CSI: Are the people running ahead of the policy makers and politicians?

There was a point in a recent discussion on Slugger at which the acronym PUL (Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist) was invoked to described to describe an apparent group behaviour. But what is PUL  in this day and age? Who who is a loyalist is not also a Unionist? And for that matter what is the CNR (Catholic, Nationalist and Republican) community, who who is a nationalist is also not a Republican?

These terms once delineated a real and substantive difference, and the line of difference was really what we used to call pro or anti agreement on the Unionist side and militant or constitutionalist on the other. But now, just five years after what passes for normal politics resumed, none of these terms adequately explain political difference in any real or satisfying way.

There are, to be sure, people on both sides who are still holding out against the settlement. But neither are large enough to be defined by the terms Republican or Loyalist. Nor has Loyalism nor Republicanism become meaningless; they still describe core identities albeit identities that are a great deal more mobile than they were ten years ago when David Trimble was ‘barred’ by Loyalists from entering the Mourneview estate in what was then his Upper Bann constituency.

Which leads me to a certain anxiety I picked up yesterday in Belfast, that the ‘new’ Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) strategy is going to be little more than A Shared Future MK II. By which I mean a document that would have been fit for the place both communities were in 5 years ago, but not today. It remains to be seen whether that anxiety is well founded or not.

But given that most Loyalists (in the broadest sense of that term) seem to have accommodated themselves to the reality of having a former paramilitary leader as dFM, perhaps we need something more ambitious than analogue bridge building?

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  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick
    Nationalists and republicnas have accommodated themselves quite well to the reality of having (firstly) the man widely attributed with stoking the flames that ignited in the 1960s into conflict as First Minister, followed by his firebrand deputy.

    But then, respect for the right of unionism to determine who represented its own community was never really a problem for nationalism.

    On the broader question, it’s a bit of a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answer.

    Yes, there is a haziness around the monolithic certainties of old, and comments attributed to Rev David Latimer and Fr Eugene O’Neill give expression to that reality.

    But the political reaction to such expressions can have a stifling or liberating effect.

    Regarding Latimer, he was publicly slammed by unionist politicians, labelled a ‘Lundy’ by others and the subject of threatening graffiti in his home city.

    The message from the unionist gatekeepers was clear.

    Thankfully, Fr O’Neill’s words have not been meant with similar outbursts as it is perfectly healthy to have such debates and discussions as we move forward as a society.

    But sometimes the discussion loses sight of the reality that the electorate still give their firm support to what was once regarded as the more ‘extreme’ (hate the term but will do for now) of political parties, and the reasons for that have to do with a deeper belief within both communities that these parties’ firm commitment and vision with regard to the constitutional question and political/ cultural identities accurately reflects the position of most in our society.

    That is something that too many lose sight of when suggesting that periodic surveys- other than actual votes cast in a ballot box- have more significance than they really do.

    And, regarding the fault lines within the CSI discussion, these issues strike at the very heart of the matter.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sure this is the right thread Chris?

  • What was PUL ever other than a label of convenience for funding applicants in the ‘peace’ sector?

  • pauluk

    Chris: ‘the man widely attributed with stoking the flames, blah, blah blah…’

    Such a broken record.

    The Republican Movement is primarily responsible for the 3,600+ unnecessary deaths during ‘The Troubles’.

    Man up, Chris, and acknowledge it!

  • Mick Fealty

    Well indeed TD, but for some people on here it also became part of the lingua franca… I also think it captured something that was genuinely differentiated in both communities, but the terms themselves were both imprecise and limiting.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick
    ‘Are the people running ahead of the policy makers and the politicians’ was the headline you placed on this thread.

    Consequently, the points I raised were clearly relevant.

    Take it somebody’s got out of the bed on the wrong side this morn…..

    The PUL term has been widely used and promoted by DUP spokespersons in recent years.

  • Mick Fealty

    Mea culpa… late night, early morning…

  • If the DUP say so, it must be true and not convenient at all.

  • galloglaigh

    pauluk

    Such a broken record.

    The Unionist Movement is primarily responsible for the millions of unnecessary deaths (and displaced people) in Ireland and Scotland during the last two centuries. In fact, the British monarch is responsible for many millions of unnecessary deaths across the globe in the last five or six centuries! But what’s the point in highlighting it eah?

    Man up pauluk and acknowledge that republicanism was a reaction to British/unionist oppression over centuries!

  • galloglaigh

    *In fact, the British monarchy is primarily responsible for many millions of unnecessary deaths across the globe in the last five or six centuries!

    I should have read that before I submitted it. My comment reflects the history of the British Monarchy, and not the current Monarch alone!

  • pauluk

    Oh no! Another broken record.

  • galloglaigh

    Reality kid!

  • weidm7

    The ‘broken record’ line is itself a broken record, repeating something that’s true does not make it less true. Having said that, it’s both sides that need to acknowledge what they both did to stoke the flames of violence and realise that attacking the other isn’t going to solve anything, that we need now to work together, agree to disagree and peacefully work towards our own objectives.

  • Greenflag

    The ‘people ‘ are always ahead of the politicians for good or for ill . It’s just that they the ‘people ‘ don’t often find themselves so far ahead that the politicians not only appear irrelevant but even ridiculous in the context of the real challenges facing any society .

    The example of the UUP in the mid to late 1960’s is just one example . The present FF in the Republic have been neutered or more accurately self neutered . When there is a major disconnect between what the politicians are saying and what people are experiencing then the game is up and the centre if there is one won’t hold .

    The Weimar Republic collapsed because the centre could’nt hold -had lost all credibility and was seen as the architect of economic impoverishment for the German middle class and mass unemployment for the German working class .

    Whats happening in the USA , UK , and Greece , Spain , Ireland , Italy etc is in fact a case of the ‘politicians ‘ not only being not ahead of the people but to those of us still on Earth being lost in space or in some quantum financial services universe which remains unfathomable to 99% of their populations 🙁

  • Greenflag

    @ paulUK ,

    ‘The Republican Movement is primarily responsible for the 3,600+ unnecessary deaths during ‘The Troubles’.’

    If so then

    A succession of British Monarchs , Lord Protectors and governments 1550-1922 have been responsible for the deaths by famine and conquest of

    1) 685, 000 deaths in Ireland 1550-1700 during the Second Conquest .

    2 ) 1,000,000 deaths in Ireland due to famine and famine related deaths in the mid 19th century when Britain was the world superpower and wealthiest country and during a time when food was exported to England from Ireland .

    3) The ‘impoverishment ‘ of the island while under British rule for several centuries by the imposition of trade policies which permitted the export of food and people from the island but restricted it’s local manufactories and industries .

    On the basis of all lives and deaths being ‘equal ‘ The UK / Britain loses /wins the past 400 years (whichever you prefer) by 1, 680,000 to 0 as the Irish State whether Free State or Republic has never waged war against Britain.

    The fact that Irish rebels /revolutionaries /freedom fighters etc fought against British occupation of their country should not even be a factor in comparison . Who would blame the British for being rebels /revolutionaries /freedom fighters if Napoleon or Hitler had conquered Britain ?

    Not I .

    Of course when the British were conquered by the Normans in 1066 they did attempt to revolt a few times but they were never successful . From the North country (Yorkshire ) revolt to Wat Tyler to Robin Hood the list is a long one -Norman ruthlessness in the early conquest of Britain was eventually repeated in the conquests of Wales , Ireland and Scotland .

    Man up, paulUK and acknowledge it!

  • Whats happening in the USA , UK , and Greece , Spain , Ireland , Italy etc is in fact a case of the ‘politicians ‘ not only being not ahead of the people but to those of us still on Earth being lost in space or in some quantum financial services universe which remains unfathomable to 99% of their populations ….. Greenflag 26 February 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Quite so, Greenflag, and with a very select and clever few, who may also be crazy and psychotic too in the 1% remainder, pulling all their strings and running the global show badly with so much bad and negative news…….. which would suggest that they are not very smart at all and better intelligence shared will remove them from positions which are blocking creative novel progress.

  • Mick,

    I also think it captured something that was genuinely differentiated in both communities, but the terms themselves were both imprecise and limiting.

    Indeed. It is quite possible to be none of Protestant, Unionist or Loyalist and yet still be a member of the “PUL community”. We’re all aware that the Protestant/Catholic divide is not the same thing as the Unionist/Nationalist divide. What we’re less aware of is that the political-Unionist/political-Nationalist divide is not the same thing as the ethnic-Unionist/ethnic-Nationalist divide. Some people have tried to take the ethnic undertones out of “Unionist” by using “pro-Union” as a purely political label. We are still missing ethnic terms though, and PUL/CNR do not suffice.

    When we talk about PUL and CNR, what we really mean is “Hun” and “Taig”. But that’s not polite, so we stick to the imprecise euphemisms.

  • Greenflag

    @amanfrommars,

    ‘which would suggest that they are not very smart at all ‘

    If I could believe that the ‘political and banking powers that be ‘ deliberately engineered the current crises in the world economy using there collective intellects ‘ I’d actually be somewhat relieved 😉 But I don’t . Absolute powers corrupting absolutely added to political and policy stupidity plus nutty right wing ideological economics plus a compliant left non alternative is what has led to the current edge of the abyss .

  • Greenflag

    So pauluk has run away ? Again ?