“Northern Ireland is a virtually irrelevant question in the Republic these days”

As Henry McDonald, in the Belfast Telegraph, notes of the Irish general election

Rancour, too, is the order of the day in the secondary battle of this election – the one between Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein to see who comes in third place.

The Soldiers of Destiny have turned their firepower on Sinn Fein, raising Gerry Adams’ IRA past, the Northern Bank robbery and the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville. Adams, meanwhile, made a huge gaffe on radio when he described a new tax as a “gross act of terrorism” against the Irish people.

Even if he weathers the storm and, as seems likely, takes a seat in Louth, and even if his party trebles its representation in the Dail, it does not mark any significant milestone in its strategy towards building a United Ireland.

Why? Because the question of Northern Ireland did not make it onto the agenda of any major debate in this election. Northern Ireland is a virtually irrelevant question in the Republic these days. [aded emphasis]

For the overwhelming number of voters in the south, the key question is the economy and how to save Ireland from financial ruin. Then come the interconnected issues of public spending, cuts in the health service, thousands emigrating, the state of the country’s schools and so on.

In a time when the country faces bankruptcy and when the state and its services are reliant on foreign largesse, no one bar a few are talking about the road to reunification.

As everyone seemed to agree in December last year, it’s all about the economy, stupid.

And Northern Ireland was an irrelevant question in the Republic even before the scale of that economic crisis became known.

Still, maybe we’ll be treated to another laughable World Tour…

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  • between the bridges

    mark after four and a half i wouldn’t take neenah for answer!
    now sitting aside the petty differences between us would only highlight the core problem….. i mean manure? come on pal?! I’m away to kop an eyeful of king kennys troops

  • Mark

    Don’t tell me you’re a Liverpool fan aswell …

  • Mark

    Are you still there Edgar ?… or are you at the end of Dun laoghaire Pier .?

    Sealions can’t vote you know !

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘Gf, now now – just because you didn’t get a wedding invite ‘

    I’m more than a bit miffed about that 🙂 All I will say is I wish the young couple a long and happy life together in as much as it’s possible for people in that position .
    As for yer man’s invite I don’t care whether he goes or not as long as scores enough tries on Saturday and against England in March .

    On the thread subject

    ‘Northern Ireland is a virtually irrelevant question in the Republic these days”

    The answer is it isn’t and it is and vice versa but will it be an issue in the polling booths the answer has to be no . I don’t really see how it could be . NI is wrapped up for now and until such time as a majority north of the border decide otherwise it can be safely said that NI is not ‘virtually ‘ irrelevelant as an election issue but is actually in the real day to day economic world actually not a debateable issue -which is why Michael Martin’s attack on SF has gone down like a lead balloon and has probably boosted the SF vote .

    The political struggle is for ‘turd ‘ place . FF don’t want to be seen to come fourth or indeed forth . All SF have to do is to double their number of seats and get ‘group ‘ speaking rights and then the Dail will get to hear more of Doherty’s tirades as our new government fails miserably to address the issue facing the nation . Do we put on the collar of the slave to the world’s financiers in Wall St , London , Frankfurt and Paris or do we do as our forefathers did when other tyrannies ruled the earth ?

    Perhaps we should look to Egypt for example ?

  • Gf, perhaps the NI ‘solution’ will be trotted out once again in Washington on March 17 – if anyone can afford to go or if others pick up the tab.

  • vanhelsing

    Neil,

    Interesting post which disregards the economics of the whole argument. You didn’t go to a SF seminar on the subject? 🙂

    Anyway those Unionists who argue that that a UI is less likely in a period of economic prosperity are wrong.

    Your arguments that people in the Republic would vote for it are also wrong because those who have been asked have been asked a philosophical question. They have not been given the full socio-economic factors. Putting aside 5% of GDP for example would have a massage effect on the Republic. We come back to the fiscal black hole that those who promote such views [as yourself] seem to ignore.

    So prove me wrong; outline the fiscal measures that would be put in place and embarrass me. Or will you give a woolly answer that the Shinners are so prone to give and their supporters never challenge?

  • Zig70

    The point of the topic was a UI is virtually irrelevent these days. It’s a given nationalists would vote for a UI and Unionists wouldn’t, the clue is in the names. Can anyone tell me a mainstream politician currently doing anything directly related to forming a united Ireland or defending the union from a campaign to create one. Other than talking about an aspiration or maiming.
    No-one seems to sitting down and working out how to make it happen

  • Reader

    Greenflag: or do we do as our forefathers did when other tyrannies ruled the earth ?
    I.e. become Wild Geese, and travel the world hiring out services to the new tyrannies. That has already begun, hasn’t it?

  • vanhelsing

    nope, nothing Neil? Thought not 🙂

  • Greenflag

    Nevin,

    Gf, perhaps the NI ‘solution’ will be trotted out once again in Washington on March 17 ‘

    It’ll be photo ops for Enda and his new boys and maybe Robinson and /or McGuinness looking for more street cred in time for the NI Assembly elections -that’ll be all.

    ‘if anyone can afford to go ‘

    ? While the Republic has it’s problems things are not that bad . I have various relatives that about this time make a ‘pilgrimage ‘ secular that is to the shopping malls and pleasure oases of the USA . I avoid shopping malls like the plague except on one or two occasions a year and I’ll soon be worshipping my God Sol for an hour or so a day in a warmer clime 🙂 – but not Libya 😉

  • Greenflag

    Reader ,

    ‘That has already begun, hasn’t it?’

    Before I can answer your question I have to understand it / Normally you are lucidity itself in your comments but on this occasion my attempt at using ‘mental telepathy’ to decipher your comment has alas failed .

    But if you wish to expand or clarify your comment I promise I will answer as best I can 😉

  • Neil

    Your arguments that people in the Republic would vote for it are also wrong because those who have been asked have been asked a philosophical question. They have not been given the full socio-economic factors.

    You say this without a shred of evidence. I have provided a link that shows that people would vote for it and your response is ‘that poll, the only one anyone has provided on the subject, which shows 80% in favour of unification is wrong because Republicans, unlike Loyalists, will make their decision based on hard finances and nothing more’.

    You may as well say ‘you’re wrong because you disagree with me’.

    Bullshit. Provide some evidence or accept you’re the one who’s wrong. Accept that the only evidence provided so far is a post.ie poll showing 80% support for unification.

    It boils down to the same shitty argument: I provided evidence but you say it’s wrong, based on what exactly? Your point of view? Nah, fuck that chum, I don’t believe you. Evidence, with a link please or accept that support is firmly on my side. And don’t accuse someone of being wrong when they provide evidence, while you provide your very informed opinion. Opinions aren’t worth shit.

    Putting aside 5% of GDP for example would have a massage effect on the Republic. We come back to the fiscal black hole that those who promote such views [as yourself] seem to ignore.

    So prove me wrong; outline the fiscal measures that would be put in place and embarrass me. Or will you give a woolly answer that the Shinners are so prone to give and their supporters never challenge?

    Outline the fiscal measures in Ireland in 2016? 2020? Catch a grip big son, if you can’t provide me with the UK’s GDP 5 years from now (which you can’t, the OBR can’t get the UK economy right one month in advance, and I assume their skills lie more that way than yours or mine) then I’m abviously not going to know the GDP of Ireland in 5/10/20 years.

    It boils down to this, fiscal measures or otherwise, when the majority of people in NI vote for a UI (which, eventually, they will), then the genie’s out of the bottle. As shown by the only evidenciary link supplied by anyone the good folk south of the border will also vote for unification.

    And once that happens Unionists will represent maybe slightly less than 15% of the electorate of Ireland. Put another way: we have to win once, and we have forever. You have to win every time over the same timescale. And when you lose, it ain’t ever going back.

    Woolly enough for ya?

    nope, nothing Neil? Thought not

    Try not to jump the gun, I don’t hang around slugger day and night waiting for a potential comment to pop up addressed to myself. I’ll respond to everyone if I see the comment, usually during business hours.

  • märsta

    why can i only see the last 10 posts or so and not all112?

  • between the bridges

    marsta click ‘older comments’

    but if you want a summary basically it seems after the low intensity genocide the frantically status allows for 80% of numppties to have an inconclusive opinion on it being an non aligned religion based problem..

  • märsta

    thx btb!

  • vanhelsing

    Neil,

    “You say this without a shred of evidence. I have provided a link that shows that people would vote for it and your response is ‘that poll, the only one anyone has provided on the subject, which shows 80% in favour of unification is wrong because Republicans, unlike Loyalists, will make their decision based on hard finances and nothing more”

    NI Life and Times – 21% voted for it
    http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2009/Political_Attitudes/NIRELND2.html

    As to your request for links to ‘prove’ that people in the Republic would, in an opinion poll, say ‘yes’ to the question on a United Ireland. I thought it was so obvious I wouldn’t need to post links.

    Question1. Do you want your income tax reduced?
    vast majority agree [based on what they would like – unaware of the consequences, drastic reduction in public services]

    Question2. Do you favour a UI?
    why yes of course [completely unaware of the fiscal consequences]

    Your 80% is a stupid and pointless opinion poll, you may as well ask people do they like Christmas?

    “Outline the fiscal measures in Ireland in 2016? 2020? Catch a grip big son, if you can’t provide me with the UK’s GDP 5 years from now (which you can’t, the OBR can’t get the UK economy right one month in advance, and I assume their skills lie more that way than yours or mine) then I’m abviously not going to know the GDP of Ireland in 5/10/20 years”

    I’m not talking about GDPs in 20 years time I’m talking about where the Republic would find 10/11 Billion Euros – they couldn”t – not now – not ever:)

    “And once that happens Unionists will represent maybe slightly less than 15% of the electorate of Ireland. Put another way: we have to win once, and we have forever. You have to win every time over the same timescale. And when you lose, it ain’t ever going back.”

    21% of those in NI favour a UI – that’s a long way to go big lad – don’t rush down to Paddy Power on that one…

  • 241934 john brennan

    This thread is exhausted. Is NI irrelevant? Of course it is – and it will continue so. SF has made it that way.

    30 years violence, followed by 13 years negative politics achieved nothing – except to deepen divisions and reinforce partition.

    Whatever the outcome of the current election SF is riding for a fall – trying to ride two horses going in opposite directions

    In the North voting for health service cuts, benefit cuts, increases in students fees etc – opposing them in the South. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Neil,
    “when the majority of people in NI vote for a UI (which, eventually, they will), then the genie’s out of the bottle. As shown by the only evidenciary link supplied by anyone the good folk south of the border will also vote for unification.”
    I actually agree, though we’re guessing – I think if NI voted for it there would be a wave of emotion in the South that would carry it there. Many there, due to the way the historical narrative is told, have never quite moved away from the dream of having an all-island state.
    But beware, there is nothing inevitable about a majority of people in NI voting for a UI. And even if that majority did eventually come, it would no more create a single “Irish nation” than there is now. There are two peoples on the island and that would remain the case even after such a vote. The real question would be, if such a vote happened, how would the British population respond? And that would depend on lots of factors such as the political leadership at the time, the rhetoric from Irish nationalists and so on, that we really can’t predict now. But my money would be on some kind of re-drawn border as the only politically realistic solution (and also the fairest to the most number of people).

  • JH

    The majority vote for reunification and you think the fairest solution would be to redraw the border? No.

    IF the majority vote for the reunification of Ireland then the fairest solution to all people would be the reunification of Ireland.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    JH,
    You’re right only if the only 2 choices are the current border or the proposed new international border between NI and the mainland. If there is a third choice – a revised land border – this third option would, if properly drawn, be the best of the three options, objectively speaking. The object of border drawing is to minimise national minorities in the border areas.

    Say for example, the UI option would leave a national (British) minority population of 900,000. But if an Option 3, say, offered a redrawn border with large parts of Tyrone and Fermanagh, South Armagh etc going to the Republic, putting say 150,000 Ulster Brits into the Republic and leaving 400,000 nationalist Irish in NI, the total on the “wrong side of the border” would be 550,000 rather than 900,000. Better surely?

    If we restrict ourselves to two options for some reason, then we will have a bigger deficit in democratic terms. Not sure why we would do that, other than “nationalist expectation”. But you have to discount that expectation, because you could equally easily talk about unionist expectation that we stay British in unionist majority areas.

  • JH

    I don’t think that’d ever be fair. You can’t continually gerrymander your own utopian Protestant heartland until there’s nothing left. You’re going to have to accept the will of the majority eventually, if for no other reason than who the hell is going to pay it?

    Any what makes you think the border would be redrawn to satisfy Unionists? If it were redrawn, perhaps the counties with nationalist majorities would be ceded, leaving you with Antrim and Down – including most of Newry.

    As far as I’m concerned you can stick it on there as an option. By all means split the pro-union vote, i’m pretty sure Unionists outside Antrim won’t go for it but for the ones that do I’m happy to have them on the ‘some form of reunification’ side! And that’s inevitably how the British will see it when they start talking to the Assembly and Dublin government about moving Ireland into an interim confederacy.

  • Kadfoomsa

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/images/maps/2001religionwardsni1.jpg

    If the green areas went to the Republic or had some sort of Home Rule in a federal situation, coupled with some voluntary population shifts and under the protection of the GFA and perhaps a small neutral military force surely the problem would be solved forever.

    Sure, there would be small islands and large island but given that EU borders are open borders and almost all questions would be solved – where would the problem be?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Kadfoomsa,
    Yes that’s the kind of map I feel we should be looking at if considering moving the border. It does seem to suggest a fairly natural border, with east L’derry and east Tyrone, north Armagh and north Down being inside. Obviously there would be a lot of people still on the wrong side of the border on both sides, but fewer than we have currently and fewer than if you moved the border to the sea as nationalists have traditionally wanted.

    As a unionist, I’d prefer not to move the border as radically as that, but the logic of a fairer border is pretty cut and dried in my view.