Talking to Terrorists

On BBC Radio 4 Owen Paterson began down the well trodden road of disingenuous double speak so beloved of Shaun Woodward, Peter Hain and numerous Conservative Secretaries of State of old and avoided completely denying contacts with the terrorists.

This has yielded the predictable response of fury from Gregory Campbell and Jim Allister.

About the only possible benefit of talking to dissidents and the reason suggested as McGuinness’s motivation for breaking the story in the first place was to discredit the dissidents’ image amongst their supporters as a pure and unadulterated military organisation devoted to removing “the Brits” by force alone. There may be some people who will be put off the dissidents by this revelation though it is genuinely difficult to conceive that there will be many and there is a larger danger that these contacts will gain the dissidents greater credibility and hence, more likely increased popularity. The fact that “the Brits” are negotiating with them even in the most tentative fashion is more likely to send out the message that they (“the Brits”) want to hear about what they want and are interested in making concessions to them. This holds out for such republican fantasists the standard pseudo colonial analysis (so beloved of republicans) that the British government might leave what is, to republicans, the artificial state of Northern Ireland and its government. Using a further leap of republican fantasy the British leaving would then usher in the united national socialist paradise of Ireland.

The British Government suggestion is that somehow establishing the political objectives of the dissidents and drawing them into dialogue will result in them ending their campaign of violence. However, as I mentioned above it is more likely to be seen by the dissidents as an example of their violence working: indeed it is extremely difficult to see it any other way. Furthermore if the dissidents are interested in something more attainable than their national socialist dystopia clearly they are after concessions. In the zero sum analysis of NI to which the dissidents most certainly ascribe that means erosion of the position of unionism and promotion of that of republicanism (along most likely with benefits for the dissidents themselves). Hence, to the dissidents talks are a way of subverting the democratically expressed wishes of the people of Northern Ireland. To quote Jim Allister: “Unionism has no more concessions to make, yet talking to terrorists is premised on fresh gains for republicanism.”

The reality is that this is an extremely and unnecessarily dangerous game from the British Government. The dissidents do indeed seem to have very little support and it is much more likely that talks will strengthen rather than weaken them. The government may point back to history and suggest that this type of strategy worked with the republican movement in the past. That is a moot point as suggested by Gregory Campbell. The current situation, however, is actually different from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Then there was a considerable level of nationalist discontent with the state and many people who, whilst they were unwilling to support the IRA’s campaign of murder, were willing to take to the streets to object to the Stormont regime.

Now the situation is very different. If one wishes to find parallels it would be much more useful to look at the IRA’s Border Campaign of 1958 – 1962. That campaign was not met with political negotiations but rather an effective policing response. On this occasion again an effective security response, avoiding over reaction but dealing with politically motivated crime in much the same way as other crime is much more likely to bear fruit. Indeed the strategy behind negotiations with mainstream republicans was always suggested to be to bring a critical mass into the process and then deal with the others by a policing response. There was always going to be a rump left outside the process but it seems that if the rump becomes even half effective or goes on for a number of years some in the British government revert to type and try to parley with them rather than stop them.

Part of the problem is that the British Governments of recent years have always been intent on “solving” the Northern Ireland problem rather than managing the situation. They seem incapable of seeing that this is in effect an ethnic conflict (yes of course there are no ethnic differences, but the terminology is widely used internationally and highly applicable to NI). Such conflicts are rarely if ever solved for good short of complete ethnic cleansing. Rather they depend on creating a situation whereby most people accept the arrangements and then one deals with the violent malcontents by a security response. Only naïve idiots like Blair truly believe that they solved problem of Northern Ireland forever. The appropriate management of the dissidents is policing not politics.

Two other groups also benefit from the existence of the dissidents and the willingness of the government to entreat with them. One is of course the mainstream republican movement which whilst threatened at some level by them can also use them as a stick with which to beat unionists and the government. Hence, they can suggest that unless republicanism as a whole is given additional concessions then the dissidents will grow in popularity and they (Sinn Fein) will be compromised. A figure as Machiavellian as Martin McGuinness will undoubtedly have known that as well as potentially damaging the dissidents with his revelations, he was by mentioning the contacts with them, utilising them as a stick with which to beat the government.

The final group to benefit of course are the loyalists. Unlike the dissidents they always want to talk to anyone who will listen to them. They will have taken note of the fact that the dissidents’ violence and ownership of weapons gives them credibility beyond their derisory level of political support. Equally the loyalists and their political mouth pieces gain derisory levels of political support and will see the obvious logic that retaining the capacity to be violent is much more useful than relying on the working class unionist electorate who unfortunately for the loyalists will have no truck with them.

Although the government can mount a case for talking to dissidents the simple reality is that a much greater logical case can be made against talking to them even before one gets into the morality of talking to people who see no problem with murdering children. However, such logic let alone morality has rarely occurred to some in politics and as such the self defeating answer of pandering to a tiny group of murderous thugs will no doubt continue.

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  • White Horse

    Perhaps Martin McGuinness was not trying to undermine the dissidents by revealing that they were talking to the British, but was trying to distance Sinn Fein from those same dissidents.

    Why? Perhaps Sinn Fein could stand accused of being connected to the leadership of the dissidents by virtue of being the only party to gain each time there was a dissident event. Panicked into creating a distance, Sinn Fein may have left themselves open to being accused of being aware of the intricate talks of the dissident leadership with the British. So how else would Martin McGuinness know? And why use Martin McGuinness to announce this knowledge other than to try to use his “traitors” remark to try to impress on us that he really isn’t linked to the dissidents.

    But the Sinn Fein leadership are linked. How elkse would they know?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    When justifying not talking to the Taliban the British wheeled out the arguement of convenience that there was no point – unlike talking to the IRA (Provos) – because they couldnt be reasoned with.

    If the British are talking to the dissers presumably they believe they can reasoned with and much to the fury of Unionists and unspoken satisfaction of SF it is a recognition of the continuing constitutional instability of Ulster.

    The British are probably well aware that disengagement is the best way to end the threat of Republican violence but that is unlikley choice in the current climate and they will probably try to kill the current threat off by a softly softly approach for fear of making things much worse.

    If there is to be a more robust security approach this might wisely involve far greater security cooperation between the 2 police forces on both sides of the border with for example joint patrolling North and South.

  • aquifer

    The danger is that by talking to these murderers at all that government ends up licensing gross violations of civil rights that would be considered outrages if governmnent itself carried them out. Governments duty in this matter is to suppress this attempt at armed blackmail as swiftly as possible.

    The authorities here are wholly legitimate, the acts of self determination by the people of ireland within the ‘Peace Process’ replace any other prior claim.

    The state security branches are entitled to do whatever it takes to incapacitate these narcissistic thugs, covertly or in full view.

    If you are part of a conspiracy that includes killers, the oppression and barassment you experience are a mecessary part of legitimising the earlier violence of the Provos. If there was never going to be an end to the violence, the Peace Process was a fraud and the international politicial allies of irish nationalism were fools. This is not acceptable. So your violence will be ended. Make friends with an intelligence officer soon.

  • Alan Maskey

    Turgon, I guess I better day a few more Rosaries to Our Lady, Queen of the Gael, for you. If iI asked you, who would you have supported during the war, Churchill or Hitler, your answer would be obvious and you would wonder why I asked such a silly question as the differences look so cut and dry.
    Guess what? There were lines of communication all through the war. And the same with PIRA’s war.
    Now you take a shower of nutters like Shining Path. They did not talk to anyone. That makes it harder. Is that what you want.
    Please do not take this the wrong way but there is an old adage that one should not write about what one does not know. I am sure you are outraged that you are again being sold down the river as your Tory mates are talking to the enemies of anti Christ Ulster etc. Credit them with some intelligence.

  • jim

    how else would they know.they know because they are BRITISH MINISTERS in the pay of hmg

  • Gendjinn

    “the morality of talking to people who see no problem with murdering children. ”

    By that logic no one would deign to converse with the British or American governments for their slaughter of innocents in Iraq both during the 1990s sanctions regime and the subsequent illegal invasion.

    Even your idol Churchill thought jaw jaw was better than war war.

  • Obelisk

    I find the dissidents incomprehensible. I simply cannot follow their reasoning. Create murder and mayhem to force the army back on to the streets, use the deployment of the army to forment Nationalist resentment and build support, engage on a massive terrorist campaign targetted at the economic and political infrastructure of the north in a bid to destabalise it and trigger a British withdrawal at which point all of Ireland will be unified into a peaceful 32 county socialist paradise where everyone is told what to do by the upstanding men in balaclavas.

    Just what fantasy world do these fools inhabit?! Not only are they planning to refight a war that has already been fought, but they’re plan seems to be a carbon copy of the previous Republican masterwork. And that didn’t go very far!

    The only emotional response the dissidents provoke in me is rage. They must sit and think in their homes and hideaways how Nationalists and Mainstream Republicans have sold out to the British state and how only they are true to the pure dream of a thirty two country socialist republic.

    Those dirty traitors, bereft of support, bereft of sense, they betray Ireland with every act of terrorism and violence they commit, acts that drive the two communities ever further apart and endanger the dream of peaceful and prosperous unity by consent. These people are scum, the filth of the earth who fight on because they don’t know how to stop, and who ignore the very real gains Nationalism has made in recent years in making the north a more comfortable place for us, even as we seek to end it.

    I wouldn’t often agree with Turgon, but all these talks can really amount to is a generous bribe to these imbeciles to go away, because they certainly can’t be allowed to alter the current Political landscape.

    And if these talks fail and the dissidents decide to go on killing, then we Nationalists must be mature and support the necessary police response to crush these vermin before they contaminate the rest of us.

  • White Horse

    Hardly friends of the British government though.

    If the British kept them in the loop, wouldn’t they be in a position to influence those talks by talking to the dissidents? Wouldn’t they then have an incentive to interfere to gain concessions from time to time from the British?

    So even if the British have told them that they are negotiating/talking to the dissidents, aren’t Sinn Fein likely to be there milking the concessions?

    Aren’t we talkiing of Sinn Fein back doing what they do best?

  • lamhdearg

    I a non irish nat agree with every word in this post.

  • Big Maggie

    Thank you, Gendjinn, for injecting some realism into this discussion. Your point about the Iraq slaughter is well taken.

    The truth of the matter (at least, the way I see it) is that the world is pretty fucked up at present. There are between 120 and 130 armed conflicts in progress as you read these words.

    You may say: Yes, but it was ever thus. I say: Who are these crazies who engage in such insanity? Not an easy question to answer.

    It’s terribly easy to label “our” dissident Republicans as “scum of the earth” and worse. If they are, then there’s a lot of scum on the surface of this planet, and in fact there always was. Clean hands and consciences would be damned hard to find.

    I can’t help thinking that dialogue is ALWAYS the answer, even if the thought of it causes the self-righteous among us to resist barfing.

  • Turgon

    Big Maggie and Gendjin,
    The issue is not talking. Talking per se is not the problem. However, it is a problem when one is only talking to them because they can create mayhem. Then they have an incentive to create further mayhem. There is no reason to talk to (or what one really means which is negotiate with them) as they have no electoral mandate. They have bypassed the lack of mandate by trying (and at times succeeding) in killing people. Talking to them increases that chance.

    Incidentally comments like diaglogue is ALWAYS the answer are patent nonsense. One does not involve onself in dialogue with a man trying to rape a woman: one shouts stop and then does something to stop him; by force if necessary. Equally one does not have dialogue with a drug dealer trying to sell drugs to children: one stops him or her.

    Dialogue is very useful but it is not always the answer. The UN tried dialogue with the Interahamwe and 800,000 peopel died. Had a bit less dialogue been tried and I submit with absolute no pleasure a few of the Interahamwe been shot by Belgium and other UN troops then there might well be a lot less dead innocent civilians in Rwanda.

    Churchill is by no means my idol but jaw, jaw is indeed better than war, war. However, the time comes for talking to cease. Talking and appeals to their good nature did not stop the Interahamwe and the dissident republicans have a less sophistictaed and little less violent political analysis than that group. They are much closer to the drug dealers and rapists in their analysis.

  • Alan Maskey

    Turgon

    The Belgians had plenty of practice at killing in Rwanda. You should read what the late James Connolly (martyred in 1916) had to say about them.
    You cannot really transpose the situaion in Rwanda, where it was known the UN, on their form, woul;d do nothing. Also. comparing Rwanda to a few handfulls of Irish dissidents does a disservice to the Rwandans and downplays their losses. Do you always think in apocalyptic terms?
    Go watch Robert McNamara’s The Fog of War. First tihng: empathise with your enemy. You would love McNamara, the sweet Irish boy, who was involved in Hiroshima, Nagasakai, Dresden and the mass slaugthers of Vietnam – while talking to the Vietnamese at the same time.

  • Big Maggie

    Turgon,

    Talking, negotiating, dialogue… it doesn’t much matter what we call it.

    All I was trying to say is that the dissidents here are by no means unique. They’re everywhere! They make the world a lesser place than it could or should be.

    And there’s no good reason why this should be so. In fact, reason hardly enters the equation. The dissidents and hotheads everywhere are simply sons (and now and again daughters, but generally women have more sense) of hotheads who have been indoctrinated.

    Just as you and I have been; can you put your hand on your heart and say that your views are yours and yours alone?

    Dialogue does work. We as a species have the power of speech. It sets us apart from the other predatory animals. We should use this power whenever we can. If we don’t we’re doomed to repeat the shite of the past.

  • Turgon

    I should think in retrospect the UN should have invaded Uganda and destroyed the Tutsi for all thereby saving millions of lives in the Congo.

  • Alan Maskey

    Wolf: UN soldiers are notorious for raping children and formnot being vvery effective militarilty (too busy raping the kids Iguess and dancing to Uncle Sam’s tune)

  • John East Belfast

    Talking is not the problem it is what is being said.

    If the Govt are simply telling them that the future of NI is laid out in the GFA and all they are doing is guaranteeing themselves an early grave and/or a prison sentence and their current actions are futile then I dont have a problem.

    They could also point out to them that the unionist side of the GFA is predicated on any 50+1 majority arising from a long period of sustained peace and hence all their actions will ultimately lead to is more bloodshed and permanent re-partition.

    After that there really isnt very much for the UK Govt to say other than arrangements for their prisoners – therefore I see no need – at this stage of the dissident republican campaign – for unionists to fear and indeed any attempt at getting these people to see sense and back down is to be welcomed.

  • Alan Maskey

    Ok. JEB. Gotcha. The message is: Loyalists rule and any more crap out of you and we will get our Orange death squads: The Jackal, Wright, Adair, Littlejohn, Tobie and the other soldiers of the half crown.

  • John East Belfast

    Alan Maskey

    I really dont follow your logic.

    The message is the majority of Irish people, north and south, recognise the GFA is the only show in town for advancing either unionism or Irish nationalism on this island and it is the duty of forces of law and order on both sides of the border will enforce that will.

    There is no role for criminal terrorists on either side.

  • Alan Maskey

    JB: It is your logic, not mine, we and our brothers in Jesus are trying to decipher. The GFA is not written in stone. The dissidents have a point, albeit not well expressed or executed upon.
    The GFA, like the Anglo Irish Treaty, was a vote for peace, for no more Orange death squads, no more licences to kill for King Rats, Jackals or any other loyalist Christian. Nothing more. You live in an artificial statelet and no amount of agreements between corrupt governments wil change that.
    From the point of view of Irish uniry, Protestants/Loyalists/Unionists are not even the main problem.. The Dublin government and all the croneyism and reaction it represents is.

  • Ghost Bear

    “The GFA, like the Anglo Irish Treaty, was a vote for peace, for no more Orange death squads, no more licences to kill for King Rats, Jackals or any other loyalist Christian. Nothing more. ”

    So you’re saying the GFA was a vote for the end to loyalist violence only, nothign more?

  • PaddyReilly

    The authorities are not merely talking to Republican Dissidents: they are running them as well. Loads of double agents, plants etc: every operation these people run is an abject failure, or an own goal.

    There isn’t really much future in this sort of thing: the technology already exists to track the movement of every single car in the country: and with Facebook now clocking in mobile phone owners at every venue they visit, we are moving into a new era of total supervision.

  • Alan Maskey

    Brothers in Christ:
    The GFA was a vote for peace, for no more death squads. have you ever been in a bar fight, Ghost Bear? I have seen RSF councillor Jim Lynagh, martyred for peace at Loughgall on 8th May ’87, in a pub brawl with fellow PIRA volunteers. Suffice to say I would not have fancied going up against him (though I did intervene and help stop it). The point: people shy away from fights, not all people but almost all people. So they will vote for the easy option.
    The Treaty Election was, like the Civil war, won by the minority because people want peace. Sure there are some sweet trimmings in the GFA but as long as a gerrymandered stateles exists, there can be no long term peace. There is nothing democratic or of tangible value in the Six Counties; it is a bastard child.
    Now, my borthers in Christ: you can produce and cite the GFA all you like like it is the Holy Writ of Our Lord Jesus Christ. But it is not.
    Paddy Reilly: You make some good points and I will have to look into what you say about Facebook, which is probably true. But I daresay our Dissident brothers in Christ look at most of their Volunteers as mere expendable cannon fodder, just like PIRA regarded theirs.
    On the subject of talking: remember how John Hume got slated for it.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    PaddyReilly,

    I’m afraid the arguement that technology can beat the dissers is about as accurate in Ulster as in Afghansiatan.

    The current agreement (the GFA) between Britian and Ireland is one that the vast majority of people support but a small minority probably never will.

    Most Republicans view the GFA as the best and most realistic deal that could be extracted from the British but share the disser view that the British should busy arranging for themselves to hand over power to Ireland at the earliest opportuinty and whatever SF or other republicans say in public they will be very happy if disser violence in any contributes to the speed of that hand over – unfortunately for the dissers there is no indication that their violence is going to do anything than slow it down and their bad showing at the polls confirms that the vast majority of Nationalists share that view.

  • PaddyReilly

    The new technology is called Facebook Places:-

    http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/203866/what_facebook_places_needs_to_compete.html?tk=hp_new

    If you wish to escape surveillance, then leave your mobile at home (or better, have no phone including no landline) and travel by bike. Wearing a mask. But that is liable to restrict your activities rather: your revolutionary activities can only be on a parochial level.

    The 1921 Treaty was rather a set back for the democratic forces in the 26 counties, but they did not give up, and by dint of careful electioneering, referenda, brinkmanship and the like, they had achieved a fully democratic 26 county area by 1940, whereby the men of the 26 cos could do what they damned well liked, including keep out of a war that HM Govt thought they might be useful cannon fodder for.

    As for asserting democratic rule in the Province of Ulster, rather than the current gerrymander, the GFA needs about 19 years of work to produce the required, democratic outcome. At present, with 8 DUP, 1 Lady Sylvia, 1 Alliance, 3 SDLP, and 5 SF MPs, and similar proportions in Stormont, Unionists have a working majority and the 6 County Area is stuck in the UK. But it only needs the tiniest of electoral shifts and this majority will disappear. When that happens—and every election since 1983 has brought good news for Nationalists, with the possible exception of 2003 Assembly—the Peace Process can move into the Reunification Process. As you say, people shy away from fights: Unionists like to make a lot of noise, but the larger part of them will accept this outcome, and the rest will be thwarted by the new technology of total surveillance.

  • PaddyReilly

    The Dissers, being run by British Intelligence or the PSNI, can only be regarded as a sort of sting. If they succeed in doing anything, it will be be because Unionist Officers in the PSNI want to use this as an excuse for annulling the GFA, which seems to be JEB’s line.

    The Taliban benefits from a useful supply of would-be suicide bombers, something I have never heard of in NI.

    As I say, the new technology means activity of this sort is a very parochial affair. North Lurgan will bomb South Lurgan: it won’t get any further.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    PR,

    “As I say, the new technology means activity of this sort is a very parochial affair. North Lurgan will bomb South Lurgan: it won’t get any further.”

    Technology advance works in the dissers favour as well with improvments in weaponry and reduction in weapon size – technological advancement has always only really helped in conventional warfare and its benefits are generally always overestimated in an insurgency campaign dissers simply adapt. Timing devices are the western equivalent of the suicide bomber.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    PR,

    The census next year will hopefully back up your prognostications..

  • PaddyReilly

    The Census has nothing to do with politics: it does, it is true, record religious affiliation, but a lot of people do not submit this, so it is fairly useless in predicting how they are going to vote.

    There would appear to be a strong correlation between entering youself on the Census as Protestant and voting Unionist, and Catholic and Nationalist, but the others: no religion and no religion given, can be any of Unionist, Nationalist and non-aligned, in unpredictable proportions.

    There will almost certainly be a marked increase in this camp next year: going through my Facebook friends and their friends I can traverse a substantial swathe of West Belfast, and almost none of them record any interest in religion.

    Foolish Unionists will no doubt try to show that this proves the Union is there forever: it merely shows that uptake of the sacraments is on the decline.

    The sensible focus of interest next year will be on the Assembly elections, not the census.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    PR,

    If you compare the % of non religionists (in the last census) it is considerably higher in ‘protestant’ constituencies as evidenced by comparing West and East Belfast.

  • Alan Maskey

    Sammy old Boy
    You cannot equate the Taliban and Irish dissidents, whose biggst problem is how to get away; suicide bombers do not have to worry about that. Proxy bombs, as favoured by RIRAs and ex Provies in Derry, do not sell well to the middle ground. Threatening to kill some taxi driver because he won’t dliver your bomb to a group of well armed squaddies is not cricket.
    At least two PIRA bombers were arrestd in London after haivng thir mugs on CCTV. Then tere are forensics. And let usn ot forget all those South Armagh fortifications. And RIRA etc have what? A couple of dodgy contacts in Lithuania.

  • PaddyReilly

    Then clearly we should not reckon East Belfast as a ‘Protestant’ constituency. And as if to prove this point, Alliance won in the last election, apparently the party of choice of the non-religious, Catholics and some other faction: Methodists perhaps.

  • PaddyReilly

    As far as I can make out the Lurgan dissoes are part of an international phenomenon, which in Liverpool are known as ‘Mad kids’. Because NI has unresolved issues and they happen to live on a Nationalist Estate, they can add a spurious political complexion to their acts.

    Just as the murder of Michael McIlveen in Ballymena was part of a wider phenomenon of soccer hooliganism and wrong colour shirt murders, which one also finds in Liverpool and Glasgow, without it having a political or sectarian significance.

  • Alan Maskey

    Michael McIlveen was killed because he was a taig. Fair play to the Rangers fans who carried his coffin but don’t say otherwise. His was a sectarian scumbag murder.

  • John East Belfast

    Paddy Reilly

    “As for asserting democratic rule in the Province of Ulster, rather than the current gerrymander, the GFA needs about 19 years of work to produce the required, democratic outcome”

    Thats were you just dont see it – NI’s right to exist has been enshrined in an internationally recognised Treaty and endorsed by the majority of Irish people north and south of the border. It always was of course – I am never ceased to be amazed by the readiness of Republicans to believe they can sign Treaties and then break them until they get what they really want.

    However not this time – SF have either built the platform for Irish Unity or they have painted themselves into a corner – as a unionist I will do all in my power to ensure it is the latter. Either way that is the way it is.

    As for dissidents they will only wreck SF’s “strategy” and let certain unionists of the hook.

    “and whatever SF or other republicans say in public they will be very happy if disser violence in any contributes to the speed of that hand over”

    That is the point I am making and is simply not acceptable so if any SF nationalist is thinking that they really need to think again

    “Unionists like to make a lot of noise, but the larger part of them will accept this outcome, and the rest will be thwarted by the new technology of total surveillance”.

    How old are (and do you live in NI) to really under estimate the unionist position like that ?

    “The sensible focus of interest next year will be on the Assembly elections, not the census”

    You really are clutching at straws – the only thing that matters is a border poll – many unionists either dont vote or think the Union is safe – Unionism will wipe the floor in a border poll for any of our life times

    If you live in NI you are going to have to get used to the current arrangements and if you want change then you are going to have to persuade a substantial part of the unionist electorate of your case – dissident republicans will not achieve that.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    PaddyR,

    You are clearly missing the point, we use religion in the census as a guide to the number of Nationalists and Unionists – Nationalists appear to be far more likley to stick to their religious tag than Unioinsts are (as evidenced by comparing West and East Belfast – irrespective of recent disenchantment with the DUP). Therefore we should expect to see the contiuning growth in the ‘Catholic’ population in the census otherwise your desire and my desire for a Nationalist majority is likely to likley to be off the agenda.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JEB,

    The GFA allows for the hollowing out of the union from the inside (subject to agreement) and the greater Nationalist representation and ministries in Stormo increasingly allows for that agenda to be followed. Unionist unease regarding this trend is perhaps best illustrated by the (illogical) fear of SF gaining the first ministry which in itself is of no great importance but rather a further indicator of continuing Republican democaratic/demographic mission creep.

    Next years census and assembly elections will be a reasonable indication of the extent of the longer term prospects of that mission creep.

  • John East Belfast

    Sammy

    I am glad you are thinking along those lines and not thinking dissident republicans are necessary because the very existance of the latter is to me an indication that others are not so sure

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JEB,

    re. ‘others are not so sure’

    you are quite right and a bad (in the Nationalist sense) census and/or election result and the dissers may just begin to see a shaft of light.

  • John East Belfast

    Sammy

    “…begin to see a shaft of light”

    What do you mean ?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JEB,

    As things stand SF have a relatively easy job in dispensing with the political threat of the dissers because they can argue their own ‘strategy’ ie democratic advancement of a UI is moving forward albeit slowly – if that movment is seen to have stopped (ie bad census and election results for SF/Nationalism) then that may give the dissers some political traction i.e. a shaft of light.

  • John East Belfast

    I am just amazed at how some republicans think the GFA was a one way street and if it doesnt go their way they think there is another option involving going back on what they agreed and resorting to violence

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    “I am just amazed at how some republicans think the GFA was a one way street and if it doesnt go their way they think there is another option involving going back on what they agreed and resorting to violence”

    The dissers dont support the GFA anyway – it will be a bonus to them if it seems to not be delivering SF’s agenda.

  • White Horse

    JEB

    In my estimation they’re resorting to violence now on the sly because they can’t negotiate wth the DUP.

  • John East Belfast

    Sammy

    I didn’t mean the dissers – I am talking about those “shaft of light” republicans you referred to

  • John East Belfast

    White Horse

    I wish you would make your mind up – is it MI5 or PIRA who are pulling dissident strings

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JEB,

    My statement was “the dissers may just begin to see a shaft of light”

    Not sure how you have contsrued that to mean non dissers?

  • PaddyReilly

    the only thing that matters is a border poll – many unionists either dont vote or think the Union is safe – Unionism will wipe the floor in a border poll for any of our life times

    I think your experience with Methodist Minister’s wives and the current complexion of your eponymous constituency should have taught you that you no longer quite have your finger on the pulse of popular opinion, but apparently not.

    If Nationalists win a majority in the Assembly, what kind of legislation do you think they will sponsor? If I was a Nationalist 1st Minister of a Nationalist majority Assembly, the first thing I would want to do is unify the National Health Services on the island of Ireland. Northerners would move South, Southerners would move North. Then I would want to unify everything else: PSNI and Guards especially; also I would free up lots of land in border areas such as Newry, so that half the population of Dundalk decided to move there. Ditto Strabane. I would make sure that any Nationalist who had moved South was on the Northern electoral register, and if necessary, bus them North to take part in elections. By the time I was finished, we would not be looking at 50% + 1, but more like 60 or 70%.

    Ruling parties have a nack of getting their way in referenda—look how the Irish Govt managed to turn around a major defeat on the EU issue into the majority they wanted. Having a Fenian majority in Stormont would be like having embalming fluid pumped into your veins: it would turn the province into walking corpse.

    NI’s right to exist has been enshrined in an internationally recognised Treaty: Yes: but also the right of the majority in that area to prevent or accelerate unification. When the majority changes—and it is as close to doing so now as it is possible to be—we will move from the current prevention at any cost paradigm to an acceleration one. Once you have created an area, you cannot easily deny the majority in that area the power to act as it wishes. If the majority of the people of NI want to unify the Gardaí Síochána and the PSNI, how do you think you are going to stop them? Do you think Westminster is going to act to thwart the will of the majority on every proposed measure?

    Rome was not built in a day, and there are many, many things that matter other than a border poll. De Valera achieved what he did bit by bit, and in the face of initial defeat: this election and that election, tinkering with the system and bringing in a new constitution, bargaining over this and that.

  • White Horse

    JEB

    Neither. The Sinn Fein leadership have influence there.

  • John East Belfast

    Paddy

    “If I was a Nationalist 1st Minister of a Nationalist majority Assembly, the first thing I would want to do is unify the National Health Services on the island of Ireland. Northerners would move South, Southerners would move North. Then I would want to unify everything else: PSNI and Guards”

    Paddy the SF Education Minister cant even force the Grammar sector to end academic selection – wise up.

    “also I would free up lots of land in border areas such as Newry, so that half the population of Dundalk decided to move there”

    So who is going to build more houses for the already over provided Irish residential sector and why on earth would people in Dundalk want to move north to Euro when there are no jobs for them ?

    “Having a Fenian majority in Stormont would be like having embalming fluid pumped into your veins: it would turn the province into walking corpse.”

    Things would go on as before

    You are living in fantasy land

  • John East Belfast

    Sammy

    because you said the dissers would gain political traction which to me means people who originally supported SF’s strategy would switch allegiance

  • John East Belfast

    Sammy

    I am surprised at someone who so consistantly attacks the Unionist Party for its past attachment to the Orange Order so blatantly playing the Catholic card in nationalist politics.

  • PaddyReilly

    Paddy the SF Education Minister cant even force the Grammar sector to end academic selection – wise up.

    True enough. SF is not a majority, even with SDLP co-operation it cannot make a majority- so it can’t achieve anything, except acquiring the odd ministry for its members. What we have is not power sharing- true power will always reside with the majority- but office sharing. But when the majority changes, then everything changes, and all Unionists will be able to do is retain a few ministries for their men.

    Ending academic selection is not on my agenda, neither is promoting the interests of Sinn Féin: I am only interested in furthering the unity of Ireland.

    Why would anyone move North? Everything is cheaper- continue to work in the South.

    Unifying the education system is another worthwhile cause: I would import loads of Southern students and lecturers into Coleraine and Jordanstown, altering the majority in those areas. I would persuade the Republic’s government to locate work training factories in Craigavon. Eventually the only Unionist majority areas would be Strangford and North Ballymena.

    I was dandering along the road a few years back, and some girls started squealing and clapping their hands. On enquiring as to the cause of this strange behaviour, it turned out they had mistaken me for Martin McGuinness. Perhaps this is why I feel empowered to carry on this “If I were 1st Minister” theme.

  • John East Belfast

    Paddy

    You need to learn about the mutual veto that exists in Stormont – majorities in one community or the other dont count for much

  • PaddyReilly

    The mutual veto is an interesting system, but it can only work within certain narrow parameters. On certain matters a decision has to be made, and then it is made by a show of hands. Nationalists have failed to extract much benefit out of it (apart from ministries for Nationalists): as you rightly point out, SF cannot even force the Grammar sector to end academic selection. Equally, SF has not even succeeded in getting bilingual roadsigns- even when the residents want them. Couldn’t they veto the replacement of roadsigns till they got what they wanted? Apparently not. So obviously, when Unionists are a minority their veto will buy them places in the goverment and little else. Of course they will keep trying.

  • Wilde Rover

    Turgon,

    “However, such logic let alone morality has rarely occurred to some in politics and as such the self defeating answer of pandering to a tiny group of murderous thugs will no doubt continue.”

    As others have pointed out, your argument falls on its arse when you mentioned Tony Blair in neutral tones yet spray your outrage in the rest of the post.

    Just so many crocodile tears…

  • Alan Maskey

    This kind of thing ws tried in Lebanon. There the maronite Christians kept the Muslims down. Now the boot is increasingly on the other foot.
    When nationalists speak to Brits or proto Brits, they are speaking to terrorists.

  • PaddyReilly

    Michael McIlveen was killed for wearing a Celtic top, Rhys Jones for wearing an Everton top. The phenomenon is the same: but in Ballymena this event can be incorporated into the prevailing politico/religious conflict for control of the wee six: in Croxteth there is no such thing.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JEB,

    “I am just amazed at how some republicans think the GFA was a one way street and if it doesnt go their way they think there is another option involving going back on what they agreed and resorting to violence”

    Not sure you should be ‘amazed’ – perhaps you really mean pissed off as that is the way it has always been. But the % willing to support the now reformed Ulster will be much less than previoulsy – unless the dissers can provoke a very unpopular (with Nationalists) security response.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JEB,

    “I am surprised at someone who so consistantly attacks the Unionist Party for its past attachment to the Orange Order so blatantly playing the Catholic card in nationalist politics.”

    Being a touch disingenuous there in trying to suggest some inconsistency in my criticism of the UU for its current links via its elected officers to the OO with a statement about the relationship between community background/religion and voting intentions/ideological apsirations.