If you are looking for lemmings buy a Playstation

We inhabit, to quote ATQ Stewart the “narrow ground,” two ideologies opposed to one another from the very beginning always in a state of conflict with one another.  Nationalists are chalk to my cheese, blur to my oasis,romulus to my remus.

A shared future concept is something that parties inNorthern Irelandwant.  It is the basis that will entrench peace inNorthern Irelandand ensure that we never return to darker days.  Martin McGuinness’ announcement at the Sinn Fein conference  shows that only a shared future based on the Sinn Fein mantra would suffice.

Why should I give up my unionism in order to replace it with nationalism?  Especially whenever those seeking to court me are the same people who for 30 years tried to bomb their way to a United Ireland?  It is a fatal lack of understanding in what unionism represents.  Unionists have spoken and voted for peace and voted for devolution.  What they didn’t vote for was to wipe the slate clean.

Mick’s comments about Martin McGuinness evoking the language of Wolfe Tone fails.  High on rhetoric, low on substance and even lower on credibility.  Tone rallied many a protestant dissenter in his day with the promise of better times from under British rule.  McGuinness promises better days from a dark past wherein he must take a large share of the blame.  It is akin to the car thief trying to sell you your car back.  It is something that is laughable to the unionist community and only more so because the same individuals fall for the shtick time and time again. Why not instead start this dialogue with the DUP, UUP and TUV, the ones with a democratic mandate?

From the SDLP unionists want nothing more than common sense.  From a party that is supposed to represent constitutional nationalism it is baffling to unionists to see this party of modernity carrying dissidents coffins and raising a petition to have a man released from his conviction of attempting to murder a, now, DUP councillor.  Again,  Unionists voted for peace and with a willingness to work with nationalists, but the actions of the SDLP do not only harm to those relations but also to their position within the nationalist community.

So what is it about your average unionist that is not understood?  Do nationalists even care?  I have read enough comments on this site to discern that nationalist see unionists in two vague camps: the sash wearing, bible thumping super prod and the pinko liberal, North Down garden centre dweller.  Left with a choice between a party that wants you to accept what they did for 30 years was right and a party that doesn’t agree with violence but is quite happy to support them all the same it is unlikely that Sammy from the Shankill or Jeremy from Helen’s Bay will whip off the sash or put down the secateurs and run into the warm open embrace of Martin or Alasdair.

Maybe nationalism is starting its own unicorn the nationalist voting prod as a way to inspire the faithful on for another push towards unification?

Episcopal, dissenter, protestant, catholic, atheist, black or white what links unionists together is the belief that Northern Ireland’s future is best within the United Kingdom.  That is a fundamental and unalterable fact and to replace it with the debt laden mule of the Republic will not be something that is in the minds of many a nationalist never mind Unionist.

A shared society can work but not when nationalist give the clear message that it is either their way or no way.

  • “A shared society can work ..”

    BP, can we have a shared society without shared sovereignty? As someone else will already have pointed out, the OFMDFM serves up a shared-out society.

  • to quote ATQ Stewart the “narrow ground,”

    The late Tony Stewart’s book is online.

    I like his quote:

    “I never saw a richer country, or, to speak my mind, a finer people; the worst of them is the bitter and envenomed dislike which they have to each other. Their factions have been so long envenomed, and they have such narrow ground to do their battle in, that they are like people fighting with daggers in a hogshead.” – Sir Walter Scott, 1825

  • Mick Fealty

    I think this goes to the heart of the problem with the SF outreach:

    “Left with a choice between a party that wants you to accept what they did for 30 years was right and a party that doesn’t agree with violence but is quite happy to support them all the same it is unlikely that Sammy from the Shankill or Jeremy from Helen’s Bay will whip off the sash or put down the secateurs and run into the warm open embrace of Martin or Alasdair.”

    Indeed. I keep wanting to reach for Gladys’ great schematic outline on transformative discourses. One of the things (and there are several) that the DUP has understood well in advance of SF and that’s the development of the emotional space to criticise your own sides past actions.

    To be sure the DUP are aided in this by the handing on of power from the Doc to Peter Robinson, who in turn has survived a very salutary experience around Mrs Robinson. From the get go he’s signalled tat the old ways of doing things will not suffice.

    That’s apparently not open to Martin, since there has been no handing of power even symbolically on from Sinn Fein’s days as paramilitary adventurists.

    My welcome was to the elevation of language that too often in the past has been little more that a fig leave for the dark sectarian urges our dity little war, worn on high days and holidays but rarely central to the actual project.

    Yet theres little chance of success with out some form real engagement with the values of those early Protestant and Dissenting Republicans.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Northern Ireland’s future is best within the United Kingdom. That is a fundamental and unalterable fact”

    I have to ask you which of the main areas of governance of Northern Ireland would not be more efficiently done on an all Island basis?

  • Zig70

    Left with a choice between a party that wants you to accept what they did for 30 years was right and a party that doesn’t agree with violence but is quite happy to support them all the same
    I’m confused, is that refering to SF/SDLP or UUP/DUP?

  • Mick Fealty

    Zig, you know rightly what he means… Make point and don’t mess…

    TT, given unionism is currently the status quo, it would be useful to a hear a Republican view what could be done better?

  • tyrone_taggart

    “TT, given unionism is currently the status quo, it would be useful to a hear a Republican view what could be done better?”

    You need to explain how “unionism” is any sort of status quo. In northern Ireland they can only hold power if they share it was someone who was a proud IRA commander. I do not say that to be nasty but to clarify the current set up in “Northen Ireland” is not one of unionist making. The fact that the SNP is looking for Independence in Scotland will leave the “union” much weaker after it is finished no matter the outcome.

    I find it interesting that you think I am a “Republican”. Is a nationalist from the west the same as a Belfast republican?

    It not the “Republican” view that matters its the European one. We need most things done on an all Island basis:

    We need a means of all Island policing. For example “The Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alert ” should be an all Island system. Not just Police Service of Northern Ireland being informed.

    To have road signs in Miles and then for it to magic into kilometers is crazy.

    Mobile phone/telephone companies should be made to treat the Island as one network with one rate.

    With Donegal stuck to the north of “Northern Ireland” what can you think off that is better dealt with on an “Northern Ireland” basis only?

  • Mick Fealty

    Point of information.

    Constitutionally, we are all captured by the Union if not by unionists. That means we know what union means in our day to day experience of it.

  • Bigger Picture

    TT

    You miss the point. What the current set up delivers is not my argument here. What it is, is the inability of nationalists to understand the basic unionist mindset. What you have done is to dismiss unionism and unionists fundamental starting point thereby proving my very argument!

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick are you on about the European union?

    I was not on about any union but “unionism”. “Devo-Max” is out and it will be hard for even Scottish Labour to ignore.

    It would be interesting to find out who has the most influence on “Northern Ireland”, Assembly, London, or Europe?

  • tyrone_taggart

    “What you have done is to dismiss unionism and unionists fundamental starting point ”

    I have asked the most basic question that any normal rational person would. Europe exists, and Northern Ireland must do its part to be run in as effective manner as possible.

    Your attitude is one in which you think there is no Unionists in Donegal and if there is they don’t matter.

  • Mick Fealty

    Right, I may have been [unintentionally] taking this down a side track.

    BP’s point, I think, is that nationalists seem to believe that they don’t need to understand how unionists think.

    This implies (since there is a huge cultural as well as political gap between the two northern communities) that nationalism still believes it can co-opt reluctant unionists into a united Ireland because, erm, it’s good for them.

    That may not be how nationalists intend to come across, but that’s what BP is reflecting back to you.

    On the union I was referring to was the UK. On Devo Max, I find it strange that no one, nationalist or unionist is willing to debate it in the context of NI. But that perhaps is for another thread.

    And as a second generation Donegal man, I don’t understand why you’ve brought that in here.

  • Reader

    Mick Fealty: On Devo Max, I find it strange that no one, nationalist or unionist is willing to debate it in the context of NI. But that perhaps is for another thread.
    The issue is rapidly kicked into touch whenever the possibility of devolving fiscal powers is raised. The two populist, parasitic parties that have locked down the executive are terrified of being seen to do anything unpopular (except to each other).
    Since most sluggerites realise this, it’s clear also that the rest of devo max can’t happen here either.
    Anyway, the notion is just as unpopular with the “Joint Authority” mob and the “UK Integration” gang.

  • Obelisk

    “What it is, is the inability of nationalists to understand the basic unionist mindset. What you have done is to dismiss unionism and unionists fundamental starting point thereby proving my very argument!”

    I have seen this point raised before, but I have to disagree with it.

    As I read it, it can be summed up as if we try and persuade you of unity, then we aren’t getting/understanding/having an epiphany regarding the Unionist mindset. A true Unionist would never countenance unity in any prospect.

    Therefore, for a Nationalist to comprehend the Unionist mindset, he has to acknowledge from the outset that there is no point whatsoever in trying to convince them of unity.

    Which means ultimately we have to resort to the soul-destroying method of attempting to outbreed the other side and then try and ram unity down your throats via a slim majority in a referendum when the stars are in our favour and virtually 100% of Catholics vote for it.

    If that’s the result of comprehending the Unionist mindset, I’d rather remain in a state of ignorance and delude myself that one day (and hopefully in better circumstances) the power of our arguments may carry the day.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “BP’s point, I think, is that nationalists seem to believe that they don’t need to understand how unionists think.”

    Could it be that nationalists treat unionists as people who differ in their views of the world. Unionism is not the same in all places. When you march with Orange men from Donegal and Cavan it is different from marching in East Belfast.

    “nationalism still believes it can co-opt reluctant unionists into a united Ireland because”

    What does that actually mean? If a majority both north and south vote that the Island should be run from one place why would they not accept it. (I did not say like it)

  • Obelisk

    “On the union I was referring to was the UK. On Devo Max, I find it strange that no one, nationalist or unionist is willing to debate it in the context of NI. But that perhaps is for another thread.”

    Personally I’d be all for Devo Max. I believe that one of the great obstacles to unity is the extremely statist nature of our economy (memorably pilloried by David Cameron) which renders us unaffordable.

    It would give us control over local corporation tax.

    It might even encourage better governance from parties now responsible for their own financial situation (I suspect don’t hold your breath on that one).

    And it reduces interference in local affairs from London to the barest minimum possible (I’m a Nationalist, I find that attractive).

    Reader is probably correct though in his analysis of the reaction of our local rulers to the prospect of Devo Max being offered to them which depresses me mightily.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick
    “Donegal Unionists”, I don’t understand why you’ve brought that in here.”

    Its in the original post
    Bigger Picture asked:
    “Why should I give up my unionism in order to replace it with nationalism?”

    No one is asking him to give up anything (well the UK government may not give him/her a passport). No one cares how British anyone else wants to be.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think you’re taking something for granted that’s not that obvious to the rest of us.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “I think you’re taking something for granted that’s not that obvious to the rest of us.”

    If Unionists are not going to accept the will of the majority then they should say so. It was Unionism which brought the gun into electoral politics. They are the ones who said “Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right”.

    Bigger Picture, said “It is a fatal lack of understanding in what unionism represents.” He should clarify if he thinks that Unionism can still can not cope with the democratic process?

  • Mick Fealty

    Scenario building is fine, so long as it is realistic and serves an intelligible purpose.

    “Futuring” on the other hand, according to Pete is:

    “to speculate on what might happen, in order to encourage the belief that it already has.”

    So you you avoid BP’s argument by building a single and not terribly likely scenario of the future and then invite the rest of us to discuss how you *imagine* Unionists would react?

    Perhaps you really ought to buy yourself a playstation after all?

  • Alias

    “Episcopal, dissenter, protestant, catholic, atheist, black or white what links unionists together is the belief that Northern Ireland’s future is best within the United Kingdom. That is a fundamental and unalterable fact and to replace it with the debt laden mule of the Republic will not be something that is in the minds of many a nationalist never mind Unionist.”

    That makes unionism little more than a self-serving economic strategy for enriching yourself at a benefactor’s expense. It’s the classic John Hume line about unionists being loyal to the half-crown. I’m sure support for partition among unionists (who else) was entirely coincidental with Ireland’s early industrial wealth being concentrated in what is now Northern Ireland. Before unionists accuse others of not understanding them, perhaps they should make a closer study of themselves? That said, it is correct to say that most ‘nationalists’ in Northern Ireland are equally loyal to the half-crown, operate a similar self-serving economic strategy in place of a legitimate nationalism, and that both are in a state of flux. With proper British nationalism there is another nation underpinning it, whereas in the bastardised form of it in NI there usually isn’t. There is a reason for that abnormality. One reason just might be that they’re British as a way of not being Irish. When the English say that the unionists are Irish, it isn’t conversely to say you’re not British. It’s simply that they recognise the abnormality of being simply British.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick

    My first question to BP’s argument was:

    “I have to ask you which of the main areas of governance of Northern Ireland would not be more efficiently done on an all Island basis?”

    As he cannot appear to address the issue I can only assume he does not have an answer. In the real world this is the real difference between unionism and nationalism. “ideologies” does not get one a better price for ones cows.

    “A shared future concept” is one that I am interested in but in a European context.

    I do take that over the years to come most things on the Island will be carried out on an all Island basis. If you or BP can explain why that is not going to be the case then I would be interested in your views.

    BTW:
    Mick
    “I think you’re taking something for granted that’s not that obvious to the rest of us.”

    If that statement was not about Unionists not accepting a vote for a UI then what was it?

  • PaulT

    There was that BT poll will had MMcG as the most popular leader in the North,

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/poll-sinn-feins-martin-mcguinness-is-northern-irelands–top-minister-14580892.html

    A few days ago GA was polled as the most popular leader in the South.

    I would also guess that Ian Paisley is more popular among nationalists and also in the South than Robinson, so PR is a more unpopular leader but with pretty much the same team as before.

    SF on the other hand, has lots of fresh and popular new faces popping up as the party grows.

    I think it’s a rubbish OP, all it does is invite whataboutry, which I’m glad to see no-one has taken the bait, plain to see many unionists are firmly rooted in the “peace building” mode, ilking it out for as long as possible by questioning everything and generally saying NO, meanwhile others are actually taking part in the “nation building” task. SF are happy to work with what they are given, I think.

  • Mick Fealty

    PaulT,

    “I’m glad to see no-one has taken the bait”

    Until now of course… 😉 BTW, that poll came two weeks after Martin McG won our Politician of the Year award.

  • Bigger Picture

    TT

    “I have to ask you which of the main areas of governance of Northern Ireland would not be more efficiently done on an all Island basis?”

    Governance of Northern Ireland should be done by the NI Assembly and its Executive. That is what it was set up to do, with links to North/ South cooperation as well as East/West. Further cooperation happens within the framework of the wider EU which is fine but that’s not unique to here and like elsewhere only erodes our overall sovereignty to the super state rather than the assimilation of NI.

    My point in all this is that McGuinness has stated that he wants to engage with unionists as a way to furthering a UI, your argument is stuff the unionists its going to happen anyway, is that about right?

  • Some of the unionist and commentariat response to Sinn Fein’s attempt to establish a conversation around reconciliation reminds me of a wonderful zen story, which carries a profound lesson for those who close their minds to a possibility.

    A young widower, who loved his five year old son very much, was away on business when bandits came who burned down the whole village and took his son away. When the man returned, he saw the ruins and panicked. He took the burnt corpse of an infant to be his son and cried uncontrollably. He organised a cremation ceremony, collected the ashes and put them in a beautiful little bag which he always kept with him.
    Soon afterwards, his real son escaped from the bandits and found his way home. He arrived at his father’s new cottage at midnight and knocked at the door. The father, still grieving asked: “Who is it?” The child answered, it is me papa, open the door!” But in his agitated state of mind, convinced his son was dead, the father thought that some young boy was making fun of him. He shouted: “Go away” and continued to cry. After some time, the child left.
    Father and son never saw each other again.

    After this story, the Buddha said: “Sometime, somewhere, you take something to be the truth. If you cling to it so much, even when the truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will not open it.”

    The lesson for our own times is surely this. If there is the merest prospect that a significant political tradition reaches out for a dialogue – it is impossible to establish their bona fides without, at first, engaging and testing the waters of their authenticity. Dismissing intentions, on the basis of the past, is to miss the point and keep the doors of our hearts closed, together with the doors to the possibility of an agreed and common future.

  • Zig70

    The basic analysis of the piece is right. The people who believe in the Union aren’t going to change or brought into a UI with an arm round the shoulder. Is this piece an appeal to nationalist or a rally call to unionists to close ranks? It reads to me like the latter with the rose tinted view of unionism and the attack on all nationalist parties. You have to be insecure your unionism to attack the SDLP. The point in the strategy from SF is either foolishness in the belief in their argument to unionists, attempting to prevent giving unionism a bogey man for future recruitment or going after the non voting Protestant (or not) ODF. Don’t see a lot of point in going after non voters but it is certainly the biggest market.
    PaulT, Ian Paisley was never popular with nationalists. We’d be too polite to say what we think in mixed company.

  • Reader

    tyrone_taggart: My first question to BP’s argument was:
    “I have to ask you which of the main areas of governance of Northern Ireland would not be more efficiently done on an all Island basis?”

    Do you honestly believe that an island of 6 million people represents the absolute peak of administrative efficiency? As an alternative, I recommend an archipelago of 70 million people. There are strong pro-europeans that would go further.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Governance of Northern Ireland should be done by the NI Assembly and its Executive. ”

    I think subsidiarity is an excellent idea. Do you not? The NI Assembly is only one layer of goverment.

    As hard as it may be for you to accept that a nationist may be that because it is logical. You appear to think its some blind “ideologie” in a struggle with unionism.

    2 of the 3 examples that I give for things better done on an all Island basis came from a unionist. I will let you guess which one is mine.

    As for :
    “I give up my unionism in order to replace it with nationalism”

    Who is looking for you to give up being a unionst(it is a type of nationalism)?

  • tyrone_taggart

    Reader
    “Do you honestly believe that an island of 6 million people represents the absolute peak of administrative efficiency?”

    Nope I like the idea of subsidiarity.

  • Reader

    tyrone_taggart: Nope I like the idea of subsidiarity.
    That’s cool – certainly I would prefer to have my bins emptied by North Down Borough Council than by the EU Commission.
    Between us, we listed a few steps in a hierarchy of government. My guess is that you want to leave out the 70 million layer, and BP wants to leave out the 6 million layer. I’m a bit more flexible: Include the 70 million layer, and the 1.6 million layer, and you can have the 6 million layer too. Happy?
    Then, with agreement on principle, we just need to decide what powers are devolved to each level.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Reader if the UK is better at something than anyone else then why would I object to them?

    How about giving Finland our education system to sort out?

  • PaulT

    Reader than again you need to factor in that 60 odd million of the 70 million is English, whose first interest is England, hence why Wales, Scotland and NI don’t have an economy.

    Even in these bad times Ireland still has an economy, circa plus 5 billion Euros a month. Strip out the bank debt (60 odd billion) and Ireland would be fine.

    The Bank of England has the printing presses rolling non stop, it’s the only thing keeping the country afloat at the mo, sadly there’s two likely outcomes, one the EU goes pop, closely followed by the UK or the EU sorts itself out and focus switches to the UK which then goes pop by itself, or a slim hope that both the EU and UK limp through it all

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick you still have not clarified what this statement was about:

    “I think you’re taking something for granted that’s not that obvious to the rest of us.”

    Firstly
    I took to be about Unionists not accepting a vote for a UI? {Something if you talk with Unionists they will tell you.}

    Secondly
    In your statement you said “obvious to the rest of us”. I am particularly interested in who you included in the “us”.

  • PaulT

    The more I think about the ‘at least the DUP changed leadership’ arguement the less it stands up.

    Esp, as MMcG now seems to be more ‘when’ not ‘if’ he’ll meet the queen, how likely is it that PR will bump into the Pope?

    I’m guessing the payoff to SF is that Adams gets facetime with HMG as de-facto leader of the opposition in the Dail, which considering SF and HMG are on the same page over Europe is doable very soon.

    To sum up, the DUP seem’s to have changed faces and stayed still, where SF have kept the same faces and raced ahead, in looking at the UUP and SDLP I think confidence in your leadership is key to progress, you can also tell who has the party confidence over at FG and FF as well

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Oh dear.

    “…Northern Ireland’s future is best within the United Kingdom. That is a fundamental and unalterable fact…”

    No, sir. That is, in fact, an OPINION.

    It is an opinion widely held, and one also widely dissented-from.

    It’s hard to take your argument seriously, when it contains such a whopping great clanger as this.

    The old ‘nationalists just don’t understand unionists’ thread is a venerable old Slugger staple, and is always good for a laugh.

    But tell me, BP (no relation) – how well do you suppose unionists understand nationalists?

    And, indeed, how well do you suppose unionists understand unionism itself?

    (Your initial post, though littered with assumptions and ingrained prejudices, actually suggests you have almost no insight into your own tradition.)

  • DoppiaVu

    Billy Pilgrim

    If there was a prize for selective quoting of someone’s text, I think your 2.44pm would win it.

    Hadn’t it occurred to you that people can just scroll up the page to see how blatantly you’ve misquoted the original text?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    DV

    The term ‘selective quoting’ is a tautology. A quotation is, by definition, something that has been selected.

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay let me quote from BP’s piece, where he is most critical of something I’ve said:

    “Mick’s comments about Martin McGuinness evoking the language of Wolfe Tone fails.

    “High on rhetoric, low on substance and even lower on credibility. Tone rallied many a protestant dissenter in his day with the promise of better times from under British rule. McGuinness promises better days from a dark past wherein he must take a large share of the blame. It is akin to the car thief trying to sell you your car back.

    “It is something that is laughable to the unionist community and only more so because the same individuals fall for the shtick time and time again. Why not instead start this dialogue with the DUP, UUP and TUV, the ones with a democratic mandate?”

    Okay. I do take the criticism. Credibility is the operative term here. The use of the language of Tone I took to be an instinct to move in the right direction.

    The trouble is when you look off the main pitch you see beggar thy neighbour culture war games going on, around flags and emblems and much else besides.

    And he also has a point when he questions why SF cannot make more of a fist of talking Unionists who have an actual mandate rather guys like Jackie McDonald, who is going to assent to unification when exactly?

    The exemplar for this kind of off piste consultation was Catriona and her consultation with educationalists. That, as we know now led nowhere. Because the people she really needed to hammer a deal out with was the DUP.

    Maybe it will feed back in again, but that is to some extent irrelevant at this stage. The result is policy drift and an apparent indifference to what’s actually happening in schools.

    The only way Republicans can win the democratic war of aspirations is by trying to understand what motivates the average unionist to vote the way they do, what their values are, and how they might be better represented, erm, by Republicans!!

    Instead we get a string of trite assertions about how “life will be better for every one in Ireland if only you Unionists could see sense.”

    That is a REALLY stupid idea. In fact it amounts to no idea at all. It’s what you say when you have no credible strategy for getting what you want in a democratic age (see Brian Feeney in yesterday’s Irish News if you don’t believe me).

    It’s why BP is telling you all to go and get a playstation if you prefer fantasy politics to real politics. It represents the profound infantalisation of Nationalist politics.

    And for any of you who take nationalism or Irish Republicanism in the least bit seriously it ought to concern you greatly!

    Salmond to some extent has avoided these cultural pitfalls by trying to engineer a Scottish solution that fits the needs of a wider population of Scots than ever voted SNP before.

    He only got to that by debating and talking not just with the base, but by finding out through conversation and engagement just how to tweak the offering to make it attractive to a much larger group of citizens.

    Even if Salmond loses the next referendum (and I suspect he will), he has taken the SNP from a group of cranks to a credible party of government in Scotland with the capacity to attract people who would not have given the SNP the proverbial time of day.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Irish Republicanism is a surreal mythology and its green-tinted view of the world really conjures up some weird mirages when it regards unionists.

    In ‘The North’, the current epicentre of the most spaced-out republicanism (not as northern as Donegal but needing to be as a talisman against Northern Ireland in much the same way as Dracula can’t be about when the suns up) is populated by a plethora of magical beings: the ‘honourable RA man, the legion of unionists in daily supportive dialogue with Sinn Fein etc.

    Why do the Shinners trip through their very own Forest of Arden engaging with these folks who are all so confusingly not who they really are? The answer is quite simple. The bag of beans that the Shinners very own Robin Goodfellow is offering is actually empty and moreover when Robin’s outstretched hand is viewed from another angle there is actually no one there to take the bag anyway.

    Put simply, leaving the Shinners jumbled fairy tales to one side, the entire enterprise is bogus. How could it be anything else? The unionists that are worthwhile talking to are not addressed (the ones actually voted for: mandates dear boy, mandates) because the Shinners have nothing to say to them other than the usual ‘misguided Irishmen’ or ‘the Brits don’t love you the way we love you’ (ahem; don’t be mentioning the graveyards that was all a bit of a misunderstanding lads).

    Unionists are unionists because being part of the UK is where both our history and future are. No appeals to our ‘Irish hearts’ to the sound of diddlee-dee music playing in the background is going to cut it – and there is nothing else that Republicans have to offer.

    Btw before we get the usual round of a UIs coming – save it. After all if Republicans are so convinced of it what’s the need to endlessly churn out the rhetoric? As a unionist I’m confident that it’s not going to happen so I’m happy to be left out of the Republican’s conversational outreach.

    Put simply again: thanks, but no thanks, or, stuff it where the sun don’t shine…………..,

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Strongbow Óg

    Obviously, you know almost nothing of Irish nationalism.

    In this respect, you are quite typical.

  • Mick Fealty

    I don’t know, but I do think he’s quite nailed the psychic outlaw discourse of the type this thread ‘lan go doras’ with…

  • Bailey30

    “Instead we get a string of trite assertions about how “life will be better for every one in Ireland if only you Unionists could see sense.”

    Perhaps not quite as trite as the above asssertion. I don’t mind the original post as far as its coming from an admittedly unionist perspective, it’s the “neutral” commentary afterwards that leaves me scratching my head. It implies the failure to understand the other side is a uniquely nationalist/republican trait or that it alone is “profoundly infantile”.

    With all its ham-fisted moments and stutter-steps, Sinn Fein at least is making a decided attempt to engage and not only put forward their perspective but also making an attempt to acknowledge unionism’s traditions as best they can within their own ideology. Could someone please point to how unionism is trying to “understand” nationalists in concrete terms- swooning over the occasional Peter Robinson speech as if he’s Gandhi doesn’t quite count.

    “Salmond to some extent has avoided these cultural pitfalls by trying to engineer a Scottish solution that fits the needs of a wider population of Scots than ever voted SNP before.

    He only got to that by debating and talking not just with the base, but by finding out through conversation and engagement just how to tweak the offering to make it attractive to a much larger group of citizens.”

    Salmond definitely deserves a lot of credit for widening the debate, but the cultural pitfalls in Scotland are practically non-existant in comparison to here. In Scotland the political debate is exactly that, dealing with the actual politics, rather than dealing with entrenched communal interests. Based on some of the responses in this thread, the fact that Sinn Fein even attempts to have a conversation with unionists is treated as an insult and proof that they don’t “understand” unionists.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    If you say so, Mick.

  • I think SoS misses the point.
    SF’s *Unionist outreach* isn’t aimed at Unionism or individual Unionists- Adams is many things but he’s not stupid and nor is he ignorant of the contempt he is held in by the vast majority of Unionist voters. There’s as much chance of me lining up alongside Rooney next season as there is of him of convincing one single Unionist voter over to to the UI cause.

    Pushing this “reconciliation” (in the full glare of the public gaze as opposed to getting down on bended private knee in front of the the families of the La Mon, Enniskillen, Kingsmills, Teebane etc etc victims) is an attempt to coral in the ever increasing middle-class Catholic vote who is reasonably with the Union if not N.Ireland’s peculiar version of Unionism.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “beggar thy neighbour culture war games going on, around flags and emblems ”

    I must have missed this PS3 game. Can you give examples of were nationalist controlled areas attacking Unionist cultural symbols?

    “what motivates the average unionist to vote the way they do”

    Since you think that nationalists should target the “average unionist voter” it would be nice for you to clarify whom you are on about? I have yet to meet one.

    I think you will find “Activate” and targeting specific votes is what was important to the SNP in Scotland. In this I think the sdlp have a great opportunity/need. SF will also target specific unionists “Jackie McDonald” for example would he represent a political niche?

  • sonofstrongbow

    oneill is of course perfectly correct. Sinn Fein are fully aware that its murderous ‘past’ renders its appeal to unionists, save the handful of useful fools who might claim the title, to be nonexistent.

    The Shinners must detect an opening within the post-SDLP voter block. Seemingly Sinn Fein recognises that those ‘nice’ nationalist types can easily forgive its transgressions and be persuaded to the argument that the bloodletting was regrettable yet necessary.

  • Alias

    The problem is that Ireland has nothing of any value to offer unionists. We’re not rich, we’re not protestant, and we’re not British. It has a value for Irish nationalists but that is the same value that the UK has for unionists, and the UK has other advantages for nationalists such they constitutionally support it.

    Why would any unionist vote himself into Ireland when even the Poles are leaving? I can’t see a single reason why a unionist would want to be a citizen of the state of Ireland. Can the nationalists in NI? If they can, they’re very slow to share the reasons with the rest of us. They can’t, and that is why they dream about the UK dismantling through no intervention by them or talk of outbreeding unionists, etc. If they had to accept that they don’t have a strategy for achieving a united Ireland (which they don’t) they fear they’d be giving sustenance to so-called dissidents or have to recognise that they were persuaded to give up their own former right to national self-determination in return for a few home comforts within the legitimised British state.

    As I pointed out before (we know, we know – ed), your country is a bit like your parents: not perfect, but no way would you ever be persuaded to trade them for another set even if magic allowed.

    It wouldn’t be sensible for a unionist to willingly give up his undisputed right to British national self-determination and convert himself from a majority in a smaller state (of sorts) to a minority in a larger state. It wouldn’t be sensible either for the majority to allow a minority to veto it. In fact, it would lead ultimately to civil war and hurried repartition.

    There are lots of reasons why reunification is a nonsense – and that’s before you ever get to the commanding economic reasons to maintain the status quo. And to be honest (from a southern point of view), who wants unionists among them? As Frost said, good fences make good neighbours.

  • Mick Fealty

    Alias,

    Sometimes you are just too brutal… 🙂

    “I can’t see a single reason why a unionist would want to be a citizen of the state of Ireland. Can the nationalists in NI? If they can, they’re very slow to share the reasons with the rest of us. They can’t, and that is why they dream about the UK dismantling through no intervention by them or talk of outbreeding unionists, etc.”

    I think this is ‘realist’ hammer to ‘psychic outlaw’ nail… And this is the job ahead, if Northern Irish nationalism is to make any progress towards its stated goals…

  • Mick Fealty

    SoS,

    I would not discount that, but it’s a risky strategy.

    Many Catholics are ceasing to vote at all (and thereby rendering the quest for majority by demographic difficult to impossible) and others are drifting towards Alliance… can’t say I know many going for actual Unionist parties…

    But you have to remember there are quite a sizeable number for whom SF will never be a popular choice, either because of their families own past experience at the hands of the IRA, or because they don’t like the parties approach to social and economic policy..

  • tyrone_taggart

    Alias
    “The problem is that Ireland has nothing of any value to offer unionists.”

    As a unionist do you think all other unionists are the same?

    Sar I give you “R4 grade steers” to think about. If yo do not understand what I am talking about then you dont know all “unionsts”

    Alias
    “they’re very slow to share the reasons”

    From my first post on this thread:

    “I have to ask you which of the main areas of governance of Northern Ireland would not be more efficiently done on an all Island basis?”

    You will of course provid me with things which are better administrated on a Northern Ireland basis?? (BTW: If you can tell me something that is better administrated accross these Island from Westminister I would be intrested. I once would have said the NHS but it is now fractured into a regional orginisation.)

    Alias
    “they dream about the UK dismantling”

    The Germans talk/think (see german amazon) about “Great Britian” not UK. Labels mean little but I find no nationalist who does not have a fondness for things “British” from football teams to Doctor Who. The Isand of Ireland wants the BBC 🙂

    A shared language is something the UK has always had it is intresting that it does not appreachate the power and reach of that language in the rest of Europe.

  • Mick Fealty

    TT,

    Whst on earth makes you think Alias is a unionist? Check his comment archives?

  • tyrone_taggart

    “on earth makes you think Alias is a unionist?”

    Sorry I thought he as a “unionist” like you?

    For example I dont know of any nationalist who ““they dream about the UK dismantling”? Is thinking Scottish independace is a good thing the same as dismanteling the UK? Great Britiant exists and for some things will still be best sorted out on that basis. Will Alex on first day of office get rid of the BBC?

  • antoinmaccomhain

    @I have read enough comments on this site to discern that nationalist see unionists in two vague camps….

    Imo there’s very little difference between a member of Fine Gael and the Ulster Unionist Party. Both will be quite content to advocate for a return to the Commonwealth. Fine Gaels Brian Hayes actually had a meeting with the UUP not that long ago and i’m sure they must have discussed this at some level. Do Fine Gael represent Wolfe Tones Republicanism in the 21 Century?
    Darren Scully, Fine Gael Lord Mayor of Kildare-‘I wouldn’t help a black african’, 2011. He’s still a member of Fine Gael. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny didn’t even discipline him.

    @Tone rallied many a protestant dissenter in his day with the promise of better times from under British rule.

    Wolfe Tone:’Our Independence must be had at all costs.

    “To unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter under the common name of Irishmen in order break the connection with England, the never failing source of all our political evils, that was my aim”.

    “If the men of property will not support us, they must fall. Our strength shall come from that great and respectable class, the men of no property”.

    What ‘unionists’ are advocating when they say that -‘Episcopal, dissenter, protestant, catholic, atheist, black or white what links unionists together is the belief that Northern Ireland’s future is best within the United Kingdom.’ is something entirely different.

    @That is a fundamental and unalterable fact and to replace it with the debt laden mule of the Republic will not be something that is in the minds of many a nationalist never mind Unionist….

    I’d argue that in a Socialist Republic someone like Martin McGuinness would have been a football manager at a club like Derry City and Gerry Adams would have been a barman on a half decent wage. The ‘debt laden mule’ is precisely that because of partition.

  • Mick Fealty

    TT,

    Nope. You’re just through other and careless.

    Anton,

    “The ‘debt laden mule’ is precisely that because of partition.”

    If you mean because it is missing the Protestant minority of the NE, I agree with you. But I think that BP’s point is that the message from Northern Irish Nationalists does not come across like that’s what they mean.

  • antoinmaccomhain

    “The ‘debt laden mule’ is precisely that because of partition.”

    If you mean because it is missing the Protestant minority of the NE, I agree with you.

    I’m not a ‘christian’, but if I had to be a ‘christian’ i’d be a ‘protestant christian’….. I ‘get’ the ‘sectarianism’, but on the other hand I ‘don’t get it’. The same way I get ‘racism’, but I ‘don’t get it’.

    Shamrock Rovers need clubs like Linfield as cannon fodder to perform better in the Champions League. Linfield could use Cork City as cannon fodder for the Europa League.

    @Northern Irish Nationalists do not come across like that’s what they mean.

    I can’t speak for Northern Irish Nationalists as i’m from Dublin. The key to peace imo is the ‘prisoners’. All the ‘political prisoners’ need to be released first. Why are there still prisoners in 2012? In their eyes they’re either defending ‘The Republic’ or in some cases fighting for the re-establishment of ‘The Republic’. An All-Island vote would have removed the ‘motive’ in 1998. That’s what people were ‘fighting for’. The right to self-determination. The INC via the SDLP-FF-SF failed to deliver. Why? Because ultimately Fianna Fáil are part of the Business Class-Political Class who James Connolly described as Criminal Accomplices. They’ll always act in the interests of their ‘class’. I’d view the SDLP as being sandwiched somewhere in between FF and Labour.

    I wouldn’t have any time for the Labour Party, but I would have time for the politics of the now defunct Socialist Labour Party.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick Fealty
    “TT,

    Nope. You’re just through other and careless”

    Its the Republican in me. 🙂

  • Mick Fealty

    Don’t be daft.

  • Alias

    “You will of course provid me with things which are better administrated on a Northern Ireland basis?? ”

    It’s not my job to argue for the default position: that holds without argument.

    There are a couple of fundamental problems with you offering administrative savings as a reason for dismantling a state:

    (1) The logic doesn’t support ‘Home Rule’ for NI but rather it supports full integration with the rest of the UK. It follows from there that the UK should be fully integrated into the EU with all powers transferred to the centre, and further that all states should be subject to global government. Clearly then, that isn’t a nationalist agenda where particular states serve a particular nation. After all, if the unionists must give up their right to self-determination and a sovereign state in return for lower taxes, then the Irish and other nations should do the same.

    (2) Greater administrative savings could be achieved by dismantling the welfare state and smaller government, so your logic is not compatible with your socialist ambition.

    (3) More pertinently, public sector savings can only be achieved at the expense of those employed in, or whose employment is dependent on, the public sector. Since that includes more than half of NI’s voters, good luck getting said turkeys to vote for Christmas. But I think you might find that telling people to vote for a united Ireland so that their jobs can be cut is unlikely to be a successful ‘strategy’ for securing reunification. You’re conflating a national interest with a personal interest and assuming (a) that people will place the former before the latter, and (b) that they will do so without supporting evidence.

    If that’s the best reason you have, than it’s like bringing karaoke machine to an annual prayer meeting for monks who’ve taken a vow of silence,

  • Alias

    One other point about that. The GFA undercuts that argument by seeking to achieve savings through joint-administration of specific cross-border services without the need for reunification. If any such savings are being made with partition in place, then there is no longer any ‘need’ for reunification as a means to achieve these savings.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Alias:

    “It’s not my job to argue for the default position: that holds without argument.”

    There is no default position. Northern Ireland cost the British tax payer a lot of money. The amount depends on who you ask and how they count it.

    “the UK should be fully integrated into the EU”
    You think its not???

    ” Greater administrative savings could be achieved by dismantling the welfare state and smaller government”

    USA health care alone proves how inefficient private systems can be.

    “public sector savings can only be achieved”
    So you think the same amount of people achieving more is not a saving?

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick Fealty
    “Don’t be daft.”

    Once people stop being daft then there is no hope for them. It was a joke based on you calling me a republican.

    Apparently “Alias” thinks I am full of socialist ambition. The question is its the Stalin or Hitler type 🙂

  • tyrone_taggart

    Alias
    “One other point about that. The GFA undercuts that argument by seeking to achieve savings through joint-administration of specific cross-border services without the need for reunification. ”

    I think it is an interesting aspect of European life how old relationships effect different countries in modern Europe such as the German speakers of northern Italy.

  • Alias

    “There is no default position. Northern Ireland cost the British tax payer a lot of money. The amount depends on who you ask and how they count it.” – TT

    This is another two examples of wish-fulfillment/non-strategic ‘republicanism’ to fill out the “etc” in “that is why they dream about the UK dismantling through no intervention by them or talk of outbreeding unionists, etc.”

    Here’s the list so far:

    1. The UK will disintegrate of its own accord when Scotland leaves the union. This will leave unionists with no option other than to join Ireland. Therefore, we don’t need a strategy to achieve reunification.

    2. The Catholic population is growing faster than the Protestant population. There will soon be more Catholic voters than Protestant voters, and all Catholics will vote for reunification. Therefore, we don’t need a strategy to achieve reunification.

    3. A written constitution is a meaningless document. If we gave up our former right to national self-determination and no one (anywhere on the planet) now argues that another nation holds an illegitimate veto over a right we agreed we no longer have, this doesn’t mean that we can’t simply demand unity and receive it from the state fairy. Therefore, we don’t need a strategy to achieve reunification.

    4. The English taxpayers will get tired of subsidising NI and kick it out of the union. Therefore, we don’t need a strategy to achieve reunification.

    5. The EU will impose reunification in due course. Therefore, we don’t need a strategy to achieve reunification.

    6. (No doubt you’ll introduce it in your next few posts).

    Notice what all these have in common? They’re all designed to neutralise active opposition to the constitutional status quo by leading the gullible opposing team to think that all it has to do to win is sit on the bench and do nothing. In the meantime, the status quo is improved, settles in, and enjoys growing support. That usually happens when you let the other side pick your team managers…

  • tyrone_taggart

    As I have previously said I like the “UK”/Great Britain. It will not be going anyplace. It will change as does all things?

    As for UK tax payer he/she is broke. The English are angry at Scotland and how much money they are giving them (I don’t know if they are). I hope they will keep putting 10 billion a year into northern Ireland but I would not make plans based on that assumption. (I have no objection to there money and will happily take it till the end of time)

    “a strategy to achieve reunification”
    I do not wake up in the middle of the night worrying if I have a TD or not. I want a strategy to deal with real world problems or missed opportunities due to an invisible border.

    As for a strategic approach with Unionists then its targeting specific voters with what was important to them. In this I think the sdlp have a great opportunity/need. They could link with FG and polices and deal with bread and butter issues which Unionist want sorted. Agri foods/farm machinery policing would be one place to start.

  • Alias

    “I do not wake up in the middle of the night worrying if I have a TD or not. I want a strategy to deal with real world problems or missed opportunities due to an invisible border.”

    That sounds like the voice of a Catholic unicorn. The line that the constitutional issue should be ignored in favour of domestic issues is a unionist line. It’s a variation on the propaganda techniques outlined in 1-5 above, being “designed to neutralise active opposition to the constitutional status quo” by diverting the debate.

    Just as you mistook me for a unionist, I mistook you for a nationalist/republican. Would it be fair to say that you’re a Shinner?

  • tyrone_taggart

    “That sounds like the voice of a Catholic unicorn.”

    Never said I was a Catholic.

    “the constitutional issue should be ignored in favour of domestic issues is a unionist line.”

    How typically lazy of a unionist.

    I may only eat potatoes,bacon and cabbage. Have a huge poor family and say Be-gorra when drinking Guinness for breakfast. Of this my lepracaun would tell you sar that I can think about doing work and listen to the radio at the same time.

    NB:
    Targeting specific voters with what was important to them or treating people as human beings not labels my strike you as strange but its my view of how to get them to vote for you.