Anna Lo: “Sectarian politics gets votes in Northern Ireland, and yet sectarian politics continues to fail Northern Ireland over and over again”

Earlier this year, Alliance party MLA Anna Lo, hit the headlines for some of the racist treatment she had recieved. Writing for Slugger, Anna criticises the progress being made on the Racial Equality Strategy and argues for people to embrace different diffierent cultures in Northern Ireland.

Sectarian politics gets votes in Northern Ireland, and yet sectarian politics continues to fail Northern Ireland over and over again.

It is disappointing to see the draft Racial Equality Strategy, after being in the deep freeze for seven years and published under public pressure, was such a weak document offering no assurance to those from ethnic minority communities. I sometimes wonder if our conflicted history has made us accustomed to discrimination, with sectarianism and racism two sides of the same coin – a currency that is only kept in circulation for political gain.

Racism across Northern Ireland has come under the spotlight this year, from the tactless remarks from First Minister Peter Robinson, to the shameful intimidation of Michael Abiona, or the disgraceful erection of a KKK flag in East Belfast, it is glaringly obvious that we need to do more.

Between 2013 and 2014 there has been a 43% increase in racially-motivated offences, 70% of these occurring in Belfast. During the present reporting period, the PSNI has noted that racially motivated crimes in Northern Ireland have risen by more than 50%. As these are only the incidents recorded you can be sure the actual figures are much higher, with many BMEs (Black Minority Ethnic) choosing not to report attacks for fear of reprisals or lack of confidence in the police actually getting the perpetrators given the lack of success in prosecution.

I believe the PSNI is taking its responsibility seriously. There have been 13 arrests linked to race-hate attacks in Greater Belfast since the start of May – but we need more collective action if we are to tackle the root causes of racism. A robust Racial Equality Strategy with co-ordinated actions is the key to do just that.

A high level strategy to set a zero tolerance to both sectarianism and racism will lay out the expected behaviour for society from government to citizens. While Curry-My-Yoghurt-gate was laughable to some – to me it was indicative of the lack of sensitivity and tolerance with which Stormont is blighted. We live in a society where people are targeted for their cultural difference, so we need responsible political leadership to set a good example.

MLAs excel at condemnation – but we are not so good at finding solutions. A RE strategy with proper funding to enable community capacity building work in bringing together people from diverse backgrounds is essential to enable authentic and meaningful experience with and of each other. Token ‘multi-cultural’ events do not substitute real inter-cultural and interdependent exchanges. Work to raise awareness of hate crime and challenge attitudes towards it needs to happen particularly in areas where frequent racist incidents occur. The recent ‘Challenging Racism: Ending Hate’ report certainly helped contradict myths about immigration but we need to go further; we must encourage reporting, supporting victims in a way which demonstrates care and sensitivity and ensure that perpetrators of hate crimes are brought to justice and face the full weight of the law.

The summer months were difficult for those in the ethnic minority community, as they lived in fear of rising tension. We need proper engagement with BMEs, meaningful department actions, proper resourcing, targets and monitoring of outcomes. The Racial Equality Strategy, if amended to include a clear timetable for implementation and an action plan for activities to address racism could have real potential to deliver improved racial equality in Northern Ireland. The document fails to recognise the contribution which ethnic minorities make to the NI economy and cultural diversity which is deeply regrettable. Society is all the richer when people can hold open, mixed and multiple identities; when we can open our minds and experience different cultures.

, , , ,

  • Dan

    All that writing, with blame for sectarianism, racism and division apportioned to all and sundry….well, all except Anna Lo herself, who had her own moment this year where she trashed the country which has given her a comfortable home for so long.
    She is clearly exempt from criticism.
    The smug self satisfaction of Alliance turns my guts.

  • Morpheus

    When did she trash the country which has “given her a comfortable home for so long”? Or is this another one of your bizarre rants that belongs in the 1970s?

  • Comrade Stalin

    God forbid anyone should point out the problems in Northern Ireland especially if they are a victim of those problems.

  • Ernekid

    “Sectarian politics gets votes in Northern Ireland, and yet sectarian politics continues to fail Northern Ireland over and over again.”
    Doesn’t this display a major failing of the Alliance Party? If Sectarian politics is so bad why doesn’t the Alliance Party garner massive support?
    Why does Alliance have next to no impact West of The Bann and the big towns outside of greater Belfast?

  • Yet still Alliance sits at, from what we see above, is the sectarian trough, the font of all evil. Alliance is a snug little piggy sucking at the tits of the big fat system sow. If it isn’t Stormont it’s quango land. Blame is easy. Stepping up and offering an alternative is something Alliance has failed to do in over 40 years; instead, wallowing in the very system it decries. If Alliance wants to know why nothing changes it is because parties such as it simply want to say ‘look at me I’m not sectarian, because I am not them’uns. Really? Alliance has fundamentally failed to make a case for something better, because a) it is too busy blaming everyone else and b) at end of the day its interest is the status quo, being able to point the finger while holding on to the system’s benefits with the rest of the closed hand.

  • chrisjones2

    Why does Alliance have next to no impact West of The Bann ….or anywhere else

  • Gopher

    I think Anna has to stand now makes no sense not to, loved the “summer months” insertion that will get a few heads nodding.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    that’s very harsh!
    They’re not perfect, but does being the only major cross-community party count for nothing? They have offered a strong alternative and have made the case for abandoning sectarian politics throughout their existence. You’re hard to please, the dissenter … what would you have liked them to have done?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    rather than blaming Alliance for trying to be non-sectarian and being unpopular for that, we could ask some tougher questions of the people who vote for the more antagonistic sectarian parties … Truth is, people can only vote Alliance when they feel safe to do so – that they’re not going to let in some nightmare candidate from the other side by default. Unfortunately that means there are very few places people feel safe to vote for Alliance. But it’s not their fault!

  • Dan

    God forbid anyone should dare point out that Lo isn’t a living saint either, eh?

  • Morpheus

    I know a few fleggers who beg to differ

  • tmitch57

    “If Sectarian politics is so bad why doesn’t the Alliance Party garner massive support?”

    Ernekid, Alliance would only gather support as a result if most people saw sectarianism as bad, which they obviously don’t. This is probably because they are products of a thoroughly sectarian education system with nationalists being educated in church schools and unionists in state schools. This is like America in the mid-19th century! So, as a result most people in NI are socialized to see sectarianism as normal and perhaps even positive.

  • tmitch57

    And yet who do the sectarian duopoly turn to when they need someone to run the justice ministry on a non-sectarian basis?

  • carl marks

    wow, MU for once we are in complete agreement, Alliance has certainly earned a lot of respect from a lot of people(myself included) over the last couple of years for standing up to the extremes!

  • carl marks

    How dare she speak out! people were just exercising their right to be hate filled small minded trolls, and of course the country GIVE her a comfortable living, the women obviously never done any work or paid any taxes, unlike those brave and hardworking fleggers who only brought credit and prosperity to our streets!

  • carl marks

    who did that?

  • Paddy Reilly

    Dear Anna: the entity which you call Northern Ireland is not real, it was created ad hoc for a particular purpose, which was to maintain in power a particular clique, effectively what you call a sect. Thus it is not surprising that it produces “sectarianism”—your word not mine— because that is its raison d’être.

    Nor is your party any solution, because even if you won 77% of the vote, the first thing it would do is split, along religious lines, thus reproducing the divisions it purported to surpass. It is no use papering over the cracks, you have to cure the subsidence. Religious cliquism will disappear at the same time as partition does, because there will no longer be the framework for its maintenance. Yours, Paddy.

  • Rapunsell

    Ah – I suppose it must be partition then that also explains the past and current anti traveller prejudice in the south and ongoing racist vilification of the Roma community ?

  • notimetoshine

    Sectarian politics exists because the people of this place obviously support sectarianism, they revel in it. Of course this results in incompetent government but if the people elected them they have got what they deserve.

    Alliance I think are honourable but let’s be honest they haven’t a hope because people here are clearly happy in their hateful rut.


  • Paddy Reilly

    The dislike that settled peoples feel for nomads is universal: I have heard it reported by friends who worked in Africa. A. Hitler deceased put them on his list of races to be annihilated: Germans sometimes push thoroughness and efficiency beyond what is ethical.

    Anthropologically speaking, I would suggest it arises because settled folk have an interest in maintaining good relations with their neighbours through a process of interchange, which also includes intermarriage, so that someone who lives near you is likely to be from the same gene pool. Conversely, it is in the interest of nomads to be maximally exploitative with the non-nomads whose lands they pass through as they will never encounter them again.

    Travellers have only a few known occupations, most of which are illegal according to Mosaic law, some only by the law of settled countries. I recall the curses of an elderly English couple, who had been bilked of their savings by Irish accented roofers who told them their roof was coming down. The tinker who passed through Ballyjamesduff would sell you plants, and be round during the night to dig them up again. Cheating people of their antique furniture was another boojo, they got my great-aunt with that. The better class of tinker concentrates on music, and thereby wins toleration and acclaim.

  • notimetoshine

    What is the point in standing up to the extremes here? I was once misguided along the alliance path but the reality is while the people of northern Ireland are happy to wallow in the sectarian filth that passes for politics.

  • Comrade Stalin

    So basically, Alliance is bad because opposition movements seeking to get elected and form a government are not supposed to either find gainful employment to support themselves or criticize the politicians they are attempting to replace. Got that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alliance is a kind of social liberal movement seeking fundamental reform. It is common for such movements to have popularity that is substantially restricted to clusters around urban areas. If you look at a map of the UK or the USA you’ll see that conservative parties consistently do better in rural hinterlands.

    I’m no political scientist or sociologist, so hopefully someone will call out my errors, but it seems to me that urban living and rural living are fundamentally different challenges. When you have higher population density, you have more people rubbing up against each other, and therefore more of a call for a social system that tries to address and accommodate diversity. Living out in the country, in somewhere like Fermanagh South Tyrone where you might walk five miles without meeting a single Protestant, the need for societal compromise might not seem like such a pressing one. There are good reasons why Orange marching disputes are very rare in the countryside – Portadown being a notable exception.

    Nationalist and unionist parties are fundamentally conservative parties. They’re not trying to change the system; they’re trying to keep it the way it is, because it’s where their votes come from. Alliance, NI21, the Greens and others are disruptive. They are trying to change the system and I don’t think such parties will ever do well outside of the city and the suburbs.

    This theory doesn’t completely explain why non-tribal parties get such a low share of the vote but it’s part of it.

    I do need to be very careful not to sound arrogant and blaming the electorate (the old joke about the government of East Germany abolishing the people and appointing another springs to mind) but there is an issue of education here. We are seeing right now that the tribal parties are slowly destroying the country. The electorate seem not to understand that their vote is relevant to this problem. You will often hear calls, for example, for direct rule to be reinstated or for powers to be taken away from politicians. Why do we never hear calls for people to elect politicians who are better at using the powers ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    yeah, those sneaky foreigners are always up to something.

    (one good strawman deserves another)

  • Comrade Stalin

    I understand your disagreement Pat, but this part :

    Religious cliquism will disappear at the same time as partition does

    is interesting. On what basis do you believe this will happen ?

  • Paddy Reilly

    In a country such as France, where Huguenots are in a small minority, the opportunity for them to make political capital out of their beliefs does not currently arise (in the 17th Century it was otherwise). Equally, residents of British origin are also a small minority, and so are unable to form their own Unionist faction.

    Consequently both these groups are integrated into the normal system of French politics. This would be the inevitable consequence of reunification: the disappearance of Unionism.

  • what extremes. Surely not their Executive partners in Government?

  • An opposition in Government. How does that work?

  • Croiteir

    Sectarianism here has nothing to do with schooling, that is just a lazy excuse for the avoidance of the true cause for the sectarianism endemic in society. It’s historical cause is far deeper and is perpetuated by the existence of the state which is a sectarian creation.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The same way power sharing does. Participating in it does not preclude you from your vision of what the country should look like.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If minorities simply melt away when a country is unified, what’s all this about Catalonia ? And Scotland ?

  • Paddy Reilly

    I think you’ll find that Aragonese and Scottish Nationalists did melt away after the Unification of Spain and Great Britain. Their re-emergence 300 years later is a source of wonder to many.

    The problem that the Ulster Unionists have is that the Reunification of Ireland will not take place until Unionists are a minority in their 6 County Statelet, so campaigning for independence would be pointless.

  • The linked clip below is Anna Lo’s and the Alliance Party’s future for Belfast, if you take Alliance’s pro European, pro diversity to its logical conclusion a Londonisation of Belfast is what will happen, this is what Alliance will deliver in the end if left to its own devices. Alliance politics will sweep away the white British minority, white British communities will be flushed out of Belfast by the tide of crushing multiculturalism. Alliance already has form in doing down traditional white British communities in NI.

    The Alliance Party is an anti communitarian party and is in fact anti community, I can prove this as the main decision makers in the Alliance Party are to date genetic dead ends i.e. they have no children in Northern Ireland and therefore have actually no personal stake in the future of the community or no personal stake in a future Northern Ireland, why should we listen to them about shared future when in a few decades they will be gone and it’s not like they will have any children around to deal with the consequences of their kind of politics!? It is largely a party against the traditional white British community and is a party about those just into selfish personal political careers, having children and building families is for others to do it would seem, yet certain leaders of that party would never be found short on telling other people in Northern Ireland just what that future of theirs should look like, on Alliance terms. (Not too dissimilar a politicised species are the westernised white British feminists, they are by virtue of their own misguided ideology already an endangered species. By failing to have families and bear enough children, if any, they too are eliminating themselves, so blinded by their own beliefs in themselves as individuals they don’t even know they are doing it, thanks to their own innate selfishness, they too will be gone soon enough! To offset this British policy makers are having to open the borders and import brown people to produce babies instead.)

    Thankfully Northern Ireland is behind the curve when it comes to multiculturalism and for once this may be to NI’s advantage in terms of concocting policy responses to it.

    The clip below proves that brown people belonging to patriarchal communities of muslim faith are actually being imported in order to offset low birth rate thanks in part to white feminists eliminating themselves.

  • carl marks

    that is the longest racist mope i have heard in a very long time.
    of course if UKIP is saying it them it must be true after all they would never try to stir up racial tension to get a few votes would they.
    and you do know that London has been a multi racial city for a long time now and that is one of the things that makes it a great city.

    I can think of nothing more boring than living in a society with only one culture and nothing more interesting than living in one with a lot of different cultures.
    and if you think that throwing out all those different from you will make things better then you are very wrong!

  • carl marks

    are you seriously denying your rant above is racist?
    thankfully only the very disturbed would believe the BS you come out with!

  • carl marks

    very good, now take your meds and go and have a wee bit of quiet time in a dark room, come back when you have something to say that makes sense.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Pardon me, but in England some children go to Catholic schools and other to State schools, and the same is true of the United States, and this is not regarded as a problem.

    The problem is the nature of the state, which was constructed without consensus, by an abuse of the majority rule principle. Organisations can decide how to proceed on various issues on the strength of 51% in favour, but you can’t expect to found a state on this principle: you need at least 80%, probably 90% in favour to make it a workable entity.

  • Croiteir

    While trying to avoid playing the man the above is a very dangerous diatribe.

  • hurdy gurdy man

    if you take Alliance’s pro European, pro diversity to its logical conclusion a Londonisation of Belfast

    They have my vote then!

  • carl marks

    only replies form those who have children will be tolerated, 😉

  • Morpheus

    First thing today I am off to Asda to get some tinfoil for my Christmas turkey before it is used up by the loopers who have posted on this thread.


  • Morpheus

    Too much tolerance????? You nearly owed me a new ipad there when I nearly spat out my coffee in laughter. That’s definitely a new one on me 🙂

  • Comrade Stalin

    That may be the reality, but it’s another thing to give up hope on changing it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Unionism is a coalition of people who feel a genuine affinity for the rest of the UK, and people who do not feel an affinity for the rest of the UK but have a visceral revulsion to the idea of being part of an Irish state. While technically this coalition does not express itself using the language of independence, that’s basically what it is about – independence from the rest of Ireland. Closer integration with the UK or UK values is not on the cards.

    I can think of many other examples of forced unity or border changes not leading to permanent solutions even when there were mass “plantations” of populations. What about present-day Russia ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The problem has always been too much tolerance by Unionists

    Unionism hasn’t generally been characterised by its embrace of tolerance.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pardon me, but in England some children go to Catholic schools and other to State schools

    English Catholic schools are not funded by the taxpayer and do not encompass half of the population.

    , and the same is true of the United States, and this is not regarded as a problem.

    Actually segregated schooling and the debate around it forms a core part of the social history of the United States.

  • Morpheus

    What super-majority was this? Which elections?

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Chucky Ar Lo / Curry My Yogurt – call me suspicious. Are you writing Derry?

    Unionist “tolerance” – nearly wet myself.

  • Paddy Reilly


    I reckon they would encompass half the population in most urban areas.

  • Paddy Reilly

    As for Northern Irish Catholic schools, I would estimate that they educated closer to 60% of the population!

  • hurdy gurdy man

    So London’s full of immigrants and soon there’s going to be even more. ‘Twas ever thus…

    I accept that we shouldn’t be complacent about the incursion of the more distasteful aspects of Islamism into our way of life – but is that all you’ve got?

  • carl marks

    Whats the reason for the appearance of this new word “Homeland” i have noticed that posters like yourself have started using it ? to me i think it sounds like your copying the name of a TV drama because it sounds cool.
    But hey i could be wrong, explain to us all how you think this is PUL homeland and how that excludes other people from having the right change the status quo if they have the numbers at the ballot box.

  • Paddy Reilly

    I respectfully beg to differ from my learned friend’s estimate that 66.66% is sufficient consensus. The French Empire was two thirds metropolitan French by population, and that didn’t last. Switzerland is 80% German, and the 20% of others are kept on board by a confederal system and compulsory quadrilingualism.

    The 2/3rd Polish Poland which existed between the wars came to a sticky end. So I can only repeat my mother’s aphorism, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

    The problem for the Unionist homeland is that if it were confined to genuinely Unionist areas, it would be a series of blobs and nothing like a workable province. Perhaps the Indian Reservations in America provide an acceptable model, or maybe the Irish Gaeltachts. If it is expanded to include Six Counties, then it runs into the problem indicated by the most recent census (h/t Morpheus):-…/s_table_lookup_2011.xlsx

    which is that the area’s enthusiasts are very nearly outnumbered by the non-enthusiasts, with only a small band of over 80s guaranteeing its existence.

  • London is no longer English and for some that’s everything, as there’s nothing more to give once the English are gone, culturally, socially, politically and in the end even economically.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Politics is about power, not affinity and not identity. When a particular political stance does not bring with it the possibility of power, then it will be abandoned. That is why there are no Unionists in the Irish Republic, no Jacobites in England, no Tories in India or Pakistan, no Empire Loyalists in the USA.

    Russia is a little large to be comparing Northern Ireland with. However I would draw your attention to South Africa, where the White Apartheid Party, when it lost power, joined the African National Congress because it could not bear to be excluded from the political process.

  • carl marks

    London was built on waves of immigrants, that’s the history of the city, Whatever is ” English” in london is the result of what those waves brought to the city and these new waves will add their bit to the mix and the mix will change a bit, but it will still be “English.” thats the history of the city.

  • Yeah keep telling yourself that Marks, you keep telling yourself that!
    The reality is in the eyes of Londoners, it’s a capital city of largely third world populations, all recently imported, all swishing around with no long standing connection to Britain, no collective memory to fall back on once the economy tanks, that might be a clue as to the riots in London recently, when the money runs out let’s riot and rob the place and take the cash registers as sure isn’t London, without any cultural connection to it, just one big cash register, one big till for ethnic minorities to take cash out of, they don’t seem to be coming to the UK for cultural reasons based on the lack of integration going on there, do they – no for monetary reasons they come? Goodness knows what will be the long term outcome of this kind of turbo immigration and goodness knows the long term impact on the UK as whole!!

  • Besides it will take decades for it to all fall apart and you’ll likely be dead by then so best just to keep quiet.

  • carl marks

    Al through History a small minority of people like you have been singing that song and they have been proved wrong, and you are no different.
    And if it was so terrible in London its strange parties like UKIP and BNP are not running the Council the vast majority of Londoner’s are happy enough abouts thing.

  • Yeah the country has been run great since the waves of immigration has taken place, indebted up to the hilt, publicly and privately, indebted by trillions. Quantity has impacted on quality, national characteristics diluted and English culture dissipating, third world cultures increasing, this has bound to have had impact on the economy. Any way, as I said above, you’ll be gone by the time the wheels come off, so just you keep on convincing yourself that it’ll be OK but you wont be around neither will the shared future champions in Alliance, dead ends they are. So, seriously, if you don’t mind, you can all go hang!

  • carl marks

    im sorry but how can you know how the country was run any better in the Mesolithic age because thats how far back you would have to go to to be before the waves of immigration!
    I think you should take your own counsel, because quite frankly i don’t think your going to get anybody else who will take it.

  • hurdy gurdy man

    Oh there are still plenty of English here (I live in London). Though the easy identification of English with white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant continues to become redundant.

    These days English is as likely to mean black and brown and yellow as it does white. And perhaps that’s the nub of the ‘problem’?

    Out of interest as an (Northern) Irish person who lives in London do you consider me to be a part of the problem? If not, why not?

  • carl marks

    that’s a good idea.

  • carl marks

    Law of averages, you gotta be right once. 😉

  • 1. What powersharing? We have silo govt. 2. Vision (vague and well meaning it might be) useless without practical policy that people believe you are capable of delivering, which being part of the shambles of the hill suggests isn’t possible. Alliance have nothing to offer except more of the same.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Paddy, “melt away” indeed? Scotland accepted the Union, eh, in 1708, 1715 and 1745? We had something similar happening in Ireland where very strong support for the Stuarts in the eighteenth century (for detail see Ó Buachalla’s “Aisling Ghéar”) was fueled by a broad sense of national culture and identity that certainly did not melt away, but transformed into Jacobinism in the 1790s.

    And Catalonia? Check out the “Guerra dels Segadors” of the mid seventeenth century and “Revolta dels Barretines” at the end of the century, which is one of the “feed ins” on our use of the Red Cap of Liberty. This flared up again in Napoleon’s time and later fueled the powerful Catalan support for Carlism in the 19th century. The good Comrade is perfectly correct in bringing up two of the most powerful instances of passionately sustained national identity in the face of modernist centralisation (see Ernst Gellners work for an account of the conflict of centralising Nationalisms against local Cultural identities).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hey Paddy “no Jacobites in England”, then with whom am I standing late January most years at the statue of our Martyred King Charles?

    A little too “Black Tie” for some, I’ll admit, but still very much there and affirming “Legitimacy” nevertheless! And I’ve met some anti-secessionists in the US, certainly among British Israelite circles. Be careful about entirely dismissing anything too easily.

  • Paddy Reilly

    I am speaking of viable political movements, not occasional gatherings of eccentrics. The Royal Stuart Society does not even put up local government councillors. Not even Student Union candidates.

    For that matter Stan Gebler Davies stood as a Unionist in Cork in 1987 and won 134 votes, but he himself would admit he was not a serious candidate, or Unionist: it was a joke.

    In 1964 there were no MPs in the United Kingdom other than Conservative, Labour and Liberal. Not even Irish Nationalists. Gwynfor Evans changed all that a couple of years later, by virtue of a bye-election protest vote.

    Moreover, Catalonia and Scotland are places. Unionism is merely a political movement found in the minority religion in Ulster. Protestants, when there is no Unionist bandwagon to reward them for doing so, do not bother to restrict their matrimonial horizons to their own kind. In Donegal 50% of Protestant marriages are to Catholics, and even before marriage these people restrict their political choices to FF, FG and Labour. Once partition is dead, it is dead. You might as well attempt to resurrect British East Matabeleland.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    While I’m rather inclined to agree with you about much of this”I am speaking of viable political movements” posting above, these big sweeping statements, using broad generalisations, are always in peril of deconstruction through pernicious detail, especially with anyone for whom levity is a very valid political tool. And while you are right about the Royal Stuart Society not putting up candidates, there is a serious issue here. At which point do we (collectively) decide who is acceptable and who is not acceptable for serious consideration politically? Is the electoral process the only acceptable evaluation of political credibility? As one of “the two anarchists in the PD” all those long years ago, I’d seriously question this evaluation.

    But I see from your postings that you are a centraliser and alas, I’m very much for very local power, and I do not mean simply through representatives and councils (heaven forfend!), but in peoples own hands, so perhaps we will simply have to differ on this!

  • Paddy Reilly

    Btw 1708, 1715 and 1745 were not outbreaks of Scottish Nationalism. They were attempts by a particular family to secure the throne of the United Kingdom, using Scotland as a springboard. I imagine that your Catalan examples are of the same ilk.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Actually, a superficial perusal of the contemporary Jacobite studies would disabuse you of that oh so simplified impression. Are you aware of any current interpretations of the Jacobite experience? Paul Monad’s “Jacobitism and the English People” is a good place to start for the seminal influence of Jacobitism on popular politics and if you follow up some of the articles mentioned in its notes you may find some provocative leads. Eamonn Ó Ciardha’s excellent “Ireland and the Jacobite Cause” shows just how the Irish Jacobite experience laid the ground for Jacobite to become Jacobin in the 1790s, laying much of the groundwork for later Republicanism in Ireland.

    And don’t simply “imagine” or (as I’d say) “make it up”….. go and carefully check out the actual historical detail before making hard statements presented as fact! Anything else shows a disrespect for the historical record that is only too likely to seriously mislead those who read your postings.

  • Paddy Reilly

    I’m afraid I must refuse, as I am being drawn away from the topic in hand, to the benefit of your own personal hobby-horse. I did manage to get “Making Toleration” out of the library (on your recommendation) and have read the first 100 pages, but I may not get any further.

    So please realise that I am going to talk about the Republican future and not the Jacobite past. I do not see a future for Unionism in a United Ireland: nobody wants to vote for a loser. In the 1964 General Election NI returned no Irish Nationalists, even though the Catholic population was a third of the total: the movement though was not felt to be viable.

    The government of a United Ireland would be well advised to ensure that state-employed or -funded ex-Unionists in the NE part of the country are moved around a bit more: the Dublin region would probably suit. This would ensure that armed insurgencies would not occur in that quarter. That does not mean that Ulster will have no politics in the future, and that Protestants will not participate in popular movements. But they will not be Unionist.

    John McGuffin is dead, so you must be the other one. Congratulations on your longevity.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Well, Paddy, I’d think we might find we agree on some of the non-centralising issues such as the probable (non) future of Unionism, and yes, as something of a de-railer I value your steadfastness in returning the theme to its true and proper track. I’m glad you’ve looked at “Making Toleration”, it shows for one thing just how important it is to get the history reasonably accurate, and avoid outright lies as the failure of the Planters to simply realise James was not going to forcibly convert them has trapped us here in the wee six in three hundred years of quite unnecessary polarised conflict. What a pity that we could not get that piece of historical de-railing so easily back on track.

    Actually John McGuffin came along slightly later than we first two Anachists of the 1965/9 vintage. Anyone who was around the Salisbury Street gang (the all too radical LPYS), or Terry Hooley’s NIYCPND (yes, the name really was that long…) some of whom would later feed into the PD in 1968 would probably know just who I am, as only one of us was a visual artist! But enough of that, and thanks for the recognition of my grey hairs, but as Yeats said, “age makes more skilful but not better men”. I leave the floor to you to develop your highly centralised, infallible one true and indivisible Republic, with powers to neutralise the Unionist threat, while I do my Voltaire smile from the wings of history, white rose in my teeth……..

    Oh just noticed, you keep offering examples of political stances everyone thought were dead but which re-surface, is that something of an unconscious critique of your conscious dismissals of political “failures” perhaps?

  • Paddy Reilly

    The Japanese have just unveiled a train which travels at 320 MPH. That would reduce the travel time between Dublin and Belfast (Cork, Galway etc) to a quarter of an hour. It is not me that is a centraliser, it is technology, geography etc. Ireland is ideally designed to be a centralised state, with its centre at Dublin. This is not my fault.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The entire development of political nationalism, Paddy, has been a centralising modernising movement ( see Ernest Gellner’s work, etc, I can provide a reading list) buckled on to what is called Cultural Nationalism, or creative movements expressing (usually) local identity. The Political uses the Cultural, that which people actually see as their identity, quite ruthlessly to attract support and then suppresses this identity in a centralised, homogenised, usually internationalist state model where all power is sucked from localities to the centre. England did this in Ireland from the sixteenth century, Ireland as a modern state has done this since 1922, and the EEC, as a rather bigger “Nationalism”, has done this since its own shift to centralisation. My own Irishness is in essence cultural and the crude simplifications of my culture that any centralised state must favour (“dumbing down”) leave me simply cold.

    Ireland has been centralised by a system of roads all leading to Dublin since the seventeenth century. This was a necessity of centralised English rule, and the modernisation of these roads is a necessity of modern centralised government. All of this communications system is simply a tool to maintain a power structure which is not in itself natural or inevitable, but simply what is most convenient to assert central power in any centralised state anywhere in the world. But for anyone uncomfortable with the top-down master/servant model all centralised systems of governance offer there are other ways of doing things……Switzerland for one!

  • barnshee

    “Catalonia and Scotland are places. Unionism is merely a political movement”

    ER “Catalonia” spills over into France has substantial non Catalonian citizens.
    “Ulster”/Northern Ireland/the wee six/ the “occupied six counties” ete etc— is a place
    There in no barrier to the occupants of the place doing a “Catalonia” -organising a referendum to leave any political state they find themselves in .This applies whether the state concerned is the UK or “Ireland”

    “Protestants, when there is no Unionist bandwagon to reward them for doing so, do not bother to restrict their matrimonial horizons to their own kind. In Donegal 50% of Protestant marriages are to Catholics”

    Since the population is some 95-7% Roman Catholic limited choice and intermarriage is inevitable. Since the Roman Catholic church used (Ne Temere) and continues to use blackmail in marriage the position in th Prod is hardly surprising

  • barnshee

    “London was built on waves of immigrants, that’s the history of the city, ”

    Not just London –but the fundamental point is being ignored

    Previous waves have been absorbed and become in many ways more English than the English–. ethnicity fades
    Up until the 1950s this remained the case I lived in London with the children of Hungarians who had fled the 1956 uprising. They are dyed in the wool English-apart from their surname –and even that has gone as they married. The huge Irish migration was absorbed. relatively painlessly.

    The same has not happened since. say the 1950`s .Ethnic identity and customs remain strong -not to say entrenched.
    Ethnic groupings have grown as separate from the main stream. -Clashes with the rest of society appear inevitable.

  • Paddy Reilly

    The Wee Six is a place only in the imagination of the Unionist section of the population. The Nationalist section of the population imagines an Ulster with 9 Counties.

    When, in a couple of years time, the Unionist section of the population becomes the minority in the Wee Six, the area will have outlived its purpose.

    It is not normal, in the context of modern Europe, to want to marry only members of your own sect. To do so is unnatural, and leads to an inbred, genetically deficient population. Sometimes it happens when all about you are of the same type: a Spaniard would normally marry someone else of Catholic descent, even if he was not a believer.

    While the Irish Republic might be 95% Catholic, Donegal is less so, probably no more than 80%, and Donegal is not actually a place, it is part of Ulster: there is nothing to stop Donegal Protestants from seeking Protestant mates in Tyrone or Antrim. But as they can conceive of no reward for doing so, they are almost as happy to marry Catholics as they are to marry other blood groups or star signs.

    Obviously this will eventually lead to the disappearance of Protestants as a separate entity, and with it the call for a separate state.

  • barnshee

    “Obviously this will eventually lead to the disappearance of Protestants as a separate entity, and with it the call for a separate state.”

    It is significant that you recognise the coercion involved with you prediction that marriage conditions imposed by the Roman Catholic church leads to “the disappearance of protestants”

    Precisely the reason they will not go UI willingly

    “when, in a couple of years time, the Unionist section of the population becomes the minority in the Wee Six,”

    Cheers for promoting sexual incontinence and pressure on public services as a political weapon

    “they are almost as happy to marry Catholics as they are to marry other blood groups or star signs.”

    You have obviously never lived in NI.

    A concerted resistance to a UI by the Prod- by all means from civil disobedience to outright IRA style campaigns would put a mickey mouse state like “Ireland” back to the dark ages,

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh Paddy! “The Nationalist section of the population imagines an Ulster with 9 Counties.” Not imagination, but simply the final “set” of territorial designations for the province after it was re-organised by England into counties the seventeenth century. Before that it was organised through a number of shifting land areas related to leading family landholdings, and even earlier as tribal lands, again subject to the shifting boundaries of conquest! And linguistically, and culturally Louth was considered as Ulster right up to quite a late date……

    But in general you are quite right and what is now called “Ulster” is something of a simulacra as defined by Baudrillard:

    But then, in all its various forms it probably always was……

  • Paddy Reilly

    Cheers for promoting sexual incontinence and pressure on public services as a political weapon

    Having children at replacement rate and perhaps slightly above is not sexual incontinence. Moreover, one has to bear in mind that Presbyterians and Anglicans must be fairly good breeders, for them to have lasted so long. Look at the late dear Rev Ian Kyle Paisley, for example.

    they are almost as happy to marry Catholics as they are to marry other blood groups or star signs.

    I was talking about the Protestants of Donegal, not the wee six. But even here they manage to achieve something like 11% of marriages to Catholics, which is an improvement on the past. Possibly though the rate was higher, given that the sad example of Bob Williamson who married a papish called Bridget McGinn and was obliged to flee to the province of Connickt is ever before us: indeed even members of our own dear Iris’s family committed this treachery, though they did the decent thing by moving elsewhere.

    put a mickey mouse state like “Ireland” back to the dark ages

    A blood curdling threat which will not do the situation of the threateners any good. But law and order in Ireland has already been severely compromised by the troubles: it’s just a matter of switching your focus from Republican inspired lawlessness to the much smaller Unionist threat.

    Hopefully though before a UI is achieved there will be technology in place which tracks and records the movement of every single car by numberplate, so terrorists will be reduced to travelling by wheelbarrow, or not all.

    But if you look at the behaviour of 26 county Protestants, I think you will find that notwithstanding any threats in the period before 1921, they all turned out to be good citizens. I can’t think of any instance of Saorstát Éireann or the Irish Republic having to prosecute a Protestant for anti-state activities, except when in the IRA.