“it is a distant aspiration that fails to motivate anything other than occasional nostalgia”

The News Letter reports some interesting quotes from former senior Provisional IRA member, now an organiser of the Independent Workers’ Union, Tommy McKearney’s new book – The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament.  From the News Letter report

The ardent socialist, who now organises the Independent Workers’ Union, says that Sinn Fein has become increasingly right wing as it has gone further and further into government at Stormont, where, he argues, “contrary to talk of power-sharing, the [Stormont] administration is almost powerless” because it lacks control over the economy.

He says that the deal between Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness ended ‘the Irish national question’ for most.

“Difficult though it was for some to accept, it was clear that no significant section of Irish society was prepared at that time to contest in any determined fashion the constitutional arrangements on the island.

“Irish people had voted in huge numbers for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and have stayed loyal to its promoters at each election since.

“There remains, of course, a widely-shared but not intensely sought-after aspiration that the Six Counties might one day come under Dublin’s jurisdiction.

“For the vast majority, though, it is a distant aspiration that fails to motivate anything other than occasional nostalgia.”

He argues that republicans now need to actively engaged with working class Protestants to build support for a socialist Ireland as “a one-plank republican platform confined to breaking the Union and ending partition is not capable of mobilising sufficient support to bring about the type of fundamental change required”.

He also says that Ian Paisley’s claims that the 1998 Belfast Agreement were a “sell-out” helped Sinn Fein delude more hardline IRA members into believing that they were on the path to a united Ireland.

“The republican leadership was greatly helped by the hysterical reaction of the DUP who, for its own tactical reasons, was insisting that the agreement was a betrayal of the Union.

“In contrast, it was the Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble who described the situation most accurately.

“He reminded everyone that accepting the constitutional status quo could only be changed by a majority vote in the six counties meant that the Good Friday Agreement in reality had secured the future of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.”

[Partitionist! – Ed]  Some still have to be reminded of that fact…

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  • keano10

    Tommy McKearney has always been one of the most articulate and respected people within Irish Republicanism. I agree with some of what he is but not all of it.

    He is totally right that SF need to seriously and strategically engage with working class Unionists and begin to sell and promote the benefits of a Unitary state. However hard that process may initially be. For me it is SF’s biggest failing over the past decade since the battle for Nationalism was one.

    I dont howevet agree that there was a central attempt to mislead Republican voters. We all knew in 1996 what the GFA meant. We knew then and we know now. SF while they remain the largest Nationalist people will always be in a position of major influence and they settled for that at the time of The GFA. That was an informed decision, and was in my opinion the correct one. They have now finally made a breakthrough in the South and they now must be begin the hardest and most difficult part of the overall strategy – engaging with the pro Union community. No one said this would be easy and it isnt. On that point at least, Tommy is correct.

  • keano10

    Sorry for the grammar mistakes in that post! Cant get this I-Phone to play ball…!

  • Turgon

    Worth noting this comment from the News Letter article:

    “The index of Mr McKearney’s book records no references to his victim.

    The person whom the “ardent socialist” murdered was a part time UDR man and postman. Stanley Adams was 29 and murdered while delivering mail, Altmore, near Pomeroy, County Tyrone on 28th October 1976.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Turgon

    The book is not an autobiography so it’s not really worth noting at all. You of all people would have criticized Mr McKearney all over creation if he had made reference to any role he had in the death of Mr Adams almost irrespective of what he said or how he attempted to say it; you’re every bit as predictable as that I’m afraid.

    Do you suppose it’s terribly likely that Mr Adams’ life was taken by the Provisionals as a consequence of his part-time letter and parcel delivery activities ?

  • Turgon

    Nunoftheabove,
    McKearney murdered a postman delivering post. That must be set against any claim of him being an intellectual, articulate, respected etc. He is an unrepentant murderer.

  • Pete Baker

    Stop trolling on my posts, Turgon.

  • Theorising about what you need to do to become politically attractive to others is easy; doing it is another matter. I find it very hard to believe that unionists could be persuaded to vote for SF in any significant number. As for the “distant aspiration”, it’s so far away that it’s out of sight.

  • Turgon

    Pete,
    Sorry: if you call noting part of the News Letter article trolling I am somewhat bemused. After all you frequently tell us to read the whole thing.

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • Henry94

    I’m always a bit bewildered by the idea that we can’t persuade unionists into a united Ireland so we should instead persuade working class loyalists into a united socialist Ireland.

    If it was socialism they wanted wouldn’t they still want it for what they see as their country. Even working class nationalists north and south don’t vote for socialism so they would need to be persuaded too.

    That seems to be a lot of extra persuasion and if the objective for us is still a united Ireland wouldn’t it be simpler to just make that case in the first place rather than trying to slip it is as a by-product of socialism.

    If one thing unites north and south it is, rightly or wrongly, the emphatic rejection of socialism as a political ideology. If Sinn Fein are moving to the right it is because as a party of government in the north and an aspiring party of government in the south it has to put forward an increasingly realistic agenda to win the votes of people who are largely in the centre.

    “In contrast, it was the Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble who described the situation most accurately.

    “He reminded everyone that accepting the constitutional status quo could only be changed by a majority vote in the six counties meant that the Good Friday Agreement in reality had secured the future of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.”

    The Agreement didn’t create that condition. That was always the British government’s stated position and thirty years of armed struggle didn’t shift it. That’s not to say it couldn’t have been shifted but the kind of violence it would take is well beyond what could be justified by the vast majority of people.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Henry94

    Quite so. And look to the utter bankruptcy of those on the phoney left – Eirigi, RNU and the rest of the meaningless cliques – their version of leftism is so empty that they’re now quite open about aligning themselves explicitly with among the most reactionary right wing forces on earth almost purely on the basis that they’re ‘anti-American’; hate-filled totalitarians, anti-Semites, vicious misogynist and homophobes – decidedly pro-imperialists too, for what it’s worth. There’s also something terribly condescending about their view about the Protestant working class – they don’t much use the phraseology of ‘imperialist dupes’ any longer but the notion that ‘the prods’ are suffering from false consciousness is not unusual. It’s in fact self-righteousness, self pity and self-loathing masquerading as Connollyite high moral ground.

    I will be reading the book as I regard Tommy McKearney as a dignified thoughtful man with no discernible interest in telling other than the truth as he sees it.

  • oracle

    Keano,

    You emphatically state as a matter absolute fact and personal authority the perceived grasp Nationalists had of the Stormont Agreement.

    “We all knew in 1996 what the GFA meant. We knew then and we know now.”

    WOW….. It’s been long and many a day since it have seen such an intelligence-proof utterance either in verbal or written form.
    I could fill Lady Dixon park will barristers, journalists, writers, politicians, academics, and rocket scientists from NASA and there’s only one sure fact that I could be guaranteed of and that is they would all, each and every single one of them have a different interpretation of the Stormont Agreement (GFA as misguided people call it)
    That’s what it was supposed to do, it does exactly what it says on the tin… it does all things to all people that’s what Whitehall crafted (quite brilliantly I might add) for the plebs and got your own elevated fools to spoon feed it to you.

    Do you seriously believe for one second that the Unionist population knew that there was a probability that former republican militants would be representing their “wee country” do you really believe that they voted for the Agreement knowing there would be no public humiliation of “the republican surrender” with a “Kodak moment” and that former republicans would hold sway over their children’s education, or millions would be thrown at community groups to employ Adamsites in important positions.

    Do you think for one moment that republicans thought they were entering Stormont to support the British status quo?
    Do you believe the republican electorate knew that not an ounce not a bullet meant everything up to and including the kitchen sink?
    That a referendum on a united Ireland would never be held even after 15 years of ceasefires and negotiations when the Sinn Fein leadership bragged to its membership that there’d be one in 15 months.
    That they were fully aware that Unionists would have a veto?
    That certain party’s could redesignate themselves as different political encampments to ensure they could gerrymander a vote!

    Now answer this, if everybody knew what they were voting for in 1996 as you claim, why it was renegotiated at Leeds in 2004.

  • Turgon

    Pete,
    I am mystified why my contribution was not playing the ball. I will, however, try again.

    McKearney and similar people’s analysis is completely flawed. Many fewer people in the UK now regard themselves as working class than did a generation ago: I suspect NI is the same as the rest of the UK (and I doubt the RoI is any different). The socialist rhetoric is largely bemusing to most of them. As such McKearney is by his very opening gambit minimising the potential unionist audience.

    Furthermore terrorists like McKearney have the overwhelming problem of their baggage. They are singulalry ill placed to attract anyone to the RoI. McKearney murdered a working class Protestant: as such he is unlikely to have much traction in trying to win over anyone.

    If people like McKearney unreservedly apologised it might have some effect. However, he would still be trying to entice a very small minority of unionists. Few unionists (and probably nearly as few nationalists) want the sort of unity McKearney claims to offer: a socialist 32 county state.

    Henry has it exactly correct. Even leaving aside the baggage of his prior actions McKearney’s arguments for a united Irealnd are arguably even less convincing than those of Sinn Fein.

    Part of the problem is a recurring one for the left. Marxism does not really allow for national / ethnic etc. difference. It hypothesises that such differences will be swept away in a socialist revolution or are somehow used by the governing classes to keep the working class divided.

    The reality seems to be that ethnic difference / togetherness (often not real difference but actually cultural difference) seems more potent than class difference. That is something which the traditional hard left seem incapable of understanding. Hence, they simply deny it: a sort of see no evil; hear no evil.

    The likes of McKearney seem completely unwilling to accept this. Partly that is a product of their ideology but some of it may also be a comfort blanket to them. To admit that the ethnic issue is more important implies that it will essentially be impossible ever to make unionists into supporters of a united Ireland. Furthermore since the assorted terrorist campaigns increased ethnic division, the actions of people like McKearney have probably made a united Ireland even more unlikely than it was prior to their actions.

  • Into the west

    no idea oracle,
    I’m curious to know what it would take ordinary garden centre/
    librarian type unionists like mr.baker to vote YES in a ref.

    especially one as keen to help Mr.O’Dowd out when he errs.
    There’s a job there for you peteb as proof-reader for SF.
    you know the contact details..
    bit of extra cash to furnish the observatory perhaps !

  • Turgon

    Into the west,
    I suspect that the current generation is now unpersuadable in sufficient numbers. Future generations may see things differently.

    The only option is the demographic one or restarting violence. The latter is unlikely to work. The former is almost as unlikely especially in view of the danger of some “nationalists” voting the wrong way in a referendum. Furthermore getting excited about the demographic option is probably going to make unionists even less easy to convert to nationalism. I empathise with your dilemma though I am afraid I do not sympathise.

  • Into the west

    turgon,
    thanks
    you’re right a focus on the numbers game doesn’t help, neither does “working class xyz”.
    Its more ideaological I’d suggest.

    say for example
    the mainland redefined “Britishness” and you found that you weren’t in it?
    I’d empathise with your outrage, but afraid not sympathise

  • lamhdearg

    turkeys voting for the dec 25 dinner to be bi-annual, tommy needs a check up from the neck up.

  • “garden centre/librarian type unionists like mr.baker”

    Into the west, putting the boot into SF doesn’t a Unionist make; there are other possibilities.

  • Into the west

    do please continue Nevin

  • Lionel Hutz

    Oracle,

    Its true that the GFA was written to be all things to all men. However, surely there are some concessions that were blindingly obvious.

    How, for example, could any Republican read the Good Friday Agreement and not know that they were voting for a unionist veto that meant it was unlikely to achieve a United Ireland in the medium term atleast?

    On the other hand, how could a Unionist not have known that the Good Friday agreement would put Sinn Fein into the heart of government. Its all there in black and white.

    The ambiguity in the GFA is really just allowing long-term aspiration rather than blurring in any way what was going to exist in the short term. Thats my view of it anyway.

    But there is no doubt that Tommy McKearney is right on one point – that the outrage amongst certain Unionists would have made it a much easier sell to Republicans.

    Onto Tommy’s vision for a United Ireland – I think he is again half right. In order to ever have a United Ireland, an argument must be made and people must be pursuaded that there is some social reason why a United Ireland is better than a United Kingdom for Northern Ireland. There has to be a narrative that goes beyond ethnicity. However, that narrative will most certainly not be a 32-County Socialist Republic.

    But something a little waterred down is workable in my view. An aspiration for a 32 County Social Democracy might work. Retaining capitalism but with a strong promotion for a welfare state. All-out socialism is dead – and rightly so.

    British Subjects do not have a stake in Britain Plc. And the disenfranchisement is greater still for Northern Ireland subjects. British economic policy may be capable of subsidizing Northern Ireland but it will never lead to Northern Ireland being able to punch its weight.

  • Brian

    What is this fixation with Socialism and Marxism among some former Provos? As has been pointed out eloquently by others the amount of Catholics, let alone Protestants, who are ready to back a socialist state is far to low to make a difference.

    His quote at the top is true. However, I wonder if he explores his former organzition’s role in making the ending of partition almost irrelevant? As the self proclaimed leaders of the Irish unity movement, they carried on a ‘war’ for decades longer than they had any chance of success, a ‘war’ that saw too many atrocities. A ‘war’ that carried on in drudging fashion all out of proportion to the issue at hand. Once the Brits stepped in and discrimination/oppression/unionist superiority was actually tackled many saw the ongoing war as a simply exercise in fanatacism, futility, and fantasism. The Provos morally bankrupt campaign helped tarnish any movement against partition with their nihilistic campaign. It made people associate the movement with nightly news broadcasts of murders and bombings. It made anyone who claims to be an Irish patriot risk being looked on with suspicion of terrorist sympathies.

    Furthermore, what vision did the Provos offer? What did they ever offer Protestants? What did they ever offer the people of 26 counties? Nothing, except vague utopian rhetoric mixed with bodies turning up in bogs.

  • Those who aspire to a socialist utopia should have a word with citizens of former soviet style republics. They were simply autocracies, the dictatorship of the many by the few. The few were, of course, the most brutal thugs in their particular countries. Ivan the Terrible couldn’t hold a candle to gentle Uncle Joe. (Good grief, I hope my name wasn’t inspired by him.)
    I would describe myself as a social democrat. The Irish people will never vote for a socialist dictatorship which is where the SF high leadership would hope we would go. Adams is no democrat.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Mr Kearney says that a United Ireland is a distant aspiration for most. I agree, but what’s wrong with distant aspirations? Logically, realising that a goal is not immediately acheivable need not dilute your attachment to it.

    I began learning French a while back. I know that becoming really fluent in a language takes many years. I don’t yearn for the day when I read what I want or talk without difficulty to whom I please, but that is the goal nevertheless.

    I don’t wake in the morning asking myself ‘When will auld Ireland be one again?’ but I do very much want it to happen.

  • sonofstrongbow

    One contributor states that everyone knew exactly what they were getting in the Belfast Agreement. Another begs to differ with a gathering in a rose garden having as many views on the document as there are petals on the bushes; except of course the unionist representatives who think collectively and were duped.

    Many of my (unionist) friends voted ‘yes’. I did not. They were well aware of the cost: Irish Republican murderers in government, terrorists out of jail, victims disregarded. However they did expect the ‘benefits’ as well; peace, weapons decommissioned. In this they were to be disappointed.

    Speaking to them in the years that have followed their dismay over Republicans’ bad faith over weaponry (whereas the “kitchen sink” may have been handed over many weapons were retained and are now being used by Sinn Fein’s once-and-future friends) and its continued assault on unionist culture. They do not chastise themselves over Sinn Fein’s incompetence in government. Who could have known that that would soar to such giddy heights?

    As to the murderer McKearney? He is as deluded in his latest flights of fancy as he was during his ‘war’ on postmen. We can hopefully rest somewhat secure that his present-day scribbling will not result in blood on the streets.

  • “do please continue Nevin”

    Intothewest, from a political perspective, someone who regularly puts the boot into SF could be a Unionist, Alliance, non-party political, SDLP or dissident Republican; there are no shortage of options. With all those back-links perhaps PB is indeed a librarian with a Baconian tendency!

  • Nunoftheabove

    Nordie Northsider

    There’s a difference – a big difference. Assuming you’re of at or above average intelligence, you could become passably proficient in French fairly quickly if you invested your time and money in it. Even an hour a day every day before breakfast, the Linguaphone iPod option every spare moment you had and a couple of two hour lessons a week; you’d enjoy your holiday en France this time next year without substantial language diffs give a pace issue and or an accent issue there. No question. In five years, assuming you’d spent enough time in France, to all intents and purposes fluency.

    SF spend all of their time talking about a UI and most of their effort and time and money – at least, that’s what they tell us – trying to bring it about. The one or main enabler of a UI that might make it any kind of possibility anytime within a generation or two is the one they have proven to date they can do rien – like, absolutement rien de tout genre – about. And that’s non-unionist consent for it still less support for it. That’s the difference. For me, they have all their work still ahead of them persuading the free stste populace that that’s desirable from their point of view too and let’s not lose sight of that either.

    Your linguistic aspiration is an acquirable skill. The UI thing is merely a day-dream; a not illegitimate one, but a pipe dream nonetheless. McKearney’s dead right about that and the sooner nationalists desist wasting their own and everyone else’s time and be-botheredness focussing on it and all of the silly flag waving and sinister identity politics bullshit that goes with it the better all round.

  • michael-mcivor

    Everyone has their own view- but a dog knows more about its father than the bold tommy knows about politics-
    This year he supported a single independent in the local elections against 4 Sinn Fein candidates- needless to say the 4 Sinn Fein members were elected whilst tommys independent was given the boot by the people-

  • Charminator

    Nordie Northsider:

    I agree with your take on this – perhaps the French fluency aspiration isn’t the best one to encapsulate the achievement of Irish unity, but I get the point.

    I could hardly disagree more with Nunoftheabove’s comment that: “For me, they (SF) have all their work still ahead of them persuading the free stste populace that that’s desirable from their point of view too and let’s not lose sight of that either”.
    I’ve heard this notion many times before – nearly always from folk in the North – but, in reality, it’s a total red herring. To begin to consider circumstances where ANY major Southern party would lobby against unity is so beyond belief to be laughable. ALL major Irish parties support unity: any move to change this in each party would cause such internal party ructions to the extent that it would be avoided like the plague, all the more so given that their political competitors would obviously paint them in a less-than-patriotic fashion. No, this is a nonsense notion and totally unsupported by facts too.

    But usually this idle waffle is supported by ideas like “it’ll cost to much”, “Jaysus, how’ll we ever pay for it”, etc etc. The usual familiar “Paddy can’t pay for his repairs” narrative. In truth, any settlement on Irish unity would be supported by a financial package: likely from EU, US, and, of course, our British neighbours. I think whilst few would doubt American or continental European goodwill in this context, some may question British commitment to it. We’ll see, but it’ll take a brave British Govt to go against the grain of widespread international public opinion and become intransigent with the numbers game. And let’s also not exaggerate the costs: the North’s one and a half million or thereabouts, it’s not East Germany, it’s not North Korea, it’s not even Kosovo! The costs – like a lot of the other rubbish spouted – will be properly discussed and probed, whenever such a debate is opportune (demographics, political trends etc).

    Finally, this is NOT a statement about any belief in any imminent Irish unity. It certainly IS a statement to some here who would expect Irish Republicans to suddenly collapse on the one aspirations which continues to unite the vast vast majority of the people of Ireland. Go to your All-Ireland final day when Tyrone win their first All-Ireland, or to the inauguration of Ireland’s first President from the North, or having a Northern Supreme Court justice – the south, very much within the thinking classes, has a connection with the North which rises far above the cut-and-thrust of daily Irish politics. I see no reason to think that will change. After all, it continues to remain a constitutional imperative on all Irish Govts to promote Irish unity and refrain from conduct which may make such unity more distant.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Charminator

    “it’s a total red herring. To begin to consider circumstances where ANY major Southern party would lobby against unity is so beyond belief to be laughable”.

    – In what circumstances would they be required to ? Consider how likely it would be that, say a referenda would expedite the passage of the unity outcome if the centre-right ground with a significant representation in government has serious misgivings about it then or within the projected lifetime of that particular government ?

    “ ALL major Irish parties support unity”:

    – Yes, aspirationally, of course they do. It’s a motherhood and apple pie belief; postponement is more of an unspoken principle than a mere circumstantial expedient although for some, it’s both. For many, including within the oft-referred to ‘republican grass roots of /within FF’, have a highly neurotic relationship with the border. I’m sorry but if you don’t understand or appreciate that and the extent of it then you’ve simply not been paying very close attention.

    “this is a nonsense notion and totally unsupported by facts too”.

    – Care to quote any of those facts ? The constitutional imperative doesn’t count incidentally, before you even consider going there. If the spirit and/or the letter of the constitution was upheld in the truest sense the country would be in a very different place and you know that.

    There may be a legitimate debate to be had here but , for me, SF and others have to face into the fact that the notion that the day and hour there’s a 50% + 1 majority in the north British withdrawal and unity is, but for a few trifling legalese formalities a mere matter of hours or days away is very challengeable indeed from any number of perspectives.

  • oracle

    Lionel,

    Whether or not it’s blindingly obvious or not means diddly-squat and you’re in sufficient possession of enough intellect to be aware of this.

    All legal and binding documentation is final and non negotiable, you try going to court with a bad contract that you signed whilst sober and in full control of your faculties and argue with the judge, something like this

    “ah but your worship it was blindingly obvious the contract meant something else that I could work with”

    “I feel the plaintiff has no grounds for the termination of the contract as he was made fully aware by his close family members at all times what the terms of the contract was.
    If you were lied to by your trusted family members who’s advice you took at face value then Mr Huntz then I feel you were very naive in the extreme, case dismissed…. now get out of my court”

  • oracle

    Keano,

    Stop hiding answer my question

  • Into the west

    charminator,
    You’re the first person, other than my esteemed immodest self, who has grasped the notion that the money isn’t the issue.

    I’ve more faith than you that the Brit Gov’t would and will sign off on a unity package,
    it’d be like a final settlement.
    But only of course with the consent principle fully upheld.

  • Neil

    Nun,

    the only poll I can find of opinion south of the border is from ’06 and is here:

    http://www.thepost.ie/archives/2006/0402/majority-want-a-nation-once-again-13121.html

    80% of people south of the border want unification.

    I’ve posted this many times and always with the same responses: this poll’s from ’06, everyone in the South changed their minds after the financial meltdown etc.

    Bullshit. The desire for unification comes from your upbringing (much like the desire for the Union) and is unlikely to be changed by the financial state of the country. To Loyalists out there, that dismissal of this poll is saying that money is enough to change your ideological outlook. So would you stop being a Unionist if it made your government wealthier? Would you bollocks. We’re not that different that you can say ‘We are loyal to the union, but them sneaky fenians would change their minds for a couple of pence’. Offensive and sectarian.

    Anyway, I provided a poll showing 80% support for unification in the south, I await your evidence to the contrary. It won’t come as it doesn’t exist.

    The only way unification can come is if we in the north vote for it. And some people believe that over a long enough period, everything’s certain to happen. If you pin your hopes on the south rejecting reunification then you’ve had it already. And bear in mind, we can have many, many referenda over the years to come. Republicans only have to win once. Unionists have to win every time, for once you lose you’re voting block will be c 750k in a country of 7.5 million and the clock is never turning back.

  • Charminator

    Thanks Nunoftheabove.

    “Consider how likely it would be that, say a referenda would expedite the passage of the unity outcome if the centre-right ground with a significant representation in government has serious misgivings about it then or within the projected lifetime of that particular government ?”

    I have absolutely no idea which polity you’re analysing when you talk of the centre-right ground. This is Ireland we’re referring to: there is no clear ideological right/left fracture at the heart of Irish politics – probably summed up best in Lemass’ comment that the reason Ireland doesn’t have a Labour Party (as an appreciable force) was that FF was the Labour Party. But yet this is also the FF of later years with Charlie McCreevy and Martin Cullen. And, of course, look at FG: try, in some way, finding a common thread between Liam “wouldn’t vote for his own Govt’s contraception Bill” Cosgrave and Garret “more contraception, not less, and what about divorce too” Fitzgerald. Or John “a bit of Home Rule would have done grand” Bruton and Enda “ah, poor auld Mick Collins could have done it right” Kenny.
    So, for a start, I don’t accept your premise: it’s the sort of stuff that’s grounded in political science research, not in Irish parishes the length and breadth of the island.

    ““ ALL major Irish parties support unity”:

    – Yes, aspirationally, of course they do. It’s a motherhood and apple pie belief; postponement is more of an unspoken principle than a mere circumstantial expedient although for some, it’s both. For many, including within the oft-referred to ‘republican grass roots of /within FF’, have a highly neurotic relationship with the border. I’m sorry but if you don’t understand or appreciate that and the extent of it then you’ve simply not been paying very close attention.”

    Aspirationally, and in fact. Now, if you’re suggesting that there has been ambiguity with the methods and modes of some Republicans in the North: of course, there has been. A great many, like Fitzgerald, for example, actually suggest it made unity more distant! This “neurotic relationship” you describe isn’t one with unity – I’ve never seen the neurosis present with that issue – it is, instead, one with the modalities of some who promote unity. But if you want to point to the major Irish political party which will include in its manifesto a commitment to not promoting the Union, please do. Old Eamon O’Cuiv, some time back, raised the notion of joining the Commonwealth and even that got sunk without trace. However, please do not seek to associate matters of timing and seeking “the right moment” for pursuing such an agenda, with disinterest. As Henry suggested above, it’s not the first thing an any Irishman’s mind in the morning: but don’t think for a fleeting moment that there’d be any confusion on how to vote in such a referendum.

    ““this is a nonsense notion and totally unsupported by facts too”.

    – Care to quote any of those facts ? The constitutional imperative doesn’t count incidentally, before you even consider going there. If the spirit and/or the letter of the constitution was upheld in the truest sense the country would be in a very different place and you know that.”

    Before asking me to suggest that the reality is something different than that which all political parties suggest and which is to be detected in the State’s great institutions, from the Presidency to the Supreme Court, and in it’s influential cultural associations (major opinion formers in themselves, rather than passive players), perhaps you might present some facts, rather than mere idle speculation to support otherwise? A great many things, from the very constitutional fabric of the State, to the long-held positions of our historical political parties, is imbued with a very keen sense of the North’s linkage with Ireland. Now, before suggesting that this long, long held reality has changed, perhaps more than a bit of idle wondering might be presented? It is not for me to present the facts, but for he who suggest the status quo has been suddenly turned on its head to do so.
    And incidentally, when we’re referring to the Constitution it does count, so sorry with your artificial boundaries on the field of play. Now, if you’re suggesting that all Articles are equal: no they’re not, and our Courts have made that fairly clear anyway (all rights are not even equal). But, to suggest that Articles 2 and 3 – laying out the very vision of the State – are somehow to be compared to the truly “aspirational” language found in the Guiding Principles of Social Policy is, again, a nonsense.
    I might also add that the constitutional imperatives in Articles 2 and 3 are highly relevant: they are capable of being judicially reviewed. We’ve seen this in the past when the McGimpsey brothers tried to make hay with the Constitution: what did the court do? It made just about as clear a statement as it possibly could about the fundamental importance of seeking unity to the Irish State.

  • Into the west

    that’s right neil,
    its important to get the figures out for what re-unification would look like, in monetary terms,
    if only to instill the idea , as a national topic of conversation, with a plausable balance sheet.
    Many non-bigoted unionists may find those arrangements acceptable.

  • Charminator

    Into the West:

    “I’ve more faith than you that the Brit Gov’t would and will sign off on a unity package, it’d be like a final settlement.”

    I tend to agree. The official British Govt position remains that they have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland. Contrast that, for example, with the official Irish Govt position (as mandated by the Constitution and which they can only change by referendum) that it is the “firm will” to unite all the people of Ireland – pending such unity the laws enacted by the Oireachtas shall only have effect in the State. That last clause is important too: it makes clear that the unity of the people referred to isn’t some sort of “come on down and see us” type unity, it’s a unity of territory (with legal application) too, as AG Rory Brady has made clear.

  • Into the west

    charminator
    costing and presenting a detailed study on re-unification is a must.
    It can be done officially via a green paper in the Dail or
    SF could hire a reputable international firm to do it themselves.
    It really is the next step.
    Could the shinners try to get a vote on it next dail session?
    perhaps saying ” we’ll front half the cash, the gov’t the rest of it”
    that would take care of the begrudgers who’d say it can be afforded.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Charminator & Neil

    “it’s the sort of stuff that’s grounded in political science research, not in Irish parishes the length and breadth of the island”.

    – There’s a reason why political science (sic) refers to it; it’s real.

    “Aspirationally, and in fact”.

    – What are the factual grounds – vacuous party manifestoes ? You don’t prove something’s factual simply by asserting.

    “This “neurotic relationship” you describe isn’t one with unity – I’ve never seen the neurosis present with that issue – it is, instead, one with the modalities of some who promote unity”.

    – I disagree and again, if you’ve not seen it you might need to get out a bit more. I’ve experienced it in multiple corners of each of the three, as it were, ‘free’ green fields.

    “A great many things, from the very constitutional fabric of the State, to the long-held positions of our historical political parties, is imbued with a very keen sense of the North’s linkage with Ireland”.

    – Sorry, I said factual, not the so-called fabric of a belief that’s aspirational if existent at all in some cases. I’m not doubting the linkage nor would I want to incidentally – I have not suggested there wasn’t nor would do. let’s keep it on topic and at least loosely based on what each other are actually saying (I’ll CC that advice to neil for emphasis).

    “It is not for me to present the facts”

    – I think I can guess why you might say that. Inference duly taken.

    “if you’re suggesting that all Articles are equal: no they’re not”

    – I’m aware of that thanks and suggested nothing of the type you’re apparently arguing with me about. I repeat though, if the spirit and letter of the Constitution – imperatives or otherwise – were being upheld by successive governments the state would look very different than it does and to that extent your isolation of this aspect of it doesn’t quite work. Your example is therefore neither an exception nor a rule and as such proves nothing in particular.

    Neil

    I do wish people could exercise some manners and resist the temptation to project, particularly along crude identity and/or sectarian lines. What possible grounds have I provided for leading you to say that I might be pinning my hopes on the failure of any attempt to unify ?

    As for the comment “Republicans only have to win once. Unionists have to win every time, for once you lose you’re voting block will be c 750k in a country of 7.5 million and the clock is never turning back” I must say that I find that objectionable in terms tone (to say nothing of how I find it grammatically…) and I write that as someone who is not a unionist of any description.

  • Neil

    Sorry nun, but the whole bit was preceded by the words To Loyalists out there and that is to whom I was pre-emptively responding.

    It’s probably bad form to try to answer criticisms of a post before their made but as I said I’ve brought it up before and was replying to expected responses. However I apologise for giving the impression that it was directed at yourself, it honestly was not.

  • Charminator

    Nunoftheabove:

    Apologies for my bluntness, but you haven’t presented one shred of evidence to counter what I’ve said. It’s not party manifestos alone, it’s the founding documents!! It’s the very fabric of the State, as our Supreme Court made clear. And, if you’re aware of all that, as you implied, then I find it breathtaking that you feel it can be counteracted in such a whimsical way by your travels across the so-called three green fields.

    ““it’s the sort of stuff that’s grounded in political science research, not in Irish parishes the length and breadth of the island”.

    – There’s a reason why political science (sic) refers to it; it’s real.”

    Perhaps you might also engage with the content of what I said, not the closing alone. You present to me what your so-called centre-right party is, and by all means, I’ll listen.

    At the moment, you have simply presented an hypothesis, a mere idle piece of basless speculation that goes contrary to all accepted thinking and then you ask everyone else to deconstruct it. One might as well say that there is a planet somewhere out there inhabited, even though current scientific knowledge has found none. Present some evidence and myself and others here will take serious your charge that the people of the South will somehow turn their back on the beating pulse of the Constitution, all major political parties, and a great many cultural associations of huge influence.

    Telling someone to walk around the three green fields and dismissive approaches to reasoned argument is no substitute for facts. Try presenting some that lead you to the conclusion you asserted.

  • Charminator

    Nunoftheabove:

    As you said, “You don’t prove something’s factual simply by asserting.” Too true.

    Present some evidence of this sea-change in Irish opinion, tell me of these centre-right political parties that may promote such a change, present some facts and we’ll all perk up and listen.

  • Charminator

    Aside from Neil’s other comments, his sentiments are quite right regarding the mechanics of a border poll: there is no basis for thinking that the border would remain in permanent flux. Once a border poll votes for Irish unity, the matter of further border polls is closed (since, amongst other things, there is no Secretary of State to call any future poll!). Now this may seem objectionable, but that’s a separate matter. To state what it is and to question whether that “it” is right/fair/objectionable/ideal etc etc are two entirely separate issues.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Neil

    Apology accepted – thanks buddy.

    Charminator

    Firstly, can you point out where I’ve suggested that there has been any such sea change ?

    – I haven’t suggested it counteracts it, I’m levelling your opinion – for that is what it amounts to – with one of my own. Perhaps I’ll frame my point in a slightly different way and see if that helps us both. Little of what you’ve said in terms of statute or constitutional imperative is that new. In what respects, when and how have these previously been honoured by successive free state governments for any other reason than – or in any respect other than for – the sake of the (mainly southern) nationalist optics ? To co-contain the security situation in the north ? Southern self-interest ? To help prop up the SDLP within (sic) the north ? And so on and so on.

    If you really want me to put it another way still, in what respects have those formal instruments (or any other instruments, tangible or otherwise, if you like) actually materially advanced the cause of unity since the inception of the southern state ?

    “You present to me what your so-called centre-right party is, and by all means, I’ll listen”.

    – FF and FG for a start. Are you suggesting they’re anything other than that ?

    ” idle piece of basless speculation that goes contrary to all accepted thinking”

    – accepted by who ?! What counter-evidence do you have which would actually objectively support the genuine nationalist republican unity-as-soon-as-we-can-possible-get-it bone fides of the mainstream political parties in the south which might pass some form of objective, non-hypothetical test ?

    “your charge that the people of the South will somehow turn their back on the beating pulse of the Constitution”

    – “turn their back” ?! Surely you’re joking ?

    “all major political parties”

    – their genuine willingness to act in furtherance of ending partition is questioned by, frankly, their policies and their behaviour both in government and in opposition for a minimum of the last 40 years.

    “and a great many cultural associations of huge influence”.

    – I haven’t charged that.

  • Charminator

    Thanks Nunoftheabove.

    FF and FG are now – you suggest – the parties which will lead the vanguard against Irish unity. Truly, I’ve heard it all. I will not hold my breath for the first FG (and especially FF) TD to lay out his claim as to why unity should never happen.

    What has the Irish State done to advance unity (and/or, as a corollary, weaken the Union), you ask? I’m not quite sure what you’re expecting here, aside from designing the full architecture of the State to press for it? Really, in crafting a constitutional framework, our message about Irish unity could hardly be clearer. But, for whatever reason, you seem to view our Bunreacht with a sort of cavalier disregard that fails to appreciate that it is the bedrock of the State. I do not share that perspective and, unlike you, happen to think that it is a fundamental statement regarding our country and who we are. I’m really not sure what you’d expect. Armed invasion? Or instead securing pledges from the British Govt that they have “no selfish strategic or economic interest in the North”. A consultative role – and now a North-South Council. A refusal to negotiate on Articles 2 and 3 except in the context of new arrangements to give voice to the South’s role. A refusal to recognise British nomenclature of our State as “RoI’ and all the other constructs and therefore refuse to extradite any individuals, except on foot of a lawful warrant characterising the State as Irish. Taking the British Govt to the ECHR for their human rights abuses during internment. Perhaps you might present even a few examples to support your own view that Ireland’s primary parties are essentially closet Unionists (as must be the case if they wish to promote the Unioni by obstructing Irish unity).

    Now, all you’ve mentioned is a bit of travelling in the three green fields and some people you claim you’ve met who aren’t so keen on Irish unity.

    I’ve brought to the table the long-held policy positions of our primary parties (both their founding documents in some cases, long cherished commitments in others).

    What reason have you to believe that the centre-right parties you claim to be FF and FG would not only support, but actively advance, unity? Where is the basis for thinking that they would not? Neil introduced a poll – and admittedly polls are fickle – but where does this notion that Ireland’s two main parties do not support unity come from? Merely some travelling in the three free fields, as you characterised it? I’d dearly love to hear how Donnie Coffey (FG, Waterford) or Joe McHugh (FG, Donegal) or alternatively Eamon O’Cuiv (FF, Galway) or John McGuinness (FF, Kilkenny) would react to your characterisation of their parties as either pro-Union or obstructionist to Irish unity – or indeed either respective leaders? I fail to see from where your viewpoint emerges, I cannot see personalities in either party who have publicly supported such a notion.

    And therefore in the absence of any evidence, I persist in believing it to be nothing more than idle unsubstantiated nonsense.

  • Brian

    “However they did expect the ‘benefits’ as well; peace, weapons decommissioned. In this they were to be disappointed.”

    It hasn’t been perfect, but violence is way down. There is comparison to what it was pre ceasefire. Did anyone expect every last die hard terrorist of either persuasion fall in line?

    While we are at it, does anyone know if the UVF de-commissioned yet?

  • Nunoftheabove

    Charminator

    Let’s keep the oul’ temper under manners there fella, ‘sure tis only an exchange and needn’t become uncivil entirely.

    “FF and FG are now – you suggest – the parties which will lead the vanguard against Irish unity”.

    – I haven’t argued that. What I am challenging is their track record on enabling unity. You’re arguing that it’s strong to the point that they would be passionate about making it happen with750k recalcitrant unionists in the north ?

    “”What has the Irish State done to advance unity (and/or, as a corollary, weaken the Union), you ask? I’m not quite sure what you’re expecting here

    – Some evidence that they have in recent history done anything of any description in materials terms to accelerate Irish unity would be nice…

    “you seem to view our Bunreacht with a sort of cavalier disregard that fails to appreciate that it is the bedrock of the State”. I do not share that perspective and, unlike you, happen to think that it is a fundamental statement regarding our country and who we are.

    – I’m not asking you who you or anyone else is.
    “securing pledges from the British Govt that they have “no selfish strategic or economic interest in the North”.

    – That’s enabled or accelerated unity how ?

    “A consultative role – and now a North-South Council.

    – That’s enabled or accelerated unity how ?

    “A refusal to negotiate on Articles 2 and 3 except in the context of new arrangements to give voice to the South’s role.”

    – That’s enabled or accelerated unity how ?

    “A refusal to recognise British nomenclature of our State as “RoI’ and all the other constructs and therefore refuse to extradite any individuals, except on foot of a lawful warrant characterising the State as Irish”

    – That’s enabled or accelerated unity how ?

    “ Taking the British Govt to the ECHR for their human rights abuses during internment”.

    – That’s enabled or accelerated unity how ?

    “Perhaps you might present even a few examples to support your own view that Ireland’s primary parties are essentially closet Unionists”

    – I’ve not suggested they are closet unionist and no, that wouldn’t actually have to be the case if they were obstructing Irish unity.

    “I’ve brought to the table the long-held policy positions of our primary parties (both their founding documents in some cases, long cherished commitments in others)”.

    – Positions they’ve never been accountable for holding in reality which is precisely my point. All the evidence of the free state’s post-WW2 history points to any conclusion you like other than that the mainstream parties are genuinely passionate about enabling, in practical rather than rhetorical terms – an end to partition and to British rule in the North.

    “admittedly polls are fickle – but where does this notion that Ireland’s two main parties do not support unity come from?”

    – Polls are exceptionally fickle, sure, particularly when there is nothing remotely approaching the most marginal prospect of legislative reality following on from them. We disagree only about the extent to which their support for unity is actual rather than apparent. Much like with people, I tend to judge parties by their actions rather than by their words.

    ” Merely some travelling in the three free fields, as you characterised it? I’d dearly love to hear how Donnie Coffey (FG, Waterford) or Joe McHugh (FG, Donegal) or alternatively Eamon O’Cuiv (FF, Galway) or John McGuinness (FF, Kilkenny) would react to your characterisation of their parties as either pro-Union or obstructionist to Irish unity”

    – I haven’t characterized them as either as a matter of fact. I do doubt the sincerity of their ostensible nationalist credentials and can identify not a single piece of dependable evidence that would contradict that point.

    “in the absence of any evidence, I persist in believing it to be nothing more than idle unsubstantiated nonsense”.

    – It feels like you persist in believing whatever you want to believe. I’m fine with that so long as you can admit that and accept that absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. The same, of course, goes for my argument too 🙂

  • Charminator

    Nunoftheabove:

    I think, at the outset, we should be perfectly clear on a simple point: the premise that both are positions are equally weighty is preposterous. I’ve presented credible evidence to support my conclusions. You may not consider them credible, but that’s neither here nor there: we can leave that to other commentators. What we can conclude is that you’ve made a simple charge – that Ireland’s major political parties are not supportive of Irish unity – and you have absolutely nothing to support it with.

    “It feels like you persist in believing whatever you want to believe. I’m fine with that so long as you can admit that and accept that absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. The same, of course, goes for my argument too :-)”

    Of course, this seems to suggest that the whole weight of what I’ve said can be equally balanced with your simple assertion that you’ve travelled three of Ireland’s free green fields (as you put it) and met a few people who seem lukewarm about Irish unity. From that you’ve extrapolated a thesis that the Irish body politic is lukewarm about the notion. You’ve presented no evidence of this and you’ve cited no support or evidence for why any rump within FG or FF would not advocate unity. Really, it’s a case built on nothing.

    And against this you dismiss: the Irish Constitution, Ireland’s stated position in international affairs, Ireland’s legal relationship with Britain, the founding documents of our major parties and their policy positions since. It seems, almost, as if you expect some violent intervention by the south as the only means of advancing it.

    I am content that the British Govt have no selfish strategic or economic interest in the North’s future and that the same is most certainly not the case for the Irish Govt, either by the constitutional boundaries imposed upon them, or the political philosophies of are major parties. Truly, it’s a far cry from the British Establishment’s best efforts to offload the North.

    (Btw, I have no idea what the “Let’s keep the oul’ temper under manners there fella, ‘sure tis only an exchange and needn’t become uncivil entirely” reference is all about…. I’m quite content that surely it could not be a mock Irish accent, though I suspect our dear moderators may want to take a second look nonetheless).

  • Charminator

    “What I am challenging is their track record on enabling unity. You’re arguing that it’s strong to the point that they would be passionate about making it happen with750k recalcitrant unionists in the north ?”

    I’m not sure what track record you expect – armed intervention? The Irish State had enough trouble with that fear already and indeed such a concern permeated Irish politics for some time.

    As for the 750k recalcitrant Unionists: that really is not a problem unless there are 750k +1 approving Nationalists/Republicans. Then, of course, we must all work together for the betterment of a new Ireland.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Charminator

    “I think, at the outset, we should be perfectly clear on a simple point: the premise that both are positions are equally weighty is preposterous.”

    – Who has made that premise ?

    “I’ve presented credible evidence to support my conclusions”.

    – Where ? You’ve provided evidence that actually doesn’t even really relate to your conclusions at all or certainly not evidence which contradicts my position – that much you most certainly haven’t done.

    “you’ve made a simple charge – that Ireland’s major political parties are not supportive of Irish unity”

    – I have not said that. I do believe that the assumption that their ostensible positions will, as you seem to believe lead them or indeed oblige them to wholeheartedly champion unity at the earliest possible opportunity is questionable and ought to be challenged. We have decades of evidence to hold up in support of this argument as I have said.

    “Of course, this seems to suggest that the whole weight of what I’ve said can be equally balanced with your simple assertion that you’ve travelled three of Ireland’s free green fields (as you put it) and met a few people who seem lukewarm about Irish unity. From that you’ve extrapolated a thesis that the Irish body politic is lukewarm about the notion”.

    – I have not done that, I’m awfully sorry to keep correcting you; my language could reasonably be accused of being a little fruity at times but impenetrable it normally isn’t.

    “you’ve cited no support or evidence for why any rump within FG or FF would not advocate unity”

    – I didn’t mention the existence of any rump.

    “And against this you dismiss: the Irish Constitution, Ireland’s stated position in international affairs, Ireland’s legal relationship with Britain, the founding documents of our major parties and their policy positions since”.

    – I dismiss them only insofar as they do not either support your argument or contradict mine. Your unwillingness to answer my questions in relation to this is, I feel, instructive.

    “It seems, almost, as if you expect some violent intervention by the south as the only means of advancing it”.

    – I didn’t come close to inferring still less saying that either.

    “I am content that the British Govt have no selfish strategic or economic interest in the North’s future and that the same is most certainly not the case for the Irish Govt, either by the constitutional boundaries imposed upon them, or the political philosophies of are major parties. Truly, it’s a far cry from the British Establishment’s best efforts to offload the North.”

    – What southern selfish, strategic, or economic interest would be served in advancing British withdrawal apace could you tell me ? Wouldn’t their noticeable refusal to accelerate progress towards the outcome of independence and unity suggest that this is not the case, like, at all ?

    By the way if you don’t like my accent or manner of articulating it in written form that’s your entitlement. I ‘ve no obligation to care whether you do or not.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Neil

    Why is there no call for a border poll by republican’s in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland?

    I read the peice in the Tele last night about Gerry Adams. He was saying that all foreign meddling in Ireland should cease ( or words to that affect). He mentioned the British and the EU, yet no mention of Vatican meddling. Why it ok for this rogue “state” to interfere in the affairs of the island of ireland? Any thoughts?

  • Charminator

    Thanks Nunoftheabove.

    I think your simple point which kicked off the debate is being lost amidst the guff:

    ““For me, they (SF) have all their work still ahead of them persuading the free stste populace that [unity is] desirable from their point of view too and let’s not lose sight of that either.”

    You later suggested that:

    Irish centre-right parties would be unsupportive of unity.
    You explained that those centre-right parties were FF and FG.

    I do not accept those assertions, I’ve suggested that there are individual TDs who would likely be livid at the suggestions and I have no doubt the respective party leaders do not accept this view. That being so, unlike you said at the outset, SF do not need to persuade anyone in the south. FG and FF already represent a majority. Add to that Labour (with their DL rump), and your view that SF have to undertake some sort of charm offensive in the South to persuade the populace of the Free State (sic) of the merits of unity is both unfounded and risible.

    I think amidst the waffle your simple observation, which kickstarted this, can get lost to the point that you now say there’s no rump in FG/FF opposed to unity etc.

  • Charminator

    Alan N/Ards:

    Regarding the Vatican’s meddling: read the Taoiseach’s recent statement to the Dail. I very much doubt he could be much clearer on this point.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Charminator

    A simple point which you’ve been unable to persuasively refute.

    “I do not accept those assertions, I’ve suggested that there are individual TDs who would likely be livid at the suggestions ”

    – Yeah, so ?

    “I have no doubt the respective party leaders do not accept this view”.

    – Good for view, that’s one opinion.

    ” FG and FF already represent a majority”.

    – Yeah, that’s my point – you been sensing an urgency around unity as a matter of national priority that’s not discernible to me or to anyone else, huh ?

    “your view that SF have to undertake some sort of charm offensive in the South to persuade the populace of the Free State (sic) of the merits of unity is both unfounded and risible”.

    – I didn’t make such a suggestion; I am challenging the notion that all they have to do is run the clock out and when 50% + 1 happens, it’s happy fenian day. Based on the political structures and currents we have now or have had for the last few decades I just don’t see that and I think that your apparent confidence in the nationalism of the mainstream political supporters and/or their supporters is misplaced and that history backs this up.

  • Charminator

    Thanks Nunoftheabove.

    You said initially:

    “For me, they (SF) have all their work still ahead of them persuading the free stste populace that [unity is] desirable from their point of view too and let’s not lose sight of that either.”

    You’ve rejected the relevance of our main parties TDs on this issue and their leaders (“that’s one opinion” – not though exactly as if all opinions are equal in such matters), but I ask again, from where does the exotic notion that the people of the Free State (sic) need to be persuaded of unity come from?
    I’ve engaged in a fairly searching journey with you of our main parties and I can see no currents of such an opinion. Now we can all make speculative claims of this and that, but I see no shades of such an opinion emerging in any of our major parties.

    Your view that SF have to undertake some sort of charm offensive in the South to persuade the populace of the Free State (sic) of the merits of unity is both unfounded and risible. Now, you claim you didn’t make such a suggestion but you let’s recall again what you said: “For me, they (SF) have all their work still ahead of them persuading the free stste populace that [unity is] desirable from their point of view too and let’s not lose sight of that either.” If that doesn’t equate to needing a charm offensive of some sort, I don’t know what does.

    Regarding FF and FG constituting a majority, you say:

    “Yeah, that’s my point – you been sensing an urgency around unity as a matter of national priority that’s not discernible to me or to anyone else, huh?”

    But I never said there was any “urgency”. There’s absolutely no urgency. It’s not a dynamic which rests with FF or FG or the southern body politic: it’s one which must be driven by preferences in the North. Again, you seem to expect some sort of National preference within Republicanism or Nationalism that unity must be imminent. Not so and I think that’s the essence of what NordieNorthsider was trying to convey at the outset.

    In sum, unlike you, I do not believe that SF “have all their work still ahead of them persuading the free stste populace that [unity is] desirable from their point of view too and let’s not lose sight of that either.”

  • lamhdearg

    “Unionists have to win every time, for once you lose you’re voting block will be c 750k in a country of 7.5 million and the clock is never turning back.”.

    neil, don’t count on this, someone mentioned Kosovo, and kosovo set a precendent, a small part of an nation can secede and set up on its own.

  • Shush lest Greenflag gets back on his one-time hobby horse.

  • grandimarkey

    lamhdearg –

    “someone mentioned Kosovo, and kosovo set a precendent, a small part of an nation can secede and set up on its own.”

    That would never happen here.

  • Reader

    grandimarkey: That would never happen here.
    That would never happen here *again*. But remember, everyone was already discussing hypotheticals – what’s one more added to the mix?

  • Nunoftheabove

    It depends on how you wish to define acceptable borders within which self-determination can or should reasonably be exercised. Kosovo’s borders can be argued to continue to be somewhat fluid, of course. As and when UI becomes something even worth disussing as a remote possibility then all prevailing assumtions about what it can or should look like or operate will need to go into the bin and due consideration given to some degree of federation, stronger ethno-religious rights protections and all the rest of it. It’s as well to continue to monitor the Kosovos of the world though in terms of the principles in play as well as what does and doesn’t work practically in terms of inclusion, minority rights, transitional provisions and all the rest of it.

  • bigtoole

    We all know “Irish unity” was a bubble that burst many moons ago and the sooner thee bhoys catch on the better for us all.

  • Charminator

    I would be very skeptical of either the British or Irish Govt facilitating any sort of exotic arrangements beyond the boundaries of the GFA principles. Given that it’s an international agreement, I also suspect the Irish Govt will not enter into, never mind entertain, any changes which envisage some sort of ‘Gibraltarisation’. I also suspect international opinion – if there was a vote in favour of unity – would be less than supportive of efforts to then change the rules of the game (ie afford to some counties or regions in the North something which was not afforded to Fermanagh or Tyrone, when partition was initially implemented).

    All of this, of course, makes the observation all the more relevant that the Irish State – as presently constructed – could never endure post-unity. A great, great many changes would be necessary to facilitate something resembling a compromise accommodation. I’d hope the broad thrust of Republicanism (not the loonies or Socialist Republic fanatics) would be open-minded about this.

    Which happily leads me to acknowledge some measure of agreement with Nunoftheabove that post-unity:

    “[D]ue consideration [would need to be] given to some degree of federation, stronger ethno-religious rights protections and all the rest of it.”

    Happily can agree with this. 🙂

    An Ireland, post-unity, will be a very, very different place – a reality Republicanism needs to begin to consider. The architecture of such an Irish State will look radically different than that which we have today and that process in itself will take time and arduous negotiations.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Charminator

    But don’t you think that transitoning to some form of unified end game would be much the more achievable by virtue of the fact that there was less to change in a hurried fashion in order to bring it about; in other words, get the accommodation structurally sound and the interior decorations and repairs well in hand well in advance and thus make the move-in more of an inconvenient grunt than a stress-busting hard slog albeit with adequate scope for the new folks to influence the layout of the furniture and the colour of the kids bedroom’s at their leisure in the months and years afterwards having acclimatized ? At least, having the place spic and span with the kettle on and a packet of Rich Tea ready once the key’s turned wouldn’t be too much to ask, right ? This would not only make the transitioning much more do-able, it would make the potential tenants much more likely to semi-envisage moving homes to begin with.

  • Neil

    neil, don’t count on this, someone mentioned Kosovo, and kosovo set a precendent, a small part of an nation can secede and set up on its own.

    Put that into context though Lamhdearg. When Nationalists (hypothetically) win the border referendum, you expect them then to instantly change their minds and vote for an independent state?

    Nope. If Nationalism ever wins the battle, NI Loyalists/Unionists will simply have to suck it up. In the same way that Nationalists have been forced to do the same for generations. 50%+1 and it’s game over bud. It keeps the status quo, and it’s enough to change it.

  • lamhdearg

    neil,
    “kosovo set a precendent, a small part of an nation can secede and set up on its own.”, this is what i commented, i commented nothing about irish nat changing their minds, in Kosove a tiny part of Serbia the small minority of muslims(of Serbia) went to war with the rest of Serbia, the end result is that Kosove has seceded from Serbia. as Reader comments , ” That would never happen here *again*. But remember, everyone was already discussing hypotheticals – what’s one more added to the mix?”.

  • lamhdearg

    Kosovo, sorry, ps this is not what i want to see.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Maybe we should re-partition now. Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and Derry go back to the Republic. Oh and Belfast too.

  • Neil

    Lamhdearg,

    Fair enough.

  • JR

    Lionel,
    That would be great. Increase the 26 to 30 and you still have South Down and the Glens to continue the struggle for the final 2.

  • grandimarkey

    @Lionel

    That would leave Newry as some kind of faux-Berlin!
    Imagine, the Clanrye Wall spread across the bridges over the river. Would be a laugh.

    The airlifts to Belfast would be some banter too.

  • Reader

    Lionel Hutz: Maybe we should re-partition now. Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and Derry go back to the Republic. Oh and Belfast too.
    Belfast is split between Antrim and Down. Or while you’re at it, what about Coleraine and Portadown?
    But anyway, if you are planning to separate Belfast from its economic hinterland (and commuter belt), you have gone hysterical.
    You actually want the lot. Therefore you will have to wait. Probably forever.

  • Reader

    Hmm. On second thoughts – your plan means my Belfast employer pays peanuts in corporation tax, I live in Bangor and get RoI wages, pay UK taxes, and my family gets the NHS. If any of them drop out they can become benefits tourists. Let me do some sums…

  • JR

    Well as a nationalist given my United Ireland bubble is burst I can always try to take comfort in the fact that there is increasingly a single Island wide system of infrastructure. In terms of roads, there are more than 300 roads connecting the North and the south Of Ireland, and only a few ferries connecting us to Britain (3 of those go to Scotland), In terms of electricity the state owned electric network of the South now supplies us with green power. We have a single gas network. Our corporation taxation system is starting to look surprisingly like that of the ROI.

    The fact that the combined vote for all unionist parties has fallen consistantly and without fail in every single election since the foundation of the state.

    And Finally, the great elephant in the room. We in the North enjoy a level of public service in terms of helth care, education and social welfare that those in England that actually pick up the tab can only dream of. Sooner or later the great 100 year binge on other peoples money will come to an end and who knows what the hangover will bring?

  • …there are more than 300 roads connecting the North and the south Of Ireland, and only a few ferries connecting us to Britain (3 of those go to Scotland),

    There has been something recently called *air travel* which has er… taken off, meaning I can be over to the mainland rather quicker than those ferries and rather qucker than I would reach much of the south and west of the Republic by road. We live in 2011, not just the world but also the Irish Sea is getting smaller.

    Considering the ROI is the only EU country which the UK actually shares a border with, then I am surprised and disappointed there isn’t more economic cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis.

    The fact that the combined vote for all unionist parties has fallen consistantly and without fail in every single election since the foundation of the state.

    Not the case since 2001, evidence here:http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/.
    Yes, less people in total, across the board, voting full stop- is that apathy good news for unionism or nationalism?

    But if Irish nationalism really fancies its chances in a Border Poll, then shouldn’t it be putting just a bit more pressure on Paterson for one? You could coincide it with Salmond’s in scotland, that could be interesting…

  • Charminator

    Nunoftheabove:

    “But don’t you think that transitoning to some form of unified end game would be much the more achievable by virtue of the fact that there was less to change in a hurried fashion in order to bring it about”

    Yes, I do agree: as I said earlier, there’s no “urgency” with this process. I think it’s a fluid process and whilst the engine must be that of Northern consent, I also acknowledge that there are signals that can be sent from the south regarding the sort of post-unity Ireland we imagine. In some respects, I think this process has begun: on an operational level, cross-border consultation is now the norm, not the exception, and there are a great many examples of Ireland being asked to raise issues or concerns at EU level, where ordinarily one would expect such concerns to be articulated via London (agriculture and marine issues for one). In others sectors, we see similar attempts at convergence (eg infrastructural development, tourism).

    However, “constitutional” interior decorations and repairs (to follow your analogy) arguably needs a stakeholder at the other side of the table to help guide matters: and, of course, that remains unlikely until the possibility of unity grows closer (ie the very people whose input is necessary – Unionist representatives – are less likely to engage, until the possibility of the end of the Union grows more likely).

    But I do agree that whilst the primary dynamic is that of consent in the North, there are signals that can be sent from the Irish Establishment that could influence it, ie make unity more distant or perhaps even more proximate (or as you rightly put it “This would not only make the transitioning much more do-able, it would make the potential tenants much more likely to semi-envisage moving homes to begin with”). I think President McAleese has recognised this and both Ahern and Cowen did too. Positive neighbourly relations needed to be developed first: and that’s happening on a daily basis. I think we’re also seeing Republican Ireland recognise more the complexity of our collective history and culture and that’s important too in demonstrating the versatility of modern Ireland in accommodating Unionism’s cultural preferences and identity.

    Now, I’d certainly favour enhanced dialogue between all stakeholders about the full implications of unity (amongst which, I should add, I happen to regard economics as something of a red herring, compared to the legal, constitutional, or even cultural dimensions), but I fear Unionism’s representatives (at this juncture), may well view the electoral risks too great to even countenance talking about what a unified Ireland may look like.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Charminator

    Quite although this is an information age and what would be – ok, reluctantly – palatable to (progressive) unionists post-UK would be palatable to most progressive southerners anyway – separation of church and state, individual rights orientation etc. My point is the interior designers wouldn’t only need an eye for northern perspectives – absence of willing stakeholder point entirely taken – they/we could crate something genuinely new that critical mass in both states would prefer to either of the amateurish, religion-ridden under-evolved heaps of shit we have at the moment.

  • Brian

    Nun

    1. What would you accept of evidence that FG and FF support unity, short of advocating armed intervention or a massive compaign of civil disobediance? There is no ‘urgeny’ as you put because there is no chance, with demographics as they are, of the North voting for unity at the present point in time.

    You’re the one who made the assertion that they don’t really support unity, that their actions aren’t actions of parties that support unity, but you have provided no evidence. Yet you demand evidence from Charm, only to discard out of hand all the evidene he presents.

    If you have provided evidence, please copy and paste for me because I have missed it.

    so
    1.) What would you accept as evidence that FG and FF support unity, short of advocating armed intervention or a advocating massive compaign of civil disobediance?

    2.) What actions have they taken which show they do not support Irish unity?

  • Brian

    ‘unity’

  • Brian

    Let me try a third time. “urgency”

    Apologies to all.

  • nightrider

    Northern Ireland may be governed from Westminster, but with the goodwill of Dublin. That’s not joint sovereignty, but de facto it’s joint rule. de Jure rule lies with Westminster and de facto with Westminster and the Dail.
    Stormont parish council acts a puppet show pretending to make a difference.
    All of this is good. We get RTE Sports (and TV3 Euro Football) and grants and good pensions.
    We’re in fucking clover here, Irish or whatever, we just need not to fuck it up. Keep calm and carry on.
    Most of Europe are looking for a paddle for their canoe and we’re still being handed out £££.
    Would anyone object to this benign system of joint rule, but not joint sovereignty, for the next 40+ years of the status quo? Didn’t think so.

  • tomthumbuk

    Let’s face it.
    Since it’s formation, the Republic of Ireland has always been an economic basket case.

    It’s biggest export has always been it’s people.

    The only time in it’s history when it’s population grew was during the Celtic Tiger era , and we know what happened to that.

    If people believe that northern Nationalists/Catholics are all going to vote themselves into a united Ireland, so they can join the queue leaving the country, (usually to England), to get jobs, then they need to get into the real world.

  • Lionel Hutz

    “Well as a nationalist given my United Ireland bubble is burst I can always try to take comfort in the fact that there is increasingly a single Island wide system of infrastructure. In terms of roads, there are more than 300 roads connecting the North and the south Of Ireland, and only a few ferries connecting us to Britain (3 of those go to Scotland), In terms of electricity the state owned electric network of the South now supplies us with green power. We have a single gas network. Our corporation taxation system is starting to look surprisingly like that of the ROI.”

    JR,

    If we got someone at Road Service to change the style of the road signs and paint things a little differently on the tarmac, you might not even spot that there is border at all.

    You point to the real issue, as each year goes by, we inch closer and closer to a fully United Ireland. Its happening by the back door.

    I happen to think that the constitutional referndum will make little practical difference when it comes. It’ll just involve some redundancies in the civil service.

  • Lionel Hutz

    “Lionel Hutz: Maybe we should re-partition now. Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and Derry go back to the Republic. Oh and Belfast too.
    Belfast is split between Antrim and Down. Or while you’re at it, what about Coleraine and Portadown?
    But anyway, if you are planning to separate Belfast from its economic hinterland (and commuter belt), you have gone hysterical.
    You actually want the lot. Therefore you will have to wait. Probably forever.”

    Actually Reader,

    I’ll swap you Coleraine and Portadown for South Down. Fair deal???

    We could have the new border sweeping along the along the lower Bann – You can have Coleraine. The Border continues to Lough Neagh and runs East then South East just giving the new Norn Iron a Border Town of Antrim. Then the Border cuts a more Easterly Direction towards Belfast Lough, just giving Norn Iron Newtownabbey and Carrick, the Border swoops around Belfast, so that the majority naitonalist city remains part of the new Republic. Norn Iron can keep the likes of Holywood and Dundonald. Then the Border turns round and circles Belfast cutting across the M1 at around Dunmurry and heads back towards the Lough Neagh and then rejoins the M1 so that Norn Iron keeps Lurgan and Portadown. Finally the Border moves south at around Maghery, Anaghmore and and then South East so that Banbridge remains in Norn Iron and the Border meets the Coast at around Newcastle.

    SIMPLES

  • Nunoftheabove

    Brian

    1. I’m not saying that they’e not nationalist, I’m saying that their nationalism is very largely rhetorical. Examples from recent history of tangible steps they have taken in furtherance of this objective and which, to any degree, have measurably brought the realization of the objective closer or made it more likely than it might otherwise have been anyway. You can use the north-south-east-west relationships paradigm to explain this if you like. That might do.

    2. Your answer to 1 will, I’m confident, answer (2) for you on my behalf.

  • Republic of Connaught

    tomthumbuk,

    You talk as if Protestants and Catholics from the north don’t flock to England! What about the “brain drain” of NI’s youth to England? Many of them not returning. Being under the jurisdiction of Westminster and not the Dáil doesn’t change the fact they still left their home island of Ireland for jobs or education in England.

    Ireland’s relationship with England in that regard is similar to the amount of New Zealanders who flock to Australia for more jobs and opportunites every year. (Why don’t those silly Kiwis just give their sovereignty to Australia’s parliament, I wonder!)

    Although over 5 million people from Britain live abroad so it seems they’re good at exporting people, too.

  • Lionel Hutz

    TomthumbUK,

    Lets not forget where the ROI was coming form in economic terms. The truth is that it has been able to prosper since leaving the UK. It enjoyed wealth for the first time really with the Celtic Tiger and they made mistakes. They have to learn from them.

    Its not as if the UK has always got it right. Look what happened in 1976.

    But the Republic will recover and crucially, even with a loss of some economic sovereignty to the EU, the Republic still has the ability to create the conditions for growth.

    As part of the UK, the best Northern Ireland can hope for is continued subsidy.

  • tomthumbuk

    Northern Ireland has a growing population.
    The movement of students to GB is explained by many factors, not primarily economic.
    As for the subsidy, it’s a by product of being a partner in a wider political unit, ie the U.K.
    We are entitled to it.
    Did you ever hear anyone complaining in the Republic when they were getting the benefits of E.U. money?
    Now the money has gone and they have to stand on their own two feet. It seems the only way they can generate wealth is by enticing tax dodging corporations by undercutting the other EU states. Much to the chagrin of Germany and France.
    The U.K. government has a responsibility to maintain a certain parity of wealth within it’s borders.
    As long as we continue to get a “subsidy” that’s fine by me although it would be nice if, one day, we were so well off that we could subsidide other parts of the U.K., but I wouldn’t bet on it.
    As for whether and when the Republic recover, we’ll just have to wait and see.
    Hopefully the present political leadership there will show a degree more commitment to proper economic management and integrity then the self serving Del Boys who have run the country in the past.