Republicanism cannot have any no go areas.

There has been a small Twitter row over a recent election leaflet put out by Sinn Fein’s North Belfast candidate, Gerry Kelly displaying the number of Catholics and Protestants in the constituency. The debates about the rights and wrongs of the leaflet have been argued out on Mick’s thread on the topic and I don’t propose to cover that here, but it did get me thinking about the future direction of republicanism/nationalism.

I write (or ramble) about republicanism and in this election I have been faced with a real dilemma. I have never had any real attachment to either the SDLP or Sinn Fein, but I have always had an over-riding belief that despite the many differences between the various factions that ultimately Nationalists could unite behind a certain set of common principles.

The ideas of unity, nation-building and progressing this islands interests are something I that I think the majority of Nationalists share. Many of my friends whether they’re in Fianna Fail, the SDLP or Sinn Fein regularly express the same sentiments just with a different turn of phrase. There are some common threads despite the electoral battles that go on across our country.

I want Nationalism to do well, I want to see the values of unity and reconciliation win across this country. I want to see people who whether they’re Catholic or Protestant, Straight or Gay, born here or came here from another country, be persuaded that this is the right course for them and their family for to take.

Idealistic I hear you say, perhaps it is. But, we cannot allow republicanism to be boiled down to a headcount. We are trying to persuade people about reconciling a divided island and I cannot see how we even get close to victory by erecting barriers which simply don’t need to be put there.

How many surveys do we have telling us that the old norms of Catholics going one way and Protestants going the other is quickly becoming redundant in the 21st century?

We have such an opportunity to grasp the growing numbers to people who are just plain apathetic and bring them into the Nationalist fold like the SNP did in 2014.

Yet old thinking, a lack of policy focus and any clarity in our future direction of travel sees people fall back into a mindset that simply creates no go areas for republicanism.

Republicans always say we hold the idea of “one nation, one people” at the heart of all that we believe, we must stand up and demonstrate that when we say it, we actually mean it.

I never want an ideology to be based on religion, nor do I want a stale homogenous nation where only one view-point is acceptable.

If we look to successful and stable republics like the United States, we see that their diversity is what makes them strong. The fact that a whole host of cultures can come and find some comfort that country is a model I want to emulate here.

When we have this debate in future, I hope we can put the census figures in the bin and get out there and make the case for a thriving, positive and prosperous republic that I really believe is out there for us.

There can never be any no go areas and  nobody that cannot be convinced. If we truly believe our cause is right, then this has to be our approach.

I’ll leave the final words to Anatole France

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.




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  • Ernekid

    Well said David. That leaflet was stunning lack of judgment by Gerry Kelly and Sinn Fein. There should be no space for sectarianism in Republicanism.

  • mickfealty

    That’s one of the things that can happen when you live too long in the semi detached polit bureau…

  • Granni Trixie

    Own goal. GK has again put himself and his party in the wrong. Could be he’s been infected by the unionist sectarian pack bug. If they can do it…..

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I’m afraid this has always been the case.

    When the tribal parties have their backs up against the wall the mask slips, the euphemisms are discarded, and we see their true priorities in their unvarnished glory. Sinn Féin have no desire to win votes from non-Catholics. They only talk about non-sectarianism and equality because they believe it is what their Catholic electorate wants to hear.

    We are entering an interesting and complex period. Nationalists have no plan for bringing about a united Ireland that involves anything other than waiting for a Catholic majority. Unionists have no plan to secure the union that does not involve appealing to a shrinking loyalist and Protestant cultural base. For these parties who put constitutional issues front and centre of everything they stand for, they’re doing a woeful job of actually advancing their cause.

  • Martyn

    Right now neither the RoI nor GB want NI – we are just too cantankerous and expensive. If we could just work at becoming a more united society within NI, then we would become more attractive to both the RoI and GB. But, and this is the main reason for working for a more united society here, it then wouldn’t matter so much whether it was Ireland or Great Britain with whom we were united.

  • Zeno

    How many surveys do we have telling us that the old norms of Catholics going one way and Protestants going the other is quickly becoming redundant in the 21st century?

    Not enough apparently, the diehards just refuse to believe it. Much like Victor Meldrew.

  • aor26

    This leaflet has actually made my mind up that I will not be voting Sinn Fein in the election next week. Well done Sinn Fein. Take a bow Kelly. I have a good biography on Wolfe Tone on my book shelf – should I post it to the S.F headquarters in North Belfast ??

  • Korhomme

    “If we look to successful and stable republics like the United States, we
    see that their diversity is what makes them strong. The fact that a
    whole host of cultures can come and find some comfort that country is a
    model I want to emulate here.”

    Not a model I’d choose. The US is great provided you are a very rich WASP and male.

    The US has the greatest level of wealth/income inequality in the world.

    The US has the most expensive health system in the world; one for which perhaps a third of citizens have no insurance.

    The US imprisons more of its citizens than any other country. As a released felon, you cannot vote.

    If you are non-white, your chances of being in prison are high; as are your chances of being killed/murdered by the cops. You might even break your own neck in custody.

    If you are a woman and seek an abortion, some states will put any number of hurdles in your way; and your physician may be legally required to lie to you.

    If you suffer a stillbirth the state may decide it was infanticide, so you will be in prison for 30 years.

    But you could be a member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    Try another country as an exemplar.

  • mickfealty

    Sweden is not a Republic and it reverses all of those metrics. Are you making a counterintuitive pitch for a relatively monocultural constitutional monarchy Kor? 😉

  • kalista63

    This anti SF rhetoric is very much being reflected in GB by the anti SNP, their mandate dismissed, hyperbole chucked around all over the place and their voters dismissed as muck savages or raiders.

    And what of the opposition, the three parties signed up to an agreement with groups linked to ongoing racist and sectarian attacks. In fairness to Mike Nebitt, he did have the sense to tell a loyalist caller to Talkback that the Twaddell protest has lost.

    Called to account for one of his councilors putting deactivated gun to a Catholic mans head, the TUV’s leader defended him. Of course, as the do, LAD found out the fella did more than that . Of course, Jim Allister and the other leaders are allowed to go on about the protestant people this, the protestant people that, as they have alsways done. Conversely, I can’t recall SF ever putting claim to the catholics of the statelet.

  • kalista63

    Maybe we should pay for David to go to New Orleans or Detroit and see what the American Dream really looks like.

  • This is all very nice idealism regarding Irish republicanism’s potential appeal, but I feel you have to deal with the reality of the current situation. Identity is the heartbeat of northern politics, and your religious background influences what that identity is, as articulated in the 2011 UK Census which stated only 12.9% of Catholics have a British identity, and only 3.9% of Protestants have an Irish identity.

    This intrinsic link of religion and identity will continue as long as we live in religiously segregated areas that hold a particular identity, and operate a religiously divided education system where you’re concealed to those of a similar background to your own, neither of which look like they are going to radically change anytime soon.

    It is, therefore, difficult for me to seriously talk about northern Irish nationalism of being capable of galvanising a SNP-like mass multi-religious movement as long we are pre-determined, due to the abnormal nature of northern society, to be immersed from birth in some form of Irishness or Britishness, which shapes our future political outlook, specifically on the constitutional question.

  • David McCann

    No need, i have two brothers that live there. If you bothered to read the post I made reference to the USA not in the context of living standards but how such a melting pot of cultures can come under the American identity

  • Korhomme

    OK, Mick:

    Republic or Monarchy? A constitutional monarchy means lots of hangers-on, and a weird childhood for the kids. Doesn’t always end well for some, think Margaret and Diana. A Republic so often means a vote for some failed, superannuated politician being kicked upstairs to a retirement home—though Ireland has avoided this recently.

    Sweden? Perhaps, but they have a strong and very odd feminist movement, and some very odd social ideas; for example, if you are a woman and think you’ve been raped, well the (male) judge in court will decide this—so ‘rapists’ often get off.

    Denmark or Finland might be better models, though like Ireland they have awful climates—and they’re not cheap.

    Switzerland? No one there knows who the president is, he/she is just the chair of the executive council, term of a year—someone has to accept the ambassadors’ letters of credence.

    Switzerland has three linguist groups; German (60%), French (30%) and Italian (10%). Curiously, the Italian speaking canton of Ticino was once a colony of the German-Swiss, but voted to become an equal. Many commentators suggest that this third group is the reason that Switzerland hasn’t split into the two major groups. This all rather suggests that a country should either be monocultural, or have a significant third party—which Ireland doesn’t. But Switzerland’s so expensive, even if everything works.

    Costa Rica? one of the few countries with no army; I rather like that idea, and their environmental activities.

    Your turn 😉

  • Korhomme

    Or Watts, or Ferguson, or Baltimore, or….

  • Dixie Elliott

    I heard UKIP leader Nigel Farage coming out with the usual Sinn Fein rhetoric on TV this week. He was claiming that the media etc feared the rise of his party.

  • Dixie Elliott

    It’s not just the Shinners and DUP playing the them against us card…

  • Garibaldy

    This thread reminds me of a time I was campaigning for the local Workers’ Party candidate in West Tyrone with a leaflet saying For the Unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter on it. We rang into some people putting up Pat Doherty posters. They said vote for Pat Doherty for Catholics and a United Ireland, and told us to go to a nearby village which was protestant as we might get some votes there. They seemed nonplussed when we told them we had just come from there.

    Both unionism and nationalism accept the sectarian division, and base their politics on it. Republicanism in the spirit of Tone and Connolly brooks no compromise with it but seeks to confront and defeat it.

    But all this is a useful distraction from the implementation of austerity and the hollowness of having a single economic policy, namely making it easier for multinationals to dodge tax.

    BTW I’m surprised there hasn’t been more said about Gerry Kelly and co calling for Northern Ireland to be treated as a unit of self-determination when it comes to the EU. Irony.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    I’m from a Catholic background, proud to be Northern Irish and would identify myself as a UK citizen. Where does that put me in your little one nation idil? I’ve as much in common with a southern Irish citizen as I do a Frenchmen.

  • the rich get richer

    Maybe Immigrants could become the third force ! ! !

    Looking at Force 1 and Force 2 then surely any sane person would have to consider their options. ! ! !

  • Korhomme

    You speak in jest, methinks…

    In Switzerland, around 20% of the population are immigrants; but getting permanent residency there is very difficult. Many immigrants are transients.

    In my locality, it’s said that about 25% of the population are now immigrants; mostly, they come from Eastern Europe, so have the right of residence. But they, and their fellows in RoI are not organised politically, they are not yet a ‘third force’. I do wonder though, why they would come here to norn iron; I’m impressed that they have chosen to come here, and to RoI, whereas we were mostly just born here. Perhaps one day they will be the minority that glues the communities together…

  • Joe Canning

    The answer can only be another wipeout of dinosaurs.

  • Zeno

    It’s a pretty easy election ticket, wrap a Tricolour or a Union Jack around you and bingo. Create the illusion that themuns are getting everything we are getting nothing. Oh God the only party that can save us from/bring us to a United Ireland is them. Stick your X here. I’m hoping the non voters top 600,000 this time. At least I can hold that figure up and say…….. Hey we aren’t all nutters.

  • Ernekid

    So you think you have as much in common as someone from Cannes as you do with someone from Cavan?

    You’d think having the same culture, language, shared history would mean that you’ve plenty in common as someone across the border.

    Beyond having to carry Euros in your pocket and the difference in the packets of Tayto there’s not many big differences between living in the North and living in the South

  • Dan

    If you were a good sportsman, you’d feel the full force of self righteous nationalist hatred bearing down upon you for daring to hold that sort of opinion

  • the rich get richer

    AH…! Just thinking outside the box and who could blame one ?

  • Robin Keogh

    Would it not be better if those 600k could somehow organize themselves into a third force. Challenge the staus quo and maybe win over some converts to their aims?

  • Robin Keogh

    I dont think it is intended to ‘put’ you anywhere.You have a right to self identify in whatever way is relevent to your life situation and world view.

  • Zeno

    No, it’s perfect as it is. We have to keep SF/DUP in Stormont. We don’t know what the consequences of having them out of “power” would be.

  • notimetoshine

    I think you raise an interesting point regarding eastern European migrants. I have quite a few friends from Poland and Latvia who have put down roots here and have no real desire to go back. However they are curiously disengaged from our political process. A polish friend of mine who is quite sophisticated politically once told me that she finds our political dynamic to be bewildering and not at all easy to find her niche. She doesn’t vote here but has done when living in England where she found it easier to both understand and relate to a political party. She even joined and a party and helped locally. I think she finds the constitutional question that dominates our politics to be confusing and almost ‘none of her business’

    I imagine the above view would be common amongst quite a few eastern europeans here. With our dominant political parties based around the constitutional and cultural questions, how do migrants engage, indeed will they engage in the political process?

  • Korhomme

    Sure; but the idea is intriguing. During WW1, the German-Swiss were very much behind the Kaiser; the French-Swiss looked to Paris and London, and yet the country didn’t split as it easily could have. The differences weren’t so marked in WW2.

    Perhaps it really is either monoculturalism that unites a state; or the presence of a (significant) minority which encourages people to see themselves as sort-of-unitary rather than simply polarised.

  • Zeno

    “This anti SF rhetoric is very much being reflected….”

    There isn’t a law against disliking Sinn Fein and we are allowed to criticise them. Your defence basically said Sinn Fein are as bad as the rest of them. I agree with you.

  • terry o’neill

    “I’ve as much in common with a southern Irish citizen as I do a Frenchmen.”

    Yet in a couple of weeks the new parliament will be opened using Normandy French……………….

  • jonlivesey

    “….and bring them into the Nationalist fold like the SNP did in 2014.”

    That’s true right now, but things don’t last for ever. SNP look good right now because they are able to play the nationalist card, and collect the monthly subsidy from the rest of the UK at the same time. It’s a two for one win. But if the SNP had to govern an independent Scotland for a while, and find all its own money, reality would intrude.

    The PQ looked very strong and quite permanent in Quebec during the Nineties, but in 2014 their share of the vote dropped to 25% and they lost control.

    Nationalism is exciting. Excitement has a limited life.

  • Abucs

    The former socialist Yugoslavia was diverse.
    Iraq was diverse.
    1920’s Germany was diverse.
    A volleyball team with a one legged man and 2 midgets is diverse.
    Diverse just means different, not better.

    I often see the academically promoted concept of diversity as a way to destroy the status quo by angry ex-socialists who have no decent plans to put anything better in it’s place.

    Dangerous and very regressive in my opinion.

    I also see the success of Japan, Korea and China and governments there who are quite proudly well, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. I enjoy the perspective of these peoples and would hate to see those countries become ‘diverse’. The Left’s ‘Diversity’ leads to the demonisation and destruction of culture, not it’s promotion.

    I think the Lefts version of diversity paradoxically claims to bring everyone together and remove differences. This is the very antithesis of diversity. Better to respect your own culture and promote and enjoy differences and to co-operate and learn from each other.

    The Progressive Left’s version of diversity comes straight out of 1960’s socialist academia. It looks to destroy Western culture which is the very opposite of promoting diversity. It kills culture, it doesn’t respect it. The destruction of culture leads to the destruction of society.

    Dangerous and very regressive in my opinion.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Interesting title David “Republicanism cannot have any no go areas” It is a very difficult circle to square, by the nature of Republicanism it requires a Monarchist Foe ! In NI this Unionist opposition and foe lives in swathes of segregated housing districts completely immuned from it’s idealogy. Maybe when you mean “No go Areas” it is in the minds of people? The reality is on the ground and in the backstreets of Belfast where Republicanism is going “Nose to Nose” in cultural conflict with Orangeism and Unionism these No go Areas are going to be here for a very long time ! I would regard SF going on an election canvass in the back streets of Sandy Row as progress ? but would it ever be possible ? I think we all know the answer NO GO !

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    David, has Irish nationalism always been intertwined with Irish republicanism?

    Is it possible to separate the two?

    In theory there are Protestant ‘republicans’ as in people who have no time for what they see to be a ‘privileged parasite class’ but the current forms of republicanism seem to just ideologically skip from Irish nationalism to Irish catholicism as and when the situation dictates and it’s very difficult to garner their support. (Yes what-aboutery-snipers, unionism does the same thing with its PUL trinity).

    I get the impression that you’re more of a Republican (as in Tone, McCracken, McCourley etc) than the modern incarnation? I salute this but at the same time hope you remain a minority as unlike the Shinners your brand of ‘original republicanism’ could do real damage to unionism (as opposed to petty sectarian point scoring that we have now).

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Not voting simply means either you don’t care or you are not adult enough to make difficult decisions. There are several candidates in each constituency who offer an opportunity to break the mould, and no reason why a person cannot vote for them.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    We only have to keep them in power because they have a mandate. If we vote them all out it means they are on the margins.

    Both the DUP and SF will be forced to react to a drop in their vote.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    you have a common language for a start. Then add the common history, similar values, cultural similarities and so on. None of which you have with the average Frenchman.

  • Zeno

    They will probably react by becoming more extreme.

  • Zeno

    I agree, it’s a word that is thrown around as if it’s the be all and end all. I spend a fair bit of time in London. London is diverse, they don’t all love each others cultures. They tolerate them mostly.

  • Zeno

    “Not voting simply means either you don’t care or you are not adult enough to make difficult decisions.”

    I could say voting is for idiots. Politics is corrupt. It is anti democratic. By voting you are just condoning it. We don’t end up with the best leaders, we end up with people who have decided that they themselves are the best leaders. Most of them are deluded. We end up with Farmers in charge of health and people with not a single GCSE in charge of education. If that’s what you want, keep voting.

  • kalista63

    Pretty much what I’m saying. All of the main parties whose type are no longer needed, like the actors who couldn’t make it from silent to talking movies

    Of course, when politics should have been normalising, instead of getting a new fresh party, we got an even more staunch one, the TUV ffs

  • P Bradley

    Where is the evidence of that in the scenario you raise he/she would “feel the full force of self righteous nationalist hatred”? Is there a sportsman who felt this? If so, from whom.

  • mac tire

    And if you want more of the same – don’t vote.
    Not voting to make a point is the silliest thing you could possibly do.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Why thank you Robin. To Catcher, Ernekid and the others, I was lucky enough to live and work in France, Italy, England, Scotland and others. Interestingly never in the ROI. The fact that I share a language means little – if I need to I’ll go out and learn a second language. My point is that I have no interest in a united Ireland. I’ve been brought up in NI, as a British citizen, and I feel as much in common with a southern Irishman as I do with the proverbial “Frenchman”. This shared history/culture means absolutely nothing to me in my daily life – taxes, education etc. are my priorities. Some sort of combined Irish idyll is an anathema to my day to day life. I apologise if I’m stumbling to make the point, but I really don’t give a monkies for SF’s neoliberal socialist interpretation of Oireland. Frankly it scares the crap out of me.

    As to Dan’s comment, I’ve deliberately ignored this as just being plain stupid.

  • Robin Keogh

    And you are absolutely entitled to all of that. As a Sinn Fein man myself, obviously i hold a completely different view to you but i would defend with my life your rights as a citizen in the north or in a united ireland with the same gusto i would defend my own .

  • Turgon

    This piece seems not idealistic but actually quite unpleasant for those who do not want to see a united Republic. It seems to imply they must be converted to republicanism. It is more an evangelical religious position rather then a political one. That would be fine in a religious context but is intolerant in a political one.

    Trying to convert everyone to a “melting pot” type ideology is what has helped make the USA a society which as noted previously is far from welcoming to anyone who holds an ideology or sense of self deemed unacceptable. The same could be said of France with its insistence that people embrace Frenchness.

    The UK in contrast has (highly imperfectly) tolerated and encouraged a much less proscriptive notion of Britishness. Something which may be under attack and may at times have gone too far but is much healthier than the French or US model and certainly a lot healthier than David McCann’s highly chauvinist ideology outlined here.

    Furthermore if republicanism in a NI context ever wants to begin to be acceptable to others it needs to apologise repeatedly for the wicked actions performed by a perverted sub section of those who have so tainted the term as to make it highly toxic.

    That is something to which McCann has previously paid lip service. In this piece, however, by being inclusive of Sinn Fein he demonstrates that for him anyway, any such apology is feined and dishonest.

    Blogs like the above may make nationalists and republicans feel more united but in terms of reaching out to unionists (and quite possibly to new to NI people) they are counterproductive. As such I suppose as a unionist at some level I should encourage McCann’s chauvinist views.

  • I asked this in the other thread discussing the leaflet, but hadn’t received a response. Perhaps someone could clear up some confusion…

    The information after the asterisk on the leaflet explained that 46.94 per cent of those in north Belfast identify as “Catholic or religion”, whist 45.67 per cent identify as “Protestant and other”; what exactly do those distinctions entail? Is it that other religions have been tallied along with Catholics (except for Protestants), whilst those of no identified religion have been tallied along with Protestants? What about the missing 7.39 per cent?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It sounds less aggressive than the Republican form of nationalism we get from SF, that’s for sure – so hats off to you for that. Like Turgon though, I find the core assumptions of Irish nationalism deeply problematic and not just because I don’t feel very “Irish”. I’d be interested to see if you have answers to these questions …
    – On the face of it, the “let’s all get along together” argument doesn’t suggest one territorial entity over another. Why go into a single Ireland, independent from the rest of the country? The case has yet to be persuasively made.
    – you know that you have a group of people who have an entirely different national identity and set of loyalties and affiliations. Your “ideal” seems to be that they are subsumed into a new Irish nation. But you don’t say why that is a good thing from their point of view, only from your own. If being part of the UK isn’t something you want as your future, why should being part of an Irish Republic be something unionists should come to accept as theirs? Better to say surely, national minorities are not ideal and one group or another will end up in the “wrong” country. Let’s not pretend it’s anybody’s “ideal” when this happens.
    – Then there’s the more practical argument about ethnic balance within NI – at the moment the two communities are more or less even in number and that provides balance. Unionists are British but happy being a different kind of British than people on the mainland. We are in a sense on our own, as nationalists are currently in the NI container also. Good for balance. But in a united Ireland scenario, suddenly one side would have the weight of the rest of their ethnic group in what is now the Republic behind it and would, no doubt, remind everyone plenty of its dominant majority status in the all-Ireland context. This would upset the balance in Northern Ireland and would be more likely than any intra-UK future to deepen sectarian antagonism. In short, NI is the container that keeps the best balance.

    But here’s the big scupperer of Irish nationalism as an “ideal”: surely all nationalities are worthy of equal respect and no country is innately “better” than any other. So why switch countries? By saying we should, Irish nationalism is saying the Rep of Ireland is, presumably, better than the UK. That’s chauvinism, not nationalism.

    There is a form of Irish nationalism which is OK though – which is to say, look this new arrangement for the province has little or no chance of being any better than the previous ones and a good chance of being much worse. But there might come a time when there are more people in NI who want it than the status quo. If that happens, we’ll be duty bound to give effect to their wishes and try to manage the situation, which we acknowledge will be catastrophic for British people in Ireland. Our number one priority will be that Ulster British culture is maintained and strengthened despite the end of British sovereignty and we will incorporate British values and symbolism into the new Irish-British nation we seek to form, reflecting the two peoples who are joining, albeit against the will of one of them. We accept that any new “national” identity projected for the island cannot be the same as the current Irish national identity. Irishness as previously thought of will be a thing of the past – and the new joint Irish-British entity should be actively promoted around the island.

    Good luck with that in Cork …

  • Zeno

    I could just as easily say voting is the silliest thing you can do, but it’s not much of an argument.
    Your vote means nothing. If a serious decision comes up your MP doesn’t even get to vote on it. Re Bank Bail Out.

  • kensei

    I fully agree. But that future won’t be forged in tight and bad tempered election campaigns. More positive campaigns are an outcome of better politics, not a cause.

    Keep pushing.

  • David McCann

    Hi Turgon,

    1) I am not saying people “must” be converted, I am saying like anything in politics people can be won over by the arguments of Nationalism. Likewise, people can be won over to Unionism through the same process.

    2) Do people who committed crimes in the past need to apologise, absolutely. I include SF because whether people like it or not they are the largest Nationalist party in NI, I can hardly argue for inclusiveness if I exclude a party just because I don’t agree with their way of thinking.

    3) In arguing for a melting pot approach I am precisely preaching the message of diversity which has to be to the core of any nation. Likewise, Britain as you mention has a low-level approach in this regard and America is more out there, but they are examples of how people can find hooks to hand their respective hats on from a variety of cultures. I don’t want a singular identity in Ireland, I want a diverse one as possible.

    4) A conversation on identity which i did not address in the article, is critcal. I think in a world of globalisation, people and ideologies have to evovle. Indeed my biggest critique of republicanism is that in some way it hasn’t changed.

    Finally, whilst I tender my views on this subject, I don’t believe that my view is the only one out there to be taken seriously. I am not arrogant enough to believe that I have all the answers, I am just simply making a case for a different approach than the one that has been made so far by people from my perspective

  • Zeno

    “We have such an opportunity to grasp the growing numbers to people who are just plain apathetic and bring them into the Nationalist fold like the SNP did in 2014.”

    David, if you really want a United Ireland it’s pretty simple. I’ll do it in steps for you.
    Step One.
    Get rid of Sinn Fein.
    That will instantly make a United Ireland more attractive.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    They truly are the biggest obstacle to a UI, I suppose in the a similar fashion the OO, DUP et al are the biggest drag anchors to Northern Ireland’s survival.

    Oh the irony of it all.

  • Zeno

    Amazing isn’t it when you think about it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, AG, I’d heard a lot more of the character of ’98, or even of our own wee NICRA/PD ” ’98 manqué”, in david’s article. I’m quite wondering just how anyone would begin see the series ranks of Irish uniformity in his words.

    I’d thought he was attempting to think out how we might actually retrieve Irishness from those who have tried to appropriate it and distill it into one sour flavour.

    Before 1914 the idea that political difference did not exclude involvement in a communal commonality labeled “Irishness” was rather more general than the polarised mentalities of today can ever begin imagine.

    Just a piece of trivia, written by Frank Bigger, to illustrate this. Bigger had encouraged the development of an Irish pipe band in Armagh early last century. He described his approach to designing costumes for them in the ‘Irish Independent’ in 1908:

    “One definite feature has been maintained; no two costumes are alike in colour. All the old Gaelic hues have been used, and they were of the most varied character in the heroic times, thus getting away completely from any modern sameness of military appearance, and by a very variety of colour and difference of tone arriving at the true Celtic spirit where unity of the whole was best seen in the variety of detail.”

    I think that this rather romantic vision of an Ireland of blended but richly defined diversity (Bigger’s sub-text) is much closer in character to what David is speaking about above.

    It’s what is called “polyculturalism”, where the differences between portions of the community are not viewed as inevitably separate (as in multicultural approaches) but are seen as interdependent in the manner in which they contribute to a common culture. Both the Unionist and SF require an eternal separation, and a “sporting model” of winners and losers to function at all, and any evolution of our politics beyond this conflictual encoding must be able see the process of blending not as a threat to our many Irish identities but as a possible enrichment of them. But this will never be understood by anyone committed to any winner takes all final solution to our problems, and will enrage them by challenging their personal self-limiting shibboleths.

  • Turgon

    By appropriating Sinn Fein’s murderous and bigoted “hibernianism” into your vision of republicanism you give the lie to any pretence you make of inclusivity.

    That you an economically right wing individual who claims little commonality with SF associates preferentially with them is most instructive. It shows that, when the window dressing is stripped away, your so called inclusivity is actually simply another tactic for defeating “themmuns”.

    Your republicanism is not inclusive it is irredentionalist and deeply chauvinistic.

  • David McCann

    So would you say by including SF my overture for open republicanism is dishonest or even nonsense?

  • babyface finlayson


    I took that to be a misprint which should read “religion brought up in”. So it would include those who no longer self identify as Catholic but were brought up as such. The same applies to Protestant, and other religions are being counted in with them on the leaflet.
    The missing 7% are presumably of no identified religion and are thus the only sane people in North Belfast.
    But that fellow salmonella of data might know better.

  • Turgon

    I think your whole pitch is chauvinistic, irrenditionist and fundamentally dishonest. Bringing in SF is merely one aspect thereof.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    By voting you are just condoning it.

    On the contrary. Non-voters publicly declare their indifference as to how the country is run. You may not support anyone, but you don’t oppose anyone either.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Which is the path to the oblivion. Either way, we win.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    An important difference is that nobody in the SNP ever killed anyone or was implicated in covering up child abuse.

    Another important difference is that SNP are able to appeal to the entire electorate in Scotland and win new votes. Sinn Féin, in contrast, have no desire to appeal to anyone; they are only interested in waiting for the census results to bear fruit, as they clearly indicated on their North Belfast election leaflet.

  • Turgon

    That would make you a rare Sinn Fein man indeed. A few, very few Sinn Fein men may (like you claim) have been willing to defend people with their lives. Rather more were interested in defending (or advancing) themselves with other people’s lives. Still more simply took other people’s lives.

  • Zeno

    I oppose all of them and withhold my vote as evidence of that.
    Keep voting and see where it gets you.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I’m just trying to get across to you the fact that parties – none of them – simply do not waste time worrying about the opinions of non-voters. You are welcome to believe otherwise if you want but, as you say, keep thinking that, and see where it gets you.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    I’ve re-read these articles over and over again and I can’t see where any of it is at face value chauvinistic, irrenditionist (?) and fundamentally dishonest’.

    Perhaps If I were to twist his words and assume the worst in parts that may be 50-50 I could have a go at hammer his words through the shapes you have provided but it would be an effort.

    He proposes an Ireland where everyone is welcome, from immigrants and (from what I understand) Orangemen, people who see themselves only as British and indeed Ulster nationalists (as in people who are more Ulster orientated than pro-UK or pro Ireland).

    Perhaps the USA was a poor choice of comparison but that’s not to say that he’s proposing that we are all brainwashed and it becomes very much in vogue to ostracise those who aren’t ‘with’ the national ideal.

    As it stands SF make a complete hash of the idea of a UI, which along with the still lingering aftertaste of De Valera’s Ireland makes for a very unpleasant cocktail for those of us in NI not of a nationalist persuasion.

    David’s vision (from what I gather) is something to reset the palate and removes the bitter tastes of MOPEry, anti-Britishness and the ever present (but always denied) sectarian aspect that modern ‘republicanism’ (I use the term loosely) offers.

    From a unionist point of view David’s vision is more to be feared than criticised as it could reach through the cracks that SF’s tentacles can’t.

    But from an Ulster nationalist point of view it’s something to consider.

  • Zeno

    Why are they talking about bringing in compulsory voting then?
    They do worry when people don’t vote because it reduces their mandate. It show that they and the political system they operate does not have the support of the electorate.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Why are they talking about bringing in compulsory voting then?

    “They” are not talking about compulsory voting. Some of the pundits are, but the politicians aren’t. They’re more than happy for you to stay away. One less mouth to feed (politically speaking).

  • Robin Keogh

    And they like many in the Loyalist and Unionist community have left that behind almost a generation ago, thankfully. The overall majority of Shinners have no connection with the troubled past and want to build an equal and just United Ireland.

  • Zeno

    Danny Kinahan put forward a motion that was defeated. So don’t tell me politicians aren’t talking about it.

    I already addressed this topic earlier so here’s a cut an paste……..

    I wonder how democracy (government of the people by the people) came to mean choosing the lesser idiot to lead you, and marking an X beside his/her name on the ballot paper. I don’t think I’m over fussy, but to me a leader is someone with a level of competence that allows him to use a bit of common sense when making a decision. Someone who has the foresight to see that decisions have consequences. It also helps if he can talk coherently and isn’t racist or sectarian.
    You can see why I never vote and neither should you.

    You are just propping up a nonsense.

  • Turgon

    Ah yes the Trojan horse of equality to “break the b——s” and a large number of the senior elected representatives are of course ex terrorists.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And the polycultural nature of the “melting pot” experience in California is evident to anyone actually spending time living and working there. No polity is perfect, and the US has serious problems, but David is spot on for what he’s trying to say in this.

  • kensei

    The US is the world’s longest running and most successful democracy. It has problems for sure, but the idea we don’t have a lot to learn form them is nuts.

  • Robin Keogh

    to try and bring fairness and equality indeed means challenging those who feel prejudice, bigoty and racism are accelptable norms in any society and i will always support SF in their efforts. As for the elected reps on all sides who were former combatants, they are elected to office by popular mandate on foot of the GFA and St Andrews agreements. Thats democracy.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I think that the problem, AG, here is that absolute Irish Nationalism and absolute Unionism as concepts are mutually exclusive, without andy space for discussion. As Yeats puts it, one lives the others death, dies the others life. What David is attempting to describe is a flexible polycultural re-imagening of nationalism which is not in any way absolute or exclusivist. However, what he is being criticised for here is actually the old exclusivist model of absolute nationalism, something he is not actually proposing as I understand his article. David’s ideas for the re-imagening of the Irish nationalist tradition into something that can transcend our recent acrimonious history and inspire a very different narrative is a position no flexible, liberal “Unionist” who similarly desires the good of the entire community through compromise and debate will have any problems considering, I’d feel.

  • Dan

    You know exactly of whom I speak.