while a hint of ruefulness helps. Got the mirror? Ready? Right then here we go…..

    Now repeat in a grave voice…… ” That was then, this is now !”

    Do not worry too much about bursting into uncontrollable laughter the first few dozens of times, the same happens to all the Fianna Failure new guys at the start, but it can be done.

    Just look at Brian Lenihan, he cannot alone do sincere, he has also perfectly mastered, ‘concerned’…… ‘worried’……. ‘masterful’ etc. Albeit he was a Barrister but do not let that phase you; his aunt Mary O’Rourke was only a school teacher and she can do….. ‘annoyed’,…… ‘cross’,…….. ‘very cross’ and even ‘hopping mad’

  • Munsterview


    “……….Why would it? The deeds of the past are done, just as Unionists shouldn’t be refusing to look to the future because of the much more recent atrocities of the various republican factions, Nationalists / republicans should not be gazing back in time singing songs about the famine and keeping the old hatreds burning instead of working towards a better future for both sides of the community……..”

    * * * * * *

    There is a very serious aspect to this that deserves debate. France and Germany have a very bloody and shared history. Both countries have agreed a simple solution in second level the history books used in both countries are the same, they carry accounts of the same events but each event is narrated from the French Perspective and on the opposite page from the German Perspective.

    This do not require either party to negate of deny what they hold to be facts of history. French students are aware of and discussing German attitudes and German students likewise the French attitudes. That is one way forward.

    I can well understand a reluctance of any Colonial people to acknowledge their own past much less what was done to the Native Populations of the countries they were planted in. Unfortunately in Ireland this has meant a very sanitized version of history is taught; the narrative serving only the British Imperial version.

    The Pre / Post Colonial period is not the only problem history narrative in this island; it is only with films such as that on Michael Collins and the more recent ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ that we have begun to realistically address the period of 1916 / 22. Then there is the 1930’s period where we had over 10,000 Uniformed, Blueshirted Fascists strutting their stuff for most of the decade praising Hitler and Mussolini. No uniforms in museums and no serious examination.

    What you are proposing is that Irish Republicans and Nationalists should jettison their history because a minority of the Planter stock cannot confront what is in theirs. I do not advocate remembering for the purpose of turning anyone on a contemporary spit, protestants such as Dr Douglas Hyde, Roger Casement, Childers etc, in the early 20th, century could face their past, accept their present and work for a future and common shared culture on this island.

    This can still be done.

    Through my contact with other Celtic Peoples at Pan Celtic festivals I can inform you that this is also a problem for The Scots, The Welsh and the Cornish. Even the Isle of man has problems with ‘the feet having been cut to fit the imperial shoes’!.

  • Bulmer

    Your vision of the past and future seems to be constantly seen through a Dev prism. 25% of the popoulation are dismissed as colonialists/planters (and not true Irishmen by inference) which totally ignores the fact that blood in Ireland is pretty mingled. I’ve every type of Irish and Brtish bloodlines (plus even some commonwealth) in me. I’m hardly unique but you seem unaware of this side of Irish history. Chuck out everyone with planters blood and there would be few people left. So why use such crude terminology?

    This is not South Africa, but you play the same old green bigot card of denying planters the staus of being Irish. and then wonder why they won’t join in! What on earth are you going to do with the 10000 Nigerians in Dublin? And all the other recent immigrants (including moslem and Hindhu) who couldn’t give a fig about the past or Christianity.

    Your belief in historical inevitability is touching. It’s clearly not worked in Ireland. Or anywhere else for that matter.

    But keep posting. Your old fashioned green tory Irish Nationalism helps remind everyone else why they won’t vote for a United Ireland anytime soon.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Munster, you seem to be obsessed with stock, bloodlines, where people came from and so on. You sound awfully like a nazi to me.

    Surely the question of national sovereignty can be addressed without becoming preoccupied by race ?

  • Comrade,
    I do sort of wonder about Munsterview. In particular this phrase: “This chap of around twenty seven was University Bound this fall”

    The use of the term “fall” is interesting. Munsterview could not have some North American in him/her could he/she? That might imply a bit of ethnic cleasning of its own if one wants to be obsessed with supposed disposession of native people centuries ago and how that supposedly relates to now.

  • Munsterview

    Turgon & Co.

    There is a Breton Folk saying; it is not where a man is born, it is where he stands and fights that counts!

    I can well understand some of you trying to introduce red herrings such as Nazism, bloodlines or any other such useful diverting device. However it just will not wash, never has or never will. Ultimately a proposition or argument must stand or fall on it’s own merits, irrespective of attempts to play the man instead of the ball or other such distractions!

    Turgon is well capable of making a case, of putting forward a coherent argument and articulating a particular viewpoint. In the recent past yet again I gave a long list of Ex-Colonial British empire countries who had to resort to physical force to acquire their freedom, the attitudes of the Colonial stock to these liberation struggles ( almost always totally opposed) and asked how Ireland was different.

    Aside from some clever clogs pointing out that Palestine was U.N. mandate, not a colony, the post was ignored.

    In fact all of these, to borrow a phrase from Al Gore, inconvenient truths are ignored by certain posts here, certain parties are not interested in dialogue or debate, as a Six County friend said to me recently the only thing that this segment is interested in, is some Utopia of Orange unity across the entire Unionist spectrum, a return to the Old Days and Old ways of doing business and of course ‘Croppies lie down.

    Is it any surprise then that most Sinn Fein supporters cannot even be bothered to read slugger much less waste their time in putting forward their viewpoint.?

    These issues will not be debated in the context of World British Imperialism with good reason. The same pattern in repeated in every one of these countries almost without exception; the native SDLP type voices have been ignored to the point of becoming discredited, freedom fighters then occupied the center stage, there was a bloody armed conflict and a stalemate, then a negotiated settlement with the Martin Mc Guinness’s and Gerry Kelly’s of the country, and irrespective of how ‘ blood soaked’ their hands were they were shook by the British Foreign Minister of the day when they were welcomed to London.

    Even the Queen had no difficulty in shaking hands with these killers of her soldiers or of hosting dinners for them. Likewise post conflict, British Banks and Business were in there fighting for their market share and eager to accommodate these people constantly denounced as ‘Terrorists’ in all the British media right up to the ceasefires in the various countries.

    ‘There are none so blind as those that refuse to see’ etc.

    As to ‘pure ‘ Irish Bloodlines and any such nonsense, after the battle of Solahead in the late 900’s when the extended O Brien families (mine included) under the leadership of Brian who was later to become High King, defeated the Danes / Vikings as the dominant force, he had all males of military age killed off. He then gave each yeoman farmer two females and their children to take home.

    These then became encultured into Gaelic ways in subsequent generations and only a fool or bigot would hold that some of their Nordic culture too did not influence the Gael. Pure Gaelic bloodlines on this island were well and truly gone ( in as much as they ever existed) well before the Norman Invasion and later English Planter settlements.

    Even the Great O’Neill was partial to a bit of ‘english skirt’ in his day, in between his various wars, he still found time to seduced the sister of the most powerful English Lord in Ireland and she willing fled Dublin to Ulster with him causing a major scandal in these Islands. She was quite happy apparently until she found that did not have exclusive use of his sexual services!

    ( Sex scandals and politics have a long history in Ulster, there must be something in the water up there, even back then )

    Much earlier than this around 835 AD then was a row between the Archbishop of Cashel and his allies and The Archbishop of Armagh and his followers. It was such a scandal that the civil powers refused to get involved, there was a large battle and the Munster Hosting is reputed to have had 4,000 ‘ Half Irish’ Viking, mercenaries in their ranks.

    The North likewise employed large numbers these ‘ mixed race, swords for hire ‘ I cannot recall the numbers but what is amazing is it indicates the numbers and inter-relationships of both peoples even at this early stage.

    I have also said in previous postings that I my paternal grandmother was of Norman descent and not just a name, that family had intermarried, no closer than second cousin and no funder out than fourth from the 13th, cen. down to the last of such marriages in the late 19th, century when my great grand mother and her sister married two fourth cousins who were also brothers. That gives me a 25% part and more direct line than many prominent Irish people with Norman family names.

    A quick look at U.D.A. surnames and that of Republicans also in the recent conflict will show that the lines of Planter and Gael have been well and truly mixed as were the Viking / Danish of a previous era. Martin Ferris have led commemorations to memorial stones of Judicially murdered Agrarian leaders of the late 19 cen, Land Wars with names like Poufe, Barrett and Twiss without himself or anyone else there reflecting on the fact that they were ‘Planter Stock’.

    Simply they were our own and had been regarded as such in life as in death!

    Indeed Ferris’s own surname name can be found among the Officers and men that fought in Culoden for Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause. The name of the poet Ferriter, of Planter stock hanged by the English of the day, is as honored in Gaelic Literature as any of his Gaelic Colleagues of the period. His nome can be found in the ‘ Spear Bhean’ memorial by Killarney Courthouse.

    I will respect and debate any opinion or viewpoint, as somebody banned from the Radio, T.V. and de facto any major literary festival in receipt of government funding from 1972 to 1996, I do appreciate free debate and dialogue. Neither have I exactly ‘toed the Sinn Fein Line’ in some of my postings, in fact some in that circle too, like ‘Turgon’ find what I have to say very uncomfortable.

    To both camps please note this; ‘some of us have not gone away you know’, live with it!

    I have no problem with those of Planter stock or with the English ‘per se’ Neither do I have any problem with acknowledging English culture and what people like Shakespeare gave to the English Speaking world. I have several of Churchill’s works in my library, including his history of the English Speaking Peoples, not only for political content but because I also enjoy his command of the English Language.

    ( So also are works of Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Joyce Kilmer etc, hence ‘Fall’ and the other odd ‘Americanisms’ just like ‘wee’ stayed in my speech since my first Derry visit. What’s the big deal here ?)

    So Turgon & co, I hope you take all of this on board and accepted it at face value and we can return to real issues and real debate. To Turgon in particular, since you did not answer my shopping list of ex Colonial countries, I will now research the topic and post; it will make interesting reading.

    Oh yes one more thing; I served my time in a ship yard, I am a qualified shipbuilder, City and Guilds of London Inst.(with credit) I love ships, I spend most of a day on Nelsons during the height of the troubles in the mid-seventies and as a shipbuilder got to see parts of it not open to the general public. I even donated £20 to its preservation and restoration.

    It is not our side that have closed minds, throughout the years I have found that Republicans and Nationalists, especially in the North have always been eager to go into these things in detail and learn !

    Now with all of this out of the way perhaps we can return to the real debate on real issues. Hopefully also the reasonable open minded people on your side of the divide will not be mislead by your misrepresentations of my views.

  • Munsterview

    Good. At least you are reading……. now if you would only debate!

  • Clanky

    “What you are proposing is that Irish Republicans and Nationalists should jettison their history because a minority of the Planter stock cannot confront what is in theirs”

    I wasn’t proposing anything, what I was saying is why would unionists admitting to the fact that great injustices were done to the Irish in the past affect the future?

    The situation that Ireland is in now is what needs to be dealt with, not how we got to this point. It is no more constructive for nationalists negotiate from the standpoint of a wronged people who should be recompensed because of the evils the 16th century than it is for the unionists to take the view that they are a wronged people who should be recompensed for the evils of the 1970’s.

    Both sides should be able to admit wrongdoing and acknowledge the grievances of others without it somehow being seen as a weakness.

    Nationalists can argue all day long that Britain had no right coming to Ireland in the first place and have no right being here now. Unionists can argue all day long that they form the democratic majority in the North and that Britain owes them a debt and that they won’t talk with terrorists, but until both sides move away from these sort of entrenched views progress will be painfully slow.

    You mentioned “The Wind That Shakes The Barley”, until unionists can watch that and acknowledge that the Irish people have been sorely wronged and at the same time nationalists can watch a documentary about the troubles and acknowledge that the unionist community in the North has been wronged then there will never be progress.

  • Clanky

    Who is the “you lot” aimed at here? Just which lot do I belong to then?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Well spotted, Turgon, I did not see that.

    So a man who resides in a country which was founded on the principle of God-gifted lebensraum and which has a vast immigrant majority following what is probably the largest and most sustained act of ethnic cleansing in history, is giving the rest of us lectures on the right of people to maintain their national over other people due to their bloodlines. You have to love the irony.

    That reminds me of another really interesting thing I’ve noticed about republicans, and it’s true of the local ones as well as the plastic faux-Irish Americans like Munsterview here. There is an obsession over bloodlines and tradition. You often hear phrases like “an old Republican family” and people who trace their lineage back through the IRA, the old IRA, the IRB, the Fenians and all the rest are held in high esteem. I find this contrasts with the idea that monarchy is wrong (the idea that someone should assume power – or, by extension, qualification of any kind – based on their ancestry)and the idea that people are equal and should be judged on merit, principles that I would have thought should be central to modern republicanism.

  • Munsterview

    Clanky……. before you turn cranky!.

    If the cap do not fit, then do not try to wear it. Why fret?

  • Comrade Stalin

    jesus, that’s about as boring a waffly missive that I’ve read in a long long time. Half of it sounds like it was regurgitated from a book.

    Your obsession with “stock”, and the idea that all problems can be traced back to issues of migration and race, is plain old nazism. You can’t escape that fact. Either you accept that people of mixed ancestry can live in peace – or you don’t.

  • Mike

    Feck me, what a rancid and vacuous stream of bigotry in that first post from “Munsterview”.

    Turgon likes his historical allegories, so this automatically means that Munsterview is free to make assertions about the entire Protestant community, start drivelling on about Lambegs and the Boyne, and go on a volkisch rant about “colonizers” and “natives”.

    And then because Munsterview has spoken to a Catholic* in a call centre, who’s going to university at the age of 27, he thinks this is some sort of “in your face” getting-one-over on Turgon or indeed anyone else (erm, Catholics*, like Protestants*, have been going to universities in their thousands…mad as a bag of squirrels, I would posit based on this post…

    And as for the assumption these days that starting a degree this year will mean a BMW and a “nice new house” in “just a few years”, well – cuckoo, cukcoo…

    * – sorry, am I supposed to stick with the volkish labelling?

  • Mike

    PS…after “thousands”, there’s a bit missing that should read “for many, many years now, and usually well before hitting age 27)”

  • Munsterview

    Comrade S

    No, it is not about stock, planter or race, it is about one group of people holding temporary power over another and what they did. In fact the ‘New English’ of Cromwell’s era did not threat the Old English any better than the Old English in their day treated the Native Irish.

    As for ‘boring and waffly’ a matter of perspectives I suppose; I am currently in contact with a Black Stateside Masonic scholar, he found the concept of Cromwell rounding over 12,000 widows and their female children, (the males over 12 were simply killed where found,) and shipping them to the West Indies as breeding stock, hence the present Black Irish o.

    He and most American Blacks find the history of Black Slavery very interesting, White Wasp America finds it boring and I have no doubt waffly also.They do not see why the Blacks have to keep back highlighting what happened to their ancestors or the conditions they had to endure. In fact they would much prefer that they forget the whole damm thing!

    All a matter of perspectives I suppose…….. and of course if you came from the oppressors or the oppressed…… and if this can explain why people stand where they do in the present.

  • Munsterview

    So the polite masks are dropping : now perhaps we are getting to see what certain sections of Unionism really mean by tolerance and parity of esteem. Bring it on!

  • Munsterview


    As for ‘boring and waffly’ a matter of perspectives I suppose; I am currently in contact with a Black Stateside Masonic scholar, he found the concept of Cromwell rounding over 12,000 widows and their female children, (the males over 12 were simply killed where found,) and shipping them to the West Indies as breeding stock, hence the present Black Irish of Mountserrat

  • braniel unionist

    well, my money’s on robinson to stay as party leader/first minister and on newton to win east belfast back from naomi, cant believe this constitutional agnostic has already turned her back against her own sister party, is the lib-dem link officially broken?

  • wee buns

    I always found it offensive, the (widely propagated) view that the Irish & other tribes, hold onto their history too dearly. It’s like being told that air is no good for breathing and sea is no good for swimming.
    Of course the source must be pure(as culturally possible.)
    Which is why it would be great if you would consider the odd essay here, for us readers & lerners.

  • Munsterview

    Comrade S,before you get your knickers in an even bigger twist, I spend some weeks in the U.S. during the seventies when on a management training program for the U.S. Irish based Co. I then worked for. I have not been back since and that is as close as I came to U.S. living!

    It did however give me a frame of reference for the Boston v Berlin social policy argument……. I am definitely for Berlin!

    Next erroneous conclusion please…..

  • Munsterview

    Thanks! I may do just that.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Have you got a reliable link for ‘Black Irish of Mountserrat?’

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ah for feck’s sake I knew Cromwell would be mentioned sooner or later.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Godwin’s law should be geographically adaptable to suit your country’s bogeyman of choice.

  • Munsterview

    Itwas Sammy….

    There has been quite a bit of work done in this area by Galway University and there have been a few television programs made on the subject. Michael D.Higgins as a T.D. and Minister have been one of the foremost voices in advocating recognition for our Black Irish.

    The two references will get you started : the first one will give you a good overview of the subject. other than that simply google….. Mountserrat : Black Irish Slaves ….. and you will get a dozen to twenty other references, I just happen to have these two on my paste board as I am in correspondence with a Black American Masonic Scholar on the subject.

    Two other items of information, all the Irish involved in slavery during the period were not exclusively slaves, more than a few dispossessed but still wealthy families of the network known as ‘The Tribes Of Galway’ who were mainly Catholic emigrated to the West Indies, purchased lands and became slave owners also. It seems they were not too concerned as to whether their slaves were of Black African Culture or Munster Catholic.

    Most of the black men were of the Madengo ? Tribe, when they inter bred the women and their children kept their family surname and this continued down to the present time.

    One little gem of information while on the subject of Africa and slavery,the first record of an Irishman in South Africa is that of a 6′ 4″ man who was of fine build, free and employed by a Dutchman for stud purposes to service his slaves. He was also Catholic but for some peculiar reason none of the histories of Catholicism in South Africa mention him. Just another poor Irishman far from home and forgotten!

    As I have attempted to objectively point out to turgon and others, it is not all about race, planter or native, Catholic or Protestant, it is about who had power at any given time and how they exercised that power over those they had power over. In this regard whether as Slave Owners in the West Indies or in the Southern States of the U.S. or as Irish soldiers in British uniform in India the Natives or in South Africa against the Zulus, to give but two examples, the Irish were as much the oppressors as their people were oppressed at home in Ireland.

    The second : in the eighties I was invited to a cultural event in Mid-Ulster, there was a mixed dancing troupe touring the North. One cool cultivated young black man was introduced to me as a Mr. Murphy, all was very formal and polite in company but once we got on our own and I asked him about his name and if it came from the West Indies. It had, once we started to discuss his background the accent was quickly replaces by a Munster lilt similar to the Newfoundland Irish and speech patterns not too different from my own.

    1. Irish Slavery – 2:52pm2 posts – Last post: 5 May
By 1637 a census showed that 69% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves, which records show was a cause of concern to the …
    2.…/1638 – Cached – Similar

    3. MontserratThe Irish flocked to Montserrat and by 1680 outnumbered the English by two to one. … Sugar also meant slaves. Africans began to arrive in large numbers …
    4.…/montserrat.htm – Cached – Similar

  • Munsterview

    wee buns

    Try this for an interesting read. Also google …….. Mountserrat : Black Irish Slaves for more.

    1. Irish Slavery – 2:52pm2 posts – Last post: 5 May
By 1637 a census showed that 69% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves, which records show was a cause of concern to the …
    2.…/1638 – Cached – Similar

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Thanks, very interesting if very grim stuff – some remarkable numbers of Irish slaves and gives a backup to the line from the Committments when whatsisname claims that the Irish are the blacks of Europe.

  • Munsterview

    Interesting that you should mention that; there is a general folk memory of these things but the specifics of it or indeed the widespread extent of it are not known.

    Much of what has come to light in recent years is collateral information that has been uncovered in other studies and passed on to by Native Africans and Americans of Black decent to Irish people like me who are known to have an interest in the subject.

    RACEANDHISTORY.COM is one very good source and the articles are always worth a look as the perspective is from that of the colonized and oppressed rather than the ‘Good Old Smithy’ views of turgon and the ironically pen named, Comrade Stalin views of the oppressor legacy. Now come to think of it and the real Stalin’s record, perhaps not!

    The visceral contempt and hate for all things ‘ Seassanach’ and Protestant in the works of Munster poets like Aoghan O’Rallaigh of did not arise without good reason.

    Look up Thomas Davis’s poem, ‘The Sack Of Baltimore’ offecial history records that the settler town was sacked and all of it’s populance carried off into slavery by Algerian pirates. The reality is these pirates were contacted by the Irish and guided into the town to clear out the nest before it could become a staging post for Native Irish slave collection and export.

    Davis was a Young Irelander and a fine person yet in the mid 1800’s he was not aware of the real politic of the raid nor I dare say the scale or extent of the slavery issue.

    When the full extent of this slavery is uncovered it will be seen as no different to the Jewish Holocaust, only ours was done in installments.

    Health problems gave me an early retirement and History M.A. studies. This is one of the areas of Historical study that I have pencilled in for a book.