Welcome to Northern Ireland!

With a little local difficulty exposing something of a north/south divide within his own party, Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has decided to have an argument about road signs.  “Welcome to Northern Ireland” road signs…  Apparently, he’s concerned about the cost.

The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said:

“The erection of these signs has angered many living in border communities who suffer the negative impact of partition on a daily basis and a large proportion of are completely opposed to the unnatural division of Ireland.

“It is my belief that Danny Kennedy’s time would be much better spent if he actually attempted to direct money into repairing our roads and improving public transport instead of squandering money on such petty, pointless political projects.”

“At the end of June, Mr Kennedy told the Assembly that were wasn’t enough money to pay for grass cutting, street lights and pothole repair and in fact he said he had no choice but to increase parking fines by 50% to cover the shortfall.

“How then can he justify wasting public money on the erection of signs, which no one wants and were advised against by the Tourist Board in the 1990’s who stated that the proposed erection of such was signage was met with ‘outright hostility from almost every council.’

That would be the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, natch.  [Our Time, Our Place! – Ed]  Indeed.

The BBC reports the response from DUP MLA Alastair Ross

East Antrim MLA and Assembly Private Secretary for the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment Alastair Ross defended the signs and said it was “nonsense to quote surveys carried out by the tourist board under direct rule”.

“Under devolution we have made strides positively identifying the Northern Ireland tourist brand and these signs will play a part in that,” he said.

Whilst some Sinn Fein representatives like to pretend the border doesn’t exist the vast majority of people simply want to see all political parties make Northern Ireland work. It’s time Phil Flanagan got on with that task.’ [added emphasis]

And the same BBC report quotes a Roads Service spokesman

A Roads Service spokesman said: “Signage is placed at strategic border crossing points to remind drivers entering Northern Ireland that speed limits are displayed in miles per hour.

Roads Service is supplementing the existing signage with ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ signs indicating the change of jurisdiction.

“The programme of work is ongoing and five out of a total of eight signs have been placed at an approximate total cost of £950.” [added emphasis]

[Perhaps if the signs were bilingual… – Ed]  Or the Northern Ireland Department of Education chipped in?

[Welcome to ‘here’? – Ed]  Indeed.

Adds  From the latest BBC report

The minister Danny Kennedy said there was no “no great constitutional drama” about the signs and some people were “getting carried away”.

“These signs are entirely for information purposes,” he said.

“They’re welcoming visitors, particularly the many tourists who cross the border, to Northern Ireland and to remind them that speeds are measured in miles per hour, rather than the European measure of kilometres.”

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  • keano10

    Apparently one of the few remaining signs has been partially painted over tonight in white paint so that it now reads “Welcome to Ireland”. Hilarious stuff!

    I get the feeling that Danny Kennedy’s little stunt is a battle that is doomed to failure…

    Time to surrender on this one Danny… 🙂

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    All this shinner and republican angst over a few signs, sort of puts a lie to the confident republican movement they keep harping on about…

  • Mister_Joe

    Obelisk,

    Good to hear from a local. As you say, back before the EU, it was irritating to have to pass through Border Controls (and lie about whether or not you had “contraband”). But a simple sign is no big deal, just mildly annoying for some, as you say.

  • Pete Baker

    Obelisk

    “As someone proud to have the political psychosis of seeing the Irish Nation as one unit, I have been pleased to witness the fading of the border in recent years since the signing of the agreement.”

    Well, at least you’re honest about denying reality.

    Bangordub

    “The Signs are political, pure and simple.”

    The signs are a statement of fact. The reaction from Sinn Féin is political.

    Look, we all know that Sinn Féin are keen to promote the idea that partition is fading. We’re on the way to a united Ireland, etc, etc…

    But the reality is some way from that aspiration. the constitutional situation remains unchanged until a majority of the people of Northern Ireland decide otherwise. Them’s the agreed rules.

    If, or when, there’s a referendum on the issue. And if, or when, that vote goes the way Sinn Féin would claim to aspire to, then there’s an issue with the signs.

    Until then, the signalling of the fact of Northern Ireland is an unwelcome reminder, for themselves alone, that Sinn Féin’s rhetoric has not been matched by achievement.

    That’s why they are antagonised by these signs.

  • Zig70

    Pete, I’m not sure how many blogs you need where the underlying point is that NI is part of the UK and nationalists don’t really like it to get the point that Nationalist don’t want the border and like to think of themselves living in Ireland except the English take the taxes. It’s not just shinners, it’s not necessarily all catholics but a large section of the community are brought up with that outlook. It’s not really an unreasonable position that you would prefer a UI, huff because your (temporarily) stuck in the UK, but still try and make the best of your lot. At worst it’s dillusional, at best aspirational but not that difficult a concept.

  • Pete,
    Please address my entire comment if you would, not a sentence plucked out. That’s an old journalistic trick, happy to respond then 🙂

  • Obelisk

    Zig70

    That’s a wonderful paragraph that sums up the attitude of many of us in the North, the attitude Pete likes to dismiss as the political psychosis. Maybe there is a bit of self-delusion involved, but it’s the aspiration I like to focus on.

  • Ouch! Yellow Card?
    Honoured as I am, it’s my first, what for?

  • Mister_Joe

    ..a large section of the community are brought up with that outlook.

    Zig70,
    Do you have any facts to support that bald assertion or is it just a (misguided?) opinion?

  • andnowwhat

    Welcome to Slugger proper Bangordub.

    Pete’s kinda Judge Dredd on his threads and a joke on every other site I post on.

    Cue my card

  • Pete Baker

    Zig70

    “It’s not really an unreasonable position that you would prefer a UI, huff because your (temporarily) stuck in the UK, but still try and make the best of your lot. At worst it’s [delusional], at best aspirational but not that difficult a concept.”

    No, it’s not that difficult a concept. But when you end up complaining, and protesting, when someone makes a simple statement of the actual reality, then it’s a problem.

    “I’m not sure how many blogs you need where the underlying point is that NI is part of the UK and nationalists don’t really like it to get the point that Nationalist don’t want the border and like to think of themselves living in Ireland except the English take the taxes.”

    Again with the political psychosis…

    As I said,

    Look, we all know that Sinn Féin are keen to promote the idea that partition is fading. We’re on the way to a united Ireland, etc, etc…

    But the reality is some way from that aspiration. the constitutional situation remains unchanged until a majority of the people of Northern Ireland decide otherwise. Them’s the agreed rules.

    If, or when, there’s a referendum on the issue. And if, or when, that vote goes the way Sinn Féin would claim to aspire to, then there’s an issue with the signs.

    Until then, the signalling of the fact of Northern Ireland is an unwelcome reminder, for themselves alone, that Sinn Féin’s rhetoric has not been matched by achievement.

    That’s why they are antagonised by these signs.

  • Pete?

  • Mister_Joe

    Pete has awarded me some Yellows that I thought weren’t justified, and removed an occasional comment. But, them’s the rules of the site and, since you know what they are, you can’t really complain. There’s no compulsion to comment.

  • andnowwhat

    Anyone got any stats on how much foreign NI tourism is via visitors to the south who pop over the border for a day or 2 Vs just coming to the north?

  • Mister_Joe

    andnowwhat,

    I doubt that there are any “facts”. Don’t forget, there are no border controls any more and, even when there were, nobody at the border posts asked.

  • Joe,
    I get comments on my own site and I’ve never censored a comment yet or, god forbid, passed judgement on a view. I try to answer everyone though

  • andnowwhat

    Joe

    I’m just wondering if tourists get excited at the thought of going to the “country” that gave the world Give My Head Peace? 🙂

  • andnowwhat
  • Andnowwhat,
    Point well and truly taken ! Still waiting to find my sins

  • Do I have a right of appeal?
    Mick? Anyone? 🙂

  • andnowwhat

    Dub

    It should say in your e-mail form WordPress what your offending post was. I’m fek’d if I can see what you said that broke the rules

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Danny Kennedy’s reason for pulling this little stunt is made clear (if it wasn’t already obvious) by the reaction of very many unionist posters on this thread. Such spittle-flecked triumphalism is exactly what the Minister was going for.

    But it’s worth reminding oneself that posters on Slugger do not reflect the real world, and most decent unionists will be just as aware as nationalists that: a) Mr Kennedy’s decision was childish and deliberately trouble-making; and b) this is a storm in a teacup.

    The funny thing is that most of the signs will be gone in a week. Replacements will fare no better. Before long, Mr Kennedy’s efforts to mark the border will have met with complete failure. Let’s hope so – it’ll be a very cheap lesson to any other ministers who think they can use their ministerial powers to give two fingers to ‘themmuns.’

  • ANW,
    Thanks, got mail, no reason ! lol

  • andnowwhat

    Could be worse Dub. You could be Pete Baker 🙂

  • andnowwhat

    Billy Pilgrim

    On the money.

    I’ve said recently that unionist politicians ramping things up over the Parades Commission and the St. Patrick’s crap (among others) is an issue. What the hell is going on and WTF are the shinners doing about it?

    Letting a kid like Flanagan take this on is useless compared to how Robinson got stuck in to the PC a few weeks ago.

  • andnowwhat

    Let it go Bangor or contact Mick on Twitter

  • ANW
    Lol, the problem is that this nonsense compounds what people are saying about slugger, gonna post on this tomorrow on my own site, off to do some research, feel free to comment, you’ll not be yellow carded

  • Mister_Joe

    Do I have a right of appeal?

    Yes, Bangordub. If you go to the bottom of the page, the “Moderation Policy” tells you how to appeal. But, Mick is, understandably, protective of his bloggers. Best to just forget it. It’ll go away tomorrow.

  • andnowwhat

    What’s your site Dub?

  • ANW,
    Just click on my name above or
    http://bangordub.wordpress.com/

  • andnowwhat

    Joe

    The reputation of the site has gone down the pan (used to be referred to by journos all the time but I haven’t heard such in ages) and the breadth of bloggers has atrophied massively.

    I see many ex sluggerites on other sites and Twitter and with antics such as Pete’s, it’s no wonder.

  • andnowwhat

    Cheers Dub. I’ve it bookmarked. Go chill and remeber, at least you’re not Katie Holmes

  • Alias

    The Shinner policy of pretending that the border doesn’t exist has no advantages for nationalists beyond the transient comfort of pitiful delusion but it is a fancy that works to the practical advantage of the British state when it comes to diverting hard cash and investment from Ireland into that part of the UK.

    We had the Shinners squealing “Partitionist!” at the Irish government over Chickengate when they demanded that the Irish state should import them from the UK and thereby export revenue from the state to the UK, even threatening the Irish government with the European Court of Justice if they preferred to keep investment within the Irish state.

    That was the Shinners serving the interests of their employers, the British state. In that case the revenue lost to Irish producers was small but it helps to create a culture whereby the government fails to act to promote the national interest where larger investments are concerned. As some of those investments may be hundreds of millions as in the case of IDA project, the potential for the British state to siphon off some of this investment under the guise of an invisible border is huge.

    You can see the same trick being presented to the ‘nationalists’ in NI with the prospect of lowering the corporate tax rate to compete with Ireland’s lower rate. It is sold to them as harmonising that is intended to make the border more invisible when in reality it is simply designed to divert potential FDI from Ireland to that part of the UK, with the benefits accruing to Her Majesty’s Exchequer and lost to the Irish state.

    That ability to makes fools out of their own supporters is part of the reason that they Shinners are so useful to the British state, and why its leaders enjoy its protection.

  • andnowwhat

    Missing the issue big style Alias.

    That Flanagan is being a tool in the way he’s going about things is a given. What Kennedy is doing and wasting public money doing so, is the issue.

    I’m glad that Kennedy has a hobby, albeit loyalism, but he should keep it for like minded friends like we all do

  • gary oh

    Have to say it makes sense to have signs. Two different countries on one island. What’s the problem? I’m not sayin have them everywhere but on the mainroads and motorways surely. I think we should get some to sayin welcome to the republic. Sterling welcome!

  • Mister_Joe

    gary,

    I think that 8 signs were mentioned. Presumably the main cross border roads. It’s not a big issue. If the local youths think that it is fun to deface them, well that’s what immature teenagers do, isn’t it? Again, not a big issue.

  • I began posting on slugger in February ”09 and this is my last post here. The whole unionist insecurity trip is seen in the protest over the GB nomenclature at the Olympics, which is a cry for help. They know that the real Brits across the water, don’t count them so the anguish is the Pavlov response. The Houvenaghel episode has the Furyletter and BT up in arms.They don’t get it. They aren’t British. The signs on the Border is another cry for help. Catch yourselves on. Arrivederci.

  • gary oh

    I agree mister joe. You have to question the mentality of people out damaging road signs. At the end of the day its a seprate country that might be distasteful for some but it is reality. If you were leaving spain entering France you would expect to see a sign. I accept that ireland is a sensitive case but its 8 signs here. I think SF look petty here.

  • “The North has far more more to gain economically by ignoring the border. Tourism Ireland knows this, hence their advice. The Signs are political, pure and simple. EVERYONE knows this.
    Am I wrong?”

    bangordub, the North and South are competitors in the international tourism market and Tourism Ireland is a promotion company funded by North and South in the ratio 1:2.

    This bit of petulance from SF is small beer compared with the The Gathering 2013 shambles where North, South and Tourism Ireland have failed to look at the numerous issues from a Diaspora perspective. It appears to have been put together by Dublin with Belfast getting one day’s notice of what IMO should have been a Strand 2 venture. For some peculiar reason NI Nationalist politicians have directed their ire at Belfast when the excellent idea is a solo run by Dublin who’ve hi-jacked the Ireland brand.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Nevin, is this what the shinners and republicans are at, is this their first and early salvo in the “Welcome To Northern Ireland” signs war???

    With Londonderry 2013 UK city of culture, the 2013 Police and Fire games and the Commonwealth games in 2014 in Glasgow (an event no Irish republican would participate in). There are plenty of events for those of Ulster Scots, Protestant decent from all around the world to visit Northern Ireland.

    With all the expectant visitors of Ulster Scots, Protestant decent at the events, the border signs would be an embarrassment to the shinners and Irish republicans everywhere. They will not want to advertise the fact that nearly 100 years after partition. They still haven’t forced out the last of the Protestant, Unionist Loyalist community and the Ulster Scots, Protestant decedents kith and kin.

    To coin a phrase from the Barron Adams “they haven’t gone away you know”!!! Those pesky Protestants, Unionists and Loyalists are still here.

    Chucky-ar-da.

  • salgado

    Daniel
    “The whole unionist insecurity trip is seen in the protest over the GB nomenclature at the Olympics, which is a cry for help.”
    I know plenty of English, American, Chinese etc. people who have been asking about the inconsistent name. It’s not simply some NI unionist complaint.

    “The Houvenaghel episode has the Furyletter and BT up in arms.They don’t get it. They aren’t British.”
    She was British enough to be selected in the squad. I don’t see what her nationality has to do with anything there.

    “The signs on the Border is another cry for help. Catch yourselves on.”
    It’s a sign on a border, mostly there to remind visitors of a change in the units of speed limit. Get over it.

    I’m sure you’ll be missed.

  • Can we now have back that small corner of a foreign field that is forever Bedfordshire, please?

    As that photograph hints, a more than decent pub has been seceded.

  • andnowwhat

    Re. Daniels comment, how come there was all that chatter a few years ago about the lack of nordies selected for the Ireland rubgy team but sod all about the lack of inclusion in the GB soccer squad?

  • salgado

    andnowwhat – outside of Jonny Evans (and I did see chatter about him), who was actually good enough to be included?

    Same with Scotland.

  • Greenflag

    @ heinz guderian,

    ‘One island,two different nationalities……wasn’t that what the previous skirmish was all about ?’

    Eh no . A bit more complicated than that .More to do with issues surrounding quaisi fascist one party state misgovernance , discrimatory practices in employment , education etc etc .

    Ireland could have been Scotland or Wales ‘politically’ as far back as the 1880’s but we have Unionists to thank for ensuring ‘our ‘ relative independence . Without the help of ‘Unionism ‘in particular Ulster unionism -Irish ‘republicanism ‘ would have lost out to the Home Rulers most likely. .

    ‘The island to the right of us has three different nationalities……..ayeee,I kid you not…’

    A true and very accurate observation so then it should’nt matter all that much if the island to the west has two different nationalities ? It’s a question of the making the ‘politics ‘ fit the larger societal conditions .

    Further to the east there are some 27? nationalities and possibly more in the nascent political EU . So if combining 3 or 3.5 ‘nationalities ‘into the one State in Britain can work why 28 for the EU and 2 for Ireland ?

    Most of the time a traffic sign is just a traffic sign but then like kerbstones , P.O boxes and everything else in Northern Ireland (almost) sensitivities are raised at the slightest perceived umbrage -the limbic brain stem takes over and it’s back to the past .

    What’s new ?

  • Greenflag

    @ malcolm redfellow ,

    Well spotted -I have family in Bedfordshire but they’ve never mentioned this piece of the ould sod .

    Anyway the pub certainly looks like it’s worth repatriating And I have the perfect location , Blackhorse Avenue in Phibsboro just outside the northern wall of the Phoenix Park a mile or up from Wellington’s monument :).

  • Fergie Pie

    Greenflag (profile)
    8 August 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Eh no . A bit more complicated than that .More to do with issues surrounding quaisi fascist one party state misgovernance , discrimatory practices in employment , education etc etc .

    – – – – –

    Oh dear… really?? Really????

    I highly recommend this:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Political-History-Two-Irelands-Partition/dp/0230301665

    Available from your local library today.

    Should help you begin to learn a bit more about Northern Ireland’s actual history – not the MOPE-ridden history you seemed to have picked up from Sinn Fein and Noraid pamphlets…

  • Greenflag

    @ Fergie Pie

    Alas I can’t recall ever reading an SF or Noraid pamphlet .

    I haven’t read Brian Walkers book yet but I will this winter . But I’d recommend Robert Kee’s ‘Greenflag ‘ for a broad understanding of the past couple of centuries in both parts of Ireland and also Marcus Tanner’s ‘Ireland’s Holy Wars ‘ And Joe Lee’s ‘Ireland 1912-1985’. You could also read ‘The Uncivil Wars ‘ by Padraig O’Malley .

    I’m not sure exactly what Brian Walker can add that has’nt been already been printed but I’m sure there must be something otherwise he’d not have written it eh?

    ‘The future is certain only the past is unpredictable ‘

    PS -I Probably know more about NI history than you do about the Republic’s or the UK’s !

  • Barnshee

    GF
    “Eh no . A bit more complicated than that .More to do with issues surrounding quaisi fascist one party state misgovernance , discrimatory practices in employment , education etc etc ”

    Yes the ROI wa/ is a bit of a hell hole and the old sectarian RC dominated education system is a bit of a bugbear but hey there you go

  • Mister_Joe

    Robert Kee’s book is an excellent read. I just re-read it last week. Should be in any decent library.

  • HeinzGuderian

    As always,I avidly await the incarnation of ‘the famine’,on this thread,surely it can’t be too far off now ?

    Look ladies,we are where we are. It is what it is.
    You can vandalise road signs until you are (red,white &)blue in the face,it won’t change the fact that this is Northern Ireland,part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Please don’t start another sectarian skirmish over it. You must know by now how that ends up ? 😉

  • SK

    Nobody comes out looking good in this one, I fear.

    The signs do smack of petty tokenism; a subtle, petty, form of gloating.

    But the outraged responses do have a wee bit of a mopey feel to them. Such reactions merely give unionists the satisfaction of knowing that their signs have illicited the desired response.

  • Fergie Pie

    Greenflag (profile)
    8 August 2012 at 2:18 pm

    @ Fergie Pie

    PS -I Probably know more about NI history than you do about the Republic’s or the UK’s !

    – – – – – – –

    And yet you write:

    “…More to do with issues surrounding quaisi fascist one party state misgovernance , discrimatory practices in employment , education etc etc…”

    You obviously don’t know that much!! 😉

  • Eire32

    This smacks of a lack of confidence, it’s defensive. What next, another million flags? 🙂

  • Greenflag

    @ fergie pie ,

    ‘And yet you write:

    “…More to do with issues surrounding quasi fascist one party state misgovernance , discrimatory practices in employment , education etc etc…”’

    Indeed – You may have noticed presuming you live in NI that since the Good Friday Agreement and the imposition of power sharing on ‘Unionism ‘ by the British Government that the gunfire has gone away and that NI is clawing it’s way back to some semblance of a trainee ‘democracy’. It’ll take a while .

    ‘The future is certain only the past is unpredictable’

  • Greenflag

    @ mister joe ,

    I keep my copy of Kee’s book for reference . Marcus Tanner’s ‘Holy Wars’ is a more modern interpretation and he goes into the nitty gritty of the penal laws and the treatment of RC’s in 18th and 19th century Ireland and also into the largely forgotten treatment and experience of the Southern Unionist population in Ireland from the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland to independence and beyond . Kee was an RAF man whereas Tanner was/is an English journalist/historian who has also written books on the Balkans .

    He tells it like it is/was -warts and all .

  • gary oh

    Nevin we have every right to hijack brand Ireland. Unionists can barely bring themselves to say Ireland. You boys up there took the ulster brenad attaching it to everything. Nice to see banshee being deragatory towards the republic because NI isn’t the hate capital of europe and it has ever been a beacon of tolerance. For guys that insist on ROI being a foreign country some a you guys seems obsessed with it.

  • Fergie Pie

    @Greenflag

    1, the GFA was not ‘imposed’ on Unionists by the British government. They voted for it (with many not even realising at the time how comprehensive a defeat it was for Irish nationalism within Ulster)

    2, Stormont pre-1969 was much closer to true democracy than it is today.

  • tacapall

    So they think it’s all over in Northern Ireland?

    “Peace has broken out and nobody needs to worry about Northern Ireland anymore. At least, that’s what the British government would like you to think. The reality is different.”

    http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/06/so-they-think-its-all-over-in-northern-ireland/

    I think most nationalists now agree with this view.

  • “Nevin we have every right to hijack brand Ireland”

    Gary oh, I suspect Nationalists in the North and the Diaspora would beg to differ ..

  • gary oh

    Nevin you would be surprised how far apart nationalists in the north and the people of the ROI are in their thinking. I feel the ROI got a raw deal in the GFA. Like why are we even involved? Its the truth that dare not speak its name, the vast majority of people in the ROI have no desire to join with the north.

  • Godfrey

    No need for “Welcome to Northern Ireland” signs. You know you’ve crossed the border by the standard of literacy. Here’s a billboard I spotted yesterday just over the border, south of Newry on the Dublin Road (B113):

    http://i47.tinypic.com/152fa55.jpg%5B/IMG%5D

    Yes, you read it correctly. It does say SREEET. And those letters are about 20cm in height.

    What kind of signwriter could miss that???

  • Greenflag

    @ fergie pie ,

    In Northern Ireland the GFA was carried by voters by a 70% to 30% margin . Virtually all of the 30% were ‘unionist ‘ The Nationalist NI community voted for the GFA by a 9 to 1 margin whereas the NI Unionist community barely gave it a a majority iirc about 51% for to 49% against . The overwhelming vote for the GFA on the Nationalist is what gave the lift to a 70% pro GFA vote . In the Republic the GFA was ratified by 90% of voters if not more.

    I recall Mr Trimble having his arm twisted by Blair and Co and by Clinton. Mr Trimble is on record as stating he was not all that keen on the GFA . The fact that the power sharing executive was suspended a couple of times during Trimble’s time and the GFA only became fully functional once Paisley became FM and McGuiness DFM tells one all one needs to know .

    ‘Stormont pre-1969 was much closer to true democracy than it is today.’

    In political theory probably . In reality it was perceived by a very large minority as a quasi fascist one party state which is of course what led to the British Government having to keep Stormont in suspension for a quarter century 1974-1998.

    Had the PR system of voting been enabled in post 1920’s NI there might have been some chance of breaking the ‘Unionist ‘ tyranny of the majority monolith and probably avoiding the later ‘troubles ‘ . As it was the imposition of PR instead of the FPTP voting system has enabled the political minorities to achieve the representation that was denied them under the old Stormont .

    Will NI ever become a proper democracy like other modern European states with an elected Government and an official Opposition which has a reasonable chance of ousting the in situ Government ?

    I’d never say never but probably not for another generation or two or three by which time my interest will have ceased and yours too . And by which time even NI may have ceased to exist and perhaps even the Republic and the UK in their current formats .

    Its as good or as bad as it gets for now and NI folk can be grateful its not any worse!

  • ayeYerMa

    I have to laugh at some of the posters making out that having a sign welcoming travellers to your territory (as is normal in every major democratic sovereign state with a land border) as being “defensive” and “insecure”!

    You also have to laugh at southern posters like Greenflag continually trying to remind of the “tyranny” by our “fascist” state during a time when he probably wasn’t even born, and where standards of living for minorities in Northern Ireland are documented as objectively better than the majority south of the border. Apart from the fact that the UUP actually might have fitted in well with most people’s centre-right values in day-to-day business in a post-WWII-era, there are two reasons why the PEOPLE of Northern Ireland were just in democratically electing the same party time and again in the early days: strength against continuous IRA attacks and southern jingoism.

    gary oh: “I feel the ROI got a raw deal in the GFA. Like why are we even involved?”

    You were involved because the RoI had a territorial claim (and the RoI constitution still counter-productively maintains official policy of irredentism to this day). Such nonsense remaining merely makes the “agreed Ireland” theory espoused by some Nationalists in theory impossible.

  • Fergie Pie

    @Greenflag

    Do you even know what a ‘one party state’ is?

    Northern Ireland pre-1969 certainly doesn’t fit the bill.

    Tone down the rhetoric and you might be taken a tad bit more seriously.

  • Reader

    Greenflag: As it was the imposition of PR instead of the FPTP voting system has enabled the political minorities to achieve the representation that was denied them under the old Stormont .
    An amazing claim. It is a demographic shift that has made the difference. If you need a concrete example, look at the 18 Westminster constituencies – still FPTP after all these years. I’m a big fan of the merits of PR, but it still isn’t opening the door to normal politics and non-tribal parties in the Assembly.
    The old Stormont unionists did fear PR, but they knew the demographics – they were worried about the left, not the nats.

  • gary oh

    I wouldn’t worry about the constitution. It amazes me how much reverence and respect is afforded for words on a page. Like someones whole identity can be validated and confirmed by essentially a piece of paper. I read somewhere before that garret fitzgerald was terrified the british were going to pull out of NI and he sought assurances this wouldn’t be the case. Alas the UK has a murky imperial past and claims of irredentism are bound to surface. The boundary commission has a lot to answer for IMO.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Do you even know what a ‘one party state’ is?’

    Sadly I do having lived for a number of years in one and visited several others . I’m not suggesting that NI was comparable to any of them nor that NI was a ‘fascist ‘state . I used the word quasi which means it had some of the ‘trappings’ of such a state . The split up of the old SF into FF and FG post Irish independence ‘prevented ‘ the Irish Free State from becoming a one party dominated state as was the case in NI . De Valera’s attempt to get rid of PR in the mid 1960’s failed because a majority of voters rejected the move. Had the Republic/State had the NI system we too would have had a ‘one party state ‘ . i.e an almost zero possibility of ousting the party in power .

  • Greenflag

    @ reader ,

    ‘ It is a demographic shift that has made the difference. ‘

    Partly that in the modern era i.e 1970 to the present . In the old Stormont pre 1968 despite making up 35% of the population of NI – nationalists usually ended up with less than a quarter of Stormont seats and their representatives could safely be
    ignored by successive Unionist governments under the FPTP system.

  • Greenflag

    Northern Ireland continues to be a one party state in the sense of having no ‘opposition ‘ The one party is now sub divided into four which all get representation in government based on their proportionate voting. None seem to have any inclination to sit on the ‘opposition’ benches .

    Perhaps instinctively they understand that in the NI context it never paid to be in opposition as one had absolutely no chance of changing the government .

    As Mr Shakespeare would have put it ‘

    ‘That which being but taught has returned to plague the teachers . ‘

    It won’t of course last forever but then nothing does . Ironically it’s probably only as a fully integrated part of the UK as in the Finchley sense or as part of a UI that voters in Northern Ireland will ever have a chance of voting for the ‘opposition ‘ and changing their government if the circumstances and conditions demand a change.

    As full integration on the Finchley model was denied James Molyneux in his almost 20 years as UUP leader even under Tory Governments it seems safe enough to conclude that NI can only have a ‘proper ‘ democracy by uniting with the Republic . That is if NI folk are truly interested in having a proper democracy ? Perhaps they understand that Northern Ireland in it’s present format simply can’t function as such and they’re probably correct in that understanding.

  • Mister_Joe

    Just a thought about money being “wasted”. People were employed to make those signs, others to erect them. All of them paid taxes, spent their money in the shops etc. Not wasted.

  • HeinzGuderian

    I’m afraid this never ending,wishful thinking,of Northern Ireland ever uniting with the irish republic,shows just how much our nat/rep chums really know their Unionist neighbours…….;-)

  • Greenflag

    @ heinz guderian ,

    Not wishful thinking at all Heine . While it’s most unlikely any time soon I’d never say never .History moves very fast once tipping points are reached . Unionists will have a ”repartition ‘ option ‘ for another decade perhaps, thereafter demographic trends will make such an option less a possibility than say twenty years ago.

    Politics as we know is the art of the possible and Northern Ireland was never expected to be a ‘long term ‘ solution anyway and just as much was admitted by James Craig and others who founded the NI State .

    The main consideration is that nobody needs to lose their life over a UI coming into existence or the continued maintenance of an ‘undemocratic ‘ NI within the union.

  • For goodness’ sake!

    Your homework for tonight: chapter 14 of Norman Davies’ Vanished Kingdoms. Davies’s introduction is subscribed with “April 2011”, so you can have fun seeing how this bit has already dated.

    Focus, if you must, on page 681:

    Ireland played the key role in the first stage of the United Kingdom’s disintegration in 1919-22, and it will no doubt play its part in the stages still to come. It split off in less than ideal circumstances when British imperial confidence was still strong: it took dominion status within the Commonwealth as a stepping stone to the final shore; and it weathered many adverse forecasts. Yet it held its own, and in due course reached its intended destination. The little boy from the Little Lodge lived to see it pass most of the stops on the way: from Republic to Free State, from Free State back to Republic, and from Commonwealth member to aspirant candidate of the European Economic Community. ‘We have always found the Irish a bit odd,’ Churchill once remarked, no doubt with a grin. ‘They refuse to be English’. Ireland’s present financial plight is bad, worse, it is said than the United Kingdom’s — but it is unlikely to be terminal given the prop supplied by the Eurozone. Assuming that it recovers, the Republic will again be minded to assist any who contemplate following its lead. For the time being, a significant new factor lies in the rise of the Nationalists in the North and their growing impact on the Republic. In the British general election of 2010, the combined vote of the Unionist parties (DUP plus UUP) fell below that of the combined anti-Unionist parties (Sinn Féin plus SDLP). Gerry Adams was preparing to present himself not only as the democratic majority leader in the North but also as the only true champion of republicanism in the island as a whole.

    However, just as the construction of the British state and nation took place by stages over many years, its deconstruction can only be expected to proceed in like manner — an extended process involving successive lurches, lulls and landslips. … The immediate future may be determined by a race between the United Kingdom and the EU over which beats the other to a major crisis.

    And, yes, you will be tested on this: you’ll all be living through it for any foreseeable future.

  • Reader

    Greenflag : In the old Stormont pre 1968 despite making up 35% of the population of NI – nationalists usually ended up with less than a quarter of Stormont seats and their representatives could safely be
    ignored by successive Unionist governments under the FPTP system

    35% is hardly more difficult to ignore than 25%, in a two party system. As I was pointing out, the Stormont unionists took care to hold on to power by *keeping* it as a two party system – partly by keeping FPTP and partly by raising fears of the nationalist menace (such as it was…). That’s why talk of a one party state is nonsensical – the anti-partition parties were essential to the maintenance of the Unionist Party power base.

  • Zig70

    Pete, your looking for a UI business plan? Something better than a crappy 10point plan and evidence of something more than ’tilting’ at road signs. Maybe SF have roadmaps, mindmaps, FMEA’s , lots of reports with lessons learnt at the end. Lots of us would suspect that SF have a Dad’s army style map table with arrows and a venn diagram with two circles. I wouldn’t expect SF to show their hand and it leaves people to believe they don’t have one, but the impression that there is no detailed plan from anyone within republican cirlces fuels the supicion that they are rely on mammies to tell their kids that the are Irish. Maybe there is one and someone on here can point to it?

  • Greenflag

    @ reader ,

    ‘35% is hardly more difficult to ignore than 25%, in a two party system’

    In fact a lot of the 25% refused to take their seats at Stormont on principle so the ‘nationalist ‘ menace was never seen until the place blew up in 1968/69.

    Of course anti partition parties or the perceived threat of being outbred /outvoted at some point helped to maintain unionist ‘unity ‘ Somehow unionist unity no longer seems as critical as it used to be even though the demographics have changed dramatically in the past couple of decades and will change even more in the future although not to the extent that some may predict .

    Whether it’s called a one party state or not what was important was the perception that the UUP ruled in a sectarian preferential manner and the opposition was powerless and never going to be able to gain power .

    And those two facts of life are what set the tinder for the later explosion .