“No one party or leader will unite this country…”

David McCann with a republican view on why Sinn Fein’s calls for a border poll in the near future are undermining any long game chances of achieving a unified island:

The old republican strategy of ‘It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose but how you’ve played the game’ is precisely why we have achieved next to no success in ending partition. Instead of coming up with common sense proposals and some new thinking on what a united Ireland would look like, we hark back to events that happened over a century ago.

It is all too easy to look backwards. What will determine my decision and thousands of others’ are basic questions such as ‘Will I get the NHS or the HSE in a United Ireland?’,  ’How will the education system be different?’. These are just some of the basic questions that people on both sides of the border will ask themselves before they cast their ballots. So far, I haven’t heard any answers.

There is a case for a United Ireland but it does not lie in voodoo economic plans that involve spending the same money twice and deluding yourself that billions of pounds exist when they don’t. We need to get away from the notion that reunification would be a one way bet. There would be hardship for some people and a dramatic change in lifestyle for others. The real approach should be convincing people that, in the longer term, it would be worth it.

And he concludes..

Support for reunification is falling in Northern Ireland. People who should be naturally supportive of a United Ireland are turning away because those advocating for a change are not speaking to them.  No one party or leader will unite this country. The only way to win a referendum is to form a broad-based coalition between political parties and other sections of society.

So instead of a gimmick, let’s develop a game plan. Instead of cooking the books to make the figures fit the facts, let’s develop a new economic vision for this island.

Like most things in life, you get one chance to make a good first impression. We need to drop the voodoo economics and embrace some realistic solutions for the economic future of our country. Otherwise we are on the road to defeat and, if it’s all the same to you, I’d quite like to win this vote.

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  • redhugh78

    Is that the same David Mc Cann who is a member of Fianna Fáil?

  • Mick Fealty

    ball or man is it Hugh?

  • Politico68

    I think most people are aware at this stage that SF’s real goal here is to provoke a debate. Mary Lou has said that she would like to see a vote within the life of the next assembly, so thats a timeframe of about seven or eight years. As for the Voodoo economics, I am not convinced that McCann is correct simply because we have not had that broad debate yet. If the topic hots up we ill get a better idea of the possibilities rather than lukewarm assumptions at the moment.

    Mick, on a side note. The EU elections are 10 months away. It looks as if there will be at least five Unionist Partys in the fray -UUP,DUP,TUV,UKIP,NI21 – could this cost Unionism one of their two seats? Worth opening a thread on?

  • Sp12

    “David McCann with a republican view”

    A FF view surely (voodoo economics indeed), I’m pretty sure his post was a response to a SF view that didn’t make it onto your shortlist of newspaper articles to repost.

  • Mick Fealty

    FF is not Republican?

  • Morpheus

    i’m pretty sure we have been talking about this exact topic for a few weeks now on Slugger. Enlightened or what?

    Glad to see commonsense starting to filter up

  • Mick Fealty

    Good idea Pol68… At some point, I feel sure, someone is going to comment on something McCann has actually said in the piece above…

    PoI: Pearse didn’t say anything I could see that was not said already by GK and AM in earlier heavily covered rounds…

  • JR

    The majority people along the border who are sick of living near this economic black hole and magnet for criminals and terrorists we call the border.

    I do not support Sinn Fein but right now they are the only party that isn’t telling us we are silly to try to get rid of this politically drawn line that has a defining and negative impact on our lives. It was drawn by others through our area against out consent and we want it gone, soon.

    The poll which has been ignored on this site showed that more than 90% of people living near the border area of Crossmaglen want it gone.

  • JH

    So there’s a PR battle to be won first. It’s the representation of unity that makes most people look at you like you’ve two heads if you suggest it might be a good thing. It’s the same that makes people feel better about saying “Ah I’d like to see it” or “Not now, but at some time in the future”.

    There is no sense of urgency.

    And the frustrating thing is that, now more than ever, it’s an ideal time to change that. The north is not doing particularly well economically. It’s fundamentally uncompetitive in its current political form; which in turn inhibits any kind of private investment or venture capital scene from growing.

    The problem is that if Sinn Féin are going to be the only party to push unity then they sure as hell better know these things and not drop the ball when asked “OK then. WHY?”.

    IMO what’s needed is a lobby group, preferably with some high ranking economists, prominent people in business etc. The role of the group would be to keep parties (SDLP, SF) in line with the unification goals in their policy documents and to provide data and help to anyone advancing the of unity.

  • Morpheus

    I disagree with the absoluteness of “No one party or leader will unite this country…” because even though I, like JR, am not a supporter I can see that SF are making big strides both North and South of the border – on an all-island basis – and uniquely will be in a good position to bring about change if they can agree a strategy which doesn’t involve the electorate blindly following them into the darkness.

    SF under it’s current leadership will never be accepted because they have too much blood on their hands but when the old guard go SF 2.0, led by the likes of Doherty and McDonald, just might.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…educate the electorate on both sides of the border on the practicalities of a UI on key issues then let everyone make an informed decision about what is best for them and their families.

  • Sp12

    “FF is not Republican?”

    Irrelevant party branding aside, he’s not writing this piece as a ‘republican’, he’s writing it a FF man, like many of his other pieces for the paper.
    I notice you ignored my other point though 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    Sp, See my 12.49?

    JR, I do have a readers analysis that I promised a guest blog spot to on that exercise. I could put that out later in the week, to carry on the theme, but I doubt you’ll like it very much.

    JH, thanks for that!! (I knew someone would give it a go… ;-))

  • JH

    Had to at least try!

  • “The real approach should be convincing people that, in the longer term, it would be worth it.”

    Hiding behind a ‘republican’ tag when a little bit of digging brings up the B-team, Bertie’s Team, is likely to attract ridicule from other nationalists, as well as from unionists.

    If there’s a case for a UI, you’d think David would, at the very least, have addressed the unionist aspiration. Perhaps he’s just another victim of Hume-speak and his myopic ‘unionist tradition’.

    The flag thingy has been a recent manifestation of a northern nationalist game-plan – and it bombed.

  • Morpheus

    “The flag thingy has been a recent manifestation of a northern nationalist game-plan”

    Game plan? That was moving the furniture around a bit to get a bit more comfy – simple house-keeping, nothing more.

  • JH

    Watch out Nevin, there’s one under your chair there.

    Saved your life.

  • What chair, JH? 🙂

    The southern nationalist game-plan aka The Gathering put northern nationalist noses so out of joint that they, er, blamed the unionists 🙂

  • “simple house-keeping, nothing more”

    Ah, Morpheus, memories of Mo Mowlam and ‘internal house-keeping’ ..

  • New Yorker

    Would unity be more likely if SF left the stage entirely?

  • “These are just some of the basic questions – [health and education] – that people on both sides of the border will ask themselves before they cast their ballots.”

    I’d be surprised if more than a small percentage of unionists, nationalists and others would rank such issues highly in a UI referendum.

    Our local politicians, in association with the bureaucrats, aren’t exactly excelling themselves in these spheres at present and even Slugger bloggers are shedding much light on the ever-growing shambles.

  • Morpheus

    “The Gathering put northern nationalist noses so out of joint”

    I have yet to meet or even hear of a northern nationalist who has even mentioned The Gathering, never mind get their knickers in a knot about it.

  • OOPs ‘are shedding’ should be ‘aren’t shedding’.

  • Mick Fealty

    Topic guys?

  • “never mind get their knickers in a knot”

    Morpheus, you’ve apparently not read the link I provided 🙂

    Arlene Foster: “Mr McKay talked about why the Department was not engaged on the issue of “The Gathering”. I was told about “The Gathering” initiative — and members of the SDLP might like to take cognisance of this issue — one day before it was launched in Dublin at the Clinton Global Initiative.

  • Morpheus

    And that shows that northern nationalist had their noses out of joint does it? I don’t think so.

    But to swiftly get this back on topic, an all-island tourist board wouldn’t have made that mistake. 1-0 to United Ireland? 🙂

  • Morpheus

    As for staying on topic should I link to the NI Water documentary? 🙂

  • Morpheus, ‘The Gathering’ fiasco shows that northern and southern nationalists can’t even get their act together on a relatively straight-forward issue; the constitutional question is a tougher nut to crack.

    David is talking about the development of a game-plan but all I see is the usual attack by FF on SF, nothing more, nothing less.

  • Reader

    Morpheus: But to swiftly get this back on topic, an all-island tourist board wouldn’t have made that mistake.
    I don’t see why you would think that. I seem to recall that some sort of all Ireland tourist body was formed after the GFA and made every other possible mistake, along with having its branding snubbed by the partitionist southern board.

  • Reader

    Tourism Ireland. Employs 160 people apparently, and has a website.

  • michael-mcivor

    ” No one party or leader will unite this country ”

    Says a member of a 26 county party-

    No one party or leader can keep Partition-

  • Morpheus

    The Gathering, an attempt to lure tourists to Ireland, shows that northern and southern nationalists can’t get their act together? Hardly, if anything it shows the effect that the border is having on tourism.

    I have been a strong critic of the policies (or lack thereof) of the nationalist parties to adequately represent their voters on the issue of a united Ireland. I think their lack of any real public action is extremely disappointing, including the mock border poll.

    Prime example, only the SoS can call a border poll so have any of the nationalist parties even bothered to find out what he/she needs to see in order for that to happen? Something in the 2016 election results? Something in the 2012 census? What?

  • Mick Fealty


    “all I see is the usual attack by FF on SF, nothing more, nothing less.”

    That’s fair comment, but if that is all you see, can you leave it to others to delve deeper into the content?

  • JH

    I don’t agree that all of SF’s policies are ‘voodoo’ economics, maybe there’s a bit of party politicking in there, fair enough.

    But there are stronger economic arguments to be made than duplication, or even pretending the economic deficit doesn’t exist.

    Surely the first step in any persuasion would be to get the actual figures? Like a Government commissioned Incomes and Expenditures Report that would show exactly what our GDP is.

    Off the back of a cigarette box the annual subvention up here is about the same per capita as the deficit per capita was at the bottom of the downturn in the south. So why not start with something like that. Assuming any kind of return to form in the south, at any point in the future, worst case scenario you’re only as well off as you were before if you plump for reunification.

    It’s only start sure, but it’s better than McGimpsey’s adding a Euro deficit to an existing Pound subvention and concluding it won’t work. Presumably the total was in chocolate buttons or something.

  • “can you leave it to others to delve deeper into the content?”

    Mick, the more I delve into the content, the less of a UI substance I see. In the link to an earlier UI blog by David, I note the following:

    This brings me to a wider problem in Irish republicanism, and that is the failure to properly understand Northern Unionism

    I would have expected to see his own understanding – but there’s nothing of substance, just woolly references to ‘events that are important in their history’.

  • JR

    To borrow a sporting reference this seems to me like Novak djockavic advizing andy murry “the best way to win Wimbeldon is not to enter”

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m surprised (though not shocked) at the unwillingness to engage with these ideas, by all but one commenter on this thread…

    The voodoo economics refers as much to Sammy’s double and triple counting as to any policies initiated by SF… So far as I read it McCann is arguing that republicans of all stripes must work to raise standards rather than lower them…

    There’s a tacit (very tacit) admission that other republican parties have not been pulling their weight on this issue either…

    As for the suggestion that unity will not come at the behest of one party or one leader, that seems to me to be only good common sense… the objective is tough and demanding as much from the imagination as from the blood, sweat and tears department, not least because, as he correctly notes, no one is talking logically or realistically to the middle classes (Protestant, as well as Catholic) about what unification might entail…

    I’ve talked to both sets, and the one thing they will not buy is a pig in poke… something he absolutely nails here:

    We need to get away from the notion that reunification would be a one way bet. There would be hardship for some people and a dramatic change in lifestyle for others. The real approach should be convincing people that, in the longer term, it would be worth it.

    The disaffection after war is one thing, that in a way is an inheritance that cannot be gainsaid… But I think McCann is asking important questions as to what demands will a long peace impose on those still committed to unification, for whom the current Irish Constitution still carries some political and emotional weight…

    Far from suggesting that Republicans don’t take part, it seem to me this is Murray age 14 telling himself that he does not know how he’s going to do it, but he is going to start trying to unlock the door to international success now, not in five or ten years time…

    For those focusing on McCann’s FF credentials, I’ve lost count of the number of times northern nationalists have goaded southern parties to make their contributions to northern discourse, and when they do they are dismissed or excoriated for it…

  • FuturePhysicist

    The issue of unity is not simply a matter of republican partisan issues, it is completely a “public affair”, coming from the very meaning of republican. If unity happens the parties will probably change more than the people do anyway.

  • “The voodoo economics refers as much to Sammy’s double and triple counting as to any policies initiated by SF”

    Mick, I can find no mention of Sammy’s voodoo economics in either article by David so he’s clearly got his gunsight focussed on SF.

    “The real approach should be convincing people that, in the longer term, it would be worth it”

    This is just motherhood and apple-pie stuff. Where’s the beef? What has he got to sell?

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s what’s known as a ‘hasty generalisation’… ie, ‘it’s not A, so it must be B’… Nev

  • redstar2011

    Mick- FF not Republican

    Are you having a laugh Mick!!!!

    When Republicans/Nationalists were being discriminated against and eventually slaughtered for decades in the Junta which controlled the Northern State where were they????????? Co operating and assisting with that regime and standing idly by from the terror we were suffering.

    Republican my arse

  • Mick Fealty

    So what’s Republican, and what’s not?

  • redstar2011

    Imho Mick standing idly by whilst your fellow countrymen were defenceless against a ruthless states apparatus a la 1969 isnt exactly up there amongst Republican ideals and values.

  • Mick Fealty

    that knocks everyone but the Blaneys in the south out. Aren’t you also doing what McCann argues you should not do and focusing on the past rather than building for the future?

  • redstar2011

    Lol Mick I dont see you rushing to back up your iriginal assertion that FF are Republican

    You are of course correct that we must look forward not back- maybe FF/FG coud take your advice re their non stop questioning of GA re his past- or is it ok for some to look back not forward?

    Ps I am NOT a SF voter /supporter but consistency in these issues is something that is sorely absent

  • JH

    If the unity debate is to coalesce this sniping has to stop.

    So what if he’s Fianna Fáil? And so what if there’s a dig against Sinn Féin in there? A little competition improves both parties’ policies and their ability to frame them.

    Read through the comments. Maybe 8/10 are focussed not on how to actually achieve this goal but on finding the Lundys in our midst. What does that remind you of?

    Once the debate starts proper you’re going to have to be a hell of a lot more resilient. The challenges won’t be coming in veiled party political challenges from your co-conspirators. They’ll be constant and scathing from the opposition. If you can’t find common ground with the likes of David McCann here, maintain Salmond-esque positivity, confidence and sure-footedness in the face of what’s to come then the whole thing is doomed to failure.

  • “That’s what’s known as a ‘hasty generalisation’… ie, ‘it’s not A, so it must be B’… Nev”

    Mick, here’s David in his own words:

    What caught my attention was not his musings on whether he would lead Sinn Fein but his economic ideas surrounding Ireland’s economic performance in a United Ireland.

    Drawing Sammy into the pro-UI argument is just extrapolation.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I have always said I am an economic nationalist, it would be far easier to get a science job under the ROI regime than the NI one, even with harmonised corporation tax, the Republic’s science infrastructure in my opinion is well ahead of that provided by NI. The main disadvantage in that regard is that ROI is not a CERN member, but that is likely to happen in the near future.


  • Coll Ciotach

    A small boot at Mick should be allowed? I asked about Mr McCann in an earlier thread about integrated education, (when he made a nonsense correlation between those who support provision of integrated education and those who would avail of it), in regards as to why his article was used and I was not informed of his allegience to Fianna Fáil.

    Now you could used the O’Dowd Defence and say so what but to me that is not being entirely honest with the readership of the blog. Surely when you use a commentator we should be informed of his allegiences if any? It may help us put things into a context if any. It certainly is more fair and open with the readership.

    So that is Mick suitably chastised.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Perhaps McCann has a point?
    Far to obtuse and sounds like a student padding out the research paper to get to the prerequisite word count.
    It allow me to say this.
    His party has been in power of and on for most of the history of the republic. In spite of all this, apart from rhetoric, it has not done much on unity. Where is the vision? Has a paper outlining the ways and means of unification ever been set out, has the political structures been mapped out for us, has it been debated with all in the island and amended, honed and perfected over the years?

    Which is unfair and fair at the same time.

    However the point that we all need to be to sit down and work this out, get a plan together and continuously review it, stands.

    The door must be kept open for unionists to take part, it is up to them if they do not. Party should not come first here.

    Stripping past the provocative assertions McCann has pointed at the elephant in the room. Well done that man.

  • Mick Fealty

    Look lads, you all know who I am. Even if you don’t know me personally. For the most part, I don’t know who any of you are, and as you have probably heard me say before, I don’t give a damn who you happen to be. If you choose tell me in confidence, that’s your prerogative.

    In the same way, I don’t give a damn who anyone else is, whether I blog them or not. What interests me is what people have to say. Increasingly it is tough to find such folk, but we have a team of bloggers with various viewpoints (some more active than others) to more than compensate for my own shortcomings.

    I’m not a fan of anonymity, but I do understand people often feel freer keeping their real identity concealed. So I back any of you to choose to do so up to the point you break the law (then all bets are off)…

    Why the preamble? Because I quoted McCann for what he said, not who he is. I put his thoughts out simply and with the minimal of comment. It’s provoked a political reaction (fair enough), and some thoughtful contributions. I’ll happily endure the former to get the latter, and take my civil boot from Coll Ciotach in the process…

    I do know that a review of where republicanism is headed both north and south is long long overdue… whether that means working together or working independently but with a broader vision in common view, I don’t know.

    As for FF, I think you can criticise them for a lot of things, but they are certainly a Republican party in the southern sense of that term, and they did nominate an Ardoyne born Catholic for a pretty successful presidency that spanned most of the significant parts of the Peace Process, and bankrolled an unprecedented outreach programme through the DFA, which has all but disappeared since they left government two years ago.

    It was their ‘great leader’ who commissioned and enacted the current Bunreacht na hEireann…

    They didn’t organise in NI until very lately. But if your only definition of republicanism relates to ‘did the organise in Northern Ireland in the past?’, you are employing an unnecessarily restrictive and prejudicial sense of what the word actually means.

  • Mick Fealty
  • That’s your take on voodoo economics, Mick; I was addressing David’s which was limited to an an attack on those expounded by Pearse Doherty.

    “bankrolled an unprecedented outreach programme through the DFA, which has all but disappeared since they left government two years ago.”

    The endorsement of the Finaghy Crossroads Group, a loyalist and republican paramilitary collective, was brought to my attention by an SDLP staffer; it was hardly the President’s/DFA’s finest hour.

    The DFA team is still in place in downtown Belfast but their UK counterparts appear to have long since headed for Stormont. The Causeway School Museum project has a cross-border aspect but when I sought assistance recently from the DFA team I was told that my request for assistance would probably get looked at eventually. Unsurprisingly, parades issues currently leave little time for positive outreach.

  • Mick Fealty

    And, back to the topic…

  • “There is a case for a United Ireland” .. DMcC

    Mick, have you invited David to make his and/or FF’s case for a UI? We had the New Ireland Forum in the 80s and the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in the 90s but IMO the strategies and actions of ‘strong’ nationalists down through the past few generations have served to reinforce partition.

    I’d imagine that the North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association will probably steer clear of such a hot potato as the constitutional question.

  • Mick Fealty

    No, I haven’t. I’m not sure there is one to be had in the short term. In sense that’s what McCann is saying. Lots of people want one, but they seem to have little sense of how it might achieved, or what it would look like.

    A coherent pitch might eventually arise out of engagement with the institutions we’ve already agreed to, and with people across the community divide. Getting a ball rolling in that regard might be the best that can be hoped for.

    I reckon it is telling when a nationalist not only expresses dissatisfaction in the way that the current nationalist leadership is conducting (or rather not conducting) itself in regard to the goal of unification, the best most (not all) can reach for is some schtick about what party he belongs to.

    I wonder if we are at that stage where people on the nationalist side are roughly where unionism was ten years ago and are just a little be afraid to look honestly at where nationalism is, and examine/debate/discuss how it might best conduct itself in future.

  • “I’m not sure there is one to be had in the short term. In sense that’s what McCann is saying.” .. Mick

    There’s a lack of coherence in David’s analysis. Your observation above fits with his January article but now he claims there’s a case to be made for a UI – but fails to make it.

    In January, he refers to ‘a wider problem in Irish republicanism, and that is the failure to properly understand Northern Unionism’. He raises some issues but fails to elaborate on his own understanding.

    In light of the recent presidential FF-SF argy-bargy, I’m surprised than anyone would be dismissive of David’s party political affiliation.

    A coherent unionist or a nationalist pitch IMO won’t deal with the constitutional question in the sense that each would appeal to less than 50% of voters.

  • Mick Fealty


    The implausibilty of the proposition is why no one has a convincing plan, never mind strategy, for building a sufficient consensus for unification.

    One cannot be produced from thin air.

    What we have instead is a continuance of partition politics, where communal grievance is the only accepted political tender.

    This produces plenty of northern fission but very little of the sort of fusion needed to close the plausibility gap.

    The solution? Deepen the opportunities for honest conversations about what changes might effect positive change in relations between north and south.

  • “we have a team of bloggers with various viewpoints”

    I’d like to see them spend more time shedding light on the home team and less slagging off the opposition.

  • “The implausibility of the proposition”

    Mick, I’ve put a huge question mark on its desirability within the next few generations; it’s a nationalist context for a unionist-nationalist problem. Hence my suggestion of devolution in NI under shared sovereignty and the merger of Strands 2 and 3. This gives a measure of equality to the two opposing constitutional aspirations and IMO would greatly improve relations across both islands. My suggestion hasn’t yet been listed as an option in the polls – a clear indication of lack of imagination amongst pollsters 🙂

    It also enhances tourism potential as I’d like to see more consideration given to international visitors who move around the archipelago in search of their family roots or whatever else takes their fancy.

  • Morpheus

    “devolution in NI under shared sovereignty”

    That’s really interesting. What way would that work in terms of currency, taxes, policing, political representation etc. with 2 masters so to speak?

  • Mick Fealty

    We used to have a New York lawyer who regularly advocated a written constitution for a sovereign NI. He bravely plugged here for a couple years before just as bravely admitting defeat.

    The problem with his solution the fact that he garnered virtually no support. And, aside from the fact it is not part of the jointly negotiated agreement we have, this also going to be the most likely the problem with joint sovereignty.

    Add to that the very practical problem of there being no lasting precedent in international practice and I think you have a much deader duck than unification of the island could be.

    Short of staging a successful military coup [ah, that’s been tried – Ed] cheating your way to a UI is just not a viable strategy.

  • Morpheus, the secret would be to allow the two masters to regulate the pro-rata subvention from London and Dublin on the quality of local agreement but otherwise to keep the masters at arms’s length.

    We already have the PSNI and its role should be a lot easier when there’s equality of aspiration; the MI5 bunker could be decommissioned or, if considered necessary, it could be a shared UK & Ireland facility.

    I’d contemplate dispensing with Westminster representation and I’d beef-up the role of the BIC; this would enhance the positions of Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff in relation to London and Dublin.

    I suppose we could have dual currency but with our own symbols on the notes and coins. We could also do our own taxation system.

    We’ve already got a form of joint administration but it’s unaccountable and London and Dublin both tend to pander to the demands of the extremists.

    On the basis of my own experience in the devolution of planning and responsibility in a cross-community sixth-form context I think we’d greatly increase the quality of our elected representation and therefore of our governance.

  • Morpheus

    OK Mick, we get it – you think the Union is the only show in town but Nevin is putting forward a suggestion so maybe we could talk about it for a while before we come to the conclusion that it is a dead duck eh?

    Your proposal sounds to me like more autonomy for Northern Ireland rather than joint-Sovereignty – not that I am against the idea mind.

    I do find you idea of a joint Irish-British facility interesting, it would help in the battle against all-island crime.

    I would really like to know what impact it would have to NI if the taxes pertaining to Northern Ireland where collected in Northern Ireland. For example, Asda, what impact would it have, if any, if they wrote a cheque to Belfast instead of London for their businesses in Northern Ireland.

    In your proposal would you envisage Ireland and GB both putting say £4b into a pot and then giving the NI politicians the ability to raise income any way they see fit and can then cut their spending cloth accordingly?

  • Mick Fealty


    “you think the Union is the only show in town”

    I suggest you read the original post again…

  • Morpheus

    I have read David McCann’s opinion. What of it?

  • Mick Fealty

    I don’t waste my time blogging stuff that I don’t think matters.

    It certainly matters a great deal to a large proportion of the NI population, so much so that some are prepared to kill for it.

    At the moment all they are getting is a few glib reassurances of a plan that no one has ever seen. It needs much more serious attention than its been given heretofore.

    As for the mind reading, well, good luck with that… Just try to connect with the ball once in a while?

  • Morpheus

    Mick you came in on a discussion about joint-sovereignty in order to throw cold water all over the idea before Nevin could even get his point across describing it as “a much deader duck than unification of the island could be”

    That ‘dead duck’ reference to me is trampling all over the legitimate aspirations of a significant number of people in Northern Ireland and the majority of those on the island of Ireland so I called you on what you said – I did not play you. I’ll ignore the condescending “just try to connect with the ball once in a while?” comment.

    I have been saying for weeks that the nationalist politicians have been letting down those who vote for them on the whole united Ireland issue. I have been saying for weeks that no one, north or south of the border has the first clue what a UI entails and I have been saying for weeks that the electorate, north and south of the border, needs to be educated on what a UI looks like in terms of key issues so we can all make an informed decision about what is best of us and our families. Some of what David McCann says above is practically word for word what we have been saying for weeks.

  • “it is not part of the jointly negotiated agreement we have”

    Mick, this was an agreement driven by London and Dublin so it was designed to fit their NIMBY interests. Just look at the fate of Coleraine compared with life there even during the worst times of the Troubles. IMO the current arrangements are likely to precipitate civil war.

  • Morpheus, I suggested pro-rata subvention contributions. Here is what I said 20 years ago:

    Subvention funding from London and Dublin could be in proportion to their respective GDPs. The respective Secretaries-of-State could jointly control the rate of flow of funds to “assist” the decision making process; no agreement, no money. Secretaries-of-State who are perceived to be incompetent could be removed by the same preferential apparatus.

    I particularly like the idea of being able to say to either of the Big Two, “Send us another one” – or “Send a list of three names and we’ll choose one”. 🙂

    At some point I’ve used the term semi-autonomous. We’re already part of the EU as well as the UK so why not be part of a UI too?

    Note that I’ve used the term ‘shared sovereignty’ rather than ‘joint sovereignty’; I think language is incredibly important and the sense of sharing and hospitality is a shared trait that should be encouraged.

    Here are two quotes that should provide some food for thought:

    “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

    “Wisdom denotes the pursuing of the best ends by the best means.” Francis Hutcheson

  • The nature of sovereignty is that it cannot be joint because sovereignty is a monopoly on certain authorities such as the use of legal force. If it is joint it is by definition no longer a monopoly. It can be shared as in a federal government between two tiers of the same government because ultimately one is subordinate to the other. Even in a confederation in which the subordinate parts retain their sovereignty, they choose not to exercise it as long as the confederation is in place and the shared powers are carefully spelled out in a constitution. What would be possible in the North is joint rule or joint authority with the UK agreeing to voluntarily share power with Ireland but retaining full sovereignty. This would be a step up from the AIA of 1985, which gave Dublin consultative authority in NI but not any actual authority.

    The problem with this is that unionists overwhelmingly rejected the AIA. London could live with this as long as there was direct rule, but with devolution it becomes impossible. How can you have power sharing when one of the parties rejects the basis on which power is to be shared?

  • “the AIA of 1985, which gave Dublin consultative authority in NI but not any actual authority.”

    tmitch57, here is the AIA wording:

    The United Kingdom Government accept that the Irish Government will put forward views and proposals on matters relating to Northern Ireland within the field of activity of the Conference in so far as those matters are not the responsibility of a devolved administration in Northern Ireland.

    In practice, Irish civil servants have moved beyond an interaction with their UK counterparts; they’ve been, for example, intimately involved in day-to-day decision making with police officers and others. None of this is transparent nor is there any parliamentary accountability. When I suggest a certain course of action and get the response ‘sorted’ then I can see its outworking but our elected representatives, should they smell a rat, would simply be told that UK-ireland exchanges are confidential.

    Some of the proposals considered in respect of’ Northern Ireland may also be found to have application by the Irish Government.

    This is where hypocrisy manifests itself and you can detect differences between civil servants from the department of justice equality and law reform and those from the department of foreign affairs [both use dfa email addresses].

    DFA folks appear to have few qualms about reinforcing the roles of paramilitaries in their control of local communities in NI whereas the DJEL ones are far more reticent as they will have to pick up the pieces should any of these practices spill over the border.

  • “I don’t waste my time blogging stuff that I don’t think matters.”

    Mick, sleep-walking into civil war matters to me – hence my efforts to defuse the constitutional time-bomb.

    I also work with all parties to improve our quality of governance. Although they’re likely to sometimes find themselves in the firing line I’m more likely to get support from DUP and SF folks than from the centre ground parties.