Why are there not more Nationalist blogs?

Interesting question by Ian Parsley, which he promises to come back to… Why are there so few nationlist bloggers in the Northern Irish blogosphere? Well, there are some. And to be honest, there are not that many more unionist blogs. Talking to a senior broadcast journalist recently he even went so far as to suggest the era of the blog is behind us as micro blog sites like Twitter and Facebook surpass the humble blog like Slugger as a means of communication…

In this rather mercurial interview with John Arovosis in Washington a couple of years back, I suggested one reason why the blogosphere has not taken off in Ireland at all is the post ideological nature of Irish politics means that there are few matters of substance that serve to cleanly segment the online political market:

As an amusing aside, this is what The Dissenter had to say on the matter:

  • john

    I can think of Jude Collins, Mark McGregor, Splintered sunrise, end game in ulster of the top of my head and Im sure Bavarian orange is really a closet shinner

  • john

    Sorry forgot to mention alex attwood nat and his trandy palitics

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Why so few Nationalist blogs?”

    I found this bit funny:

    “It could be that Unionism is a more dissenting tradition, and thus there is more open debate.”

    Is it not the one which is made keen on people marching in line in both the physical and cultural terms. From the Orange order to the Unionist packs to keep out nationalists from Fermanagh to Belfast.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “made” should have been mad in the above post but then again it sorts of fits.

  • Nordie Northsider

    “I can think of Jude Collins, Mark McGregor, Splintered sunrise, end game in ulster of the top of my head and Im sure Bavarian orange is really a closet shinner.”

    Some of those blogs are more active than others though. The last entry on ‘End Game’ was on January 28.

    Is it possible that Nationalists prefer their on-line comment on all-Ireland fora like http://www.politics.ie? (Which, ironically, has a partitionist format).

  • Mick Fealty

    I think that ‘partition’ is more akin to the kind you used to put on a computer hard disk, to keep the madness out of the mainframe southern discussion.

  • john

    Nordie Northsider you have a point about end game in ulster and Im starting to worry if the author has gone the same way as the horseman, I hope not, Ulster is doomed whether you agreed with the author or not was always well wriiten and I was so happy to find that someone was going to try and continue his work. I know blogs can be time consuming but hope the new guy who ever he is continues and gives us more regular entries with plenty of graphs and charts for us to scrutinize

  • IJP

    Tyrone

    You prove my point – most non-Nationalists have nothing to do with the marching tradition these days.

    Nordie

    That’s absolutely the case (I was involved peripherally in the foundation of politics.ie many moons ago and am delighted at how well Dave and the team have done).

    I just wonder why that is?

    Or is it, indeed?!

  • Alias

    It probably has something to do with unionists being the only nationalists left in Northern Ireland. The other tribe has been successfully neutered by the British state, and now slot into a category of post-nationalism.

    Having given up their former right to national self-determination (downgrading it to the political status of a non-achievable aspiration) and simultaneously upgraded what was formerly dismissed as the ‘Unionist Veto’ to the status of a principle, their political ideology is no longer the promotion of a sovereign state for a sovereign nation (the hallmark of nationalism) but the promotion of the absurd notion of a bi-national state where two nations are hold a mutual veto over each other’s negated right to self-determination as an expression of parity of esteem.

    Whoever heard of bi-nationalism until the British state invented it as the only form of ‘nationalism’ that it would tolerate from the Irish? There aren’t many blogs promoting that gibberish because the only folks who are promoting it are state-sponsored.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Unionists being the only nationalists left in Northern Ireland”

    If that is your view which “Nation” do you think they are loyal?

    Northern Ireland or UK?

  • Alias

    They’re loyal to the UK, with the exception of Ulster nationalists.

    In contrast, the post-nationalists were never loyal to the state of Ireland so that made it easier for the British state to convert them into a force that would argue for its dismantlement and replacement with a replica of Northern Ireland.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “they’re loyal to the UK, with the exception of Ulster nationalists.”

    So what approximately percentage are UK Nationalists?

  • Why are there not more Nationalist blogs?

    Ah! I see Slugger is now attempting a pale imitation of John Rentoul’s Questions to Which the Answer is No. Except, in this case the answer is Simples. Tsk.

    “Nationalism” cames in many flavours. It’s just that the blinkered apologists for West Saxon imperialist oppression don’t recognise what’s happening.

  • TT 4.06. It might just be that that Nats are now the ones with the most options ahead, with the ebbing away of the majority. There’s more insecurity on the unionist bloggers side.

  • babyface finlayson

    Balrog seems to have stirred himself lately. He was always worth a read I thought.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “There’s more insecurity on the unionist bloggers side.”

    Unionists have more to write about.

    They what to discuss if a democrat vote goes against them how its not valid.

    How they should be treated as “special” in a United Ireland because ???

    ….

  • RyanAdams

    tyrone_taggart

    “They what to discuss if a democrat vote goes against them how its not valid.”

    They wouldn’t need to vote – A boycott by nationalists ruled the last border poll invalid, Go figure … Parity of esteem and all that

    “How they should be treated as “special” in a United Ireland because ???”

    As a person I see myself as more pro-union, rather than unionist – I can’t stand many of the trappings that go with it such as the OO, The Royal Family etc. However at this moment in time, nationalists find themselves in the postion that they are the ones who have the work to do, In order to persuade sufficient numbers of Unicorns, Garden centre prods etc that their interests are best suited in a New Ireland as opposed to the status-quo. As I’m yet to hear a dickie bird about what a United Ireland would entail as far as government structures are entailed, whether the catholic church gets the boot from its special place etc. I’m sorry, the typical nationalist response of ‘you’ll do as its done down there’ or ‘the north and those in it will have to get used to being the tail of the dog’ don’t particularly entice many to change their pro-union/neutral status or even to consider a united Ireland. So there should be plenty of nationalist blogs out there trying to change the minds of the undecided and opening up debate on the issue. Until then a UI is merely a pipe dream, and nothing more.

  • tyrone_taggart

    RyanAdams:

    The idea that Nationalists should waste there time persuading “Unionists” about a “United Ireland” is not one that I personally subscribe.

    Unionists have currently sufficient difficulty accepting the current arrangements of Northern Ireland [1].

    What Nationalists should be doing is things in everyone common interest. [2].

    The Alliance party leader in his speech identified the strength of his party in words something like Northern Ireland centered on Belfast (showing a political mindset). The Orange order gets funding for the border counties. In truth there is not much left of “northern Ireland”. Death by irrelevance is what faces the current political arrangement.

    1:
    “The Belfast Telegraph contacted 18 Assembly members from the main unionist parties asking if they would be prepared to serve under a future Sinn Fein First Minister.

    Ten said no”
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/online-poll–first-minister-martin-mcguinness-14660926.html#ixzz1t5OzGPNa

    2:
    Sammy Wilson. At the All Island Infrastructure Investment Conference in Dundalk in March, Wilson acknowledged that infrastructure investment and economic growth were intrinsically linked between North and South.

  • Mark

    ” Balrog seems to have stirred himself lately ”

    Yeah I saw that a while back . Chris did always have something to say . Hope he keeps the site a little more active in the future .

  • RyanAdams

    Not unionists the politicians – Those of us who elect them. Why should we vote for nationalists. What have nationalists got to offer the protestant community? I don’t expect wholesale shifts towards nationalism from the protestant community, but why not in small numbers? Why is it Unionists manage a very small even negligible number of catholic votes, but nationalists can’t do the opposite.

    http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofPoliticsInternationalStudiesandPhilosophy/FileStore/Stafffiles/JGarry/Filetoupload,281998,en.pdf

    Page 17

  • andnowwhat

    When I Google for archives, there’s lots of nationalist and republican blogs that come up but they all seem to be abandoned from 2010 or earlier.

    There’s a republican site a lot of them go on but I wasn’t allowed on because I’m clearly not republican enough for them. They seem a bit like the repugnant PULSE

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Why should we vote for nationalists. What have nationalists got to offer the protestant community?”

    If Unionists do not want to vote for nationalist parties then that is there right. The cental problem with Unionists is not so much they dont vote for Nationalists is that they dont vote.

    Currently unionism uses FEAR, and we all need to get together to keep out the bad scary Nationalist. If we dont get to walk on every road our world will fall apart. It is this tactic which is ultimatley self defeating.

    In Fermanagh and south Tyrone there was an inquest afterwards in bars as to who was the Unionist who voted for the nice sdlp man from the TV? If is funny to think of a Fermangh sheep farmer destroying the plans of the Conservative an UUP parties 🙂

  • FuturePhysicist

    @Tyrone …

    The Unionist was actually a local Conservative supporter, who didn’t support what he saw was the sectarian approach of the party. Unable to vote for Sinn Féin due to legacy issues, he chose the SDLP to make a protest vote.

    Fair enough, I mean to some Fermanagh unionists there may be little difference between an ideological unity Unionist who isn’t accountable to them due to a tribalism first approach and a big empty seat.

  • tyrone_taggart

    FuturePhysicist

    “The Unionist was actually a local Conservative supporter”

    Who shot “JR” was nothing on inquests that went on. I know of a few people who had an “I am Spartacus” moment. I think they were winding up the people around them.

  • FuturePhysicist

    “Why should we vote for nationalists. What have nationalists got to offer the protestant community?”

    Well the SDLP were one of the parties who were highlighting the cause of the Presbyterian mutual fund in Westminster, so that was one clear way “nationalists” such as Mark Durkan would have been helping at least one section of the protestant community.

    Ultimately I assume you lot are individuals, you might vote for your bottom line which may not be the constitutional question with regards a devolved election or other… and the person you consider most likely to defend said issue may be a nationalist or at least a non-unionist, then again in a more nationalist constituency you might vote for the nationalist least likely to upset.

  • FuturePhysicist

    With regards to the last one, it may mean voting Sinn Féin over the SDLP … again individualism.

  • DC

    Why are there not more Ian Parsleys?

  • Mac

    “Why are there not more Ian Parsleys?”

    There’s only one (ever changing) Ian Parsley!

  • [Since my Comment seems to be stuck in Moderation Hell I’m reposting it minus the html links]

    Is it more Nationalist blogs or more northern-based Nationalist blogs? And then what kind of Nationalist? Left-wing, right-wing, conservative, progressive? And what kind of blog? Personal blogs, party-affiliated ones, news aggregators, etc?

    The whole area of blogging has become quite complex in the last five years with many different types and styles of traditional blogs, micro-blogs and social-related blogs. It is very hard to define what exactly would constitute a blog now since the term is applicable across so many platforms (do you include WordPress but exclude Tumblr?).

    That said, there are a few active and fairly regular Republican bloggers out there, both at home and abroad, that I would be aware of. Balrog has made a recent return and is getting up to speed again with a line broadly sympathetic to Sinn Féin. Iskra 1916 remains periodically active as does The Irish Revolution and Tony Nicoletti. Des Dalton is using The Singing Flame to present the Sinn Féin Poblachtach view (similar to Gerry Adam’s Léargas, so maybe party-related and outside the definition?).

    Should we include Tommy McKearney and Anthony McIntyre? Both remain broadly Nationalist in their views.

    Then there is Tomás Ó Flatharta, The Irish Republic and a few others, in Irish and in English. Could we also include Hell’s Kitchen (US-based and part of the Wild Geese Today)?

    There are several traditional Republican bloggers opposed to Sinn Féin’s present policies that are very active: Saoirse 32 (more of a news and current affairs re-blogger), Newry Republican, Ardoyne Republican and 1169. However many more Republican’s hostile or no longer associated with SF make more use of dedicated sites and online fora than blogging (not to mention Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

    A number of Republican group-blogs overseas generate a fair amount of traffic and attention, principally The Five Demands (Italy), El Norte De Irlanda (Spain), Erin Go Bragh (Spain), 1916 En Espanol (Spain) and Innisfree 1916 (an award-winning site in Spanish). There is also some Republican bloggers based in Germany, the Netherlands and Norway that have some contacts here (though mostly with non-SF movements).

    Do we include Tumblr “blogs” like Sniper At Work? It’s not very blog-like (as in the old mix of text and media, etc.) but its a very popular site that gets multiple repostings to social media.

    As I said, first define a Nationalist blogger. In many ways it doesn’t mean what it did a decade ago because technology and internet fashions have moved on.

  • Tyrone taggart. ‘In truth, there’s not much left of N Ireland’

    This is what Brian feeney was on about a couple of columns back in mocking unionist politicians for falling into SF trap by reacting to the tricolour over Stront affair. It’s not about SF thinking there will be a n Irish flag atop the great white elephant on the hill by the covenant date, it’s a process of neutralising the symbols of britishness in establishment buildings here. We all know why the DUP want these crowns etc it’s basic insecurity that their days are nearly done. They go on about the secure place NI has in the union, but as Frank gallagher in the titles for shameless says ‘It’s not theirs any more’ Fionnuala O’Connor noted the desperation in their boasts on her IN column on Tuesday. The writing is on the wall.

  • In the interest of disclosure, I should perhaps point out that I have a nationalist orientated blog. I describe it as “socialist, republican and nationalist” and anti-faux lets get alongerism.
    In the interest of even further disclosure, I should point out that I do not regard “blagging” (sic) as a serious activity. The Bloggerati over-rate its impact.
    As I think blogging has been mentioned elsewhere, blogging has already been overtaken by Twitter.
    Thus Blogging for me serves as a kinda (mostly) political journal.
    I dont really see the point in bemoaning the lack of nationalist blogs……or indeed unionist blogs…….unless of course a person is a nationalist or unionist.
    Its not some kinda spectator sport where we actually need two sides to “engage”.
    Nor is the world itself some kind of giant sixth form debating society, where we are all suuposed to sit around and judge each others arguments in some kinda academic way.

  • JR

    I would say it is because blogs in general are of very limited value to Unionism or Nationalism. Every day you are either preaching to the chior or to those diametricly opposed to you.

    Take the Gaa for example. I have been looking at this site on and off for about six years. In that time comments on the Gaa from Unionist commenters are largely the same. Meanwhile in the real world we have had numerous unionist politicians attend Gaa games including a DUP mayor and first minister, there has been the rule changes on Croke park and the security forces, the queen has visited Croke park, there is a competition for schools from non Gaa backgrounds etc etc.

  • I have been involved with two of the pro-Union blogs Ian mentioned in his original post.

    My own, Unionist Lite committed hara-kiri almost 2 years ago (research Mr Parsley please;)) and Open Unionism, which I run as a joint project with Henry Hill, continues in blog format but extremely intermittently.

    On the other hand, our twitter feed and facebook page are updated very regularly and pull in an audience and comments ten-fold what is/was seen on our blogs.

    Blogging in a NI context never really took off for a number of reasons. For me, there came a point when I realised the hours put in composing a decent blog would be much better utilised reaching a wider audience with multiple postings on Twitter and Facebook. Also, if you stear clear of the usual and tedious sectariana (Orange Order, GAA, Mould Firm etc etc) you soon get a severe case of the deja vus- there are only so many creative ways that you can point out that Gerry Adams’ plan to achiweve a United Ireland is not watertight.

    With both Open Unionism and Unionist Lite however space was and has been given to nationalists of various shades to put up their own articles. It adds to the readability of the site and also, basically, both Henry and I are confident enough in the pro-Union argument to encourage that kind of diversity.

    With very few exceptions that kind of approach has not been seen or permitted on Irish (as opposed to both English and Scottish sites where both Henry and I have contributed numerous pieces) Nationalist sites.
    Why not, only they can answer.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good contributions here, especially from An Sionnach and ONeill… (there’s a spam trap on more than two URLs in one post)..

    Few things worth iterating:

    – You don’t find what you’re not looking for… so it’s unlikely that many unionists will actually want to find nationalist blogs… And vice versa… There are, it turns out, lots of nationalist blogs and if you broaden your horizon there are lots of unionist ones too…

    – Facebook and Twitter are blogs too… as O’Neill points out they are even better because of the ease of use (conventional blogging may be easier than journalism but it’s harder than tweeting) and the capacity to automatically build community around your content is very appealing to new entrants as it was when blogging first hit the market…

    – This conversation put me in mind of a presentation from Sandy Starr in Westminster who about eight years ago:

    …saw a widespread desire on the part of the media to see some generic significance in blogs per se. But he asked, “why can’t we just wait for blogs to establish their own significance as websites?” He cautioned against the flash mob mentality and argued new media techniques had led to a general vacuity and lack of content in some ideologically led pressure groups; not least, the anti globalisation movement.

    He also suggested that sharing thoughts in public, meant a loss of private time in which to think through problems and figure out genuine solutions: “Sometimes it’s better not to answer the mobile, and to sit down and read yesterday’s news rather than the latest news from five minutes ago.”

    This something I think Simon Jenkins was rather clumsily trying to get to in the Guardian today

    – Regardless of the politics concerned a blog has to have a purpose; which also goes to Sandy’s point that blog is not genre in itself, it’s merely a content management system…

    – The real advantage of blogging is your capacity to narrow cast… This relates back to my top point, which is the one about you not finding what you’re not looking for… In the west and even in Northern Ireland that’s a truism long understood by those engaged in designing social research…

    Blogs are only one tool of many in building a project political or otherwise… To conclude hastily, here’s a discussion of the wider Irish blogosphere from just a couple of years ago on Slugger…

    It gives a real flavour how things are changing (no more Irish Blog Awards for instance), look where Twitter was then in people’s minds compared to where it is now…

  • ayeYerMa

    Alias, British nationalism and Ulster nationalism aren’t mutually exclusive, with many having both forms (as you can be both Welsh and British etc.). I’d say many “Unionists” lie on a spectrum of 60% British, 40% Ulster to vice-versa (with many jn the latter 60+% Ulster category still referred to as “Unionists” by others).

    Ulster Nationalism is actually “Unionists'” Achilles heel, and it is a sign of how completely and utterly deluded “Nationalists” are that they rarely choose to exploit it, instead unproductively obsessing over completely and utterly repellant and delusional “all Ireland” strategies.

  • Alias

    Alias, British nationalism and Ulster nationalism aren’t mutually exclusive, with many having both forms (as you can be both Welsh and British etc.). I’d say many “Unionists” lie on a spectrum of 60% British, 40% Ulster to vice-versa (with many jn the latter 60+% Ulster category still referred to as “Unionists” by others).

    Good point but folks can only be culturally both but politically must be either one or the other since the former is qualitative and the latter is quantitative. You can’t have two parliaments deciding the same policy when on only one decision can be acted upon, can you?

    “Ulster Nationalism is actually “Unionists’” Achilles heel, and it is a sign of how completely and utterly deluded “Nationalists” are that they rarely choose to exploit it, instead unproductively obsessing over completely and utterly repellant and delusional “all Ireland” strategies.

    How would you suggest they should go about it?

  • tyrone_taggart

    “ayeYerMa” and “Alias” is Donegal in Ulster?

  • ayeYerMa

    Good point but folks can only be culturally both but politically must be either one or the other since the former is qualitative and the latter is quantitative. You can’t have two parliaments deciding the same policy when on only one decision can be acted upon, can you?

    I don’t think that is true. Within British Nationalism it is accepted that the British Nation is a nation of nations and there are tiers of government within the British Nation (though this is indeed not consistent throughout all the UK yet). From Westminster to Stormont to the local council with differing levels of power to each. From an Ulster Nationalist point-of view one can be loyal to Ulster and Stormont primarily, with the larger United Kingdom being merely in the present best economic and defence interests of the small population of Ulster, and therefore not being contradictory allegiences.

    How would you suggest they should go about it?
    Actually, I would argue that they have already started going about it by taking seats and being integral to the operation in Stormont. The rhetoric from “Irish Nationalists”, however, has not caught up with such actions. They could bring the rhetoric in line with their actions and switch to explicitly voiced prime allegiance to Ulster, including acknowledging its parliament in Stormont.

    “ayeYerMa” and “Alias” is Donegal in Ulster?
    Not in modern democratic terms of nationalism. Historically and traditionally, yes (though the history is complex and not as simple as many “Irish Nationalists” make out). Is Alsace in Germany? Is South Tyrol in Austria?

    I’m sure those in Donegal could campaign for representation in Belfast if they wish. I doubt many “Unionists” would object if they were convinced it were a genuine desire with our best local interests and commonality primarily at heart, as opposed to being primarily a cult-of-Pearse move to try and destabilise the place again and “get the Brits out”. What would happen in the long-term centuries into the future would then be anyone’s guess.

  • aYM,

    I’ve often said that Unionism should only consider itself successful when Donegal applies to be transferred to the North.

    I’ll disagree with you on one point – NI has never officially been called “Ulster”, nor is it the successor state of any entity so called, so there is no comparison with “Germany” or “Austria” which have been officially redefined.