Sinn Fein: limited political ambition?

The row over Mary McArdle shows no sign of abating yet and the one over Sean McGlinchey the new mayor of Limavady seems to be gearing up. There are of course a variety of other Sinn Fein members with significant terrorist pasts: the News Letter produced a list of these individuals last week. Various explanations have been proffered: rewards for “old soldiers” and reassuring the hard line republican base seem to be amongst the most convincing; winding up unionists is unlikely to be the main aim but is maybe a pleasing side effect.

There is significant anecdotal evidence about a fall in turn out in hard line republican areas of Fermanagh and Lee has suggested over on Ultonia that in North Belfast there was an increase in the spoilt vote total: his suggestion being that that was a predominantly republican phenomenon. These suggestions even if entirely accurate and replicated throughout Northern Ireland do not amount to a high level of defections from Sinn Fein to its “left.” Furthermore unlike the DUP, Sinn Fein have not faced any properly organised challenge from harder line members of its community the way the DUP have from the TUV.

Sinn Fein has massively expanded its vote over the last fifteen to twenty years. In this it has been helped by some nationalists voting for them to try to ensure the republican movement’s continued involvement in politics as opposed going back to large scale violence. They have been helped by the serial incompetence of the SDLP failing to present a coherent challenge as the best representatives for nationalists.

Sinn Fein’s ambition for further growth seems, however, to have become much more stunted over the last few years. Although the appointment of McArdle will do little harm amongst the hard liner republican base it is most unlikely to help gain votes from the middle class Catholics of the Malone Road. Equally McGlinchey’s appointment may resonate well in parts of Dungiven but is unlikely gain middle class Catholic votes from the Triangle. Even where Sinn Fein has promoted new talent such as Niall O’Donnghaile, although it may help, it is not entirely convincing. O’Donnghaile is a young new face but has little track record and it seems more an appointment about defending their gain in East Belfast than gaining a new voting demographic (though it will hardly hurt in that endeavour).

Although Sinn Fein has undoubtedly gained a significant amount of the middle class nationalist / republican vote they seem less willing to promote middle class soft republicans as political representatives. In contrast the DUP promote appropriate candidates for appropriate seats in an extremely well organised fashion. They are happy to use hard line conservative fundamentalists where that is necessary; mainstream middle class professionals; working class orangemen; soft, almost Alliance representatives elsewhere. Indeed the DUP very frequently use different profiles of candidate in the same constituency in order to maximise the common feeling voters will have for representatives and of course hence, maximise the vote both at whichever election they are fighting but also in the future.

Sinn Fein seem to lack the willingness or ability to do this. They almost seem to lack the relentless ambition the DUP have to capture every conceivable profile of voter from their own community. In addition despite their half hearted claims to want eventually to attract traditionally unionist voters they seem much further from such a goal than the DUP are from gaining traditionally nationalist votes. This lack of ambition is hardly a disaster at the moment but is surprising, makes further gains less likely and might imply that if Sinn Fein had major problems and the SDLP could ever get their act together some of the SF vote could be highly vulnerable.

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  • ranger1640

    Vote Sinn Fein, and get more of this.

    Sinn Fein has been quietly reinstating figures who were in the bar that night and who it claimed to have expelled. Several now hold well-paid ‘community’ jobs in organisations controlled by Sinn Fein in working-class Catholic areas of Belfast.

    The key suspect recently given a ‘development’ job in the community sector is barely literate and has no qualifications, despite the fact, Catherine said, that the job requires development analysis and report writing skills. The appointment has also angered local people whose children have gone through university and are unable to get such jobs. Despite the fact that the IRA-man has no qualifications and left school early with limited reading and writing skills, he is now earning a higher public salary than a school teacher.

    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/mccartney-sisters-may-emigrate-1116981.html

  • PaulT

    If you engaged more with republicans (or even nationalists) you might have stood a chance of making sense with that OP, for goodness sake nationalists holding their nose to vote SF to stop the IRA, only a child or someone who rarely meets a nationalist would come up with that crack.

    However, the TUV will be well aware of borrowed votes with a single MLA and small number of councillors been obliged to perform and entertain in return DUP number 6’s on the ballot.

    ‘Dancing Jimbo’ the moment you stop been funny, the votes disappear.

    Meanwhile I think the middle-class SF vote will continue to grow, just because they like what they see. Now if only the TUV could get hold of the formula

  • Limerick

    Ranger,

    Well at least it annoys the Prods.

  • Independent Ulster

    Turgon,

    You say,

    ‘ In this it has been helped by some nationalists voting for them to try to ensure the republican movement’s continued involvement in politics as opposed going back to large scale violence.’

    I have heard this arguement before, it seems totally unconvincing. We have yet to hear a coherent arguement that explains how a majority of Nationalists can continue to vote for a party that conducted a terrorist campaign.

    The logical explanation of why Nationalists continue to vote for SF must be that at some level they supported the IRA terror campaign or do so in retrospect and encouraged to do so by the largely Republican narrative that is the ‘Peace Process’.

    This support is probably not confined to the working class so SF will probably continue to grow at the expense of the SDLP and the fall in SF vote is probably related to the fall in Nationalist turnout which is equalising with that of Unionism.

  • Limerick

    “Meanwhile I think the middle-class SF vote will continue to grow, just because they like what they see.”

    PaulT,

    But what do they see? Apart from primary school children being put through hell, fines in agriculture of millions of pounds and a complete debacle in the water service?

    Oh and the Prods being annoyed.

  • Zig70

    Turgon, you’ve argued before that unionists don’t understand nationalists never mind republicans. This is just more to prove the point. Nationalists don’t get unionists either so they don’t consider the offence caused and their blinkers blank it out. Is MMcG the elephant in the room in all this. Is it banal hope that if you attack all the low level ex IRA then somebody will point to Marty and say “there’s one too”?

  • qwerty12345

    “There is significant anecdotal evidence about a fall in turn out in hard line republican areas of Fermanagh”

    First off, no such areas exist.

    Two, it bloody must be anecdotal if you look at SF’s recent performance in FST.

  • Sam Maguire

    I disagree with the entire premise of the OP and, yet again, is a stark illustration that Unionists ‘don’t get’ the Nationalist community.

    Any analysis of the SF vote from 1997 shows that they have set the goals of making gain, sometimes modestly until they have a realistic goal to aim for. This seems to have been the target constituency after constituency and election after election. For the most part, with the odd exception like MMG in Mid Ulster in 97, personalities have had little to do with the electoral successes of SF. Delivery on the ground from council level up was the over riding factor that has taken SF to the position they are today in the Nationalist community.

    However, out of curiousity, I would like to hear Turgon’s opinion of where SF would have benefited in terms of seats if they had put a greater focus on targeting the ‘soft republican middle classes’ he refers to? Surely running a businessman like Mairtin O Muilleoir in Balmoral in the BCC election (and getting him elected on the 1st count in an area they never won a seat before) shows that they do have a ‘horses for courses’ mentality if and when the need arises?

  • foyle observer

    Oh god almighty, here we f*cking go again…

    Turgon, please, for the sake of us all, please wrap it up and dry your f*cking eyes.

  • tacapall

    However, out of curiousity, I would like to hear Turgon’s opinion of where SF would have benefited in terms of seats if they had put a greater focus on targeting the ‘soft republican middle classes’ he refers to? Surely running a businessman like Mairtin O Muilleoir in Balmoral in the BCC election (and getting him elected on the 1st count in an area they never won a seat before) shows that they do have a ‘horses for courses’ mentality if and when the need arises?

    Of course they know that votes dont count when they’re from the falls road, ardoyne, new lodge etc – No money no influence , those with money and position dont like voting for no upstart who would be a hinderance,better someone like o’millionaire who you you could negotiate with,you know quid pro quo an all that, theres a large nationalist eloctrate in malone when you speak for them well, wheels will start moving.

  • ranger1640

    West Belfast has returned, wrong voted in another Sinn Fein abstentionist MP. Squinter in his hastily removed article pointed out the failings of the last Sinn Fein MP Gerry Adams. Lets see if this MP can the lot of his electorate better than the last incumbent.

    What is it they say? You always get what you vote for???
    Well it looks like the republicans of West Belfast have voted for more of the same.

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2008/03/20/gerry-must-go/

    You will not find the original Squinter article in the Andersonstown news. It was hastily removed and an apology put up in its place. Heaven forbid that anyone with a republican viewpoint would criticise Sinn Fein run west Belfast the pious Gerry Adams. It seems the freedom that republicans claim to be fighting for is so lacking in their Sinn Fein run west Belfast and in an alleged media outlet the Andersonstown news.

  • ranger1640

    Sorry it should read:
    West Belfast has returned, wrong voted in another Sinn Fein abstentionist MP. Squinter in his hastily removed article pointed out the failings of the last Sinn Fein MP Gerry Adams. Lets see if this MP can improve the lot of his electorate better than the last incumbent

  • dwatch

    SF sure have ‘horses for courses’. O Muilleoir didn’t leave politics in 1997, he give up his council seat to take complete control of the Andytownnews for SF and keep SDLP out. Anyone want to lay odds O Muilleoir for Lord Mayor 2013/14?

  • dwatch

    ‘What is it they say? You always get what you vote for???
    Well it looks like the republicans of West Belfast have voted for more of the same.’

    Indeed, West Belfast is the highest out of work area in Northern Ireland living on state handouts. Adams never helped to lower the huge unemployment problems in the area the whole time he was in office.
    Will SF and P Maskey do any better during his term of office?

  • Dewi

    “In addition despite their half hearted claims to want eventually to attract traditionally unionist voters they seem much further from such a goal than the DUP are from gaining traditionally nationalist votes”

    Name a single “traditional nationalist” who has voted DUP.

  • Little James

    ranger1640 (profile) says: 10 June 2011 at 7:19 am Sorry it should read:
    West Belfast has returned, wrong voted in another Sinn Fein abstentionist MP. Squinter in his hastily removed article pointed out the failings of the last Sinn Fein MP Gerry Adams. Lets see if this MP can improve the lot of his electorate better than the last incumbent.

    I would say all we will see is even more “community worker” jobs for the friends of Sinn Fein in West Belfast.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Reading the analysis of a TUV hanger on about why SF does what it does and the appeal of the party is always fascinating reading. It is a reminder that although we live cheek by jowl on occasions we are worlds apart

  • sonofstrongbow

    Turgon you are mistaken when you suggest that Nationalists voted Sinn Fein in the hope of weaning if off its murder rampage. In reality the voters had little issue with the violence and their tacit support facilitated the violence for many years.

    The fact that the SDLP has been reduced to a rump, a party that at least has a coherent political position, and Sinn Fein holds sway within Nationalism despite its incompetence in office and the promotion of people who can barely string more than a couple of words together says all one needs to know about the state of Nationalism.

  • SF growth has become “stunted”, rofl, tell that to one of the new TDs or Senators.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Limerick,

    But what do they see? Apart from primary school children being put through hell, fines in agriculture of millions of pounds and a complete debacle in the water service?

    Oh and the Prods being annoyed.

    You sound surprised that people aren’t voting for bread and butter issues. I don’t think this is a problem restricted to Sinn Fein. I remain optimistic that eventually SF voters will realize that voting for shit candidates will get them shit government, but I think it’ll be a few years yet.

  • One of the best soundbites that I have heard regarding Northern Ireland was spoken this week by the Prime Minister.

    “Northern Ireland needs a genuinely shared future, not a shared out future”

    I dont know exactly who coined the words “shared future.” It goes back at least as far as a Government publication on a policy and strategic framework for good relations. It has now become an increasingly popular “Buzzphrase” to encapsulate the most desirable future for Northern Irish people. The Alliance Party leaders were the first to use the phrase but we have heard in used by the SDLP increasingly regularly recently and by some unionist politicians.

    Thus far, neither Sinn Fein nor any of the more hardline unionist politicians have embraced the term.

    Sinn Fein’s position does not surprise me at all. As republicans, their core objective is a united Ireland. Their belief is that demography is going their way, that Nationalists will eventually be in the majority and secure a united Ireland by referendum. A shared future is inconsistent with that aim because it implies a dilution of Irish Nationalism giving way to a third Northern Irish identity.

    As to the SDLP, I dont think they have properly caught on yet that a genuine shared future is inconsistent with communalism. The more they wheel out the “shared future” aspiration, the more likely it is that Sinn Fein will attack them as an obstacle to a united Ireland.

    Does Sinn Fein have limited ambition? Unrealistic, many would say but I would not call it limited.

  • PaulT

    “But what do they see? Apart from primary school children being put through hell, fines in agriculture of millions of pounds and a complete debacle in the water service?”

    Limerick, every party in NI agreed education needed fixing, no party will offer an alternative, parents are well aware of the political point scoring going on, Ruane was re-elected, SF have retained Education, the biggest winners when it’s reformed will be kids on the Shankill, the embarassment is that SF do more for them than unionist parties, who seem only interested in them when they’re old enough to carry a pick-axe handle.

    As I said before, look at Agriculture in the rest of the UK,

    Water service, dunno what your point is, SF want it to be a public body, you may want it privatised. Or are you blaming SF for the frost and the fact that no-one invested in NI water for decades.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Sinn Fein has limited political ambition because it realises it can only ever be a party of one ethnie in Northern Ireland and there is a natural ceiling to how big it can get. It does not have the ideas, moral respectability or even-handedness to unite what they see as “the Irish people”.

    As Seymour Major points out, there as fixated with the mirage of a united Ireland on the horizon as ever. Their ambition is limited because they believe all they have to do is be accepted by young nationalists and demographics over a few decades will do the rest. They may be right too. But it is cynical in the extreme to talk in soaring terms about “Irish unity” while pursuing a “Catholics only” strategy.

    The rest of us can out-manoeuvre them though by calling their bluff: asking whether outnumbering British people in Northern Ireland would amount to the unity they seek or not. If it would, then they don’t really believe in unity but in domination; if it wouldn’t, then they have to accept that a demographic nationalist majority in Northern Ireland will not bring about unity. In which case, they might have to accept the reality of the perpetual need for a 2-state solution in Ireland.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    sorry, “they’re” as fixated … d’oh

  • andnowwhat

    Someone really needs to do a blog on the complete lack of insight many (but by no means all) unionists have in to nationalism and republicanism in today’s society.

    I’m astonished at the lack of it on here and elsewhere.

  • Reader

    andnowwhat: Someone really needs to do a blog on the complete lack of insight many (but by no means all) unionists have in to nationalism and republicanism in today’s society.
    Instead of blogging about the problem ,why not use the platform to fix it? Educate us about political nationalism, cultural nationalism, symbolic nationalism and ambivalent nationalism. Or is nationalism 100% rock solid throughout?
    Then let us know how you would recognise exactly the right time to have a border poll.

  • Neil

    Sinn Fein’s limited political ambition? From a TUVite?!?!? Funny Turgon, almost as good as your post yesterday saying Unionism is foward looking and Republicanism is obsessed with history. Tell that to your lodge buddies, or write it on a post it note for your own benefit next time you decide to whinge about some event from our past.

  • Reader

    PaulT: SF have retained Education, the biggest winners when it’s reformed will be kids on the Shankill,
    So far as I know SF have no plans at all to address the source of the problem. They do seem to have made some progress in eradicating one way of measuring it.
    Looking on the bright side though, even if SF do manage to end selection, my family can still fall back on our postcode. I don’t think that’s much of an option for the “kids on the Shankill”

  • Eddie (Eamonn) Mac Bhloscaidh

    This piece is a wind up. It is the stupid as a fox routine.

    I don’t believe that even a TUV activist could misunderstand Nationalists / Republicans so much.

    Turgon has already stated that his purpose here to to harass republicans.

    Putting up these ridiculous analysis peices is just part of that.

  • andnowwhat

    Reader.

    There is no one size nationalism. Just like unionists in FST have different values to those in BT9. so nationalists in South Armagh have different values to those in the Glens of Antrim.

    A further extrapolation I would prefer to be done by Mick Fealty or any others with the skills and nounce.

    I am not a political person but the interpretation of what goes on within nationalist communities is completely alien to anything I see.

  • Rory Carr

    Do those like Mainland Ulsterman who label a nationalist majority exercising their voting strength to bring about Irish unity as a process of “domination” not see the irony in their position?

    They were happy enough to dominate a nationalist minority with the Six Counties from 1921 and to insist that it be governed against the democratic wishes of the overwhelming majority of the country. Indeed they are happy enough today to use the domination of a unionist majority to delay the inevitable righting of that old wrong. And, since it is inevitable, one might think that it was in the interests of unionists themselves to begin the process of outreach to their nationalist neighbours, to begin to embrace Gaelic culture and to retreat from the old divisivemess of Orangeism that may have seemed to serve them well in the bad old days of total unionist domination when they ruled the roost but which, alas, are now gone forever comme les neiges d’antan, never to return.

    As for the heading of this piece which posited a limited political ambition for a party (Sinn Féin) which has ambitions to be the governing party of a united Ireland against a greater one for a party (DUP) the extent of whose ambition is to maintain for as long as is possible to remain as the leading unionist faction within a coalition government which it is obliged to share with Irish republicans until that day when Irish unity envelops them, well what can one say? It’s just Turgon again, whistling in the dark. But it is not the terrors of night that he fears but rather the bright hope of a brave new morning and one that he can no more postpone than the inevitability of the rising sun itself.

    But, who knows, maybe the Rapture will intervene and whisk Turgon and all his mates up into the ether and save them from the Hell of Irish unity.

  • Obelisk

    When Turgon analyses the Unionist community, it is insightful, thought-provoking and even eye opening. His posts help me understand Unionism better than I otherwise would.

    Sadly, his posts on Nationalism help me understand Unionism a lot better too as each time he talks about us he rams home the point he doesn’t understand us at all, and I’m certain such mistaken views are shared by many of his cohorts.

    As reflections on Nationalism though they prove to be of limited value, tainted by a skein of wish-fulfilment that strives to see Nationalism in decline whenever he can. I can almost feel in his words his struggle to be objective but I can see plainly on the screen his failure to be so, the relentless focus on the negative, the caveats, the buts.

    It would be nice though if we had a Nationalist version of Turgon, someone able to truly cast an eye on our negatives as well as positives, and maybe present them in a way that helps the Unionists here understand us.

    As it is though, this blog is just another step in the tale of two turgons. The Turgon who enlightens me with his points of view and intelligence, and the Turgon who depresses me with shallow commentary.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Rory,
    “Do those like Mainland Ulsterman who label a nationalist majority exercising their voting strength to bring about Irish unity as a process of “domination” not see the irony in their position?”
    Well if unionist domination was wrong, then why should nationalist domination be right? I thought we’d all moved towards mutual acceptance and parity of esteem? I’m against domination by either side – and I think only one side has future plans for domination over the other and it’s the nationalist side.

    I note you don’t actually answer the conundrum: what does Irish unity mean? And indeed what is the Irish nation? Nationalism and nationalists usually flounder and play for time when we ask and we notice this. It’s failure to even think about – let alone address – those questions in a serious way that leads unionists to conclude that Irish nationalism is really just about a numbers game. There is no ideal.

    If that’s all it is, fine: I can actually respect that. But when I listen to and read nationalists I sense they think there is something more to it – some kind of mission of the morally superior. As a non-nationalist I have a huge problem with the implicit chauvinism of that position: that somehow an Irish government is a morally superior thing to a British one. It is absurd and xenophobic. It’s also reneging on the GFA commitment to give Britishness parity of esteem with Irishness on the island.

    “… since it is inevitable, one might think that it was in the interests of unionists themselves to begin the process of outreach to their nationalist neighbours, to begin to embrace Gaelic culture and to retreat from the old divisivemess of Orangeism …”
    Jesus. Basic point in respecting other cultures: you respect them, you do not seek to make them like you and you do not judge them by how close they are to your own. Your statement could have been made by a 19th missionary in Africa. I suppose we need the civilising force of the Gaelic language too, do we Rory?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    On the wider criticism of Turgon for not getting nationalists: I can’t speak for him but I think we all accept when we talk about the “other” side, we do so from our own perspective. When it comes to factual matters, we should bow to the facts; but when it comes to interpretation, it is quite legitimate for unionists to have their own takes on nationalist politics that may be different from any interpretation you’ll hear from within nationalism. It’s a different perspective and if you’re not interested in how nationalism looks from the outside, then fine, don’t listen. But criticising Turgon and other unionists for lacking insight into nationalists is missing the point. Few of us would claim some high authority on this. The same goes the other round of course.

    If you want to be better understood, answer the specific points Turgon and others put to you. I read too much on here – including responses to my posts – which just fail to even engage with the point. Please, no excuses! There are interesting voids at the centre of both unionism and nationalism and if we acknowledge that, we can have some interesting exchanges about what they are really about and I do think each nationality can help the other understand itself better (as long as we keep it civil!).

  • Obelisk

    I would still argue that such critiques are only really valid about learning what one side thinks of the other, not as a true factual analysis of either side. We each contaminate and twist each other’s perceptions by our shared history and conflict. We all have to admit that we cannot truly interpret or judge our counterpart.

    For a true evaluation, one that would have true empirical value, an unbiased outsider would be required to offer analysis.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Obelisk, I don’t think there is such a thing as an unbiased outsider, everyone comes with their own baggage. The only way to deal with it is to be up front about it. Beware anyone who claims not to have some axe to grind. At least with NI unionists, you know what the axe is! And nationalists with us.

    I think we are entitled to comment on the other’s political culture as we are so affected by it. But you have to distinguish between claims to know the inner workings of another group you’re not part of (often bogus) and accounts of the behaviour of that group, attempting to explain it (legitimate).

    Arguably behaviour speaks much more authoritatively than people’s self-explanation of it. In my field of social and market research, we’re spending a lot more time now looking at what people actually do and less listening to their (often very flawed) self-accounts of what they do, affected as they are by memory, social setting, post-rationalisation etc. One experiment had a group people tasting a range of strawberry jams, ranking them, then writing down their explanation for their choice; the other group were asked just to rank them, with no explanation. The group that ranked the jams without having to explain their choice matched very closely a panel of experts ratings of the jams – but the other group came up with something totally different. (It’s been repeated copiously with similar results of course).

    So my point is, explaining your own behaviour is overrated and can lead you to change or mis-report your real feelings. I’m always much more interested in how people behave than what they say about their behaviour – though if you have both together in can work well (I do eye-tracking work on shopping behaviour for example). I think the observer or listener can often see things the actor or speaker can’t.

  • ranger1640

    Below is an article form The Pensive Quill, the real interesting part is in the replies.

    http://thepensivequill.am/2011/06/sinn-fein-catalyst-for-unionist-unity.html

  • Limerick

    “Water service, dunno what your point is, SF want it to be a public body, you may want it privatised. Or are you blaming SF for the frost and the fact that no-one invested in NI water for decades.”

    carl marks,

    The Sinner minister saw fit to sack experienced management and replace them with Sinner placemen. The result was that when the frost came in their was a complete and utter debacle.

    As to education of course Ruane was re-elected. She had successfully annoyed the Prods. The fact that she had left children sitting several 11 plus exams instead of one was unimportant to the lumpen proletariat who voted her in. Their children were not affected.

  • Obelisk

    Mainland Ulsterman

    Everyone does indeed come with their own baggage, nobody can be truly unbiased, not even an Outsider.

    But my specific point is that a Unionist’s observations of Nationalism, and of course vice versa, are cankered and distorted by our own backgrounds.

    Now I am not saying that the observations we each have of the other are without foundation or merit, but that this intrinsic bias twists what say. Take for example Alex Kane. Alex spends a great deal of time commenting on Nationalism and Sinn Fein in particular, analysing their actions and plans. But I don’t recognise the picture of Nationalism he paints. But what I do see when I read his articles, the common thread running through a lot of his recent work is his desire to express that Unionists ‘won’.

    His primary point is that Republicans and Nationalists now administer British rule at Stormont. Also true from a Unionist perspective, but from a Nationalist perspective we’ve removed direct rule and now the North is governed by people born on the island of Ireland AND our tradition wields a veto on essentially everything.

    So even though according to Alex Kane’s point of view Unionism won, from a Nationalist point of view there was an agreed compromise/stalemate (some might even call it a victory but that IS wish-fulfilment…). So his analysis of Nationalism is unreliable, but it DOES tell me something about what Unionism thinks these days and so I find value in reading what he has to say/

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a Unionist (or vice-versa, a Nationalist) is incapable of understanding or ‘getting’ the opposing side, merely that innate biases for the observer will inevitably corrupt the analysis. In Turgon’s case, I don’t believe he can separate his contempt for Sinn Fein from his analysis of them, and as much as he may feel his contempt is justified, it is the rock on which true objective analysis of the modern day party (as well as wider Nationalism) founders.

  • dwatch

    Obelisk, Alex Kane is correct Unionism has won, otherwise these republican pictures recently erected by the new SF Mayor would be permanently displayed in Belfast City Council and all other 26 council Mayors offices around Northern Ireland. There would be no pictures of Her Majesty the Queen or any future Monarch displayed at all. SF have failed in their goal to bring Northern Ireland into a 32 county United Ireland by the bullet, bomb, or the ballot box.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/pictures-row-rekindles-memories-of-city-hall-sectarianism-16010751.html

  • Obelisk

    dwatch I don’t want to side-track too much, but again, Unionism is not properly set against just Sinn Fein It is set against Nationalism as a whole and during the troubles the majority voice in Nationalism was the SDLP.

    What did the SDLP advocate? A united Ireland for sure but an agreed one. What they and by extension the Nationalist community at large wanted was a power sharing executive with an Irish dimension. On the other side of the house the most common idea was basically bring back the old Stormont.

    What did the GFA agreement deliver? The Nationalist blueprint for government and a democratic method for us to achieve our goal of a United Ireland at some point in the future. Basically we got most of what we wanted. Unionism also got what it needed out of the deal, but not the Old Stormont many of them craved. Not the exclusion of the Irish Dimension. Hence my belief that we achieved a mutually agreeable compromise. To come around over a decade after the fact and to try and paint it as some sort of glorious Unionist victory because the IRA didn’t achieve what it had no chance of achieving is petty at best and self-delusional at worst.

    And as for the whole picture row at Belfast Council that’s probably worth a post on it’s own, not one for discussion here.

  • dwatch

    What did the GFA agreement deliver?

    This is what the GFA delivered for Unionists on 29th Dec 1999.

    Article 2 and Article 3 of the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann) were adopted with the constitution as a whole on 29 December 1937, but completely revised by means of the Nineteenth Amendment which took effect on 2 December 1999.[1] As amended they grant the right to be “part of the Irish Nation” to all of those born on the island of Ireland and express a desire for the peaceful political unification of the island subject to the consent of the people of Northern Ireland. Before 1999, Articles 2 and 3 made the claim that the whole island formed one “national territory”.

  • orly

    When the next “Troubles” start, prods/unionists/loyalists will remember that the catholics saw fit to vote for terrorists in their hundreds of thousands.

  • Rory Carr

    …and, Orly? What will they do then? Or, more to the point, what is it that you would hope that they would do ?

  • Obelisk

    Orly

    Your comment is one of the most chilling and disturbing things I’ve read for all that it implies.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Obelisk,
    I take your point. But I would say, multiple perspectives nothwithstanding, there is such a thing as objective truth underneath it all.

    When you say of Alex Kane:
    “His primary point is that Republicans and Nationalists now administer British rule at Stormont. Also true from a Unionist perspective, but from a Nationalist perspective we’ve removed direct rule and now the North is governed by people born on the island of Ireland AND our tradition wields a veto on essentially everything.”
    These are not competing truths, they are ALL true. There is no problem at this level.

    It only becomes problematic where people start believing the validity of their perspective gives them a right to deny or ignore the truth.

    This isn’t just a Northern Ireland thing, this is a misunderstanding that blights a lot of late 20th Century and early 21st Century discourse. We tend to say all opinions are equally valid. But we don’t mean this: we mean all people are equally entitled to have an opinion. The validity of the opinion is, really, another matter. So, unionists and nationalists should not be allowed to get away with arguing as if they exist in parallel universes. If the Troubles had all just gone on in our heads it would be fine to live with competing narratives. But stuff happened out in the real world and there are objective truths about it. What people thought they were doing is not the end of it – it’s about what they actually did too.

    I also see Orly’s comment as a little threatening in tone. But it’s also a fair point, the political popularity of sectarian killers within the nationalist community is disturbing to Protestants.

  • Kevin Barry

    Turgon,

    For what it’s worth I usually enjoy your considered pieces; tis better than simply cutting and pasting and there is a lot of thought that goes into them.

    As someone has pointed out, for unionism I find your pieces very enlightening, but for nationalism, it’s eye opening but also quite hilarious, but (and I’m not being patronizing) please keep it up, its best to have a discussion about these things.

  • ayeYerMa

    Orly does indeed make a fair point. You see this favourite “equality” word of Gerry and Provos of recent can be used in many different ways! With the majority of Nationalists now supporting the Provos and making them mainstream, not only does this send out the message to the so-called “dissidents” that the Provo tactics were OK, but it also sends out the message to MAINSTREAM Unionism that supporting duplicitous “Armalite and ballot box” terror movements are OK in the future as would only be providing “equality” with Nationalism.

    This moral rot of the “peace process” has set in and if mainstream Irish Nationalism doesn’t catch a grip soon Orly’s comment is merely the logical extrapolation of the complete moral decay that the shameless majority of Irish Nationalists are leading us towards.

  • orly

    Obelisk, what’s chilling about it? More chilling is the propensity of one section of the community to vote for bombers, murderers and general lowlife. Sure prods will vote for the PUP in generally miniscule numbers. Usually the closest thing to a “terrorist” you end up with is Peter and his Clontibret escapade. Hardly comparable I’d have thought.

    Here’s the thing though – all the buzzwords about peace, equality, shared futures and integration will never entirely sit well with prods when they see the other lot voting en masse for Sinn Fein. Centuries have shown us that peace here is generally a temporary fad and when it starts up again, which I’m confident it will at some stage, protestants will remember where catholics placed their support.

    I can imagine it be a merciless blood bath. In that situation if you voted SF like “most catholics” you no longer become a civilian or a bystander. You become someone to be ethnically cleansed.

  • orly

    continued…

    You can also see countless stories of young people in just the last generation who could easily have been normal members of society drawn into a mess by circumstance of “who they knew” or where they lived. Maybe a friend or family member was blown up and something snapped in their minds and led them to become killers themselves.

    Now many of these types have cushy Stormont jobs. Wheres the disincentive? Realistically, who can say violence gets you nowhere?

    If I was a protestant, I’d find it incredibly difficult to trust any catholic. You’re pal in work across the desk might be your chum but then there’s a good chance come each Election he votes for people who were on a mission to exterminate as many “prods” as they could.

    All of this tends to be ignored or conveniently “unexplored” by most out of fear for “destabilising the process” but it’s done at our peril.

    I’d say catholics better hope I’m wrong because if trouble was ever to spark again I think some of the UVF/UDA murals of Iron Maidens Eddie with his Union jack might be a bit closer to what they’d experience than not.

  • Obelisk

    You’re right Orly

    How on earth could I find such talk of me and others like me being ethnically cleansed or being the victims of a merciless bloodbath chilling at all.

    I obviously over-reacted there.

  • orly

    Well the catholic/nationalist/republican community have nailed their colours to the mast and shown everyone they’re happy to vote, in the main, for killers and psychopaths.

    Would be a distinct irony, from my distant vantage point, if it came back to haunt them.

    Having a distinct feeling that it will eventually, it’s one of the background reasons many young people like myself are heading for the exits. It’s not just the economy, the lack of prospects but also the plain and simple delusion/lunacy of far too many of the “electorate” voting for complete numpties. Even the Police force is filling up with too many of them.

  • ulsterscotnua

    How on earth can anyone deny the right of any political party to employ who ever they want as an adviser or whatever other position.
    Surely the whole reason there was a Provisional IRA was that some
    people in the North of Ireland felt that Catholics were not getting a fair opportunity at getting a house and a job. The civil Rights movement resulted and after Unionist and B special force the PIRA evolved to initially protect the Catholic people.
    Are we going back to decide who can and cannot get a job on the basis of the war which ended years and years ago.

  • Rory Carr

    “Even the Police force is filling up with too many of them.”

    I think we can take it from Orly’s refreshingly naked sectarian stance so far on this thread that by “them” he means “themmuns”. Too many of “them” (i.e. Catholics) in the police force he finds sufficiently threatening to cause him to abandon his homeland entirely.Such a police force he no longer recognises as the police force of the protestant people and a force composed of too many of “themmuns” is unacceptable to him.

    Which brings us neatly to Ulsterscotsnua’s comments: the history of Northern Ireland since its inception has been that the armed force of Unionism has been the RUC together with its ‘B’ and ‘C’ Specials (and later the UDR) and of course, especially since 1970, the British Army and the Dirty Brigades of the British Intelligence Services in cahoots with the Loyalist murder gangs; the response to this armed might from the Nationalist side has from time-to-time (but especially since 1970) been the IRA. After an intense thirty year conflict in which it became clear that Unionist domination of the Nationalist community would no longer be tolerated an agreement was reached whereby political power was to be shared so that such domination would no longer be possible and combatants from the Republican side (and Loyalist sectarian killers) who were imprisoned were now released to play their full part in the community.

    If Nationalists have had to put up with those who served the armed forces of Unionism now taking on political roles in the further service of Unionism (Ken Maginnis, Ruth Patterson spring to mind) then Unionists will just have to lump those who once served in the armed forces of the Republican movement now further serving the Republican cause in a political role (Gerry Kelly, Mary McArdle spring to mind).

    It is no good arguing that Kelly and McArdle were convicted of “terrorist” offences when all the law and the courts were weighted on the Unionist side – the IRA were not able to charge Unionist or British murderers with their offences, bring them before a Republican judge in a Republican court and lock them away for years to the cheers of a compliant Republican news media; the playing field was not exactly level. And it is no good saying that such and such a former Unionist combatant has no record of having killed any one – if they served at all they were part of the Unionist war machine, they assisted those who did murder innocent Catholics and they helped perptuate a system which all now admit was rotten.

    But the rottenness has been brought to an end by the sacrifice of many in and outside of the Republican movement and the playing field has been levelled somewhat. It is becoming increasingly clear in recent days on this site that, as this perception dawns on many within Unionism that they were not fully prepared for it and, further, that they do not like it one little bit. Equality of opportunity, tolerance, parity of esteem are alien concepts to them – Unionism was ever about triumphalism, cowing the weaker side, bully-boy braggadocio. It does not take well to live and let live and is finding all this hard going. Perhaps we should feel sorry for it. Perhaps, maybe I am heartless, but somehow I can’t bring myself to so do.

  • orly

    Rory, you’re full of pish.

    I have no problems with good protestants or good catholics in the police. Or “good anyone else”. The important word being “good”. What we have at the moment (and for the last number of years) is a recruitment policy where “good” barely enters into the equation. By extension you end up with too many numpties in the Police and because catholics are being favoured heavily you’ll get more than your fair share of Catholic numpties into the bargain.

    You can try twisting it around in your head but those are the facts.

  • fordprefect

    Re: Orly’s comments, what exactly is the yellow, red and black card rule on here? I, (and I’ve seen other people on here complaining as well) have never came anywhere near being as offensive as the cretin that calls itself orly, and I’ve been red carded 3 times!

  • carl marks

    Limerick (profile) says:
    10 June 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Water service, dunno what your point is, SF want it to be a public body, you may want it privatised. Or are you blaming SF for the frost and the fact that no-one invested in NI water for decades.
    carl marks,

    Limerick wtf i didnt post this u are now reading my first post on this thread he above quote is from PaulT at:10 June 2011 at 12:14 pm.
    nice to see you maintaining your usual level of accuracy do try to keep up maybe we all look the same to you

  • Limerick

    carl marks,

    The people who knew what to do when the frost kicked in had been removed and replaced by Sinner placemen who had no idea about what to do. Hence the debacle over repairing burst pipes in the winter.

  • carl marks

    again limerick i made no comment on this yet you name me as i say try harder to get it right next time and i know this is hard for you but admit you got it wrong.
    the post you are replyng to was made by PaulT at:10 June 2011 at 12:14 pm.
    again do we all look the same to you