Martin’s handshake lifts another layer of fear from the legacy of the Long War…

So there. It’s done. Not one handshake, but two. And a wee sit down and coffee, just the four of them (HMQ, HRH, FM and dFM). Interesting that after a very long vacillation within the party, Martin felt emboldened to observe that it would have been cowardly not to have the photo taken in public.

A little too much of the customary ‘over processing’ in the Movement’s ‘big house’, perhaps?

Apparently when the Belleek pottery basket was awarded on behalf of the Assembly Martin hung back as if to say, “I’m not really there as deputy FM, you know.”

What does it mean?  Especially if Martin didn’t really mean it in the constitutional way that many will happily interpret it. Well there is such a thing as the noble lie. [Is there not also an innoble one? – Ed]. Certainly was hard to argue with Anthony McIntyre when he wrote yesterday:

Tomorrow’s event will be dressed up in the discourse of the peace process, which invariably serves to mask the truth. Despite much discursive massaging, the matter has little if anything to do with reaching out to unionists.

If Sinn Féin and McGuinness were really concerned with embracing unionist sensitivity they would stop denying that the IRA carried out the Kingsmill massacre in 1976, an act on an ethical par with Derry’s Bloody Sunday in 1972.

The strategic thinking behind tomorrow’s meeting is consistent with Sinn Féin’s expansionist strategy in the south of Ireland. Its electoral ambitions, not reconciliation with unionism, are what fuels McGuinness’s meeting the Queen.

However, having scorned the opportunity during the royal visit to Ireland last year, Sinn Féin’s transparently crass manipulation of tomorrow’s event may end up alienating more votes than it attracts.

Well, I’ve yet to hear one unionist say it is something they have ever looked for, or have been impressed by the act. There is also no evidence that there’s a whole bunch of SF MLAs queuing up to follow him.

There is more evidence that he needed to make good on his on-the-stump promise that he would accept the Queen on Irish soil if ever elected President. If necessity was ever the mother of invention it was surely this.

That’s not to say the event has been devoid of value. Martin may have done what he had to do for the cause, but as one caller to Nolan said this morning his action in meeting the Queen has taken a lot of fear for Catholics out of their relations and feelings for the Queen and the Royal Family.

Fear it took the IRA a very long time to instill within the local populus. But where does the bulk of nationalist sentiment lie? Standing on the mountain with the mythical Queen Eriu, or with the not quite yet constitutionally correct McGuinness?

And, the midst of it all, not a word of the poor old SDLP…

  • Brian Walker

    Away from the oversophisication of so much commentary (and the undersophistication of the BBC filling in) , it’s surely right to see how it will bed down – on both sides of the community. I must say from here I can’t tell. One the one hand, NI is stuffed up to here with symbolism. On the other, this was q

  • Brian Walker

    damn.. slipped sorry. On the other hand, this was quite a big deal. Full marks to that sharp journalist Andrew Neill watching the pictures as they came in and pointing out that the duke had shook his hand too. It’s he who was more closely related to Earl Mountbatten on his mother’s side.
    Nick Witchell added later that the Duke seemed to move away when Martin tried to engage him in conversation. Maybe, but the Queen had already moved off and the Duke had to follow. Thus so royal reporters attempts to wring significance out of a few moments.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “But where does the bulk of nationalist sentiment lie?”

    Bored? They do a good fairy tail romance every so often.

    “Fear it took the IRA a very long time to instill within the local populus.”

    Any chance you could explain this? I never met the IRA did you? I know people who was hard line republicans and some who was convinced but none of them ever tried to persuade me of anything to do with the royal family?

  • PaulT

    tyrone, that left me confused as well, tbh I was more than a tad surprised at the reaction of republicans I know to Princess Di’s death, and Fergie was always quite liked around Monaghan, she use to date *ahem* a local, and Mountbatten was readily accepted around Mullaghmore, I even had a tour of his castle once. And doesn’t everyone like PRince Philip?

    But to flip that comment on its head, I wonder would Mick blame the DUP for fostering a fear of the Irish flag and language among unionists, and does he think they should now make a similar move, perhaps Gregory could have a go at earning a fainne or Jeff could wrap himself in a tricolour

  • John Ó Néill

    Am inclined to agree with Brian on the immediacy and volume of the commentary (I know, with no little irony, I am going to add to it below) – these things tend to be diminished or enhanced only by perspective.

    In political terms, SF are weighing up two factors here (and I don’t think unionists come into it directly). Knowingly, SF will be increasing anxiety amongst republicans who disagree with some (or all) SF policy, although your perspective on whether this is mainly reinforcing disenchantment and opposition among existing opponents on the republican side, or swelling it’s ranks, is likely to be determined by where you are on that particular issue. Although, as a footnote, there is a constituency there that is regularly overlooked when commentators reflect on where SF might hope to grow its vote in the future. Having said that, this is the risk end of the spectrum for SF.

    The other factor is clearly profile building south of the border and challenging the perception given of SF by the mainstream media, which consistently lapses into the lazy tropes that have seriously tarnished any claims to quality amongst the Irish media on a range of issues (e.g. referring to SF as weak on economic policy without any irony or reflecting on ‘where we are now’ – bankruptcy, bailing out unregulated banks, fiscal policy suborned to external inspectors etc – all thanks to economic policies of the other main parties). That’s not going to change overnight as the inter-relationships of the media and other political parties and deep and nebulous (a classic and typically bizarre example being RTE reporting on supposed consideration being given to revising bailout conditions by the troika that was vehemently denied by the troika and others but continually reported by RTE, with no reference to the denials, the weekend before last – in the 48 hours leading up to the last SBP/Red C poll).
    One signpost of where things are at was given on Vincent Brown last night – Peter Matthews (FG) was positive about McGuinness meeting the British monarch but Willie O’Dea (the FF TD) was adamant that it wasn’t historical or worth the news coverage with enough venom that I’d guess his negativity would have went down well with the SF ard comhairle.

  • between the bridges

    tbh i am glad its all over, such a pantomime, MMcG had made his decision in January based on the popularity of the royal visit to the ROI… now the big question is will he be the first shinner to sit in the lords…

  • Alan N/Ards

    Well done Martin McGuiness. Regardless of his motives he made the right decision. Unionist’s and indeed loyalist paramilitaries have been meeting the Irish President for years and the sky hasn’t fallen in. It’s good to see republican’s finally catching up with the likes of Jackie McDonald, who not only shook the hand of their President but embraced her as a friend. How times are changing.

  • Rory Carr

    I must say that I am as puzzled as Tyrone Taggart at Mick’s assertion of a general fear among northern Catholics around the Royal family. I must say that I have never noticed it. I don’t know what goes on in the club room at Holywood Golf Club but, in my experience, Catholics generally simply ignore royalty. Apart, that is, from the twee lace curtain ladies who ooh and aah and gush over the Queen’s latest outfit or “how lovely” the latest Royal bride appears to be (which I thought was the case with all brides. Isn’t there a law or something against them not being lovely?)

    Perhaps that explains the silence of the SDLP – they were all struck dumb by the majesty of the moment (which you can see here: ) and explaining to their wives why they were not deemed significant enough to get to meet the Queen too. Doesn’t everyone look exceptionally jolly, most especially our esteemed First Minister and wasn’t HRH so thoughtful to have chosen such a pretty green outfit ? (In deference to the SDLP perhaps so as to blend in with the colour of their envy ?)

    But as to the IRA instilling in the Catholic community a sense of fear around the Royal Family, well I just don’t know where Mick gets that one from. IRA men and women that I may have met simply don’t discuss royalty, they have no interest in these characters as individuals, as circus acts to detract the populus from seeing what’s really going on, because that’s all to do with England, that’s their affair, let thm get on with it, it has nothing to do with us. Republicans don’t burn effigies of the Queen on top of bonefires or compose scurrillous ditties lampooning impossible sexual activities of royal figures. If any Catholics do get up to such behaviour they would so do in mirror image of their more anti-social unionist neighbours. Any IRA volunteer would have looked down with contempt on such behaviour.

  • PaulT

    Rory, republicans don’t burn cricket bats (or bails!) either, but Mick reliably informed us a few months ago that pre-GFA to openly discuss cricket in a republican area was very very very dangerous.

    So I think I’ll file this little nugget alongside that one

  • Alias

    “But where does the bulk of nationalist sentiment lie? Standing on the mountain with the mythical Queen Eriu, or with the not quite yet constitutionally correct McGuinness?”

    There’s not much nationalist sentiment among post-nationalists. The last Irish nationalists left standing are on the hill. With the latest poll showing just 7% support for an end to British rule, the only constitutional agenda the Shinners are successfully promoting is support for the status quo.

    The post-nationalists just play up this ‘republican’ unity thing every now and again to gain extra concessions from the other tribe. Unionism sees the Catholic Unicorns as contingency votes – or, at any rate, that is now the post-nationalists would like them to see them.

    The nicer unionists are to them, the more support there is for the status quo, so it benefits both tribes.

    The driving dyamic of post-nationalists is always self-interest.

    I agree that there will be more open support for royalty among the Catholics – or, at least, less fear of expressing existing support – now that the Shinners have embraced it rather than left it as something they’d probably have kneecapped you for a couple of decades ago.

  • keano10

    No harm to all of the naysayers on this site but Sinn Fein have come out of this very well indeed. Both nationally and internationally there has been widespread acclaim for what has happened today. Indeed, following some of the United States coverage, McGuinness is now being acclaimed as one of the most significant figures in modern Irish political history.

    As always Sinn Fein seem to be ahead of the game strategically and this is also true of their huge outreach programme with Unionist community and civic groups which Ken Reid referred to on UTV live the other night. Ken seemed to think that it was significant.

    But then again he is only the journalist of the year, and he isnt Alex Kane so I doubt that we will ever see a thread on Slugger about it…

  • Mick Fealty


    Such defensiveness.

    What I said was that nine years ago, I got lift to the airport form taxi driver, who had moved back to A’town after years of living in England, who said he was afraid to mention his love of cricket.

    That was a pretty thorough conversation and I thought it was clear enough from it: that not everyone suffered from such fear; that the guy did exist, and I wasn’t necessarily lying.

    You run around for years, waving a gun in the general direction of unco-operative individuals and bumping off informants and killing builders and cleaners and canteen ladies who worked for the Crown, then yes, I would think it very likely there’s been a lot fear with some less ideologicially driven Catholics over showing the least bit of affection for the Royal Family.

  • Mick Fealty


    If it IS significant, why would you prefer us to talk about something else instead?

  • Rory Carr

    I can well understand yer man’s fear of mentioning his love of cricket. Were I to share his enthusiasm I too would be fearful of mentioning it back home in, say, The Round House Bar in Downpatrick.

    Some might think me cowardly but then who among us enjoys being laughed at ?,

    “Cricket ! Yer man sez he likes cricket. Ye’re having us on aren’t ye. Like cricket, that’s a good un.”

  • Little James

    Keano – Were Conor Murphy, Michelle Gildernew and Catriona Ruane involved in this “outreach”?

  • BluesJazz

    Rory Carr
    The Round House I think might be closed down, but there are excellent bar facilities at Downpatrick Cricket Club, where I’ve seen Ireland play the West Indies (they had to shut the Strangford Road because of the number of sixes Richie Richardson was launching onto it) and Australia.
    You possibly may be of an age to remember Gladys Welshman’s bar in New Bridge Street, even if I doubt you frequented it. It was bombed by local republicans.

    Mister Joe, I always thought the ’rounders’ analogy was for baseball. Try explaining to a Canadian that not all ‘hockey’ is played on ice.

  • SDLP supporter

    I’m worried. Eriu and her sister goddesses Banba and Fodhla must be bloody angry about today’s events. At 7.15 pm it’s absolutely chuckying down with rain in South Belfast. MMcG, be very afraid!

  • Rory Carr

    Blues Jazz,

    I have not heard of the Round House closing down. It was certainly thriving the last time I had a drink there but then since it is three years almost since I have had a drink anywhere I suppose it might be.

    I did drink in Gladys Welshman’s bar reasonably often and found her to be a delightful woman. My reaction to her business being bombed was one of regret and disapproval.

    Downpatrick Cricket Club was (and I trust remains) a magnificent institution and I was friendly with many who played for it back in the day, both Protestant and Catholic and indeed even spectated at one or two matches when dragged along by friends. Very pleasant afternoons, but completely bewildering and bore no relationship that I could figure out with the games of street cricket that I had enjoyed as boy when a hard rubber ball was employed and three stones utilised for wickets (the height was virtual and arguments about “out” on that account were surprisingly infrequent or at least quickly settled with reasonable amicability.)

    But let me revisit my earlier response to Mick’s anecdote of the frightened cricket fan in which I now see that my flippancy ignored a serious matter.

    It is, I acknowledge, perfectly reasonable that his acquaintance might genuinely feel uneasy about admitting to being a fan of cricket at that time in that place. But such a fear whether well-founded or not (and I will come back to that) cannot be laid at the door of the IRA who really had a lot more on their plate in a heavily occupied war-zone than to be bothering about the sporting preferences of local individuals. It is more likely that the man’s unease arose from his own sense of being a stranger in his former hometown where the populace had risen in a great swell of anti-British sentiment precisely because their homes were being raided and smashed up by British soldiers on a regular basis and their sons and daughters being subjected daily to being stopped and searched often roughly and often enough quite violently and even held and beaten up or tortured and fitted up with a serious crime.

    Indeed if his home were subject to Army “census” whereby the pattern of his living room wallpaper and the colour of his couch were logged on a computer along with perhaps a cricketing photograph or two on his walls, then it is more likely the Brits he would have cause to fear were he, when stopped at a roadblock, find himself, out of fear, forgetting the exact detail of where one of those photographs might hang (or if he had moved it since the “census” was last taken).

    Let the circumstances that gave rise to his unease be placed at the doorstep where it belongs – that of the occupying army whose tactics were designed to create a complete climate of communal fear and in which they might have completely succeeded were it not for the indominatble spirit of the people and the resistance spearheaded by the Republican army.

    If the IRA had been responsible, as Mick argues, for this climate of fear then we might expect, now that they have gone away (you know) that the populus would have had their revenge upon them by ensuring their electoral humiliation (as has been the case with the political offshoots of the Loyalist paramiltary groups). Instead Sinn Féin’s popularity is unbounded and it is the pacifist SDLP which has been given the heave.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick Fealty

    “Catholics over showing the least bit of affection for the Royal Family”

    Why the hell would the IRA care if someone liked the British Royal Family? What offensive think would you do if you happens to like the British royal family???? I know after the murder of lord Mountbatten I did not hear a single person say it was a good thing everyone was outraged.

    The good people in the Strabane (not a DUP stronghold) area of Tyrone like cricket….. As Children we used cheap Pakistani cricket bats to play rounders some should have told us told us of the danger…….

  • Dixie Elliott

    All this means, is that today McGuinness became just another Castle Catholic and joined a long line of what I call ‘Pet Paddys’ – the likes of Sir Bob Geldof and Terry Wogan.

    Don’t forget that this is the same man who attended the Tory Party Conference – Thatcher’s Tory Party – on the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger Strikes.

  • Mister_Joe

    ..The good people in the Strabane area..

    And not Strabane alone but large swathes of the northwest. It’s all we played during the summer months.

  • Mister_Joe


    Although it’s obvious from your post and previous posts that you and others feel betrayed, the fact is that it’s over. And it wasn’t worth it.

  • ForkHandles

    does anyone else see the strange generation gap on slugger at the minute going on? you have the old people going on about “catholics should think such and such” about the royal family. isnt it interesting to observe that these people are what they would describe themselves as being traditional / real / true or whatever republicans etc. but actually they are just old people who are unable to adjust to modern times of people just not really being all that full of hatred. its particularly interesting to see how they refer to catholics when they are referring to how their historical tribal group should be thinking. Its interesting to observe their comments in the same way that its interesting to watch a documentary on how ancient civilisations behaved and functioned on the history channel.

  • Mister_Joe


    I’m not at all sure about your premise (and how can you determine people’s ages?) but you have to understand a relevant point. Older people grew up with rampant discrimination, (don’t mention C.Murphy) and, thankfully, the younger folk now have equality. Royal family is largely an irrelevance.

  • ForkHandles

    Hi Mj, i determine peoples ages by what they talk about in terms of events and attitudes and language etc. it really is obvious that some people are over 50 or 60 and others are in their 20s, 30s 40s. not scientific but its pretty obvious what generation people are from.
    your point about older people grew up with rampant discrimination. i think that its fair enough to say that back in the 60s 70s and 80s that it was fairly common and accepted to not like them other ones, and maybe even discriminate against them (im sure that was for both tribes). but my generation who is now in their late 30s and early 40s grew up in the E generation of the early 90s. at this time it was immediately obvious in the expanded state of mind that mdma provided that these prejudices about people because of what religion they were was a total load of stupid nonsense. since that time people have got over this whole tribal hatred stupidity. it is the rest (older) of NI society that is slowly changing to catch up.
    as far as equality goes, i know that wimmen got the vote in the early 20th century and there was some change many decades ago to give everyone the vote even if they didnt own land or whatever. what is the equality that you think is different from your day and the modern day? what is the equality that you say that younger folk have today? honestly i think that this sort of talk is based on nothing other than a default expected feeling of being hard done by by someone else for no other reason than the need to feel sorry for yourself. (not you personally).

  • lamhdearg2

    UTV are currently screening a marty special.

  • Mister_Joe

    what is the equality that you say that younger folk have today?

    A main one, in N.I., is equality of opportunity in employment. Back when I was younger, emigration was the only choice for many. Having emigrated myself, i know the hardship involved in that, especially leaving family and friends. Thankfully today, air fares are very cheap. And phone calls? Amazing, when I first emigrated a phone call back home at the cheap rate was $2.00 a minute; now 6 cents.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I think McIntyre is right, this is all about catching up with the mood of the South after last year’s visit, which SF misjudged at the time. Not really about reaching out to unionists, as can be seen from An Phoblacht’s references to the “English queen” and indeed McGuinness’s own few comments about this, none of which signal a departure from his worldview that the Queen is a visiting digitary from England, not the British queen on British soil.

    Of course, he recognised the legitimacy of the status of NI as part of the UK in the GFA in 1998, in which he also ended the Republican Movement’s position of denying the Britishness of British people in N Ireland. But somehow there still seems to be this sense you get from Republicans that they still see Britishness as something external to N.Ireland. I didn’t get a sense McGuinness was departing from that with this handshake.

  • Rory Carr

    ForkHandles asks:

    does anyone else see the strange generation gap on slugger at the minute going on? you have the old people going on about “catholics should think such and such” about the royal family.

    I have made a fairly exhaustive search of responses to this thread (and others) on this issue of That Handshake and I’ll be damned if I can find any from respondents (of any age) making such demands.

    I am beginning to wonder if Forkhandles himself might not be a man of advanced years by using his own method of reckoning,

    “i determine peoples ages by what they talk about in terms of events and attitudes and language etc”

    I have determined that, given that I am old enough to have witnessed the riots in Downpatrick in 1949 when young Brian Faulkner was first elected to Stormont, and yet find the quaint language that ForkHandles employs, e.g. “wimmin” (who got the vote) and “them other ones” and “The younger folk” so archaic and so far removed from what might be acceptable to a modern audience that Fork handles himself most likely is a man in his eighties which mayy go some way to explaining him discovering attitudes in the thread which no one, young or old has expressed.

    Now where did I put me dentures…

  • Pete Baker


    “But somehow there still seems to be this sense you get from Republicans that they still see Britishness as something external to N.Ireland.”


    It’s part of Gerry’s “coherent and viable strategy”.

    Sinn Féin is for a new dispensation in which a citizen can be Irish and unionist.

    Where one can also claim Britishness and be comfortable on this island.

    You can claim it, but you can’t be it.

    But then, if the party was serious about fairness and equality…

  • andnowwhat


    I think what young nationalists have today is amazing openness and expression about their culture and politics. The trad music is no longer imaged with aran jumpers and oul lads playing crap but young, very well accomplished kids who seriously know there stuff with a wide variety of venues in which to play.

    The knowledge of GAA sports among non participating kids (ie. fans) is also way above what it was in my day with the big players being high profile even among the most casual of fans.

    Then there’s the popularity of the language and more common use of it and a large interest in literature, both ancient and modern. They also have open conversation about politics, both constitutional and pedestrian, unlike in my days as someone who almost exclusively frequented city centre pubs and venues.

    As for cricket, it was hardly unusual to see us playing a game in St James’ Parade but fours were out, never mind sixes. It was too narrow for that.

  • andnowwhat

    Funny that someone called Mainland Ulsterman would say the above.

    If unionist politicians are so British, why don’t they stand in GB and see how far a party or parties might get that has/have large amount of their politicians who believe in young earth creationism, archaic attitude to gays, a very strange attitude to Africans in relation to blood donation and that has at least one high profile politician who believes there’s lost tribe of israel knocking about across the Irish Channel?

    The shinners put their money where their mouth’s are in the 26 counties, why not unionists?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Forkhandles, my opinion on the Royals is the same as that of the Irish President. They are nothing more than a scandalous waste of money.

    The problem with old feckers like myself is that we are part of a wasted generation; wasted by the very same gabshites now cosying up to each other in government. The Paisleyites who rallied the mobs against Rome Rule and the likes of McGuinness and Adams who told us the war wouldn’t end until the Brits left.

    It was they who opposed the Sunningdale Agreement – later reworded as the GFA – in 1973.

    Adams from prison referred to the IRA leadership in 1975/76, who called that ceasefire, as ‘so called Peacemakers’ and set about overthrowing them.

    The bigots and the former generals on the hill now tell us to move on but why the fuck didn’t they move back then? Why didn’t they become so called Peacemakers in 1973?

    Why did we have to wait until the people started voting for the warmongers on the DUP and PSF side? Was that what it was really all about – a war for votes – for political power…so called?

    I’ve heard the excuse from some Shinners that the Unionists wouldn’t have accepted us back then. However after the 1994 ceasefire it took a hell of a long time and the dumping of Republicanism before the Unionists finally accepted PSF – if they ever did.

    That’s the problem, if I or others oppose the crap that passes for government, we are opposed to peace. If we call those who sacrificed young men and women traitors for becoming Tory lackeys we want a return to the past.

    There is no war in the South nor is there a war in England and look at the shiteholes those places are – where drug dealing and crime is the best chance, outside of politics, of making a decent living.

    I believe deep down the politicians need a so called ‘acceptable level of violence’ so that they can hide behind the ‘Peace Process’ I believe as Republicans we can swipe that rug from under their feet by leaving the gun and bomb in the past.

    But who am I? Only someone who has grown older as part of a wasted generation.

  • keano10


    I think you have mis-read my post. I was talking about Sinn Fein’s outreach programme which Ken Reid described as significant. You completely ignored my point that Slugger would never start such a thread as it is positive towards SF. To be honest I think it would be an interesting discussion point anyway as all of the usual suspects could have their daily pop at The Shinners.

    I also think that dear Old Alex Kane’s prediction of an armageddon style embarrasment for Sinn Fein today has (once again) been a million miles from the mark. McGuinness has won the PR battle with flying colours.

  • BluesJazz

    Rory Carr
    The ‘Roundhouse’ was closed on the (weekday) afternoon I drove past it after a visit to the Red High a few weeks ago. But that might mean, like many other such establishments, it only opens at eveninings and/or weekends.
    Downpatrick is not the sort of place grammar school graduates stay. It’s become, or getting to be a sink town.
    The cricket club was rebuilt 7 or 8 years ago after a firebomb attack. (By ‘republicans’ or just sectarian bigots we’ll never know.)
    Welshmans is now ‘Speedy Mullans’ and therefore unlikely to suffer republican attacks.
    As an ex native of Meadowlands, I am well aware of the sectarian nature of *some* Republican ‘actions’ . I do not include you as a supporter of such, but you must be well aware of their occurence.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “And not Strabane alone but large swathes of the northwest.”

    I never actualy never know what area is covered by the “northwest”. Does it include Donegal or not?

    The North West 200 circuit runs between the towns of Portrush, Portstewart and Coleraine???????

  • salgado

    “If unionist politicians are so British, why don’t they stand in GB and see how far a party or parties might get that has/have large amount of their politicians who believe in young earth creationism, archaic attitude to gays, a very strange attitude to Africans in relation to blood donation and that has at least one high profile politician who believes there’s lost tribe of israel knocking about across the Irish Channel?”

    Sounds a lot like UKIP.

  • Mick Fealty


    This story has been wall to wall in the press since Friday. You want us to ignore it?

  • Rory Carr

    I must say that I just love Mainland Ulsterman’s delicious typo:

    “…the Queen is a visiting digitary from England…” !

    In the light of all concentration on that Tiochfaidh ár lamh moment, with his own digital slip he may have just summed up the whole trip with astounding accuracy.

    Pity then that he gets everything else so wrong, Britishness is external to any part of Ireland. McGuinness and Sinn Féin (and yours truly) recognise the political status quo and the ongoing (though not necessarily permanent) wish of a section of Irish society to regard themselves as British, just as, I presume, there are sections of Irish society (north and south) that regard themselves as Italian or Polish or Nigerian or Chinese or Roumanian, or what have you. Eventually of course their children begin to think of themselves as primarily Irish. The Ulster-Scots are just taking their time about it, being perhaps the slow learners of the GFA.

  • JR

    Was talking to a relative yesterday evening about the McGuiness handshake. She is a retired teacher who began her career in England in the early 60’s before returning to NI 1966. I was unaware untill last night that in NI at that time every teacher had to go to a Justice of the Peace and swear with their hand on the Bible alegence to the Queen. A practice that was not done in any other part of the Uk at the time. It was very hard for her at the time. As a woman of strong religous belief, any oath taken with the right hand on the bible was a serious issue.

  • Rory,

    Britishness is external to any part of Ireland

    Only if you choose to define it so. However if you define it as “that which is shared by those people who self-identify as British” then it is plainly not. To substitute your personal definition of a word into an argument made by someone who quite obviously intended a different definition is dishonest, plain and simple.

  • between the bridges

    haven’t read all the comments (sorry couldn’t be arassed) but does anyone think that MMcG is already campaigning for the Aras? he is in his 60’s, UI isn’t happening in his lifetime, SF majority in NI is unlikely, all the recent interviews have seen him droning on about himself as a peacemaker, ground-breaker, statesman etc and next time the press will be about the provo who met the queen rather than what he did before he went fishing…

  • Rory Carr

    “To substitute your personal definition of a word into an argument made by someone who quite obviously intended a different definition is dishonest, plain and simple.”

    ” Dishonest”, Andrew ? . Mainland Ulsterman it was who insisted , “But somehow there still seems to be this sense you get from Republicans that they still see Britishness as something external to N.Ireland.” I was only explaining why that might be so.

    Nothing dishonest in that I trust you will agree.

  • Rory Carr

    JR raises an interesting point with the Oath of Allegience. It was not only teachers who were obliged to swear to such an oath. Anyone who was employed in a government post, including some municipal government, for example cleaners at Belfast City Hall, were required to swear an oath of allegience to the British monarch before they could be employed.

    The idea of course was to limit, as much as possible all government employment to those who could in conscience take such an oath which would have ruled out a large number of that tiny percentage of Catholics who might have squeezed through the sectarian recruitment system in the first place.

    Catholic bishops then made it easier by ruling that such an oath, since made under duress (that would be economic duress, lads), could be rendered meaningless if one held a mental reservation while taking it.

    Sinn Féin however were not so accomodating and no one who was employed in government whether provincial or imperial, or municipal where an oath was required could join their ranks. The IRA however had no such barrier since, presumably a goverment employee migh be of some intelligence value to them and I do remember at a conference in 1972 when a staunch Belfast Republican who worked in City Hall and so was denied SF membership calling unsuccessfully for this barrier to be lifted.

  • Rory,

    Perhaps my last was badly aimed. I was making a general point about how arguments about identity always seem to devolve into semantics.

    You can’t with one breath allow Irish people to self-define as “British” and then in the next breath state that Britishness is completely external to Ireland. That is to confuse two definitions of “Britishness”. Either Britishness is inclusive of (some) Irish people, and therefore at least partly overlapping with Irishness, or it is not. To include self-defined British people while simultaneously excluding their Britishness smacks of terminological coercion.

    Or to take a comparison, if I was to say that Polishness was completely external to Ireland I would expect my settled Polish friends to feel quite betrayed, and rightly so.

  • Rory Carr

    I will concede to that, Andrew, that Britishness and Polishness and Chineseness (this is getting silly), or at least that sense of such identity that holds with those born Irish, who are from such ethnicities, is not external to Ireland.

    How could it be? It belongs to the Irish-born individual in Ireland (or in Torremolinos if he is on holiday) whose forebears roots lie in these countries which countries are of course quite external and nothing mush we can do about that.

  • son of sam

    An interesting quote from Diana Rusk’s piece in today’s Irish News.”Yesterday one S D L P member reflected on Sinn Fein’s reaction to the Queens visit to Stormont in 2002 when she was met by then D F M ,Mark Durkan.He was lambasted by Sinn Fein and they erected murals and structures in the Bogside branding him a royalist and a sell out” Could we apply the old Groucho Marx dictum. “These are my principles;if you don’t like them ,I’ve got other ones” to Sinn Fein?! It will be interesting to watch Martin’s interview with Miriam O ‘Callaghan on Saturday night.

  • Mike the First

    Rory Carr

    “Britishness is external to any part of Ireland….The Ulster-Scots are just taking their time about it, being perhaps the slow learners of the GFA”

    Clearly you, personally, still have quite a long way to travel on the “whole respect and recognition of people and their identity” journey…

  • Rory Carr

    It’s only a political identity, Mike, so i wouldn’t get too hung up about it.

    This “Britishness” mularkey that you feel so precious about is merely a political choice of union by Britain which is susceptible to change. But that choice is one that is made by and large by Irishmen and Irishwomen, born in the island of Ireland and that fact is gold, it is immutable and it trumps any temporary political choice of “identity” that they might make.

    Indeed such identity is so elusive that any adherent from the green fields of Fermanagh say, finding himself in the very heart of the empire,in London, the great metropolis of Mother Britain, will find himself annoyed time and again to be “mistaken” as Irish.

  • Rory Carr

    Typo: “…union by Britain…” should of course read, “union with Britain,”


  • Rory,

    It’s only a political identity, Mike, so i wouldn’t get too hung up about it.

    All identities are political identities. Your attempt to denigrate others’ identities while claiming your own to be superior is condescending and arrogant. Climb off your horse.

  • Rory Carr

    I’ve imbued a lot from the Brits, Andrew, not least through my primary and secondary school eduction in Northern Ireland which, despite being conducted by Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Brothers of the Order of Ste Jean Baptiste de La Salle, was nevertheless a British education with the essential values that were not specific to the Catholic faith, being British. Geography was British. History was British. Literature was British. (Mathematics, thank God, were Greek !)

    So I had a lot of Britishness drummed into me, not to mention the influence of great British cinema (that’s great British cinema by the way not, Great British cinema. The indisputiably great French film director, Francois Truffuat once said that there was ‘a certain incompatibility’ between Britain and cinema’. It’s hard to disagree, that incompatibility continues to this day. Sad but nevertheless so very true.)

    However the one aspect of Britishness that I resisted was a need to feel superior to anyone, I always felt that such a need indicated a strong element of low self-esteem, maybe even self-loathing of the type that leads to acute alcoholism, auto-erotic strangulation so common to judges, policemen and those who weild great power and also the capacity to abuse it.

    p.s. All identities are manifestly not political identities hence the stage, cinema, television, the school play. Identities shift and change constantly, the young Chelsea punk of yesterday is a civilised thug in the City today, propping up and making merry with all that he raged aginst yesteryear. But of course he is English now as he was English then, indeed British in both cases as well by reason of birth. Born in the country of England on the island of Britain.Nothing much political about it really in his case.

  • Rory Carr

    Some typos and misspellings: education; wield; against,


  • lamhdearg2

    Is ireland an constitute island of the polish or chinese isles, no, it is however an constitute island of the British isles, hence the people on it, all of the people on it are (by your logic) British, however if its nationality to which you refer, then those people with irish birth cert, holding irish passports and more or less wanting to be irish, are irish, the other 93%* of the people of the British isles chose to be, and are British.

    * numbers are rough guessitmate, made up word?.

  • lamhdearg2

    some typos and misspellings, but you should get the gist, so no apologies.

  • Born in the country of England on the island of Britain.

    Again, inserting your own definition of “British” into someone else’s argument.