More Thoughts on Irish Unity

On The Nolan Show this morning, Alex Kane and myself had a brief discussion about his recent article regarding Irish Unity.

On Slugger last week, Barton and David chatted at length on the topic of Irish Unity, so I’ve decided to put a few thoughts out there on the subject for others to pick over.


A united Ireland has never been as close as it is today.

Before anyone gets worked up, it’s not particularly close.

In fact, it’s neither imminent nor inevitable, but it certainly is the case that, from history’s perspective, a number of significant obstacles have been or are in the process of being removed:

  • A British veto for military or political reasons no longer applies. In the event of a referendum voting in favour of Irish unity, there won’t be a Lisburn mutiny by British forces and right wing Tories won’t seek to usurp the democratic will of the people by calling for repartitioning (a Dalradian Gibraltar won’t be sought nor approved.)
  • Northern nationalism is in a stronger position within Northern Ireland than at any time in history, and this elevation has brought the reality of our differing narratives and interpretations home to many more familiar and comfortable with a solitary narrative historically conferred with the legitimacy of State approval. The pillars of the northern state are increasingly reflective of the Green as well as the Orange.

One consequence of this has been political unionism’s rightward lurch in a vain attempt to roll back history’s tide. That will fail, and time will deliver a Northern Ireland at peace with the reality of competing narratives of the past, interpretations of today and visions for the future.

  • The Republic of Ireland is a modern state. It has its fair share of problems, but it stands proudly alongside the other Nations of the world.
  • The demographic realities are such in Northern Ireland today that, in 20 years time, everyone under the age of 60 will be in a year cohort which has a greater number of catholics than protestants, with all that entails for demographic parity between our two main religious groups.

Those who publicly ‘tut-tut’ at the mention of religious headcounts are being disingenuous. The state of Northern Ireland was founded on a religious headcount; like it or not, but our cultural and political fault lines continue to correlate with religious backgrounds. This may change, but it is as foolhardy to suggest that a scenario in which Northern Ireland had a catholic majority would not be more favourable for those advocating a united Ireland as it is to suggest that a majority protestant Northern Ireland has no relevance to a discussion on the continuance of the Union.

 All of these are positive developments for those interested in pursuing a united Ireland.

But being realistic is important in all of this.

Irish Nationalism has historically benefitted from the millenarian belief in the inevitably of triumph, ensuring that the idea of freedom/unity did not perish. But the self-confidence and assuredness that comes with such faith also engenders a sense of complacency, and Alex is correct to note that, for all the talk about Irish unity, there is very little of substance being said by its advocates regarding the shape of a unified Ireland.

That being said, it would be somewhat premature to produce a 700-page document outlining what a united Ireland would look like at this juncture in our history as I believe we are in a phase where it is more important to lay the foundations for a united Ireland campaign capable of succeeding a quarter century from now. (Stop for a second and consider that we are 20 years removed from the IRA and loyalist ceasefires. Two decades passes quickly eh…)

One of the reasons I am quite optimistic about our future is that I have a firm conviction that making Northern Ireland a success is central to the realization of the long-term objectives of both Unionism and Republicanism. For unionists, it is imperative that an impending catholic majority feel comfortable with the status quo; for republicans, it is essential that Northern Ireland works so that any transition to a united Ireland is as seamless as possible in every sense: politically, culturally and economically.

I believe we are heading inevitably towards an era of persuasion within Northern Irish politics, a ‘race to accommodate’ if you will.

The consequences of this will be a realization on all sides that, regardless of where sovereignty lay, the contested entity of Northern Ireland must remain British and Irish in equal measure, reflecting its people.

I believe nationalists and republicans are closer to fully appreciating the significance of that, which gives us a distinct advantage over a unionist body politic still seeking to corral the PUL wagons.

Those interested in pursuing Irish Unity must invest time and energy addressing the key priorities of building an equal Northern Ireland, reflective and representative of its diverse peoples; Re-orienting politics on a North-South axis to develop a plurality of active voices in favour of Irish unity; Addressing the economic elephant in the room by developing, articulating and implementing policies capable of transforming the northern Irish economy; and putting flesh on the bones of a United Ireland by beginning to address questions about what it would like (eg federal or unitary?) and what constitutional amendments could be devised to enshrine the rights of British citizens in a newly united Irish state.

One of Alex’s observations, in particular, is worth focusing on.

“I hear a great deal of whimsy from those who paint a picture of a united Ireland in purely economic terms: as if employment rates, tourism potential, all-Ireland transport and a new generation of golfing and rugby heroes would make a blind bit of difference to those who were born British and vote unionist. That unionism and sense of Britishness is not going to disappear overnight: indeed, it would probably linger for generations.”

Alex is spot on. His emotional attachment to his British and unionist identity will likely continue to exist regardless of whether or not a new Celtic Tiger roars in the future.

Yet the same rule applies for nationalists and our sense of Irishness, and indeed it has done so for nationalists throughout years/decades/centuries in spite of Britain retaining sovereignty in Ireland.

Squaring the circle can only involve no losers if, ultimately, a form of joint sovereignty is agreed, or if the settlement in a UK or United Ireland arrangement appears to satisfy the political as well as cultural demands of the respective minority community.

Is that a more realistic proposition?

  • Alan N/Ards

    Maybe I should have said that I believe they have no chance of persuading unionists of the merits of a UI etc. Do you think they can sell a UI to unionists?

  • Alan N/Ards

    The thing is, Michael, I’m waiting for something to persuade me to vote for UI. I can see the merits of a UI but need to persuaded. I need to see something concrete coming from nationalism to convince me. Talk is cheap. If you have a plan then let us see it.
    I believe the likes of FF and FG have moved away from the Brits out thinking of the past and I would trust them to strike a deal with unionism and to keep it.

  • I’m Trending on Twitter

    I was going to discount your Berlin choice and suggest you swap it with Brussels, but perhaps Ireland would face the same difficulties Germany or West Germany faced when unifying with its East / DDR / GDR. Was it not the case of a more modern Westernised economy unifying with a less developed publicly-run economy of the East? Since German unification, it is noticeable that the East suffered galloping depopulation and suffers also from ironically far right extremism more so than the old West Germany does, I would think our so-called ‘North’ would go the same way over the short to medium and Irish unification would be a relatively impoverishing experience and the majority in the south, voting majority, would largely not want to fund the North at their expense – importantly – given Ireland’s size and populace I don’t think it would be economically feasible to even attempt to do so if the political elite wished it so, not forgetting Ireland’s tendency to run its economy in adherence to centre-right strictures. As has been proven over the last decade or so if not before, its low tax economy in sync with austerity, as dictated by Brussels and Frankfurt. It would be a mess – I mean how has east Germany fared in the context of Germany being an economic power house, probably not that well, what chance Ireland turning the north around into something that alleviates social inequality rather than exacerbate it?

  • Zeno1

    You showed me nothing. Less than 23%………. swallow that,

  • Zeno1

    I don’t know what you mean.

  • Max

    Hardly back benches. It looks like SF will be leading the government on both sides of the fence in the near future. Also the GFA has only been partially implemented. The DUP/OO have done everything to stall and reverse the agreement. We still do not have equality, not even close!

  • Alan N/Ards

    I have no idea if the numbers of deputies returned from NI will be as many as you say. Even if that is the case, they will not be voting as one. The divisions will still be there and Unionism will still be a small minority in the Dail, who can be out voted by the republican and nationalist bloc on a daily basis. That is why a power sharing Assembly ( with less MLA’s) needs to kept in NI for as long as it needed.

  • Zeno1

    Alan there isn’t really much point in anyone trying to persuade you into a United Ireland at the minute.

    A Referendum with an 85% Turnout requires 520954 people to vote YES for UI to happen.

    Electorate. 1225771

    Turn Out 85% 1041905

    50% + One 520953

    So for the” inevitable” United Ireland we keep hearing about, to happen every single Nationalist voter would have to vote YES which seems unlikely AND another quarter of a million votes would have to be found somewhere.

    The Election results and Polls that the Secretary of State examines for evidence, clearly show we are not even at the stage where a Referendum could be called under the terms set out in the GFA.

  • barnshee

    “In terms of representation, Dail Eireann presently has 166 members for a population of 4.589 million, which break down at approximately one TD per 27,500 citizens. By these numbers, the six north eastern counties would return 66 deputies to an enlarged parliament of 232, or approximately 30% of the total membership.

    Well that`s 18 MPs and and 42 MLA`s out of job straight away– almost enough to go for a UI on that alone

    Then there is the great cull across the public sector as duplication in departments is shaken out -problem there is with “fair employment” kicking in( the old McBride principles that used to be very popular) the cull is likely to be -ahem –a bit one sided.

    Then we have imbalance in education and health funding to be –rationalised perhaps the British passport holders would continue to have “free services” whilst the Irish passport holders would adopt the Irish model?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Irish unity” is a euphemism for ethnic domination, when it comes down to it.

    We haven’t seen a vision for actual “unity” between British and Irish on the island, because there isn’t one – at least not one that 32-county nationalists of the SF variety are interested in. They haven’t made Britishness any part of their discourse about Ireland’s future, for obvious reasons – they seem to want some kind of victory over us on the British side rather than building a future together. Hardly surprising they aren’t getting many takers on this side of the divide.

    In any case, there’s no reason to think life in the province would be any better within an “Ireland” wrapper than within a “UK” wrapper. Neither of them make that much difference really and the whole non-debate is a distraction from getting on with the business of improving life in Northern Ireland. Hence perhaps the appeal of “Irish unity” for some – it’s a get-out from facing up to the hard reality of that. It allows people to pretend their problems will go away if only there were a change in sovereignty. Yet they can’t explain how those problems will be better solved within this new entity.

    Nationalism has never shown any interest in genuinely unifying people – if it had, it wouldn’t be pursuing a 32-county Irish state, a proposition which does not unify people at all. Unity is really about seeking a victory for Catholic Ireland against the Ulster Prods / Brits, when it comes down to it. Let’s not kid ourselves this is some virtuous political ideal.

  • Zeno1

    On a rough count Unionists would have around 14% of the Seats, but I don’t understand how they would still be Unionists in an Irish Parliament? Would they be putting the case for rejoining the Union?

  • Max

    if you don’t take your head out of the sand, you will end up suffocating!

  • Alan N/Ards

    I can see the merits of the island of Ireland coming together in the interests of all the people who live on the island, but the people who are advocating a UI need to start telling us how it can be done. At the minute nobody is trying to persuade people who are pro union. In fact, the silence is deafening.

    Nationslists need to start the discussion, and if they do, they need to invite unionists, both political and civic to participate. Unionists should get involved in any discussions (if they happen). They need to lay their hopes and fears on the table and as someone who is pro union, I believe they have to discuss these things with our neighbours on this island. They will not stop being pro union by doing this.

  • Max

    You continually blank out the fact that nationalist parties are only a few seats behind unionists with huge demographic changes on the way. You also give the impression that every single unionist votes. You also give the impression that unionists/protestants do not die or are immortal. The census shows the reality your dealing with 1 in 4 protestants are over the age of 60. Catholics massively outnumber protestants in the under 40s and even more so in the under 20s. There is even a higher mortality rate for Protestants (11% against 9%). God forbid we even speak about protestants that are pro UI! And don’t even begin to look at election results, that’s an absolute no no!

    Your as mental as a fruitcake. Your happy with wee DUP/OO sponsored polls or discredited surveys. and ignore reality. Its like trying to convince a drug addict of the danger of drugs.

    At which of these points will the penny drop for you that all is not well in Kansas?

    Gradual removal of all British emblems from NI including flags?
    Sinn Fein first Minister?
    Sinn Fein Taoiseach?
    Southern parties contesting elections in the North?
    Presidential Elections?
    Block grant from the generous tax payers of Southern England drying up?
    Scotland gaining independence?
    Unionist vote implosion due to lack of voters?
    Mergence of economies including tax laws?
    Health care system amalgamation?
    Transportation amalgamation?
    Unified television networks and license fee?
    Statues at BCC removed and replaced with traditional Irish Republican figures?
    Renaming of roads and bridges to local Irish people historical figures (Seamus Heaney Bridge, Van Morrison Boulevard)?
    Orange Order receiving massive media bans and marching restrictions to one day a year?
    Orange Order becoming outlawed?
    Northern Ireland adopting the Euro?
    Catholic population making up over 70% of NI population?
    Huge growth in GAA resulting of Antrim winning the All Ireland?
    Nationalist parties being majority on all councils (excluding the peoples republic of Carricfergus)
    Loyalist atrocities backlash that receives international condemnation?
    Ulster Unionist party merging with DUP to form United Union Alliance (UUA)?
    Three years later UUA merging with Fine Gael?
    Massive celebrations in Belfast as we celebrate 25 years of unknown independence?

    In reality, there may never be a referendum. It may prove too costly and pointless. The country will already be united long before anyone bothers to formalise the situation.

  • Zeno1

    As you said it’s votes that count. That is certain in a Referendum and you need to find at least another 250,000 people to vote YES.

    Your as mental as a fruitcake. Your happy with wee DUP/OO sponsored polls or discredited surveys. and ignore reality.

    WHEN YOU CAN ONLY PLAY THE MAN IT MEANS YOU CAN’T FIND THE BALL. The ball is the over 250,000 votes you need to find, btw.

    “In reality, there may never be a referendum” And you call me a fruitcake……….lol. Is this the new SF tactic now they realise that support is so low they can’t get one. It’s hilarious.

  • Zeno1

    “Catholic population making up over 70% of NI population?”

    If you believe that it is no wonder you fall for the SF nonsense.
    In 1951 Catholics made up 34.4% of the Polulation.
    60 years later it had increased to 40.7%
    Do the math.

  • Max

    lol you know all about playing the man. I present you facts and you get rattled and have a go at me. So let me get this right, only you can play the man, but no one can respond back in same?

    I have clearly hit a raw nerve. You continue to pull thresholds and numbers out of your ass, we are all loving it. It has given us all a laugh. The unionist voting base is decreasing at an alarming rate, yet you know exactly how many votes are required.

    Have you ever considered a career working for NASA ?

  • You are talking fiscal unity, and that same trend (e/w Ger) will be part of the growing Euroland – the stronger will get stronger while peripheral economies will require subsidy (as regions do from Westminster). As such the reference to Berlin is correct as the economic powerhouse and key driver of the Euro project.

    Not even Salmond has his budget reviewed by Westminster before presentation, though hasn’t the Republic’s been perused by Berlin before even the Dail?

  • Max

    Lol i just loved the way you completely gloss over the fact that the protestant population decreased from 60.4% to 48.3% in the same time period that you picked at random and choose to ignore.

    Also thats is incorrect it went from 34.4% to 45.1% in 60 years! And you tell me to do the math? Your priceless!

    So let me get this right,
    Massive Protestant Decrease = Good Union Safe
    Catholic Increase = Good Union Safe


  • Zeno1

    Point out where I have indulged in name calling.

    I’m not rattled at all. I post the facts and you can’t handle it. That why you are playing the man and indulging in childish name calling.

    “You continue to pull thresholds and numbers out of your ass, yet you know exactly how many votes are required.”………………….Anyone with a basic knowledge of mathematics can tell you exactly how many votes it takes to win a referendum on any given turn out.

    A child could do it.

  • Zeno1

    Chris Donnelly puts up his ………..

    More Thoughts on Irish Unity
    but doesn’t respond to any of the very good questions and points that have been raised? Why not?

  • Max

    Not remember the “go run away comment” ?

    So your telling me you actually know the electoral turnout and who is unionist/protestant nationalist/catholic whenever a referendum will be called or held? Even in the face of huge demographic changes?

    Are you God ?

    You know when people will die, leave town, how many kids etc…

    You say you post facts, show them because all we have seen is made up numbers. You cant even get census figures right and they are there for all to see. You cant even acknowledge historical electoral trends as it does not fit in with your psychosis.

  • Zeno1

    “Also thats is incorrect it went from 34.4% to 45.1% in 60 years! And you tell me to do the math? Your priceless!”

    Show me where it says that in the Census?

    In 2011, 40.7% of people described themselves as Catholic, 19% Protestant, 13.7% Church of Ireland, 3% Methodist, 5.8% other Christian, 0.8% other religion and 16.9% no religion or none stated.

  • Max

    “Show me where it says that in the Census?…….”

  • Zeno1

    ” You cant even get census figures right and they are there for all to see.”
    “Show me where it says that in the Census?…….”

    No problem, but……..
    What Census are you reading?

    Figure 23 Page 29 of the NI Census 2011 would be a good place to start.

  • Neil

    While some may find comfort in reading the statistics to flatter their own strength in numbers, the last two census show a 5% decrease in the Protestant community, compared to a modest .6% increase in the Catholic community. So over a 60 year period the Catholic population’s growth might not look like much. However a 5% decrease in the Protestant population over 10 years is useful in terms of context. As the man said, do the maths. It might not be as amusing as plotting the slow growth of the Catholic population, but considering the Protestant population seems to be dropping off a cliff, it may be instructive.
    Describing the percentage of Nationalist voters in terms of the total electorate is also misleading, and again favourable to the person doing the misleading. PUL parties took 47% of the vote at the last assembly election, Nationalist parties took 42%. That’s a 2.5% swing. Non voters don’t count.
    One could quote extensively from NILT (who bizarrely never quite come out and ask the question everyone wants the answer to – i.e. how would you vote in a referendum), but then that same survey would tell you that the election results are an illusion, and that the SDLP outperform the Shinners at every election. The best survey is the one carried out in the polling booth.
    If Unionists were convinced a referendum would fail utterly they would have one tomorrow. The only way to put the question behind us is to ask it. Unionists talk about moving forward, making society work etc. (see Mr Ringland’s post), and (IMHO) the only way to do so is to allow the people to have their vote on the border issue. After all if Unionism is so convinced of a strong victory then they have nothing to fear, and Nationalism’s failure will restore Unionism’s confidence and put the question behind us for the foreseeable.
    However if, as I suspect, the result is a close one they know that the process will trigger referenda stretching into the future until Nationalism is succesful. Anyone who really wants NI to succeed in any form, should be begging for the referendum to be called, having a sizable chunk of the population agitating towards constitutional change isn’t conducive to stability. The only thing that can bring that stability is a referendum, win or lose. With Unionism’s stated confidence one would think they’d be chomping at the bit so they could embarrass Nationalism’s paltry vote and move on, yet they don’t. Do Unionists expect Nationalists to believe their opposition to a referendum is based around protecting Nationalists from humiliation, or might they have some other motivation? I suspect the latter is the case.
    Finally, no one is going to sit down and work out the case for unification for some referendum that may take place at an unspecified time in the future. Why would we? When the time comes, and a referendum is called, at that point the campaign will begin. No one knows what the economic situation will be in NI, the UK or Ireland at some unspecified time in the future, so building an argument in favour of unification based on unknown unkowns would be utterly stupid and a waste of time and money. As Mr Salmond, the canny Scot knows, you wait until the referendum is on the horizon and start building your case based on the current situation, not what you hope the situation might be someday. In short, there’s no onus or need for Nationalism to make that move yet. If and when Nationalist parties get more votes than Unionist parties, then the challenge will be getting the SoS to call a referendum and the case can be made using analysis of facts at that point.
    If we’d danced to the Unionist tune and come up with a campaign plan 10 years hence, doubtless replete with references to the incredible strength of the Irish economy, it would be hopelessly out of date. The same applies, who knows what the situation will be in 5 or 10 years from now? I believe Nationalism will make the case when they’re good and ready, when the referendum has been called and when we know what the lay fo the land will be when the vote rolls around. There’s literally no point in doing anything else.

  • nilehenri

    Ronald Reagan — ‘If you’re explaining, you’re losing.’

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But still no evidence the vote would be close. Aren’t you making the mistake of taking Catholic votes for Irish unity for granted? Polls show over and over again there’s a solid third or so of the Catholic vote that is in no hurry for Irish unity. Personally I’d love a referendum and I think at best the pro-secession vote might hit 35 per cent – that’s being very optimistic for them, based not just on Life & Times but all the other surveys I’ve seen, including by my former employers; as well as reading what we can into the Census data where people declared their identities and to some extent allegiance. The “Irish-only” figure was I think 26 or 27 per cent. There has simply never been any vote or poll on the question in which it is even close.

    Against that you have the falling numbers of people identifying themselves as Protestant – and I can see why those who dislike Protestants are pleased at that. But don’t rely on it too much: the figures also show that those who declared no religion and/or no community affiliation live overwhelmingly in the middle class Protestant heartlands around the Belfast Lough. I wouldn’t take their preference for a united Ireland necessarily for granted.

  • Robin Keogh

    Excellent post Neil and I agree with you entirelly. There is another element to this and that lies in the dynamic of relations between Dublin and London. Firstly, its ulikely a tory gov in London would be keen to encourage talks on possible unity, likewise FG in Dublin are the least of all Irish nationalist parties to get an itch regarding unification. We would be very naive to believe however that te subject has not come up. Most parties and both governements at some level are musing over it ‘on the side’. Moreover with both governements bogged down in economic recovery projects, the last thing either of them want is a divisive journey to a poll on unity. The Irish economy is growing again and recovering slowly with borrwing rates down and employment improving, added to the expected oil bonanza one would hope that the financial strength of the country will be enough to confidently fire the first salvo to get Unity on the agenda. We know Britain wants rid of the six, now we just wait untill Dublin is in a stable financial position and has the right mix of parties forming a government to press London for a referendum.

  • Robin Keogh

    I dont think we should take anything for granted. And I agree, as things stand now its ulikely a referendum would pass in the near future. But ten or twenty years from now, there are reasons to be hopefull (outlined above in Neil’s post) that it could be a success.

  • Robin Keogh

    I understand why many Unionists see Irish Unity as ethnic domination. Given the history of the north I think there is a suspicion that nationalists in a United Ireland will treat their British neighbours the same way Catholics were treated during the old stormont regime.

    But times have changed and I think reasonable people on all sides can now see that tactics of oppression, discrimination and violent rebellion are not going to get us anywhere. Also, given the relationship between Dublin and London plus the influence of supranational organisations it would be far too damaging on brand Ireland to embark on any form of cultural exclusion.

    We see in the South how minority communities live in safety, with their customs respected and equal opportunities a mainstay of the multicultural dynamic. Regardless of the past their are no reasons to believe and certainly no evidence to suggest that Ulsters Britons would not enjoy the same respect and dignity.

    The minority of extreme Unionists need to realise that their intolerant, aggressive and phobic attitudes towards ‘strangers’ are not replicated by other traditions on the island.

  • Zeno1

    The new republican line appears to be, all the Polls are rubbish and all the Catholics who say they don’t want a United Ireland are all telling fibs. Given the incredible accuracy of opinion polls and that Catholics are not know as compulsive liars. I’d say , it’s a pretty weak case.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    What we have now is a useful balance in Northern Ireland, where both communities realise nothing really happens without consensus. That means deadlock but it also means a less commented upon realism about what either community can get away with, a check of some kind at least on ideas of domination by either side.

    With Irish unity, that balance would be lost, with possibly disastrous consequences. A nation the rest of which are Irish Catholics would be a quite different setting – and much more likely to have toxic influence on community relations – from the current nation the rest of which are English, Scottish and Welsh. It introduces an element of jeopardy that is largely absent within a UK setting.

    At best, even for those who wish it to come to pass, it would be a huge gamble. Even if I were an Irish nationalist I’d think twice before voting for it in reality. The hope that Protestants will take the passive attitude of our southern cousins in 1921 is fairly groundless. I’m afraid the violent Republican tactics of the late 20th Century pretty much guaranteed that any transition to Irish unity would be unlikely to be easily conceded even if Protestants were in a minority (as Republicans have been thus far). This is why it is important to dismiss the Republican narrative about a minority’s right to take up arms against perceived foreign occupation. It not only twists the past, it offers a potentially violent future.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yet Irish Republicans in Northern Ireland have been pushing a historical narrative in which Ulster Britons are blamed for Republican violence and dismissed as a deluded people without a real culture, suffering from ‘false consciousness’. We are already outraged by Republican attempts to rewrite their terrorism as a heroic struggle for civil rights – and we have every reason to believe our scapegoating would continue under any new all-Ireland state, dominated as it would be by Irish nationalists. Southern Irish society has moved on a lot but I found when I lived down there, if you dug below the surface, anti-British and anti-Ulster Protestant prejudice is still there.

    The other tradition on the island, Robin, have long had one main ethnic group to deal with: the British of Ulster. And if you’re saying they haven’t shown intolerant, aggressive and phobic attitudes towards us, then I wonder what Ireland you have been living in. And under Irish “unity” it’s these very people we are expected to entrust our future to. Yes there is or was some anti-Irish prejudice in Britain (well, very little now, but historically of course it was a big issue) but then I don’t expect Irish nationalists in NI to embrace British identity.

    That’s why unionism has the better approach – ours is a loose, messy, pragmatic country, not a romantic ideal. We don’t expect emotional attachment to it, just acceptance of its reality. No country is any more morally worthy than any other country, among liberal democracies at least. Any new Ireland would be no better than the UK. And it would be a poorly designed container for two peoples with our history of mutual antagonism. It is no kind of ideal.

  • Morpheus

    He’s probably laughing his bollix off as well that someone joins Slugger and in the space of a single thread gets the measure of you 🙂

  • Zeno1

    It didn’t take Newton Emerson too long to realise that you were impervious to information and prone to asking the same question over and over again when the question had already been answered in detail.

    The fact that you are siding with people who indulge in childish name calling and believe that all Polls are rubbish and all the Catholics who say they don’t want a UI are telling lies, speaks volumes. Or maybe you are siding with the one who would suspend human rights?

  • Morpheus

    You don’t expect Irish nationalists to embrace British identity? I think you need to get out and around Northern Ireland a bit more. I hate to break it to you but Catholics and Protestants, Irish and British live together in peace and just get on with everyday life.

    What you need to appreciate is that the constitutional future of Northern Ireland lies in the hands of the people of Ireland. If the majority in NI want NI to remain part of the UK then it will remain part of the UK. But if the majority in NI wants Ireland to be reunited (and those in the RoI follow suit) then make no mistake, it will happen – and almost 9 in every 10 are happy to accept the democratic will of the majority. Of course there will be idiots intent on violence but that’s why we have the police, courts and prisons.

    But I don’t think anyone is under the impression that a UI is coming anytime soon or even that it will just happen – it is perfectly plausible that Catholics in Northern Ireland are just happy to see the end of the Orange State.

    But regardless the future of NI is 1 of 2 things, part of a UI or part of the UK with Catholics being the biggest group. Which is the best of those 2 options for you? If it’s 2 then political Unionism need to catch up with the rest of country because the NILT has Catholic support for the DUP and UUP combined at 0%. Zero. Zilch. Nada. They need to ask why that is and do something about it.

  • I’m Trending on Twitter

    You might like to read this paper, if you have time on your hands –

    ‘The concept of geo-economics now seems particularly helpful as a way of describing the foreign policy of Germany, which has become more willing to impose its economic preferences on others within the European Union in the context of a discourse of zero—sum competition between the fiscally responsible and the fiscally irresponsible. For example, instead of accepting a moderate increase in inflation, which could harm the global competitiveness of its exports, Germany has insisted on austerity throughout the eurozone, even though this undermines the ability of states on the periphery to grow and threatens the overall cohesion of the European Union. In Luttwak’s terms, Germany is applying the methods of commerce within a logic of conflict. In short, it may be helpful to understand Germany as a geo-economic power instead of (or perhaps as well as) a civilian power.’

    …Within the context of the European Union, Germany’s economy is too big for any of its neighbors such as France to challenge (the ‘‘colossus’’ to which Habermas referred), but not big enough for Germany to exercise hegemony. In short, what appears to have happened is that the ‘‘German question’’ was resolved in geopolitical terms but has re emerged in geo-economic form.

  • Morpheus

    I am siding with no one.

    I just found it hilarious reading the same tired, claptrap from you and someone who had just joined Slugger calling you for the bluffer you are.

    As for ‘suspending human rights’ then read my response to that, it’s just below it. But I suspect that you have done that already 🙂

    I also suggest you re-read the N.E. thread 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    well the constitutional future of NI lies with the people of NI. Any vote in the south is a sop to Republicans so they can say it’s “all Ireland” to their voters, but it’s a nonsense really. They can’t make anything in NI happen that NI doesn’t want; the effect of having a vote in the South serves only to create an extra barrier (though I agree the South would go for it if NI did).

    I’m not especially attached to any particular existing unionist party and I agree both the main ones haven’t done much to woo Catholic voters. However, the Alliance, which is pro-union (or at least not commitedly against it, which amounts to the same thing), has some Catholic support of course; and it may grow further as the non-aligned element of the populace grows. But people don’t need to vote for unionist parties for the union to be safe. I’m personally a Labour member (though not living in NI now). They just need to not support secession from the UK, that’s all – which they can do it seems while voting SDLP or even SF.

  • Zeno1

    I do get called a bluffer. It’s normally by people who can’t spell or use grammar, make outrageous claims about a UI and can’t bear to see the actual figures in black and white after being fed nonsense for all those years.

    Did you notice I got a featured post on Slugger? Did you notice I have never ever been warned about my posts?

  • Zeno1

    It is hilarious. I’ll grant you that. I got called NUTS by someone who wants human rights law suspended so that Protestants who cause trouble in a United Ireland can be interned.
    You really couldn’t make it up.

  • Zeno1

    I agree. It’s not me doing the explaining though, is it? Did you mean to reply to him? He has spend a few posts “explaining”.

  • Reader

    Use your imagination. In the Dail unionists might campaign for partition; re-partition; closer links to the UK, Commonwealth membership; local holiday entitlements; flag concessions; language exemptions, and formal educational links to the UK school and university system.
    Now add a few more…
    The suggestion is that, in the search for unionist votes or unionist coalition partners, there might be some concessions in some areas. Expect loud squeals of ‘treason’ from SF if anything actually happens.

  • Morpheus

    Then there’s me, I know you are a bluffer too. 🙂

    Even though you are supposedly a data analysis professional it is blindingly obvious that you started with a conclusion which brings you comfort and then moved backwards finding carefully selected stats to prove your conclusion while ignoring anything that doesn’t. You bizarrely – and I mean that from the bottom of my heart – think that *only* your analysis is correct and write off anyone else who puts anything else forward as delusional, republican halfwits – and now it seems you think they are also illiterate. You are quite OK telling the odd porky-pie but clam up when called on it and change your position several times before hitting the reset button and going back to the carefully stats again on a new thread. It’s weird.

    You think a UI is impossible because it brings you comfort, that’s up to you and you have some carefully selected stats to back it up but others have done exactly the same and believe that it is not impossible because their carefully selected stats give them comfort.

    OMG you got a featured post??? Seriously??? Well done you! Make sure you put it on the fridge.

    (PS remind me again what your point was about the 153,000 gun licenses in Northern Ireland?)

  • Morpheus

    No, the constitutional future of NI lies in the hands of everyone in Ireland in a 2-fold process as described above. First the people of NI have their save, then the people of RoI have their say. The 2 are different processes so I don’t see why you would think that people in the South could make something happen in the North that NI doesn’t want. That point makes little sense to me.

    I am not so sure that the South would go for it if NI did, there are a whole ream of factors which will need to be taken into consideration so I don’t think they will automatically just follow suit.

    The Alliance have made steps to encourage the Catholic vote (7% according to the NILT) and had NI21 not imploded then they would have been a real pro-UK option for Catholics as well in the absence of any other option. I’m sure that there are Catholics who would be happy to see a Northern Ireland within the UK but just not the DUP/UUPs version of a Northern Ireland within the UK where they know their place and live in 80%of the most socially deprived wards. I would also guess that they would like to see a new flag and anthem which represents us all and brings us together as opposed to 2 flags which have become so toxic to each other that they divide us.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    See my other post, the Republic vote thing was easy to concede, it’s a fig leaf to nationalists. The only vote that matters is the NI one, as was always the case.

    You misunderstood my point about the Republic’s affecting NI, I was saying the same as you – it can’t. It only becomes relevant if there’s a pro-UI vote in NI, so if anything it creates an extra barrier. As I say, it was easy for unionists to ‘concede’ that – pushing at an open door there.

    But yes I’m up for a new flag and anthem also.

  • Morpheus

    You are trying to make out that the GFA was some sort of masterplay by Unionism. I don’t understand why. There was nothing to concede and it is not an extra barrier, it is basic common sense that if 1 country is to unite with another then it would have to ratified by the people of both countries.

  • Morpheus

    Oh and for reference, I am not saying that it was a masterplay by the nationalists either. I think it was just a common-sense way of going from stalemate, death and destruction to bringing peace to our streets, ensuring equality and allowing the people of Northern Ireland to take their own constitutional path, be it as part of the UK or as part of a UI.

  • Zeno1

    “Then there’s me, I know you are a bluffer too. :)”

    Simple logic should tell you that people who LOSE arguments are the same ones that resort to name calling and making false accusations. There is direct correlation.
    People who lose arguments claim that the evidence presented is rubbish. “The Polls are rubbish” People who lose arguments accuse others of being liars. (do you understand that this is you I’m talking about)

    I don’t like debating you for three reasons. One, I have to explain even simple things to you over and over again. Two, when you do make a claim and I show you evidence refuting that claim, you change the subject and try and deflect. Three, you are incapable of determining what viable evidence is.
    Get someone to explain to you why some of the 153.000 licensed guns might well play a part in a loyalist backlash.
    If I do it you will just change the subject and move onto something else.

  • Morpheus

    I said that ‘evidence presented is rubbish’ did I? Any proof?
    I said ‘polls are rubbish’ did I? Any proof?
    (This is where you go silent)

    I did however say that you are OK with telling porky-pies and then clamming up when called on it because it is true – you know it, I know it, that’s all that matters.

    I see you as no different to those who come on thinking that a UI is just around the corner and that it will magically just happen. That’s the level I have you on. You change your position with monotonous regularity – one minute a UI is impossible, the next it isn’t, then it is again. One minute national identity from the census is a key indicator, the next it isn’t. One minute elections results are key, the next they ‘don’t really matter’ and ‘mean nothing’. One minute you know exactly what the triggers for an SoS calling a border poll are, silence when pushed – it’s a secret. One minute you can predict the results of a UI referendum ‘within 4%’, silence when pushed – it’s a secret. One minute you know exactly how the ‘don’t knows’ will vote in a referendum, silence when pushed – it’s a secret. I particulraly enjoyed you saying that ‘anyone with a modium of intelligence’ knows the triggers for an SoS calling a border poll then watched as numerous commentators, including a guy who literally wrote the book on election results, added their varying opinions because they didn’t know.

    End result…bluffer.

    And the weird thing is you will hit reset and start this ‘only-my-analysis-is-right BS all over again on a different thread

    Dude….you’re done, bring on zeno2 and hopefully we can take him seriously

  • Robin Keogh

    I agree about that balance to a large extent. However the balance exists beause the numbers require it, not because any political hero has inspired it. You also raise an issue that has bothered nats and reps for a long time; the majority rules principle, it cant only apply while Protestants are in the majority. But again, unity can take many different forms outside the traditional understanding. So it does not have to upset the balance radically. Ultimately the current stalemate will run its course and all sides will have to give a bit.

  • Zeno1

    When all you have left is name calling and unfounded allegations, you’re done. Honestly if I want to discuss politics with people who call me a liar or nuts, or Dude or Sweetie there are plenty of sites that cater for that.
    I don’t think this is one of them. So just be careful.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Just a few notions courtesy of a hangover and this never ending drudgery that consumes us all.

    Firstly, if a weighty fact, figure or circumstance becomes an impediment to one side then it is simply dropped, ignored or just accepted as part of the hypocritical, political terrain, all of us turn into Father Ted during one of his on the hoof explanations/lies:

    “Well Dougal, the thing about a United Ireland is that it’ll wreck our ship building and weaving industries!”

    “Ted ye big eejit, we lost those industries decades ago, we drain money, we don’t make it”

    “Ah, well…So there ya go Dougal, we’re a drain so wecant be havin a united Ireland or that sort of thing”

    “Ted, I thought you were basing the argument on a strong economic stance, now you’re basing it on a weak one?”


    “Aw now Dougal, you’ve upset Jack! You know how he gets in July?!!”

    BOWLER HAT AND A SMUG GRIN* “I marched your economy into a big wall. But I
    had my fun, and that’s all that matters….”

    So all this chat about the south not being able to support NI is just a convenience at the moment, should the south’s economy pick up (and hats off for their Herculean efforts thus far) and that argument no longer holds any water then there’ll be some other reason/fantasy.

    Turgon is refreshingly honest: many unionists see themselves
    as British only and that is that.

    End of.

    Even if the Republic had the wealth of a Gulf oil state many if not most unionists would still be against reunification.

    And personally, I’d feel a bit dirty chasing the better hand out deal. What a bunch of spongers we are.

    No pride anymore.

    Mainland Ulsterman also puts some ugly cards on the table:
    nationalism and especially SF have done a great job of making the idea of a UI
    unpalatable (supported by Dev and McQuaid) and they show no signs of making it
    any rosier:

    “AG, you’ve got issues with SF”, “We have the right to persue…” ,”What about unionism?!” blah blah… anything other than reading a simple marketing or psychology book and working out what negative association is eh? (It baffles me how many shinners profess a will to revive the Irish language but refuse to admit how damaging SF’s public association with Irish is.

    It’s probably a good thing we chopped the great forests down, for there seems to be a terrible inability to realise the woods in light of the obstructive trees in the foreground with the current generation….)

    Anyhoo, stupid times call for stupid measures, so here’s my stupid offering:


    Inspired by the unlikely combination of Turgon, Ian James Parsley and Ruairi O’Bradaigh, I propose a united Ireland in the form of a (faux) federation:

    Ireland/Erin by name but with a nine county state up north (in fact, I prefer Erin, such a lovely name and less Germanic sounding).

    We all know that many if not most loyalists are ( in a very very strange way) ‘Ulster nationalists’ of sorts (or even ‘anything-but-Irish-ists’).

    This gives them an Ulster parliament.

    It gives nationalists a UI.

    It emphasises the difference in north and south and to be fair that’s logical, one of the most cringeworthy things I’ve ever known is northern ‘more Irish than Irish’ nationalists coming down south (I lived there for a while) and trying to emphasise how Irish they were. Yuck.

    Just like loyalists trying to ‘out-British’ people.

    I say let the natural order be restored; Ireland, but with the north as a distingushable nuisance that the powers-that-be would rather fence-off than engage.

    We could (for example) have a (token) state capital in the Dungannon region (the red hand land) which could be used as an excuse to upgrade the transport network, build rail, bring employment west of the Bann.

    (Lamh Dearg House’ could fly a De Burgh ulster Flag or whatever and Leinster house could fly the old, distinctly Irish, beautiful Erin’s Harp…)

    We could have Ulster Gaelic as an official language (hint to any Shinners reading this, ‘Ulster Gaelic’ is so much more sellable than ‘Oirish’) and bang on about how different it is to theirs down south ( unionists love hearing that sort of thing, rebuild the black Pig’s Dyke while we’re at it…).

    We could put an extra special effort into retaining the Gaeltacht (the ‘free’ Irish down south appear to have been as enthusiastic as the beastly British on that matter).

    We could perhaps retain some links with Britain in the form of the BBC (please!!!!), or even just BBC Alba (sorry to harp on about it, but I think Scottish Gaelic is the key to detoxifying the image of the Irish language for many unionists).

    We could retain the RIR and absorb it into the Irish army (the regiment would hopefully embrace 2nd/3rd/4th generation Irish ‘mainlanders’ and respect the Union Flag in the way the current RIR (1st Batt!!!) respects the tricolour amongst its ranks (I was surprised too!))

    This circus/glorified Ulster council could also act as a safety net for the vast number of public servants that NI has and who would lose out in any other UI scenario.

    NI is never going to be economically self sufficiant: it would require vision, co-operation, massive cash injections and clear thinking for that to be the case. We are remarkably rubbish at all of the above (bar the last).

    With the REpublic’s corporation tax Belfast could do well.

    With the removal of fleg wars Belfast could do well.

    With a bit more stability, a relocated provincial government and a rail network that links Dungannon with Ballycastle, Glenties, Monaghan, Londonderry, Newry and Donaghadee we could ALL do well/better.

    100 years ago religion and economics were key.

    Nowadays pretendy religion and phantom economics are perceived as key.

    I say pretendy as people are not so ‘true’as they once were:

    Atheism is on the rise, as is the brand of ‘proud-to-be-a-prod-but-not-enough-to-go-to-church’ Protestantism, evangelism stalwartly does its own thing and would find the republic no more hostile than the UK
    (maybe even less so, they’re quite conservative doon south, is it a stretch to say that evangelism could do well in a UI? Worth investigating; The Lord is number one in their eyes, all else is secondary) and I can’t forget the number of ‘box-ticking Catholics’ that I met in my tech college (you know the types, head to mass on a Saturday night so they can hit the town for a session
    of drinking, riding and/or fighting so as not to have to worry about being inconvenienced with worshipping God on a Sunday morning. Really people, either
    you’re a believer or you’re not, there is no middle ground. Call yourself an agnostic
    or give up vices that the Lord frowns upon. Jeez).

    Phantom economics because once Ulster was an economic powerhouse, now unionists use the bigger begging bowl that only Westminster can fill as an ‘argument’ against a UI.

    SF uses the reduction of the duplication of services as an argument FOR a UI, despite overseeing an expensive department that embraces a duplication (and sometimes triplication) of services.

    Hypocrites the lot of them.

    As I said earlier, when logic becomes an impediment it’s quietly forgotten about.

    Now, in the above Ulster scenario everyone stands to gain something:

    Provincial pride, a united Ireland, transport links, a less eastern dependent land, the stemming of the haemorrhaging of academic talent to Britain, Westminster can jump for joy, Leinster House would have a partial reprieve from dealing with us, finally
    doing away with fleggy things and finally allowing us to get on with things.

    And we WILL need to get on with things double quick smart.

    In the East they have large highly skilled low paid workforces and feck all benefit burdens. We have to compete with that somehow.

    Arguing about parades and flags really doesn’t help.

    Any unionist leaders who may understand the lesson of Canute/Cnut and the tide might see the above vision as attractive and try to punt it under the banner of ‘Ulster Freedom’ (I mean they always regard London as tyrannous…).

    And in the unlikely even of SF taking to the idea, well, my advice would be PRETEND THAT YOU HATE IT otherwise unionists will automatically be against it.

    Right, bring on the pedantry or whataboutery, I am off to the pub where I hope to randomly bump into people from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Israel & Palestine and Lebanon and advise them as to how they can sort their sh*t out too….

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Well, it was, in that it got the IRA to stop their campaign and all nationalists to sign up to Northern Ireland remaining within the UK, without our conceding anything of substance to Dublin. We got a local self-government which most unionists wanted anyway. OK, we had to go into government with SF but with Catholics voting for the scoundrels in their droves, there was no choice there really. We rolled back the AIA of 1985; Dublin is still consulted, but in the proper, democratically legitimate, diplomatic way between national governments, without any formal obligation to take their views into account. The cross-border bodies are the kind of things any two friendly neighbouring countries could have and are not a threat to sovereignty. So I was very happy with the GFA on the whole.

    Another point, one country wouldn’t be uniting with another – it would be one part of one country uniting with another (unless the Republic wants to rejoin our country the UK). And the rule in international law is, only the people in the area to be transferred get to vote on it, for obvious reasons. The vote in the ROI is irrelevant really other than as a possible spanner in the works for a united Ireland. And note the rest of the UK has no vote, which is as it should be.

    But yes of course the UK and the ROI could both refuse NI’s wishes on sovereignty if they chose. I don’t think there are many precedents for that scenario though – it’s inconsistent with the right of self-determination – and it’s extremely unlikely to happen.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    What though is the point of this ‘unity’ if it leaves Northern Ireland largely unchanged? I suspect what many nationalists want is a Protestant exodus to the mainland – like I say, the saccharine talk of ‘unity’ is a euphemism for a much darker vision in which Protestants are comprehensively subdued – but unfortunately the people least likely to leave are the ones most likely to cause problems for any new Irish regime. You get the impression this has not really been thought through – by SF at least. I think the powers that be in the Republic have thought it through and that’s why most of them are very much hoping the North never votes for it.

    Really, we have a settlement now that suits more or less everyone – the exception being a few irredentist Republicans in NI. Is it really worth throwing away what we have now so they can settle old anti-British scores? It’s no surprise their vision of NI’s future remains as unpopular as ever.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It recognised reality and that was its power – no immediate chance of UI, any future UI unthinkable anyway without a yes vote in NI. There was nothing much actually new in it. But it got down on paper some basic principles.

    Who knows why the IRA really stopped though (if only they could talk …) My best guess is the leadership ageing, combined with renewed Loyalist onslaught, combined with over-optimistic reading of the 1991 Census, in which there was a big leap in the Catholic percentage. And they saw an opportunity to get off the hook for the carnage and get political respectability by taking credit for the lack of carnage when they stopped doing it. And boy have they played that card a few times. But something like the GFA was needed as a fig leaf so that Republicans could quietly lose without their supporters noticing. Amazing that it largely worked – they must be quite a credulous bunch. The orchestrated ‘celebrations’ upon the ceasefire were like something from a Milan Kundera novel or a Mrozek short story – absolutely priceless stuff.

  • Robin Keogh

    I doubt very much if Unity would leave NI unchanged however we can only presume what those changes might be in the absence of a solid set of proposals on which to muse in the run up to any referendum. Subdueing protestants might occupy the minds of some but it certainly is not the wish of the vast majority of irish men and women. The essence of neo-nationalism is compromise, agreement and cooperation. There is also no evidence to suggest that Protestants might flee to Britain in the evnt of Unity, on the contrary, the vast majority seem to be content to live with the outcome of any potential referendum. For sure there will be a noisy unhappy rump who will want to cause trouble for the new state, but it is unlikely that modern democracy on these islands will allow itself to be coerced by the threat of violence. Been there done that etc…… The will of the people cannot be allowed to be subversed by a small rabble who have no hope of reversing the decision once it has been taken. The settlement as it is has its merits but it has serious flaws that need to be addressed, not least the constant problems that seem to freeze the assembly. Anti-British sentiment within nationalism is a very weak and ineffective psychosis compared to what it was 40 years ago. In fact the relationship between irish and British have never been better on all levels. There exists no political or social antagonism between the two which is a fantastic achievement given the history between the two countrys. No, whatever ones view of Unity and how it might look, it is just one view amongst many, all of which are entitled to consideration and all of which will mix to bring about the fairest resolution possible, leading to a final permanent settlement.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “it is unlikely that modern democracy on these islands will allow itself to be coerced by the threat of violence”

    Hmm – yes that could never happen in Northern Ireland 😉

    “the fairest resolution possible, leading to a final permanent settlement”

    Why is the GFA not a final settlement?

    And why, after a putative pro-UI vote in NI, should unionists on the losing side accept that any more than nationalists have accepted the pro-UK vote?

    I’m not sure why – and you haven’t really explained – the problems we see now in NI would disappear, or even reduce in any way, if there were a united Ireland?

    Even after a 50+1 vote, you would still have a British community and an Irish community at near parity, much like we have now. You’d still have two nationalities sharing NI, they would just be in a different over-arching state. The question of how the communities are to get on better with each other remains untouched. There is no reason to think they would get on better; and some reason to think relations could get a lot worse, in particular a Protestant community that may be tempted to think, ‘They didn’t make it easy for us under UK sovereignty, so I’m buggered if I’m going to roll over for them now.’

    I do agree Irish-British relations, outside Northern Ireland at least, are much better now than before. But I’m not sure relations between communities inside NI are all that great, though I’m a regular visitor these days rather than a resident. The Troubles left deep fissures it will take generations to address. I don’t see a united Ireland as helping that process of healing.

    After the failed terror campaign over Irish unity and all the damage it did, I think those continuing to seek Irish unity now should be sensitive about the feelings of those damaged. And realise that the idea that Irish unity is some kind of better future leaves a bitter taste for many.

  • Robin Keogh

    well the pro UK vote is accepted and the GFA allowed for the aspiration on Unity to be persued peacefully which is as clear a sign as anyone could hope for theat the GFA was never a final settlement. Nationalists accept the status of NI on the basis of consent, should a vote change that status it is expected that Unionists will respect the wishes of the majority of NI citizens. The vast majority of people in both communities get along with each other just fine, the only issues at the moment revolve around unrest within the loyalist community over flags and parades and even that seems to have started to calm down. The days of hatred and constant violence are long gone and while they have left scars it is wholly unjust to use those scars to justify either violence or a refusal to recognise the spirit of the consent agreement. When the time comes it will be up to pro unity folk to produce their arguments why they think a UI is in the best interests of the island. Then, people can buy it or refuse it, the democratic will of the people will decide the future.

  • Ulidian Realist

    “equality” doesn’t exist. You would have thought after the millions mass murdered over the last century in the name of “equality” that that would have sunk in by now.

  • Ulidian Realist

    No, it is that they won’t be treated as fcking generously as treasonous Nationalists were under the Unionist regime, despite the fact Nationalists already gained their own self-determination to the south and that NI is a tiny tiny piece of land to ask for in compromise. Despite that, the NI state supported the nationalists being allowed to thrive and parasite off it, funding its own subversion. Being too generous has always been the fcking problem, and the solution is not more suicidal leftist BS. Not that you or any bleeding heart liberal will ever acknowledge the truth.

    You can dress it up in all the he whole idea is simply one whereby Nationalists get their cake and eat it too, and Unionists lose their right to self-determination. Push it and the mass of SF/IRA voters will reap what they have sown.

    Ulster Loyalism is one of the last bastions in the British Isles where PC multiculti diversity pro-suicide bllocks is rejected as learnt from the doses of realism over the years. As the hordes flee from the wake of destruction elsewhere we shall benefit.

  • Robin Keogh

    You seem to be suggesting we will see some sort of apocalypse in the event of Unity. Unionists will rise up against the new state? To what end? Sparking a bloody civil war will do nothing but create thousands of corpses and lives left in ruins, and at the end of it all, it will still be a United Ireland.

  • Morpheus

    Why is the GFA not a final settlement? Because it wasn’t designed to be a final settlement, simple as that. A settlement would have been: “NI will remain part of the UK” and there would have been no provision for a UI but here we are with the constitutional future in the hands of the people, where it should be. If the majority want NI to remain in the UK then it will remain part of the UK but if they want a UI then that too will happen. That’s the reality of the situation, it has been for close on 2 decades, that’s what we agreed, that’s what we voted on.

    “And why, after a putative pro-UI vote in NI, should unionists on the losing side accept that any more than nationalists have accepted the pro-UK vote?”

    In what way have Nationalists not accepted the will of the majority post-GFA? Unionists have already signed up to accept the democratic will of the majority if a UI vote is successful. In fact almost 9 out of 10 have confirmed their intention to live by the democratic wishes of the majority.

    There will be those intent on violence but that is why we have the police, courts and prisons – same as we do now.

    No one has said that the problems we now face will stop and that everything will be just cushty from then on. No one in reality actually thinks that a UI is utopia, the land of milk and honey or Valhalla – it will be a country like any other with real problems like any other.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree with your realism about what a change of sovereignty might bring – not the end of the world but not progressive change either. And you’re right the situation now is as it should be, with the future of Northern Ireland in the hands of the people of Northern Ireland. Nationalism opposed that for most of the 20th Century of course – but better late than never. What I question though is the wisdom of pushing for a change to that, when it’s generally accepted to be working. If we’re being neutral about it, there is no obvious reason to seek that kind of change. I think there is much more logic around seeking amendments to the border as should have happened in 1925; but that’s another debate.

    You ask: “In what way have Nationalists not accepted the will of the majority post-GFA?”

    They have and they haven’t. They are working within the GFA institutions and they sign up in theory to the GFA. But listening to and reading Nationalist discourse post-GFA it’s clear many have not let the old shibboleths go. For instance:
    – in historical references to partition, it is routinely portrayed as wrongful;
    – the Northern Ireland state retains a taint of illegitimacy and a sense of temporariness, as displayed in your posts, and the plan remains to get rid of it (which doesn’t really sit easily with accepting the will of the people)
    – attempts to portray everyone on the island as simply “Irish”, with other strands of identity dismissed, are still common
    – the mainstream nationalist narrative of NI history since 1921 still tends to portray the Unionist administrations as somehow illegitimately elected. (The reality was that they were lazy, incompetent, conservative and prejudiced. But they were in government because they kept winning elections. The nature of nationalist opposition to the NI state was such that the elections were a shoe-in for any party that could offer the unionist electorate, in those days a big majority, security against that existential threat.)
    – there’s also the apparent taking offence at the Union Flag, which also suggests a failure to accept the legitimacy of British sovereignty in the province.

    Just saying, for all the acceptance of Good Friday on paper, nationalism seems at the same time to want to keep grumbling about the legitimacy of the NI state. It’s no small thing, it’s a big reason I think why many unionists are so skeptical of the GFA settlement – the leopards do not seem to have changed their spots, reason many, so why should we? If nationalism just lived up to the new acceptance of Britishness it signed up to in 1998, it would be transformative.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “When the time comes …”
    Let’s wait and see if these mysterious arguments, kept under wraps so they’re nice and fresh when they see the light of day, ever materialise. Something of the Wizard of Oz about them I suspect …

    Also, don’t believe the problems around flags can be siphoned off as some marginal issue – it’s a signal of a deeper malaise. There is a real sense of injustice prevalent among unionists – as reflected in the polls you refer to and which I also read. There’s a sense that nationalists have been unfairly favoured (which started with the govt bending over backwards to keep SF in the process while its IRA half were robbing banks and murdering people).

    It’s about two things: (1) how the Troubles are portrayed in the apparent new media orthodoxy (as equal conflict rather than one-sided terrorist assault) and (2) in how nationalism seems to trying to de-British-ise Northern Ireland.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    In a sense there can be no final settlement in that the people always have a right to change their minds on sovereignty. You can never say NI will always be part of the UK, or for that matter, that it will always be part of the Republic, even if it has one vote that way. But the GFA was designed to be as close to a final settlement as possible – “Endgame in Ireland” as David McKittrick put it. At the very least, the politicians in London and Dublin and most of the NI ones didn’t want this to need re-doing for 20-30 years. I expect a lot were thinking 50 years. What it wasn’t supposed to be, except in the delusional minds of some in SF, was a mere stepping stone.

    (That some nationalist politicians wanted to see it as a stepping stone suggests, btw, that they indeed recognise the deal isn’t the brilliant success for nationalism they pretended it was.)

  • Morpheus

    No, not even close to a final settlement – that was the point of it.
    NI remaining part of the UK forever and a day = no agreement.
    NI on a fast track to a UI = no agreement.
    The people of NI free to decide for themselves = agreement.

    Both UK and UI constitutional paths are catered for in the GFA ergo it’s not even close to being a final settlement. It’s an agreement, it’s right there in the name

  • Morpheus

    Amendments to the border? By that do you mean the green areas in this chart becoming part of the RoI?

    1. Partition is portrayed as wrongful because illegally importing guns and ammunition to overthrow the democratic wishes of the majority then hammering a section of the community into the ground through misrule, partisan policing, discrimination and electoral abuse was wrong.

    2. My posts only describes NI in temporary terms in the sense that the people have the mechanism there to change it if they want. It is perfectly feasible that the end of The Orange State is enough to ensure that NI remains part of the UK but those are the 2 options for NI, part of a UI or within the UK with Catholics -who refuse to vote for unionist parties – being the largest group.

    3. Who is trying to portray everyone in Ireland as Irish? I’ll need a bit more to go on to conclude that this is not coming from a place of paranoia rather than reality.

    4. Electoral abuse ensured that unionist politicians stayed in power. After the abolition of Plural Voting in the rest of the UK it was kept in Northern ireland for a further 20 years.

    5. Few take exception to The Union Flag – few grrrr when they see it flying in Manchester or Liverpool for example. What they take offense at was how it was abused and misused for generations in Northern Ireland. Take a look at how it has been used as a weapon, a disguise, a ‘keep out’ marker etc to see why it has become toxic in NI, the same as the Tricolour.

  • Alan N/Ards

    You need to pack in your job and get into politics. Spot on post.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    1. But it left fewer people in the wrong country than the Irish Nationalist solution did. The guns were wrong obviously, but irrelevant to the correctness of the border.
    2. Not necessarily given the slow growth rate of the Catholic population. But more to the point, Catholic does not equal nationalist.
    3. I’ve been told many times on Slugger I’m Irish whether I like it or not; and plenty of other places too. It shouldn’t happen but it does. It’s not paranoia, it was Irish government policy, SF and SDLP policy that we were “Irish” regardless of whatever else we called ourselves, right up until 1998. The IRA fought a 30 year terrorist campaign to force us to be ‘Irish’. Repeating the mantra ‘unionist paranoia’ is comforting for nationalists but is laughable given how we’ve been treated.
    4. At a council level yes and it shouldn’t have happened. Electoral abuse however made no significant difference to the outcome of Stormont elections – and that is where unionist power lay.
    5. It does have that dual role. I don’t like seeing the tricolour, as it reminds me of the IRA – even in Dublin – but when I’m there I have to recognise it’s my problem really to deal with, as it’s the state flag there. The same should apply to the Union jack in NI – nationalists may have bad associations with it, which I understand, but it is also the state flag, legitimately flying in NI because of democratic choices by its people on the region’s sovereignty. So yes you don’t have to love it but I think you do have to get over your own feelings too. The flag has more than one role and more than one meaning.

  • Annie Breensson

    I’ve been told many times on Slugger I’m Irish whether I like it or not; and plenty of other places too
    Would those other places include Great Britain, where you are regarded as a ‘Paddy’, or a ‘Mick’; no matter how much you may protest otherwise?

    democratic choices by its people on the region’s sovereignty
    Would they be the democratic choices imposed by paramilitaries using ‘smuggled’ weapons?