“Economic crises, however severe, will come and go…”

In The Guardian, Henry McDonald points out that the Economy, not unity, is Irish priority

There is a great unspoken paradox about the current politico-fiscal crisis gripping the Republic of Ireland. The Irish people’s anger and disillusionment may have thrown a lifeline to Sinn Féin and rescued the party from total irrelevance in the Republic but its united Ireland project is more unrealisable than ever.

Of course, as the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, was telling us, and The Guardian, last July

The single most important issue facing the people of Ireland and Britain is the achievement of Irish unity and the construction of a new relationship between Ireland and Britain based on equality. Economic crises, however severe, will come and go. Governments will come and go, but for more centuries than any of us care to contemplate Britain’s involvement in Ireland has been the source of conflict; partition, discord and division; and great hurt between the people of these islands. [added emphasis]

Until, that is, his priorities changed

…the Sinn Féin president was keen to paint the move as his duty “in this time of crisis in our country“. Or, as Martin McGuinness would have us believe, “to play a central role in the battle for Ireland’s economic recovery”.

And Henry McDonald also has some words of caution for more delusional excitable commentators

Some commentators on both sides of the Irish Sea have been hyperventilating over Sinn Féin’s fortunes and the possibility that the party could soon be sitting in power on both sides of the border.

Their reductionist thinking concludes that we could, within the next few months, have Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister in Belfast and Adams as a minister is some new “rainbow coalition” in Dublin. No doubt the party would seek to portray such a benign scenario as the first phase in the drive for Irish unity, casting their members as the only people serious about driving forward political and economic fusion on the island.

Even if you set aside the fact that the main opposition party, Fine Gael, will not take Sinn Féin into an alternative government coalition, the above theory is entirely fanciful. And even if you ignore the historic opposition of unionists to a United Ireland, the idea that the north and the south are on an inevitable path towards unity is counterfactual.

Indeed.  As Mick noted earlier last month

But in the absence of conflict and death from Northern Ireland the south has simply presumed all is well and settled and has moved on to its own, more immediate preoccupations. Even the leadership of the largest “Republican” party on the island [has] recast the relationship between the two parts of the island in striking terms.

Brian Cowen saying earlier this year what I suspect Margaret Ritchie meant to say on The Politics Show this week:

The genius of all of these agreements is that we are all on a common journey together where we have not decided on the destination. The problem with our ideologies in the past was that we had this idea about where we were going but we had no idea how anyone was going to come with us on the journey.

“We have now all decided: let’s go on a journey and forget about the destination – the destination isn’t really important in that respect. We can all work for what it is we would like ideally to see, but this is not something that can be forced or imposed upon people on either side of the island.

And he was only following the lead of the boul Bertie before him:

That can only happen in the long term future. How long that will be I don’t know. If it is done by any means of coercion, or divisiveness, or threats, it will never happen. We’ll stay at a very peaceful Ireland and I think time will be the healer providing people, in a dedicated way, work for the better good of everyone on the island. If it doesn’t prove possible, then it stays the way it is under the Good Friday Agreement, and people will just have to be tolerant of that if it’s not possible to bring it any further.

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  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Ah I see – it is the wrong type of popularity.

    Our ‘enry should know by now that this is in fact how politics works – the guys in power feck up and then you get a chance to have a go.

    Our ‘enry has to write something I suppose.

  • White Horse

    Pete, I think you’re betraying the unionist neurosis once more: that no matter how unlikely things All-Ireland seem to be, the more they are concerned about them.

    I wouldn’t worry about Sinn Fein. Their idea is that Sinn Fein are the people and the project. It can only fail.

    But unity is inevitable. And I think unioinists will find that there is nothing to fear when they confront that massive anxiety that puts them in charge of the roads each year.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Indeed WH — Unionists can take heart from the historical lesson of southern protestants — from 10% to 3% in barely a lifetime. Had NI never existed, how many protestants would now occupy the six counties?

    And unity quite frankly isn’t inevitable. No poll that I’m aware of puts the NI support for unification above 30%.

  • Pete Baker

    Mind-reading doesn’t work, WH.

    Now, play the ball.

  • Dec

    “Even if you set aside the fact that the main opposition party, Fine Gael, will not take Sinn Féin into an alternative government coalition, the above theory is entirely fanciful. ”

    I must have missed that section of the GFA agreement that stated that the constitutional status of Northern Ireland couldn’t change with FG’s say so.

    ‘And he was only following the lead of the boul Bertie before him’

    It’s heartening to see how much faith you store in the words of a man who claims he didn’t have a bank account whilst Minister for Finance.

  • I’m surprised that McDonald has not discussed the Euro directly in terms of Sovereignty.

    Political debate on sovereignty cannot be about a United Ireland (except in symbolism) any more unless Ireland leaves the Euro. It is about NI joining a united states of Europe. Of course, the latter is teetering on the edge and may yet disintegrate.

    Isn’t it time to acknowledge that Europe is the Elephant in the room, as far as this debate is concerned?

  • Alias

    The reality is that however unlikely it was before Ireland became the property of eurosystem bondholders that the non-sovereign Irish nation in that part of the UK could successfully persuade the sovereign British nation in that part of the UK to forego its status as a sovereign British nation and convert itself into a non-sovereign British nation within a sovereign Irish state (or any never-ending magical mystery tour proffered by Bertie and Biffo and written by Mansergh), it is now impossible that said sovereign British nation would forego its national rights to join a bankrupt and backward region of the EU that offers them only a future of poverty and political impotence.

    I suspect that even if the hidden agenda of reuniting Ireland within the UK became acceptable to the public in Ireland that it would be utterly unacceptable to the British nation in Northern Ireland, despite Trimble’s recent support for that unity agenda since the UK simply couldn’t afford to absorb Ireland sovereign debts.

  • GoldenFleece

    “But unity is inevitable.”

    Nothing in this world is inevitable.

  • GoldenFleece

    Except death 🙂

  • White Horse

    Gerryloves Castro

    The anxiety is that they (the unionists) will be met by themselves if they concede their obvious and massive assertion that their peace can only be served by the obvious and massive threat that their anxiety on the roads reveals. The anxiety is self-serving and fuelled by self-hatred and underscored by a lack of will on the part of the British goverments to basically tell the truth about their claim to Britishness, which nobody denies as it is a meaningless definition of identity, and about the nobility of the Plantation exercise.

    When we have some repentance for this religious continuation of the justification of this ethical failure, then the unionists will have more friends and less time for the roads.

    Unity might be an obvious choice then. But both North and South would be in surplus then.

  • Pete Baker

    Guys [not all, but some]

    Disagree by all means.

    But play the ball.

    And try to evidence some level of comprehension of what’s being said.

  • Alias

    “…underscored by a lack of will on the part of the British goverments to basically tell the truth about their claim to Britishness…”

    It isn’t a claim: it is a validated constitutional reality. The British state are reaffirmed it in all changes to that constitution and the Irish constitution also affirmed it as did the British Irish Agreement treaty. Indeed, it is also the position under international law that no one may be arbitrarily deprived of his or her nationality. On the other hand, the Irish nation in NI has formally renounced their national rights in the same documents that consolidate British national rights.

    But I guess the advantage of others indoctrinating you with the propaganda that “unity is inevitable” is that you are then don’t have to be proactive in advancing that which you believe will happen by simply doing nothing to make it happen on your part. That’s also called neutralising the opposition.

  • “we are all on a common journey together where we have not decided on the destination”

    Balderdash. What a load of old codswallop. Who writes this tripe? Was it the man from God knows where? Was it someone in need of a comfort blanket? Perhaps it was Zebedee going round and round and round on his magic roundabout.

    Meanwhile Unionists and Nationalists will continue to cherry-pick those parts of the Belfast Agreement that best suit their particular prejudices. Until the next eruption comes along …

  • Pete Baker

    “Balderdash. What a load of old codswallop. Who writes this tripe? Was it the man from God knows where? Was it someone in need of a comfort blanket? Perhaps it was Zebedee going round and round and round on his magic roundabout.”

    As I said

    …try to evidence some level of comprehension of what’s being said.

    That requires an attempt at a coherent argument.

    Not a rant.

  • Archie Noble

    “Was it the man from God knows where?”

    Most certainly not if memory serves.

  • White Horse

    Alias

    I understand where you’re coming from but it seems to me that Britishness is an ideology that extended itself through brute force throughout history and is now contracting because, like other empires, social democracy has struck within its borders to change the nature of the nation from a conspiracy to make capital gains to one which shares capital gains.

    Britishness now is barely more than a title rather than an ideology. Unionism has agreed to share power with Nationalism. As ideologies go these isms have been emasculated in sharing power rather than the default position of demanding absolutes. The Northern Ireland state is a social democracy with a union with Britain that is in effect a financial life support system.

    The Republic has always been an emasculated state through history reflecting imperial domination and social democracy is in its religions and soul.

    I suspect we’re steering along a convergent path.

  • Pete Baker

    “The Northern Ireland state is a social democracy with a union with Britain that is in effect a financial life support system.”

    Yeah, yeah, you said it before

    “But unity is inevitable.”

    As I said

    …try to evidence some level of comprehension of what’s being said.

    That requires an attempt at a coherent argument.

  • George

    There is nothing more important in politics than momentum.

    While Sinn Féin are within touching distance of being the largest political force in Northern Ireland the party’s momentum south of the border has stalled in recent years.

    If this crisis does lead to SF having over 10 seats in Dáil Éireann in early 2011, who knows what drive that will give the party in the run-up to the next scheduled election in 2015-2016?

    As for no party going into government with SF, if they are accepted as being the main opposition south of the border for the next four to five years, which is all but certain seeing as FF are not going to be in the frame to offer any criticism, it’s not a major leap to see them being in government at some stage in the next decade.

    Interesting times south of the border. New political fault lines are being drawn at the moment and SF are one of the players looking to stake a claim. How big that claim turns out to be, only time will tell.

    As for the argument that the idea of unification becoming a major issue is fanciful, as long as it’s flame is kept alight north of the border then it isn’t going away, whatever unionist commentators may say or hope.

    Unity is most certainly not inevitable but it is also most certainly not impossible. The rest is just guesswork.

    The first indicator of things to come will be the next general election.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    “if (Sinn Fein) are accepted as being the main opposition south of the border for the next four to five years, which is all but certain”

    I would not be too sure of that. FF loseing votes does not neccessarily translate into Dail seats for SF. Frankly, the lack of forward momentum in the past several years (Donegal SW excepting) has been demoralising.

    And there is still no majority appitite in the south for unity.

    IF it ever does occour, it will probably be in a manner very different from the way its supporters would like.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    White Horse – I don’t know why you think Irish unity is inevitable. From the perspective of most people south of the border, its as far away as ever – unless you think that the Irish state is a united country.

  • Alias

    I’d be surprised if the Shinners don’t get 11 seats in January, but very surprised if they get over 16. How many they gain after that is pure guesswork. If Gerry hasn’t been trained in the ABC of economics then he will be made to look an utter muppet in the Dail so he may well end up killing his own party’s revival. On the other hand, if he has been trained and his kept well-briefed by a team of advisors then he could make a good show of it.

  • Doire

    I do hope Sinn Fein get more seats south of the border, but on the other hand they need to remember the north. It’s all very well crowing about unity but you can’t brush off unionists, and unless there is a serious change in situation in the north, a united ireland under SF (or anyone else) sadly doesn’t look likely. Besides, as an english republican, I can say completely honestly that the majority of people my age (15) in england have absolutely no idea that Ireland is even divided. In some cases even exists. So don’t assume that the British government are desparately clinging on to northern Ireland. They care even less than the republic. So if I were Gerry Adams I would stop moaning about loyalists and start making an effort to get on. They are going to be having to work together to try and get the north sorted for a long time.

  • james

    Mmmmh quick out of the stalls with the inflation of SF’s opportunies in the coming GE, and when they don’t achieve said inflated expectations you can then claim they have failed.

    I mean, SF in coalition with FG!!!! HELLO, never, its not been discussed anywhere to my knowledge.

    SF seats in the GE, likely to be 8-9, some brave people are going for 10-15.

    One thing of interest is the positive comments on forums like politics.ie about SF standing up to the govt.

    Speaking of which, I think yer a bit out of date quoting Brian and Bertie on anything, as they would pretty much win a popular vote on which politicans you ‘d like to see hanging from a lamppost.

    Overall its an empty post, groundhog day for anyone who pops on slugger, the same series of posts will no doubt be rolled out for the assembly elections.

    With regards the rest of the post, worth remembering that 50,000 marched to the GPO and not the Dail last week, politicans are telling punters its time to pull on the green jersey, the South is getting very nationalistic since FF signed it over to the Germans

  • Glencoppagagh

    “the South is getting very nationalistic since FF signed it over to the Germans”

    All SF has to do know is find some way of persuading them that partition is the root cause of the problem.

    As a matter of interest, does the population of the RoI have no say on the matter of unity or is it just imposed on them if 50% +1 is achieved in NI? If there was a referendum and it rejected unity, what would it do to northern nationalists? Mass suicides in West Belfast?

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Nice one, Glencoppagagh.

  • “evidence some level of comprehension”

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • james

    “All SF has to do know is find some way of persuading them that partition is the root cause of the problem.”

    Keeping the Falklands was the answer to GB’s woes but having a war over them helped take the nations mind off things.

    Partition does actually have an economic effect on Ireland, but a UI campaign would be more about giving the Irish something to be proud about.

    Off course the South has a say, there are regular opinion polls and they all come out positive.

    Unionism has only two anti-Unity answers its either “things are too good” or “things are too bad”

    But again I’ll refer you to the fact that the protesters marched to the GPO, now I’m aware that that is glorifying terrorism in the view of a lot of slugger unionists, but 50,000 obviously thought differently.

    Unionisms other gripe is “no-ones asked us” unionism will never discuss a UI so why involve them until they want/need to.

    Worth remembering things are pretty bad in GB aswell a UI would save 10-20 billion for taxpayers.

    Also remember GB exports circa £20Billion to the South, a UI would probably increase that to £30Billion while saving 20B, HM Treasury is 30Billion better off,

  • “what I suspect Margaret Ritchie meant to say on The Politics Show this week”

    Let’s not forget what she did say at the SDLP conference:

    “We in the SDLP remain absolutely, unambiguously committed to a united Ireland,” she said.

    “Where the border disappears and where we are no longer governed by Britain. It is, without qualification, our number one political objective.

    “Can I be any more definitive about that?

    Proposals to deal with the economic crises don’t appear to have dislodged Irish unity from the top of the list of SDLP and SF political priorities.

    Perhaps Bacon would have been critical of today’s political spin-doctors – those who “hunt more after words than matter”.

  • Archie Noble

    “And there is still no majority appitite in the south for unity.”

    There is and has always been a majority for re unification. Look at the polls.

    As reaction to the current crisis unfolds it is entirely possible that this majority view could find renewed political expression. Even the current masters of the Republic consider the matter to be unfinished business.

  • Brian Walker

    ..and so the old argument continues.. Everyone describes the unity issue / non/issue in a way to suit him/herself.
    For my part, I believe economics will never be the decider. The Celtic Tiger in its pomp may have strengthened the objective case for unity but made few inroads, just as the present financial crisis will not not deter strong nationalists. Although the analogy is inexact, it’s a bit like a marriage.You don’t love her for his/ her money or the lack of it do you? The analogy doesn’t continue because you can’t be single in a polity. But it works up to a point because the argument has been reduced almost entirely to one of personal preference. As such there can be no resolution other than an ultimate test at the ballot box which no one is recommending today.

  • Brian Walker

    PS Why not have it all – like me, Within-the-wallsm west bank Londonderry, Derry, Northern Irish , Ulster, Irish and British. In any order. It work a treat! This is an age for making links not breaking them. The nation state is not the ultimate environment.

  • sammymehaffey

    James
    ‘Off course the South has a say, there are regular opinion polls and they all come out positive.’

    Of course they come out positive when there is no chance of a UI in the forseeable future. Might well be a different story if the poll meant something real. The sentimental dream will always emerge in an opinion poll. sadly that same dream cost a lot of lives which in turn set back the chances of aUI by at least 50 years.

  • White Horse

    Pete

    Anxiety prevents unionists from assimilation and integration. It is precisely because that anxiety is inherent in the feeling that they or their identity is superior in some way that we still have the depth of division centuries after the acts that underscored the anxiety, the Plantation.

    Anxiety leads to assertion of superiority which leads to insulting approach to their neighbours which leads to a backlash which reinforces the anxiety.

    Ultimately all Britain needs to do to bring this conflict to a normalisation is admit the evil of the Plantation. The question, of course, remains of whether the unionists or indeed the union could survive such an admission. It could lead to a rebellion against Britain and their values.

    It would hardly require much of a rebellion for unity to succeed. Are unionists ready for the truth? The truth shall set them free.

  • Greenflag

    While it’s true that’ economic crises come and go ‘ the really important consideration is the political map they leave behind . And I don’t just mean the map of national boundaries but the internal political map within countries in terms of regional advantage /disadvantage etc .

    This current economic crisis is taking place in an environment in which the standard economic models favoured by our economists of whatever school be they Chicago , Keynesian or Austrian are no longer working the way they are supposed to . The economic behavioural assumptions underlying these models has been torn in shreds by the biggest gouging /looting binge since the gilded age . Interest rates near zero and businesses won’t borrow to invest . Now even banks can’t sell the foreclosures they took took over . While USA bankers can look forward to millions in bonues this year 2 million American unemployed will see their unemployment pay end and this in an economy where 28 million are unemployed with some 13 million either long term or who have simply dropped off the official record .

    Anarchic -trickle down economics has failed – Corporate greed has failed – Overseas wars are failing . And the debt is still growing .

  • Greenflag

    White Horse <

    Why was the plantation evil ? And if so is 'evil ' an inherited trait ?

    Britain cannot kick the NI Unionists out of the Union no more than can ROI kick Leitrim out of the Irish Republic – The only other country in the world to have 'kicked' it's own citizens out of it's country was the former apartheid South Africa when they set up 'bantustans' for the Xhosa , and Zulu peoples in small states such as Ciskei and Kwazulu. Those states no longer exist as they were never had the legitimacy of the majority of the ethnic group which they were formed to represent.

    BTW nobody can make you feel inferior or superior without your consent so quit with the consent if you are guilty of same 😉

    As for the truth setting people free . Well we now know the truth in ROI following the long rearguard action by our corrupt banks , corrupt politicians and a corrupt Catholic Church so why are many of us not feeling as free as we thought we were ?

  • Erasmus

    ”And there is still no majority appitite in the south for unity.”

    Cormac,
    Speak for yourself.

  • Archie Noble

    “..and so the old argument continues.. Everyone describes the unity issue / non/issue in a way to suit him/herself.”

    Is that a fair assesment Brian? Let us look at one of the tangibles mentioned here. The majority of the people of the Republic favour unity. It is a straightforward verifiable statement. Cormac tells us its just is not so, Sammy Mehaffey tells us it is so, but those in favour don’t mean it. You tell us “The nation state is not the ultimate environment.”. In its own way its a splendid summation of the Unionist position steadily rising in sophistication but where does it lead?

    The rise of nation states in the last twenty years is there for all to see. The crisis in the western global economy likewise. Why would Ireland be different?

    I think Unionists have a lot to offer and a lot to gain from a UI and suprisingly, to me at least, this is the time to think about it. I do agree with you that economics will not be the determining factor and that this is a time for building links. How this all plays out will be very interesting.

  • Glencoppagagh

    ‘Off course the South has a say, there are regular opinion polls and they all come out positive’

    Has anyone ever asked this question in an opinion poll?

    ‘Would you be willing to pay higher taxes in order to achieve a united Ireland?’

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Sammy

    “Sadly that same dream cost a lot of lives which in turn set back the chances of aUI by at least 50 years.”

    Yes, but it’s now 41 years since that setback took place.

  • james

    “sadly that same dream cost a lot of lives which in turn set back the chances of a UI by at least 50 years.”
    Yet strangely produced the GFA which included Police reform, North-South bodies and most importantly Power-Sharing, lots of things that were never on offer before the Rev started leading unionist mobs through nationalist streets and burning them

    ‘Would you be willing to pay higher taxes in order to achieve a united Ireland?’

    Or indeed would you like 12.5% Corp Tax

    Its an interesting point though, did Germany have those polls prior to unification which I believe cost circa 3,000,000,000,000 Euros. Its also topical because Ireland and Co had it good while Germany was suffering from the cost of unification from which it is now recovering.

    If Germany can swallow that cost for unification , well………

  • “The truth shall set them free”

    WH, the electorate here have a choice of Nationalist parties; the SDLP and SF both promote Irish unity as their top political objective. Unionists and Others might support an SDLP candidate in a mainly Nationalist constituency to keep a SF one out but otherwise the SDLP candidate is likely to appear well down their lists in a Stormont or a local election.

    The Border question continues to trump economic arguments so far as both Unionists and Nationalists are concerned.

  • White Horse

    Greenflag

    I’m not suggesting that the British turf the unionists out of the UK. I’m suggesting that they free them from their ongoing obsessive anxiety by explaining to them that the Plantation was an ethical and moral evil. Justifying that evil by taking to the roads only accentuates the anxiety.

    As they live within the Biblical paradigm that anxiety could be explicitly expressed as Judgement anxiety. It can only be reduced by stopping the justification of evil that alienates their neighbours, gains a backlash and racks up the anxiety.

    The British can do us all a favour and set these people free by telling the truth.

  • George

    “Has anyone ever asked this question in an opinion poll?

    ‘Would you be willing to pay higher taxes in order to achieve a united Ireland?’”

    Would you be willing to pay higher taxes for a better health service is asked all the time and the majority always answer yes. They then go off and vote for the party that promises lower taxes.

    For that reason, I wouldn’t have much credence in such a poll if it ever did take place.

  • Reader

    White Horse: Anxiety prevents unionists from assimilation and integration.
    Us unionists already live in the UK, and we are therefore already assimilated and integrated. You actually want us to default / renege / desert / elope instead. Get the terminology right!

  • White Horse

    Reader

    Explain to me what the marching is all about and tell me where it happens in Britain.

    Repent is the word I would feel most appropriate.

  • “their ongoing obsessive anxiety”

    WH, I meet Unionists and Nationalists on a regular basis in the Kingdom of Moyle. The Macdonnells of the Scottish Isles acquired some of the territory by marriage and the rest by force following a second marriage. Despite the upheavals, recent and not so recent, I’ve not noted such anxiety. On the other hand, I’m told there is some Unionist and Nationalist anger concerning a certain ‘problem’ on the road to Carrickmore.

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    Explain the marching.

    Their place in the UK is as safe as its ever been and still they march.

    We have to then deduce that they never were concerned about the union because the union is enforced through their marching might, not votes. Their fears and anxiety go further and deeper, such that they’ve invented a man-made religion to quell their Judgement anxiety.

    Their anxiety is about their land and how they acquired it, and the union is used to merely postpone the day on which they confront themselves.

  • james

    Meanwhile over at politics.ie they’re saying a Red C poll for The Sun tomorrow is apparently showing a surprising level of support for that ‘protest vote’

  • George

    Rumours have it that the latest Red C poll has SF ahead of FF with 16% compared to 13%.

  • Alias

    “The majority of the people of the Republic favour unity. It is a straightforward verifiable statement.”

    That depends on which version of the statement that you verify, e.g. “Do you want to allow another nation to hold a veto over your right to national self-determination by dismantling the nation-state that gives expression to that right and replacing it with a bi-national entity wherein two non-sovereign nations share one state?” or “Do you want your taxes to increase by X% to subsidise via subvention a people who have become state-dependent?” is not the same question as “Wouldn’t it be just grand if Ireland took over Northern Ireland?”

  • james

    George, politics.ie just published
    “#FF 13pc, FG 32pc, Lab 24pc, SF 16pc, Grns 3, Inds 11. Biffo at 8 per cent, Gilmore 42”

    so what relevance has a blog quoting an ex-leader and soon to be ex-leader of the 4th largest party.

    also remember whats on the CVs of the leaders of the Labour Party, it appears the Stickies and Provos have 40% of the polls.

    Question is, does Slugger retreat further into its bubble

  • joeCanuck

    Opinion polls should always be taken with a large pinch of salt.
    So much depends on the question being asked. I have no doubt that a poll asking the question “Do you support the reunification of Ireland” would get close to a 50% yes in N.I. and likely a much higher yes reponse in Ireland. But it’s really rather vague. Someone above suggested asking “Would you be willing to pay hgiher taxes…”. Again, rather meaningless. How much higher, 5% 30%?
    There is no prospect of reunification within a generation. Get on with life, hard though it might be for the next few years. We have more things to fret about.

  • Pete Baker

    james

    Don’t be misled by the context in which Mick placed those quotes. Or by fluctuating opinion polls.

    It’s what’s being described that is important.

    “The genius of all of these agreements is that we are all on a common journey together where we have not decided on the destination. The problem with our ideologies in the past was that we had this idea about where we were going but we had no idea how anyone was going to come with us on the journey.

    “We have now all decided: let’s go on a journey and forget about the destination – the destination isn’t really important in that respect. We can all work for what it is we would like ideally to see, but this is not something that can be forced or imposed upon people on either side of the island.”

    That’s the reality of the situation.

  • George

    Those figures have been confirmed on Matt Cooper.
    SF on 16% with FF now down to 13%.

    FF 13
    FG 32 Lab 24
    SF 16
    Grn 3
    Ind 11

    On those figures we are approaching a Labour/Sinn Féin government.

    It’s getting more interesting by the day.

  • George

    Pete,
    Cowen was talking about his own constituency and not all of us on this island, as he claims.

    The true reality of the situation is that there are countless people in Ireland, both British loyalist and Irish republican, for whom the direction and destination of the “journey” are still of tantamount importance.

  • Pete Baker

    George

    Look again at what Cowen said

    “We can all work for what it is we would like ideally to see, but this is not something that can be forced or imposed upon people on either side of the island.”

    And, as Ahern said before him,

    If it is done by any means of coercion, or divisiveness, or threats, it will never happen. We’ll stay at a very peaceful Ireland and I think time will be the healer providing people, in a dedicated way, work for the better good of everyone on the island. If it doesn’t prove possible, then it stays the way it is under the Good Friday Agreement, and people will just have to be tolerant of that if it’s not possible to bring it any further.” [added emphasis]

  • George

    Pete,
    there is a world of difference between forgetting about where you want to go and not being able to get to where you want to go in the time you want to get there.

    It is trite of Cowen to say that “we have now all decided: let’s go on a journey and forget about the destination – the destination isn’t really important”.

    As for Ahern, that is more in the realm of Realpolitik but doesn’t change the reality that an awful lot of people from both “sides” are working feverishly to move beyond the holding operation that was and is the GFA.

    One thing is certain: we will not go beyond the GFA if “everyone” simply accepts it’s not possible to go further.

  • “they’ve invented a man-made religion”

    WH, that comment, as well as the reference to marching, applies to Unionists, Nationalists and others so why focus on a particular group? It also applies to the rest of these islands.

  • sammymehaffey

    JoeC
    A serious question. You mentioned reunification. Was Ireland ever a free united country? It is my understanding that before the english took over the country was governed/ ruled by competing kings or warlords?

  • joeCanuck

    No, Sammy. It was a united country once Ulster was finally defeated but not free, of course. When I talk of reunification it is in that context, prior to partition.

  • PaddyReilly

    It is an ill wind which blows nobody any good. The polls cited suggest that Sinn Féin are set to become a major force in the politics of the Irish Republic. As the next election is such a proximate event, it seems scarcely worth arguing this point, we might as well just wait and see.

    The Southern electorate would of course be interested primarily in a party that offers a philosophy remote from the unbridled Bankerism which has got it into the current mess. But of course with SF, the national issue is also included in the package.

    Currently unemployment in the Irish Republic stands at well over 400,000. How many of these have roots in the 6 Counties? If only 10%, persuading them to return home, possibly with the Republic’s dole as a wage, would have a very favourable effect on the balance of power in that area.

    One commentator mentioned the precipitous fall in the number of Protestants in the Free State after independence. Those who investigated the fall found that a lot of those who left were actually state employees with no roots in Ireland at all, who just retired back to England. It should be observed that the Unionist presence in Ireland is in the nature of a plantation. If not maintained by special and artificial means, it will revert to seed. Ever since Fair Employment procedures came into force, the Unionist percentage of the vote has been in decline.

  • james

    “Don’t be misled by the context in which Mick placed those quotes. Or by fluctuating opinion polls.”

    Firstly Pete, yes polls fluctuate, but any anorak would see that SF is picking up FF voters and even some Labour, the Irish budget hasn’t even been released yet!!! on politics.ie someone said FF would look back fondly when they use to get 13% in polls, so yes they fluctuate but its beginning to look as if thats everyone elses bad luck and not SF’s

    In keeping with that comment, my point regarding the quotes was purely on where they had come from, further evidence of Micks and Sluggers detachment from politics, who in there right mind would quote either Brian or Bertie in todays world, they are non-people Bertie has disappeared and people are trying to work out when Cowen will go, in short, they and whatever they’ve said in the past means nothing to 90% of the people of Ireland (your soooooooo last decade)

    And Sammy

    “Was Ireland ever a free united country?”
    Yes it was very briefly, as part of the implementation of the treaty

  • Reader

    White Horse: Explain to me what the marching is all about and tell me where it happens in Britain.
    Clearly, marching not being British, it must be one way that some unionists express their Irishness. Maybe some of your flavour of assimilation is going on after all? Republicans march as well.
    By the way, have you considered that assimilation and integration of the two communities would happen a bit faster with integrated education? Don’t I also remember you being hostile to the notion when it comes up on education topics?

  • Reader

    White Horse: Their anxiety is about their land and how they acquired it,
    I don’t have any land, which must be why I don’t march and rarely get all flustered.

  • joeCanuck

    Their anxiety is about their land and how they acquired it

    Didn’t they get it from their fathers?

    Maybe we need to disuss this with Australian, USA , Canadian aborigines etc. Wait a minute, didn’t most of those “steal” it from others? Brits out. Bah.

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    How you deflect attention away from the reality that fear the truth.

    Reader

    There is nothing in the world that compares to this display of anxiety.

    Yes, I like Catholic education because there is a sense of Christ and Christianity in the universalism and the social conscience so despised in certain quarters. The unionist imperial imperative so insisted upon by some politicians and some educators would seek to equate Christian values with imperial values so as to render Christ neutral in the battle between good and evil.

    Joe

    We’re dealing with this expression of anxiety while you try to distract.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    WH: ‘I’m not suggesting that the British turf the unionists out of the UK. I’m suggesting that they free them from their ongoing obsessive anxiety by explaining to them that the Plantation was an ethical and moral evil.’

    Any more evil than say what went on more recently in the USA and Australia with the natives being disposessed and indeed virtually eradicated?

    ‘Justifying that evil by taking to the roads only accentuates the anxiety.’

    WH you do appear to have a highly stereotyped view of Unionism. The Protestant / Unionist population of NI is approx 850k — OO membership is approx 30k — that’s about 3.5%. Even assuming that twice that number turn out regularly to watch / support parades, that still leaves 90% of the Prod population who don’t give a monkeys about the OO.
    I personally couldn’t care less if the OO wrapped up tomorrow — marching isn’t most Unionists reason for wishing to remain in the UK.

    ‘Their anxiety is about their land and how they acquired it, and the union is used to merely postpone the day on which they confront themselves.’

    I acquired ‘my land’ via a mortgage from the Halifax WH. My great grandparents sailed from Liverpool in the 1880s and bought a small farm near Omagh, which is (for what little it’s worth) still in the family. Should we feel anxious about this? Or does it not fit into your neat little stereotype?

    Re your earlier comment, all religions are man-made. I personally don’t have time for any, but your ‘sense of Christ & Christianity’ was particularly lacking in a church which at all levels busied itself covering up a morass of global child abuse.

  • WH, you make it too easy. I’ve simply described reality, some of it based on my own experience. Our numerous Christian denominations differ religiously mainly in the small print. You’ll find expressions of social conscience amongst all of them as well as lesser traits.

  • White Horse

    GerrylvsCastro

    3,000 parades a year. For what?

    It seems that some unionists like to distance themselves from the marchers when the circumstances suit. However it remains an integral part of the unionist mindset and an expression of Plantation anxiety. No reasonable unionist could therefore want to sustain it. Indeed they might want to address it rather than suggesting that it is irrelevant.

    They’ll be 15,000 Apprentices walking into Derry this weekend and it is scarcely an irrelevancy for such a demonstration of pseudo-religious anxiety to foist itself on a civilian population. One day that will provoke a response and that is the real danger of this “illness”. I liken it to the notion that one day nuclear weapons will be used because that has been the history of weaponry.

    The abuse point is just a cheap shot.

    Nevin

    I think I make you nervous when all is said and done.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    WH — If all that annoys you about Unionism is parades, 99.9% of which you won’t see or hear, then I don’t think you’ve much to worry about. Even GA only has a problem with a handful of contentious parades — what makes you so fearful of them?

    If people want to parade to commemerate 1690, 1916, the hunger strikes, internment, the first X-Factor, they have a right to do so within the constraints of parade legislation.
    You ignored my point that 90%+ of Unionists have no interest in parades, yet they’re still very much Unionists.

    ‘The abuse point is just a cheap shot.’

    Of course WH — pointing out a supposedly Christ-like operation deliberately covering up thousands of cases of child rape over decades if not centuries, betraying and branding as liars the victims of it’s own staff and expecting to carry on much as before even when completely exposed — that would be a cheap shot right enough.

  • Anon

    The statements by Cowan and Ahern are simply realpolik. They amount ot “We can’t force the Norh” and “Things would change without a majority”. This has been true for the past 30 years.

    However, SF minsters on both sides of the border would be significant, in its own way. And they are pefectly capable of using the power to move things in the direction they prefer. Perhaps only small things for the moment, ut those can mater in the long run. If you state otherwise, you are stating that politics is inefective,.

    And a thriving Republic is a prerequisite for unity. Perhaps Gerry has learned that. In any case, it si perfectly posisble for one to be the tool for the other, larger goal.

    SF are unlikely to be in the next Irish Governemnt. The mere prospect causing a Unionist freak out “It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter! La la la” is amusing though.

  • Johnny Boy

    The principle of consent is there whether or not SF is sitting in power North and South. The reality is that Republican\Nationalists need to convince a signifigant % of natural Unionists that they would be better off in a UI; can’t see that happening any time soon.

  • Why should I be nervous of your ‘reality’, WH? I’ve had many years experience of the real thing including positive expressions of the social conscience of folks of diverse faiths and no faith at all. That’s my idea of a common journey and it’s been great crack.

  • “The genius of all of these agreements .. this is not something that can be forced or imposed upon people on either side of the island”

    The reality of the agreements is not limited to the island of Ireland, no matter how much an Irish political leader chooses to indulge in cherry-picking. The continuing presence of the opposing constitutional aspirations is a clear indication that we are not on a common journey. That message has been rammed home by the SDLP and SF as they’ve highlighted their political priorities in advance of elections next year. It’s also a message being delivered more brutally by militant Nationalists.

    The PSNI continues to be downsized despite Patten recommendations and it’s worth remembering that the RUC was also downsized following the ’56-”62 campaign to the point where it couldn’t cope with civic confrontation.

  • White Horse

    GerrylvsCastro

    The parades are an expression of imperial suppression religionised to reveal an underlying anxiety. The parades serve to deepen the anxiety each year by virtue of the process of giving offence to Catholics and garnering a response that serves the anxiety and deepens it.

    The republicans have embarked on a similar path to express anger which is at the early stages of being religonised and that is why they don’t express sufficient opposition to this marching business.

    What you have is a religionised militarism that serves a view that the balance of power is maintained by their actions.

    As any observer of international militarism knows the risk to peace comes not only in the existence of armies of annihilation but also in the very logic itself.

    Peace sustains peace. It needs no army.

    90% of unionists may not march but as a representative sample does my opinion holds – that this anxiety holds them prisoner.

  • WH, this OO and AOH stuff as an expression of religionised international militarism is a new one on me. When it comes to spectacle they pale in comparison to Semana Santa. Your analysis would suggest there must be massive repressed anxiety in the Spanish parades – but I don’t buy it.

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    I would not rule out anxiety in any religious practice, but you are mistaking the nature of the anxiety to which I refer here.

    The anxiety is based not on the joys of the New Testament message as in Spain but in the “us” and “them” morality of the Old Testament that guides the value system of the marchers here. Unionists march due to Nation/Imperial conflict that throws up some class bias in favour of the more powerful (against the interests of some unionists) and republicans march similarly for Nation/Anti-imperial with some class bias in favour of the working class (against the interests of the underclass and middleclass among them.

    The anxiety that presents itself is entirely dependent on there being competing communal interests, is entirely self- serving and self-accentuating because of the division that sustains it. Conflict sustains it and is its purpose.

    That’s why the unionists have managed to avoid large scale assimilation and this is a good reason for nipping it in the bud before we arrive at a society that is simply an absurd expression of two imperial conflicts competing to define the moral code of conflict.

  • Doire

    Guys. Unionist or republican, you both have one very important thing in common. You care about the north/northern Ireland/6 counties/ulster.
    Because to be honest, The rest of Britain has thrown too much time and money at it, the republic has been embaressed by it and most young people in the north are just bored of all this sectarianism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sf supporter and I love Ireland (especially the north) but it just makes me angry to see these people, who loyalist or republican, at each others throats when they should be trying to work together to sort out the north. And anyway, in the rush to say how amazing Britain or Ireland is poor old ulster/6 counties actually gets forgotten.
    I’m all for a united Ireland but don’t forget the north is the best bit so stop fighting coz it does my head in and I’m sure it dies everyone else. Ps just so you know, the only marching that goes on in England, and I should know I’m English, is the brownie/scouts parade. 

    Well, in the words of George Orwell: “the Irish are not at peace unless they are at war”