“No one in this small, enclosed biosphere ever told them this project was never going to work in the first place…”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Henry McDonald analyses the logically consistent, if callous, recent comments by independent councillor Martin Connolly.  From the Belfast Telegraph article

No matter how repulsive you might find his response to what could have been a double-murder of a woman and a child, Connolly’s position reflects traditional republicanism and its attitude towards the security forces. It also, paradoxically, illuminates the central problem facing mainstream republicans, particularly Sinn Fein: the durability of ideology.

Last Tuesday evening, the other leader of Sinn Fein, Martin McGuinness, dismissed the republican dissidents as either a collection of criminals, MI5 agents, or simply the deluded.

McGuinness painted this picture of the Real IRA, Oghlaigh na hEireann, or Continuity IRA after a third botched booby-trap bomb attack, this time against a former policeman in Cookstown.

It is undoubtedly true that some dissidents fund their activities via criminality (for all republican movements it was ever thus); there is no doubt that the security services must have penetrated these anti-ceasefire groups at some level and, as history shows, any ‘armed struggle’ is in the long run doomed to failure, with those that prosecute it either leading to Maghaberry prison or possibly even Milltown cemetery.

However, it is an uncomfortable fact that many of those signing up to join these organisations are volunteers driven by a sense of ideological commitment to the cause of a united Ireland, rather than any personal gain.

They have been reared in a culture where the memory of men in masks brandishing guns to advance political causes is still revered. They were told from the time some of them were on their mother’s knees about ‘freedom’s sons’, the ‘glorious dead’, the recalcitrant minorities, those still attached to he ‘legion of the rearguard’, who kept the flame of armed republicanism alive even in times when Ireland seemed to be leaving its violent past behind.

Or that “They kept faith with the republican past and they ensured the future of our struggle.”

There was also an interesting CommentisFree post recently on Sinn Féin’s criticism of “disillusioned” republicans.

Those who negotiated the Stormont agreement, and whose reputations and endorsements insured its public support, claimed that their deal would be a stepping stone or transition to a united Ireland. They claimed that by accepting British rule and the unionist veto, by joining the British Stormont assembly, and forming a partnership with the unionist bloc, they would bargain away the sectarian injustices underpinning British rule. Republicans would march to a united Ireland through Stormont. Predictions were made as to the date of this historic achievement, from Joe Cahill‘s claim of 2003, to the less ambitious, but wildly unrealistic, claims of 2016.

The term dissident was applied in general parlance to encompass, in broad terms, those Republicans who did not accept this analysis and advanced a Republican alternative to this strategy. The dissidents believed that the agreement would not lead to a united Ireland but was actually designed to consolidate British rule. Their numbers included many veteran Republicans and ex-prisoners who had risked much and suffered much in the struggle, and for whom it was heartbreaking to walk away at a time when it was becoming easy, and for some financially beneficial, to be a Republican.

There’s more than one flavour of dissenter, of course.

But it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are disillusioned, and dissenting, republicans out there.

A couple of days ago I uncovered a lengthy New York Times article by John Lloyd from 1999 which includes the arguments being made then by non-dissenting republicans.

The most important of [then Sinn Féin chairman Mitchell] McLaughlin’s hard facts, and the main cause of Sinn Fein self-confidence, is what he believes to be a reversal of the Protestant majority. ”The dynamic in the political process is the demography of this place. The unionist community is weakening. The demographics favor the nationalist community.”

There is some debate on this, but trends do seem to point his way: many students at Queens University, Northern Ireland’s oldest, are now Catholic, and student politics are dominated by an abrasive republicanism. It is widely assumed that the Catholic birth rate remains higher (though it has dropped sharply in the South), and it may be that there are already as many Catholic teenagers as Protestant ones. Young Protestants seem to emigrate in greater numbers than Catholics. The signs look good for Sinn Fein — if, as McLaughlin does, you equate Catholicism with a vote for parties that aspire, sooner or later, to Irish unity.

McLaughlin presented Sinn Fein as an indefatigable advocate for peace: ”We want to show all those who use arms that we can achieve our aims through political methods. We need to demonstrate to the I.R.A. that the peace process is bringing forward change. If it is not through an assembly, then the British and Irish governments must do it. But it must come.”

The Sinn Fein position is thus clear. It is not embracing political methods for themselves, but insofar as they deliver a united Ireland. Since the Catholic population is expanding faster than the Protestant-Unionists’, Sinn Fein eventually will triumph simply through the ballot box.

And, from the same article

The Catholic community’s natural leader is Breandan MacCionnaith (pronounced McKenna), who served time in jail in the 1980’s for firearms possession and auto theft and who is now chairman of the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Committee. This is the central civic organization in an area of new houses built in the 1970’s, largely to accommodate people from Belfast, many of whom had been burned out of mixed areas by loyalist gangs. In his little office in a community center, surrounded by an imposing metal fence, MacCionnaith radiates a similar self-confidence to [McLaughlin’s], for similar reasons: “‘Nationalists are now 42-43 percent of the community; people say it will be 50-50 in the next 10 years. The unionist people must prepare themselves for that.”

That was the argument being put foward by Sinn Féin before the 2001 census.   After that census, as noted by a very early Slugger post, Henry McDonald observed

“…the straight-talking statisticians at the census office metaphorically ripped off Santa’s beard last Thursday and exposed the ‘Count the Catholics’ theory as a fake.”

Whilst Mitchell McLaughlin remains within Sinn Féin, as an MLA, Breandan MacCionnaith resigned as a Sinn Féin adviser in April 2007, and he’s now the general secretary of the dissenting republican group éirígí.

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  • Rory Carr

    “…history shows, any ‘armed struggle’ is in the long run doomed to failure,” says Henry, clearly demonstrating an abysmal ignorance of history or a complete failure to define the term “armed struggle” outside of some concept to which he alone is privvy.

    It’s a bit like Jeremy Clarkson arguing that one could never get from Glasgow to London on a bicycle. It may be uncomfortable, arduous, impractible given the available alternatives, but it is not impossible – especially if the wind happens to be at your back.

    Fortunately the political wind is not at the dissidents’ backs at the moment.

  • joeCanuck

    if, as McLaughlin does, you equate Catholicism with a vote for parties that aspire, sooner or later, to Irish unity.

    To rely on demographics would be a big mistake. Not all Catholics would vote for a united Ireland, either now or in the foreseeable future.
    The only thing that will work is to convince a sufficient number of unionists that they would have a better future in such a State.

  • Dewi

    I don’t hold with the Mcdonald observations on demographic stability. Election results are showing movement consistently – Belfast North an important case in point this year. Although liked Gerry Adams’s view:
    ‘outbreeding the Unionists is an enjoyable pastime for those that have the energy but it does not amount to a strategy’

  • Alias

    The rejected “ideology” of the former Irish nationalists in that part of the UK is the same as the ideology that has been legitimised by the process – and elevated to the status of a principle, no less. The former Irish nationalists claimed that they had a right to national self-determination as a sovereign nation which made a claim to the territory as a state for that nation, and the British nationalists claimed that they had a right to national self-determination as a sovereign nation which made a claim to the territory as a state for that nation. Since both nations made a competing claim to the territory based on the ideology of national self-determination, one of those nations had to give up its claim.

    Once you recognise that you can kill the man but not the idea, you then progress to a phase of counterinsurgent activity that is political rather than militant. Your aim is the same: to compel those that reject the legitimacy of your sovereignty over a national territory to reverse their objection. Since these national groups assert a claim to self-determination that is denied to them by your sovereignty over the state and which makes a competing claim to the territory, you must persuade them to renounce this claim to self-determination and to correspondingly renounce their competing claim to the territory. In other words, they must be brought to endorse the constitutional status as you have declared it. That, of course, is exactly the position that applies in Northern Ireland.

    The advantage of the murder gangs to the British state is that they created the conditions wherein those who were denied the right to self-determination could be persuaded to formally renounce that right in return for a cessation of activity by the murder gangs and could also be persuaded to reinforce the acceptance of the agreed constitutional position if it seemed likely that any lack of support for it by them would give rise to a resurgence of the state-sponsored murder gangs. In other words, they would consolidate their own newly legitimised status as a non-sovereign nation with no right to national self-determination, and do so believing that the alternative to not emasculating their nationalism was a campaign of violence.

    The state was able to position its touts into lead roles within a sectarian murder gang that was obfuscated with republicanism and these touts were then able to present themselves as the spokespersons for the Irish nation in that part of the UK, having gained good authority among that nation by seen as being so committed to it that they would sacrifice life for it (not their own, obviously, since they were well-protected by the state having agents in all murder gangs).

    It’s now about dismissing any remaining claim to national self-determination by those who dissent from the position propagated by the state-sponsored sectarian murder gangs by labelling it as a failed “ideology” that leads to sectarian murder campaigns. In fact, the ideology is successful and forms the basis for all modern states – including the British state which is an alliance of the four non-sovereign nations that are sovereign only under the banner of the British nation which gives them their nationality and serves as a de facto if not de jure nation-state for the British nation. The ideology that the British state’s propaganda merchants now dismiss in order undermine its application to the Irish nation is the same ideology that its own constitution promotes, i.e. that the (British) nation has a right to self-determination and the right to control of a territory in which a state is constructed for that express purpose.

    All that the former Irish nationalists in that part of the UK did is declare that the right to self-determination properly belongs to the British nation and not the Irish nation and that the formerly disputed territory also properly belongs to the British nation and not the Irish nation, and ergo that said formerly disputed territory should remain united with Great Britain and not united with Ireland. In other words, they simply accepted the legitimacy of partition as was demanded of them by the British state since partition. That would not have been possible without state control of the murder gangs.

  • slug

    Is this what we would face in a United Ireland?

  • Dec

    “To rely on demographics would be a big mistake. Not all Catholics would vote for a united Ireland, either now or in the foreseeable future.”

    Joe

    No but I’m fairly confident they’d vote for joint authority.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Is this what we would face in a United Ireland?’

    There is only one thing to look forward to in any UI and that is Alias may then cease his circumlocutory wanderings around the topic and piss off into some far away desert wheere he can drive the camels crazy with his semantics until a tsunami or black swan event perches him on top of Mount Ararat from which pinnacle he can dispense his wisdom to the latter day Khazars ;(

  • slug

    Joint authority-ah the nostalga.

  • Greenflag

    That may be Dewi but from what I see it’s the only card they have -that and a lot of patience

    A UI is neither guaranteed nor impossible . Thats all we know until after or not after the event /non event 😉

  • fin

    Wow, I hadn’t realised that people had started measuring the future of NI in terms of years as long ago as 2002.

    So secure is the union that unionist leaders regularily tell their followers that their state is definitely safe for another 10 years.

    Is there any other state or country in the world whose leaders cannot foresee its existance further in the future than a decade or two?

  • Greenflag

    JC

    ‘To rely on demographics would be a big mistake. ‘

    In theory correct but in practice it’s probably best . Should at least save some stupid people from killing themselves and others in a waste of life .

    ‘The only thing that will work is to convince a sufficient number of unionists that they would have a better future in such a State.’

    In theory correct but as of now most Irish people are trying to convince themselves of their own better future in our own state and its enough to be going on with for now .

  • slug

    Its a response to the predictions of a UI by 2016 as made by Gerry Adams et al.

  • Greenflag

    North Korea , Sudan , Cuba? But the North Koreans and Cuban leaders won’t fess up publicly until it’s too late and it’s all over .

  • John East Belfast

    Joint Authority is not part of the GFA Outcomes and is not on

  • Drumlin Rock

    we can add Belgium, Spain, Canada, Russia as usual, China who knows may soften on Tibet, and finally the UK, not to mention many others we just arent familar with, every state in world will change someday…
    S when will wee NI? its existance has been in question for a century now, but I would guess its safe enough for my lifetime, and by then the big issue will be the lost 26 rejoining the UK.

  • johnkinii

    The politics of demography is a dangerous game. I would not be surprised if people in the DUP and UUP and other more shadowy organisations who like initials starting with U, have not looked at the 50+1 scenario and looked at areas like Derrys west bank, Strabane, South Fermanagh and Newry South Armagh and the seeds of repartition have not entered their heads. The problem with this road is that leads to places with names like Sarajevo, Serbinecia and Rwanda. It is time all sides walked away from the zero sum game or we may be destined to repeat it.

  • Dec

    JEB

    In a way I admire the Unionist mindset that believes that whether in the majority or minority, nothing will changewithout their say so.

  • White Horse

    ‘outbreeding the Unionists is an enjoyable pastime for those that have the energy but it does not amount to a strategy’ – Gerry Adams

    Gerry is just bluffing as usual. Outbreeding the unionists is the strategy as sold internally to republicans as I understand it.

  • White Horse

    tesdt

  • Dec

    Fin

    Slavering over the results of a decade old census is permissable when Pete does it.

  • Dec

    That’s why you can’t buy condoms up the Falls.

  • aquifer

    Separatist catholic gun gangs never stick to a deal, nor give the sorry sectarian scab a chance to heal.

  • The last election (which was only a couple of months ago) didn’t provide the remotest evidence of a major surge in support for the dissidents (and if there was any vague angle that could be taken it would still be the subject of daily blogs on here). The only people suggesting it are either dissidents or people who are consistently anti-SF who are joining them in some bizarre Faustian bargain. People keep trying to talk them up (indirectly usually) and the dissidents, I’m sure, are enjoying it and it is giving them some misguided belief in what they are doing.

    A couple of points of Henry’s that I enjoyed:
    “…history shows, any ‘armed struggle’ is in the long run doomed to failure,”
    Universal historical rules tend to collapse when set against any factual evidence. For instance … UVF, gun-running, the Covenant, Curragh mutiny? Is that ‘armed struggle’ also doomed to failure? They can’t both turn out to be failures, can they?

    “…the straight-talking statisticians at the census office metaphorically ripped off Santa’s beard last Thursday and exposed the ‘Count the Catholics’ theory as a fake.”
    The statisticians for the 2001 census took the 13.88% of the population who did not provide a religious designation and decided they should work out whether they were Catholic non-designators or Protestant non-designators (when not designating religion in NI, like anywhere else, should be taken at face value, should it not). Remarkably, too, that far more of them (was it 11% or something) were Protestant non-designators. So while 47% of people who professed some form of faith were Catholics, the straight-talking statisticians managing to flannel a way around that (nevermind that political mandates, which are not a census issue, not religion should be the focus anyway). From a statistical point of view what they did was absolutely ridiculous (never mind the suspect political overtones). I don’t think demographers anywhere else would have even considered the exercise in assigning religions to people who chose not to ask the question. However, I’m still annoyed they didn’t accept Jedi as a religious designation (since, in the geekiverse at least, that would have made us cool).

  • No matter how repulsive you might find his response to what could have been a double-murder of a woman and a child, Connolly’s position reflects traditional republicanism and its attitude towards the security forces.

    The above says everything that is wrong with the traditional republican mindset.

  • John East Belfast

    Dec

    The future destiny of this island is defined in the 50+1 outworkings as defined in the GFA.

    If you demographic strategy doesnt deliver then you have no where else to turn

  • A.N.Other

    Once again the analysis from McDonald is too simplistic.

    There is no purist lineage underpinning the so called dissidents (although, it is easy to say that there is one, when you are not naming names and providing full family histories).

    The key historical turning point remains the split that occured at the 1997 Convention; those that moved against Adams and Co were persons (mostly Southerners) who had joined the Provisionals following the onset of the troubles. They were not, in the main, persons who had learnt about the struggle on their Mothers’ knees; but rather, teenagers who had got sucked into it all, because it offered them some action. Many of them were from Dundalk, and got involved because they came into contact with Provos who had gone on the run during internment, and who filled the town’s pubs with stories of Catholic slaughter.

    It stands to reason that the actions of the dissidents will be triggered off by such things as the historically contentious Orange marches; hence the recent upsurge in violence to co-incide with the marching season.

    In general terms, and contrary to popular wisdom, it would appear that the dissidents are heavily infiltrated. For example, most of their devices have failed to work, and many of the known faces in the organisations have been put out of business in recent months, in one way, or another.

    The dissidents know that they are walking a very fine line, and that any dramatic upsure in their activities (were it even possible) will see draconian laws being passed, in both the North and the South, under which all of their known members will be lifted. They may call it internment, but as with the case of Colin Duffy, most ordinary people will not care a jot.

    The so called Republican purists are in the main, nothing more than middle aged men who ought to know better. They are blind to the principle of consent, because to them all Unionists are Orangemen, and all Orangemen are sectarian bigots.

    The wind would be taken out of the dissident sails, were the Orange Order to get its act together and to abandon all contentious parade routes. That this will probably not happen, is indicative of the fact that there are certain sections of N.Ireland society, for whom it pays to have the dissidents around. As for the dissdents themselves, they are, and will remain, unable to see the wood for the trees.

    It is a rare ideology, indeed, that does not evolve over time.
    There is nothing purist about a version of republicanism, that does not take into account the principle of consent and change on the ground.

    The problem for the dissidents is that they are too ideologically blinkered to be able to interpret the evidence that is sitting right under their nose….namely, that Unionists and Republicans alike, know that we have now entered the end game.

    The dissidents need the Orange Order and the Orange Order needs the dissidents; and long may they prosper in symbiotic bliss; limited by the extent of their respective visions.

    We no longer live in the early 1970s; sadly many of those that espouse the dissident position wish that we were. Perhaps the next time McDonald sees fit to generalise he could provide us with a few biogs of the respective players; who are known to the dogs in the street.

  • SilveryMoon

    It depends what way you wish to count it but election results over the past 10 years have been,

    2010 Unionist 50.6% Nationalist 42.0% Alliance 6.3% Others 1.1%
    2009 Unionist 49.0% Nationalist 42.2% Alliance 5.5% Others 3.3%
    2007 Unionist 47.5% Nationalist 39.3% Alliance 5.2% Others 8.0%
    2005 Unionist 51.4% Nationalist 41.8% Alliance 3.9% Others 2.9%
    2004 Unionist 48.6% Nationalist 42.2% Others (Alliance backed John Gilliland) 9.2%
    2003 Unionist 50.8% Nationalist 40.5% Alliance 3.7% Others 5.0%
    2001 Unionist 51.8% Nationalist 42.7% Alliance 3.6% Others 1.9%

    which is pretty static stuff, for whatever reason. Admittedly it looks different from the point of view of seats.

  • Greenflag

    Even if Belgium and Spain were to break up into two or more regions they will still all be part of the EU . I can’t see Canada breaking up despite talk about the western provinces and Quebec seems to have settled for it’s present autonomy . Russia has seen most if not all of the non Russian areas and regions hive off for independence . It would not surprise me if some of the ‘hived ‘ off areas such as the Ukraine and Belarus wander back under Moscow’s control particularly for economic reasons .

    Even if China softens on Tibet and allowed that country it’s independence it would not be a major setback for China given the numbers .

    As for NI ? Who knows and who really cares ? Again like Belgium or Spain it will remain in the EU as part of the UK and or Ireland . Repartition may become an option if demographic change is seen to gather pace . As for the lost 26 rejoining the UK not in my time . There is no sizable constituency in the country to even debate such an option . In 100 years time maybe . By then the ‘novelty’ of independence may have worn off .

    Que sera sera . HIstory will have it’s way and we can only hope it doesn’t leave too many and preferably no dead bodies in it’s wake .
    But I’ll stick my neck out and predict that the next State to come asunder /implode will be North Korea . The lunacy can’t go on much longer can it ?

  • Munsterview

    “…….The dissidents need the Orange Order and the Orange Order needs the dissidents; and long may they prosper in symbiotic bliss; limited by the extent of their respective visions…….”

    Dissident republicanism have come in common parlance to mean only armed groups on the Nationalists side. This is not correct nomenclature, it is far too narrow a definition! Neither are they a mirror image or in any way relative to the Orange Order. Were the OO to disband to-day armed republicanism would still exist tomorror.

    Prior to the ceasefire the republican movement was a very broad church; it had certain policies, aims and objectives but it was easer for the general membership to define what it was against, British Occupation and matters arising there off.

    Post ceasefire and post Good Friday Agreement many republicans ceased involvement in the movement for a variety of reasons, for the majority who dropped out continuation of the armed struggle was not the primary issue. Most mature reflective republicans accepted for reasons I have detailed on other threads that that armed republicanism had run its course in this phase of the struggle.

    The Brits got the message after Canary Wharf, that was the last effective used of large scale force and it did bring enough political gains to also bring the process past the tipping point. However in the final phase of the campaign many republicans ( it has since transpired with good reason ) were very uneasy about aspects of the IRA as structured and operated.

    For republicans who left, old loyalties died hard, they may not have agreed with the movement policy and direction but neither would they actively or openly oppose the movement. There was a ‘I doubt if this is going to work but lets wait and see anyway attitude’ !

    Well, we waited and we see…… nothing ! Whether what is now there would have been enough back then is a moot point… it was not there, events and people moved on!

    As I have said elsewhere the Unionists having been arm twisted into the GFA now set out to wreck it from the inside out. They had their hollow victory, Sinn Fein were stuck with seeing it through but to former Sinn Fein and mainstream republicans the leadership were seen to have been left as the saying goes ‘ without a political pot to piss in ‘

    As Gerry and Co were given the run around, inactive republicans were motivated to again become active and opposed what they see as appeasement policies and constant erosion of the status quo, such as it was, guaranteed by the GFA.

    The GFA was sold to republicans and nationalists as something that could be ‘build on’, the Unionists see it as something to be taken away from and did that far more successfully….. and were seen to do it. The likes of Sammy Wilson and Gregory Cambel constant trumpeting every petty victory against Sinn Fein, real and imagined was also undermining nationalist generosity and goodwill until we were left with the current, sterile, uninspiring ground.

    As to the “…..The problem for the dissidents is that they are too ideologically blinkered ….”

    it is not about being blinkered, the armed dissidents are in business as usual, nothing changed there !

    There are far more serious issues here, it is about because of the factors given and analyzed in detail on other threads, there is a toleration for armed activity in a far wider spectrum of non Provisional Sinn Fein than otherwise would exist it the GFA had worked as it was supposed to work.

    The fact that the first major piece of legalization agreed between Sinn Fein and the DPU involved a total restriction of the very street protest and activity that brought Sinn Fein to power, speaks volumes about the disconnect between Sinn Fein and dissenting republicans such as Eirighi committed to peaceful means. Bridge building it most definitely was not !

    I personally cannot believe how much the general nationalist atmosphere has soured and slid towards the pessimistic end of the scale with regard to expectations of constitutional politics since this time last year. It will take something dramatic and significant from Stormount to get back any semblance of ‘give them a chance’ attitude from the non GFA supporting republicans. Not too much chance of that currently happening !

    In addition to the current and not very effective armed campaign there must be some past operators there, that are thinking…..’ three more Canary Wharfs or three more decades of this’, no contest !

    How far from this tipping point ? Few see the first Canary Wharf coming either….until it happened !

  • Dec

    JEB

    Interesting that you’d prefer a UI to Joint Authority.

  • DoppiaVu

    COMMENTS YOU NEVER EXPECTED TO SEE ON SLUGGER #1:

    “As for NI ? Who knows and who really cares ?”

    Nice one Greenflag

  • vanhelsing

    MV,

    ‘In addition to the current and not very effective armed campaign there must be some past operators there, that are thinking…..’ three more Canary Wharfs or three more decades of this’, no contest !

    How far from this tipping point ? Few see the first Canary Wharf coming either….until it happened !’

    I’m sure this is the case but the arguement has no where to go. What else can the UK govn give Republicans through CIRA attacks on the mainland? They can’t force Unionists to accept a United Ireland, it must be decided by m vote.

    So Shinners are out for the long wait {but credit to them [ex terrorists that they are] they can wait}….

    The only thing that I’m worried about is a shadowy loyalist gang springing up and taking them on – no doubt by taking out some innocent Catholics.

  • vanhelsing

    ‘The dissidents need the Orange Order and the Orange Order needs the dissidents; and long may they prosper in symbiotic bliss; limited by the extent of their respective visions.’

    AN Other – not sure this is the case. The Loyal Orders would be more than happy to see the back of people like Breandan MacCionnaith who they had to [not work with] for so many years – however the leopard has shown this true spots now – an apologist for murder…

  • Drumlin Rock

    “As for NI ? Who knows and who really cares ?”

    increasinlyg thats becoming the view GF, which is generally a good thing, my guess is the future of NI will depend more on the economic policies of UK & RoI governments in the next generation than on the breeding habits of the natives!

  • slug

    Joint authority sounds like a form of parenting-I think I’d rather have a UI

  • Dewi

    Interesting – I reckon however that the Nationalist turnout has been declining in the safer seats. If we look at the last two General Elections for the safer seats by demographic you get:

    Foyle from 66% in 2005 to 58% in 2010
    Newry and Armagh from 70% to 60%
    South Down from 65% to 60%
    West Belfast from 64% to 54%

    Compare with:
    Strangford from 54% to 54%
    North Down from 54% to 55%
    Antrim East from 54% to 51%

    That’s a story in itself as to why nationalist turnout seems to be declining to Unionist levels but I reckon it does mask a continued demographic change.

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    VH

    You make a good point. Unbelievably in 2010 Republicans still don’t get it. You can hear their lack of understanding everytime they start banging on (no pun intended) about ‘British Rule’ or ‘occupation’ in Northern Ireland.

    The ‘British presence’ are those people (the majority in NI) who consider themselves British and who vote for those who agree with NI continuing as part of the UK.

    The new generation of murder gangs will not move the majority to accept their ‘arguments’. History tells us much about what would happen to the ‘planter’ should the ‘gael’ hold sway. The present ‘campaign’ is a taster of such a future.

  • Greenflag

    Didlee Flat Earth ,

    ‘History tells us much about what would happen to the ‘planter’ should the ‘gael’ hold sway.

    Rubbish . History tells us what happened in the past -sometimes accurately , oftentimes with a spin and more often than not plenty of mythology . And then theres the history written by the winning side which only a fool would see as ‘objective’.

    If history could tell us what will happen I’m sure ‘historians ‘ would be the highest paid academics on the planet for every bank , investment company, political party , government , economic forecasting guru, on the planet would be hiring them as ‘prediction consultants’

    Somebody on another thread mentioned one of the great Yogi Berra’s quips . Well here’s another one of Yogi’s clangers that somehow seems appropriate for both sides of the NI divide in 2010 .

    ‘The future just ain’t what it used to be ‘:)

  • Greenflag

    Munsterview ,

    ‘The GFA was sold to republicans and nationalists as something that could be ‘build on’, the Unionists see it as something to be taken away from and did that far more successfully….. and were seen to do it. ‘

    In that sense what NI now has is merely an update of HMG promising Home Rule to all Ireland on the one hand while telling Unionists on the other hand that they would’nt have to abide with Home Rule . The fact that Wilson and Campbell get political kudos from rubbing in salt wherever they can should not be a surprise or a disappointment merely an expectation .

    On another thread to which I meant to reply you wrote

    ‘Must everything continue not alone down to the wire and such a way that even when the agreement is finally reached all the goodwill is drained and there is only sterile ground to build on?’

    To which the answer has to be yes . It’s not because Unionist politicians are stubborn or thick or unthinking -quite a few are – but the same attributes can be seen seen on the other side . The problem is not the short sighted myopic self destructive unionist beast or his first cousin the nationalist/republican beast -its all down to human nature or the beast within all of us . Some of us never learn -don’t want to and anyway it’s too much hassle !

    We do not like to concede . We fight wars and surrender only when forced to . Look at children in a schoolyard . The one who concedes loses face . The Japanese Emperor could not concede until the second A bomb . The British could not concede an Irish Free State until it became more than obvious that virtually the entire civil administration of the country was in the hands of those who favoured SF at that time

    ‘.In addition to the current and not very effective armed campaign there must be some past operators there, that are thinking…..’ three more Canary Wharfs or three more decades of this’, no contest !’

    If there are such then they are not ‘thinking’ at least not coherently . Three more Canary Wharfs would simply mean not three more decades of ‘this’ but ten or more decades -imo .

    One of the reasons I put forward for my aspousal of a fair ‘repartition’ of NI was that it would remove most nationalist and republican politicians from the ‘reach’ of the Wilson’s and Campbell’s and their closed mindsets .

    I’m sure SF know what they are working with and vice versa and as the man said it’s early days yet . There may be a black swan over the horizon which may ‘adjust’ all present considerations and scenarios .

  • Greenflag

    ‘Joint authority sounds like a form of parenting’

    ‘When you whisk the smoke from in front of the mirror thats what you have right now . Orphans need a parent/parents especially when they’re not yet growed up . Ditto for political orphans .
    Consider Somalia -Now thee’s an orphan state without a parent in sight. Reports indicate that they have returned to a Hobbesian world -the stuff of neo con dreams – very small government -almost none – so that the very few cab be become extremely rich until it’s their time to be shot by the more evolutionary fitted and adapted younger ‘entrepreneurs’ 🙁

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    Greenfool

    How very dare you! My world is as round as your own; although probably more luxuriously appointed and with better weather.

    You must lead a very interesting life arising from your bed each morning and proceeding about your business without any reference to what has happened in the days before.

    I’m worried about your wellbeing and safety if you don’t take forward lessons learnt. Autumn is coming it will get cooler, this fact itself may come as a surprise to you, do you know that if you are near a lit fire it may burn you?

    You really should base some of your future behaviour on historical happenings. It will aid you in making life choices.

    Take care.

  • Greenflag

    Didlee fat

    ‘My world is as round as your own;’

    I’d guess rounder -much much rounder which accounts for your circular thinking which will lead your conclusion back to where it started . Like the fattening turkey you assume that tomorrow will be as today , and you will of course be right for many a day, until that day arrives and all your past experience is of no avail and you find your legs being grabbed from under you as you are hoisted aloft on a chain contraption that whisks you to an unexpected rendezvous with ‘destiny’ or in that case a very fast spinning blade 😉

    ‘I’m worried about your wellbeing and safety if you don’t take forward lessons learnt.’

    Very kind of you but alas I never let school interfere with my education .

    ‘ You really should base some of your future behaviour on historical happenings.’

    Why ? History only seems to repeat itself . You can never tell in advance whether George Washington will be hanged as a traitor or survive to be revered as a Founder of US democracy ? In hindsight it is of course much easier to read the historical portents and all that . Thats why historians are called historians and not predictors !

    Take care yourself 😉 And keep away from fast moving blades . Turkey’s are not the dominant species well not yet anyway 😉

  • wee buns

    ‘Very kind of you but alas I never let school interfere with my education .’

    Very borrowable phrase, thanks.

  • wee buns

    MV & GF

    ‘Must everything continue not alone down to the wire and such a way that even when the agreement is finally reached all the goodwill is drained and there is only sterile ground to build on?’

    The answer is int the GFA being founded on consociational structure surely.

  • Greenflag

    Doppia Vu,

    ‘Who knows and who really cares ?”

    The above does not mean that nobody knows and that nobody cares . Obviously if the situation were to deteriorate the elected members in all three ‘parliaments ‘ would do the necessary as they have been mandated to do .

    I tend to agree with Drumlin Rocks assessment below but I would not discount the ‘Horseman Apocalypse ‘ scenario entirely as being as detailed on his website either .

  • Greenflag

    Twas Mark Twain’s I think . On a visit to Belfast in the early years of the 20th century Mr Twain took note of the strenuous efforts made by both sets of Christians in the City to convert the other side to Christian charitable values by devoutedly and with more than some zest throwing bricks at each other 😉

  • Greenflag

    wee buns ,

    ‘The answer is in the GFA being founded on consociational structure surely.’

    Dry printed words on a page full of import and all that but they mean shag all after the bitter words have been hurled from one side to the other as is too often the case in NI . But before we judge too harshly lets not forget it took damn near 40 years before these people could even sit in the same room without coming to blows .

    It’ll be sterile ground for a long while to come and any hope of progressing to a normal democracy is probably another generations work -assuming of course the institutions last till then .

  • wee buns

    Twain, he observed the religious polarization which was to become politicised: that is the nature of the GFA , is it not?
    Within the consociational structure….it is the pre agreed formula or mechinism.

  • wee buns

    GF
    but the sterile elements are only a minority.
    Which have continued to hold our attention because of the structure of the GFA…
    despite porportional representation, introduced after the GFA….
    the principles of tranversalist politics were left behind.
    That is = the dalogue that respects, not buries, differences.

  • Munsterview

    As to what else can be given etc…… I am cannot speak for dissidents, only observe, but there are always plan Bs or even C, D, and E etc. on all sides

    In regard to the possible Loyalist psudo Gangs, I think lessons may have been learned in that regard too, I would not be at all surprised in such an event to see retaliation carried out not in the North as before in an escalating spiral but short and sharp across the water……… and not against ordinary Joe Soaps either! The INLA gave a foretaste of what could happen in this regard.

    In such a scenario I wonder how long would it take for the Politicians to tell MI5….. 6 or whatever to turn off the tap…….. and if necessary’ tap ‘ the people doing it to do so.

    I personally certainly hope that events do not turn that nasty or that other scenarios develop such as somebody taking Islam militants in hand and showing them the ‘right way’ to do things.

    I am not the slightest bit surprised either that talks should be undertaken at this time by the Brits to try to set the bar for an ‘acceptable of violence’ if nothing else.

    While the possibilities of a future serious escalation are endless, the probability range of options are quite restricted and all of the above have also probably been well considered by all parties on both sides of the Irish sea!

  • Munsterview

    “………History tells us much about what would happen to the ‘planter’ should the ‘gael’ hold sway. The present ‘campaign’ is a taster of such a future…..”.

    With the exception to a brief two weeks of mayhem at the end of the war of Independence in a localized area of West Cork, can you show where post 1923 and a return to stability where ‘planter and gael again clashed in armed conflict…… or where ‘planter stock’ was interfered with in the twenty six counties.

    Misguided and counterproductive as the dissidents campaign may be, it is in the first instance directed against British forces campaignor those seen as acting in proxy for these same forces.

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    Yea sure all sweetness and joy in the Lost 26. The reality however was somewhat different. I know because it involved members of my family, so unlike you I do not rely on Republican Myth.

    (Sorry Greenfool it’s that history thing again)

    My relatives were hounded off their land by local ‘volunteers’ (for volunteers read back-shooting trash). Their crime, other than being land owning Protestants? Their second son had served in the RIC, although at the time they were forced to leave he had already long emigrated to Canada to later join the RCMP.

    How were they ‘encouraged’ to go? Crops burnt, a horse hamstrung and pigs shot and left on the driveway. Finally the local priest no less told them that there was “bad talk” about them locally and they should think hard about staying.

    None of this happened anywhere near West Cork.

    Cut to 2010 and your reference to a campaign against “British Forces”, a real monster’s view. For feck sake take your sad poisonous bile back to the 19th century where you obviously still believe you’re living.

  • Greenflag

    ‘that is the nature of the GFA , is it not’

    Of course . How else could there have been a GFA ? Even in Twain’s time ‘religious’ differences were polarised and fitted into the political party structure of the time .

    Even if NI were to become 90% secularised with only 10% of it’s people practising christians of denominations there would still be the ‘political differences’ engendered by those who favour a UI and those who don’t .

    But as long as NI continues as a State in it’s present geographic format i.e 6 counties instead of say 2 then the GFA or something like it will be a necessity . One can wish it were or could be otherwise but from here it doesn’t seem feasible any time soon .

  • Greenflag

    ‘but the sterile elements are only a minority.’

    We diiffer I think on the meaning of sterile at least in this instance . If by sterile you mean the dissidents I would add also futile for nothing positive will emanate from their idiocy .

    By ‘sterile’ I mean that the constitutional divide between the major parties of unionism and nationalism are such that it will be and is proving difficult to bypass them as they grope forward to the politics of non sterility -i.e day to day issues .

    It’s an inherently different kind of coalition than say that between the Libs and Tories in the UK or FF and the Green Party in the Republic . Many of those who are disappointed with the DUP/SF performance seem to fail to take that into consideration . Hopefully they’ll get better at it in time but as anybody will tell tell you mowing a lawn uphill is a lot more trying than mowing one on the level .

  • Greenflag

    ‘The reality however was somewhat different. ‘

    You mean your/or your family’s reality . The ‘reality’ for many thousands of others was similar . The inhabitants of Cork City for instance saw their city burnt to the ground by an undisciplined mob of Black and Tan mercenaries and hundreds were killed /shot out of hand .

    I recommend you read Marcus Tanner’s book ‘Ireland’s Holy Wars’ if for nothing else than to set your family’s tragedy in context with others of the time . Tanner does not ignore the atrocities committed by all sides .

    There is nothing as uncivil as a civil war or a post colonial war . Look around the world and you’ll find that no war is ever fought by the Queensberry rules or the Geneva Convention -which is reason for all of us to ensure that we or most of us anyway try to prevent war

  • Greenflag

    MV ,

    ‘it is in the first instance directed against British forces ‘

    That explains then the near miss of a schoolbus full of young children a few weeks back ?

  • Greenflag

    Didlee D

    ‘I know because it involved members of my family, so unlike you I do not rely on Republican Myth.’

    I can’t speak for MV but in our family we never relied on Republican myth either . When they finally came for my grandfather’s corpse they said that probably the first three Britsh bullets killed him and the other 24 bullet holes were for decoration 🙁 . It was said the Brits did give him the option of surrendering but nobody knew for sure.

    I take it your family escaped with their lives and if they did’nt my commiserations . Many of mine did’nt and they died on both sides 🙁

    Read Tanner . At least he ends on a more positive note . He’s English so he’s ‘objective’ with the truth . He has also written on the Balkan ‘uncivil wars’.

  • JJ malloy

    The Irish nationalists you speak of simply recognized, after decades of struggle, that no change would happen without a majority vote in the 6 counties. What other choice did they have? They had no chance of winning. This was the next best thing, as their comrades got out of jail, they got a role in governance, and people born in NI can be ROI citizens if they choose.

    If you think Britain really wants NI, I would disagree with you. If they could have gotten rid of it years ago without the prospect of rampid bloodshed, they would have done so.

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    Greenflag

    Although I do not wish to enter into a metaphysical exploration of reality let me state that I consider ‘my’ reality to be part of a wider reality that most certainly includes the sorrows your own family has experienced.

    I did, and do, challenge the view that, aside from a “brief two weeks of mayhem” in 1922 at the end of whatever you wish to call what happened in Ireland between 1916 and 1922, and particularly following the period from the murders at Soloheadbeg to 1922, all was fine for the Protestants in the South.

    You may detect from reading the preceding paragraph that I do not regard the period as a ‘war’. It was, much like the more recent past in Northern Ireland, a terrorist campaign. Murder from the hedgerow and attacks on isolated village police stations were the order of the day.

    Please do not regard my comments as an invitation to whataboutery or as an opener to a discussion on the period. I have read Tanner, and much more besides. Nothing I have read to date persuades me to alter my opinion on the matter.

  • greenflag

    Didlee .

    I’m not into metaphysics anyway . Challenging the view that all was fine for Southern ‘unionists ‘ post 1922 is not something I would contest . But I don’t think even MV was making that point .

    ‘Nothing I have read to date persuades me to alter my opinion on the matter.’

    Then I’d better stop eh no point in wasting each other’s time .

  • Munsterview

    “………….‘it is in the first instance directed against British forces ‘

    That explains then the near miss of a schoolbus full of young children a few weeks back ?……..”

    Confusing the message with the messenger yet again ! I did nothing other than give a factual account of a reality as held by some people participating in certain events. I did not at any time say that I supported these events or the participants……… in fact to the contrary I have consistently said that I supported the ceasefire and the GFA…… and set out my reasons for so do.

    There is a difference between fact, analysis and an opportunist sound bite. If you had a point worth making then it it should have been done in context and in a way that could have possibly made a contribution to the debate.

    If ‘one liners for the nine o’clock news’ could have solved the Northern problems then we would have the finest region in Europe !

  • greenflag

    MV

    ‘There is a difference between fact, analysis and an opportunist sound bite.’

    I agree . And I’ll not deny the truth of your sound bite barb . We live alas in a sound bite age worse luck 🙁 There is also that other human foible . It’s called perception . Very often it replaces actual truth or the whole truth or even the partial truth -particularly when a member of one’s family has narrowly escaped being blown to bits by an ideologically purist bomber who is really a decent chap but somewhat misguided and also a little careless in targeting the ‘real’ enemy as opposed to the ‘real ‘ real enemy .

    Again we are dealing with emotive reactions which re enforce perceptions skewed or not .

    If ‘one liners for the nine o’clock news’ could have solved the Northern problems then we would have the finest region in Europe !

    True enough but now that you mention it perhaps simple one liners are the way to go . For several decades now if not for generations millions of words have been written in regard to the NI situation . No end of summer schools have been attended , academic conferences , ecumenical exchanges , Oxford Union debates , North South , East West political frothings and so on and so on . Call me skeptical or even cynical but I have an itch at the back of my brain that tells me that most of the high brow manure flung at the NI sectarian wall has stuck for five seconds and then fallen onto barren ground . We are all fortunate that a small amount of advice seems to have stuck and is sticking to the wall a bit longer than the almost statuary 5 seconds of previous political experience . I’ve lost count of how many times the Assembly has been disassembled and re assembled .

    ‘If you had a point worth making then it it should have been done in context and in a way that could have possibly made a contribution to the debate.’

    My main point iirc before I was ‘interrupted ‘ was that the ‘future’ ain’t what it used to be and that applies for unionist and nationalist/republican .

    Both yourself and Didlee seem to have very definite and mutually exclusive views of the past and the future re NI .

    I’ll admit to having some inclinations in some directions but I’ll also admit I have such confidence in those inclinations that I would’nt bet on them coming to pass just because I think they could be the eh ‘final ‘solution .

    ‘I have consistently said that I supported the ceasefire and the GFA…… and set out my reasons for so doing.

    You have and I apologise if I gave any impression otherwise . I tend to agree with most of your postings .

    I see the GFA as an imperfect and inherently unstable solution but in the circumstances and given the local history the only one likely to maintain the present near normalcy . Eventually I suspect the local politicians on both sides will chafe at it’s strictures but whenever they chafe too much they will have it pointed out to them that there’s that 7 billion sterling per annum which is helping to maintain NI living standards . Republican ‘purists’ may find the Saxon shillings demeaning and insulting and a wound to their pride . There is no evidence yet that any have returned the dosh to HMG with the curt note -‘stick it ‘

    Most practically minded republicans and nationalists will of course sensibly continue to pocket what they can for the good of themselves and the local economy -ditto the unprincipled unionist cads/spongers etc .

    Shure they’re all just people /human beings at the end of the day n’est ce pas /

  • Greenflag

    A serious and valid comment, and I really do, completely agree.

  • Munsterview

    ‘…….How were they ‘encouraged’ to go? Crops burnt, a horse hamstrung and pigs shot and left on the driveway. Finally the local priest no less told them that there was “bad talk” about them locally and they should think hard about staying…….. ”

    You paint a one side ‘Fintian OTool / Harris ? Kevin Myres picture.

    Protestants in the South were not passive in the War of Independence : most ‘ Big House protestants’ were Unionists resentful and bitter about the loss of their estates in the landwars of two decades before, they regarded the British establishment as their establishment, these Big Houses were the hub of social activity for English Officers of their own class during the war of independence.

    This meant of course that their staff were also forced to take sides. As to the RIC, what they did in the land war evictions a few short decades before was very much part living experience for ordinary Nationalists and their activities in associating with the black and tans against their own people were not easily forgotten.

    What I find particularly interesting in your account, looking objectively at it as a historian, is the way that an escalating series of warnings were given. While I am not for a moment justifying what happened, it seems that far from physical harm being done to the ex RUC man at the first available opportunity a whole series of acts were carried out for the purpose of intimidation, certainly, but yet short of physical harm which would have been the last resort!

    I have relatives living in what had been Vichi France, I know some of the area. Came liberation there was a bloodletting of what were seen as pro German, French in the area where they live. The killings in any ten square kilometers there of perceived collaborators was probably ten times that for the whole twenty six counties!

    You have a family perspective from a family experience and you would be less than human if this did not also color your historical perspective. Likewise local communities would have been less than human if some did not turn against their perceived former tormentors and settle old scores.

    A good yardstick of how serious or extensive this was, is to compare the average numbers for Catholics driven out of their homes, county by county for the six counties and then compare these to the average for the Southern Counties regarding protestants and ex RUC etc. I am not drawing a moral equivalence here, it was wrong period, North and South.

    What I am doing by this comparison is introducing a proportionality North and South, while any event was one too many, those in the South fall far, far short of the six counties, and given the bitterness of the war of independence and civil war, these happenings in the South when taken as a whole are very small to the volume they could have been.

    Surprising as it may seem to you, I can never the less empathize with your family circumstance, a branch of my extended family because of WW1 British Army involvement that post 1918 left them in a situation where they were perceived ‘offside’. The fact that I am currently working on a book project with another distant cousin, to historically rehabilitate this branch of the family speaks for itself.

  • greenflag

    MV ,

    ‘and given the bitterness of the war of independence and civil war, these happenings in the South when taken as a whole are very small to the volume they could have been.’

    I agree . Of course that’s a perspective which most non academic or non history aware people would miss . The anecdotal real personal experience trumps the overall historical context every time for most people . It has to -we are all wired like that and few make any attempt to investigate further 🙁

    History being what it is is always the memory even if fuzzy and inaccurate of what happened . The fact that it could have been a whole lot worse while conjecturally true is passed over . It did’nt happen ergo it’s non consequential which is of course what people live with and accept ! What if’s and scenarios are all academic navel gazing mostly interesting to a few whose interest is in such .

    ‘Protestants in the South were not passive in the War of Independence ‘ most ‘ Big House protestants’ were Unionists resentful and bitter about the loss of their estates in the landwars of two decades before’

    True enough . At the same time most if not all were against partition . They had been on the decline ever since the Land Reforms of the 1870’s and the disestablishment of the COI . But there was another side to the Anglo Irish – Irish relationship which was non confrontational throughout the then ‘troubles’ . A good read which gives an insight into what I’m referring to is Sebastian Barry’s ‘ A Long Way’ which is set in the Ireland and Flanders of 1900-1918.

    ‘The fact that I am currently working on a book project with another distant cousin, to historically rehabilitate this branch of the family speaks for itself.’

    Good luck with that . My lot never rehabilitated . When my grandmother very headstrong and independent minded (her mother was COI ). Being just 18 year olds and in cumann na mban she shot at her uncle a Dublin Fusiler who was home from the trenches on leave , narrowly missing him but calling him a ‘traitor’ . This did not go down well with her father . She was “disowned ” by the family and after the Free State was established she left for England where she lived the rest of her life even helping the former ‘enemy ‘ out in WW2 on searchlight duty . She remained feisty to the end but her father never forgave her and even though she visited other relations in Ireland from time to time her father never spoke to her again . But she did pitch up at his funeral when they could no longer glare at each other .
    She lived well into her 90’s and her father almost made the 100 . Family lore has it he was looking forward to sendin Dev’s 5 pounds or whatever back to Aras with a curt message of where he (Dev ) could stuff it . Fortunately the family was saved the embarassment by his demise a few months short . Unlike his daughter or his brother who fought in every war going the old man never joined any army and remained a dour old Victorian to the end at least in respect of his mores and manners .

    Enough 🙂 ? I’m off till mid September from Saturday and will be dumping the laptop -and I’m going to catchup on Dewi’s reading recommendations plus some others !

  • greenflag

    pippikin ,

    ‘A serious and valid comment, and I really do, completely agree.’

    Thank you 😉 pip pip . I have to admit it’s not often I always completely agree with myself but on this occasion I’ll make an exception in view of your obvious wisdom -clear insight and down to earth uncommon sense 😉

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    Ah, the old ‘they deserved it’ line. Well sure they did, the damn vile unionists!

    Of course the RUC (sic) member of the family had long gone when the intimidation of his parents began. But the winners will have their spoils will they not; and anyway why let the truth get in the way of a good myth?

    And as you intimate they themselves were guilty; the mother had birthed a policeman, the father had fed and clothed him as a boy, and, oh sin upon sin, both had indoctrinated him in the voodoo rights of the Church of Ireland.

    Traitors to Mother Ireland every one!

    I must say they would have laughed bitterly at being thought of as Big House Protestants. Tea and tennis on the lawn with the local Colonel and District Inspector as the underfed croppies toiled in the fields it was not.

    But again, far be it from me to interrupt your green-tinted gaze into the past.

  • greenflag

    didlee ,

    ‘Of course the RUC (sic) member of the family had long gone when the intimidation of his parents began.’

    RIC surely

    Here’s a good read from the COI Gazette which might help to broaden your perspective and understanding of the ‘human ‘ condition both Unionist and Nationalist in those turbulent times and even unto today .

    http://www.ireland.anglican.org/index.php?do=news&newsid=663

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    Yes RIC indeed. I was merely pointing out MV’s transportation of the NI force south.

    I take the Gazette and I have read the address. Perhaps it would be of more benefit to MV?

    Now I’m off in a whirlybird to stalk some deer in Scotland. I’d invite MV along, and guarantee to give him a one hour start 🙂