On the lack of unionist leadership – what would Paisley in his prime made of it?

As Paul Bew has pointed out in the Times(£),  with the NIO a rump and now lacking historic memory in depth, there’s not much Theresa Villiers can do to affect the flags disturbances directly, with day to-day responsibility for law and order devolved to Stormont.  Unless that is, the protests gain wider political traction as a result of Willie Frazer’s exercise in protest tourism and other spasms.  This seems unlikely as the “People’s Forum “ seems as rickety as the unionist one. Willie’s intervention hardly increases respect for his political acumen, even for his own cause.

Imagine what the younger Paisley snr would have made of it: ramping up the protests, demanding a meeting with a cowering minster,  followed by a blistering attack on the minster for the cameras. Then, somehow with his leadership confirmed and little or nothing actually achieved,   easing the tension down with a histrionic appeal to loyalist victimhood with perhaps a soulful claim of a vague death threat  against him thrown in.

Mind you, he knew when to get off offside.  Less noticed was Paisley ‘s Macavity role during the UWC strike when he knew  the threat of uncontrollable  violence by the UDA etc was real  and he hopped it to Canada. All this grand old duke of York stuff made the loyalist paramilitaries loathe him of course but somehow they existed side by side and he finally carried the political day.

Can Peter Robinson in the different context of governmental responsibility pull off a similar trick? He’s certainly taking his time about it.  He just doesn’t provide the same focus as his old boss.  Recalling Paisley emphasises the lack of leadership all round. I’m right I think in saying that up to now  the loyalists haven’t even thought it worthwhile to demand a meeting with  Robinson although Willie may be stirring in that direction .

Are we better or worse off without a Paisley figure? I leave  it to history and personal preferences. What seems clear from this distance is that the ground for the unrest has remained generally narrow and that real  take off hasn’t happened. Paisley tended to marginalise loyalist paramilitary politics such as they were,  by articulating protrest on a wide front accompanied quite early on by a general condemnation of  violence without  ever admitting his own hand in stirring it . Loyalist politics were squeezed into a peculiar  niche of some  progressive ideas mixed with coat trailing and excuses for violence. The late David Ervine made some sense of that position, as DUP Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson admitted in this  Eamonn Mallie post  a year ago.

It is true to say the PUP is lost without his wisdom and electorally, they have reached their peak. Without David Ervine at the helm, the PUP has struggled for relevance. Without David Ervine, so called loyalists who held him back are now more blatantly snubbing his vision for Northern Ireland.

But those who shared his aims aren’t lost. Loyalism’s contribution to the wider Unionist family will be a continuing tribute to Ervine and his legacy.

Although he tweets , I haven’t noticed  an updated analysis from this up and coming figure. Is he playing the  Lord Mayor above the fray or biding his time?

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  • Gavin is both mayor and an East Belfast councillor. It would be incredible if he hasn’t been doing something.

  • “Can Peter Robinson in the different context of governmental responsibility pull off a similar trick?”

    Brian, the politics of protest presents a golden opportunity for irresponsibility. Peter and Martin, having come from a background of protest, now find themselves hoist on the petard of responsibility. They can complain about MSM criticism, they can even regulate the flow of advertising funding to curb the MSM but their ‘leadership’ IMO won’t cut much ice with those unionists and nationalists who are outside the tent.

  • Mick Fealty

    Gavin put in another impressive performance in the chair last night. As for the party project there’s a real effort to be seen to be support of peaceful protest and be counted on the street.

    As Robin Newton pointed out on Nolan yesterday there is no good a politician can do when it turns violent. It’s then properly in the hands of the cops.

    Brian poses a question that’s like trying compare two flat race horses thirty years apart. Old Paisley would have in any case counted the numbers first. Back in the day, the numbers would have been big, and he’d have been there in a shot.

    But all through this crisis you see the largely commented upon problem of being jn govt and opposition all at the same time.

  • BarneyT

    I think Martin is in a healthier position (just) regarding the nationalist base than Peter is with unionism and in particular loyalism.

    Martin has to leave this to Peter for several reasons, not just because the DUP helped stir this up.

    I have just looked at the flag schedule and if this is managed properly, civil events can be arranged to celebrate the raising of the flag. Lets see what happens tomorrow and more importantly the day after.

    There another event on jan 20, 4 events in June…so there is scope to calm the jets

    Its hard to know what Paisley would have done. Assuming he stayed put this time, I would expect the usual guldering and perhaps some words to embolden the loyalists that might reduce their sense of identity erosion. Of course, a younger version would have ensured many thousands on the streets in a prolonged and perhaps more successful protest.

  • … with the NIO a rump and now lacking historic memory in depth, there’s not much Theresa Villiers can do to affect the flags disturbances directly, with day to-day responsibility for law and order devolved to Stormont.

    Fair enough: all right and proper.


    1. It has taken an inordinate length of time for Ms Villiers to find her way to a microphone When she did make it, expressions like “It’s disgraceful, frankly” and invitations to “come off the streets” somehow like a Churchillian ring.

    2. Even if policing and justice are devolved, security and counter-terrorism are not. Hence Vernon Croaker had a point when he opened up his Second Front. As that same BBC report has it:

    The Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Vernon Coaker said the riots had become a matter of “national security” after the police said senior loyalist paramilitaries had been involved in the rioting.

    Mr Coaker told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme: “That makes it, as far as I’m concerned an issue of national security …”.

    Anyway, a month on and after five days of mayhem, once again I’m making comparisons with the August 2011 disturbances across England.

  • “lack a Churchillian ring” might have worked better.

  • GEF

    ” It has taken an inordinate length of time for Ms Villiers to find her way to a microphone When she did make it, expressions like “It’s disgraceful, frankly” and invitations to “come off the streets” somehow like a Churchillian ring.”

    Indeed, maybe she should offer the Council a pair of
    her knickers to fly during the vacant days to help turn it into a bigger joke than it is. Remembering to place a round the clock guard on them as no doubt one would try and steal them.

  • keano10

    How truly awful was Teresa Villiers when she was grilled by Paul Clark last night. Stuttering and stammering she declared that she was dealing with the crisis by writing several stern pieces for various newspapers.

    Possibly the most un-interested and out of her depth Northern Ireland Secretary in living memory…

  • BarneyT

    Well at least she cant be accused of being caught with her pants down!!!

    Ok, if this is turning into a national security issue…..something I would usually reserve for external assailants and not those that claim to be loyal to queen and country…. what can be done? Is this a precursur to troop deployment? Is that where Mr Coaker is going? Labour has form!

  • babyface finlayson

    She fared little better this morning on Radio Ulster.
    Noel Thompson almost gave up pressing her on what she could do, as though he could sense it was a waste of time.
    But maybe that’s as it should be. We need to sort these things out ourselves without running to Mummy.

  • BarneyT

    I think we need to stop pretending that we can sort this mess out when we are still firmly latched on to the teet…and tribally compromised

  • Brian Walker

    Mick, Not entirely up to the cops – who in any case open usually open a new chapter of grievance whatever they do as we’ve seen. Through it all there is always a nugget of authenticity, as we’ve heard it in some many interviews with people who have never been sold the new order. No short term solution here mainly peer pressure will halt it if the usual form applies. Interesting to see how the parties will deploy when it cools down.

    Big challenge to the DUP..
    I could see a threat of a loyalist vote builds and doesn’t transfer to the DUP. That absention plus a big turnout for Alliance is Naomi”s hope of survival. The DUP gained from ther Drumcrees and Holy Cross but they posed as opposition then. No longer!

  • GEF

    “Big challenge to the DUP”

    Agreed BW, just listened to wee Jeffery on the 3.30 PM news.
    His hypocrisy must sit out a mile for all listeners. JD was a member of Lisburn City council along with Basil McCrea back in 2002 when all DUP & UUP councillors (including JD) voted to fly the Union the Union flag at Lagan Valley center for designated days. I can see all these flag protests backfiring on both DUP & UUP next election.

  • BarneyT

    Brian, as you suggesting the UUP…under its current leadership could fall into contention? Hope Basil gets his moderate skates on.

  • galloglaigh

    Having no reading material at lunch time, I read the Daily Mirror. I know, but the headline caught my eye. It appears that a car was burned in front of David Ervine’s mural. The very same David Ervine whose widowed wife was verbally attacked by Willie Frazer by the way.

    It seems a large protest is being organised for this coming Friday at 6pm. ‘Operation Standtill’ [sic] will bring the Plovince [sic] to a standtill [sic], but I’m wondering how long they will actually stand till? I’m guessing 7pm, when the UVF will take over and attack Catholics and the PSNI.

    As the message on David Ervine’s mural tells us – “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it”.

  • BarneyT @ 2:41 pm:

    Coaker is being partisan: accepted. He has a duty to be so — which is why in a parliamentary democracy we have an official “Opposition” (the clue is in the name).

    However, I think his argument amounted to suggesting that the fomenters (I hesitate to use the term ‘leaders’) have outed themselves.

    Why are they not being done for whatever equivalent we have for ‘conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism’ (as used in Minnesota to prosecute the RNC8)?

    Lest we forget: in Manchester, August 2011, Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan (ages 20 and 21, both with no previous) were sent down for four years apiece for using Facebook to incite disorder.

  • iluvni

    Whats with the Naomi, Martin, Gavin, Peter etc

    too cosy by far.

  • BarneyT

    Opposition? oh the envy 🙂

    Lets see what happens tomorrow with the first flag raising of the year…and subsequent removal. I suspect both will be 5am jobs.

  • Gopher

    In my lifetime I have noticed no unionist leadership. This is provable. You have collection of interest groups that have gradually moved on leaving a rump. Its the way of the world those on the outside have now more in common than the those on the inside. Just look at the names on the high street and just look a who owns what. Sure in a border poll everyone is a unionist but there aint a border poll every day of the week.

    The disconnect is there but the unionist (dont worry the nationalist problems are just as deep) cant break free from the interest groups left at the rump and believe me that is political bottom feeding. The 50% that dont vote are a lot more homogeneous than the 50% that do a fact that is lost on our whole sorry lot.

    Leadership is moulding the diverse to common purpose not feeding off schism something Paisley made a career off and unionism made very easy for him.

  • David Crookes

    Gopher, you say at the start, “In my lifetime I have noticed no unionist leadership.”, and at the end you say, “Leadership is moulding the diverse to common purpose…..”.

    Agreed. No one in my lifetime has been able to move happily among the diverse classes, never mind mould them to common purpose.

    Any such moulder of the diverse as we envisage will have to start by addressing the disaffected loyalist communities.

    For decades these communities have been encouraged to support parties of protest. Now that the leaders of the protest parties have attained a measure of power, they are unable to lead their supporters anywhere.

    The trouble is that for decades the protest party leaders didn’t try to inculcate any species of loyalty in their supporters. They merely encouraged their supporters to demand their own way.

    What we have now is not a matter of dogs eating other dogs. It is more like Frankenstein turning on the master who created him.

    All the unionists in Stormont appear to be scared, and I mean all of them. (Even the most voluble and high-principled exponents of constitutional legality.)

    The jelly-bellies are scared of losing votes.

    A real leader if he ever appears will need to be cast in a different mould.

  • Greenflag

    Time to send in the army and reopen internment camps . Give the flag fascists a few days to heed the warning and then lock them up without trial for 6 months .

    If they are not prepared to abide by the rules of democracy and the local politicians are proving to be gutless fence sitters or worse, then the Mother of Parliaments should intervene before these protests result in people being killed and more property damaged !

    These protests are beyond the abilities and resources of the local PSNI to sustain .

    Call in the Army and restore NI’s fledgling ‘democracy ‘ before the loyalist fascists kill somebody !

  • No nuclear options, Greenflag @ 6:16 pm please.

    All that is required is the political leadership (Ms Villiers as well the locals) discreetly to nudge and assure the PSNI higher echelons of full, vocal and continued support. Support that goes beyond hand-wringing, and lasts longer.

    Then the PSNI on pre-dawn patrol go and haul a few names in for ‘questioning’. A bit of zero-tolerance might work: “Are you aware, sir, that your rear light isn’t working? Tsk! Tsk! And using a mobile while driving!”

  • Greenflag

    BTW -This Ms Villiers -Secretary of State . Is she just another head in the sand Tory or can/will she do anything to restore normalcy to the streets of Belfast ?

    Is’nt that what she is paid for ?

    I guess like a hundred others ? before her she’s looking forward to her next career move away from the xenophobic inbreds of knuckle dragging land 🙁

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow ,

    I had’nt thought of the nuclear option -sounds a bit extreme I’d have thought .On the other hand I’ve just come across a possible solution to the East Belfast loyalist problem which should result in all flag wavers settling down to life in a United Ireland .

    It’s the Finnish solution to a Swedish problem but more anon 😉 And does include bricks , rioting or death and destruction .

  • Greenflag

    oops that above last sentence should read does NOT include brick throwing , rioting etc etc .

  • Kevsterino

    Could Ms. Villiers declining to intervene show she is reluctant to provide proof of the unpreparedness of the Northern Irish for self government?

    Law and order is a devolved matter. Time for the Justice minister to announce his plan to get the lawbreakers off the streets and let people go about their business in peace.

  • Gopher

    @David Crookes

    You will always have a problem until a politician stands on the platform of being for something rather than against everything. Being for the union is not being for anything with our present politicians except their jobs. Likewise being for a United Ireland you may as well be for a Mars landing for as much us as it does for the population. Positive politics is the only way forward and we arnt going to get there by the block grant. NI is going to have to start generating revenue.

  • Neil

    Ah leave Villiers alone, she’s already stated she’s ‘very worried’ which as we well know will cause many a sleepless night in Loyalist areas of East Belfast.

    Another pathetic Tory who couldn’t give a monkey’s. Why would they care, we don’t vote for ’em, and they aren’t known as the nasty party for nathin’. What’s in it for me they say. Zilch.

  • GEF With any luck they will backfire on the DUP especially [given that their rivals seem to be shrinking politically by the hour]. Jeffrey’s not perhaps the sharpest knife in the drawer, to be sending to the media as irony seems lost on him.
    Any day now there’ll be a poll in a British broadsheet like the Telegraph which will show folk over there just want rid of us, not just the flag riots.It would be ironic if Robinson’s dirty tricks against alliance proved the beginning of the of NI in the UK.

  • Neil

    With Villiers worried, and Peter’s appeal over the benefits of water charges, rates relief and of course the hated homosexuals one would imagine the petrol bombs will be being packed away for the foreseeable.

  • David Crookes

    Gopher, you say, “NI is going to have to start generating revenue.”

    This is the best sentence that I’ve read for two months. Thanks.

  • ‘……beginning of the end of….’

  • BluesJazz

    Reginald Maudling will forever be remembered for one quote about Northern Ireland on the plane home to Blighty.

    Because it’s the quote which everyone knows sums the place up with near perfect succinctness.

    Harold Wilson came close a few years later referring to us as bathtime implements, but Reggie just hit the nail firmly on the head.

  • BluesJazz


    Repeated as the top line in his introduction.

  • Brian Walker [8.24] I’ve read in the Tele and Mirror about this Friday being held as a total shutdown here, but in the early 70s that meant including the Power station workers but Paisley couldn’t get them out three years after the UWC so how does this ragtag bunch think they’ll do it having mustered just 2000 max in the first week of protest?

  • Comrade Stalin


    It is the same “total shutdown” that they have been running every Friday since early December. It is nothing like the UWC although they wish it was. Loyalists don’t have that kind of muscle anymore, but more importantly unionism is at present hopelessly fragmented, worse than ever.

    It is the threat, rather than any specific violence, that causes the shutdown to take effect – everyone scuttles off home before 6PM in order to avoid getting caught up in trouble.

    It has a punishing and deleterious effect on the economy particularly in Belfast city centre. Friday night is a busy night for the pubs and clubs. Also businesses are forced to let their staff get home early in case they are prevented from going home by the trouble.

    If the shutdowns do not stop it will be necessary to flood each roadblock with police and lift everyone in sight.


    Could Ms. Villiers declining to intervene show she is reluctant to provide proof of the unpreparedness of the Northern Irish for self government?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sorry Kevsterino, clicked reply too early.

    The Secretary of State is responsible for Northern Ireland as a region within the UK. On a serious matter such as this one she can’t sit outside with no opinion. In public she can’t be seen to be dictating to the NI Executive, but in private she can do all kinds of things to focus their minds.

  • Greenflag

    The FInnish solution to East Belfast a.k.a -The Ahvenanmaa option ?

    The Swedes conquered the FInn’s approx 700 years ago and while today relations between all of the Scandinavian countries are considered to be near perfect there are as always even in probably most tolerant and non violent region on Earth some hangovers from the days of Swedish domination.
    Not until 1863 did the poorer Finns finally convince the Russian who were their then rulers ) to let Finnish have equal status with Finnish in Finland . Such an humble lot those Finns eh? Mere ‘equality ‘ for their own language in their own country ?

    The Ahvenanmaa archipelago lies midway between Sweden and south west Finland and ended up being part of Finland due to the war of 1808-1809 in which Sweden agreed to hand over Finland to Russia . Russia said that was’nt enough so the Swedes threw in the Ahvenanmaa archipelago to cement the deal .

    Fast forward 100 years to when Finland declared it’s independence from Russia the Finns thought it only fair to keep the Ahvenanmaas’s after all it had been part of the Grand Duchy of Finland (under Russian imperialism ) for 100 years .

    However the people of Ahvenanmaa preferred rejoining their Swedish motherland being Swedish speakers . At this point one should note that Swedish is closer to Irish , Russian and Italian in language terms than it is to Finnish -the latter being a non Indo european language .

    The Finns back in 1919 -tired of fighting -agreed to a compromise with the Ahvenanmaas populace and gave them all the autonomy that they still enjoy today in 2013 ..

    Some observers believe Ahvenanmaas is an exemplary solution to a minority conflict . It’s a special place not just because nobody died fighting for it but because it’s also been demilitarised for many years .

    In 2013 Finns and Swedes basically get along well despite speaking very different languages .

    Unlike any other province in Finland the Ahvenanmaas has it’s own internal parliament which shares power with the governor .The Finnish Government cannot amend the Ahvenanmaa Autonomy Act without the approval of the island’s parliament .The Finnish navy can’t even dock their ships on these Finnish islands .
    The Ahvenanmaas collect their own taxes and have few financial ties with the rest of Finland .To own property . vote and conduct business on Ahvenanmaa Finns have to obtain a Right of Domicile .To get that you have to live on this Finnish island for 5 years and speak excellent Swedish .Any ‘international treaty’ entered into by Finland requires the consent of the Parliament of Ahvenanmaa -to become valid also on the islands.Ahvenanmaa has it’s own postage stamps and flag .While Finland has two official languages -Finnish and Swedish the Ahvenanmaas has only one official language i.e Swedish . The Finnish government has to translate all documents it sends there into Swedish if they want the Ahvenaanmaa parliament to read them . Despite the above cultural, linguistic and electoral autonomy the Ahvenanmaa’s ‘minority ‘ use Finnish currency (Euros) and carry Finnish passports ?

    And the moral of the above example if any ? The Finns don’t believe it’s worth getting ‘upset’ over these Ahvenanmaa’s and their ‘identity’ issues .

    Perhaps there’s a lesson there for the rest of us be we British or Irish as we ponder over the burnt out streets of East Belfast and the sad covered faces of people getting hysterical over a ‘flag’. Today I believe the flag will fly again for the designated day thats in it . This may increase the self esteem or more likely the illusions of former imperial grandeur which seems to affect some of these East Belfast residents ?

    Perhaps some kind soul could send a delegation of flag wavers to Ahvenanmaa to see how to resolve these issues without shooting themselves in the foot ?

    Could East Belfast become ‘ an Ahvennanmaa like ‘island in a future United Ireland ? Why not ? If the Finn’s can tolerate a minority of Swedish folk being as Swedish as they want to be while living in Finland why could we Irish not do the same for the East Belfaster’s ?

    Admittedly it’s not yet a cut off island from the rest of Ireland but a new canal here or there and it could become a topographical reality ?

    And best of all in there East Belfast Autonomous Region they could fly the Union jack 48 hours a day and nary a one would bother them and the rest of us will just not bother ‘arguing ‘ with them . Carry on lads and here’s another thousand ‘union jacks ‘ for your lamposts imported from China or was it Vietnam ?

  • Greenflag

    oops error above paragraph one

    ‘Not until 1863 did the poorer Finns finally convince the Russian who were their then rulers ) to let Finnish have equal status with Finnish in Finland ‘

    should read

    Not until 1863 did the poorer Finns finally convince the Russian who were their then rulers ) to let Finnish have equal status with Swedish in Finland

  • Greenflag

    Blues Jazz @ 8 January 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Thanks for the Reggie Maudling link . Some excellent home truths there . I liked that ‘barman ‘ note .

    ‘Unfortunately, Reggie tended to put all this across in the sort of humorous fashion that upsets the permanently humourless, of whom there are plenty in the world.

    Indeed and they’re still there . There’s nothing humourous about the ‘banksters’ of today’s City or Wall St . They do their laughing at their ‘puppets’ the “our so called elected politicians behind closed doors . Just look at the paltry fines being imposed on Bank of America and about 10 other banks in the USA and UK for fraud ,drug money laundering , etc etc over the past couple of months ?

    Too big to fail and too big to jail. In comparison old Reggie Maudling would have been comparable to a Dickensian pickpocket 🙁

  • David Crookes

    BluesJazz and Greenflag, the ‘permanently humourless’ constitute one of our biggest problems. Like a lot of ‘reformed’ theology. Earnestness gone mad. The true Untermensch is a person who never laughs at himself.

    Greenflag (11. 58 am). Tremendous posting. One to keep.

  • Greenflag

    David Crookes @ 9 January 2013 at 5.23 pm.

    I ‘discovered ‘ that gem in a tome ‘The Hidden Europe ‘
    What Eastern Europeans can teach us by one Francis Tapon an American of South American (Chile ) and French backgrounds .
    Although Finland is IMO not in Eastern Europe _Tapon starts off with Finland before moving on to the hotspots of the former Soviet satellite states -the Balkans and even Greece . If you are humourless you’ll not enjoy this book -particularly if you are Greek , Hungarian or even Serb .

    I thought the Ahvenanamaa ‘solution’ a sane solution to what otherwise would have been a waste of life , time and money .

    Here’s a couple of classics from same

    Why is Turkey such an underdeveloped country ?

    Answer : because they spent 500 years in Serbia .

    More poignant for NI right now might be this Balkan exhortation to the mob 🙁

    ‘If we have to , we’ll fight . I hope they(Americans ) don’t be so crazy as to fight against us . Because if we don’t know how to work and do business , at least we know how to fight ‘

    300,000 Balkan dead later Slobodan Milosevic added to that total by committing suicide . I guess one could say he ended up fighting himself and lost or won ? depending on your point of view .Pity about the other 300,000 eh 🙁

  • Greenflag‘s Ahvenanmaa option reminded me of Frank Jacobs and his series, Borderlines, in the NY Times.

    Last May he did a neat piece on the enclaves of Switzerland. Büsingen am Hochrhein was a new one to me, but I already knew of Campione d’Italia (it was plain-and-decent ‘Campione’ until Mussolini instead on the addition). Campione is Italian speaking, uses Swiss francs: the cars are Swiss registered, Swisstel runs the telephones, both Swiss and Italian zip-codes seem to work. Swiss customs duties apply, but the residents pay (ahem!) Italian taxes. The whole shebang is kept afloat by the daily arrival of boatloads of gamblers from staid Lugano.

    Draw the frontier of the East Belfast Autonomous Zone [EBAZ] neatly, and there’s an airport nearby. The UVF already has considerable expertise in providing for baser instincts and appetites.

    There is a good British precedent for EBAZ. When Cyprus became independent, the UK retained sovereign areas for military bases, ‘in perpetuity’ (which is more than the guarantee Britain makes to NI). Inside the Dhekelia Sovereign Base there are three Cypriot enclaves: Xylotymbo, Ormidia and Synoikismos (this last one seems to be the dormitory for the Dhekelia power station).

  • David Crookes

    Thanks a lot, Greenflag. I remember sitting in a very good restaurant in Belgrade one tense day, and watching the country tearing itself apart on the television news. We haven’t reached that stage yet. But what will happen on the day that a majority of NI’s citizens vote for a UI?

    I have a horror of the UK leaving the EU after a referendum run by the Daily Express, and NI being messily separated from the RoI to the detriment of the whole island.

  • Greenflag

    I recall going into a bookstore in the 1990’s in Pecs an old university town in Southern Hungary . I know a South African accent when I hear one . I told him I had been to his country and was glad to see they had avoided a major interracial war when Apartheid ended . So was he ‘He was working with the UN in a non military role in Croatia /Serbia just 50 miles from Pecs and was getting away from the troubles for the weekend .. He had personally witnessed the worst atrocities between Croats and Serbs -former neighbours . Nothing that had happened in the violence in his native South Africa’s struggle for ‘freedom ‘ came anywhere close to what he saw and reported on in the Balkans .Pecs was about 50 miles from Srebenica which was one of the worst atrocities in that senseless war.

    Human beings are nothing if not resilient and today some of those countries which indulged in widespread ethnic cleansing are now EU members and others are waiting to be admitted .

    I too share your horror of the UK leaving the EU . Not so much for any effect it might have on both parts of Ireland but for the UK and it’s people’s economic future . The EU or the Euro is not the reason for the UK’s current economic and fiscal problems . But it’s a high profile scapegoat for the gutter press and the ‘fog’ cuts Europe off brigade of little Englanders /Irelanders etc.

    As to what will happen if there is ever a majority in NI that votes in favour of a UI . I would imagine that it would be no surprise and in the run up to such a referendum the result would be well polled in advance . Hopefully by then both communities in NI will have learned to tolerate and accept their symbolic differences and will have focused more on the serious common economic and social issues which face those sections of both communities who have been left behind in the wake of the global economic recession and property bust .

    I made a prediction some years ago on slugger that if such were to happen that perhaps a third of unionists the ultra loyalist faction (those with nothing to lose) might take up arms , a third (those with most to gain ) would go about about their business as normal and accept the referendum result, and another third would sit on the fence and wait to see how both sovereign governments Britain and Ireland would deal with any major outbreak of violence .

    Hopefully both governments would work together and move quickly to stem any attempts at ‘ethnic cleansing ‘ at a local level within NI . Perhaps the UN would be brought in to monitor the vote and to add another potential level of security for all the residents of NI at such a time .

    MY ‘gut ‘ instinct tells me that only a very small minority of loyalists would take up arms and go for the ‘scorched earth ‘ option .What would the point be in any event when British citizens of the former NI would still be able to maintain their British passports , pensions , way of life , church attendance, watch the BBC etc etc . There may be a couple of things worth fighting and losing one’s life over in this day and age but I don’t believe sacrificing one’s life for a UI or to remain within the UK are either of them .

    No matter what political jurisdictions we end up with Britain and Ireland are going to be close neighbours for as long as this Earth revolves around the Sun and their peoples will continue to travel back and forth between both islands as they always have done -EU or no EU .

    I suspect that eventually most sensible people in NI ON both sides will come to that realisation sooner or later . At least one hopes they will .

  • Greenflag

    Malcolm Redfellow @ 9 January 2013 at 6:43 pm.

    And I thought Ahvenanmaa was unique . Many thanks for that fascinating Jacobs link . it’s amazing how creative political solutions can be found when ‘money ‘ or security is at stake . I suspect that the main reason that the Ahvenanmaas , Campione’D’Italias, and Büsingen am Hochrheins continue to flourish is because of their locations in relatively wealthy locations where the economic and social conditions would be much less onerous for the local folk than say in parts of East Belfast or indeed Belfast generally./

    But East Belfast as EBAZ the new Las Vegas ? Surely would’nt such a prospect unite all of the Churches in opposition against the ‘evils of gambling ‘ ? Of course such opposition never had much of an impact on the local bookies so perhaps I’m mistaken ?

    Great names those btw –

    Xylotymbo,-Surely a great name for a Cypriot Rock band ?

    Ormidia – I refer you to our Cosmic guru Pete Baker -this could be a great name for one of those 17 billion Earth size planets recently estimated to exist in this universe .

    Synoikismos -Now this sounds like a school of ancient Greek philosophy surely ?

    I bet you made them up ;)?