What now for nationalism? Chris Donnelly & panel at Lighthouse Summer School, Killough

The Future of Nationalism - Lighthouse Summer School, Killough The inaugural Lighthouse Summer School was a first step in John Manley’s dream of bringing more people into Killough to discover the delights of the coastal village he calls home. If he continues the practice of serving home made loaf and buns, the summer school is sure to be a long-term success!

Today’s event brought together local South Down residents, politicians, and a few political nerds to listen to different perspectives on the future of nationalism in across Ireland. Given the topic, perhaps it was quite appropriate that the walls of the community hall room were painted two shades of green!

IMG_2145Chris Donnelly gave his view of a number of different nationalist perspectives and challenges. His half hour talk led into the later panel discussion and Q&A. [Click on the images to see larger versions.]

He began by suggesting that while some people believe that a united Ireland has never been further away, he prefers to think that a united Ireland has never been closer, albeit neither particularly close nor inevitable.

IMG_2146He argued that we’ve been living through a halcyon era of northern nationalism. A northern nationalist Mary McAleese was elected to serve as Irish President for fourteen years.

While the SDLP has had “a lean existence” since the Good Friday Agreement, they did significantly win – and have since held – the Belfast South seat at Westminster. Even the success of Ulster GAA teams can have the effect of improving the northern nationalist psyche.

IMG_2147Putting a positive spin on current conditions in Northern Ireland – a “glass half full” interpretation – Chris noted the increasingly equal state and society, as well as the dismantling of the “Orange state”.

He also spoke about the evolution of an independent Irish state (politically and economically) and the emergence of all-Ireland political parties.

IMG_2153Demographic realities and the potential for UK constitutional change around Scotland also give hope. In a society which has had a long-running close bond between religious and political allegiance, the changing population cannot be ignored.

However, disconnection is casting many shadows over nationalism.

There’s a political malaise in the north, with increasing voter apathy and a feeling of disconnection from political processes.

IMG_2152The “rudderless state of Unionism” is a distraction from shortcomings in nationalism.

Southern politics are not engaged with the unity project.

The formidable economic, political and constitutional barriers need to be recognised and confronted, along with the absence of any discernible plans for unity.

IMG_2154He finished with a set of open questions for nationalism.

  • Can a tangible vision be presented to move Irish unity beyond aspiration and create something more concrete?
  • How can an all-Ireland vision be promoted effectively inside and outside institutions?
  • How can the economic barrier to unity in both the north and the south be tackled?

Chris argued that it was important to address the rights of northern unionists who would want to remain British in a united Ireland? Could the Irish constitution be frontloaded, sooner rather than later, to promise to safeguard the rights of the unionist community in a future united Ireland. The political and constitutional architecture needs to allow a unionist minority to continue to contest the settlement, and be seen to do so well in advance of any poll.

When Chris finished, the assembled panel responded.

IMG_2197Irish News controversialist columnist Tom Kelly agreed there was a lack of a coherent message of what a united Ireland would offer.

Darren O’Rourke (Sinn Féin councillor for Meath East … and a late replacement for Senator Kathryn Reilly) emphasised his party’s top priority of working towards a united Ireland and their programmes and practices to boost internal party cross-border cooperation. He asked “how you keep your game on your toes” if you don’t have strong opposition at Stormont?

FullSizeRender 14Thomas Byrne (Fianna Fáil senator for Meath) felt that highlighting NI census demographic figures for religion and extending to political allegiance is a turn off for southern voters. He hoped that there would be a border poll at some stage, but felt that running Catalonia-style unofficial mini-border polls in majority republican areas was laughable and would not win over support.

After lunch, the debate was opened up to the audience and there was discussion around:

  • how the centenary of 1916 might affect people’s views on Ireland and unity;
  • why hasn’t an independent group of experts been set up (independent of parties) to report on the level of London’s subvention to Northern Ireland and explain the potential for all-island savings;
  • would a united Ireland adopt a Swiss canton approach; [Ed – hardly a perfect model with a minority French-speaking cantons pitched against the majority German cantons!]
  • the need to sell the economic, historical, cultural, identity reasons for unification;
  • why is the debate framed around 1916 rather than the reality of is the debate framed around what nationalism in NI looks like post-Scottish independence;
  • what southern symbols might have to be changed in light of a united Ireland;
  • would Ireland in the Commonwealth be a confidence-boosting measure for unionists;
  • Thomas Byrne challenged Sinn Féin’s position on abstentionism at Westminster (he’d be happy if Fianna Fáil won seats and sat in the House of Commons);
  • how to open up more cost effective and convenient shared services in border areas, particularly around health and education.

After Darren O’Rourke departed, local MLA Chris Hazzard took his place on the panel and was unafraid to explain how John Hume had been one of his early political heroes and a great contributor to Ireland.

While a compact and bijou affair, it was the first rational discussion about a new Ireland I’ve heard since interviewing Conall McDevitt about the topic in February 2013!

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  • barnshee

    When the arse falls off the Scottish run for “independence” have someone handy to wipe the egg off the faces of the “its doomed its doomed” merchants
    I love the SF activist (former ?) masquerading as some kind of “chairman”
    Again –who paid for this bun worry

  • Ernekid

    Sounds like an interesting day out. I’d have like to have gone myself.

    It seems to me that the structure of the United Kingdom is changing, and that Northern Ireland’s constitutional position is going to change whether people up on the hill like it or not. Unless there’s a major shift in political direction. Scotland’s is going to keeping moving towards Independence and will likely be so by the 2020s. Irish Nationalists have a lot to learn about how Scottish Nationalism went from a fringe concern in the early 2000s to the dominant political ideology in less than 10 years.

    In terms of strategy, I think the best thing to do is to keep promoting cross border cooperation and strategy. Minimising the impact of the border, in public, social and governmental life. If Ministers in Dublin are regularly working with their counterparts in Belfast then the fears of perfidious Éire within Unionist mindset will eventually be worn away. Nationalism needs a proper joint up thinking on cross border strategy, Normalising cooperation on health, education, infrastructural, agricultural and envirommental issues.

  • chrisjones2

    “Irish Nationalists have a lot to learn about how Scottish Nationalism went from a fringe concern in the early 2000s to the dominant political ideology in less than 10 years.”

    …..without murdering thousands of their fellow citizens too

  • Redstar2014

    Chris what a dumbass comment. You regularly come on here with such daft one sided nonsense. Unionists murdered thousands too- doesn’t make either sides case any better

  • Were the SDLP in attendance/invited?

  • Granni Trixie

    Men,men,men. Just sayin’

  • I wasn’t involved with the line-up so I don’t know the ins and outs of the panel invites. However, SF’s Kathryn Reilly was listed on the poster but pulled out. And Margaret Ritchie came in, sat down for a few minutes and then left without speaking …

  • kalista63

    England, never mind GB or the UK, is fragmenting, with the south east becoming a place apart and the north cast aside. With the betrayal of promises made in September and their misuse to make an English Parliament for London and Home Counties, the SNP have a good basis to demand another #Indyref.

    As I said on Twitter, I wanted Cameron to win. What state will the UK, will NI, be in by 2020? How much money will the anti Keynes DUP have given for FDI companies to have come and fek’d off? How much will Dave have cut off our grant? Meanwhile, the south will continue to recover, hopefully not touching the Kool aid as the did before.

    Personally, I would present this and not even as a case for a UI, just as things are. Then, as a population, our numbers will have a dramatically larger influence in the Dail than it ever would in Westminster, including influence over the economic strings.

    So, what’s the proposal? Well, its not for Mexicans or Nordies to say, its for a debate between them and london and I’ve never seen anything close to what the proposal will be, We’ve seen recent reunification and splits and seen international involvement. I’d assume that Britain will have a financial, political and cultural influence for varying amounts of time but beyond that, I haven’t a baldy.

  • kalista63

    I would like to hear what someone like Claire Daly would have to say.

  • mickfealty

    Duly noted [I hope].

  • mickfealty

    Not the taxpayers, if that’s what you mean? Can we tone down the cynicism people? We’re going to to get involved in more of these events over time. Next up in the Autumn we have another one on unionism.

    Now does anyone actually want to comment on the content ??

    I have different coloured cards for those who don’t.

  • sk

    To be fair, they weren’t up against a “Scottish Unionist Party” that treated them like animals or an “Aberdeen Volunteer Force” who cut random SNP’ers throats down to the spinal column.

  • Zeno

    The question they should be asking each other is, why don’t people want a United Ireland?
    The answers are plenty.
    1) The 30 year murder campaign carried out by the IRA.
    2) Sinn Fein.
    3) No one has given more than a vague description of it.
    4) The economics.
    5) Goading republicans with their 50+1 and any day now nonsense. (Who would want to share a country with them?)
    There is more but I’m busy.

  • mac tire

    “The question they should be asking each other is, why don’t people want a United Ireland?”
    A bit like the ‘dogs in the street’ comments – we’ll only know when the facts are in.

    1) The 30 year murder campaign carried out by the IRA.

    With all Loyalists, many Protestants and some Unionists – undoubtedly.

    2) Sinn Fein.

    See above.

    3) No one has given more than a vague description of it.

    Absolutely – and as an Irish Republican, this is a sore point for me.

    4) The economics.

    Well, we are not sure yet, but this is linked to 4)

    5) Goading republicans with their 50+1 and any day now nonsense.

    Well, democracy – people rule is what we have all been told is the key. It’s not now? Why?

    “(Who would want to share a country with them?)”

    Well, you do – whether it is Ireland or Northern Ireland or UK, whatever you decide to call it. Do you actually have a problem sharing a country with fellow people? Where do these thoughts lead? Seriously!

    “There is more but I’m busy.”

    There is more – I just could not be bothered, to be honest.

  • Zeno

    I don’t understand some of your reply. Sinn Fein are without a doubt a hindrance to a UI. They haven’t advanced it, but have managed to turn even moderates off the idea.
    By democracy, do you mean majority rule? That was the problem that got us here.
    By sharing a country I mean one brought about by SF and the IRA. 98% OF Protestants and over half of Catholics won’t have it.
    What does UI mean? I think we agree on that and the economics I think we agree on.
    Politics here has degenerated into eye poke . SF do something and the DUP retaliate,and vice versa.

  • mac tire

    Thanks for your considered reply, sorry if I mixed you up.

    I agree that SF have hindered things among some of the population.

    “By democracy, do you mean majority rule? That was the problem that got us here.”

    No democracy – or lack of it – was the problem. Having it is the solution, wouldn’t you agree?

    “By sharing a country I mean one brought about by SF and the IRA. 98% OF Protestants and over half of Catholics won’t have it.”

    Well, as I said, we’ll see.

    “What does UI mean? I think we agree on that and the economics I think we agree on.”

    You see, there are things which unite us.

    “Politics here has degenerated into eye poke . SF do something and the DUP retaliate,and vice versa.”

    I fear you might be correct. But let’s focus on what we may agree on, despite our differences. Isn’t that a start?

    Then, let’s lead the way instead of focusing on what we, essentially can not change. Isn’t that supposed to start here?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well, I suppose it’s good that at least there are rational discussions about such things.

    What if nationalism does have a massive pow-wow and learn a few things and act upon them?

    Unionism could be in a bit of bother, but in the mean time the current ‘model’ spear headed by SF is unionism’s friend (in the same way unionism is kind to nationalist objectives with its current trajectory, oh the irony).

    Why not bring in some big-wig psychologists, psychiatrists, marketing people,economists and political analysts and let them write up a ‘warts n all’ report full of recommendations for the main obstacles for the UI project?

    After a few years of research, living in NI and interviewing hordes of people from all walks of life they might have some insight free from bias and romantic notions or the burden of history.

    If they say what is needed is a strategy of letting demographics do the work along with the odd bit of eye poking, absurd definitions of ‘equality’ and cultural demarcation then so be it, fire away. As you were etc etc.

    But if they say something along the lines of ‘time for a change of tact’ would political nationalism be willing to make hard choices?

    They have the advantage in that political unionism seemingly won’t, so they could get the head start.

  • Toby Argyll

    No mention of Eire Nua?

  • chrisjones2

    Very rich given that this was a effectively a Nationalist Navel Gazing exercise that, from the reports, sort of missed some of the factors that might deter Unionist from the concept – like all the dead bodies buried about the place.

    And if you think that that’s one sided tough…read some of the things I have said about the Unionists and the OO as well. But strangely you seem to have missed those

    The truth is I think the fundamental issue is that both sides are very happy to talk to themselves but not to find common ground with each other because to do so might upset political boats or expose terrible truths

    PS on the general issue of one sided-mess I love all your balanced and inspiring posts on things like the OO!!

  • chrisjones2

    Ok …here is my view

    I think that as reported this was a very positive and open event. It was nice to see that Nationalists actually started to consider that even within those they see as their constituency the UI product is perhaps seen as a bit careworn and jaded.

    The fundamental issue that Nationalism has to address is that it has to make itself attractive to Unionists – be they Prod Unionists or Catholic Unionists. Until it crosses that Rubicon and abandons the plan to force them into a UI or out-breed them, it is utterly doomed

    And for the avoidance of doubt again, I wish that Unionists would engage in the same sort of exercise and ask themselves why do they WANT to be British and what does that mean! The true answer I suspect is that many of them don’t – they just don’t want to be Irish

    Its only when we expose all those truths we will even start to understand where common ground may lie. But I cannot for the life of me see any Unionist political interest even engaging in a discussion like this. What we have we hold!!!

    (Cue skirl of pipes and wrap the flag a bit tighter around us.)

  • Zeno

    “No democracy – or lack of it – was the problem. Having it is the solution, wouldn’t you agree?”

    Democracy is usually defined as Government of the People by the People. Decisions are voted on and implemented when a majority agree. We definitely don’t have that. And if we did ,Unionists would be in a majority government with 55 of the 108 Seats. Petitions of Concern are used to block anything that might be seen as good for unionists or nationalists.

    You obviously want to see a United Ireland, so describe it for me.

  • chrisjones2

    Is that like the old Groucho Marx quote Mick?

  • John Collins

    Well as one who does not think that NI is worth the bother to ROI I think a tentative argument could be made for a United Ireland.
    (1) A common corporation tax could be implemented with that of the Republic
    (2) One million Unionists would have a far bigger say in a Parliament for six million people that one for sixty four million. (In this regard it should be noted that most people in the South are utterly opposed to SF, not just on account of their past, but also because of their absurd economic policies. In the North and South minorities were treated badly in the past. Membership of the EU and changing attitudes should help reduce of this happening in a United Ireland
    (3) The Southern Government has been adept at getting investment from abroad especially the US and NI would have to get their share of this. I also think that NI representatives might be able to work with their Northern counterparts to open more doors in this regard to help the whole island.
    (4) in relation to agriculture GB politicians have never been great to make the case for NI farmers and it is common knowledge that Ian Paisley often joined Southern politicians to make the case for all farmers in the island. We just need to remember how NI farmers were threated by GB during the last Foot and Mouth crisis to appreciate how little respect have for Ulster farmers. The incompetence of her Majesty’s Ag Dept was displayed by the fact that due to map reading errors several fine herds were unnecessarily destroyed in the mainland.
    Basically, I am just throwing out a few points for discussion and their would have to be huge changes over time before this proposed project would even be seriously considered. And yes the cost implications would be huge and over 50% of both parts of the island would have to approve it. All a long way off I feel

  • mac tire

    “You obviously want to see a United Ireland, so describe it for me.”
    I couldn’t possibly describe it, Zeno, simply because we don’t know what it would be like yet. Isn’t that part of the allure; that it is something we all would have to work out – together?

    That’s my most honest, basic answer.

  • kalista63

    You reminded me of a strange incident last week or so. Gregory Campbell was on Nolan and he asked Gregory why he was for the union. I was astonished that Campbell was unable to give a reason.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Well Tom kelly is ex sdlp

  • Zeno

    (2) One million Unionists would have a far bigger say in a Parliament for six million people that one for sixty four million.

    Unionism would have failed if we reach that stage, and would have no purpose other than to try and protect the interests of the Northerners who were against UI. But even so the Northern ex union parties would only have about 10%-15% of the seats in a new Parliament. In a regional Parliament they would probably spend all their time trying to make sure it doesn’t work. A bit like Sinn Fein at the moment.

  • LordSummerisle

    I should like to go to that of it is not to far.

  • chrisjones2


    Mind you don’t ask many of the DUP to walk and talk at the same time – and that includes the Ministers

    I think they are specially selected for that attribute. Makes them less likely to ask questions

  • chrisjones2

    Is he really ‘ex’ . Did he leave the Stoops or did they leave him?

  • chrisjones2


  • aquifer

    Nineteenth century nationalism was about securing separate political control of territories to economically benefit their inhabitants, and was most easily practiced when they shared ethnicity and religion. It was also likely to prosper when regions had particular economic strengths that were being constrained by unfair patterns of ownership or oppression based on ethnicity or religion, tariffs, trade restrictions, and taxes.

    Tariffs and restrictions on trade are now largely removed within Europe, and unfair discrimination in employment is being driven out by legal means and by the efficiency required by economic competition. Major questions around the use ownership and control of Irish farm land were already addressed before the first world war. Ireland North and South is now a comparatively rich and capable country.

    ‘Nationalism”s rump role seems to be to insist that should political integration on the island happen, that it is to be culturally congenial to one group sharing one religion.

    By staying away, voters may just be insisting that culturally and familially they have already emigrated to a larger space, despite Hume Adams’ belated rescue effort.

  • Paddy Reilly

    What I don’t understand is why you think the “30 year murder campaign
    carried out by the IRA” is a valid reason for not wanting a United Ireland,
    when only a few days ago, you were arguing that the Shankill Butchers and the UVF ‘Yabba dabba doo, any Taig will do’ campaign was a reason for avoiding the same. Why is possible Loyalist violence a reason for eschewing a United Ireland, but possible Republican violence not a reason for hastening the end of partition?

    In short if the sun shines tomorrow, that means we should not have a United Ireland, and if it rains, that is a good reason for retaining partition.

    Also your complaint: (Who would want to share a country with them?). Isn’t that what you have to do now? (Or are you posting from Patagonia?) So can we look forward to your emigration?

    In a United Ireland, where previously there had been two jurisdictions, there will henceforth only be one. That is the sum total of the description you will get of it. The reason for this is:-

    1) Predicting the future is the province of Mystic Meg;
    2) No constraint can be put on the right of the Irish people to rule themselves as they see fit. No individual or party has the right to make binding promises on behalf of the Irish people, who will be totally sovereign.You may, if you please, see them as just waiting to have all Protestants boiled in oil, but I think of them as rather wet and partial to minorities, not prepared even to put their foot down and stop Homosexuals wasting their own time and ours with unnecessary parodies of matrimony.

    You might as well say: Describe 2020 for me. You can’t do it? All right I’m not having it.

  • Paddy Reilly

    This is correct, though I would imagine that the bottom end of this estimate would be the correct figure. However, it is most unlikely that the Unionist vote would hold up in conditions of a United Ireland: how many Irish immigrants into England vote for FF, FG, SF or SDLP? Of course they vote for the British Parties, who have the power to affect things.

    So the Unionist vote would just resolve itself into FF, FG, Green or Irish Labour voters, or decide not to vote at all. (I suspect they won’t be voting SF). Perhaps Unionist politicians would survive as Independents, but as any future Irish government would be ill advised to rely on their support, they would serve no great purpose.

  • barnshee

    There is no way the Ulster Prod will vote for any of the familiars of murder gangs —the one party that MIGHT and its a big MIGHT get their support is a ” proper” labour party

  • barnshee

    Campbell has the cast iron reason that needs no further explanation-he and his supporters are not members of the “Irish ” state and wholly opposed to inclusion in “Ireland”

    In their hearts the Prod has always been more anti Irish than Pro UK

  • Paddy Reilly

    Unionists who have moved to the Republic have ended up as
    members of Fianna Fáil. The Green Party’s votes, in places like North Down, are drawn from people who until recently must have been Unionists: they also have the advantage that they have never actually been any sort of Republican.

    In the Free State, Fine Gael did inherit the support of the Irish Parliamentary Party plus whatever Unionists were stranded in the Free State, most notably the Earl of Mount Charles:-


    the Guinnesses:-


    and the Dockrells:-


    Perhaps the best solution for you would be the revival of the Northern Ireland Labour Party, who, if they won any seats in the North, could go into coalition with the Irish Labour Party.

  • barnshee

    “Now does anyone actually want to comment on the content ??”

    We could start with defining “united”

    “United” Collins English Dictionary

    1 Produced by two or more persons
    2 In agreement
    3 In association or alliance

    We could then ask how (particularly) the actions of the pan -nationalist front has advanced the ” agreement” and “association or alliance” to progress “unity”— Positive or negative ? For or against?

    Look also at the “team” concept where members vi for inclusion and co-operate in common purpose for team success .

    How successfully had the pan-nationalist team been in recruiting?

    If you want to join the (big?) team next door what will you do with “opposition” supporters. Worse what do you do with team members who actively undermine the team?

    Finally what do you do when the”orange state” has been dismantled for generations and the problems laid at its door continue to exist under the umbrella of the AFM pan-nationalist team.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’m not a unionist, but I’m fairly sure The Ulster Covenant desire to oppose (by either Home Rule or full sovereignty) a independent Ireland (rather than a “united” Ireland) didn’t really depend on most of these.

  • kalista63

    Chris, Banshee, I think the question was pre empted with mention of the bru we get from London.

    I wonder if we would have Eddie Izzard and Al Murray in Trafalgar Square begging us not to go?

  • Zeno

    “What I don’t understand is why you think the “30 year murder campaign carried out by the IRA” is a valid reason for not wanting a United Ireland”

    Seriously? Nearly 2000 people murdered by Republicans, 10’s of thousands injured and they now want us to join them in a united country, eh? You seriously don;t get that?

  • Paddy Reilly

    But you’re already with them (such of them as are still alive) in a united six county province. In a United Ireland you would be with millions of other people who did not participate in a 30 year violent campaign. No logic whatsoever.

  • Zeno

    That’s completely different. A United Ireland would be seen as a victory for Sinn Fein and the IRA who bombed and murdered and disappeared people. In 1968 around 20% of Protestants were interested in a United Ireland. After the slaughter that became less than 2%.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Lies, damned lies and statistics. Quoting some stupid opinion poll doesn’t prove anything. I was alive in 1968. There was no electoral evidence of Protestants leaning towards a United Ireland. In fact in 1964 every single constituency in NI was won by a UUP candidate, and in 1966 there was only one that wasn’t, West Belfast, and that was where all the Catholics lived.

    Moreover, the IRA armed themselves not because they thought they would thereby obtain a United Ireland, but in order to stop Loyalists attacking them.

    The fact is, you do not want a United Ireland, presumably because you see yourself as a beneficiary of partition. That is the end of it.

    Because the IRA opposed the Northern state, you say you do not want a UI. But if the IRA did not oppose the Northern State, you would say there should not be reunification because there was no call for it among the Catholic population. Your syllogisms and propaganda are spurious. A United Ireland would be a victory for the IRA maybe; but a still divided one must be a victory for the Shankill Butchers. I can see no reason to prefer one to the other. What is yours?

  • Zeno

    “Moreover, the IRA armed themselves not because they thought they would thereby obtain a United Ireland, but in order to stop Loyalists attacking them”


    “A United Ireland would be a victory for the IRA maybe; but a still divided one must be a victory for the Shankill Butchers.”

    Em, what? That defies any logic. The Shankill Butcher didn’t form the state, and can make no claim that their murders of innocent people, mostly Catholics kept Northern Ireland in the union.

    I’m saying there won’t be a United Ireland simply because the people don’t want one.

  • Paddy Reilly


    No. I may be showing my age, but there was a time when the IRA lacked the wherewithal to defend their own homes. See Cain Index:-


    The Shankill Butcher didn’t form the state, and can make no claim that their murders of innocent people, mostly Catholics kept Northern Ireland in the union.

    That’s funny, a couple of days ago you were advancing the murders of the Shankill Butchers as a reason why it would be too dangerous to have a United Ireland. Sinn Féin didn’t form the state either, nor the IRA.

    I’m saying there won’t be a United Ireland simply because the people don’t want one.

    Good point. We should test this hypothesis by handing out non-binding universal suffrage opinion polls on the matter at every election.

  • Zeno

    I think you are confused. The IRA always had weapons and they used them. Remember the Border Campaign?
    I think you are also confused about a United Ireland and the role SF and the IRA would claim if it ever did come about. It would be heralded as a victory and result of the “armed struggle”
    Re the Shankill Butchers I simply stated that people still exist in Belfast who are capable of hatred and murder. Forcing them into a UI would result in people in Belfast being murdered on the streets. And for what?

  • Paddy Reilly

    Sorry I don’t remember the border campaign, I’m not that old. By the 1960s Northern Ireland had reached its quietest ever. In 1969 when Catholics were being burnt out of their homes there is no evidence that their defenders had more than one gun with which to attempt to stop them.

    For the rest of your post you just repeat your previous inconsistency.

  • Tochais Siorai

    I think a forum made up of non-politicians with an interest in the subject (likewise for a similiar Unionist gathering) would be far more interesting. Part of the reason the nationalist vote is static in NI is that for an increasing number of nat inclined people SF and the SDLP are becoming increasingly irrelevant. The latter is slowly dying and SF are hitting a ceiling – people either turned off by their past or their present posturing whilst still feeding from the trough or both. As for FF…….
    Besides politicians these days seem unable to go for a p**s unless it’s prior approved by party HQ so originality mighn’t be always be top of the agenda.
    Next time maybe leave the pols at home. Invite an economist (David Mc Williams?), a historian (Diarmuid Ferriter?), someone from sport (Martin O Neill?Mightn’t have a busy Summer unfortunately), arts, business, media, education, health, etc etc, Open it up. It’d be a bit of craic anyway and maybe a bit more out of the box ideas might emerge.

  • Zeno

    One Gun?

    “At a raid on Gough barracks in Armagh in June 1954, the IRA seized 250 Lee–Enfield rifles, 37 submachine guns, 9 Bren guns and 40 training rifles.”

    And that was only part of their arsenal. You don’t have to be old enough, look it up on google ,read a book.

  • Tochais Siorai

    With respect Zeno, maybe its yourself that needs to read a book. At the start of the troubles the IRA had virtually nothing in the way of weaponry. What wasn’t obsolete or captured after the 1956-1962 campaign, they allegedly gave away to a Welsh nationalist group. In any event, there was nothing left to defend Catholic areas in Belfast which were under loyalist attack in the Summer of 1969 and as a result they got serious stick from the locals – for a good while in West Belfast IRA stood for ‘I Ran Away’.
    The lack of weapons led in large part to the events leading up to the Arms trial but I’m sure you know all about that.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Yes but by 1968 they had had it all taken away from them. In Belfast they had no firepower, and it was in Belfast that Catholics were under attack.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But did anyone actually ask themselves why they want a united Ireland in the first place? What really is the point of having a new joint state of the Irish and British peoples of the island of this kind? It’s kind of a strange thing to wish for – yet it seems to be taken as a given that nationalists have some kind of moral duty to seek it. Again: why?
    I’m not sure how much the Irish state really wants to trade having a population that is unanimously Irish for having one containing 900,000 British people, many of whom (we can assume) will be just as unhappy about the Irish state as nationalists have been about the British one.
    The need for cross-community balance and sensitivity in Ulster will still apply, for stability to remain. But in an Irish-ruled Northern Ireland, we’d have an Irish nationalist state placing itself as a referee between, um, Irish nationalists and the British population. Now, who can spot the elephant trap there …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    problem is, that’s kind of sneaky on the electorate. People voted for the Good Friday Agreement arrangement, that’s the deal. The cross border bodies on there were specifically negotiated and limited. If you want to change the deal, you need to put it to the people again. A creeping agenda like the one you suggest undermines trust in politics.

  • Zeno

    Jeez, the IRA refused to use guns against the working classes. They had plenty of guns, Read the history. The problem for the soon to be provos was the Brits defending Catholic areas and marrying Catholic girls.

  • Zeno

    It wasn’t a lack of weapons it was a refusal to use them against the working classes. The Official IRA in 1969 provided armed volunteers as defensive back up for the Catholic Ex SERVICEMEN who manned barricades.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    so what?

  • Tochais Siorai

    Read what history exactly? According to Bishop & Mallie ‘The Provisional IRA’, the IRA (no Officials or Provos yet) in Belfast in the defence of Catholic areas (led by Billy Mc Millen) had 9 guns, 6 of them handguns in August 1969.
    The ex servicemen you mention took the brunt of the defence in Ardoyne where the IRA had little presence at the time. Not sure about anywhere else. Maybe you can tell us.

  • Zeno

    The Catholic Ex Servicemen organised barricades in all Nationalist areas of Belfast and each barricade had at least one armed man.

    18th August 1969 “Cathal Goulding, the IRA Chief of Staff, sent small units from Dublin, Cork and Kerry to border counties of Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan, with orders to attack RUC posts in Northern Ireland and draw off pressure from Belfast and Derry. A total of 96 weapons and 12,000 rounds of ammunition were also sent to the North”