It’s the economy, stupid. Not a federal Ireland

In the Irish Times Paul Gillespie floats the idea that the North might benefit by a federal deal with the south. He invokes the useful hand played by the Republic in the recent Stormont House agreement. Certainly Charlie Flanagan waxed more eloquently than Theresa Villiers but that isn’t saying much. I discern a much bigger hand played by HM Treasury in setting the financial deal  and in monitoring  future Executive  performance.  This is surely appropriate as they put up such new money as is being made available   and in facilitating borrowing terms. It’s what actual governments do.  There is a great Irish-centric bad habit of obsessing about constitutional and identity politics while taking the money for granted. This is what they used to do  when the role of the state was rudimentary. A minor sub- text in the fight for Irish freedom a century ago was the fear that the Irish might learn to love the new state pensions and national insurance too much to find freedom worth the effort. Perish the thought!  Value in such a deal is also questionable while the  “ethos “  of Catholic schools is protected  for admissions. Changes in the republic would be considerable before a form of constitutional unity could be contemplated.  Why not concentrate more on what matters  – practical cooperation on many fronts? By the way be careful of the claim that  the “interstate treaty” is entrenched in the UK. Treaties are ratified by governments in the British constitutional system but can be deratified  by the next ( still sovereign) parliament. The relevant legislation is the Northern Ireland  Act.  I’m sure that won’t happen to it or the  GFA although ratified only by a provincial referendum. But it could just happen over Europe – quite a big issue, you’ll agree.

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  • Kevin Breslin

    I take it that the likes of Billy Leonard who married into Irish nationalism during the Celtic Tiger period doesn’t count on that list!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In tears, as always…….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Which is how the real world always works, while fools wave flags and act entitled somewhere else.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    What ever happened Billy Leonard, he seemed to just drop off the radar?

  • Kevin Breslin

    He retired and became a writer.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    ahhhhh, I see, thanks.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Bit more real history needed, a bit more pragmatism, too, BE25.

    Jacobite, not jacobin for a start. The united Irishmen were our local jacobins, republicans, not supporters of (as those Republicans on the inside track called him) “the poor sans coulotte King James II who also suffered under tyrants.” I’ve covered elsewhere just how gulled out of their real liberties the locals were by the Dutch usurper, so check back for yourself.

    And I did not say that the UK “de jure” excluded Irish born citizens, simply that they were “for all practical matters” excluded “de facto.” Surely this simple reality as experienced by Irish born people wishing to maintain every aspect of their Britishness after1922 is obvious?

    And sure, I know the citizenship act and all that jazz, but I’m not saying that you may be tested retrospectively, simply that such a test is used to outline what is considered to be definitive for purposes of assessing the right to become British. And that a simple perusal will quickly show up the broad gulf that exists between how people over the water (and those assessing suitability for consideration of others as British citizens) think of Britishness and how those simply born to be subjects of Mrs Windsor in the wee six think of it. After all, its undeniable that most of what “them over there” think of as Britishness would be utterly unpallatable to many of the “British” of the wee six, as endless comments on the Slugger threads openly show.

    Again, while I’m aware that the muddle created by reliance on rule of thumb and precedence is vague, in a world becoming more and more defined each year over these issues the simple “I was born there” is giving way to nationality as a commodity, and simply because you think yourself to be British and hold the passport, this rather quaint definition means less and less every year in the real world.

    And the simple fact remains, that they, the “real” British, simply do not want the dinosaurs of the wee six, they have been an expensive and incressingly embarressing inheritance from Empire, and if you cannot see that they are trying to work out how to be rid of you for good, others can. The fact that the home secretary could simply declare that he was “satisfied that deprivation [of the NI British passport holders] is conducive to the public good” and hey, presto! An unlikely and extreme situation, yes, but not one outside of the law as it is practiced currently.

    Oh, and much as I’d like to save at least one correct statement from your comments, my only real home in the Reich would have been as a pile of ashes. My jewish great grandmother (from an ancestor’s American marriage) would have ensured that.

  • Paddy Reilly

    I did once propose that these areas be called ‘reservations’, but it was not well received. Perhaps ‘liberties’ would be a better choice.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Even “liberties” might offend a people so prone to take offence. We must keep thinking…….

  • Zeno1

    “Every country – without exception – balances its budget over time. ”

    Balancing the books isn’t important. Maintaining a reasonable standard of living is however. We could all balance and live in a banana republic if we wanted.

  • aber1991

    What you say may be correct BUT it does not tally with a report in the Irish Times on 2 January. There were complaints about the slow rate of change of Catholic schools to non-Catholic status. There were complaints from a retired Professor about the Catholic bishops not being pro-active enough about convincing Catholics of the merits of de-Catholicisation of some Catholic schools.

  • barnshee

    He got deselected by SF and lost his “seat”and income (-he had already lost his marbles) He did not “retire” he was booted out by the party SF lost -as far as I know -their only prod.

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2011/03/10/sinn-fein-suspends-billy-leonard-mla-from-party/

    He was co-opted in very suspicious circumstances- when SF members and MLAS who werey being questioned on a famous IRA victory( the Claudy Bombings and child murder ) stood down When nothing came of the “investigation” Poor Billy was surperflous

  • barnshee

    Unfortunately they don`t–Get the catholic teachers out of state schools—they have their own schools to go to

  • Alan N/Ards

    Seaan, you are right in saying that unionists see a UI as a threat to them. I personally believe that the threat has gone. The mainstream parties in the south have moved away from the UI dreams of their founders and realise they need to be sensible about a UI. They know that if a UI comes about it will look nothing like what de Valera and his cronies had envisaged. They have started to live in the real world and that real world includes people (like me) who see being Irish in a different way than you, Kenny, Adams, McGuiness etc. How do you square that circle? As we all live in a federalized Europe, maybe a federalized Ireland is not such a bad idea.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Paddy, I was chatting to an elderly relative last week who worked in Dublin during the 50’s. He worked for The Irish Times and enjoyed his time in the city. He attended Rathgar Presbyterian Church and socialised with his friends from the church. He didn’t use the word “reservation” when describing how they lived but referred to area as like an “island” which was cut off from the rest of Dublin. They went daily to their jobs ( they were mainly professional business people) and returned home to their island. None of the political parties expressed any interest in enticing them to get involved. They were left alone on their “reservation” or “island” to get on with their lives.

  • Jag

    Interesting concession there Zeno.

    So, NI could balance its books.

    And what type of standard of living would we have in NI then? Would it be closer to Albania than say, Portugal? Would it be closer to Denmark than say, Poland?

    Remember, we have the language, the position, the infrastructure, the education, No reason whatsoever that, when we do balance the budget, we’d be in a better position than say Scotland or Wales.

  • Jag

    Where were you last year Barnshee when Westminster was saying precisely that to Scotland, that it was loving throwing money to Scotland to maintain their standard of living (and if the ungrateful Scots voted for independence, that would be the end of Albion’s largesse).

    Looking forward, Republicans in particular need seriously tackle NI’s economy and be able to map how it will look when the cellotaping to Britain decays.

  • Paddy Reilly

    It would seem that such ghettos, some impoverished and others polite and refined, form automatically. This would suggest that there is no need to legislate for them.

    However, the Northern Irish Protestant mentality is inexorably linked to the notion of “our territory” and the need to defend it by ritual marches, which ideally encroach on other people’s territory. It may still be necessary to formalise this idea (though not the encroaching). In the Jewish religion special areas known as eruvim are created to mitigate the Jewish Sabbath, in some places using features such as rivers or motorways, in others a kind of magic string or arcane roadside markings.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Alan, we’re probably a great deal closer on this than you’d think. My concern is with the posibilities of Irishness culturally, and have little confidance in what Adams, etc, would make of Ireland. For me, writing above, the issue is the absence of a future for the old fashioned versions of Britishness that most commentators seem to want to continue selling us. My family is very divided politically, with my end having been “Home Rulers” a hundred years ago. Other parts of the family were very solid Unionists, so the tragedy of how utterly such people have been simply dismissed now by the British political classes informs a good part of my comments above.

    I think if you do not actually meet English politicians, then the perception that as long as some of us stay in our little corner and keep the doors and windows shut they can continue to be British in their own way in private. But when one begins to talk in depth with anyone in English politics it is very clear that this is simply not going to happen. The Ostdeutsch comments I’ve made have a serious undercurrent. Trying to hold out for absolutely no change, or for some impossible continuity of things the way they have been, will potentially drag even the decent moderate people down with it.

    I’d see a future Ireland as something that would, I would hope, encourage all the rich variations of Irishness, to encourage everything from among of our cultural expressions that may be fruitful. These cultural differences have always influenced and enriched one another, especially in the period before 1911 when the ossifying effect of devisive politics stifled it. There is no reason why this cross-fertalisation should not happen in the future to the benefit of us all. But I cannot see the present arrangements encouraging such cultural interplay. Federalized Ireland? Why not, as long as it encourages all that is positive that is to be uniquely found amongst us.

  • aber1991

    At least you are honest. If only all Prods were as honest as you. You want institutions of the State (i.e. State schools) to discriminate against Catholics and you want institutions of the State (i.e. State schools) to promote Protestantism.

  • aber1991

    I thought that he had died.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Microstates, like Andorra and Liechtenstein, tend to finance themselves by undercutting, often in the sphere of banking, the much larger country that geographically they are a part of. They are quite often associated with smuggling. For this reason they are generally unpopular with the host state.

    Northern Ireland is an area with the population of Greater Merseyside. If it were suddenly grafted on to the Irish Republic, it might assume the character of a Northern English town, full of cheap accommodation and students from the South, who prefer to live in cheap accommodation.

    Equally, as the Irish Defence Forces and Police need to have a home, it might well end up being in Northern Ireland: there will plenty of barracks going spare.

    Probably a fair swathe of the better off Protestant population would relocate to South Dublin, leading to an overall population loss.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I know you will not believe me, BE25, but under that jocular tone, I feel truely sorry for those so utterly betrayed in their self-elected identity by their one time friends and patrons. As I’ve told Alan above, my own family has, perhaps, a majority of strong Unionists. Those who regularly come into contact with English politicians are constantly shocked and rather bitter at just how rejected their world view is by those they meet nowadays in English politics. Not that English people operate “on a higher moral plane”, simply that their customary hypocracy has taken a less bellicose, more liberal turn over the past twenty years and the post-Thatcher Conservative party has nothing whatsoever in common with the average Unionist, let alone Labour…..

    Yeats put his finger on just how Irish even those who spurn the name “Irish” really are, in writing in the aftermath of another phase of violence in another part of Ireland:

    “We had fed the heart on fantasies,
    The heart’s grown brutal from the fare;
    More substance in our enmities
    Than in our love; O honey-bees,
    Come build in the empty house of the stare.”

    I genuinely would rather that that significant thread of Irishness that currently describes itself as Unionist was not so hell bent on self destruction under the influence of unrealistic fantasies about being British while being in most respects utterly unlike those who really define the general run of Britishness. As I said above, it’s not my definition, its theirs……

  • Jag

    Not sure where I’d start disagreeing with all that Paddy, but the prospect of Twadell coming to Ranelagh is intriguing!

  • tmitch57

    In America Catholic schools hiring lay teachers have to open the positions up to all religious backgrounds and none. Why can’t a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist teach math or English or history in a Catholic school? As long as the teacher is qualified and sticks to the curriculum and doesn’t denigrate the Church, what is the harm?

  • aber1991

    “In America Catholic schools hiring lay teachers have to open the positions up to all religious backgrounds and none”

    If, by “America” you mean the USA, I do not believe you. Nor do I believe that, in the USA, Jewish schools are obliged to employ Nazis.

  • Zeno1

    Interesting concession there Zeno.

    I didn’t concede anything Jag .I stated a simple accounting fact.

  • Zeno1

    “The challenge for Republicans (in SF and elsewhere) is to throw light on the NI economy, deal with what most people claim is an underlying deficit and put the country on a course to stand on its own two feet.”

    Don’t hold your breath. Republicans and economics are not on speaking terms.

  • aber1991

    What could be wrong with a Catholic school continuing to be a Catholic school? If the bulk of the teachers in a Catholic school are not, to public knowledge, practising Catholics, that school is no longer a Catholic school. If any teacher in a Catholic school is, to public knowledge, anti-Catholic, that school is not really a Catholic school. If any teacher in a Catholic school has a personal life which, to public knowledge, is at odd with core doctrines of Catholicism, that school is not really a Catholic school.
    P.S. I suspect that the CCMS leaders know that the requirement of a Catholic teaching certificate will present a de facto obstacle to Protestants seeking employment in Catholic schools. I think that a policy of discrimination should be honestly stated and defended. People who teach in Irish medium schools require some competence in the Irish language.

  • tmitch57

    Well, it’s finally refreshing to see a republican speaking openly of the unionists as a settler group, instead of pretending that there are no differences between unionists and nationalists except brainwashing by the British.

    As far as the future of NI goes I’m agnostic–I’m American, and don’t have a vote in any case. I just find it depressing when republicans twist reality so much in their desire to make it fit their ideology.

  • tmitch57

    You mean Owen Carron the spokesman fhe “bomb to kill” IRA. Yes, Garret was so evil–he tried to reunite Ireland peacefully with the support of the unionists.

  • tmitch57

    I know, republicans have a problem with reality. That is the way it is. For a more realistic example, if an Arab applied for a job at a Hebrew day school and was more qualified than someone else who got hired he or she could sue for discrimination and probably find Jewish lawyers who would represent him for free. For example if an Israeli Arab, especially one who was a former Hebrew teacher applied for a job as a teacher at any school that received state funding–such as school vouchers–he or she would be considered more qualified than an American Jew acting as a Hebrew teacher unless that teacher could prove that he was as fluent as the Arab.

  • aber1991

    He refused to meet Owen Carron and just 3 months later met Bill Craig. When challenged about this in the Eire Parliament, he explained that he was concerned about how Protestants would view his meeting Carron. He obviously did not care about Catholics would see his meeting Craig. Do YOU approve of Eire double standards? Do YOU approve of Prods killing Catholics?

  • aber1991

    I do not believe you. Nor do I believe your insinuation that Catholic schools in the USA receive State funding.
    Nor do I accept that a teacher who is not a practising Catholic is qualified to promote Catholicism.
    P.S. Where did you get the idea that I am a Republican?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    BronzeEchoTwentyFive, becoming deadly serious for a moment (although every fibre cries out against it) I do not know if you have read Richard Kearney’s “Postnationalist Ireland”. I read it when it came out and again last year when I took my copy on a research trip as light reading. In the light of just how many recommendations made by Kearney have been fully employed in framing the GFA, and after, his key recommendations in chapter 5, “Rethinking Ireland,” which contains the parts ‘A Proposal for a joint sovereignty solution,’ ‘Northern Ireland’s Future as a European Region,’ and ‘Towards a Council of Islands for Britain and Ireland’ make very very interesting reading. I’ll not attempt to tell you what Kearney is recommending in any detail. You should quickly grasp its main features even by skimming through the book, but the last section proposes an entire erosion of sovereignty here by both Westminster and the Dáil, in the hope that a post-soverignty solution on issues of power would effectively neutralise those issues upon which conflict is built here.

    I do not have to underline the serious problems this might pose for the issues of citizenship as we have been discussing it. As I’ve been saying above, it will, in a Europe of Councils such as Kearney recommends become simply one cog in a general right of residence within the community.

    So much of what any of us really care about in our self-perceptions of identity becomes simply an inconvenient irrelevance in this kind of real politic where we are all being rationalised to conform to what will ensure greatest efficiency within the new global order. Holding up a British or Irish passport to anything as indifferent will elicit simply the laugh No 6 in “the Prisoner” gets when he demands that he is a person, not a number. In this context nationality is a commodity within a bigger system, not a right of any kind, or a confirmation of identity as you appear to believe.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Tmitch57, one side of my own family were planters in the seventeenth century. The first house burnt in 1641 was that of an ancestor of mine. Over here, “Settler” or more accurately, “Planter” is not an insult, but a simple statement of reality, and for some older families it is a source of great pride that they are still living on sword land taken in the seventeenth century.

    Most of those of Scots extraction came after the Williamite war, when a see-saw of plantation and flight became flow of steady settlement. But there were so many inter-faith marriages that DNA analysis shows a pretty homogenous population, despite the perceived quarrel over politics and religion. And you have only to put a Shankill man and Falls man among the “real” British to see just how Irish we all really are, if attitudes and behaviour define who someone actually is. Been there, done it and employed them both when I had a film company in London.

    And for the record, if you check out my bio, I think I make it pretty clear I’m not a Republican, I’m possibly the only Irish neo-Jacobite monarchist! But culturally Irish, with a family packed with Unionists who keep their own wee Lundy well informed about Unionist mores…..

  • barnshee

    nope I want equality Catholic schools preserve teaching posts for catholics.-I want protestant schools to do preserve state schools for protestants i.e I want catholic schools for catholics and protestant schools for protestants but mostly I want catholic teachers to foxtrot oscar to catholic schools

  • aber1991

    “want protestant schools to do preserve state schools for protestants”

    So you assume that State property is Protestant property. At least, you are honest. I wish that most Prods were as honest as you.

  • barnshee

    AS I am fed up explaining explaining ALL schools in NI are owned and maintained by the STATE

    https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1236/definition-document-schools-in-northern-ireland.pdf

  • barnshee

    Bring on the Protestant teaching certificate -which highlights inter alia the record of the papacy etc and removes catholics from protestant schools

  • aber1991

    Yes, you have stated that previously – and several times. Once again, I do not believe you. Catholic schools are owned by the Catholic Church. State schools are owned by the State but are controlled by the Protestant Churches.

  • aber1991

    There should not be any Catholic teachers or students in Protestant schools. But State schools should no longer be controlled by the Protestants. State-owned schools should be neutral – to cater for those parents who want their dear little children to experience mixed education.

  • aber1991

    “Why is the NI Catholic Maintained School Council body being praised by Secularists on this?”

    That is a good question. I would love to know why. If you learn more, please let me know.

  • tmitch57

    I don’t approve of anyone killing people based on their religion or ethnic origin. Since the vast majority of Catholics were in favor of a united Ireland and and the Protestants opposed, it made political sense if you wanted a united Ireland that would be arrived at peacefully to work to convince those who were opposed. That is just basic political reality. That it hurts your feelings is beside the point.

  • aber1991

    Do you approve of Garret Fitzgerald’s double standard – refusing to meet a Catholic politician and then meeting a Protestant politician.
    Do you approve of him badgering the Pope about integrated education in Northern Ireland? Fitzgerald did not send his own children to a Protestant school in Northern Ireland.
    Are you sure that “the vast majority of Catholics” were or are in favour of a United Ireland?

  • tmitch57

    The majority of Catholic schools do NOT receive government funding, but in some states the state allows parents to take their per capita alotment of educational dollars and spend it at any state licensed school. Those schools receiving state funding then must meet state hiring practices. My understanding is that in NI Catholic schools receive state educational subsidies as well. If this is the case, then they would be comparable and if they are allowed to discriminate in hiring, this would be a serious breech of democratic principles.. I find your high level of ethnic victimhood to be typical of republicans. If I am mistaken in this,perception, my apologies.

  • aber1991

    In Northern Ireland, most Catholic schools receive 100% State funding – and have done since late 1992. Catholic schools are exempt from Fair Employment laws – likewise on the UK mainland. Likewise in the Eire Republic.

    In Northern Ireland State-owned schools are also exempt from Fair Employment laws. In Northern Ireland the Protestant Churches have a statutory right to appoint 50% of the voting governors of all State-owned primary and secondary schools – even of 3 State-owned schools all of whose pupils are the children of Catholics.

    I do not think there is any breach of democratic principles in allowing parents to keep their defenceless children out of the clutches of teachers whose behaviour and/or opinions is/are unacceptable to the parents. Schools do not exist to provide teachers with employment – although in the UK and Eire many teachers seem to think that schools exist for the benefit of teachers. I resent the suggestion that Catholics should be expected to tolerate their children being taught by a person who believes that the Pope is an anti-Christ.

    Questioning the right of a denominational school to discriminate on grounds of religious belief or behaviour is tantamount to challenging the right of denominational schools to exist.

    A Catholic in Northern Ireland does not need to be a supporter of a United Ireland for him to have “a high level of ethnic victimhood” or to be suspicious of any proposal which has the potential to increase Protestant power over Catholics.

  • barnshee

    So the state builds schools and hands them over to the Catholic Church?

  • “…but I think I’m a bit kinder than you on this.”
    Most people are, Brian. 😉

  • aber1991

    No, the Catholic Church build its own schools and received financial assistance from the State. The State built State schools and in 1968 handed control over those schools to the Protestant Churches.

  • puffen

    I get it now, this site is a teacher ghetto, who else would have the time or inclination, to obsess over such arcane arguments, where do the grown ups go,

  • aber1991

    I hope you benefit intellectually from reading the exchanges of your betters.

  • tmitch57

    Why should FitzGerald have sent his kids to school in a country that he did not live in?
    Over 90 percent of Catholics who bother to vote regularly vote for parties that support a united Ireland. Now many may not want this to come about for some time after the hash that Dublin made of the economy in the 26 counties.

  • aber1991

    If Fitzgerald thought that integrated education would be such a good idea, he could have set an example by exposing his own children to the risks. He obviously believed in letting a good thing go past himself. He was willing to gamble with the vital interests of Northern Ireland Catholics but not with his own.

    The fact that a Northern Ireland Catholic votes for Sinn Fein or the SDLP does not mean that he wants a United Ireland. I vote for Sinn Fein and I am very opposed to a United Ireland.
    I vote for Sinn Fein because it is the party my enemies hate most.

    P.S. I fear that, in a United Ireland, the people of Eire would pander to the Protestants and we, Catholic people of Northern Ireland, would be treated like dirt. Most people in Eire hate us.

  • tmitch57

    “I vote for Sinn Fein and I am very opposed to a United Ireland.
    I vote for Sinn Fein because it is the party my enemies hate most.”

    `This is a rather foolish basis on which to vote, because it means that you are allowing your enemies to control your behavior.

    “Most people in Eire hate us”

    You just sound paranoid in general–much like the loyalists in the Shankill and East Belfast. You deserve each other.

  • aber1991

    I vote the way I want to vote.
    Most people in Eire do hate us. If they did not, Garret Fitzgerald would have paid an electoral price for his anti-Catholic double standards.

  • tmitch57

    Aber, I’ve got news for you–Eire is simply the Irish word for Ireland. It was used in the 1937 constitution as the official name of the state when the constitution was claiming Northern Ireland as part of that state, so it doesn’t really clarify or distinguish anything. It just illustrates the artificial manner in which certain Irish words are used in English as a substitute for having Irish as a living language for most of the population.

  • aber1991

    “Eire” is a word widely used in the UK to describe that part of Ireland which is not part of the UK. Whether it is technically correct or not, I do not care.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The problem with Northern Ireland is that we don’t migrate East-West to work, indeed if you are in Derry you are just as likely to work in Donegal or Dublin as you would be in North Down or East Belfast.

    The elephant in the room is that there is a Bann Partition in place in Northern Ireland. Effectively and probably ironically unionist East Belfast gets more out of Dublin than nationalist Derry does.

    Perhaps the all-Ireland West-East issue needs to be addressed, the Derry-Letterkenny-Coleraine triangle might be one spot.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Multi-denominational schools can be open to Catholics, if that’s what the parents want. Many Catholics who go to multi-denominational schools with a strong Catholic faith, while many who go to Catholic schools do not. Indeed the Catholic school can often be seen as a fashionable item, one many non-religious families use to get a high standard of mathematics and English grammar.

    The bishops and the professor in this case can evangelize their views to the parents and politicians and school govenors who will ultimately decide the argument.