Through Dublin eyes

Elaine Byrne is dead right when she says that an “all- island approach needs a push from the politicians.” She proves her point when she talks eloquently about bridging the psychological gap between north and south. She encourages Martin McGuinnnes to tackle his own border and think about taking his seat at Westminster. ( not that there’s any chance of that; but the very fact that its being discussed is interesting). Now I know that I’m the only one to grasp all the nuances (apart from you of course), but does she get unionists quite right?

This is an immense period of uncertainty for a community whose morale is low

A browse in Slugger tell us there a big difference between the morale of the people and the politicians.

She adds:

The ethos of the new British government is at odds with the philosophy of Northern politics. The agreed Liberal Conservative programme for government has committed to a first draft of cutbacks which will ultimately cost Northern Ireland £128 million. Britain’s deficit crisis is not financially compatible with the North’s public sector, which accounts for up to two-thirds of the Northern economy.

That begs a whole lot of questions. Whatever they said in the election, would Labour in power be much different? I don’t think so. Even more to the point, would Fianna Fail? Aspirations notwithstanding , I think if I were on the Executive I’d rather entrust my public sector to the British than the Irish coalition just now. Sammy certainly thinks so, while warning of the bitter medicine to come and torn between “strong government” and the dream – illusion?- of yearning for more unionist leverage at Westminster. Cameron is allowing the devolved areas to postpone the first tranche of cuts for a year – although in my view they’d be unwise to take up the offer.

 Remember too, that Cameron’s Conservatives call themselves “the party of the Union.” Beyond Uncunf, Alex Kane who has treated us to another great rant, might take comfort in the fact that we have a year or two to work out what ” the party of the Union ” actually means.

 

.

  • Mick Fealty

    I too thought the morale thing was a misreading of the mood amongst the political class for that of the wider community Brian. Unionist voters seem quite buoyant even if the political ship is listing badly.

    In truth I think that both monolithic cultural camps are somewhat stuck for what comes next. McGuinness’s urbane approach is infinitely better cover than the ups and downs of the Unionist camp. But then who is going to make these N/S initiatives meaningful, if not northern nationalists?

    You might argue that the SDLP have some of the better ideas on this, but only SF have the political capital to spend on making it happen. But south of the border they have some of the political problems that the Tories are reputed to have in Northern Ireland. The people they have to do business with are also political rivals.

    The south will continue to read the north as a ‘far country’, so long as northerners treat every slump in the south economy as a windfall for them. And so long as northern nationalist parties continue to speak the language of subvention politics, and refuse to apply themselves to strained circumstances of their would be fellow country-men in the south.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Frankly Ive never heard of Elaine Byrne so for once I actually had to click to see who she is. Irish Times newbie it seems. Years since I read it.
    Nothing new except a pattern emerging, whereby Sinn Féin-IRA are so “normal” that people actually want them to take their seats in Westminster.
    I suppose thats a sea change. No talk of eliminating SF-IRA but rather accomodating them further…or if you prefer sanitising them.
    So whats in the wind…..what with Declan O’Loan suggesting SF arent so bad and Durkan taking oaths under pressure.
    Surely all to the betterment of a pan nationalist view.
    If there was one.
    Which of course there isnt.
    Apparently.

  • Jean Meslier

    “..She encourages Martin McGuinnnes to tackle his own border and think about taking his seat at Westminster. ( not that there’s any chance of that; but the very fact that its being discussed is interesting). ..”

    The fact that some hack from the southern press is discussing MMcG taking his seat… – Interesting?

    Where, pray, is he taking his seat to?

  • When I first spent a lot of time in the Republic in the mid to late 1990s most people were apologetic about their knowledge of the North:
    ‘I always meant to go up, but …. you know, the troubles etc’,
    ‘I was there years ago with the school, but I’ve never been back since, etc’,
    ‘I’d love to go up but my parents would have a fit…’
    and variations on the same.
    As a northerner resident in the Republic I’ve noticed one of those minor social shifts that has been trending for a while but below the radar of a lot of commentators. There undoubtedly was some cheerleading of the slump in the exchange rate of sterling against the euro. People who live in a line from Dublin to Galway and who previously would have made comments like the above, now, though, have been to the north a good few times. I know because where I was asked what it was like before, now I get asked about whether its worth stopping at Bridgewater or Newry on the way to Belfast. Is the Mourne Seafood Bar well known, because the food is gorgeous. Why are girls so dressy in Belfast? (Apparently? I’ve heard that from a good few people in Dublin). Is there a Sainsburys in (insert random town name)? Is that all there is to the Giant’s Causeway…etc.
    Where before the North was some unknown soap on the TV, it has now entered much further into the familiar geography of people’s lives.
    The converse is also true – my partner is from the Republic and in places in Belfast where her accent might previously have raised eyebrows (never mind hackles), now she gets the normal shop chat – ‘Up for the weekend? Have you been to X? You know where has a great sale on… , etc’.
    Small stuff, obviously, and way outside the weighty concerns of politicians and the commentators who follow their every word. But social trends tend not to be led by political leaders – they inevitably play catch-up.
    One impact this will have had, I suspect, is that it will be hard to paint horns on anyone on either side of the border since it will not match people’s own experiences.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good point John. That’s the rough thrust of the latest Gladwell tome: ‘What the dog saw’.

  • My experience is similar – an increasing number of people I know in Galway are making the trip to Belfast, and the feedback is unanimously positive. I wonder do people appreciate that the Republic’s new motorway network is doing wonders for NI’s tourist trade?

  • Alias

    No doubt folks like shopping for their bargains and will even drive 100+ miles to find them, but it doesn’t translate into “Those Irish shoppers are so nice that I no longer want to live in the United Kingdom” in much the same way that Americans crossing the border to do their bargain-hunting in Ottawa or Montreal under NAFTA don’t feel a sudden desire to merge their states with each other. But when you don’t have a strategy I guess it’s nice to believe that sitting on your arse and dreaming will make it happen rather than consolidate the status quo by neatralising proactive opposition to it.

  • Drumlins Rock

    People seem to forget it is a two way process, the Northern & dare i say British influence is creeping into the south as much as vice versa, not only is the North South border less of an issue, but the East West one across the Irish sea is too, devolution plays a part in this but the main factor is social change in the South, whilst it still maintains the European feel, the obvious British roots of the country are coming through once again.

  • Anonymous

    ??? That’s a collection of articles from the New Yorker over the past ten years and covers an impressively broad range of subjects split into three sections. I’m not entirely sure how that sentiment applies to minor geniuses or Ketchup being hard to improve on.

    Is there a specific article you are referring to?

  • John East Belfast

    “The ethos of the new British government is at odds with the philosophy of Northern politics. The agreed Liberal Conservative programme for government has committed to a first draft of cutbacks which will ultimately cost Northern Ireland £128 million. Britain’s deficit crisis is not financially compatible with the North’s public sector, which accounts for up to two-thirds of the Northern economy”.

    ??

    The NI public sector is a British public sector and more importantly a British funded one. We havent set it up here on our own bat.

    Also every country in the western world is now committed/being forced to being committed to public sector cuts – it is going to be a way of life for everyone the next 5 years or so.

    Is she saying the ROI has a spare £128 billion with which to bail out the NI public sector and if not I am not sure what point she is trying to make ?