Murphy: Does continued Partition or Irish unity offer better future

In the aftermath of the Scottish referendum, Sinn Fein have renewed their push for a border poll here. The party’s MP for Newry and Armagh, Conor Muprhy writes for Slugger making the case for holding a poll and Irish unity.

On the 18th of September the people of Scotland exercised their democratic voice on the future of the Scottish Nation.  Throughout the referendum the people of Scotland engaged in an informed and respectful debate and they have now made their choice.  The Scottish referendum and subsequent decision demonstrates that the people are sovereign and that change is possible.

The turnout in the referendum in Scotland demonstrated the power of engagement and democracy.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised that powers to be transferred to Scotland would also be extended to the Stormont Executive.  We need to ensure that this promise is delivered.

Sixteen years ago the Good Friday Agreement was endorsed by the vast majority of people on this island. The Agreement delivered power-sharing institutions and interdependent all-Ireland structures putting the principle of equality at the heart of politics. The Agreement provides the ground rules for peaceful and democratic constitutional change through concurrent Border Polls north and south.

Irish unity is now achievable through peaceful and democratic means now in the ownership of the people north and south free from external interference. The days of Maggie Thatcher’s ‘Out, Out, Out’ and Ian Paisley’s ‘Never, Never, Never, Never’ are over.

The British Government and Political Unionist veto on change is now gone. Those in favour of the status quo must prove the case to retain partition.

The challenge has been put to republicans to outline the detail of what a unified state would look like, how it would operate and even what flag would be flown.

The starting point for the debate is whether Irish unity or continued partition makes sense in the 21st century. Is the interest of the people best served by a truly national and representative democracy or continuing as a peripheral issue in Westminster?

The next question, if Irish unity is agreed is the type of Ireland the people want.

The type of nation building and island wide reconciliation that Sinn Féin is working towards is not about grafting the north onto the current political, cultural and economic status quo of the south.

Nor are we interested in simple majorities in which the winner takes all. We are seeking new, agreed and united Ireland not just for republicans but for all of us who share this island.

We want to build a just, fair and equal Ireland. An economically, socially and culturally diverse Ireland. The Border Poll is only one step within the process of nation building and reconciliation.

Following agreement on constitutional change there would be a process of constitutional discussion and transition. The process of national reconciliation would of course parallel and extend beyond all of this.

Identity, Flag and Emblems

The Good Friday Agreement makes clear that regardless of outcome of a Border Poll there will be;

‘full respect for, and equality of, civil, political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos, and aspirations of both communities’

This binding commitment must shape and inform the debate on building an inclusive united Ireland. Symbols and emblems must reflect our society and diverse identities. 

Many aspects of constitutional and political change will need to be discussed and agreed. This process will represent challenges to all sections of the community including republicans.

We want to build an inclusive unified Ireland that can claim the allegiance of all and exclude none.

United Ireland Economy

Let’s be clear, simply maintaining the status quo in the form of two separate competing economies on a tiny island will not deliver prosperity for the people of this island.

There are no advantages for an island nation of 6.4 million people on the edge of Europe having separate tax regimes, regulatory and legal systems, disparate economic development agencies and programmes, divergent and competing investment strategies and economic policies.  Harmonised policies, laws and structures across the island is central to creating a fully integrated and healthy economy. 

A united Ireland government would provide a single, focused and democratically accountable    policy to manage the economy and provide for fair progressive taxation, regulation and trade. It would provide the tools to create greater opportunities for growth and employment by creating a better business climate for advancement of entrepreneurial spirit north and south.

The northern economy is peripheral to both the British Economy and the political machinations of Westminster.  Economic policy developed in London has been driven by the needs of Britain or as the Scottish people have said the British economy is driven by the needs of England or London.  It is certainly not driven by the needs of the people of Ireland north and south. The debate on EU membership, the British HGV levy, and the current welfare cuts agenda represent but a few examples of British policy development that has ignored the needs of the people of the north.

It’s time unionism stopped hiding behind the word subvention and begin the debate as to how we grow the economy for the benefit of all.

We want Ireland, North and South to be self-sustaining in terms of economy and public services. We believe that the economy can and should grow significantly when the costs of partition are removed and the full potential of an integrated island economy is unleashed.

Public Services in a United Ireland

A strong economy can support comprehensive public services.  A new agreed and United Ireland will allow for the development of fully integrated public services throughout this island for the benefit of all citizens.  

For example we could transform how we deliver health services across the island.  The total spend per capita within the current overall health system in the south is more than the per capita spend in the north or in Britain.  With vision, commitment and determination we could deliver better services to all the people of Ireland. 

Sinn Féin has called for a Border poll to be conducted in the next political term. We are not seeking a sectarian headcount but an informed, reasoned and respectful dialogue.

The Scottish people have led the way on this and shown clearly that it is possible to have a respectful and democratic debate and referendum.

The question of Irish Unity is about a fundamental democratic choice for us all. Is an all-Ireland government representative of all the people best placed to deliver prosperity, equality and reconciliation or should that ultimately rest with an unaccountable and unelected government in Westminster.

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  • Blah, blah, blah.

  • Morpheus

    Can’t fault the logic in that reasoned addition

  • Zeno1

    “Those in favour of the status quo must prove the case to retain partition.”

    No they don’t Conor. They don’t have to do anything at all. The don’t even have to go out and vote unless a referendum ever comes Conor because remaining part of the union is the default position. Don’t be trying to shift the persuasion.

  • barnshee

    .” We are not seeking a sectarian headcount but an informed, reasoned and respectful dialogue.”

    ahahahahahah

  • Zeno1

    Where’s all the Shinner Drones? Has Conor been hung out to dry on this one?

  • Michael Henry

    Conor does not need any help as his words speaks Volume’s for the support of a people whilst the few opposed to him Support Tory cuts-

  • Zeno1

    LOL, that went right over your head.

    Actually did all the local politicians not oppose “Tory cuts” or Welfare Reform to give it it’s correct name in Parliament? Obviously SF didn’t oppose it there.

  • Croiteir

    50% +1 would do me. Unionism can then come cap in hand for their best deal available but I would not be generous.

  • Zeno1

    That’s the way to persuade unionists into a United IRELAND……………. Oh wait!!

  • Tacapall

    “No they don’t Conor. They don’t have to do anything at all because remaining part of the union is the default position”

    Thats what the problem is and why a border poll should be held every seven years, the above position seems to be the default position with unionism and loyalism in government too.

  • Zeno1

    There is no one to blame for that situation except Sinn Fein. The sharpest political party in Western Europe should have had a Border Poll set in the agreement for 2016 or 2021 before they signed up.

    Ask them why they didn’t.

  • tmitch57

    “The next question, if Irish unity is agreed is the type of Ireland the people want.”
    Pray tell me Mr. Murphy what that sentence even means. I have to assume that you started with a text in Irish and something got lost in the translation.

  • Tacapall

    How is it Sinn Fein’s fault are we all not equal in the union ?

  • mickfealty

    Sorry for the snips, but if we are going to go to the trouble of bringing in guest bloggers in can we just try to focus enough to have on topic comments.

    For those frustrated with the comment system, you need to register with Disqus separately. Then log in is relatively easy with Twitter, FB, Google or Disqus itself.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Tac

    That’s an interesting point, watching the water slowly rise around them could perhaps be the only thing to make them realise that fleggy-orientated politics is not appealing to the voting masses.

    Though, from what I’ve witnessed so far they’d probably revert to the old last minute ‘pulling of the pin’ strategy (and watch as nothing happens but an impotent puff).

    But yes, in theory having the heat turned up could force them to make NI more appealing to people in general rather than just the ‘WATP’ brigade.

    Imagine going down in history as the unionist leader that ‘lost’ NI? (though really you could apply that to most unionist leaders?)

  • Peter Doran

    “The starting point for the debate is whether Irish unity or continued partition makes sense in the 21st century. Is the interest of the people best served by a truly national and representative democracy or continuing as a peripheral issue in Westminster?

    “The next question, if Irish unity is agreed is the type of Ireland the people want.”

    Conor

    I suspect the ‘next’ question is not the ‘next’ question at all. The question of what ‘type of Ireland the people want’ is pivotal. By constructing a compelling and re-imagined polity that transcends borders, categories of nation that do not live up to the promise of pluralism and inclusiveness (e.g. what about an explicit ‘plurinational’ state as in Ecuador?) and resituations patriotism and love of country/land in an ecological paradigm (e.g. appealing to pre-Christian celtic understandings of being with nature), the whole debate would take on a fresher complexion.

    There is something to be said for anticipating the kind of society you want to create in the very way in which you choose to raise the question. Rather than present alternative templates that over-determine the future (and force a reaction, a defensiveness that simply encourages the opposition to fall back on the familiar and the secure), there is a need to raise the question in a way that takes seriously a quality of ’emergence’, ‘openness’, ‘co-authorship’, ‘inclusion’ and radical new takes on identity (including an alignment of ‘national’ love of the land to a practical commitment to the commons’). On both sides of the border, nationalism is a narrow anthropocentric screen that has allowed ‘developers’ to colonize our relationship with land and property to the exclusion of all that’s worth preserving today and for future generations.

    Peter

  • Croiteir

    Why should I worry – they either negotiate when they have something to offer or not – the choice is theirs

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    First question I would have thought of would have been “what kind of UI can SF deliver?”.

    It’s all fine and well saying the right things and shaking the Queen’s hand and being seen as the ‘good guys’ but what is the actual trade-able capital from this?

    How many unionists are willing to countenance any form of SF approved Ireland?

    SF seem to forget that they forfeited their credibility in unionist eyes whilst they were justifying the murder of census workers and pensioners etc

    Sorry.

    Tis the truth.

    You can either examine that hard question or open up a (gargantuan sized) jar of whataboutery and deflect the question.

    So,

    1/ Can SF EVER be the respectable and pragmatic custodians of a UI? Y/N

    If ‘yes’, then how?

    If ‘no’, then what? Carry on as we are now? How’s that working out for everyone?

    2/ Are there any unionists willing to contemplate a UI under any circumstances? Y/N

    (The answer is yes BTW). How then can they be enticed? Who could entice them?

    Has SF played its role in the quest for a UI as much as it can?

    If so, then who could replace them?

    Is it time for some sort of republican evolution? (They have the advantage there given that so many unionists seemingly don’t believe in evolution at all).

    Also, is it not a bit rich for SF to talk about ‘integrated public services’ (and indeed budget cuts) when they are responsible for department in NI that has duplicated (sometimes triplicated) services?

    It’s this saying one thing and doing the other that helps to shore up unionist suspicion with regards to SF.

    Put your money where your mouth is.

    SF (or ‘unificationism’ in general) should have the advantage as the current unionist trajectory is a ‘from my cold dead hands’ approach and it seemingly doesn’t want to make NI a place for all.

    Any one advocating or actively pursuing a UI should make the most of this potentially fatal mistake and exploit it fully.

    Flippantly speaking, the only way I could see SF furthering the prospects of a UI is by faking some sort of split with a group of young turks (untainted by Provo bloodstains) dropping nationalism, MOPEry, saying the dreaded words ‘Northern Ireland’ when appropriate, not worrying about Provo-cultism and working on pragmatic campaign to unite Ireland (a more United Irishmen type thing) and indeed unite people.

    They wouldn’t have to cannibalise many SF seats to get attention and they could present themselves as the true spokespeople for a UI.

    They could work on the small but crucial minority of unionists who could be tempted with a UI, cos lets face it, NI will never be prosperous within the UK, we have an ‘acceptable level of impoverishment/incompetence and we really can’t aim much higher within the UK.
    Not everyone is happy being the beggarman of the UK.

    To answer the title question the current underachieving model of partition doesn’t work well and suppresses potential but no one is willing to take the necessary steps needed for a UI which offers bags of potential.

    So, better the Devil you know…

    (BTW, out of curiosity, how many northern Protestant politicians are there in SF these days? There was yer man Leonard, has anyone else come forward since?)

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Oh, and another thing:

    I’ve just been reminded on another thread about this:

    If SF want to dispel the myth that they are pike-sharpening and out for revenge would they consider some sort of out reach program to the descendants of Anglo-Irish who were expelled back in the day?

    And to help them retrieve their old properties and maybe do something with these once great buildings?

    It would be a great myth-buster in terms of the commonly held perception that in a UI there will be a night of the long knives against Protestants, can you imagine the Newsletter running with the headline “SF TO AID IMPORT OF AGGREIVED PROTESTANTS” or such like?
    That would knock the wind out of a few orange sails.

    (Enter whataboutery)

  • Morpheus

    FFS, writing a date for a referendum into the GFA? Yeah, that would make perfect sense, ignore what’s happening in the real word and ignore future public opinion and set a date in 1998 for a referendum decades laters. Genius.

    What is written into the GFA was as it should be, NI is part of the UK until the majority say otherwise. It is vague (to everyone except Zeno obviously being the only one who has a ‘modicum of intelligence’ apparently) and the triggers for the poll do need to be confirmed so everyone knows where they stand but it’s pretty obvious they all had other things to worry about in 1998 rather than the mechanism for a referendum at some point in the future.

    Northern Ireland is part of the UK until the majority say otherwise in a referendum – confirm the triggers for that referendum and all this speculation goes away

  • Tochais Siorai

    (Enter think it through before you post, Am)
    Seriously. How did the Anglo-Irish acquire that land? How did they afford those ‘once great buildings.’? Come on, they were parasites living off the backs of their half starved or starving tenants.
    Maybe we could set up a new land commission to take the old estate lands back off the local people they were reallocated to (often too many for political reasons making the units uneconomic but that’s another story) & hand it back to the gentry………………Shure n begorrah, sorr, isn’t it great entirely to have ye back, the place hasn’t been the same since ye left. Th’oul praities aren’t lookin the best, though……

  • Max

    How about we have the best of both worlds and let people work out what system is best for them! Only then will people see that life is either better under a UI or UK!

    Example
    Anyone in the north can move onto Irish model with PPS numbers and can avail of the southern social welfare system. They move onto an ROI based tax code and similar salary bands. People can choose to remain on UK based welfare and tax system.

    All major utilities, Hospitals, Public Services etc..are funded equally by both UK and ROI governments. Businesses can decide which tax model they want to pay into. Let people decide which system is right for them before any border poll is held.

    Sounds far fetched, but we already have lots of integration with the south here. Why not take it a few steps further. I certainly know what model I would move onto.

  • Old Mortality

    This is completely aspirational and tells us nothing new: “We believe that the economy can and should grow significantly when the costs of partition are removed and the full potential of an integrated island economy is unleashed.” Why?
    And he takes the outcome of a poll south of the border for granted. That could be the biggest risk for SF. What would it do for their morale if a sizeable majority decided that, on balance, they’d rather not assume the burden of 198,000 people who have decided they are unable to work under any circumstances?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’m perfectly serious:

    SF want (I think?) Protestants to cease thinking that a UI involves a night of the long knives and general pike sharpening.

    This small gesture could facilitate that.

    The old buildings are rotting anyway so it’s no skin off your nose or mine if something is done to encourage people to return to places like Moydrum Castle.

    So, if you’re a person with hopes of reunification then this could be a (small) step towards that.

    It’s an inexpensive gesture with some potential benefit and PR potential.

    Sure, single them out for being rich at the expense of others, just be sure that you do it too to rich folk in Villas in the Mediterranean, Castles in Germany, houses in the Hamptons or Castles in Scotland.

  • Starviking

    Well, people in Westminster constuencies reperesented by SF are certainly not equal – SF refuses to represent them. That may be ok with SF voters, but MPs are supposed to not only please those who voted for them, but also represent those who did not.

  • Tacapall

    Starviking I was thinking more along the lines of the Scottish or Welsh people dont need permission of a British overlord to hold a referendum on leaving the union so why should Irish people. Im from West Belfast and I couldn’t give a monkeys ass that Sinn Fein dont take their seats in Westminster I dont vote in British elections so British MPs could never represent me in any government.

    “The sharpest political party in Western Europe should have had a Border Poll set in the agreement for 2016 or 2021 before they signed up”

    Zeno If mandatory coalition is up for renegotiation then so is all parts of the agreement.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Alas that is true Croiteir.

    Strike while the iron is hot (or lukewarm in their case)

  • SickenMyShite

    Its not a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’. Both main town are no longer loyalist strongholds and the rural towns are changing rapidly.The Westminster set would love to see it happen, unlike like Scotland the 6 counties are a money pit.

  • Tochais Siorai

    There may be gestures to be made but I’ll be damned if this is one of them! If the remnants of the Anglo Irish gentry are interested in returning to their ‘roots’ which I’d imagine bugger all are, they can buy any abandoned big houses on the open market. If you’re suggesting that they should be financially aided in doing so then I despair.

    In that scenario, the nearest comparison I can think of perhaps is the descendants of some Junker families who returned & bought their old haunts in Eastern Germany (& Western Poland) in the last couple of decades. Some of them even tried to get their old lands back via legal channels but the Federal German courts gave them short shrift backing the original (GDR) land reforms.

    Anyway, I’m not singling them out for being rich. It’s how they got to be rich in the first place (what are your thoughts on that one?) – anyhow I suspect that most of these families are not so rich now that they’re not living off the backs of Irish peasantry).

    With regard to Scotland, 500 people own 1/2 the land of the country. Another 2000 or so own the next 1/4. You think that’s right? I think I’d give them time to pack a bag (not that most of them even live there in the first place).

  • WhereDoIGetOff?

    AG,
    In reply to this—-

    “How many unionists are willing to countenance any form of SF approved Ireland?

    SF seem to forget that they forfeited their credibility in unionist eyes whilst they were justifying the murder of census workers and pensioners etc

    Sorry.

    Tis the truth.

    You can either examine that hard question or open up a (gargantuan sized) jar of whataboutery and deflect the question.”
    I’d like to offer some practical helpful hints for the ballot slip.
    Firstly, it needn’t be a yes/no question. It can be a yes to option A or yes to option B type thing.
    For example:
    A. I would like to remain a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but will not freak out if a majority of people vote for option B.
    B. I would like to become a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, but will respect the wishes of the majority if a majority chooses option A.
    Or
    A. I choose that the six counties currently referred to as Northern Ireland join with the other 26 counties to form one nation called “Ireland,” and agree to respect the results of this referendum…..
    B. I choose that Northern Ireland remain part of the U.K….
    A disclaimer could be added to any ballot, stating that a vote for a United Ireland in no way constitutes support for or forgiveness of the IRA campaign of violence during the period known as “The Troubles,” and also maybe something stating the words “Sinn Fein” will not be incorporated into the name of the new nation and any endorsement of unification is not an endorsement of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuiness, beards, illegal fuel smuggling, etc. and so on.
    Also, half the ballots could have the pro-union option as “A” and the pro-Ireland option as “B”, and the other half of the ballots be vicey-versey, so that no proliferation of graffiti saying to kill all A or B voters would result and there would be no appearance of favouritism for Option A over Option B. Computerised ballots could randomly jumble the A and B options.
    When someone asks how you voted, you can just say I voted A or I voted B, mind your own business.

  • Zeno1

    “Scottish or Welsh people dont need permission of a British overlord to hold a referendum on leaving the union”

    Why don’t SF go ahead and have a referendum them instead of bowing down to their Lizard , sorry British overlords.

  • Zeno1

    Why would they come cap in hand when there is nothing to suggest a United Ireland will ever happen?
    Don’t come back with the growing Catholic Population, as it has grown over the last 16 years the Nationalist vote has declined by 60,000.

  • Bryan Magee

    For NI to leave the UK it needs to develop economically. Otherwise the people of Ireland- collectively – lose too much from a UI for it to happen.

  • David

    The elephant in the room is that poll after poll consistently show support for a UI in the north to be woefully low and if anything falling.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    TS

    You are probably correct that the descendants of people burned out of their homes probably have little interest in returning to that land.

    However, how do you or I or anyone else lose by having some one track down the descendants of the people of e.g Ardtully House http://www.abandonedireland.com/Ardtully.html and saying “look, this is yours, Ireland has changed especially in the south we just want to make the place better. Interested?”

    If they say yes then potentially something could be done with the place.

    If they say no then have the government take it over (assuming they haven’t already done so) and sell it for a song on the open market (but add a restriction that it is not to be cowped, rather restored).

    I’m just trying to move things along a bit and you’re getting bogged down in other arguments.

    So, is the notion (if practical) that I outlined above feasible and could it be construed as a significant outreach to people?

    (Bear in mind I’m not suggesting financial assistance, a restoration of their lands or any other extreme scenario that you can come up with).

  • Kevin Breslin

    If people were given a referendum on Stormont Reform, A Good Friday Two, they would probably take it. A big U Unionist proposal headed up by the DUP and UUP with Jim Allister leaching on would be trashed to shreds right now, and could help the likes of Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and perhaps even the PUP and UKIP grow

  • Kevin Breslin

    Not if you believe UKIP, there is so Anglocrntric energies about kicking the Ulster Scroungers out and the Celtic fringe of Britain with them.

  • Reader

    I was thinking more along the lines of the Scottish or Welsh people dont need permission of a British overlord to hold a referendum on leaving the union so why should Irish people.
    Actually, the Scottish did need permission. However, when the SNP (a party with a referendum in their manifesto) got an absolute majority in the Scottish parliament, Cameron immediately allowed a referendum. [And he got a nifty quote out of it too : “But I am also a democrat. And it was right that we respected the SNP’s
    majority in Holyrood and gave the Scottish people their right to have
    their say.”]
    I am sure he would do the same for SF and the SDLP, but actually the Secretary of State’s credibility-test threshold is likely to be passed first.

  • barnshee

    “they consider some sort of out reach program to the descendants of Anglo-Irish who were expelled back in the day?”

    I think the post concerns the tradesmen,small farmers,shopkeepers and misc professional who were dispossessed

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Year-Disappearances-Political-1920-1921/dp/0717147487

    ” change the demographic of the south-eastern corner of the city for ever, with hundreds of families fleeing and up to fifty individuals buried in unmarked graves in surrounding areas”

    ah sure it never happened

  • Paddy Reilly

    Your predictions do not factor in the effect of varying
    turnout, caused by the importance or otherwise of the election at hand.

    In the 2009 European Elections the (final) Unionist vote was
    just under 248,000, whereas in 2014 it was 315, 295. If the Unionist vote hadstayed consistent, then the SDLP would have sailed home with 20,000 votes tospare. All that this means is that when there is a realistic possibility of
    gain or loss, the parties are able to get their voters out in full. The 2014 election was perceived as one in which there was a clear and present danger of Unionist loss, so the class of Unionists who are normally too bored to vote
    were persuaded to return to the urns.

    At the next General Election the voting percentages for both
    Catholic and Protestant voters in North Belfast will soar, because there is a genuine possibility, some might say inevitability, that the seat will change hands. However the percentages in Mid Ulster will continue to decline, because
    it has largely dawned on Unionists that they are not going to retake this seat.

    In 27 months time there will be a Catholic majority in
    Northern Ireland. Now despite the legion of Unionists who insist how many Catholic Unionists there are, an examination of the returns http://belfastmediagroup.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/05/Screen-Shot-2013-05-21-at-14.29.37-15.54.432.png
    shows that whenever there is a Catholic majority in a constituency, a Nationalist M.P. is inevitably returned. The only constituency with a Catholic majority which does not return a Nationalist M.P. is North Belfast, and that did not have a Catholic majority at the time of the last General Election.

    So there will inevitably be a sea-change in Catholic
    attitudes after 27 months. But given that there are no quantum leaps, what will happen first is that all of Northern Ireland will be in the position that Belfast is in now: a Nationalist plurality trying to call the shots: a continually
    shrinking Unionist rump and a fairly sizeable Alliance block, which will to some extent act as an arbiter, but will be under tremendous pressure, from within and without, to go with the larger Nationalist block.

  • Paddy Reilly
  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Barnshee

    Before this turns into some tit for tat; given that books like that are used to shore-up the convictions of some on the unionist side that such treatment awaits them in a UI then does it not make sense from a pro-unification party’s point of view to do something to assuage such fears?

    I’m struck by the irony that my suggestion ties in with Murphy’s quote above: “We want to build an inclusive unified Ireland that can claim the allegiance of all and exclude none”

    I wonder should he have added “…except the descendants of expelled Anglos, they can stay where they are…”

  • Zeno1

    “In 27 months time there will be a Catholic majority in
    Northern Ireland.”

    The Census showed the Catholic Population at 40.6% if I remember correctly.
    I don’t go along with the idea that Catholics will all suddenly become Nationalist if they do become a majority.

    Ah, I see below that you mean people from a Catholic background rather than actual Catholics. Are we assuming that All these background Catholics are Republicans and all background Protestants Unionist, and that no other group of people exist even though almost half the population say they are neither? Forgive me but it seems you are expecting a lot of people to jump out of the bushes dressed in green and waving Tricolours.

  • Paddy Reilly

    You must be operating on a different census. I took the trouble of appending the Official one in my link. In 2011 there 817,815 Catholics in NI, and 875, 717 Protestants. The Catholic population is rising, at a rate which can be calculated by comparing it to the 2001 figures, and the Protestant population is falling. They cross over at the end of 2016.

    Whether there is a centre depends on the number of options presented. If there is simply a question yes or no, there is no centre. In the European Parliament elections, with only 3 seats, there is no Alliance representation. In Westminster elections, no potentially Nationalist seat has been lost by Catholics voting for Alliance, though one potentially Unionist seat has.

    In Stormont, there are a couple of places where Nationalists have missed out on the chance of a seat due to Catholics giving their first preference to Alliance, but Unionists have lost significantly more.

  • Superdelli

    The glaring omission is that said endorsement of the GFA included Ireland voting to remove its claim on Norniron. By a margin of about 90%, if memory serves. Id say that was a fairly conclusive Border Poll right there.
    Of course, the lesson from Scotland is that membership of the SNP is booming in the aftermath of the referendum and its publicity, and presumably the shinners are hoping for a similar effect.

  • Zeno1
  • Paddy Reilly

    What we have here is an example of skewing the results by allowing multiple choices. 40.6% of what? A significant percentage didn’t answer the question. Then there were those who claimed to be of no religion. Just because you are of no religion doesn’t mean you are of no politics.

    Nor do I imagine that everyone on the list is going to be leprechaun suited and waving a tricolour. Enthusiasm is unnecessary: the vote of an arch Republican, signed in blood, has the same validity in our system as the unenthusiastic ‘I suppose I’d better’ of a life-long cynic. All that is required is that, given a binary choice, the voter comes down on the Nationalist side.

  • Zeno1

    So the core of your argument is that everyone from a Catholic or Protestant background is either a Republican or a Unionist?

    They will then all vote accordingly if a Border Poll is called?

    And in just 27 months background Catholics will be in a majority and a United Ireland vote will succeed?

  • Paddy Reilly

    The figures, which I took care to append below, show that in every constituency in which there is a Catholic majority a SF or SDLP member is returned, and every constituency where there is a Protestant majority, a DUP member, or Lady Hermon, or Alliance member is returned. So we would expect North Belfast to fall to Nationalist control at one of the next 2 elections.

    So, when there is a Catholic majority in NI as a whole (2017 onwards) we would expect this to be reflected by Martin McGuinness, or his successor in title, becoming First Minister. One would also expect the UUP to lose their seat at the 2019 European parliamentary elections.

    I myself would consider it dangerous to start agitating for a United Ireland before 3 more constituencies (presumably Upper Bann, South Antrim, East Londonderry) turn Nationalist.

    So the road map, which needs to be followed in its entirety, is like this:

    1) N. Belfast won by SF. Nationalists are 50% of the MPs.

    2) Nationalist gains at Stormont make McGuinness 1st minister.

    3) SDLP take seat from UUP in 2019.

    4) Further nationalist wins at Westminster.

    5) New Agreement superseding GFA.

    6) Creation of All Ireland education system, Police Force, etc

    7) Unification of Ireland

  • Zeno1

    It all sounds a bit optimistic to me. Are you making any allowances for Unionist electoral pacts?
    Besides, just because Nationalists have a majority of MLA’s or MP’s does not mean that a UI Poll will succeed.
    Do you think it does mean that?

    Nationalist Parties attract a good bit less than 300,000 voters. To win a referendum almost double that number will have to vote for UI. But again a good bit less than 300,000 people say they are Nationalist.
    Do you think that people who say they are not Nationalist will vote for a United Ireland???

  • Paddy Reilly

    I might seem to be avoiding your question, whether the core of my argument is that everyone from a Catholic or Protestant background is either a Republican or a Unionist? But it seems to me that this is less a question and more of an attempt to subvert my argument by changing it into something else. If it were true, it would be only necessary to show that there is one Protestant Republican or Catholic Unionist in order to falsify it.

    What I am actually saying is that there is a strong association between Catholicism and Nationalist voting. This is sufficient to predict all the seats in Westminster.

    At Stormont, the association is weaker. It seems that 20% of the population of Lagan valley is Catholic, and yet it does not return a single Nationalist. This only happens in predominantly Unionist areas. The census also shows that there are sufficient Protestants in West Belfast to return a Unionist MLA, if they were all Unionist. That this does not happen may be because some of these ‘Protestants’ are the spouses and parents of Catholics and fully integrated into the republican movement.

  • Paddy Reilly

    I am unaware that the population of Northern Ireland has ever been questioned in toto as to whether or not it is Nationalist. What I suspect this means that you are misinterpreting the 2011 Census’s question as to how one desribes oneself as a commitment to vote in a particular way. It is not.

  • Paddy Reilly

    The poll before a United Ireland was a requirement of the GFA, in 1998. But the electorate of 2017 is not bound by the GFA, as it is a different set of people, with different emphases: it can negotiate a new agreement, which reflects its own views, and not those of people long dead or emigrated.

    The aim of a Nationalist 1st Minister of a newly Nationalist majority NI would be to seek out ways of increasing his majority as rapidly as possible. This could be done by a greater integration of the All-Ireland infrastructure, with more Southerners coming North, and more Northerners going South. After 18 years of the Peace process, it will be time to move forward to the integration process.

  • Zeno1

    I’m not, they are asked every year and the figure remains fairly constant.
    25% Nationalist 29% Unionist 46% Neither.

  • Zeno1

    “But the electorate of 2017 is not bound by the GFA,”

    What? Where did you get that idea?

  • Paddy Reilly

    It’s called democracy. The GFA derives its validity from the fact that in 1998 a majority of the electorate voted for it, and we do not bother to renegotiate it because we believe that today’s electorate is not significantly different. But when it becomes apparent that tomorrow’s electorate thinks differently, a new Agreement can be demanded.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Ah, I see. The 46% neither you get from adding the Alliance vote to those who didn’t vote? Not electorally valid.

  • Zeno1

    Even though that fits in with the answers given in the survey it is not the source that I used. It does however confirm that the NILT figure is accurate.

  • Zeno1

    Paddy, Do you think that everyone is a died in the wool Nationalist/Unionist?

  • Zeno1

    That can not happen without the consent of Unionists and they are not going to give anything away to Nationalists without s substantial quid pro quo. Nationalists can’t just negotiate a new agreement with themselves.

  • Paddy Reilly

    No, there is an obvious spectrum. But given a simple yes/no question, one is forced to come down on one side of the fence or other. And as I said, a vote cast without enthusiasm has the same power as one written in blood, and accompanied by blood-curdling threats.

  • Paddy Reilly

    A majority is in a near unassailable position. To refuse them their democratic wishes is tantamount to incitement to rearm, and resume violence. Besides, Alliance and even a portion of UUP types will not venture to thwart majority rule.

  • Paddy Reilly

    One does not use an Opinion Poll when a genuine poll has taken place. Otherwise Scotland should be granted independence as the last polls showed a majority requiring it. If the NILT find 46% neither that shows their sample is erroneous: elections show no such thing.

  • Zeno1

    “One does not use an Opinion Poll when a genuine poll has taken place.”

    Over 46% of the electorate do not vote for Nationalist or Unionist Parties in the election. The same number 46%, say they are neither Nationalist nor Unionist. Are they all telling lies?

    The election results are confirming that the Poll (survey) is correct.

  • Zeno1

    ” one is forced to come down on one side of the fence or other. ”

    In the Scots referendum 15% didn’t.

  • Zeno1

    “A majority is in a near unassailable position.”

    I’ve really no idea what you mean. If you want majority rule and are saying that is how democracy works. How come you have been happy to share power with Unionists even though Nationalists are a minority??

  • Paddy Reilly

    It seems impossible to cure you of the need to bring in
    non-voters. Non voters do not count, because they do not vote. In many cases
    they do not exist, because they have died or moved away since they were placed
    on the register.

  • Paddy Reilly

    As above, non-voters and spoiled votes do not count. The outcome is decided by those who did vote. So one is forced to come down on one side of the fence or other.

  • Paddy Reilly

    You seem to be confusing me with some SF minister. I have shared power with nobody. The situation is as follows: while Unionists remain the majority in NI, they get to keep NI in the UK, but have to pacify SF/SDLP troublemakers by bringing them into the Cabinet.

    When Nationalists start to become the majority in NI, they will be able to determine the pace and the means whereby the Unification Process is conducted, but will have to pacify DUP troublemakers by keeping them in the Cabinet.

  • Mark Hayden

    Well look at the corollary question; will the English foot the bill in perpetuity? They’re already making noises about welfare cuts. And are we asking the, to also fund all those pub sector jobs?

    All-in-all I think the new Ireland would be stronger than the republic could be. We need more people, making a broader tax base. I know you’ll point out the enormous size of the northenr public sector but I think that’s largely down to the lack of other opportunities. With lower corp tax and more FDI they’d be more than pulling their weight in the medium term.

    But getting back to your actual post! I don’t think there’s a need to hold a poll south of the border. If you look at the amended Art 2 & 3 it states that it’s Irish policy to seek a reunification once the majority in the north want it

  • Mark Hayden

    Not a million miles from the Dual Monarchy system that Sin. fein espoused before they erroneously got the blame/credit for the rising

  • Mark Hayden

    I can’t imagine Cameron & Brown being quite so passionate about it!