Protestant and Dissenter: the nonsense of Sinn Fein’s outreach

Part of Sinn Fein’s pitch at the Ard Fheis was the idea of moving forwards “Towards a New Republic.” Alex Kane has pointed out what he calls the “Jekyl and Hyde” quality of Sinn Fein’s unionist outreach:

Adams talked, as did Martin McGuinness the night before, of the need to have a “national conversation on the future of the island” and to win unionists over. But then he adds a paragraph about the “British having no right to be here” and concludes with the words of ‘the blanket men and women, Tiocfaidh ar la”.

Sinn Fein seem to be interested in outreach only to an imagined cohort of persuadable unionists, which despite Rev. David Latimer’s speech is a largely illusory group: even Latimer still claims to be a unionist and to desire maintenance of the union. Indeed the strong suspicion is that either Sinn Fein do not know who these persuadable unionists are, or that they know they do not really exist and instead the whole idea of “unionist outreach” is there solely for internal republican consumption and as a stick with which to beat unionists.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the idiotic outdated language Sinn Fein insist on using. Adams’s use of the term “Tiocfaidh ar la” might be for the benefit of the activists but in the speech there was also “The new Republic must be built by Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.”

The continued nonsense of pretending a difference between Protestant and Dissenter shows most likely a desire to reach out no further than the republican base brought up with a quasi religious belief that somehow the sectarian murderers of the IRA are the same as the United Irishmen. The alternative is that Sinn Fein and Adams actually believe there is a difference between Protestants and Dissenters which if true is laughable.

The IRA’s sectarian murder campaign seemed disinterested in which brand of non Catholic they murdered. It is extraordinarily doubtful whether the Enniskillen bombers were targeting one sort of non Catholic or the other. (they mainly managed to murder Dissenters as it happens) The Kingsmills murderers were very clearly lumping Protestants and Dissenters together for the purposes of sectarian slaughter.

The religious difference is unlikely to be clear to most republicans: do republicans understand the difference between Calvinist and Arminian theology? (most Protestants would probably struggle with it) Even if by chance they did, that does not dissociate Protestants from Dissenters. Republicans who might claim to understand the difference would probably claim Church of Ireland adherents as Protestants and Presbyterians as Dissenters. However, even that would be a simplistic nonsense. Where do they wish to place Methodists: as Dissenters? That might seem superficially correct but actually Methodists share Arminian Anglican theology to a great extent and indeed the denomination only split gradually from the CoE at the end of the eighteenth century. As such the United Irishmen might well have regarded the Methodists as Protestants not Dissenters.

The other small reformed denominations are also problematic as to being Protestant or Dissenter: indeed many simply self describe as Christian (not necessarily in an exclusive fashion). That said Republicans have not always worried too much about that: it is unclear whether the Darkley massacre was targeting Darkley Mission Hall as an example of sectarian murder of Protestants or sectarian murder of Dissenters. Equally when the IRA murdered Douglas Deering the last “Protestant” shopkeeper in Rosslea they probably cared little that he was Brethren and as such would have refused to be describe as anything other than a Christian.

Politically of course there is also no split between Protestants and Dissenters. Once when the UUP were dominant it was often regarded as the Presbyterian Church at prayer but equally many of its leading lights from Brookeborough to Molyneaux were CoI. The DUP may always have claimed more of the votes of the smaller evangelical denominations but equally some like the Brethren usually do not vote. Now the DUP probably take the majority of the votes of all the assorted denominations. I know of no one has looked at the denominational voting split recently within unionism probably because other factors are vastly more important. The liberals of parts of East Belfast voted last time in large numbers for Alliance but attempting to see a CoI versus Presbyterian or any other denominational split would be idiotic. Equally in most of the rest of the province reformed denomination would have much less relevance than personal political views, rural versus urban locality, socio economic status, family voting patterns, quality of candidate etc. Mr. Latimer might be seen as a persuadable Dissenter but Rev. Ivan Foster would also be a “Dissenter” and is somewhat more unlikely to be receptive to republican overtures.

The reality is that politically the differences within unionism have nothing to do with “Protestant” versus “Dissenter.” It is a small point but if republicans were actually interested in unionist outreach they might find more sensible ways of expressing their views of unionists. In their language, however, they betray yet again that harking back to their own myths and distortions is far more important than actually addressing any real unionists. Actually that is probably sensible for republicans since if they are unwilling to accept the sectarian nature of the IRA’s campaign there is little point in any form of unionist outreach. Much more fun to talk about unionist outreach and with the next breath celebrate assorted murderers or would be murderers of the past: then maybe have another rendition of Sean South of Garryowen: only three and a half months till they can all troop off to Moane’s Cross.

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  • HeinzGuderian

    I’m an Atheist and proud of it !! 😉

  • ben_w

    So, Turgon actually doesn’t believe in non-Christians! Remarkable. There are only Protestants and Catholics. Even the 17th Century statements of Wolfe Tone are too progressive and inclusive for Turgon. Everyone must be a Protestant or a Catholic and any *suggestion* otherwise will be met with yet another semi-literate 5,000 word salad of bigotry.

    Grow up and join the 21st Century, Turgon. And try to edit yourself, would you? It is always the case that what you’re trying to say could be expressed in a tenth the space you take. Why do you insist on waffling on and on and on and on and on and on instead of trying to express yourself clearly and concisely?

  • Dewi

    Jekyll

  • andnowwhat

    I sense insecurity in this one Luke

  • Obelisk

    By clinging to their idiotic traditions, such as certain phrases with historical resonance and emotional weight (Tiocfaidh ar la, Protestants and Dissenters) Republicans demonstrate that they don’t understand the modern Unionist and are laughably out of touch.

    By clinging to their proud traditions, such as the loyal orders and certain phrases (No Surrender), Unionists demonstrate that they will not be swayed and that their distinctiveness as a people is preserved in the modern world and for posterity.

    I agree Sinn Fein have a lot to own up to if they ever want to move their agenda forward but attacking their use of language and using that as a springboard for the same arguments expressed better elsewhere (notably the David Latimer post) really strikes me as scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    I eagerly await the blog detailing why Gerry Adam’s Beard is offensive and a sure sign that the Republican movement will never truly grasp Unionism.

  • BluesJazz

    Is Brian Cox a dissenter? Or even Pat Buckley.Or Rory O Bradaigh (sp?) the guy in charge of Real Sinn fein. Whatever.
    We have reached a point (long ago reached on the -GB-mainland) where at least half the voting age population cannot be arsed to do so.
    most of these are in the younger demographic, and slightly tilted towards the eastern (unionist) geographic.

    Most of these people attend no church or chapel and have no interest in the supernatural beyond stupid horror films.
    A -significant- minority of highly educated are of scientific bent and take the Dawkins/Darwin view. The rest just go along with their parents ignorance with a shrug.

    SF’s ‘outreach’ is pathetic, just a sham, but the unionist parties and SDLP/Alliance don’t have anything to offer beyond platitudes.
    Thus we have, Newton’s 2nd law applies to politics as well, Entropy.

  • PaddyReilly

    We have here an interesting point, made by Ben. The world does not consist solely of Catholics and Protestants. So in the context of 21st Century Northern Ireland, the word ‘dissenter’ can be held to refer to Muslims, Hindus, Taoists and perhaps Atheists. (Though in the 18th Century it meant non-Anglicans.)

    These are the people to whom Sinn Féin’s outreach should be directed.

    Equally there is a growing constituency of Methodist ministers’ wives, and the like, who are voting Alliance and not necessarily interested in prolonging the Union beyond its sell-by date.

    Looking at the census data, I would say that recording yourself as ‘Protestant’ almost guarantees that you will be voting Unionist, whereas ‘no religion or not stated’ covers a much more open-minded section of people.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Paddy, traditionally the “no religion” was largest in Unionist areas, I suspect the census results next year will see a bit of a change there. This might be of topic but discuuing denominations, the last election illustrated the stranglehold the Free Presbyterian church still holds on the DUP at lower levels, I would love to know what percentage of their council candidates were Free Ps.
    As for Gerry and Prods, he hasn’t a clue, might not be much more enlightened with regards the non-religious voters either! there is a prod way of thinking that goes far beyond religion, it may be the Scots genetics! but even though Gerry thinks he can “channel” the spirit of ’98, he is so far of the mark it is laughable,
    Marty on the other hand I think is more clued in than he lets on, hence his ability to play Latimer for all he is worth, not to forget the unbelieveable doubleact with Ian, and of course his baiting and reeling in of Robo. I wonder if didn’t have his history could he actually persuade unionists? I doubt it, they generally hate smooth talk, and can only be shouted at by one of their own!

  • PaddyReilly

    The attack on the Darkley Mission Hall had nothing to do with Sinn Féin or the IRA, but was performed by something calling itself the ‘Catholic Reaction Force.’

    This was obviously not who it claimed to be, since Catholicism is a religion, not a political movement or guerilla army, and its prescribed reaction in such cases is to turn the other cheek.

    Nationalist guerrilla forces normally have the word ‘Irish’ in their title, and it is the independence of Ireland which is their focus: certainly not the advancement of Catholics qua Catholics. If the Anglican Church submitted to the Pope, if the Queen were replaced by the Duke of Norfolk, and the Inquisition imposed in London, Irish Republicans would still not be interested in membership of the United Kingdom.

    There are two theories as to the identity of the CRF. One is that it was loyalists trying to raise the tension: the other is that a single member of the Nationalist community whose brother had been killed in the recent troubles, and was indiscriminately taking revenge with a gun borrowed from INLA. Whichever the case, this is nothing to do with Sinn Féin.

  • PaddyReilly

    ..traditionally the “no religion” was largest in Unionist areas

    There are actually no Unionist areas, only areas which Unionists think belong to them. A good example of this would be East Belfast (second highest occurrence of no religion/not stated) where the Alliance Party pipped the DUP at the last general election.

    The highest instance of no religion/not stated was in North Down:- nearly 25%. In this constituency we find that 18.6% voted Alliance and 7.9% voted Green at the last Stormont election.

    So the likely analysis is that those who put themselves down on the Census as Protestant, voted Unionist; less than half the Catholics voted for the SDLP and SF; and nearly all the non-staters and no religionists and half the Catholics voted for Alliance or the Greens.

  • Stu DeNimm

    >The alternative is that Sinn Fein and Adams
    >actually believe there is a difference between
    >Protestants and Dissenters

    You know perfectly well that this anachronism is a timeworn Irish cliche that originated in intra-Protestant sectarianism. I doubt anyone has asked Adams lately for his opinions about Protestant theology. Don’t let him hear you refer to the “Church of Rome” when actually the church he attends, if he does, is in Belfast.

  • Sinn Fein is barking up the wrong tree, and Turgon seems to think that religion is somehow relevant.

    It’s the economy, stupid.

    I know the UK is in dire straits, but seriously – what idiot of any religion or political persasion would want to join that basket case economy of the Republic?

  • Into the west

    The 1992 and 1993 editions of Macmillan’s The Student Book: The Indispensible Applicant’s Guide to UK Colleges, Polytechnics and Universities advised potential University of Ulster students that “Tiocfaioh ar la” [sic] was a common greeting on campus and meant “pleased to meet you”. This error, suspected to be the result of a prank, was expunged from the 1994 edition.

  • fordprefect

    Why do people get so animated about the bullshit that SF spouts? They are seen in a lot of Nat/Cath/Rep areas as nothing more than constitutional Nationalists and in some cases constitutional Unionists! The Tiocfadh ar la lark is to pretend to the sheep that follow them that THEY are true Republicans. Could someone please tell me the difference between Francis Hughes, for example, and the people that killed the two soldiers at Masserene? who SF called traitors!?

  • An alternative reading of the argument being put forward in the post would be simply this: to be a member of the British Unionist minority in Ireland is to be a Protestant, and to be a member of the Protestant minority in Ireland is to be a British Unionist.

    The claim that the military campaign of Irish Republicans was wholly sectarian because members of the British Unionist community were killed or wounded in it indicates that in the view of the writer Unionism is a political ideology entirely belonging to one religious faith: Protestantism.

    Is this not itself “sectarian”? Does it not reveal the great failure of British Unionism in Ireland over the last two centuries, that even its most passionate defenders and advocates regard it as a the political expression of a colonial and ethnic minority on the island, with a single fundamentalist religion at its heart, exclusive of all others?

    Even the re-imagined form of contemporary “Civic Unionism” fails utterly because, freed of its ethno-religious roots, it has no meaning and so simply withers and dies.

    At least Irish Republicanism can claim healthier roots than that, ones that draw upon several wells, not just one poisoned spring. The boast of “Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter” is no idle one as any review of the Irish revolutionary tradition over the last two centuries can amply testify.

    Where are the great Roman Catholic advocates of Unionism in Ireland? The liberal politicians, and writers, poets and dramatists? What people or race or nation were ever inspired by the British Unionist tradition in Ireland to pursue their freedom elsewhere?

    I’m sorry but if the British Unionist minority believe their cause is served by equating it with the Protestant religion, or Christian fundamentalism, then they are sadly mistaken. We live in a liberal, secular, post-Christian Europe and unless the British ethnic minority in Ireland want to be lumped together in the popular mind of Europeans with Islamic fundamentalist communities (if such exist beyond journalistic hyperbole) they had better start speaking with a new voice. Or face being silenced. Forever.

  • keano10

    Turgon – if you are going to even credibly attempt to speak on behalf of Unionism, you are going to need to stop citing just one reference source in virtually every lead thread – Alex Kane…!

    It’s becoming laughable.

  • aquifer

    As the big mixer of globalisation churns, those that can recruit new converts (and coverts) to their cause will win. Orange unionists are a contradiction in terms first of all, world class practitioners of political non-sense, doomed to futility.

    Failing to acknowledge the equality inherent in British citizenship, they continue to rescue Sinn Fein’s toxic politics from historic irrelevance.

    It is all a big laugh really.

  • PaulT

    Thing is its actually 2011, which is worth noting because I’ve noticed that Turgon listed events from 1976, 1977, and 1983.

    Now,I fully understand that for those who were affected by those killings/murders it probably seems like yesterday.

    But generally apart from those people and others who have suffered for example the Ballymurphy families, most people have moved on.

    For which we should be thankful, if others in both nationalism and unionism had taken the same line as Turgon and others on the loony right of unionism or indeed the loony left of nationalism NI would be in a much worse place today. As everyone sulked and engaged in finger pointing.

    Its a fact, most people prefer the way things are now, its a fact that unionists want to remain in the UK, its a fact that nationalists want a UI.

    Both communities have every right to express their desires and to work to achieve them, and that includes SF.

    If nationalists want a UI they need to convince a section of unionism.

    If unionists want to maintain the UK, they need to reachout out to nationalism.

    In this post, Turgon is only preaching to himself and the TUV (for which my sympathies on the loss of Vance, a valuable member and liberal voice in the party)

  • Reader

    PaulT : Thing is its actually 2011, which is worth noting because I’ve noticed that Turgon listed events from 1976, 1977, and 1983.
    And a republican slogan from 200 years earlier; still used in a formulaic fashion today, shorn of context, and not usually understood by the people who use it.
    Actually, I think Turgon may have underestimated the political and economic issues attached to the ‘dissenter’ label during the era of the penal laws.

  • “solely for internal republican consumption and as a stick with which to beat unionists.”

    Turgon, there are alternative explanations. The presence of Latimer distracted from the reality of the current PRM, it created the illusion that its elected representatives are committed to democratic means alone and this propaganda poses a heightened threat to the SDLP.

    If some Unionists were to perceive that there is no longer much to choose between SF and the SDLP then they might refrain from propping up the SDLP in mainly Nationalist constituencies. Such an erosion of the SDLP vote from two directions isn’t good news for those who prefer democracy to PRM ‘thugocracy’.

    I’m all for decency in political dialogue but the sanitisation of thugocracy needs to be exposed and resisted. It has suited London and Dublin to, at times, elevate the parapoliticians above the politicians but, sadly, a much weakened MSM has often gone along with this acquiescent strategy.

    Burke: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

    Perhaps Burke has more to offer than Longley.

  • Limerick

    “There are two theories as to the identity of the CRF. One is that it was loyalists trying to raise the tension: the other is that a single member of the Nationalist community whose brother had been killed in the recent troubles, and was indiscriminately taking revenge with a gun borrowed from INLA. Whichever the case, this is nothing to do with Sinn Féin.”

    Paddy,

    Those two theories may well be common amongst those republicans, who actually give a damn about the perception of blood thirsty sectarianism which is associated with their movement, but people who dwell in the real world are well aware of who carried out the Darkley massacre.

    It was carried out by Dominic McGlinchey’s INLA. The INLA is an offshoot of the Official IRA, from which the Provos also spewed forth. Whilst Darkley cannot be pinned on Provisional Sinn Fein it can certainly be pinned on the greater republican movement, as they are all little piggies born from the same sow.

    Indeed the Sinners have no problem with claiming the INLA merchants who starved themselves to death alongside their Provo friends.

    Let us not forget also that the Sinners bleated for years that their people were not responsible for the Kingsmills massacre until it was proven, by forensic evidence from their weapons, that they very much were.

  • Stewart Finn

    I think that Turgon has a point about language, Many Republicans seem to not realise how inflammatory their language can be or cant help tipping a hat to their base – As a result, they might very well not have bothered, because the second half of the sentence at best cancels out the first.

    Now dont get me wrong, Unionism is equally as bad at this, they do not on the most part understand Republicans at all or sometimes seem hell bent on causing agitation.

    The major difference being they (Unionists) arguably dont have to (they should!-but dont NEED to-yet) where as if Sinn Fein ever want to get anywhere close to a United Ireland they have to engage and convince.

    As an anecdotal example I have attended a Sinn Fein Unionist engagement event as a Unionist. As background, as I have said previously I am not an especially stereotypical Unionist, I dont have much interest in flags, emlems, loyal orders, annoying republicans and I do not need anyone to repent for my benefit. Basically I am what Sinn Fein need but are perhaps most afraid of I am in theory at least more persuadable to a UI however I do not fit any of their ideas about what a Unionist is and I am by no means alone.

    I know, respect and like people who are members of Sinn Fein yet at said Unionist engagement event I have never felt greater distance between myself and Sinn Fein or myself and their proposed United Ireland. Everything about the event was counter productive from their point of view, I was turned off at every step, literature, speeches, language – everything. If they are trying to engage and understand that has to be commended but it is not going very well (for them) so far.

  • Limerick

    When Gerry Adams refers to Catholics, Protestants and Dissenters he is of course attempting to portray himself as some sort of modern day Wolfe Tone. As is often the case with Irish republicans he has a partial grasp of history which he has moulded to suit his own prejudices whilst ignoring the little bits that don’t fit in.

    Adams would see himself as a modern day ‘United Irishman’ when in point of fact he is a modern day ‘Defender’. The United Irishmen were of course Presbyterians who were greatly influenced by the revolutions in America and France. The Defenders were a sectarian Catholic terror organisation which spent their time on activities such as cutting the tongues out of Protestant school teachers, and their wives, in south Armagh.

    In 1798 they were briefly united in an attempted rebellion against British rule in Ireland. However in what is now Northern Ireland the Defenders declined to turn up at key battles with the result that the United Irishmen were routed and massacred. In what is now the ROI the Defenders embarked on an orgy of sectarian slaughter against their Protestant neighbours.

    Following this the Presbyterians, quite understandably copped on to the fact their best interests did not lie in allying themselves with people of the calibre of Uncle Gerry, and they became very much pro the United Kingdom.

    Whilst the Provos, and Uncle Gerry in particular, may imagine in their fantasy world that they are descended from the United Irishmen they are not. They are descended from, and behaved exactly like, the sectarian Defenders organisation.

  • Stewart Finn

    I should add that I am only really talking about their actual unionist engagement attempts.

    Some individual members do reasonably well at engaging Unionism just by going about their business. The all be it at times ‘begrudging respect’ people such as Martin McGuinness get from Unionists – wether that be for language or for effeciency or specfic deeds accomplishes some of what they need to do – it just seems that when a label and a ‘strategy’ is put on it ‘Unionist Engagement’ suddenly gets it all badly wrong.

  • PaulT

    OK, Reader, being honest I don’t really think its a winnable arguement from either side, likely it will be the usual Turgon orgy of whataboutry.

    But I will say considering the OO is currently deciding whether or not to chuck out 2 members for attending the catholic funeral of a murdered policeman I think unionism has as many questions to ask itself as the republican movement has.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about words for now, republicanism needs to deal with its hardcore and unionism with its.

    republicanisms hardcore is small and prone to violence, unionisms is much larger, but less prone to violence, however, both communities should put their own house in order before tackling the otherside.

    And you know what, I think they are!

  • PaulT, there might be more votes in highlighting the foibles of ‘the other side’ or one’s opponents in the respective Unionist and Nationalist families.

    The various groupings in Moyle often need cross-community support but some councillors just can’t resist a Unionist/Nationalist cat-fight.

  • Neil

    the nonsense of Sinn Fein’s outreach

    Which, of course is deplorable, especially if contrasted to the sterling cross community efforts of the TUV. Leprechaun language loving folks, decent to a man (apart from that guy who loves Torrens Knight so much, but he’s the exception that proves the rule).

    Of course the truth is that TUVites would find some sinister motivation for a shinner taking a shit, it could just be that the SF conference is aimed at the SF party members (like, I’m sure the TUV conference won’t be aimed at Republicans), and Latimer’s speech should be viewed in that context.

    It’s simply yet another road marker on the journey, they happen every 6 months round here. Reports get published, apologies get issued, Royalty visits, anniversaries happen and one day, after peace, decommissioning and SF support for the PSNI, a Protestant minister addressed the SF conference.

    Not everything is about Unionists you know Turgon? Sometimes we Republicans do things that don’t feature Unionists in the centre of our minds. Like SF conferences, having a Protestant address does not equate to winning Protestants/Unionists over. You’re not that thick and neither are we.

  • This sounds a little bit like the observations that William of Baskerville, kind of a main character in “The Name of the Rose”, was making about the different christian denominations at the time and that the Inquisition considered as promoting heretic doctrines. No distinction between the different religious parties. If they are not Catholics, they are heretics.

  • The key to a united Ireland is the same as the one which continues the Union – self interest. Historically, Prods have shown their loyalty to the Crown is conditional, and perhaps could be bought off if the price is right and conditions good.

    But this isn’t on the horizon. It really isn’t. And there is no amount of unionist outreach SF can do to change that situation in the near future. In fact, the most effective way to get more Prods to support a UI would simply be to disband Sinn Fein…

  • …and for the economy in the south to prove itself.

  • foyle observer

    Who are the TUV? Are they still a party?

  • Seimi

    ‘Who are the TUV? Are they still a party?’

    A party of one 🙂

  • antamadan

    Limerick’ The Defenders were a sectarian Catholic terror organisation which spent their time on activities such as cutting the tongues out of Protestant school teachers, and their wives, in south Armagh.’

    Was the teacher’s tongue cut (awful), because the teacher was a Protestant, or for another reason?.
    I read somewhere, that in Crossmaglen, the new British ascendancy got rid of the teacher who spoke the kids’ language, and installed a teacher who could only speak English as part of the colonial policy of eradication of Gaelic culture. That teacer was later found with his tongue cut off.

  • Limerick

    “I read somewhere, that in Crossmaglen, the new British ascendancy got rid of the teacher who spoke the kids’ language, and installed a teacher who could only speak English as part of the colonial policy of eradication of Gaelic culture. That teacer was later found with his tongue cut off.”

    antamadan,

    Oh. Well that’s okay then.

  • Alias

    “The key to a united Ireland is the same as the one which continues the Union – self interest. Historically, Prods have shown their loyalty to the Crown is conditional, and perhaps could be bought off if the price is right and conditions good.”

    A bit cynical but probably very close to the truth of it. The interesting aspect is that neither of the two nations seem to regard self-determination as an inalienable right.

    While the ‘nationalists’ might not recognise it as such, they are recognising that it isn’t inalienable when they say that nobody would vote for a united Ireland in the present economic climate.

    In other words, it is conditional, whereas inalienable rights cannot be conditional.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I’ve never seen the “conditional” at all: it’s always been a complete misunderstanding of Ulster British loyalty to stress its conditionality. It’s no more conditional than anyone else’s nationality.
    Turgon’s post is quite right, the attempts at outreach are risible and clearly they do imagine that referring to Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter somehow makes them a cross-community organisation. So it’s our fault we reject their warm embrace. Once again, it’s the words of inclusion to mask a heart of sectarian hatred. Put simply, they have to learn to love Britishness in Ireland not just Irish Protestantism. I really don’t think they’re up to it.

  • Alias

    I think you’re right about the the British nation in NI in the main but I don’t know to what degree it requires the British state. There is certainly room for doubt from research into national identity in NILT 2010, e.g. only 13% of the population said that they would find removal of the British state in NI (i.e. unity) to be “almost impossible to accept” so only a minority of them see it as inalienable, and that 13% is also qualified by the adverb.

    The Catholics have formally declared that Irish national self-determination isn’t an inalienable right since they have made it conditional on a majority of those who are British agreeing to give up their right to British national self-determination, and even then its exercise is to be circumscribed by ‘parity of esteem’ between two nationalisms. That downgraded it from a right to an aspiration.

    There is something deeply suspect about a person who is not loyal to his nation, whereas that loyalty may even require disloyalty to his state. Loyalists, despite the misnomer, were deeply disloyal to their state when they threatened a revolt against its sovereign authority in 1912.

    So it is probably fairer just to say that it isn’t inalienable for ‘nationalists’ but it isn’t known how many unionists regard it as such.

  • Alias

    “Put simply, they have to learn to love Britishness in Ireland not just Irish Protestantism.”

    Well, yes, but if you read the British Irish Agreement, you’ll notice that the parity of esteem in the treaty is between nationalisms and not religions so on a constitutional level, the Shinners don’t count.

  • Alias

    To come back to 1912, the Ulster Covenant was above all a declaration of fidelity to the nation (the ‘men of Ulster’). This ‘nation’, not declared as British, cited the authority of the King and G-d above the authority of the British state; and above all three, it cited the authority of its own collective.

    What it then regarded as inalienable was the right of citizenship that it held within the United Kingdom, so it would be British nationality rather than British nationhood. This right came before any duty of loyalty to that state by its citizens since they coyly asserted the right to use force against it in the exercise of is sovereign authority, and backed such coyness up with militant means. There were a lot of fears expressed about what Home Rule would mean (but what it wouldn’t have meant is ejection from the UK), and these fears indicate that protection is the key and which legal entity could better provide it. In that regard, it’s unclear to what extent Britishness (whatever that means) could be regarded as being of greater or equal importance.

    So that is what has changed. Back then there was no doubt that nationality (meaning, the protection offered to the ‘men of Ulster’ by the British state) was regarded as an inalienable right rather than being British as a nation, whereas now that loss of the United Kingdom is something that only 13% of the entire population would find “almost impossible to accept” rather than the half million Protestants who declared it impossible to accept back then.

    Personally, I wouldn’t vote for unity in a million years on the basis of the British Irish Agreement; and even if that was off the table, I don’t see that I would ever vote to put myself in the position where I would have to manage such a complex people as a citizen of the same state. Since only 16% of NI’s population want unity anyway, it isn’t an issue that I’ll ever have to address in my lifetime. The UK knows that, but it doesn’t mind using the issue to promote Britishness in the neighbouring state and to make those who would otherwise claim its territory do so only on terms that promote British national interests.

  • Whilst the Provos, and Uncle Gerry in particular, may imagine in their fantasy world that they are descended from the United Irishmen they are not. They are descended from, and behaved exactly like, the sectarian Defenders organisation.” … Limerick 15 September 2011 at 10:39 am

    Only in your own personalised world view, Limerick. Other see and work in a much bigger picture show for presentation of future news.

    Is that not a Gerry Adams Forte?

  • Henry94

    “Put simply, they have to learn to love Britishness in Ireland not just Irish Protestantism.”

    If the Queen’s visit showed anything it is that the British and the Irish have no issues with each other. Neither Britishness nor Protestantism are a problem. The problem is with they way they combine in the north into the grotesque parody that in Orangeism. British Protestants have nothing to do with that and if they think about it at all see it as an Irish thing. Part of the Irish problem between different kinds of Irish people.

    Sorry if that’s not very outreachy but it’s the truth and if in addressing Unionists we can’t be frank about how we see them and their condition then there isn’t much point.

    If the UK was a republic electing a President then Peter Robinson would be considered far more of a “foreign” candidate then Martin McGuinness ever would in the south.

  • Mike the First

    Henry94

    “If the Queen’s visit showed anything it is that the British and the Irish have no issues with each other. Neither Britishness nor Protestantism are a problem. The problem is with they way they combine in the north into the grotesque parody that in Orangeism. British Protestants have nothing to do with that and if they think about it at all see it as an Irish thing. Part of the Irish problem between different kinds of Irish people”

    This reads like you think “British Protestants” are external to Northern Ireland. Is that correct?

  • Drumlins Rock

    This comment was posted by Into the West on another thread, but I think it fits better here and if it truely sums up Republican thinking then it is quite distrubing how far they have to go in understanding their neighbours.

    “I do think that unionism is a divide and rule policy of the Brits,
    setting one tribe against the other. very cunning,
    That’s why I oppose it.

    To me there are no tribal boxes, as under the tricolour
    we have the green and orange,
    all Irish, all equal, all magic.
    that might be simple, but its how I see it and how I like it.”

    Republicans seem to think unionists are simply hoodwinked and bought off Irish Gaels who if they just opened their eyes would see the truth and dump any pretense of Britishness, like Rev. Latimer and those wise United Irishmen (neither of whom actually did dump their underlying Britishness) But they are wrong, I AM BRITISH, through and through, I look to London as my capital, English is my language, the Queen is my head of state, my culture, politics, even religion is all British, with an Irish/Ulster twist but thats who I am, and who all my recent ancestors were, to become Gealic Irish would be a lie.
    I wish Gerry & Westy would accept that and if they are serious about a United Ireland tell us how you can accomadate or British Irish identity in your new state a quit being so condescending as to think we are merely deluded Irishmen.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Henry, if the UK were electing a President then might I suggest Paddy Ashdown, or for colour Lembik Opik, from the lib dems, Claire Short or Kate Hoey from Labour, the tories would probably go for a Duke, Westminister or Abercorn would do, or a distinguished celibrity, Terry Wogan or Eamon Holmes, probably the odd on NI producing the president would be higher than those for some Englsih regions of a similar size.

  • Henry94

    Mike

    This reads like you think “British Protestants” are external to Northern Ireland. Is that correct?

    Yes. Ordinary British Protestantism has as much to do with Unionism as everyday Irishness has to do with an Irish-Americanism. That is, not exactly nothing but not much either.

    In fairness you could possibly make a similar distinction between northern and southern nationalism but while the southern nationalist might see the northerner as a more hyper version of himself the British Protestant in the Home Counties looks at the Orangeman and sees what? An Irishman I suggest. One of those Irish people who wants to be ruled by Britain but an Irishman all the same.

  • You swing history around like a grotesque bludgeoning club whilst the future waits on your attention and leads with novel free programming of revolutionary leadership in underground communities.

    It is certainly Folly to Misunderestimate the Ancient Power of Celtic Minds Lovingly Mined and Nurtured.

    Quite whether Sinn Fein are ready, willing and able to float that Particular and Peculiar Virtual Program onto the markets, is something only they could answer truthfully.

  • Turgon

    Henry 94,
    “the British Protestant in the Home Counties looks at the Orangeman and sees what? An Irishman I suggest.”

    That is a flawed analysis at many different levels.

    Firstly British people from the Home Counties are not a homogenous group: there are many different attitudes, lifestyles, socio economic variables. The Home Counties is actually a large and diverse area with a vast population.

    What Henry may mean is the predominantly Tory voting middle class people of the Home Counties. They would be one group but almost certainly a minority and even that group would be highly variable in their views on all manner of things.

    Next to lump all Orangemen together is incorrect: there are liberal minded and less liberal minded Orangemen. Then even if all Orangemen were the same they represent only a minority of Unionists. Unionists (like all people) are variable in their views on many issues: the divergence of opinions of members of slugger’s unionist community is a case in point and the wider unionist population is probably at least as diverse.

    Coming back to the attitudes of the mainland British population to Northern Ireland unionists that is again almost certain to be diverse. Yes there are the Troops Out movement etc. However, there are also unionists not just in the Home Counties either.

    Having lived in England (actually in a Home County) in the past I can only observe that most people accepted me as whatever I wanted to be. Very few regarded me as Irish: most knew full well that unionist people in Northern Ireland regarded themselves as British and were entirely happy with that.

    I suspect that some republicans like to delude themselves that lots of British people in GB do not regard Northern Ireland’s unionists as British. Then they try to tell the British people here that they are actually Irish. The reality of course is much more complex but that does not fit with the narrative and the myth is much more acceptable to them.

    Maybe Irish republicans could let other people self define as they choose and stop telling everyone on these islands what they should be and think in order to satisfy a deluded highly sectarian myth which has been used to justify countless murders. Then again that would be to question one of the great shibboleths of Irish republicanism.

  • Henry94

    Turgon

    You are entitled to self-define and as far as I’m concerned you are as British as Finchley if that’s what you want. And if the people of Finchley don’t agree that’s their business.

    I totally believe you by the way that the polite people you encountered in England were willing to accept your self-definition too. If he says he’s British then don’t argue with him. You know what the Irish are like .

  • Into the west

    Drumlins Rock,
    I appreciate you transferring over to this thread
    and your response.

    I’ll have to start by picking up on your last comment.
    There is no way you are an Irish Gael,
    and it would be a lie to pretend otherwise,
    or be as you say condescending.
    I’m happy with the Peter Robinson view
    which he expressed when he became the leader of the DUP,
    in a speech to Stormont, he talked about the Planter and the Gael.

    Now on the vexed question of Britishness,
    Robinson did not even mention it once in his speech.
    That was deliberate and interesting, why do you think he left it out?

    I have to say I echo what Henry has said, and would just add that as far as british culture is concerned in a united ireland its not going to just stop or be wiped off the menu.
    I don’t watch eastenders of corrie, but those TV shows will still be watched, BBC will be available everywhere, premier league football and so on. as it is worldwide, these are the marvels of british culture .. there is no problem about that.

    But here’s the rub,
    the state opening of parliament would be a bbc parliament show
    and not an irish state broadcast, we’d have our own Dail opening.
    It couldn’t really be any other way could it ?

  • Into the west

    Turgon,
    I live in the South of England, and I know that as far as the body politic is concerned NI is mentioned in politics here only ever in relation to terrorism, that’s the only time it gets on the news.
    Its not in programes, and doesn’t really feature in the national conversation.
    scotland does all the time, esp as SNP want to exit.
    Wales is in the news today because of the mining tragedy.
    But the main stuff 90% concerns England North and South, with you folks on the periphery.

    even in parliamant there is a hush when NI MP’s speak,
    I don’t mean to be unkind, but you can feel the tension, as soon as the NI question is over
    MP’s get back to the normal raucous Labour vs Tory shenaningans ..
    This is the way it is ..

  • Drumlins Rock

    Loave watching the State opening, can’t see opening the Dail have the same resonance, 🙂

    Your observation about Robinsons speech is interesting, and has been noted before, some would go so far as to say that the DUP are not really a Unionist Party at all but are more an “Ulster Nationalist” party, hence having a close relationship with the SNP leader, which adds a further dimension to the story. I don’t believe that is the case for the majority of the party and certainly not for its voters, but a significant proportion of its members have flirted with “independence/dominion” pipe dreams over the years, including Robinson I think, so that adds a further dimension to the debate.
    In addition we have the fact there remains a strong (and probably increasing once again) British element to Irish society, I am an Irish Unionist too, but that is purely in the aspirationalist box for now, but in the sports, cultural, real economy etc. the border is increasingly artificial,and I mean the Irish Sea border.

  • Turgon

    Henry 94,
    “don’t argue with him” is correct except that is probably why you hear what you want to. Most people in most places in the world let people self define as they choose and do not try to second guess who or what they are. Irish republicans, however, spend a great deal of time telling other people how they (the other people) should self define. Until recently they murdered people to try to get them to self define in the way they wanted (or possibly just to get rid of them).

    Into the west,
    You say above “not an irish state broadcast, we’d have our own Dail opening” yet tell us you live in teh South of England.

    The use of “we” to describe events in a country you do not live in is interesting. Maybe you are only in England briefly but if so how can you have formed so full an understanding of the views of the South of England’s inhabitants?

    I suppose at least you have slightly more ability to do that than Henry who seems to be able to establish the views of all the people of Finchley from afar: maybe he can mind read?

    Again like Henry 94 you try to tell us what the people of Southern England think. There must be 30 million or so of them yet you seem to be able to tell us what they think. Furthermore you tell us what unionists think and are.

    Unfortunately for Irish republicans people in all countries tend to be much more disperate than the mono ethnic positions which republicans seem to want to shoe horn them into. They are also often much more tolerant than Irish republicans: afterall few support the murder of their neighbours.

    There is a link between saying all of a given group think such and such a way and violence. First one lumps them all together; then descrobes them as wrong or dangerous or bad, effectively dehmanisinig them. Then it is so much easier to justify killing them. It is racism or sectarianism plain and simple and is very common in Irish republicanism.

  • Eddie (Eamonn) Mac Bhloscaidh

    I have to say I have never heard a republican saying anything but that Unionists are British.

    And sure even if they said they were British, Unionists would say that there were Irish. Republicans say Unionists are Irish, then Unionists say they are British.

    No win situation. Pointless really.

    Unionist complain that Republicans want to force them into an United Ireland and yet have no problem forcing Republicans / Nationalists into a United Kingdom.

    Unionist claim that there culture would not be respected in a United Ireland and yet go out of their way to inform that they do not respect Irish culture in the UK, resisting every last tiny thing, mocking, supporting legistative bans etc.

    Again, pointless.

    Whatever the faults of Sinn Féin outreach, it sure as hell beats any unionist outreach.

    But you see inevitable.

    For the Six County state was set up to insure that there would be more unionists than nationalists, tens of thousands of unionists were abandoned to that end.

    The only way any sort Unionist ‘outreach’ will ever appear would be if there was a strong suggestion that the numbers game would go againist the union.

    And even then, I don’t think Turgon will be wracking his mind to think of ways of making the UK a comfortable place for the Gael.

  • antamadan

    I said in relation to the simplistic statement that the Defenders problem was sectarianism murder, the following

    ‘Was the teacher’s tongue cut (awful), because the teacher was a Protestant, or for another reason?.
    I read somewhere, that in Crossmaglen, the new British ascendancy got rid of the teacher who spoke the kids’ language, and installed a teacher who could only speak English as part of the colonial policy of eradication of Gaelic culture. That teacer was later found with his tongue cut off.

    and Limerick comes back with
    Limerick (profile)
    15 September 2011 at 10:48 pm

    ‘antamadan,
    Oh. Well that’s okay then.’

    You know damn well, I didn’t say it’s ok, I said ‘awful’ (see above) , but you didn’t cut and paste that bit because you are not interested in a real dissussion.

  • Turgon

    “ways of making the UK a comfortable place for the Gael.”

    Considering the number of Irish people in the UK (mainly in England) it seems at least some of them are comfortable.

  • Henry94

    Turgon

    Irish republicans, however, spend a great deal of time telling other people how they (the other people) should self define.

    I don’t speak for anybody except myself but it’s an interesting question about self-definition. Should it cover how your address people and treat them or what you think about them. I would certainly call unionists British and give due regard to their cultural affinity. But can I stop myself from noticing the manifest differences in attitude and outlook between them and every other British person I know?

    I don’t think we can stop having our own private definitions and views about people. Respect for self-definition is public manners designed to avoid unproductive arguments and that is a good thing.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “tens of thousands of unionists were abandoned to that end.”

    What happened to those tens of thousands btw? yet millions of Irish have prospered in the British state.

  • Eddie (Eamonn) Mac Bhloscaidh

    Turgon, Drumlins Rock,

    Surely the lesson there is that Irish people are more comfortable politically in Britian that in N. Ireland.

    Like I said, unionists will never address why nationalists vote to leave the union, they dont need to.

    Someday, maybe they will have to. A whole new ball game if that happens.

  • Limerick

    “Unionist complain that Republicans want to force them into an United Ireland and yet have no problem forcing Republicans / Nationalists into a United Kingdom.”

    Eddie,

    Northern republicans were born into the United Kingdom.

  • Limerick

    “You know damn well, I didn’t say it’s ok, I said ‘awful’ (see above) , but you didn’t cut and paste that bit because you are not interested in a real dissussion.”

    antamadan,

    So what was your point? Where you seriously trying to claim that cutting the man’s* tongue out was not sectarian because it was done in the cause of Gailege?

    *And his wife’s tongue and his son’s calf.

  • Alias

    “I AM BRITISH, through and through, I look to London as my capital, English is my language, the Queen is my head of state, my culture, politics, even religion is all British, with an Irish/Ulster twist but thats who I am, and who all my recent ancestors were, to become Gealic Irish would be a lie.”

    “I wish Gerry & Westy would accept that and if they are serious about a United Ireland tell us how you can accomadate or British Irish identity in your new state a quit being so condescending as to think we are merely deluded Irishmen.”

    I see a contradiction between those two statements. The problem there is that the state exists to protect and promote the culture of the nation. If you were French and expressed the same sentiments, why would you then think that living in a state rule by Italians for the Italian nation would offer your French nation the same protection as could be offered by a state ruled by the French? That is just absurd.

    The basis in public international law for the nation state is Article 1 of the UN’s ICCPR: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” If you are British and the right to “freely pursue [your British] economic, social and cultural development” is important to you then your nation should retain control of its own sovereign state and not contemplate converting itself into a non-sovereign nation within a non-British state.

    That is the same basis on which the Irish state claims its legitimacy: “The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.” (Bunreacht na hEireann) You will note that it doesn’t say anything that giving a veto over that right to the British or any other nation.

    That is why the parity of esteem awarded to the British nation in the British Irish Agreement, a treaty between two sovereign states, would be declared unconstitutional if it was ever tested in the Supreme Court. It is a clear violation of the first article of the constitution.

    What the British state’s agents of influence (the Shinners) are proffering is the cancellation of the right of the Irish nation to self-determination by the expedient of making it subject to the British nation, whereas the de facto nation state of Great Britian would continue to exist after the Irish state was so dismantled and, therefore, British national self-determination would continue to exist but not Irish national self-determination.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Northern republicans were born into the United Kingdom –
    Plenty of Donegal republicans in Fianna Fáil, SDLP and Sinn Féin.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Alias,

    It seems you don’t want the NI Unionists in an All-Ireland state because you believe they’d want to change Ireland so much it wouldn’t even reflect what the vast majority of the Irish nation want.

    So why don’t you just state you think re-drawing the border is the solution? Or else ignoring the Ulster Republicans altogether is perhaps your belief? You do, after all, seem to constantly sneer at them for throwing away their right to self determination in the GFA.